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Elon Musk launches effort to interface human brain and computers

 

Entrepreneur Elon Musk is the man behind the car company Tesla, the inventor of PayPal and the genius behind Space X, Hyperloop and even more.

Now the billionaire inventor has launched a company called Neuralink to figure out how to connect the brain and computers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

>> Read more trending news

The idea is to create tiny devices, like electrodes, that can be implanted in the brain to eventually merge the brain with a computer to help humans stay ahead of artificial intelligence.

The devices might help improve memory or allow for direct interfacing with computers, The Verge reported.

The concept is called “neural lace,” and Musk discussed it at Recode’s Code Conference last year.

While the company has been described as being in its embryonic stage, Musk promised to release more information about it next week.

“Long Neuralink piece coming out on @waitbutwhy in about a week. Difficult to dedicate the time, but existential risk is too high not to,” he said on Twitter.

19-year-old ‘genius’ to graduate college early, plans to be astronaut

In May, Ronald McCullough Jr. will graduate college at the same age most students are still early underclassmen. 

>> Read more trending news

But doing things ahead of schedule is not unusual for the 19-year-old, whose genius-level intelligence allowed him to skip second grade and graduate from Maynard Jackson High School at 15, according to a news release. 

McCullough enrolled in Clark Atlanta University at 16, and will soon graduate with honors with a bachelor’s degree in biology. 

Yet, he said, he doesn’t consider himself a genius.

“I was placed in a setting for my love of learning to manifest,” McCullough said in a release. “Much was expected of me and there was little room for disappointment.”

Postgraduate engineering programs, including those at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the University of Hawaii have tried to recruit the “future astronaut,” the release said. 

McCullough, whose mother graduated from the former Clark College, plans to enroll in the biological/agricultural engineering program at A&T.

Woman says she was recorded while in changing room at Pennsylvania Macy’s

A woman has a warning for people who use the changing rooms at a Robinson Township, Pennsylvania, mall.

Heather Lapinski said that while she was trying on bathing suits at Macy’s in the Mall at Robinson, she noticed a cellphone under the door. She grabbed it, but a man’s hand grabbed it back. 

>> Read more trending news

By the time she was able to exit the dressing room, the man was gone.

“I got ahold of it and a man's hand came down and grabbed it. I couldn’t scream. I was in so much shock,” Lapinski said. “I was crying. I didn't have my top on (and) I’m not running out completely naked.”

By the time she was able to exit the dressing room, the man was gone.

Lapinski described the man as having a medium build and balding in the front of his head.

She said she hopes that someone recognizes the man before he does it again.

“I want someone to say, ‘I know him.’ He can't keep going back and keep doing this to women. I’m going to be traumatized for the rest of my life,” she said. “When I go to bed, I toss and turn thinking about his face.”

Both Macy’s and the Mall at Robinson said in statements about the matter that the safety of customers is a top priority. They could not confirm whether other incidents were previously reported.

Your cat really does like you, in fact more than food, study says

Cats have gotten a bad rap, at least according to a new study that found your feline really does like you, even if it doesn’t always know how to show you, and it actually likes interacting with you more than it prefers food.

The study from Oregon State University researchers in the journal “Behavioral Processes” also determined that cats are trainable if given the right motivation.

>> Read more trending news

“Increasingly cat cognition research is providing evidence of their complex socio-cognitive and problem-solving abilities,” the study authors reported. 

Scientists studied pets and shelter cats and observed what happened when felines were given a choice of different stimuli, including toys, food, social interaction and scent.

Both pets and shelter cats preferred interacting with humans first, followed by food, the study found.

“Nonetheless, it is still common belief that cats are not especially sociable or trainable” according to researchers.

The disconnect could be due to an ignorance about the stimuli cats prefer and what motivates them.

Teen using family friend's computer discovers nude photos of his younger sister

When a teenager in Texas borrowed a family friend's computer, he made a shocking and sickening discovery.

The boy found nude photos of his 10-year-old sister on the computer of Joe Garza Jr., according to the Star-Telegram.

>> Read more trending news

Garza, 65, was arrested March 3 on child pornography charges, and faces additional charges after it was discovered that he allegedly molested an older sister in the family years ago.

The Star-Telegram reports that the boy, who was trying to fix the hard drive on his own computer, asked to borrow Garza's computer. While using it, he clicked on a folder and discovered the images of his sister. He returned the computer to Garza and told his mother about the images. She asked the boy to request to use the computer again so she could see the images for herself. The mother confronted Garza about the images and police were called to the scene.

Officer Domingo Martinez, who works for the Fort Worth Police Department’s Crimes Against Children Task Force, told the Star-Telegram that Garza admitted to the mother that he had a problem and said he would disappear if she didn't call police.

In interviews with authorities, the 10-year-old victim said Garza bought her items and gave her money, and told her not to tell her parents about the abuse. 

Garza remains behind bars while investigators work to determine if there are additional victims.

TLC’s ‘Trading Spaces’ is headed back to television

TLC is bringing back its popular show “Trading Spaces” 10 years after it went off the air.

>> Read more trending news

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network announced it will bring the show back in an upfront presentation to advertisers on Tuesday.

“I am excited to announce that TLC's most successful and most iconic series ... ‘Trading Spaces’ is coming back.” TLC’s 

president and general manager Nancy Daniels, said at the presentation, according to Fox News.

In the original version, which rain from 2000-2008, two sets of neighbors swapped houses and were given 48 hours to completely transform a room with a $1,000 budget.

Related: HGTV to air 'Fixer Upper' and 'Flip or Flop' spin-off shows 

EOnline reported that the first season was hosted by Alex McLeod. By the second season, Paige Davis took over until 2005, when the show aired without a host until TLC asked Davis to come back in 2008, when the show went off the air for good.

The Discovery Communications networks also announced it will be bringing back “Cash Cab” on the Discovery Channel, and last year THR reported the Science Channel was looking to revive “MythBusters.”

Daniels said the “Trading Spouses” revamp will be on TLC in 2018.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Mistaken release of hundreds of medical records in NC under scrutiny

A North Carolina county could be in major violation of HIPPA laws after mistakenly releasing hundreds of patients’ private medical records to a Charlotte TV station that was investigating a medical story.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA, was enacted in 1996 to ensure patient privacy rights.

>> Read more trending news

Mecklenburg County manager Dena Diorio revealed Tuesday afternoon that the county mistakenly released the private medical records of some 1,200 patients to the media. The county attorney confirmed patient health information was compromised. 

"I'm absolutely speechless with anger at how something like this could happen," Diorio said.

Channel 9 had requested public records related to the county's failure to notify nearly 200 women about abnormal Pap smear results. 

While WSOC-TV received that information Monday, the county also mistakenly included detailed medical history about hundreds of patients. The information included an Excel spreadsheets documenting the patients’ full names, addresses and dates of visits. 

For some patients it also included a detailed description of why they visited and what services they received.

Diorio said the information should not have been in spreadsheets in the email and the practice of putting medical information in Excel sheets will end immediately.

Diorio said she believes the release is a category 2 HIPAA violation with a minimum fine of $1,000 per violation up to $50,000.

A county worker collected the records Tuesday morning from WSOC. 

“We do everything we can to protect the personal information for all of our patients,” Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio said. “In this particular instance, the checks and balances were not completely followed and we had a lapse."

Diorio said an IT staffer mistakenly included the information in the public records request. She also said no one checked the file before it was released.

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here

“This was a person who works in our IT security area so it’s not as if everybody has access to this information,” she said.

It’s unclear if the hundreds of patients will be notified about the information leak. Diorio is planning to discuss the next steps with the county attorney on Tuesday.

 

>> Click here to read the full story.

This new Macbook feature will make it easier to fall asleep at night

On Monday, Apple rolled out the macOS 10.12.4 update — its fourth major update for Sierra since the operating system was released last September.

» RELATED: Apple unveils new version of the iPad, new red iPhone; will be on sale this week

The feature garnering the most excitement in the tech community is the arrival of Night Shift, which aims to enhance your sleep cycle by reducing the amount of blue light that appears on your screen.

>> Read more trending news

According to Night Shift’s support page, studies have shown that exposure to bright blue light in the evening can affect your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep. 

Night Shift is Apple’s response to the downloadable f.lux app that does the same — “makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.”

» RELATED: Why police are warning iPhone users to stop saying ‘108’ to Siri

Now, Mac users won’t have to install the additional app to use the feature.

A member of the f.lux team, however, said in a forum that Apple’s feature doesn’t actually reduce very much alerting blue light and that f.lux remains the better option of the two.

According to MacRumors, Night Shift is compatible with 2012 and newer Macs, so it won't work on older machines. 

The feature was also first introduced in iOS devices with the iOS 9.3 update.

Here’s how to install Night Shift on your Mac:

  1. Make sure you install the latest software updates.
  2. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
  3. From the dropdown menu, select System Preferences.
  4. Choose the Displays icon.
  5. Of the three tabs (Display, Color, and Night Shift), choose Night Shift. Here, you can also adjust the color temperature settings.
  6. From the Schedule option, choose either Sunset to Sunrise or Custom.

The Sunset or Sunrise option uses your local sunset and sunrise times to turn Night Shift on automatically each night when the sun sets and then turn off when the sun rises.

The Custom option allows you to choose a specific start and end time for Night Shift to turn on.

» RELATED: iPhone 8 leak confirms wireless charging, but reveals Apple’s expensive secrets

Other quick ways to turn Night Shift on:

  • Ask Siri.
  • Use the Notification Center (three bulleted lines icon at the top right of your screen) and toggle to turn Night Shift on or off.

Read more at 9to5mac.com.

Tennessee day care at which child was kidnapped closes for good

Days after a child was kidnapped from Elite Academy Inc., the Memphis, Tennessee, day care has closed its doors for good.

>> Read more trending news

A Department of Human Services spokesperson said an investigation into the day care is ongoing, but the owner voluntarily shut down the business. The closure is permanent.

Related: Mother speaks out after 7-month-old is kidnapped from day care

On Thursday, 7-month-old A’Laleh Fentress was checked out from her day care by 18-year-old Mya Lakes. Lakes is charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and child abuse/neglect. Her bail is $100,000.

A’Laleh’s mother said Lakes saw her name on a document at the day care and used it to check out the child.

The 7-month-old’s mother called police from the day care when she came to pick her baby up that evening. A’Laleh was later found safe at Annie’s Place in Frayser.

Related: Memphis day care at center of kidnapping had no previous violations

Elite Academy Inc. has been inspected by the DHS at least eight times since it opened in August 2016. According to the government database, the day care was never cited for violations.

Police: Bus driver set to take kids on field trip was high on marijuana

Authorities arrested a school bus driver Tuesday after he allegedly drove a bus while high on marijuana.

>> Read more trending news

Officers were called Tuesday morning to Chelmsford High School in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, after students reported smelling a strange odor on the school bus they had boarded for a field trip. The students notified a teacher, who contacted the Chelmsford Police Department. The students were taken off the bus.

Officers determined that the bus driver, 63-year-old Ali Mahfuz, was high on marijuana. Mahfuz was charged with operating under the influence of drugs, operating negligently as to endanger and reckless endangerment.

Before arriving at Chelmsford High School, Mahfuz drove a route for Greater Lowell Technical High School in Tyngsborough.

Mahfuz is employed by North Reading Transportation Inc. The company is cooperating with the investigation.

Chelmsford police Chief James Spinney praised the students for speaking up.

"I cannot overstate the role played by the students today in ensuring their safety on the roads," Spinney said. "They knew something was not right, and they spoke up right away, alerting school administrators. I commend these students for their role in stopping a dangerous situation from unfolding."

Mahfuz is scheduled for arraignment Tuesday in Lowell District Court.

Coupon scam: ALDI warns customers of fake offers on Facebook

Fake coupons for low-cost grocery store ALDI have been making the rounds again on Facebook and could give computers viruses.

>> Read more trending news

WSYR reported that Facebook user Melissa Sheriff noticed a post that claimed to offer a $100 off coupon at ALDI stores, and it seemed too good to be true.

"Next thing I know everyone is sharing it," Sheriff said. "People are sharing it on each other's pages and messaging the coupon to each other and tagging each other in posts saying, ‘Great deal, great deal, you have to print out this coupon.'"

Related: If you see this Publix coupon, it's a fake

Related: Kroger warns shoppers of fake '$60 off' coupon

Aaron Sumida, vice president of ALDI’s Tully division, issued the following statement in response to the scam:

We understand the confusion that some customers have experienced with digital coupon scams affecting ALDI and other retailers. On Friday, we shared a post on our Facebook page to let our customers know that ALDI doesn't issue electronic coupons or gift cards. These offers weren't authorized or distributed by ALDI and will not be honored at ALDI locations. We sincerely regret any inconvenience this situation may cause our customers.

ALDI also addressed the scam in a Facebook post Friday.

“There’s a fake ALDI coupon making its way around the internet…again. We don’t offer electronic coupons and they won’t be accepted at our stores. We’re working on fixing the situation, so if you’d like to help us out and spread the news, feel free to share this post. We’re sorry for the confusion,” the company said.

ALDI is not the only retailer being used in fake coupon scams. Kroger and Publix grocery stores have also been victims of coupons claiming to offer $60 and $75 off of purchases.

Chance the Rapper seeks intern, Twitter responds

Chance the Rapper took to Twitter Monday to let fans know he could use the help of an intern.

>> Read more trending news

He said he is looking for “someone with experience in putting together decks and writing proposals” and later clarified that he’s seeking someone to fulfill a job.

The Chicago rapper then told Twitter users to pitch themselves to him. 

Nearly 3,000 people responded.

Some uploaded their resumes, while others explained important accomplishments. Others sent eager gifs.

When asked if there was a hard deadline for “applying,” the 23-year-musician said there wasn’t one because he is “trying to find someone specific.”

Chance donated  $1 million to public schools in Chicago earlier this month after meeting with Chicago Gov. Bruce Rauner. The two met to discuss funding for public schools in the city. Chance expressed disappointment and said he got “a lot of vague answers” from Rauner. 

 

Facebook has never looked more like Snapchat

While imitation probably isn’t the sincerest form of flattery among competing tech companies, Facebook’s new Snapchat-like app updates are an obvious hat tip to Snapchat’s years-old features.

>> Read more trending stories

Facebook announced the new updates Tuesday morning: a camera filled with effects and filters, short visual “Stories” and disappearing messages.

“The way people create content is changing to be from text to photos and videos,” Connor Hayes, product manager for Facebook stories, told The Verge. “This is in turn changing the way they’re sharing with one another and interacting online ... something that Snapchat has really pioneered.”

In 2013, Facebook tried and failed to strike a deal to buy Snapchat for $3 billion.

>> Related: What is WhatsApp? 5 things to know about the popular messaging app

And since then, it has cloned some of Snapchat's most popular features in an all-out effort to maintain dominance in the arena of photo and video communication.

While Snapchat has half the number of daily active users of Facebook-owned Instagram's 300 million audience, Facebook has noticed its “surging popularity” among younger users, CNN reported.

Here’s more on the new Snapchat-like features rolling out Tuesday on iOS and Android:

Camera effects

Similar to Snapchat’s camera filters feature, Facebook’s will pack dozens of effects (think glitter beards and sloth hats) and interactive features, including “reactive effects” such as falling snow.

Stories

Facebook replicated Snapchat's Stories format for Instagram in August and on Tuesday announced a similar release in its main mobile app. 

Users have options to share multiple media as a “visual collection” (or Story) to appear on top of Facebook’s news feed or on their timelines.

Similar to Snapchat and Instagram, the Stories will disappear in 24 hours.

Direct

Users will also be able to share their visual compilations directly to an individual or group of Facebook users if they choose to — part of the app’s new “Direct” feature.

Like Snapchat, when you send a photo or video via Direct, your friends will be able to view it once, replay it or reply. After the conversation ends, the content is no longer visible.

Increase in rattlesnake attack on dogs, Texas vets report

Veterinarians in some parts of Texas have reported an increase in the number of dogs bitten by rattlesnakes this year, according to media reports. 

“The snakes are coming out of hibernation, they’re cranky and are more likely to strike when other times they might try to avoid that,” Jim Holcomb of Hill Country Animal Hospital in Austin told KVUE.

>> Read more trending news

The story does not offer any specific figures to back the claim.

If you live in an area that is especially populated by rattlesnakes, some veterinarians recommend the Red Rock Rattlesnake vaccine, which helps dogs develop antibodies that can neutralize rattlesnake venom. 

Dogs need to be 16 weeks old to receive the vaccine. Although it can help slow the effects of the venom, it is still important to get your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect a rattlesnake bite.

Related: Texas family’s toilet snake surprise leads to discovery of dozens more

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that recent hotter-than-usual weather has at least one upside: rattlesnakes rattle more when its warmer, serving as the perfect warning for you and your best friend.

Boy bitten by rattlesnake after mistaking it for toy

A 5-year-old boy is recovering at a hospital after being bitten by a rattlesnake in DeBary, Florida. 

>> Read more trending news

Volusia County investigators said Tampa resident Elijah Vaughn, 5, and his family were at a relative's house on Fort Florida Point Road on Saturday after leaving a funeral. 

Vaughn and his mother went outside so the boy could play on the jungle gym in the yard, deputies said. 

When Vaughn approached the jungle gym, he walked underneath the platform and saw what he thought was a toy snake. 

As the boy reached for the snake, it bit him on the right index finger, according to a police report. His mother rushed Vaughn to meet with deputies and he was taken to Central Florida Regional Hospital, where he received anti-venom treatment, investigators said.

Vaughn was then taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. 

Officials said the boy's swelling had not spread down his arm and was primarily on his hand and wrist. 

The snake, believed to be a pygmy rattlesnake, was caught and killed.

A growing debate: Is vaping hazardous?

U.S. health officials say the rapidly expanding industry of e-cigarettes and vaping caters to children with a new unhealthy habit, tantalizing them with flavors such as Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream and brands like Devil’s Juice.

>> Read more trending news

But those who vape say health officials are just carrying water for the tobacco and pharmaceutical companies, which make money from selling cigarettes and products that help people quit smoking.

Representatives of the vaping industry -- a phenomena in its own right estimated to be worth $10 billion -- said it has been unfairly disparaged and that their nicotine delivery system is far safer than traditional tobacco, pointing to studies in England.

“This is a revolution,” Ryna Schalk of Wellington, Florida, told The Palm Beach Post. “There are people giving out misinformation about vaping because of Big Government, Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. Vaping is taking money out of their pocket.”

Read more about the growing vaping debate at the Palm Beach Post.

Video of man walking kangaroo on leash in Detroit goes viral

A Snapchat video of a man walking a kangaroo on a leash down a residential street in Detroit has gone viral.

Brionna London posted the video to Snapchat and Twitter Monday. The seven-second clip shows a man holding a kangaroo on a leash, setting it on the ground and jogging to keep up with it as it hops down the street. >> Read more trending news 

WJBK said a street sign and the Snapchat's location stamp verify the bizarre incident took place in Detroit. Many commenters on social media wondered how a person could obtain a kangaroo.

The Detroit Free Press confirmed with the Detroit Zoo that no kangaroos were missing from its facility. Several Facebook commenters pointed out that the man in the Snapchat video looks like the man who operates the Exotic Zoo, a Detroit organization that leads exotic animal programs at area schools.

Tuesday afternoon, mlive confirmed that the “dude with the kangaroo” was actually Javon Stacks with Exotic Zoo. Stacks told mlive that the kangaroo was in the neighborhood for a birthday party. He referred to his organization as a “mobile zoo” that brings wildlife encounters to kids in the inner city.

‘I wuv you, robot’: Toddler makes new friend in discarded water heater

A little girl named Rayna is melting hearts around the globe in a short video that shows her loving encounter with a new “robot” friend.

The YouTube video posted Monday, titled “Rayna meets a ‘robot,’” is just 24 seconds long, but by early Tuesday it had been viewed nearly 665,000 times. In it, the girl walked along a street and saw what she thought was a robot. 

The “robot” was a discarded water heater awaiting pickup by trash collectors.

>> Read more trending stories

“Hi, robot,” Rayna said cheerfully, looking up at the top of the heater and into what looked like big, round eyes. “Hi, robot.”

She wrapped her arms around the heater, glancing back at one point to look at the person filming her.

“I wuv you, robot,” she said. “I wuv you, robot.”

Rayna’s ardent love of the water heater faded fast as her attention was drawn to a new friend -- a nearby manhole cover.  

Watch Rayna’s heartwarming encounter below.

Florida woman tried to impregnate woman smuggled from Mexico, fed her only beans

A Florida woman pleaded guilty on Monday to smuggling a Mexican woman into the country for forced labor.

>> Read more trending news 

The victim said Esthela Clark told her she would pay her to be a pregnancy surrogate.

Clark was arrested in 2015.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Clark paid so-called coyotes $3,000 to smuggle the woman over.

The criminal complaint said Clark kept the woman captive at an apartment for about two years.

Investigators said Clark tried to artificially inseminate the woman with semen from her boyfriend’s used condoms with a syringe on the dining room floor.

When it didn’t work, Clark began beating her, the victim said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the victim lost 65 pounds after Clark limited her diet exclusively to beans.

The criminal complaint said Clark isolated the victim from her family and child in Mexico and tried to collect from her family the thousands she paid the “coyotes” to smuggle the victim, with interest.

Investigators said Clark also forced the Mexican woman to clean her home and work at various local businesses, then hand over the cash.

A member of Celebration Church rescued the victim, taking her in and calling police.

Clark was also indicted for a human trafficking charge after the victim said Clark forced her to have sex with multiple men, but that charge was dropped as part of the plea deal.

“We stand by those allegations,” said U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman William Daniels.

Clark could face up to 20 years in federal prison.

Bogus doctor gets 10 years for injecting toxic substances into patients

A Florida woman accused of injecting Fix-a-Flat, cement, silicone, mineral oil and Super Glue into the buttocks of women in to try to enhance their figures was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison over a death resulting from the toxic mix, according to local media reports.  

The 2012 death of Shatarka Nuby, 31, was dubbed the “toxic tush” case. O’Neal Morris, 31, served nearly a year in prison on charges of practicing medicine without a license after it was discovered she illegally injected toxic substances to enhance women's buttocks, leaving many scarred for life.

>> Read more trending news

Morris, who police say was born a man, but identifies as a woman, pleaded for mercy before a Broward County judge. 

"I have never, ever, or would dare ever to inject, or have injected any human with any type of unknown substance, such as Super Glue, cement, Fix-a-Flat, concrete, nothing that comes from Home Depot, nothing that comes out of any hardware store," Morris said.

Related: ‘Toxic tush doctor’ facing steep prison time if convicted in death

Nuby’s family members appeared in court asking for justice. 

"What you took from me, that was a precious jewel," said Nuby’s mother, Sherri Pitts.

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here

A plea deal called for a sentence of up to 15 years. The judge decided to sentence Morris to 10 years in state prison, followed by five years of probation along with restitution, local media reported. 

Over her attorney’s arguments, the judge ordered Morris to serve time in a men’s prison because Florida law doesn't make exemptions for transgender inmates.

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