The Homeless Coder; NASA Engineers Build Their Own Iron Man & More

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The Homeless Coder

A few months ago, Leo Grand, a homeless man in NYC, was approached by programmer Patrick McConlogue. McConlogue offered Gran the choice between $100, in cash and two months of programming lessons. Grand went for the lessons, and now has released, along with his teacher, his first mobile app. "Trees for Cars" went live on the App Store this week, and Grand next plans to apply for a coding job at Google. Mashable has the story.

Credit: Fred Benenson/ Creative Commons

JSTOR v. Open Access

Until activist and programmer Aaron Swartz committed suicide earlier this year, few people -- except for academics, perhaps -- had even thought very much about the power of JSTOR, the digital library that collects academic journals and papers, and charges universities for access so their students can do research. Swartz was charged with the crime of downloading, illegally, millions of docs from JSTOR. But the Atlantic asks if we've underestimated the power of projects like JSTOR and others, considering how much they dictate what gets studied, and limits the sources students go to to do their work.

Facebook's AI Plans

This week, Facebook hired Yann LeCun, a French professor who has spent the better part of three decades looking at artificial intelligence to design "deep learning" systems that work similarly to the human brain. LeCun will now head up the social network's new AI Lab, which will help it analyze the data and behavior of everyone who uses it in spectacularly creepy ways. Wired interviewed LeCun to find out more about his plans.

Tech Stars, Photographed

Vanity Fair photographer Jonas Fredwall Karlsson has photographed the who's who of the tech, media and entertainment elite that congregated in Sun Valley in July for the annual must-do powwow. From Jack Dorsey of Twitter to Eric Schmidt of Google, this is a "power portfolio" you don't want to miss. Also check out's "New Establishment" lineup, featuring the 50 whom the mag considers the most innovative leads in those fields.

Credit: PixelEye

The Robot Telemarketer

One fine day, a TIME Magazine editor got a phone call from a telemarketer whose voice seemed human. And when he asked her if she was a robot, she said she was real. But then, she managed to not be able to actually answer some normal human questions, like "What day of the week was it yesterday?" (She claimed a bad connection.) After some TIME did some sleuthing, it discovered the "robot" worked for a company called Premier Health Plans. TIME is now waiting for more information; head over there for the developing story.

Credit: NASA

Iron Man Has Competition

Speaking of robots, NASA has unveiled Valkyrie, the forbidding Iron Man-lookalike humanoid robot designed to help humans in case of disasters. Standing at over 6 feet tall, Valkyrie is a scary-looking thing that proudly wears a glowing NASA logo on its chest. He was built by a team of engineers at NASA for the DARPA Robotics Challenge that takes place at the end of December and will be tested in different disaster scenarios, like driving, debris cleanup and more.

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