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Oct 15, 2018

A first look at China’s Mars simulation base out in the Gobi Desert

Posted by in categories: climatology, space

China’s first Mars simulation base opened to the press on Friday in Gansu Province in the northwest of the country, providing a glimpse of the project mainly intended to popularise space among youth.

The base is located in the Gobi Desert, 40 kilometres away from the downtown area of Jinchang, a city in Gansu. The natural features, landscape and climate are being described as resembling Martian conditions.

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Oct 15, 2018

Food you’ve never heard of could end hunger

Posted by in categories: existential risks, finance, food

Crop Trust guards about one million varieties of seeds in a mountain in Svalbard, Norway. The doomsday vault is the back-up for 1,700 seed banks worldwide, in the event of some future apocalypse.


The term “conservation” may bring wildlife or land preservation to mind. But what about the food we eat?

According to Crop Trust, an international organization working to safeguard agriculture, we only use about 1 percent of available crops to fuel our diets. That could put the future of our food system at risk.

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Oct 15, 2018

Magic Leap’s new AI assistant looks alarmingly human

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, robotics/AI

The tech world’s latest virtual assistant looks so realistic, you might mistake her for an actual human.

Apple has Siri, and Amazon has Alexa. But the lifelikeness of both are dwarfed by Mica: a prototype that Magic Leap, a highly regarded augmented-reality startup, unveiled at its conference Wednesday.

Mica isn’t just a voice assistant. She’s something you can actually see if you wear the company’s augmented-reality glasses, called Magic Leap One. Mica looks and acts like a human — she makes eye contact and offers a warm smile, along with other human-like expressions.

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Oct 14, 2018

Tesla Software Could Completely Shake Up the Auto Industry

Posted by in categories: business, mobile phones, sustainability, transportation

Tesla is shaking up the automotive industry. But which of Tesla’s products and features are doing the disrupting, and who will be affected? A recent article by Benedict Evans delves into the details of this automotive disruption with comparisons to similar shake ups in the tech industry.

Evans uses the disruptive wave that Apple unleashed on Palm, Nokia, and other makers of previous-generation cell phones as an analogy. “When Nokia’s people looked at the first iPhone, they saw a not-great phone with some cool features that they were going to build too, being produced at a small fraction of the volumes they were selling,” he writes. “When many car company people look at a Tesla, they see a not-great car with some cool features that they’re going to build too, being produced at a small fraction of the volumes they’re selling.”

But can Tesla be considered the Apple of the auto industry, and if so, what would that mean? Disruption occurs when a new technology or concept changes the basis of competition in a field. However, not every new technology turns out to be disruptive. “Some things do not change the basis of competition enough, and for some things the incumbents are able to learn and absorb the new concept instead,” writes Evans, noting that business professor Clay Christensen calls this “sustaining innovation” as opposed to “disruptive innovation”.

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Oct 14, 2018

Acre Designs Origin Series B Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

Posted by in categories: energy, habitats, sustainability

Backed by startup incubator Y Combinator, Acre Designs is poised to transform the house building industry with prefabricated, net zero energy homes that are affordable and sustainable.

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Oct 14, 2018

How will NASA transform joining forces with private space travel?

Posted by in category: space travel

60 years of NASA has brought us the first moon landing, the Voyagers, a progression of Mars rovers, Hubble, Cassini, TESS…and the next six decades are going to see it venturing even further into uncharted territory, but this time, the space agency will not be alone on the voyage.

NASA couldn’t even start fantasizing about private spaceflight—or collaborating with the private sector—when it first took off in 1958. Now companies like SpaceX, Boeing and Blue Origin will bring dreams that originally lived between the pages of science fiction books into reality. Dreams like space travel for anyone.

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Oct 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking Predicted Race of ‘Superhumans’ –“There Will be a Race of Self-Designing Beings”

Posted by in categories: alien life, engineering, evolution, genetics

“Once such superhumans appear, there are going to be significant political problems with the unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete,” suggests the late physicist and author Stephen Hawking in The Sunday Times. “Presumably, they will die out, or become unimportant. Instead, there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving themselves at an ever-increasing rate. If the human race manages to redesign itself, it will probably spread out and colonize other planets and stars.”

Hawking has caused an uproar by suggesting a new race of superhumans could develop from wealthy people choosing to edit their DNA. “There is no time to wait for Darwinian evolution to make us more intelligent and better natured. But we are now entering a new phase of what might be called self-designed evolution, in which we will be able to change and improve our DNA. We have now mapped DNA, which means we have read “the book of life”, so we can start writing in corrections.”

Hawking, who died in March, presented the possibility that genetic engineering could create a new species of superhuman that could destroy the rest of humanity. The essays, published in the Sunday Times, were written in preparation for a book that will be published on Tuesday.

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Oct 14, 2018

SpaceX board member says Starlink prototype satellites “are working wonderfully”

Posted by in categories: innovation, satellites

Speaking in a Satellite Innovation 2018 keynote, long-time SpaceX investor and board member Steve Jurvetson made a quiet but significant comment about the company’s Starlink satellite constellation efforts, stating that the first two prototype spacecraft – currently in orbit – “are working wonderfully.”

Standing in contrast to recent speculation that SpaceX’s Starlink project had experienced major failures with on-orbit hardware, Jurvetson may be a biased source but still has a major vested interest in SpaceX’s long-term success – supporting billions dumped into a satellite constellation with no real returns in sight would serve to seriously harm his significant investments in the company.

He would say that? Maybe, but @dfjsteve Jurvetson, early @SpaceX & @planet investor, told Satellite Innovation conference Oct 10, regarding SpaceX’s two Starlink test sats launched in February: pic.twitter.com/WHzJlPUEPA

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Oct 14, 2018

Department of Defense Data Breach Exposes 30,000 Employees

Posted by in category: cybercrime/malcode

The Department of Defense recently received a failing grade for the cyber security of its weapons systems. Now the Department has revealed a significant data breach.

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Oct 14, 2018

​Australia gets Women in STEM Ambassador in astrophysicist professor

Posted by in categories: computing, education, engineering, government

The federal government has announced the appointment of Australia’s first Women in STEM Ambassador, with Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith charged with overseeing the country’s attempt to diversify its science, technology, engineering, and mathematics sectors.

An astrophysicist professor, Harvey-Smith will specifically advocate for girls and women in STEM education and careers, aiming also to raise awareness in the male-dominated industry and drive cultural and social change for gender equity.

SEE: The state of women in computer science: An investigative report [PDF download] (TechRepublic cover story)

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