Destroying Incoming Asteroids Might Be Harder Than We Thought

Based on a new computer model, asteroids are stronger than previously expected, meaning we'd have a tougher time destroying one headed for Earth.

Armageddon 2: The Asteroid Wins

It’s a very good thing an asteroid isn’t hurtling toward the Earth right now — because our current calculations on what it would take to destroy it might be way off.

“We used to believe that the larger the object, the more easily it would break, because bigger objects are more likely to have flaws,” Charles El Mir, one of the researchers behind a new Johns Hopkins University study on asteroid collisions, said in a press release. “Our findings, however, show that asteroids are stronger than we used to think and require more energy to be completely shattered.”

Crunched Numbers

The researchers detail how they reached that conclusion in a study set for publication in the March issue of the journal Icarus.

They started by creating a new computer model to simulate what would happen if an asteroid about one kilometer (.6 miles) in diameter slammed into another, with a diameter of 25 kilometers (15.5 miles), at a speed of five kilometers per second (3.1 miles per second).

Because the Johns Hopkins team’s model took into account more smaller-scale processes than previous simulations, it was able to provide what the researchers believe is a more accurate picture of what would happen during such a collision: rather than break apart entirely, as expected by previous models, the bigger asteroid would crack only partially.

Major Threat

According to researcher K.T. Ramesh, the team’s study reveals that we need to rethink what it would take to destroy an asteroid — before we actually have to destroy one.

“We are impacted fairly often by small asteroids, such as in the Chelyabinsk event a few years ago,” Ramesh said. “It is only a matter of time before these questions go from being academic to defining our response to a major threat. We need to have a good idea of what we should do when that time comes — and scientific efforts like this one are critical to help us make those decisions.”

READ MORE: Breaking up is hard to do: Asteroids are stronger, harder to destroy than previously thought [Johns Hopkins University]

More on asteroids: Retired Astronaut: NASA Left Earth Defenseless Against Asteroids

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Destroying Incoming Asteroids Might Be Harder Than We Thought

See MIT’s Robot Land a Perfect Backflip — and Mangle Many Others

MIT's mini cheetah robot is the first four-legged bot to execute a perfect backflip — and watching it learn that skill is incredible entertaining.

Mini Cheetah

Kudos to researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for having a sense of humor.

On Thursday, a team from the illustrious tech school released a video showcasing the abilities of its latest robot creation: a 20-pound Mini Cheetah capable of executing perfect backflips — the first four-legged robot to demonstrate that skill.

But the best part of the video isn’t seeing the bot expertly backflip, spin in circles, or pronk — it’s watching all its failed attempts along the way.

Backflipping Out

The entire video is worth watching, but if you need a laugh to get you through your Friday, skip ahead to the 1:26-minute mark. That’s when MIT starts showing off the “mistakes” it made while developing the Mini Cheetah robot.

The bloopers include several failed backflip attempts and a quick scene in which the bot skitters across a floor like it’s being electrocuted. A personal favorite occurs at 1:34 when a team member gently tosses Mini Cheetah to the floor and it crumples on impact.

Now that the MIT team has worked out the kinks, maybe it can reach out to Boston Dynamics to set up a play date between Mini Cheetah and the company’s SpotMini robo-dog. Who wouldn’t want to see what sort of hijinks those two could get into?

READ MORE: MIT’s backflipping Mini Cheetah robot is too cute to fear [CNET]

More on robots: Watch the Boston Dynamics Robodog Twerk and Moonwalk to “Uptown Funk”

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See MIT’s Robot Land a Perfect Backflip — and Mangle Many Others

Energizer’s Brick-Like New Phone Has a Battery That Lasts 50 Days

A newly unveiled Energizer smartphone supposedly contains

Wish Granted

More than anything else, adult smartphone users in the U.S. wish their devices had longer battery lives.

Avenir Telecom appears to have had that desire in mind while developing the Power Max P18K Pop smartphone for Energizer.

The French telecom company unveiled the new phone at the 2019 Mobile World Congress (MWC) this week, and it’s an absolute beast of a device, containing what Avenir claims in a press release is “the highest capacity battery ever seen in a smartphone” — but don’t expect it to fit in the pocket of your skinny jeans.

Keeps Going and Going…

According to Avenir, the Energizer smartphone features an 18,000 mAh battery, enough to last for 50 days in stand-by mode. The iPhone X contains a 2,716 mAh battery, for comparison — giving the P18K Pop more than six times the capacity.

If you want to actually use the P18K Pop, you could spend 90 hours making calls, listen to 100 hours of music, and watch 48 hours of videos on just one charge, according to Avenir.

Beyond this long-lasting battery, the phone also includes 6 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, and five cameras, two of which are front-facing.

It’s Chonky

The trade-off for all of the P18K Pop’s battery life comes in its size — the phone is a whopping 18 millimeters thick. That’s well over double the thickness of the iPhone X, which is 7.7 millimeters.

Still, if you’re willing to forgo some form for function, the new Energizer smartphone could be worth keeping an eye on, and according to Avenir, it’ll be taking orders for the device at MWC with plans to begin deliveries this summer.

However, before you get your heart set on owning a P18K Pop, keep in mind that Avenir promised to release an Energizer smartphone with a 16,000 mAh battery in September — and that device was seemingly cancelled before it could hit the market.

READ MORE: Energizer ‘thick boi’ phone gives 50 days of battery life [BBC]

More on phone batteries: This Graphene Sticker Can Increase Your Phone’s Battery Life

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Energizer’s Brick-Like New Phone Has a Battery That Lasts 50 Days

DNA Ancestry Startups Have a New Target Market: The Long-Dead

Startups that sequence your DNA have a new target market, according to a new story in The Atlantic: your long-dead ancestors.

Dance With the Dead

Startups that sequence your DNA to help piece together your ancestry have a new target market, according to a story in The Atlantic: your long-dead ancestors, who may have inadvertently left behind genetic material when they licked stamps and envelopes.

“Maybe our ancestors did not realize it,” MyHeritage founder Gilad Japhet said at an industry conference last year, according to The Atlantic, but “when they were licking those stamps and the envelope flats, they were sealing their precious DNA for you forever.”


MyHeritage, which is the thirdlargest DNA testing company behind 23andMe and AncestryDNA, is one of several companies interested in mining genetic data from the long dead — an intriguing yet vaguely troubling example of how big data stands to pick apart the past as well as the present.

Japhet has even said that the DNA of famous historical figures, including Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein, “is coming to MyHeritage very, very soon,” according to The Atlantic — though a spokesperson for the company declined to comment to the magazine on when those historical figures’ profiles will be available on the site.


Analyzing old DNA is much more complex than a fresh swab, according to The Atlantic — meaning that not every old envelope can be mined for genetic material.

“We have to improve our results if it’s something we can commercially sustain,” Joscelyn McBain, the founder of Totheletter DNA, another company experimenting with the service, told The Atlantic.

READ MORE: Is DNA Left on Envelopes Fair Game for Testing? [The Atlantic]

More on DNA testing: This DNA Testing Company Gave Its Data to the FBI

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DNA Ancestry Startups Have a New Target Market: The Long-Dead

Parts Suppliers Are Boycotting Russia’s Pistol-Shooting Android

Android Gunslinger

Russia’s gun toting robot has hit a major snag: it’s scrambling for parts after foreign suppliers cut off sales, Defense One reports.

In 2017, videos went viral of the Terminator-like android dubbed FEDOR (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research) firing handguns at a variety of targets. Apparently foreign suppliers weren’t impressed — leaving the robot’s maker, Android Technology, scrambling for parts.

“After some of our partners… saw that the robot ‘FEDOR’ had learned to shoot, we were denied supplies,” technical director of the robot company Evgeny Dudorov told state media RIA in an interview, as interpreted by Google Translate.

Made in Russia

According to Dudorov, 40 percent of FEDOR’s components are made in Russia. But the company is aiming for a higher proportion.

“Russia will develop its own systems as a result of this export ban, but that may take some time,” Dudorov told RIA. “This announcement also demonstrates that despite the sanctions, the Russian high-tech industry was still able to get what it needed.”

According to the interview, FEDOR cost “much less” to develop than the $18 million that Boston Dynamics spent on its own humanoid, parkour-performing robot Atlas.

Space Terminator

The second iteration of FEDOR might also end up going to space on board a Russian spacecraft in the near future, Sputnik News reported back in March 2018. The so-called Federatsiya spacecraft is meant to carry astronauts to low earth orbit along with FEDOR-2 — but when or if the launch will take place is still uncertain.

When asked if Fedor could one day travel on board a Soyuz to the ISS, Dudorov did not have a clear answer.

“This issue is in discussion,” Dudorov told RIA. “If a decision is made within Roscosmos to conduct such a flight and a technical possibility appears for its implementation, then, in principle, we are ready to fulfill this task.”

READ MORE: Russia’s Pistol-Packing Robot Is Scrambling for Parts [Defense One]

More on FEDOR: FEDOR Is a Gunslinging Robot That’s Just a Skin Suit Away From Westworld

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New Startup Is Selling the Building Blocks of Fake Meat

Motif Ingredients is providing the building blocks of fake meat, taking complex R&D out of the hands of creatives bring meat alternatives to market.

Building Blocks

Whether you’re a vigilant vegan or a consistent carnivore, Americans are increasingly hungry for meat alternatives — and a new startup says it’s poised to make the lab-to-shelf transition easier than ever.

After a Thanksgiving filled with Tofurky and Field Roasts, Americans have gotten a taste of fake meat and the data suggests that many are taking a liking to it — even McDonalds is considering a meatless burger. But whether a business is a small startup or a mega-corporation like McDonalds, developing the technology behind new meat-alternative products is so complex that it can take years.

Now, a Ginkgo Bioworks-owned startup called Motif Ingredients says that making the building blocks of meat alternatives available to innovators will free them from hard lab work and empower them to dream up the dishes of the future, according to a new feature in Fast Company.

“We’ll put these ingredients in people’s hands and they can be creative,” Jason Kelly, CEO and cofounder of Ginkgo Bioworks told the magazine. “They can launch products; it’s not that expensive to launch a new branded product. It’s expensive to go do a giant R&D project up front.”

Painting the Pattern

New startups bringing meat alternatives to the market face the daunting task of synthesizing proteins and ingredients. Motif Ingredients wants to outsource the research and development work, which can be a challenge to even established food brands, and which it says would let alt-meat startups focus on branding, marketing, and selling their wares.

Using an automated process, Motif will work alongside its parent company, Ginkgo Bioworks, to rapidly sequence genomes and produce ingredients from microbes. After identifying vitamins and proteins in meat and animal byproducts, Motif can reproduce them using engineered yeast and bacteria in a process similar to brewing beer. The end result, it says, is a host of ingredients vital to a healthy human diet which companies producing meat-alternatives can use to create new products.

Let Them Eat Meat

By providing ingredients to the general market, Motif hopes to speed up a technical process for both startups and established food brands — because, Kelly says, feeding a hungry world will require this sort of innovative approach to sourcing food.

“There are going to 10 billion people on the planet,” Kelly said, “we just need a lot more protein than we have right now, period, from just a global nutrition standpoint.”

READ MORE: This food tech startup just raised $90 million to make it easier to invent new plant-based meats [FastCompany]

More on Meat: In the Future, the Meat You Eat Won’t Come From Living Organisms

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SpaceX Launches First U.S. Private Passenger Spacecraft to ISS

SpaceX successfully launched its (uncrewed) Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 2:49 am EST this morning.

A Historic Launch

SpaceX successfully launched its Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:49 am EST this morning. Main engine cutoff and stage separation were confirmed by SpaceX at 2:52 am EST. First stage successfully landed on the drone ship platform Of Course I Still Love You at 3:00 am EST.

The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station early Sunday morning. It will spend about five days docked to the station before returning to Earth and splashing down in the Atlantic.

The launch marks the first time a private American rocket and spacecraft built for human passengers has ever launched to travel to the space station. An upcoming crewed mission, Demonstration Mission 2, is scheduled for July.

SpaceX and @NASA have completed thousands of hours of tests, analyses, and reviews in preparation for Crew Dragon’s first test flight to the @space_station pic.twitter.com/JvJqeoLKVy

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) February 28, 2019

There are no human astronauts on board. It does carry “Ripley,” a SpaceX dummy that will collect valuable information — using sensors all over its body — about what the experience will be like for human astronauts.

A previous version of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule built solely for cargo became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to the ISS and safely return cargo back down to Earth back in 2012.

Since then, SpaceX has flown 16 successful cargo missions to the space station on behalf of NASA using the Dragon spacecraft.

Ready to Dock

If all goes well, the Crew Dragon will rendezvous with the International Space Station at around 6:00 am EST Sunday morning to dock autonomously.

But the docking procedure is quite different this time when compared to previous Dragon missions: “Dragon was basically hovering under the ISS,” said Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of mission assurance at SpaceX during a pre-launch briefing on Thursday. “You can see how it moves back and forth and then the [Canadarm] takes it to a berthing bay.”

In contrast, the Crew Dragon’s docking system is active, he said: “it will plant itself in front of the station and use a docking port on its own, no docking arm required.”

READ MORE: Crew Demo-1 Mission [SpaceX]

More on the launch: Meet “Ripley,” the Dummy SpaceX Is Sending to the Space Station

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SpaceX Launches First U.S. Private Passenger Spacecraft to ISS

North America Put More Robots to Work in 2018 Than Ever Before

The number of robot workers to join the North American workforce increased by 7 percent in 2018, according to the Association for Advancing Automation.

Auto Bots

Automation’s not just for the automotive industry anymore.

According to new statistics released by the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), an industry group promoting automation, the North American automotive industry added 12 percent fewer robots to its workforce in 2018 than in 2017.

However, a slew of other industries picked up the slack — making 2018 a record-breaking year for new robot workers.

Robot Revolution

According to A3, robot manufacturers shipped a total of 35,880 robots to customers in 2018, which is 7 percent more than in 2017. Of those, 19,178 robot workers went to automotive customers, down from 21,732 in 2017.

Many other industries saw significant increases in the number of robots added to the work force, though — food and consumer goods, life sciences, and electronics saw increases of 48 percent, 31 percent, and 22 percent, respectively.

“While the automotive industry has always led the way in implementing robotics here in North America, we are quite pleased to see other industries continuing to realize the benefits of automation,” A3 president Jeff Burnstein said in a press release.

“And as we’ve heard from our members and at shows such as Automate, these sales and shipments aren’t just to large, multinational companies anymore,” he continued. “Small and medium-sized companies are using robots to solve real-world challenges, which is helping them be more competitive on a global scale.”

Better Bots

Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, an organization focused on the intersection of tech innovation and public policy, wasn’t surprised by A3’s findings on the increases in robot workers.

“Robots are getting better, cheaper, and more versatile,” he told Axios, “and therefore can be used more effectively in more industries.”

Still, expected on not, these figures are a concrete sign that automation is spreading throughout the North American workforce — and nations need to start preparing now for the impact that will have on the future.

READ MORE: The big American robot push [Axios]

More on automation: Here’s Proof That Automation Is Transforming Every Aspect of Our Society

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Canada Commits $150 Million to NASA’s Moon-Orbiting Space Station

Canada agrees to invest C$150 million in the U.S.'s Lunar Gateway, becoming the nation's first international partner in the ambitious space program.

Lunar Invite

In November, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine asked Canada to join the United States’ Lunar Gateway, an outpost it hopes to have orbiting the Moon by 2024.

“We can’t achieve what we want to achieve in space if any of us goes alone,” he said during a Canadian aerospace conference. “We want you [Canada] involved in our return to the Moon in a big way.”

It took three months, but Canada is now ready to commit to the program — and to space exploration more broadly.

Team of Two

On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would join the Lunar Gateway — committing more than $150 million Canadian dollars toward the program over the next five years.

“NASA is thrilled that Canada is the first international partner for the Gateway lunar outpost,” Bridenstine said in a press release following Trudeau’s announcement. “Space exploration is in Canada’s DNA… Our new collaboration on Gateway will enable our broader international partnership to get to the Moon and eventually to Mars.”

Space Spending

The Lunar Gateway is just one part of Canada’s future space plans — in total, Trudeau said the nation will invest more than $2 billion Canadian dollars in its space program over the next 24 years.

“Canada’s historic investment will create good jobs for Canadians, keep our astronaut program running and our aerospace industry strong and growing,” Trudeau said, “while opening up a new realm of possibilities for Canadian research and innovation.”

READ MORE: Canada’s heading to the moon: A look at the Lunar Gateway [CBC]

More on the Lunar Gateway: NASA Head: “This Time, When We Go to the Moon, We Will Stay.”

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Canada Commits $150 Million to NASA’s Moon-Orbiting Space Station

Journalists Reported a News Story Using Machine Learning

An experiment about reporting news stories with machine learning just released its first effort — a deep dive into Lyft's IPO.

Machine Journalism

In November, the news website Quartz unveiled a bold idea: a studio, funded by the Knight Foundation, dedicated to reporting the news using machine learning techniques.

Today, the Quartz AI Studio’s first story dropped — and it’s an intriguing peek at how advancements in artificial intelligence could provide journalists with new tools for digging into public documents.

Face Lyft

For the story, Quartz reporters trained an algorithm to examine the section of ride-hailing app Lyft’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) that lists risks the company anticipates — and to identify the most “distinctive,” or unusual, things that rattle Lyft’s executives.

The resulting list of Lyft’s unusual concerns range from the fairly obvious to the moderately surprising. In addition to having concerns about “public perception,” the company’s leaders are also worried about how healthcare privacy laws will affect customers who use its service to catch rides to medical appointments. They’re also sweating whether cyberattacks could affect Amazon Web Services, which runs its platform.

Data Journalism

Quartz’s Lyft story isn’t the most groundbreaking work of journalism in the world, but it’s an interesting proof of concept about how reporters can leverage new tools to pull interesting takeaways from otherwise dry public records — and, perhaps, a preview of things to come.

“This is taking [data journalism] to the next level where we’re trying to get journalists comfortable using computers to do some of this pattern matching, sorting, grouping, anomaly detection — really working with especially large data sets,” John Keefe, Quartz’s technical architect for bots and machine learning, told Digiday back when the Quartz AI Studio first launched.

READ MORE: Here’s what Lyft talks about as risk factors that other companies don’t [Quartz]

More on machine learning: Statistician: Machine Learning Is Causing A “Crisis in Science”

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Journalists Reported a News Story Using Machine Learning

Looking For the Best CBD Products in a Budding Market? These Earn The Highest Marks

Lately, you’ve probably heard a lot about CBD products. Over the past few months, they’ve exploded in popularity to the point where they can be found almost everywhere, and are being used in everything from coffee to lotions to face masks. But do you actually know what CBD is? And with all the choices available, do you know how to separate the best CBD products from the rest?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is just one of over 100 different cannabinoid compounds found in cannabis plants. Historically, the most famous cannabinoid was THC – the one responsible for getting people high. However, in recent years, as the movement to legalize cannabis gained steam, it was discovered that CBD provides many of the positive benefits of THC, but without the psychoactive effects, making it more practical for everyday use.

Though there hasn’t been enough clinical research to make any definitive medical claims, many healthcare professionals are convinced CBD is effective for fighting chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, and sleeplessness, among other aliments. CBD has also been shown to be effective in treating epilepsy, especially in children.

Today, thanks to recently passed legislation, CBD is now legal in all 50 states. However, it is not yet regulated by the FDA. As a result, some companies are making a lot of unfounded claims about what CBD can do, and are putting out some pretty questionable products. This makes it difficult for consumers to find a brand they can trust. But that’s not to say trustworthy brands don’t exist.

Mellowment: The Best CBD Products And Supplements

If you’re considering taking the plunge and trying CBD for yourself, one brand to check out is Mellowment. Their supplements are designed to “promote comfort by reducing pain, inflammation, anxiety, and sleeplessness,” allowing you to be your best self. And while that may sound new-agey, don’t let the lingo fool you. Mellowment claims to produce the most advanced, meticulously-engineered CBD supplements on the market. And Mellowment’s relationship with the most sought-after and specialized suppliers in the cannabidiol industry allows the company to continually develop innovative products, both for general comfort and more specific needs.

So if you’re interested in trying the best CBD products for yourself, here’s a complete rundown of all Mellowment has to offer:

Mellowment Low Impact


CBD has been observed to reduce stress and anxiety, and thus may be useful in treating generalized anxiety and social anxiety disorder, and possibly even post-traumatic stress disorder. Mellowment Low Impact is a full-spectrum hemp oil supplement designed to help users relieve nervous energy. It contains 10mg of CBD per capsule, derived from high-grade industrial hemp with 0.00% THC. Its small doses are intended to provide relief from stress without the side-effect of fatigue. However, you can take up to four capsules per day as needed.

Mellowment High Impact 1.0


High Impact 1.0 is Mellowment’s original full strength, full-spectrum supplement. Each softgel capsule contains 25mg of full-spectrum CBD emulsified in 100% vegan coconut oil. Its formula is designed to reduce pain and inflammation, and “has been shown to help some people who suffer from chronic back pain and arthritis.” Like all Mellowment products, High Impact 1.0 contains 0.00% THC, which means it won’t make you high or fail a drug test.

Mellowment High Impact PCR


Mellowment has created some of the best CBD products on the market. But in particular, High Impact PCR is the company’s most advanced general purpose CBD supplement. It uses emulsified PCR, or phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil, which has a higher surface area than ordinary CBD oil. That means it gets absorbed into the blood stream faster so you experience its effects sooner. Each softgel capsule contains 25mg of high-grade CBD oil. Some High Impact PCR users say they prefer this product to Mellowment Low Impact for treatment of anxiety. However, the more potent formula can cause drowsiness in some.

Mellowment High Impact PCR for Inflammation

Mellowment High Impact PCR is one of the best CBD products on the market.

This supplement is just like the Mellowment High Impact PCR, but with the addition of curcumin. Curcumin is a chemical compound found in turmeric that has been shown to decrease swelling, and has proved successful in treating conditions involving inflammation. Each softgel capsule contains 25mb of emulsified PCR CBD and 10mg of curcumin, with 0.00% THC.

A non-editorial team at Futurism has partnered with Mellowment to create this article, and we may receive a percentage of sales from this post. This supplement has not been evaluated by the FDA, and is not intended to cure or treat any ailments. Do not take CBD products if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the product you are consuming. Tell your doctor about all medicines you may be on before consuming CBD to avoid negative reactions. Tell your doctor about all medical conditions. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins and herbal products. Other side effects of CBD include: dry mouth, cloudy thoughts, and wakefulness. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of any drugs to the FDA. Visit http://www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Why Cellphone Carriers Are Dreaming of a World Without Wi-Fi


Once relegated to coffee shops, by 2020 there will be more than 549 million global public and cable company-run Wi-Fi hot spots. As we strive to browse more, stream more, and download more, our networks will need to scale up to meet consumer demands. Enter two different visions on how companies plan to fulfill that need. While cellphone carries can’t quit Wi-Fi just yet, that doesn’t mean they aren’t eyeing the exit. Developing 5G cellular networks will increase competition between cellular network providers and Wi-Fi connection providers, according to a new analysis from the Wall Street Journal.

Two Houses

Wi-Fi and cellular networks are similar in that both will enable you to stream Netflix’s Black Mirror, or whichever show you’re streaming at present. The major differences are that cellular networks provide coverage over a large area through cellphone carriers like AT&T and Verizon, while Wi-Fi covers a more localized area and delivers a connection to the internet from Internet Service Providers.

5G networks promise to more cheaply link multiple devices to cellphone networks which network providers would love as it means more traffic and more revenue. Ronan Dunne, head of Verizon Communications Inc.’s new consumer-focused unit, told the WSJ that many customers should be able to get rid of Wi-Fi at home once 5G is rolled out and new technologies spread its signal throughout homes. But to see a world without Wi-Fi, device manufacturers would need to replace almost all the internet-connected machines on the market, adding the cost of a cellular chip to gadgets currently without one.

Wi-Fi networks are also growing into a new generation of their own. A trade group of companies which provide Wi-Fi connectivity called the Wi-Fi Alliance recently announced Wi-Fi 6 as the industry designation for its own next generation. Wi-Fi 6 boasts faster download speed, faster even than early 5G spec, although it will depend on the capabilities of your home router.

Next Wave

Both Wi-Fi and cell network providers are in a race to offer the best connection in a bid to win over consumers. While the jury is still out on whether or not 5G connectivity will be beneficial to consumers the Federal Communications Commission is taking the first step in opening up the bandwidth of radio frequencies both forms of next-gen networks will depend on. Impressive strides are being made in an attempt to demonstrate the feasibility of new networks, such as the first 5G-powered surgical telementoring. Whether consumers are ready or not, new networks are coming.

READ MORE: Cellphone Carriers Envision World Without Wi-Fi [Wall Street Journal]

More on 5G: Welcome to the Age of 5G. No One Can Agree On Whether That’s A Good Thing.

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Controlling AI Weapons May Be Impossible, Warns Former US Secretary of State

Kai-Fu Lee, a venture capitalist who used to develop AI for Google and Microsoft, predicts that AI will automate 40 percent of the world's jobs in 15 years.

Kill Switch

AI arms control is all “fun and games” until someone accidentally recreates Skynet.

When looking to the future we can’t ignore the possibility of a potential artificial intelligence arms race as nations rush to outpace one another. That’s exactly the sort of future that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is afraid of. Speaking last Thursday at a three-day event celebrating the opening of a new school of computing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kissinger warned that AI weapons might become harder to control than nuclear ones. Such systems will be developed in secrecy leading to a dangerous arms race, as Kissinger said according to MIT Tech Review, “With AI, the other side’s ignorance is one of your best weapons—sharing will be much more difficult.”

Powder Keg

It isn’t the first time Kissinger, a controversial figure in American foreign policy, has warned of the potential dangers of AI technology. In an op-ed for The Atlantic Kissinger opined that the U.S. government should “consider a presidential commission of eminent thinkers to help develop a national vision” on AI. He’s not alone in that consideration.

Last month, a group of experts — including ethics professors and human rights advocates — called for a ban on the development of AI-controlled weapon systems over fears that there are too many questions left as of yet unanswered such as “who is responsible when a machine decides to take a human life?”

Progress Marches On

Still, despite concerns, nations continue to develop tanks, planes, and bipedal androids. Just last month, President Donald Trump issued an order encouraging the United States to “prioritize AI”, lest the US fall behind other nations in AI development.

While AI still has more jovial applications which are being explored, like generating cat pictures and creating works of fine art, autonomy continues to creep into weapon systems development causing a backlash from the employees of companies like Google and Microsoft. The uncertain future and unbound potential of AI may require more reflection from humanity before we act on AI.

READ MORE: AI arms control may not be possible, warns Henry Kissinger [MIT Tech Review]

More on AI Ethics: Scientists Call for a Ban on AI-Controlled Killer Robots

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Controlling AI Weapons May Be Impossible, Warns Former US Secretary of State

Machine-Learning Models Can Help Detect Sepsis in Newborns Earlier

Newborn baby in a hospital bed, machine-learning models can help detect sepsis in babies.

Happy Birthday

The world can be a harsh place, particularly in the first few months after a baby is born. During those precious moments, a newborn is exposed to a flurry of new experiences and stimuli including, unfortunately, foreign bacteria. Sepsis, the result of a bacterial infection in the circulatory system, is a major cause of infant mortality even in developed nations.

Rapid diagnosis of ill babies is important but can be a challenge in hospitals due to ambiguous clinical signs and test inaccuracies. Now, researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philidelphia (CHOP) have found that by feeding machine-learning models regularly collected clinical data, they could identify cases of sepsis in newborns hours before they usually would. The research team published its findings in the journal PLOS ONE.

Quick Learners

To develop machine-learning models capable of detecting sepsis, the research team trained algorithms on retroactive sets of data with the goal of identifying sepsis at least four hours before clinicians had suspected the illness.

Using electronic health record data, such as vital signs like blood pressure and temperature, from 618 infants in the CHOP neonatal intensive care unit from 2014 to 2017, the team trained eight machine-learning models to compare vital signs to 36 potential indicators of infant sepsis. Because the data was retroactive, the research team was able to compare the machine-learning models’ accuracy to clinical findings. Of the eight models, six were able to accurately identify cases of sepsis up to four hours earlier than clinicians had.


The team concluded that with additional data to train on the models could become even more accurate over time. “Because early detection and rapid intervention is essential in cases of sepsis, machine-learning tools like this offer the potential to improve clinical outcomes in these infants,” said Aaron J. Masino, lead author of the study. According to Masino, the team’s findings are a key step in developing a real-time tool for use in hospitals. By following up with more clinical studies the team plans to evaluate the effectiveness of such a system in the hospital setting.

READ MORE: Researchers use health data tools to rapidly detect sepsis in newborns [EurekAlert]

More on Machine Learning: This AI Can Predict Survival of Ovarian Cancer Patients

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Machine-Learning Models Can Help Detect Sepsis in Newborns Earlier

Self-Powered Sensor Helps Track Firefighters in Burning Buildings

A sensor the size of a watch battery could help track firefighters and those in dangerous working conditions.

Heated Situation

No bigger than an ordinary watch battery, adding this little sensor to firefighter’s gear could help save lives.

Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario announced on Friday they had created a fireproof, self-powered sensor that could be used to track people working in high-risk environments, such as firefighters, steelworkers, and miners. The research team – from McMaster, UCLA, and University of Chemistry and Technology Prague – published their work in the journal Nano Energy.

Cool Gadget

The self-powered sensor is embedded in the sole of a boot or under the arm of a jacket, areas where frequent motion can be registered by the device. The friction of motion generated in these areas charges the sensor, similar to the static charge you sometimes generate by sliding your socks on the carpet. If motion stops, the device alerts someone outside the hazardous area so help can be sent.

“If somebody is unconscious and you are unable to find them, this could be very useful,” said Ravi Selvaganapathy, a professor of mechanical engineering who oversaw the project. “The nice thing is that because it is self-powered, you don’t have to do anything. It scavenges power from the environment.”

High heat environments have posed a challenge to similar sensors. The new sensor is self-charging, since most batteries breakdown in hot environments, and thanks to its key material, a new carbon aerogel nanocomposite, it successfully withstood temperatures up to 300° Celsius (572° Fahrenheit), around the temperature most wood starts to burn.

Stayin’ Alive

The research team is hoping to connect with a commercial pattern to help make the device more accessible to a larger market. Such a device could make a world of difference to those working in hostile environments and particularly to local fire departments.

“It’s exciting to develop something that could save someone’s life in the future,” said co-author Islam Hassan, a McMaster PhD student in mechanical engineering. “If firefighters use our technology and we can save someone’s life, that would be great.”

READ MORE: Tracking firefighters in burning buildings [EurekAlert]

More on Firefighting Tech: How Machine Learning Could Help California Fight Wildfires

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Self-Powered Sensor Helps Track Firefighters in Burning Buildings

Former Content Moderators Are Suing Facebook Over PTSD and Trauma

On Friday, two former Facebook content moderators signed on to a lawsuit, alleging that they also suffered from symptoms of PTSD.

Indecent Exposure

The Wall Street Journal called it “the worst job in technology” in 2017.

Content moderators at Facebook have the gruesome job of weeding through hundreds of videos of violent murders, hate speech, and even suicides — and that’s bound to take a heavy toll.

On Friday, two former Facebook content moderators signed on to a lawsuit in a California superior court, alleging that they also suffered from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and psychological trauma, CNET reports.

The original lawsuit dates back to September, stating that contractors have to view thousands of “videos, images and live-streamed broadcasts of child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide and murder” every day, according to an official press release — and Facebook is not doing enough to protect them.

“This case has uncovered a nightmare world that most of us did not know about,” Steve Williams, a lawyer for the firm representing the content moderators, said in a statement, as quoted by CNET. “The fact that Facebook does not seem to want to take responsibility, but rather treats these human beings as disposable, should scare all of us.”

Facebook has some 15,000 content reviewers, all of whom don’t actually work directly for Facebook, but have signed contracts with third parties like Accenture and Cognizant.

The Trauma Floor

Friday’s news comes after The Verge reported on the horrible and traumatic working conditions for content moderators at the social media company.

“Part of the reason I left was how unsafe I felt in my own home and my own skin,” an unnamed employee told The Verge, adding that they started carrying a gun to protect themselves after being accosted by other employees.

Others resorted to doing drugs or even having sex as a way to cope with the trauma. “I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve smoked with,” one employee told The Verge.

The Defense

In a November 2018 court filing, Facebook argued that the original lawsuit filed in September should be dismissed.

Bloomberg reported this week that Facebook is working with Accenture, a staffing firm that employs many of Facebook’s content moderators, to ensure that their practices comply with Facebook’s policies.

Messages circulating via internal message boards tried to dispel concerns over the abuse. In a post onFeb 25, Justin Osofsky, VP of Global Operations, wrote: “We’ve done a lot of work in this area and there’s a lot we still need to do.”

“After a couple of years of very rapid growth, we’re now further upgrading our work in this area to continue to operate effectively and improve at this size,” he added.

But whether Facebook’s actions will be enough is still uncertain.

READ MORE: Facebook faces complaints from more former content moderators in lawsuit [CNET]

More on content moderators: Facebook Mods Are so Traumatized They’re Getting High at Work

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Former Content Moderators Are Suing Facebook Over PTSD and Trauma

Elon Musk Wants to Build a “Permanently Occupied Human Base” on the Moon

To the ISS and Beyond

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk hasn’t gotten much sleep this weekend. But true to form, he’s already dreaming of something far more ambitious.

“To be frank, I’m a little emotionally exhausted,” Musk said at a post-launch press conference at four o’clock in the morning on Saturday. “Because that was super stressful. But it worked, so far.”

The private space company has achieved a lot within the last 48 hours. Their futuristic passenger spacecraft Crew Dragon launched early Saturday morning from the Kennedy Space Center and successfully docked autonomously with the International Space Station some 26 hours later.

If all goes well, two astronauts will fly on board the spacecraft to the ISS as soon as July.

Beyond Earth’s Orbit

But, as expected, Musk has much bigger plans — for traveling to beyond Earth’s orbit. “We should have a base on the moon, like a permanently occupied human base on the moon, and then send people to Mars,” Musk said at the press event. “Maybe there’s something beyond the space station, but we’ll see.”

The Starship Enterprise

Earlier this year, Musk admitted that he wanted to get to the Moon – and “as fast as possible,” he wrote in a Jan 31 tweet.

The vehicle that could fulfill that dream: the stainless-steel monstrosity dubbed Starship. But getting Starship to the Moon will be a much harder feat to pull off than any NASA project ever.

“It won’t be easy for us or SpaceX,” Walt Engelund, director of Space Technology and Exploration Directorate at NASA, told Business Insider in a February interview.

But one step at a time. “We’ve got to focus on getting [the Crew Dragon missions] right, for sure. That’s the priority,” Musk admitted at Saturday’s press event.

“But then, after that, maybe something beyond low-Earth orbit.”

READ MORE: Elon Musk says he would ride SpaceX’s new Dragon spaceship into orbit — and build a moon base with NASA [Business Insider]

More on Crew Dragon: Watch SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Dock Autonomously With the ISS

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Elon Musk Wants to Build a “Permanently Occupied Human Base” on the Moon

Watch SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Dock Autonomously With the ISS

SpaceX's next-generation passenger spacecraft Crew Dragon has docked itself to a free dock on the International Space Station at 5:51 am EST this morning.

Autonomous Parking

After successfully launching early on Saturday morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SpaceX’s next-generation passenger spacecraft Crew Dragon has docked itself to a free dock on the International Space Station at 5:51 am EST this morning.

The first @Commercial_Crew mission arrived at the space station today when the @SpaceX #CrewDragon completed soft capture on the Harmony module at 5:51am ET. #LaunchAmerica https://t.co/Bgcgac0O50 pic.twitter.com/KfNFpHxpGx

— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) March 3, 2019

The footage, courtesy of the official International Space Station Twitter account, shows Crew Dragon slowly lining up its port with the ISS and approaching slowly.

Crew Dragon docked after visiting a number of other locations outside of the space station, using its thrusters, earlier this morning to test its docking system.

The hatch opened at 8:10 am EST.

Hatch is open! Crew Dragon will now spend 5 days at the @space_station pic.twitter.com/HA9iSWOBVE

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 3, 2019

Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques, two astronauts currently on board the ISS, started preparing to open the hatch that leads to the Crew Dragon from inside the station when it docked. Once they got inside, they were greeted by SpaceX’s dummy “Ripley.”

Astronauts on the @Space_Station have opened the hatch on @SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft! The station crew can now go inside the first American spacecraft to autonomously dock to the orbiting laboratory. ?? pic.twitter.com/z2rP5MWCqu

— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) March 3, 2019

Active Docking

It’s yet another historic moment for the Crew Dragon mission as the docking procedure is quite different this time when compared to previous Dragon missions: “Dragon was basically hovering under the ISS,” said Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of mission assurance at SpaceX during a pre-launch briefing on Thursday. “You can see how it moves back and forth and then the [Canadarm] takes it to a berthing bay.”

In contrast, the Crew Dragon’s docking system is active, he said: “it will plant itself in front of the station and use a docking port on its own, no docking arm required.”

A New Visitor

Five days from now, Crew Dragon will undock and makes its long way back to Earth. This time around, it will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean — previous (cargo) Dragon missions have touched down in the Pacific.

READ MORE: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule successfully docks to the ISS for the first time [The Verge]

More on Crew Dragon: SpaceX Launches First U.S. Private Passenger Spacecraft to ISS

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Watch SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Dock Autonomously With the ISS

Trump’s Campaign Team: Government Should Manage 5G Networks

Donald Trump's 2020 reelection team is backing controversial plans to have the government manage 5G wireless networks in the U.S., Politico reports.

Nationalized 5G?

Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection team is backing controversial plans to have the government manage 5G wireless networks in the U.S., Politico reports.

The plan is for the government to take specific frequencies in the 5G spectrum and sell them off wholesale to U.S. wireless providers.

That would also mean more access to rural Americans according to Trump’s team. “A 5G wholesale market would drive down costs and provide access to millions of Americans who are currently underserved,” Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Politico. “This is in line with President Trump’s agenda to benefit all Americans, regardless of geography.”

Earlier this year Trump voiced his support for rolling out 5G connectivity on Twitter. “I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible,” Trump tweeted. “It is far more powerful, faster, and smarter than the current standard. American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind.”

Attempt Number Two

A similar plan that leaked in 2018 suggested that the government should provide its own infrastructure and allow carriers to use it. A senior official at the time who spoke with Reuters stated, “We want to build a network so the Chinese can’t listen to your calls.”

But the plans immediately received pushback from the wireless industry. Even Trump’s own FCC chairman Ajit Pai called the idea of a nationalized 5G network “a costly and counterproductive distraction.”

How these newly revealed plans differ is still not one hundred percent clear. The idea is to open up wireless spectrums the Defense Department is currently using and partner with third party operators, Politico reports.

Trump campaign adviser Newt Gingrich pushed for a “public-private partnership” to “spur microelectronics manufacturing” and accelerate 5G rollout in a Newsweek op-ed.

But it will be a hard sell. The plan is unlikely to gain much traction — if previous attempts are anything to go by.

READ MORE: Trump campaign pushes government intervention on 5G [Politico]

More on 5G: Why Cellphone Carriers Are Dreaming of a World Without Wi-Fi

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Trump’s Campaign Team: Government Should Manage 5G Networks

Freedom | Definition of Freedom by Merriam-Webster

1 : the quality or state of being free: such as

a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action

d : unrestricted use gave him the freedom of their home

f : the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken answered with freedom

g : improper familiarity

h : boldness of conception or execution

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Freedom | Definition of Freedom by Merriam-Webster