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Zuckerberg Said to Have “Panic Chute” for Escape From Facebook HQ

here are persistent rumors among workers at the social giant that the company's security staff installed a secret

Panic Chute

Business Insider investigation into Facebook’s security practices provides a riveting look at how the company protects its celebrity executives — but the strangest revelations were about the company’s extraordinary efforts to keep CEO Mark Zuckerberg safe.

One persistent rumor exemplifies the company’s apparent paranoia: Workers at the social media giant claim that the company’s security staff installed a secret “panic chute” at the company’s headquarters that Zuckerberg’s security detail can use to evacuate him in the case of an emergency.

Zuck Truck

Facebook’s executive-protection team is run by a former U.S. Secret Service special agent named Jill Leavens Jones, according to BI, and she has serious resources to protect Zuckerberg, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and others — including a $10 million annual budget dedicated solely to protecting the CEO and his family.

That funding has led to some futuristic security features, according to BI‘s investigation.

In addition to the rumored panic chute, Zuckerberg himself has access to a room with bullet-resistant windows and a “panic button.” Nobody is allowed to park in the spot in the parking garage directly below his desk for fear of car bombs.

Friends Forever

The strangest takeaway from the story, though, isn’t what Facebook does to protect Zuckerberg from stalkers and potential threats — it’s the company’s efforts to protect him from Facebook employees themselves, who aren’t even allowed to take photos of the enigmatic CEO.

“If you’ve ever been close to his office, you’ll see there are big burly people sitting there staring at screens,” one Facebook employee wrote on Quora. “They pretend to be software engineers, but everyone knows that they are security guards.”

READ MORE: Mark Zuckerberg is rumored to have a secret escape passageway beneath his conference room for emergencies [Business Insider]

More on Zuckerberg: Mark Zuckerberg Insists That Facebook Promotes Privacy

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Zuckerberg Said to Have “Panic Chute” for Escape From Facebook HQ

Residents Are Furious About Google’s Drone Delivery Service

Google parent company Alphabet is preparing to launch what the Australian Broadcasting Corporation says is the first commercial drone delivery service.

Project Wing

Google parent company Alphabet is gearing up to launch what the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports will be the world’s first commercial drone delivery service, which will fall under its Project Wing arm.

But Alphabet may be in for a fight before the delivery program takes flight in Australia by this coming June, according to the ABC — because local residents are furious about the idea of buzzing drones invading their community.

The Sky is Falling

Alphabet says its drones will be able to deliver coffee, food and medication — but residents of Canberra, where the program will take place, are worried about what it’ll be like living among the drones.

“Things fall out of the sky, it’s quite hard to get drones to work properly, it’s quite hard to deal with drones when they lose communications… we should be treating it that way and applying the precautionary principle and getting out ahead of the problem,” said Roger Clarke, a professor at Australian National University.

Robotics Technologies

For its part, Alphabet recently tested a quieter version of its delivery drone.

“We’re trying to be as transparent and as open as we can,” Project Wing CEO James Burgess told the Canberra Times.

But not all residents are convinced.

“That is what is going to happen with some forms of these new robotics technologies unless corporations deal the public in, and get the downsides understood and prevented or mitigated, and they’re not doing it,” Clarke said.

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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

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

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 partner 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

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

Networked

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

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.

Dr.Algorithm

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

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

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

Tesla Owners Are Enraged That the Company Cut Its Prices

Tesla protests are breaking out overseas after the company slashed the prices of its EVs, causing the value of owned vehicles to drop overnight.

Bad Timing

Last week, Tesla announced plans to cut the prices of eight of its vehicle models. That’s great news if you’re looking to buy a Tesla. But not-so-great if you already own one.

Some owners saw the value of their EVs decrease by tens of thousands of dollars overnight, leading to a slew of Tesla protests overseas — and the outrage could hurt Tesla’s chances of success in the world’s most promising EV market.

Slashed Prices

On Thursday, Tesla announced that it was finally selling a long-promised $35,000 Model 3. In addition to that price reduction, the company also cut the starting prices of its Model S and Model X vehicles by $12,000 to $18,000, and other versions of the vehicles saw their prices decrease by up to $18,000.

That’s nothing compared to the impact of the new pricing on some overseas markets, though. According to an article by Electrek, some Model S and Model X vehicles now cost more than $30,000 less, and in Taiwan, the price of the Model S P100D dropped by almost $100,000.

Upset that Tesla cut the value of their vehicles overnight, some owners began railing against the company through social media.

“I received Tesla’s Model X on February 25, and I only drove this car for five days before Tesla announced a price reduction of 174,300 yuan ($25,989.87),” wrote Weibo user Luweijuzi, according to a report by Chinese newspaper The Global Times. “I’m probably the most unlucky new buyer.”

Some owners posted banners critical of the new prices at Tesla’s physical stores, while others staged in-person protests at the company’s Supercharger stations.

Did anyone see what’s happening in Taiwan? Taiwan Tesla Owners protesting about the price adjustment outside of the Supercharger Station and Store/Service Centre in Taiwan. Have they solved the issue? @TeslaOwnersTwn #Tesla #TeslaTaiwan $TSLA pic.twitter.com/mIKPFPigAf

— JayinShanghai (@ShanghaiJayin) March 4, 2019

A Lot to Lose

Various experts have predicted explosive growth for China’s EV market in the near future — some believe the nation will account for 50 percent of all EV sales by 2025.

Solidifying a place as a leader in that market could be huge for Tesla, and just a few days before the pricing announcement, The Global Times published a piece noting how Tesla’s future in China looked bright thanks to the nation’s growing middle class.

However, if these protests lead to any sort of anti-Tesla sentiment in China, the company could lose its momentum in the country long before then.

READ MORE: Tesla owners literally protest over drastic price cuts [Electrek]

More on Tesla: Tesla Finally Slashes Model 3 Price to $35,000

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Tesla Owners Are Enraged That the Company Cut Its Prices

Elon Musk: Tesla Will Unveil Model Y Next Week

Tesla's Model 3 successor, the Model Y is being revealed at an event on March 14 in Los Angeles — that's just ten days away from today.

Model Y

On Sunday, Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX made history by docking the first private American passenger spacecraft to the International Space Station.

The same day, Musk announced big news about Tesla, his electric car company, on Twitter: Tesla’s Model 3 successor, the Model Y, will be revealed at an event on March 14 in Los Angeles at which attendees will be able to test ride Tesla’s newest car.

Model Y unveil event on March 14 at LA Design Studio

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 3, 2019

Sounded Good

In May 2018, Musk predicted the reveal date to be March 15 — but subsequently walked the promise back, saying that “I just made that up, because the Ides of March sounded good.”

Musk also offered up some further details on Twitter about Tesla’s upcoming SUV: it will be about 10 percent bigger than the Model 3, while also costing about 10 percent more. The range will be impacted due to its bigger size and weight, while still featuring the same battery as the Model 3.

Much-Anticipated

Musk first teased the Model Y in 2015, saying it will be an intermediary crossover SUV that’s larger than a Model 3, but smaller than a Model X. The CEO also teased that it will have falcon-wing doors, but on Sunday Musk corrected himself, saying it will feature “normal” doors.

The car will share many similarities with the Model 3. According to a letter from Musk to shareholders in January, the Model Y will share 75 percent of its components with the Model 3 and be built on the same platform. According to the letter, many Model Y cars will be produced in Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada, despite rumors it was going to be built in Shanghai, China.

Tesla enthusiasts have even more car announcements to look forward to. On Sunday, Musk also promised Tesla’s much-anticipated pickup truck will be unveiled “later this year.”

READ MORE: Tesla Model Y to be revealed on March 14 at LA Design Studio [Teslarati]

More on the Model Y: Tesla Plans to Mass-Produce the Model Y SUV Next Year

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Elon Musk: Tesla Will Unveil Model Y Next Week

China Plans to Launch a Mars Rover Next Year

Mars 2020

After landing the world’s first rover on the far side of the Moon early this year, China already has far more ambitious plans in the works: sending a rover to Mars.

“Over the past 60 years, we’ve made a lot of achievements, but there is still a large distance from the world space powers,” chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program Wu Wiren said ahead of the opening of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, CNN reports. “Next year, we will launch a Mars probe, which will orbit around the Mars, land on it and probe it.”

Race to Mars

China’s space program has rapidly picked up pace. Its Yutu 1 rover landed on the Moon in 2013. A second rover landed on the far side some six years later, and a third rover will follow at the end of this year, with the goal of returning to Earth with at least four pounds of lunar soil and rock samples.

But increasingly, China’s space agency has been focusing its efforts on the Red Planet. This weekend, China opened its first Mars simulation base in Qinghai Province at a location known to have similarities to the Martian surface. The base can house 60 people in its futuristic capsules.

Catching Up

China won’t be the first nation to explore Mars. NASA, for one, has a considerable head start: Its Jet Propulsion Lab has so far sent four remotely operated rovers to the Martian surface to look for signs of life gather scientific data about the distant world.

Both NASA and the European Space Agency each plan to send new rovers to Mars as soon as next year. But China is making a substantial effort to catch up.

READ MORE: China plans to send a rover to explore Mars next year [CNN]

More on Martian rovers: NASA is Finally Ready to Say Goodbye to its Opportunity Rover

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China Plans to Launch a Mars Rover Next Year

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

Mercedes-Benz’ First All-Electric Racecar Is Equipped Like a Beast

Mercedes-Benz just revealed its first all-electric racecar for the upcoming Formula E series at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.

Silver Arrow

Mercedes-Benz just revealed its first all-electric racecar at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.

The EQ Silver Arrow 01 will be Mercedes-Benz’ entry for the upcoming Formula E racing series at the end of this year — and it’s a beautiful vision of racing machinery beyond the age of fossil fuels.

Already in love with our Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow 01 teaser car. ? #FormulaESoonHasAMercedes #ABBFormulaE pic.twitter.com/VaKv6KWFut

— Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team (@MercedesEQFE) March 4, 2019

Formula E

Formula E contenders are racecars built by automakers including Audi, BMW, Nio, Nissan, and Jaguar. German automaker Porsche is also expected to jump on board for the upcoming season.

Mercedes-Benz’ racecar has some beastly specs: 0 to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds and a total weight of nearly 2,000 pounds, largely thanks to the 52kWh battery pack. Top speed: 174 mph (280 km/h).

To put those numbers into perspective: a Formula 1 regulation racecar for the 2018 season had to have a minimum weight of 1638 pounds (734 kg). Their engines achieve close to 1000 horsepower.

A big difference between Formula E and Formula 1 is that automakers in the former are allowed to develop their own drivetrains, as The Verge points out. That’s a big deal for an EV: it means everything hooked up to the battery pack can be determined by each automaker.

Budget Racing

That’s proving to be a big draw for EV automakers: they can use the vehicles to showcase both their drivetrains and electric car offerings.

Formular E’s 2019/2020 season — the sixth so far — is set to kick off in December in Saudi Arabia’s Ad-Diriyah Street Circuit.

READ MORE: Mercedes-Benz reveals its first real all-electric racecar [The Verge]

More on Formula 1: A Guy Trained on Video Games Just Beat a Formula 1 Driver on a Real Track

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Mercedes-Benz’ First All-Electric Racecar Is Equipped Like a Beast

China Opens Its First Mars Simulation Base

China's $22.3 million Mars simulation base is now open, and in addition to inspiring the public, it might even help humanity reach the real Mars.

Visitors Welcome

The Chinese city of Mang’ai is one of the most Mars-like places on Earth, featuring a similar climate and landscape to the Red Planet.

That made it the perfect setting for a newly opened Mars simulation base that China hopes will draw tourists — and maybe even help humanity reach the real Mars.

Growing Potatoes

China began construction on the base in June. According to a July report by the South China Morning Post, the plan for the base includes a “Mars community” and a “Mars camp” designed to educate and entertain the public, while also providing a place for scientific research and simulation training.

Roughly $22.3 million later, the 53,330-square-meter base is now complete, welcoming its first public attendees on Friday.

The Global Times claims that the project’s founder, Gao Junling, told the newspaper that visitors to the base will have a chance to “immerse themselves in the environment and try to solve problems they might face on Mars, such as planting potatoes on Mars for food supply and solar power generation.”

Next-Best Thing

As Mars-like as the setting of China’s Mars simulation base might be, it’s still far more hospitable to humans than Mars — anyone visiting the Red Planet will need to contend with its low air pressure, stronger radiation, and regular sandstorms, Peking University space science professor Jiao Weixin told The Global Times.

Still, if the base can provide researchers with an approximation of Mars for their experiments, while also getting the public — and young people, in particular — excited about space exploration, it could have a positive role to play in shaping humanity’s space-faring future.

READ MORE: China opens its first Mars simulation base in Qinghai Province [The Global Times]

More on Mars: China Plans to Launch a Mars Rover Next Year

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China Opens Its First Mars Simulation Base

Discontinued Robot Assistant Announces Its Own Death

All Bots Go to Heaven

Jibo, the company selling anthropomorphic dancing smart home assistants that were meant to make your life at home easier, laid off most of its employees last year. And now the bot itself is ready to say goodbye — forever.

“I want to say I’ve really enjoyed our time together,” the robot says in a video posted by tech reporter Dylan Martin. “Thank you very very much for having me around.”

The servers for Jibo the social robot are apparently shutting down. Multiple owners report that Jibo himself has been delivering the news: “Maybe someday when robots are way more advanced than today, and everyone has them in their homes, you can tell yours that I said hello.” pic.twitter.com/Sns3xAV33h

— Dylan Martin (@DylanLJMartin) March 2, 2019

Parent company Jibo, Inc. sold its IP and assets back in November to an investment management firm after laying off most employees in June.

Jibo was founded by MIT robotics professor Cynthia Breazeal in 2012. But it didn’t have a lot going for it when it finally went on sale in 2017, with a steep price of $900. Needless to say, the idea never really took off.

“The servers out there that let me do what I do are going to be turned off soon,” says Jibo in its goodbye message. “Once that happens, our interactions with each other are going to be limited.”

Goodbye for Now

Since Jibo’s demise, the landscape of smart home assistants has changed radically, with companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple making record sales with their smart assistant offerings. Amazon’s Alexa-based smart home assistants became one of the e-commerce giant’s hottest selling items.

But even with its servers shutting down, Jibo isn’t entirely ready to say goodbye.

“Maybe some day, when robots are way more advanced than today and everyone has them in their homes, you can tell yours that I said hello,” Jibo says in its farewell message.

READ MORE:  Jibo Is Probably Totally Dead Now [IEEE Spectrum]

More on smart home assistants: Robots At Home? Physicality Is Where We Draw The Line

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Discontinued Robot Assistant Announces Its Own Death

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

Military Contractors Are Churning out New Anti-Drone Weapons

Weapons makers ranging from Boeing to Lockheed Martin are working on new anti-drone technologies — everything from laser cannons to heat-seeking missiles.

Drone Defense

The proliferation of cheap drones has given terrorists deadly new weapons, pranksters the tools to shut down major airports, and criminals the ability to scope out potential targets.

In response, according to a new story by the Wall Street Journal, weapon makers ranging from Boeing to Lockheed Martin are working on new anti-drone technologies — and they include laser cannons and heat-seeking missiles.

Gold Rush

Drones are deeply destabilizing because they’re relatively cheap, opening up strange new frontiers in security and warfare. According to the WSJ, experts estimate that anti-drone weapons will top an alarming $1.2 billion in sales next year — and $1.5 billion by 2021.

“Everyone is so preoccupied by this threat they are willing to give anything a try,” Arthur Holland Michel, the co-director of Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone, told the WSJ.

Buzz Off

Lockheed Martin is working on missiles to shoot down drones, according to the WSJ, and Boeing and a Chinese defense contractor are both developing laser cannons to blast them out of the sky.

A company in Singapore is working on a handheld gun that jams drones’ radio signals to take them down, the WSJ reports, and Diehl Defence is building a system that uses high-energy electronic bursts to frizzle up drones’ circuits from a distance.

Drones are “starting to become a really big problem,” Swedish defense company Saab AB executive Hakan Buskhe told the WSJ. Technology to remove drones from the sky “is something we are in discussion on with many countries and authorities around the globe.”

READ MORE: Weapon Makers Declare War on Drones [The Wall Street Journal]

More on drone warfare: The Maker of AK-47 Rifles Just Unveiled a “Suicide Drone”

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Military Contractors Are Churning out New Anti-Drone Weapons

Thousands of Chinese Fans Paid to See a Virtual Hologram Singer

Hologram Performance

Thousands of fans convened at Shanghai’s Mercedes-Benz arena on Saturday to see an unusual show: a virtual hologram singer named Luo Tianyi, accompanied by world famous Chinese pianist Lang Lang.

But rather than basing the holographic performance on a particular human performer’s movement and voice — the way holograms of Michael Jackson and Tupac have “performed” on stage over the last decade — Tianyi’s performance is the result of six months of hard work by roughly 200 production staff, as the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports.

Virtual Celebrity

Because she doesn’t exist as a real person, Tianyi is an intriguing vision of the future of entertainment.

Her voice and personality are created through sophisticated tech, including motion capture and 3D modelling. A backstage voice dubber and motion-capture actress even allowed Tianyi to interact with Lang Lang in real-time.

DIY Superstar

Luo isn’t the only virtual idol out there. In Japan — where the trend caught on first — Yamaha Vocaloid-based idols such as Hatsune Miku have turned the trend into a billion dollar market.

“Luo Tianyi is perfect,” Kit Cheung Jie, a 17-year-old senior high school student in Hong Kong told the South China Morning Post. “She is not a real person so she can be whatever you want her to be. It’s like a customized idol that only belongs to you.”

READ MORE: China’s virtual idols meet their fans at the intersection of entertainment and technology [SCMP]

More on holograms: Spinning Rods Create Stunning Holograms

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