THE BLEEDING EDGE
Today’s news for the future
March 6, 2016
The future of Wi-Fi is 10,000 times more energy efficient
By April Glaser
Electrical engineering students at the University of Washington have a new way, called Passive Wi-Fi, of powering Wi-Fi technology that uses 10,000 times less power. For perspective, the state of the art in low power Wi-Fi transmissions today consume 100s of milliwatts of power, whereas the technology the student researches developed consume only 10-50 microwatts. By running a single, traditional Wi-Fi router, the Passive Wi-Fi technology can then simply reflect Wi-Fi packets rather than transmitting them at a fraction of the energy consumed.
DOD officials say autonomous killing machines deserve a look
By Sean Gallagher
At the National Defense Industrial Association's Ground Robotics Capabilities conference on Thursday, Department of Defense officials discussed the possibility of the US military fielding autonomous armed robots, particularly in "highly competitive, highly contested space" behind enemy lines. So far, the military has largely steered clear of deploying remotely operated ground weapons of any kind, though it has heavily invested in the development of armed "unmanned ground vehicles." The military did deploy remote-controlled machine gun turrets in Afghanistan as stationary defenses, but was reluctant to use them because of the safety risks—both to fellow soldiers and civilians.
Bad news: Low-carbon air travel isn’t very likely
By Suzanne Jacobs
Air travel is terrible for the environment. Despite claims about innovations to change that paradigm, a new study, calls the prospect of near-term sustainable aviation is a myth. By 2030, there could be up to 40,000 commercial plans in use, and by 2050, air travel could account for as much as 19 percent of total energy used for transportation, compared to 11 percent in 2006. While air travel is getting more energy efficient, it’s not enough to compensate for a more than quintupling of the feet.
University of Louisville earns gold in sustainability score
The University of Louisville has won a gold ranking from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) with a score of 65.12 out of a possible 100 points. With this rank this score, the University of Louisville becomes one of 92 schools in the world to win gold. AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) awards points based on factors like completing greenhouse gas emissions inventory, providing options for sustainable transportation and waste diversion. Only one school in the world, Colorado State University, has reached Platinum level of the program.
LABOR AND ECONOMY
US Chamber of Commerce sues to stop unionization of Uber drivers
By Joe Mullin
The US Chamber of Commerce has filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle, objecting to recent legislation allowing Uber and Lyft employees. The legislation was passed unanimously by the Seattle City Council in December 2015. Mayor Ed Murray has refused to sign it into law, but it will nonetheless become law without his signature.. The Chamber argues that the companies’ drivers, as contractors, are not allowed to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act, and that the law violates the Sherman Antitrust Act. For its part, Uber has said that the Chamber’s lawsuit “raises serious questions” about Seattle’s actions.
What Costco’s new wages say about the American economy
By Bourree Lam
Costco announced that it will be raising wages for both new and current entry-level workers in the US and Canada by $1.50. Costco’s average hourly wage (about $21 an hour) is $8 higher than Walmart’s, and that probably has something to do with the company’s low turnover rate. The fact that both Costco and Walmart are raising wages for their workers is evidence that the U.S. labor market might be tightening. The last two jobs reports have seen the unemployment rate below 5 percent—as the U.S. economy improves and job opportunities become more abundant, it’s expected that workers will have options to jump from job to job.
Vietnam hosts ‘environmentally sustainable city’ talks
Vietnam News Service
Experts and policy managers from East Asian countries gathered in Ha Noi for a two-day seminar Thursday and Friday to discuss how to build environmentally sustainable cities. The High-Level Seminar on Environmentally Sustainable Cities (ESC) is the flagship collaborative initiative of 18 East Asia Summit (EAS) participating countries (consisting of 10 ASEAN member states, plus Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the US and Russia) to foster concrete ESC activities in the region.
The Middle East just suffered its worst drought in 900 years
By Ishaan Tharoor
A NASA study has found that a drought that affected the Middle East over the past decade was perhaps the worst in the region's history for nearly a millennium. "There is evidence that the 2007-2010 drought contributed to the conflict in Syria," stated an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year. "It was the worst drought in the instrumental record, causing widespread crop failure and a mass migration of farming families to the urban centers. ... For Syria, a country marked by poor governance and unsustainable agricultural and environmental policies, the drought had a catalytic effect, contributing to political unrest."
DC police sometimes raid wrong homes--terrifying the innocent
By John Sullivan, Derek Hawkins and Pietro Lombardi
A Washington Post review of 2,000 warrants served by D.C. police between January 2013 and January 2015 found that 284—about 14 percent—shared problematic characteristics. In every case, after arresting someone on the street for possession of drugs or a weapon, police invoked their training and experience to justify a search of a residence without observing criminal activity there. The language of the warrants gave officers broad leeway to search for drugs and guns in areas saturated by them and to seize phones, computers and personal records. In about 60 percent of the 284 cases, police executing the warrants found illegal items, ranging from drug paraphernalia to guns. About 40 percent of the time—in 115 cases—police left empty-handed.
Flint: It’s not just about the water
By Jacque Wilson Smith and Jeremy Moorhead
Evidence of the most recent crisis in Flint is easy to spot. Long lines of American-made cars line up at fire stations, where National Guardsmen hand out pallets of bottled water. But Flint's problems started long before Michigan declared a state of emergency. In 2014, the city's population was 99,002, nearly half of what it was 50 years ago. More than 41% of Flint's residents live below the poverty level, according to the U.S. Census. For three years running, Flint was named the most violent city in the nation, and it has--or had, depending on who you ask--a big arson problem.
Read the full article here.