This is the Robot Maid Elon Musk is Funding
By Will Knight
MIT Technology Review
OpenAI, a secretive AI non-profit backed by Elon Musk, is reprogramming robots developed by a company that supplies warehouse automation hardware. Fetch Robotics makes a range of robots including systems that follow workers around a building, carrying items dropped into a basket. Researchers at OpenAI are equipping these robots with software that lets them train themselves through trial and error. The effort reflects a bet that innovations in software and machine learning, rather than breakthroughs in hardware, are the way to give robotics remarkable new capabilities.
Blockai Uses the Blockchain to Protect Your Copyright and Find Those Infringing on It
By Bryan Clark
The Next Web
The majority of artists in the United States can’t afford to register their copyright with the US Copyright Office. While the internet makes it easier than ever to create and share works of art, it’s done little-to-nothing to help protect copyright, and what few strides it has made have largely benefited huge companies rather than smaller artists. Blockai, a San Francisco based copywriting company, wants to change all that by using the power of the blockchain to help you register and protect your work online.
Edward Snowden Wants to Build an iPhone Case That Will Tell You if the NSA is Listening
By Paul Szoldra
Edward Snowden wants you to know at all times whether the NSA is keeping tabs on your iPhone. Along with his co-author and fellow hacker Andrew Huang, Snowden presented his research on phone "hardware introspection" at MIT, which aims to give users the ability to see whether their phone is sending out secret signals to an intelligence agency. According to Snowden and Huang, the paper aims to “give journalists the tools to know when their smart phones are tracking or disclosing their location when the devices are supposed to be in airplane mode."
SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT
Keystone XL And Eminent Domain Embody Republicans’ Crisis Of Identity
By Jane Kleeb
The Huffington Post
The Republican Party is facing a serious crisis of identity. On the one hand, they stand up for property rights in their Platform, which would be music to the ears of rural voters and urban folks on the front line of pipeline fights if the GOP were not also Keystone XL’s biggest cheerleader. Not only do they praise the foreign pipeline in their Platform, but also using it as a proxy for their energy policy: drill anywhere and everywhere, no matter the risk. The Republicans’ stance on ending eminent domain abuse while supporting the Keystone XL pipeline is the perfect case study of how the GOP can’t seem to find its identity.
What’s the most eco-friendly material for a 3D printer?
By Ask Umbra
3-D printers! Even now, the concept sounds so sci-fi: a portable machine that can build pretty much any object we can dream up, layer by ultrathin layer. But The Future is here, my friends — and with it, the same questions of sustainability we should be asking about all of the other technological breakthroughs of modern life. But how sustainable are the various “inks” used in the 3-D printing process? Well, since there’s nothing really inky about the various plastic, metal, ceramic, wood, paper, and even biological components that get loaded into these printers and then squeezed out into any number of products, the question quickly becomes how to access “the sustainable qualities of…pretty much anything.”
Tesla Wants To Help You Become Your Own Solar Utility. And Sell Lots Of Self-Driving Cars.
By Ryan Koronowski
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Tesla had changed the name of its official corporate website from teslamotors.com to tesla.com — potentially signaling a shift in direction from an auto company to to an energy company that also makes vehicles. If CEO Elon Musk gets his way and his electric car company succeeds in buying the solar company SolarCity, Tesla will not just mean fancy electric vehicles (EVs). It will mean energy, home battery storage, solar panels on your roof and wider variety of affordable Tesla vehicles driving the streets, increasingly without drivers. In Musk’s own words, “the point of all this was, and remains, accelerating the advent of sustainable energy, so that we can imagine far into the future and life is still good.”
LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY
Gainsaying the naysayers on universal basic income
By Martin Sandbu
The Financial Times
Proposals for a universal basic income — an unconditional payment from the state to citizens to secure against penury — are in vogue again, as they have periodically been since a version of the idea was first articulated in detail by Thomas Paine more than two centuries ago. The pattern should be well known by now: some the greatest thinkers of an era advocate it, but the radicalism of UBI ultimately suffers a narrow political defeat. So we should perhaps not be surprised by angry attacks on UBI now that the idea is again gaining wide currency. Still, the strength of the invective is striking.
Inside the Corporate Utopias Where Capitalism Rules and Labors Laws Don’t Apply
By Matt Kennard and Claire Provost
In These Times
Over the past 50 years, more than half of the world’s countries have carved out pieces of their territories to hand over to foreign investors as “special economic zones” or “SEZs”. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that more than 66 million people work in the world’s more than 3,000 SEZs. While SEZs offer businesses the promise of a steady supply of cheap labor, the ILO characterizes them as “a symptom of the race to the bottom in the global economy.” The success of such zones is often gauged by how much foreign money they attract, or how much economic growth they generate, but the voices of the millions of workers that power these spaces are seldom heard.
Up to 70% of people in developed countries 'have seen incomes stagnate'
By Larry Elliot
Research by the McKinsey Global Institute found that between 65% and 70% of people in 25 advanced countries saw no increase in their earnings between 2005 and 2014. Half a billion people in the west’s richest countries suffered from flat or falling pay packets in the decade covering the financial and economic crisis of 2008-09, according to a report highlighting the impact of the Great Recession on household incomes. The report found there had been a dramatic increase in the number of households affected by flat or falling incomes and that today’s younger generation was at risk of ending up poorer than their parents. It warned that should the “slow growth” conditions of the past decade persist, up to 80% of income segments could face flat or falling incomes over the next decade.
GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT
Neoliberalism Is a Political Project
By David Harvey
Eleven years ago, David Harvey published A Brief History of Neoliberalism, now one of the most cited books on the subject. The years since have seen new economic and financial crises, but also of new waves of resistance, which themselves often target “neoliberalism” in their critique of contemporary society. But what, exactly, are we talking about when we talk about neoliberalism? Is it a useful target for socialists? And how has it changed since its genesis in the late twentieth century?
Can the Internet Reboot Africa?
By Mark Rice-Oxley and Zoe Flood
There’s free Facebook, mobile banking, and the promise of cashless societies and digitized land records, and from Accra in the west to Kigali in the east, a spray of “tech hubs” talk about “leapfrogging” technology and incubating start-ups. Such are the giddy promises of Africa’s “fourth industrial revolution” – a giant step forward into the digital world which the Guardian is reporting on for the next two weeks. Some are salivating that it will amount to the renaissance of a marginalised continent, while others soberly warn of the hype.
How Putin Weaponized Wikileaks to Influence the Election of an American President
By Patrick Tucker
On Friday, Wikileaks published 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. They reveal, among other things, thuggish infighting, a push by a top DNC official to use Bernie Sanders’ religious convictions against him in the South, and attempts to strong-arm media outlets. In other words, they reveal the Washington campaign monster for what it is. But leave aside the purported content of the Wikileaks data dump (to which numerous other outlets have devoted considerable attention) and consider the source. Considerable evidence shows that the Wikileaks dump was an orchestrated act by the Russian government, working through proxies, to undermine Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign.
Virginia Governor Bypasses Court Ruling To Help 200,000 Ex-Felons Vote
By Alice Ollstein
In a 4 to 3 decision late Friday, the Supreme Court of Virginia stripped away the voting rights from 200,000 ex-offenders who had recently regained full civil rights through one of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive orders, effectively disenfranchising one in five of the state’s African American voters. But McAuliffe (D) is taking action to fight the decision and restore those rights by signing 200,000 individual clemency grants to the state’s ex-offenders to ensure their right to vote in November. The court said the governor lacks the authority under the state constitution to issue such a blanket rights restoration, but McAuliffe remains committed to moving past his state’s history of injustice to “embrace an honest process for restoring the rights of [its] citizens.”
How Women Are Harassed Out of Science
By Joan C. Williams and Kate Massinger
Even in 2016 sexual harassment at universities remains a problem. The spate of lawsuits, investigations, and recent resignations at the University of California, Berkeley, University of Chicago, and UCLA, accompanied by older cases leaked to the press and an increase in women going public about their experiences, have made that clear. Graduate students and postdocs are particularly vulnerable, because their futures depend so completely on good recommendations from professors. And STEM students are more dependent than others. Their career progress hinges on invitations to work on professors’ grants or—if students have their own projects—access to big data sets or expensive lab equipment controlled by overwhelmingly male senior faculty. But rather than paying the price often required for such “progress”, many women are opting out of science altogether.
Why Voter ID Is Racial Discrimination, for the Record
By Brentin Mock
A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that a photo voter-ID law passed by Texas almost five years ago discriminates against people of color. Experts testified in the years-long court battle over the law that it would potentially disenfranchise upwards of 600,000 eligible voters. Most of these voters would be Latino and African-American voters who are unable to obtain the ID cards required to vote due to poverty, lack of transportation, and the state’s overall history of racism at the polls. The ruling mostly upholds last year’s findings from a district court that the voter ID law violated the federal Voting Rights Act. While it did not completely overturn the photo voter-ID law, the court has ordered Texas to come up with some safety nets to help voters who lack ID in the upcoming November elections.