Amazon’s latest robot champion uses deep learning to stock shelves
By James Vincent
Amazon has crowned the latest champion in its robotic picking challenge—an annual competition that looks for robots that could one day work in the company's warehouses. It's basically American Idol, but for robotic arms that can grab items off a shelf and put them back again. Competitors are asked to handle a range of products, from toiletries to clothes, and then scored on speed and accuracy in stocking shelves. This year's contest was won by a joint team from the TU Delft Robotics Institute in the Netherlands and the company Delft Robotics (both named after the city of Delft). The team's robot managed to pick items from a mock Amazon warehouse shelf at a speed of around 100 an hour, reports TechRepublic, with a failure rate of 16.7 percent. That's slow compared to what a human can manage (around 400 items an hour), but a big improvement on last year's winner, which managed just 30 items in the same time.
Uber hired a robot to patrol its parking lot and it’s way cheaper than a security guard
By Kashmir Hill
Uber drivers who pay a visit to the company’s inspection lot near Mission Bay in San Francisco will be met with a rather strange sight: a five-foot-tall, white, egg-shaped robot wheeling around the lot, on the look-out for trouble. The robot is a K5, a 300-pound security robot made by Silicon Valley startup Knightscope. It’s a stand-in for a human security guard. The robot has multiple high-definition cameras for 360-degree vision, a thermal camera, a laser rangefinder, a weather sensor, a license-plate recognition camera, four microphones, and person recognition capabilities.
From Big Data to Artificial Intelligence: The Next Digital Disruption
By James Canton
The Huffington Post
The Next Digital Disruption is big data and AI, or Big Data Intelligence. Artificial intelligence or AI, has become pervasive in business in every industry where decision making is being fundamentally transformed by Thinking Machines. The need for faster and smarter decisions and the management of big data that can make the difference is what is driving this trend. The convergence of big data with AI is inevitable as the automation of smarter decision-making is the next evolution of big data.
SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT
Airports And Sustainability: A Vision For The Future
By Harold Stark
The Huffington Post
There’s good news about the UK and airports, yes that’s right, good news. A 10 point plan for the Gatwick airport is geared towards maintaining better air quality, reducing carbon emissions and reducing energy consumption by 20%.
The key to fighting climate change and mortality? Walkable cities
By Eve Andrews
American cities are pretty much made for cars, which means they’re not very easy for humans to navigate. And when you consider that cities are supposed to be made for humans to live in — and that by 2050, two-thirds of the global population will live in cities, which already account for 70 percent of the planet’s carbon emissions—that’s a bit of a problem.
Watch the video here.
Livestock and sustainability—challenges and opportunities
Scoop Independent News
The Committee on World Food Security’s High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) is attempting to bridge the gap between science and policy. A report released last week at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome called Sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition: what roles for livestock? addresses emerging livestock issues. Some of the major issues discussed are: animal welfare, greenhouse gas emissions related to climate change, and anti-microbial resistance.
LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY
Economic Growth and the Future of the Labour Market
The Huffington Post
The close relationship between employment and growth may be challenged by the effects of technological change on the labour market. New technologies are replacing human workers in all sectors of the economy, which leads to higher unemployment. Fewer jobs in the economy (assuming the population is growing) will result in a higher rate of unemployment even when the economy is operating at potential, which cannot be reduced through traditional methods of job creation.
French government forces labor law through parliament, shrugs off protest
By Brian Love
France's government, overriding street protests and rebels in its own ranks, invoked special powers on Tuesday to impose labor legislation by decree that will make it easier for employers to hire and fire staff. President Francois Hollande's government hopes the labor reform will cut stubbornly high unemployment. But less than a year from elections, the decision to ram through the contested reform without parliamentary support is a political gamble for the unpopular Hollande and a Socialist government targeted by mounting left-wing violence.
A just transition for US fossil fuel workers
By Robert Pollin and Brian Callaci
The American Prospect
The investments in efficiency and clean renewables will generate millions of new jobs. But workers and communities whose livelihoods depend on the fossil fuel industry will unavoidably lose out in the clean energy transition. Unless strong policies are advanced to support these workers, they will face layoffs, falling incomes, and declining public-sector budgets to support schools, health clinics, and public safety. This in turn will increase political resistance to any effective climate stabilization program. It follows that the global climate stabilization project must unequivocally commit to providing generous transitional support for workers and communities tied to the fossil fuel industry.
GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT
What’s different about Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia?
By Shadi Hamid
It wasn’t that religion was less of a “problem” in Indonesia and Malaysia; it’s that the solutions were more readily available. Islam might have still been exceptional, but the political system was more interested in accommodating this reality than in suppressing it. There wasn’t an entrenched secular elite in the same way there was in many Arab countries. Meanwhile, Islamist parties were not as strong, so polarization wasn’t as deep and destabilizing. Islamism wasn’t the province of one party, but of most. In a sense, Islamists need secularists and secularists need Islamists. But in Indonesia and Malaysia, there was a stronger “middle,” and that middle had settled around a relatively uncontroversial conservative consensus.
The Islamic State’s week of horror reveals the danger of Trump’s rhetoric
The Washington Post
A STRING of horrific suicide bombings linked to the Islamic State, all in Muslim nations, underline a crucial truth that has been ignored by Donald Trump and many others in the West: Terrorist jihadism is above all a war within Islam. Muslims have been its first victims — and they are the only force that can bring about its definitive defeat. Though it is losing territory and leaders in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has managed to mark the last days of the holy month of Ramadan with a formidable offensive. Successive attacks in Istanbul, Dhaka and Baghdad and in three cities of Saudi Arabia since June 28 killed at least 290 people and seriously injured hundreds more. In the cases of Istanbul and Saudi Arabia, there were no formal claims of responsibility. But the assaults bore all the hallmarks of the Islamic State, which has made clear that it regards all Muslims who do not share its extreme ideology as enemies.
Israel points the finger at Facebook over violence
By Joseph Dana
Facebook is wildly popular in Palestine. There was a brief period during the 2011 Arab revolutions when Twitter challenged its popularity, but Facebook ultimately prevailed as the dominant Palestinian social media platform. As part of a basket of laws targeting dissent in Palestine and in Israel, the so-called “start-up nation" is forcefully going after Facebook. Israeli lawmakers have renewed calls for special access to social media platforms such as Facebook to remove posts they believe incite violence. Failing to curb a recent wave of violence against Israeli citizens, public security minister Gilad Erdan intensified these calls.
How the geography of U.S. poverty has shifted since 1960
By Jens Manuel Krogstad
Pew Research Center
Since President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty 50 years ago, the characteristics of the nation’s poor have changed: A larger share of poor Americans today are in their prime working years and fewer are elderly. In addition, those in poverty are disproportionately children and people of any age who are black, Hispanic or both. Nation's Poor Population Is Less Southern, More Urban Than in 1960. But perhaps just as striking is that the geographic distribution of the poor has changed dramatically, too. A new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data finds that the South continues to be home to many of America’s poor, though to a lesser degree than a half-century ago.
Opponents sue to stop California's vaccination law
By Soumya Karlamangla
Los Angeles Times
With California’s strict vaccine mandate now in place, opponents are fighting to overturn the law in court. The new law, which took effect Friday, bars parents from citing religion or other personal beliefs as reasons to not vaccinate their kids. SB 277 is one of the toughest mandatory vaccination laws in the country and drew many protesters when it was debated in Sacramento. A group of parents and the nonprofit Education 4 All filed a suit Friday to overturn the law in U.S. District Court in San Diego. The suit claims that the law violates California children’s right to an education under the state’s constitution.
Police have killed at least 2,611 people since Ferguson
By German Lopez and Soo Oh
Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, and Jessica Hernandez are just three of at least 2,611 people killed by police since August 9, 2014, the day of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Fatal Encounters, a nonprofit, has tracked these killings by collecting reports from the media, public, and law enforcement and verifying them through news reports. It also includes killings that were potentially legally justified, and is likely missing some killings entirely. Vox’s Soo Oh created an interactive map with data from Fatal Encounters. It shows some of the killings by law enforcement since the Brown shooting.