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People Can Be Identified By the Way They Dance

Mon, 2020-01-20 20:50
Might it be possible that someday in the near future, an official might get you to dance around a bit, in order to confirm that you're really you? Perhaps not, but nonetheless, a recent study has determined that people's identities can be matched to their unique style of dancing. From a report: Scientists at Finland's University of Jyvaskyla started out by using motion capture technology to see if test subjects' psychological traits could be ascertained from the way in which they danced -- such traits included their mood, their level of empathy, and how extroverted or neurotic they were. The researchers were also interested in seeing if simply by watching a person dance, it would be possible to determine what sort of music they were dancing to. This only worked about 30 percent of the time. What they unintentionally discovered, however, was that regardless of the type of music, each person has a characteristic style of dancing that can be identified and matched specifically to themselves. Doing so is accomplished utilizing machine learning algorithms, in conjunction with the motion capture tech. In the study, a total of 73 volunteers each danced to eight genres of music â" these included Blues, Country, Dance/Electronica, Jazz, Metal, Pop, Reggae and Rap. The participants received no instructions, other than to "move any way that felt natural."

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Categories: Linux fréttir

China To Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags and Straws

Mon, 2020-01-20 20:10
China, one of the world's biggest producers of plastic waste, is set to introduce a ban on all non-degradable plastic bags and single-use straws in major cities. From a report: As part of a plan to drastically reduce plastic pollution, China's government said the production and sale of disposable foam and plastic tableware, often used for takeout, and single-use plastic straws used in the catering industry will be banned by the end of the year. Disposable plastic products should not be "actively provided" by hotels by 2022. The changes were outlined in a document released on Sunday by China's National Development and Reform Commission and the Environment Ministry. The changes are part of a move to achieve a 30% reduction in non-degradable, disposable tableware for takeout in major cities within five years. Postal delivery outlets are also targeted in the new guidelines with a ban on non-degradable plastic packaging and disposable plastic woven bags by the end of 2022.

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The Official Kubuntu 'Focus' Linux Laptop Goes on Sale

Mon, 2020-01-20 19:30
You can buy an official Kubuntu laptop. Called "Focus". It is an absolutely powerhouse with top specs. From a report: Here's the specs list: CPU: Core i7-9750H 6c/12t 4.5GHz Turbo GPU: 6GB GTX-2060 RAM: 32GB Dual Channel DDR4 2666 RAM Storage: 1TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe Display: 16.1" matte 1080p IPS Keyboard: LED backlit, 3-4mm travel User expandable SDD, NVMe, and RAM Superior cooling The starting price for the Kubuntu Focus Laptop is $2395.

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Cash, Plastic or Hand? Amazon Envisions Paying With a Wave

Mon, 2020-01-20 18:50
Amazon wants to make your hand your credit card. From a report: The tech giant is creating checkout terminals that could be placed in bricks-and-mortar stores and allow shoppers to link their card information to their hands, WSJ reported over the weekend, citing people familiar with the matter. They could then pay for purchases with their palms, without having to pull out a card or phone. The company plans to pitch the terminals to coffee shops, fast-food restaurants and other merchants that do lots of repeat business with their customers, according to some of the people. Amazon declined to comment. Amazon, like other tech companies, is trying to further integrate itself into consumers' financial lives, leaving banks and card networks on edge. Apple introduced a credit card last year, and Google is rolling out checking accounts. If the Amazon terminals succeed, they could leapfrog mobile wallets such as Apple Pay while expanding Amazon's already-extensive access to consumer data. Amazon's projects are closely watched both by tech and financial companies, which are increasingly colliding in payments.

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Bruce Schneier: Banning Facial Recognition Isn't Enough

Mon, 2020-01-20 18:10
Bruce Schneier, writing at New York Times: Communities across the United States are starting to ban facial recognition technologies. In May of last year, San Francisco banned facial recognition; the neighboring city of Oakland soon followed, as did Somerville and Brookline in Massachusetts (a statewide ban may follow). In December, San Diego suspended a facial recognition program in advance of a new statewide law, which declared it illegal, coming into effect. Forty major music festivals pledged not to use the technology, and activists are calling for a nationwide ban. Many Democratic presidential candidates support at least a partial ban on the technology. These efforts are well intentioned, but facial recognition bans are the wrong way to fight against modern surveillance. Focusing on one particular identification method misconstrues the nature of the surveillance society we're in the process of building. Ubiquitous mass surveillance is increasingly the norm. In countries like China, a surveillance infrastructure is being built by the government for social control. In countries like the United States, it's being built by corporations in order to influence our buying behavior, and is incidentally used by the government. In all cases, modern mass surveillance has three broad components: identification, correlation and discrimination. Let's take them in turn. Facial recognition is a technology that can be used to identify people without their knowledge or consent. It relies on the prevalence of cameras, which are becoming both more powerful and smaller, and machine learning technologies that can match the output of these cameras with images from a database of existing photos. But that's just one identification technology among many. People can be identified at a distance by their heart beat or by their gait, using a laser-based system. Cameras are so good that they can read fingerprints and iris patterns from meters away. And even without any of these technologies, we can always be identified because our smartphones broadcast unique numbers called MAC addresses. Other things identify us as well: our phone numbers, our credit card numbers, the license plates on our cars. China, for example, uses multiple identification technologies to support its surveillance state.

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Netflix Secures International Rights To Studio Ghibli Animated Films

Mon, 2020-01-20 17:26
The iconic animated features of Japan's Studio Ghibli will be available in territories outside the U.S., Canada and Japan on Netflix starting in February. From a report: The move is a further change of position for the studio which has repeatedly resisted the idea that its beloved cartoons would be released on digital platforms. Netflix, sales agent Wild Bunch, and Studio Ghibli, which counts Hayao Miyazaki as one of its leading lights, will upload 21 Ghibli features including Academy Award-winner "Spirited Away," "Princess Mononoke," "Arrietty," "Kiki's Delivery Service," "My Neighbor Totoro," and "The Tale of The Princess Kaguya." They will be screened in their native Japanese, with sub-titles, and be available globally on Netflix except in the U.S., Canada, and Japan.

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Huawei Signs Maps Deal With TomTom

Mon, 2020-01-20 16:47
Dutch navigation and digital mapping company TomTom said on Friday it had closed a deal with China's Huawei Technologies for the use of its maps and services in smartphone apps. From a report: The deal with TomTom means that the Chinese telecoms and technology giant can now use the Dutch company's maps, traffic information and navigation software to develop apps for its smartphones, according to a Reuters report. A TomTom spokesman said the deal had been closed some time ago but had not been made public by the company and he declined to provide further details, according to the Reuters report. China's largest smartphone vendor has been forced to develop its own operating systems (OS) for both smartphones and computers after being added to a US blacklist in May on national security grounds, barring it from buying US-origin technology and blocking access to widely used apps such as Google Maps in Huawei's new devices.

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Google's Sundar Pichai Doesn't Want You To Be Clear-Eyed About AI's Dangers

Mon, 2020-01-20 16:05
Alphabet and Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, is the latest tech giant kingpin to make a public call for AI to be regulated while simultaneously encouraging lawmakers towards a dilute enabling framework that does not put any hard limits on what can be done with AI technologies. From a report: In an op-ed published in today's Financial Times, Pichai makes a headline-grabbing call for artificial intelligence to be regulated. But his pitch injects a suggestive undercurrent that puffs up the risk for humanity of not letting technologists get on with business as usual and apply AI at population-scale -- with the Google chief claiming: "AI has the potential to improve billions of lives, and the biggest risk may be failing to do so" -- thereby seeking to frame 'no hard limits' as actually the safest option for humanity. Simultaneously the pitch downplays any negatives that might cloud the greater good that Pichai implies AI will unlock -- presenting "potential negative consequences" as simply the inevitable and necessary price of technological progress. It's all about managing the level of risk, is the leading suggestion, rather than questioning outright whether the use of a hugely risk-laden technology such as facial recognition should actually be viable in a democratic society.

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HP Remotely Disables a Customer's Printer Until He Joins Company's Monthly Subscription Service

Mon, 2020-01-20 15:20
A Twitter user's complaint last week in which he produces photo evidence of HP warning him that his ink cartridges would be disabled until he starts paying for HP Instant Ink monthly subscription service has gone viral on the social media. Ryan Sullivan, the user who made the complaint, said he only discovered the warning after cancelling a random HP subscription -- which charged him $4.99 a month -- after "over a year" of the billing cycle. "Cartridge cannot be used until printer is enrolled in HP Instant Ink," Sullivan was informed by an error message.

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Apple CEO Calls For Global Corporate Tax System Overhaul

Mon, 2020-01-20 14:42
Everyone knows that the global corporate tax system needs to be overhauled, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said on Monday, backing changes to global rules that are currently under consideration. From a report: The growth of internet giants such as Apple has pushed international tax rules to the limit, prompting the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to pursue global reforms over where multinational firms should be taxed. The reforms being examined center around the booking of profits by multinational firms in low-tax countries such as Ireland where they have bases -- and where Cook was speaking on Monday -- rather than where most of their customers are. "I think logically everybody knows it needs to be rehauled, I would certainly be the last person to say that the current system or the past system was the perfect system. I'm hopeful and optimistic that they (the OECD) will find something," Cook said. "It's very complex to know how to tax a multinational... We desperately want it to be fair," the Apple CEO added after receiving an inaugural award from the Irish state agency responsible for attracting foreign companies recognizing the contribution of multinationals in the country.

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Craig Wright Doesn't Have Keys To $8 Billion of Bitcoin

Mon, 2020-01-20 14:03
An anonymous reader shares a report: Craig Wright's lawyer confirmed to Decrypt late last week that Wright does not possess -- nor even claim to possess -- the private keys that can be used to spend $8 billion of Bitcoin that Satoshi Nakamoto mined in Bitcoin's early days. Wright filed a statement in the Southern District of Florida late Tuesday asserting that he had received information to unlock an encrypted file of thousands of public Bitcoin addresses that he claims to own. Wright had previously said, under oath, that an "encrypted file" exists, containing both the list of public addresses and private keys. Many took that to mean that when a courier arrived Tuesday with a file, that at last Wright had received the private keys. But his lawyer said today that that was not the case. "The file that he's received did not include private keys," Andres Rivero, partner at Rivero Mestre law firm, told Decrypt. However, Wright still expects that he will receive the keys at a later date. Rivero said the keys may come either whole or split into parts, but declined to discuss further the particulars around who has the keys and when they might arrive.

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Why This Time The New Browser Wars Are Different

Mon, 2020-01-20 11:34
The Verge argues that the browser wars "are back, but it's different this time." The mobile web is broken and unfettered tracking and data sharing have made visiting websites feel toxic, but since the ecosystem of websites and ad companies can't fix it through collective action, it falls on browser makers to use technological innovations to limit that surveillance, however each company that makes a browser is taking a different approach to creating those innovations, and everybody distrusts everybody else to act in the best interest of the web instead of the best interest of their employers' profits... I've been avoiding getting into the precise details of the proposals out there to fix the tracking problem because things are changing so quickly across so many different tracks... Until then, know that there are two important things to know. First: there are new browser technologies and limits coming that could radically change how ads work and could make it easier for you to protect your privacy no matter what browser you use. Since this is the web, it'll take time, but everybody seems committed. Second: the way many of us think about a Browser War is in terms of marketshare -- and that is the wrong metric this time. There is a browser war, but it won't be won or lost based on who can convince the most people to switch to their browser. Because most people can't or won't switch on the platform that matters: mobile. In 2020, the desktop is a minor skirmish compared to browsers on phones. On phones, many people aren't really free to choose their browser. That's literally true on the iPhone, which Apple locks down so apps can only use its web rendering technology. And it's for-intents-and-purposes true on Android, where the vast majority of browsers just use Chromium. Yes, there is an Android browser ballot happening in Europe, but it's much too early to know what its effects will be.... The new Browser Wars aren't about who makes the fastest or best browser, they're about whose services you want and whose data policies you trust.

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As UK Police Deploy Facial Recognition, Questions Raised About False Positives

Mon, 2020-01-20 07:34
"When British police used facial recognition cameras to monitor crowds arriving for a soccer match in Wales, some fans protested by covering their faces," reports the Associated Press. "In a sign of the technology's divisiveness, even the head of a neighboring police force said he opposed it." The South Wales police deployed vans equipped with the technology outside Cardiff stadium this week as part of a long-running trial in which officers scanned people in real time and detained anyone blacklisted from attending for past misbehavior... The real-time surveillance being tested in Britain is among the more aggressive uses of facial recognition in Western democracies and raises questions about how the technology will enter people's daily lives. Authorities and companies are eager to use it, but activists warn it threatens human rights.... If the system flags up someone passing by, officers stop that person to investigate further, according to the force's website. Rights groups say this kind of monitoring raises worries about privacy, consent, algorithmic accuracy, and questions about about how faces are added to watchlists... The North Wales police commissioner, Arfon Jones, said using facial recognition to take pictures of soccer fans was a "fishing expedition." He also raised concerns about false positives.... "In laboratory conditions it's really effective," said University of Essex professor Pete Fussey. He monitored the London police trials, which also used NEC's system, and found a different outcome on the streets. He co-authored a report last year that said only eight of its 42 matches were correct. The London program has since been suspended. "The police tended to trust the algorithm most of the time, so if they trust the computational decision-making yet that decision-making is wrong, that raises all sorts of questions" about the accountability of the machine, he said. The article reports that 19,000 faces were scanned at a Spice Girls concert in May, and identified 15 people on a watchlist. Six of them were arrested. Nine others had been identified incorrectly.

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Opera Accused of Offering Predatory Loans Through Android apps

Mon, 2020-01-20 03:34
"It's no secret that Opera isn't doing so well in the era of Chrome dominance," reports Android Police. "According to a report published by Hindenburg Research, the company's losses in browser revenue have apparently led it to create multiple loan apps with short payment windows and interest rates of ~365-876%, which are in violation of new Play Store rules Google enacted last year." The apps are aimed at India, Kenya and Nigeria, reports Engadget: The apps would claim to offer maximum annual percentage rate (APR) of 33 percent or less, but the actual rates were much higher, climbing to 438 percent in the case of OPesa. And while they publicly offered reasonable loan terms of 91 to 365 days, the real length was no more than 29 days (for OKash) and more often 15 days -- well under Google's 60-day minimum. The conditions only got worse for borrowers who missed their payments. Falling short by just a day could raise the APR as high as 876 percent. Also, the apps reportedly scraped phone contacts to harass family, friends and others with calls and texts in hopes this would pressure customers into paying up. These same notices often threatened legal action. Android Police points out that Opera became a public company in mid-2017, shortly after it was purchased by a China-based investor group. But since then, "Opera's market share has continued to fall, due to the increasing dominance of Chrome."

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Do Engineering Managers Need To Be 'Technical'?

Mon, 2020-01-20 01:04
Will Larson has been an engineering leader at Digg, Uber, and Stripe, and last May published the book An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management. Recently he wrote a thoughtful essay asking, "Do engineering managers need to be technical?" exploring the industry's current thinking and arriving at a surprisingly thoughtful conclusion: Around 2010, with Google ascendant, product managers were finding more and more doors closed to them if they didn't have a computer science degree. If this policy worked for Google, it would work at least as well for your virality-driven, mobile-first social network for cats... [N]ow the vast majority of engineering managers come from software-engineering backgrounds. This is true both at the market-elected collection of technology companies known as FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) and at the latest crop of technology IPOs, like Fastly, Lyft, and Slack. While engineering management has not prioritized its own measurement, there is evidence that expert leadership works in some fields... If this is the case, modern technology companies are already well along the right path. This is where the story gets a bit odd. If we know that managers with technical skills outperform others, and we're already hiring managers with backgrounds as software engineers, why are we still worrying whether they're technical? If these folks have proven themselves as practitioners within their fields, what is there left to debate? This is an awkward inconsistency. The most likely explanation is that "being technical" has lost whatever definition it once had... It's uncomfortable to recognize that a distinction I relied upon so heavily for so long no longer means anything to me, but comfort has never been a good reason to get into management. With the term "not technical" unusable, I instead focus on the details. Is there a kind of technology that a given person is not familiar with? Were they uncomfortable, or did they lack confidence when describing a solution? Would I care about them knowing this detail if I didn't personally know it? Given their role in and relation to the project, was the project's success dependent on them knowing these details...? Looking forward to the next 30 years of management trends, only a few things seem certain: Managers should be technical, and the definition of technical will continue to change.

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71-Year-Old William Gibson Explores 'Existing Level of Weirdness' For New Dystopian SciFi Novel

Sun, 2020-01-19 23:42
71-year-old science fiction author William Gibson coined the word "cyberspace" in his 1984 novel Neuromancer. 36 years later he's back with an even more dystopian future in his new novel Agency. But in a surprisingly candid interview in the Daily Beast, Gibson says he prefers watching emerging new technologies first because "To use it is to be changed by it; you're not the same person." "I'm not someone who works from assumptions about where technology might be going. My method of writing is exploratory about that." That's certainly the case with Agency, Gibson's latest, a densely structured, complexly plotted novel that takes place in two separate time frames, which he refers to as "stubs," and has as one of its central characters an AI named Eunice, who is one part uploaded human consciousness and another part specialized military machine intelligence. In one stub it's 2017, a woman is in the White House, and Brexit never happened. But the threat of nuclear war nonetheless hovers over a conflict in the Middle East. In the other stub, it's 22nd century London after "the jackpot," a grim timeline of disasters that has reduced the Earth's population by 80 percent and left Britain to be ruled by "the klept," which Gibson describes as a "hereditary authoritarian government, [with its] roots in organized crime." Given these scenarios, it's no surprise to discover that the 71-year-old Gibson's latest work was heavily influenced by the 2016 election and the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the presidency. "The book I had been imagining had been a kind of a romp," says the U.S.-born Gibson down the phone line from his long-time home in Vancouver, B.C. "But then the election happened, and I thought, 'Uh-oh, my whole sense of the present is 24 hours out of date, and that's enough to make the book I've been working on kind of meaningless.' It took me a long time [to re-think and re-write the book], and I thought the weirdness factor of reality, finding some balance -- what can I do with the existing level of weirdness, and that level kept going up. I wanted to write a book that current events wouldn't have left by the time it got out, and I think Agency works...." "It's an interesting time for science fiction now," says Gibson, "because there are people writing contemporary fiction who are effectively writing science fiction, because the world they live in has become science fiction. Writing a contemporary novel today that doesn't involve concepts that wouldn't have been seen in science fiction 20 years ago is impossible. Unless it's an Amish novel." The Washington Post calls Gibson's new novel "engaging, thought-provoking and delightful," while the senior editor at Medium's tech site One Zero says it's the first time Gibson "has taken direct aim at Silicon Valley, at the industry and culture that has reorganized the world -- with some of his ideas propelling it." "The result is a blend of speculation and satire that any self-respecting denizen of the digital world should spend some time with." And they're also publishing an exclusive excerpt from the novel.

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127 Tesla Owners Complain The Cars Accelerate On Their Own

Sun, 2020-01-19 22:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Associated Press: The U.S. government's auto safety agency is looking into allegations that all three of Tesla's electric vehicle models can suddenly accelerate on their own. Brian Sparks of Berkeley, California, petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asking for an investigation. An agency document shows 127 owner complaints to the government that include 110 crashes and 52 injuries. The agency said it will look into allegations that cover about 500,000 Tesla vehicles including Model 3, Model S and Model X vehicles from the 2013 through 2019 model years. The agency's investigations office will evaluate the petition and decide if it should open a formal probe... Frank Borris, a former head of safety defect investigations for NHTSA, said the number of complaints cited in the petition is unusual and warrants further investigation. "The sheer number of complaints would certainly catch my eye," said Borris, who now runs an auto safety consulting business. Tesla owners communicate with other owners on Internet forums and social media, and that could influence the number of complaints, he said. He said the timing of the petition is good, because the agency needs to do a "deeper dive" into Tesla safety. Some of the unintended acceleration complaints, which have yet to be verified by NHTSA, allege that the cars' electronics malfunctioned. CNBC points out that Brian Sparks, the man asking for the investigation, "is currently shorting Tesla stock, but has hedged his bets and been long shares of Tesla in the past."

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Facebook Won't Put Ads in WhatsApp -- For Now

Sun, 2020-01-19 21:34
Facebook "will no longer push through with its plans to sell ads on WhatsApp," writes Engadget, citing a report in the Wall Street Journal which says WhatsApp still "plans at some point to introduce ads to Status." Newsweek reports: WhatsApp is the only app in Facebook's suite of products free from ads, which make up a vast amount of the parent company's revenue, bringing in the majority of its $17.65 billion during Q3 last year. Like rival apps Snapchat or TikTok, advertising features prominently in Messenger and Instagram. But what does it mean for Facebook? The impact of a delayed WhatsApp ad roll-out will not only mean a financial hit, but may also disrupt how much ad data Facebook can possibly extract from users of the app's desktop and web versions. Currently, Facebook does not charge people for access to its products. Instead, it monetizes personal information by selling details about user preferences to companies for use in targeted ads. And there is clearly money to be made via mobile-based ads, which brought in about 94 percent of Facebook's total ad revenue during the third quarter of last year... "My assessment of this is it will be a delayed introduction of ads," social media consultant and commentator Matt Navarra told Newsweek today... "With the current climate of unrest surrounding data privacy and Facebook's plans to integrate its messaging apps backend, as well as the many legal battles they are facing, I suspect they are being cautious with yet more activity that could ruffle feathers at this time," Navarra told Newsweek. "But it's a case of when they do launch ads in WhatsApp, not if," he predicted. The ad strategy sparked clashes between Facebook executives and WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton, and became a factor in their departures from the firm. Koum and Acton, pro-privacy technologists, reportedly feared the app's encryption could be put at risk.

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Scientists Are Generating Oxygen from Simulated Moon Dust

Sun, 2020-01-19 20:34
"European researchers are working on a system that can churn out breathable oxygen from simulated samples of moon dust," reports Gizmodo: "Being able to acquire oxygen from resources found on the Moon would obviously be hugely useful for future lunar settlers, both for breathing and in the local production of rocket fuel," explained Beth Lomax, a chemist from the University of Glasgow, in an European Space Agency (ESA) press release. Lomax, along with ESA research fellow Alexandre Meurisse, are currently plugging away at a prototype that could eventually lead to exactly that: oxygen production from lunar dust. They're currently testing their system at the Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory of the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), which is based in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. Their prototype is working, but adjustments will be required to make it suitable for use on the Moon, such as reducing its operating temperature.... Interestingly, ESTEC is not treating the metals as an unwanted byproduct. The team is currently looking into various ways of exploiting these metals in a lunar environment, such as transforming them into compounds for 3D printing. The European Space Agency points out that samples returned from the lunar surface were made up of 40-45% percent oxygen by weight.

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HBO's New Space Comedy Mocks 'Tech Bros in Charge'

Sun, 2020-01-19 19:34
Engadget reports on a new tech-industry-in-space comedy premiering tonight on HBO: If you thought that HBO was done mocking technology companies now that Silicon Valley is done, think again. Avenue 5 is the channel's new sitcom, and one that asks the question: "What if tech bros were in charge of more than just our internet histories?'" The answer, at least according to the first half of the season, is that it won't be pretty -- or safe... The Avenue 5 is a large space liner that, in the words of cinematographer Eben Bolter, is designed after a vulgar space hotel that goes too far and "gets the details wrong". This Titanic-like vessel and its 5,000 passengers are on a routine jaunt through the solar system when a minor disaster strikes, and its course is altered. But this is space, where a small deviation changes the flight time from eight weeks to several years. The ship is owned by Herman Judd (Josh Gad) of the Judd Corporation, a self-regarding business magnate who, in Bolter's mind, has "only ever had one good idea." He's not quite an analog for the Bezoses and Musks you may be thinking of, but more a cracked-mirror version of both. Throughout the show, he attempts to impose his thinking on the crisis as if he was still in California, or wherever Silicon Valley moved after the show's alluded-to Huawei Wars. Early on, Judd is presented with the intractable problem of space physics, and he hopes to fix things as he did on Earth. He says, in the Jobsian tradition, that you can make something happen by making someone say that it can. The fight between visionary optimism and reality is harder when you're surrounded by an infinite vacuum, after all. Avenue 5's point seems to be that you can't simply blue-sky your way out of a crisis when reality keeps getting in the way.

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