Archive for the ‘policy’ category

Oct 26, 2016

EU Commission’s new space policy to invest in startups to boost private investment

Posted by in categories: policy, satellites

PARIS — The European Union’s executive commission on Oct. 26 unveiled a new space strategy that promises public investment to stimulate the creation of space start-up companies.

The Brussels, Belgium-based commission, which acts on behalf of the 28 European Union members — still including Britain for a couple of years — is already the biggest single customer for Europe’s Arianespace launch-service provider and for Europe’s satellite manufacturers.

The EU plans to launch some 30 satellites in the coming decade for the Galileo navigation and Copernicus environment-monitoring programs, which are the major beneficiaries of the commission’s space budget of 12 billion euros ($13.5 billion) between 2014 and 2020.

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Oct 25, 2016

The Coming Of The Motherless Child

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, policy

About eight years ago, as the controversy about research involving human embryonic stem cells was winding down and Barack Obama was about to take office, I had one of my regular lunches with a respected conservative policy expert. We had come to be friends who respectfully disagreed about embryonic stem cell research and other bioethics issues.

That day I told him that there were still bigger issues brewing that involved human reproductive materials. For example, the opponents of research that involved destroying human embryos had celebrated a new technology developed in Japan that turned regular adult cells into something resembling potent embryonic cells. What many failed to notice is that that same technology could be used to turn adult cells into human egg cells. Thus in theory two men could produce a baby with the second man’s sperm and without a woman to provide an egg.

“Oh,” my friend said when I pointed this out to him, “I would definitely support federal legislation to prevent that.” I was struck at his vehemence, but not surprised.

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Oct 20, 2016

Your Phone Company Might Buy Your Cable Company — By Abigail Tracy | Vanity Fair

Posted by in categories: big data, internet, media & arts, mobile phones, policy, satellites


“AT&T and Time Warner are reportedly in talks about a potential merger.”

Read more

Oct 14, 2016

Engineering a Better Body and the End of Disease

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, engineering, health, mobile phones, neuroscience, policy

There are two kinds of people in Washington, DC, says entrepreneur Dean Kamen. There are the policy experts, whom he calls cynics. And there are the scientists, whom he deems optimists.

Kamen, speaking at the White House Frontiers Conference at the University of Pittsburgh, places himself in the latter camp. Unlike policy wonks and politicians who see diseases like Alzheimer’s or ALS as unstoppable scourges, Kamen points out that previously terrifying diseases were all toppled by medical innovation. The plague, polio, smallpox — all were civilization-threatening epidemics until experimental scientists discovered new ways to combat them.

If that sounds like the kind of disruption that the tech industry has unleashed across the rest of the world, that’s no accident. Kamen, the founder of DEKA, a medical R&D company, says that the same trends that have empowered our computers and phones and communication networks will soon power a revolution in health care. He says that medical innovation follows a predictable cycle. First we feel powerless before a disease. Then we seek ways of treating it. Then we attempt to cure it.

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Oct 13, 2016

Taiwan, China, Japan establishing their own Versions of DARPA

Posted by in categories: military, policy

Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of National Defense Lee Hsi-ming recently said Taipei is seriously considering organizing its own DARPA to accelerate the research, development and application of military technology.

Lee’s statement, which was made at the 14th annual US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in Virginia, followed media reports saying Taiwan lags behind other East Asian countries in establishing a DARPA-like agency. Japan and China have already organized advanced defense research establishments.

Lee’s announcement about establishing a “Taiwanese DARPA,” however, triggered debate among legislators in the country’s parliament, the Legislative Yuan. Critics of the proposed think tank said the proposal for its creation might become a contentious policy item since it will require sharing or distributing funds across agencies.

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Oct 10, 2016

Commission plans cybersecurity rules for internet-connected machines

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, food, internet, law, policy, transportation

The European Commission is getting ready to propose new legislation to protect machines from cybersecurity breaches, signalling the executive’s growing interest in encouraging traditional European manufacturers to build more devices that are connected to the internet.

A new plan to overhaul EU telecoms law, which digital policy chiefs Günther Oettinger and Andrus Ansip presented three weeks ago, aims to speed up internet connections to meet the needs of big industries like car manufacturing and agriculture as they gradually use more internet functions.

But that transition to more and faster internet connections has caused many companies to worry that new products and industrial tools that rely on the internet will be more vulnerable to attacks from hackers.

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Oct 9, 2016

Germany calls for a ban on combustion engine cars by 2030

Posted by in categories: energy, finance, policy, transportation

Germany isn’t content with relying on financial incentives to usher in an era of pollution-free cars. The country’s Bundesrat (federal council) has passed a resolution calling for a ban on new internal combustion engine cars by 2030. From then on, you’d have to buy a zero-emissions vehicle, whether it’s electric or running on a hydrogen fuel cell. This isn’t legally binding, but the Bundesrat is asking the European Commission to implement the ban across the European Union… and when German regulations tend to shape EU policy, there’s a chance that might happen.

The council also wants the European Commission to review its taxation policies and their effect on the “stimulation of emission-free mobility.” Just what that means isn’t clear. It could involve stronger tax incentives for buying zero-emissions cars, but it could also involve eliminating tax breaks for diesel cars in EU states. Automakers are already worried that tougher emission standards could kill diesels — remove the low cost of ownership and it’d only hasten their demise.

Not that the public would necessarily be worried. Forbes notes that registrations of diesels, still mainstays of the European car market, dropped sharply in numerous EU countries in August. There’s a real possibility that Volkswagen’s emission cheating scandal is having a delayed effect on diesel sales. Combine that with larger zero-emissions incentives and the proposed combustion engine ban, and it might not take much for Europeans to go with electric or hydrogen the next time they go car shopping.

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Oct 2, 2016

Science, Technology, and the Future of Warfare

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, biotech/medical, computing, economics, existential risks, governance, military, nanotechnology, policy, robotics/AI, science, security

Nice POV read.

We know that emerging innovations within cutting-edge science and technology (S&T) areas carry the potential to revolutionize governmental structures, economies, and life as we know it. Yet, others have argued that such technologies could yield doomsday scenarios and that military applications of such technologies have even greater potential than nuclear weapons to radically change the balance of power. These S&T areas include robotics and autonomous unmanned system; artificial intelligence; biotechnology, including synthetic and systems biology; the cognitive neurosciences; nanotechnology, including stealth meta-materials; additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing); and the intersection of each with information and computing technologies, i.e., cyber-everything. These concepts and the underlying strategic importance were articulated at the multi-national level in NATO’s May 2010 New Strategic Concept paper: “Less predictable is the possibility that research breakthroughs will transform the technological battlefield … The most destructive periods of history tend to be those when the means of aggression have gained the upper hand in the art of waging war.”

As new and unpredicted technologies are emerging at a seemingly unprecedented pace globally, communication of those new discoveries is occurring faster than ever, meaning that the unique ownership of a new technology is no longer a sufficient position, if not impossible. They’re becoming cheaper and more readily available. In today’s world, recognition of the potential applications of a technology and a sense of purpose in exploiting it are far more important than simply having access to it.

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Sep 29, 2016

The Biggest Companies in AI Partner to Keep AI Safe

Posted by in categories: ethics, policy, robotics/AI

Industry leaders in the world of artificial intelligence just announced the Partnership on AI. This exciting new partnership was “established to study and formulate best practices on AI technologies, to advance the public’s understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society.”

The partnership is currently co-chaired by Mustafa Suleyman with DeepMind and Eric Horvitz with Microsoft. Other leaders of the partnership include: FLI’s Science Advisory Board Member Francesca Rossi, who is also a research scientist at IBM; Ralf Herbrich with Amazon; Greg Corrado with Google; and Yann LeCun with Facebook.

Though the initial group members were announced yesterday, the collaboration anticipates increased participation, announcing in their press release that “academics, non-profits, and specialists in policy and ethics will be invited to join the Board of the organization.”

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Sep 24, 2016

HOIP’s ~ Columbia Chemists Find Key to Manufacturing More Efficient Solar Cells ~ Is this the Future of Solar?

Posted by in categories: nanotechnology, policy, solar power, sustainability

In a discovery that could have profound implications for future energy policy, Columbia scientists have demonstrated it is possible to manufacture solar cells that are far more efficient than existing silicon energy cells by using a new kind of material, a development that could help reduce fossil fuel consumption.

The team, led by Xiaoyang Zhu, a professor of Chemistry at Columbia University, focused its efforts on a new class of solar cell ingredients known as Hybrid Organic Inorganic Perovskites (HOIPs).

Their results, reported in the prestigious journal Science, also explain why these new materials are so much more efficient than traditional solar cells—solving a mystery that will likely prompt scientists and engineers to begin inventing new solar materials with similar properties in the years ahead.

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