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Dec 29, 2017

The Robots Are Coming, and Sweden Is Fine

Posted by in categories: government, robotics/AI

But such talk has little currency in Sweden or its Scandinavian neighbors, where unions are powerful, government support is abundant, and trust between employers and employees runs deep. Here, robots are just another way to make companies more efficient. As employers prosper, workers have consistently gained a proportionate slice of the spoils — a stark contrast to the United States and Britain, where wages have stagnated even while corporate profits have soared.

In a world full of anxiety about the potential job-destroying rise of automation, Sweden is well placed to embrace technology while limiting human costs.

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Dec 28, 2017

Record-breaking hybrid drone stays aloft for over four hours

Posted by in categories: drones, energy

Drone technology is getting better all the time, and one area folks are putting a lot of energy into is boosting the amount of time the things can stay in the air. Drone manufacturer Quaternium is claiming a new milestone in this field, after flying its HYBRiX.20 fuel-electric quadcopter for four hours and forty minutes in what it describes as a world record flight for a self-powered multicopter.

Most multicopter drones you can buy off the shelf boast flight times of 25 to 30 minutes, though we have seen custom-built multicopters fly for far longer. Last year, for example, a commercial drone operator used a bespoke quadcopter to cross the English channel in a 72-minute jaunt, while others such as dronemaker Skyfront have previously claimed endurance records well in excess of four hours.

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Dec 28, 2017

Artificial Intelligence Experts Warn of Social Upheaval

Posted by in categories: economics, robotics/AI

Experts in artificial intelligence say the world is unprepared for the enormous changes automation is bringing to the global economy. Some say artificial intelligence could help us create an almost perfect world. But they also warn it could lead to the collapse of democracy and civilisation within a generation. Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee reports from London.

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Dec 28, 2017

Meet the creature that can regenerate its brain and resist cancer

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

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Dec 28, 2017

NASA Planning Mission to Alpha Centauri—in 2069

Posted by in category: space travel

NASA is prepping for a trip to the nearby three-star Alpha Centauri system—in 2069.

That’s my kind of advanced planning.

The mission, first announced by New Scientist, would include a 44-year-long expedition to an exoplanet in search of signs of life. Assuming NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) can figure out how to travel at a tenth of the speed of light.

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Dec 28, 2017

Falcon Heavy raised on pad 39A for first time

Posted by in category: space travel

SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy rocket, made up of two previously-flown Falcon 9 boosters and a beefed up central core stage, made the trip to launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and was raised vertical Thursday for testing ahead of its first liftoff next month.

The fully-assembled 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket will be the most powerful in the world when it blasts off, and Thursday’s arrival atop pad 39A marks a major step toward readying the Falcon Heavy for flight.

SpaceX engineers are expected to conduct a fit check and complete other tests at pad 39A this week, followed by a hold-down firing of all 27 first stage engines some time after New Year’s Day. The company has not set a target date for the Falcon Heavy’s first liftoff, but officials say the launch is targeted in January, some time after the hold-down hotfire test.

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Dec 28, 2017

AI Researchers Create Video to Call for Autonomous Weapons Ban at UN

Posted by in categories: futurism, robotics/AI

In response to growing concerns about autonomous weapons, a coalition of AI researchers and advocacy organizations released a fictitious video on Monday that depicts a disturbing future in which lethal autonomous weapons have become cheap and ubiquitous.

The video was launched in Geneva, where AI researcher Stuart Russell presented it at an event at the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons hosted by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

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Dec 28, 2017

Data From 14 Million Papers Is Now Available for Free

Posted by in category: futurism

A new initiative, I4OC, is working towards making reliable, structured data of authors, reference lists, and citations accessible to the public. Their launch marks the availability of 14 million scholarly works, with more to come.

The Initiative of Open Citations (140C) announced today that science papers’ reference lists will now be accessible to anyone.

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Dec 28, 2017

Faster, stronger, better jumpers: Genetically engineered ‘super-horses’ to be born in 2019

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, genetics

Scientists, who had previously cloned polo ponies, have achieved yet another breakthrough in their work that could lead to the creation of genetically engineered “super-horses” that are faster, stronger and better jumpers than regular horses within two years.

Scientists in Argentina reportedly managed to rewrite the genomes of cloned horses by using a powerful DNA editing technique called CRISPR. They also produced healthy embryos that are now expected to be implanted into a surrogate mother by 2019.

CRISPR, an acronym that stands for Clustered, Regularly Interspaced, Short Palindromic Repeats, is basically a technique in a bacteria’s immune system. When a virus invades a bacterial cell, the CRISPR system captures a piece of the virus’s DNA and slides it into a section of the bacteria’s own DNA, allowing it to detect and destroy the virus as well as similar viruses in future attacks.

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Dec 28, 2017

SpaceX BFR construction will start in 4 to 6 months

Posted by in category: space travel

The SpaceX BFR (Big Falcon Rocket or Big Fucking Rocket) has a planned payload of 150,000 kg (330,000 lb) when flying reusable or 250,000 kg (550,000 lb) when flying expendable, making it a super heavy-lift launch vehicle.

SpaceX plans to replace of all their current rockets by the early 2020s with the BFR. Tooling for the main tanks has been ordered and a facility to build the vehicles is under construction; construction of the first BFR is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2018. SpaceX has the aspirational goal for initial Mars-bound cargo flights of BFR launching as early as 2022, followed by the first crewed BFR flight one synodic period later, in 2024. Serious development of the BFR began in 2017.

Testing of the BFR is expected to begin with short suborbital hops of the full-scale ship, likely to just a few hundred kilometers altitude and lateral distance.

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