Hundreds of SolarCity staff have been fired

The solar energy company SolarCity, which was acquired by Tesla last year, has fired hundreds of additional workers. These dismissals are in addition to hundreds more that were reported earlier this month. Sources say around 1,200 people at Tesla and SolarCity have lost their jobs recently.

Source: Ars Technica

Facebook's AI director dismisses apocalyptic AI predictions

In an interview with The Verge, Facebook's AI director, Yann LeCun, has reiterated how far away we are fom having machines with general intelligence. "In particular areas machines have superhuman performance, but in terms of general intelligence we’re not even close to a rat," said LeCun.

Source: The Verge

Robot assistants will soon be roaming the aisles at Walmart

Walmart will have 50 robots in stores by the end of January. The robots scan aisles for out-of-stock items, items put in the wrong place by customers, incorrect prices and wrong or missing labels. Walmart CTO Jeremy King told Reuters that the robots are 50% more efficient than a human doing the same task.

'Bad Rabbit' ransomware strikes Ukraine and Russia

A new ransomware attack, dubbed Bad Rabbit, has been found spreading in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere. The malware has affected systems at three Russian websites, an airport in Ukraine and an underground railway in the capital city, Kiev.

Source: BBC

Just the US and Syria remain opposed to the Paris climate deal

Nicaragua has said that it will join the Paris climate agreement, leaving only two countries that have either not joined the deal or revealed their plans to leave it: Syria and the United States. Nicaragua was originally critical of the deal, seeing it as insufficiently ambitious.

Source: New York Times

Saudi Arabia grants citizenship to a robot named Sophia

A robot designed by Hanson Robotics has been given the right to citizenship in Saudi Arabia. The revelation/PR stunt came out of the Future Investment Initiative being held in Riyadh. The exact rights the robot, known as Sophia, are unknown.

Source: Tech Crunch

DeepMind’s Go-playing AI can learn the game for itself now

Google’s AI subsidiary DeepMind believes it is one step closer to creating AI with general intelligence because its Go-playing software, AlphaGo, has been updated and can now teach itself how to play. AlphaGo Zero was only programmed with Go's basic rules, and from there it learns everything else by itself.

Source: The Verge

UK spies monitoring social media in mass surveillance tactic

The privacy rights group Privacy International says it has obtained evidence for the first time that UK spy agencies are collecting social media information on potentially millions of people. The discovery raises concerns about whether effective oversight of the mass surveillance programs is in place.

Source: TechCrunch

Blue Origin passes hot-fire test

Blue Origin, the aerospace company fronted and largely funded by Jeff Bezos, has released footage of its BE-4 engine's first and successful completion of a hot-fire test. The successful hotfire supports the idea that Blue Origin could in the future be used for orbital and deep space missions.

Source: Ars Technica

5G to be used by 1 billion people in 2023 with China set to dominate

Analysts at CCS Insight have predicted that 5G technology will be in place by 2020, with China being the main beneficiary. "China will dominate 5G thanks to its political ambition to lead technology development," said Marina Koytcheva, VP Forecasting at CCS Insight.

Source: CNBC

Climate change makes it more likely to see hurricanes in Europe

Meteorologists from the University of Bristol have predicted that the likelihood of hurricane-force storms hitting the UK, much like Hurricane Ophelia did this week, will be enhanced in the future due to human-induced climate change.

Source: New Scientist

Russia to launch 'CryptoRuble’

According to local news sources, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the nation will issue its own cryptocurrency at a closed door meeting in Moscow. The news broke via minister of communications, Nikolay Nikiforov.

Source: Coin Telegraph