Banning data encryption is “moronic”: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, has launched scathing criticism at governmental plans to ban data encryption, arguing that encryption is both impossible to prevent and a direct result of overreaching digital surveillance.

Speaking at the IP Expo Europe event in London today, he referred to comments made earlier this year by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who asked: “in our country, do we want to allow a means of communication we cannot read? My answer to that question is: ‘No, we must not’.”

“Too late, David,” Wales retorted. “It is not possible in any sense of the word for the UK to ban encryption. More to the point, it’s a moronic thing to do.”

“Human rights don’t go away just because you’re on the internet. We still have rights that governments need to respect.”

Wales said that he was not against any form of governmental access to data, pointing out that it would be reasonable for there to be certain points in to network that were accessible by governments with a court-approved warrant.

“What I’m opposed to is to have zero privacy and scan everyone’s data all the time in case we see something,” he added.

“Human rights don’t go away just because you’re on the internet. We still have rights that governments need to respect.”

However, this hasn’t stopped some governments around the world from using browsing data to arrest civilians, said Wales, citing the example of a Wikipedia editor who made edits to certain pages anonymously but was arrested and tortured for some of the information he had posted.

“It has been routine in recent years, and most cases don’t become famous.”

Image courtesy of Joi Ito. Featured image courtesy of Lane Hartwell / The Wikimedia Foundation

Image courtesy of Joi Ito. Featured image courtesy of Lane Hartwell / The Wikimedia Foundation

Ironically, the extreme attempts by governments to gain data in recent years have led to a greater move to encryption, according to Wales.

“The overreach has actually cost the security services in a legitimate sense,” he said. “Because they’ve been so ridiculous, people are moving to end to end encryption.”

He said this move meant security services were losing the ability to access data legally, giving them less data about genuine threats than they would have had if they had avoided programs such as the one made famous by the Snowden revelations.

The percentage of the internet’s data packets sent using SSL encryption has, according to Wales, increased significantly in recent years, accounting for 29.1% of traffic in April this year, and is set to grow further.

“That will change by 2016 to 64.7%,” he said, pointing out that a large part of this jump would be due to Netflix’s transition to SSL.

“All major traffic is going to be encrypted very, very soon,” he added. “And that’s a very good thing.”

Using CRISPR, UK scientists edit DNA of human embryos

For the first time in the UK, scientists have altered human embryos. Using the gene-editing tool CRISPR, the scientists turned off the protein OCT4, which is thought to be important in early embryo development. In doing so, cells that normally go on to form the placenta, yolk sac and foetus failed to develop.

Source: BBC

Tesla and AMD developing AI chip for self-driving cars

Tesla has partnered with AMD to develop a dedicated chip that will handle autonomous driving tasks in its cars. Tesla's Autopilot programme is currently headed by former AMD chip architect Jim Keller, and it is said that more than 50 people are working on the initiative under his leadership.

Source: CNBC

Synthetic muscle developed that can lift 1,000 times its own weight

Scientists have used a 3D printing technique to create an artificial muscle that can lift 1,000 times its own weight. "It can push, pull, bend, twist, and lift weight. It's the closest artificial material equivalent we have to a natural muscle," said Dr Aslan Miriyev, from the Creative Machines lab.

Source: Telegraph

Head of AI at Google criticises "AI apocalypse" scaremongering

John Giannandrea, the senior vice president of engineering at Google, has condemned AI scaremongering, promoted by people like Elon Musk ."I just object to the hype and the sort of sound bites that some people have been making," said Giannandrea."I am definitely not worried about the AI apocalypse."

Source: CNBC

Scientists engineer antibody that attacks 99% of HIV strains

Scientists have engineered an antibody that attacks 99% of HIV strains and is built to attack three critical parts of the virus, which makes it harder for the HIV virus to resist its effects. The International Aids Society said it was an "exciting breakthrough". Human trials will begin in 2018.

Source: BBC

Facebook has a plan to stop fake news from influencing elections

Mark Zuckerberg has outlined nine steps that Facebook will take to "protect election integrity". “I care deeply about the democratic process and protecting its integrity," he said during a live broadcast on his Facebook page. "I don’t want anyone to use our tools to undermine our democracy.”

Renault unveils unorthodox ‘car of the future’: a dockable, peanut-shaped driverless pod

Renault has unveiled its take on the car of the future: a peanut-shaped, mulit-directional driverless vehicle that is capable of docking into a train of vehicles.

Designed by Yuchen Cai, a student of Central St Martins’ MA in Industrial Design, the vehicle is the winning design in competition run between Renault and the prestigious design school, and was honed during a two-week stay at Renault’s Paris studio by Cai this summer.

Dubbed The Float, the vehicle was unveiled today at DesignJunction, a four-day design event that kicked off today in London.

“Everyone has accepted that cars will be part of the sharing economy in the future – that’s what’s going to happen,” said Will Sorrel, event director of DesignJunction, this morning.

“This takes it one step further and these pods are this peanut shape so they can join together, so the autonomous vehicles can link up and join together if they’re going in the same direction, conserving energy.”

The Float by Yuchen Cai, winner of the Renault and Central Saint Martins, UAL competition

The Float is rather unusually designed to run using magnetic levitation – known more commonly as maglev – and would be capable of moving in any direction, eliminating the need for tedious three-point turns.

Made entirely of glass, the vehicle is designed to have sliding doors. Two bucket-style seats enable up to two passengers to travel per pod, and swivel mechanism ensures easy departure from the pods.

When the vehicle is docked to another, however, the passengers aren’t just stuck grimacing at each other through glass. Instead passengers can rotate their seats using built-in controls and power up a sound system that allows them to talk to the pod next door.

Those who are feeling less sociable can change the opacity of the glass, ensuring privacy when their neighbours are not so appealing to communicate with.

The Float is also designed to be paired with a smartphone app, through which would-be passengers could hail a vehicle as required.

“Central Saint Martins’ Industrial Design students really took this on board when creating their vision of the future,” said Anthony Lo, Renault’s  vice-president of exterior design and one of the competition judges. “Yuchen’s winning design was particularly interesting thanks to its use of Maglev technology and its tessellated design. It was a pleasure to have her at the Renault design studios and see her vision come to life.”

“From a technological viewpoint, the prospect of vehicle autonomy is fascinating, but it’s also critical to hold in mind that such opportunities also present significant challenges to how people interact and their experience of future cities,” added Nick Rhodes, Central Saint Martins programme director of product ceramic & industrial design.

“Recognition of the success of the projects here lies in their ability to describe broader conceptions of what driverless vehicles might become and how we may come to live with them.”