Futurism:
this week

China demands New York Times app is banned

Chinese government officials have reportedly demanded that Apple remove all of The New York Times apps from the App Store in China as a consequence of the app breaking the law in China. Access has now been blocked to one of the few channels the paper has to reach readers in China.

Source: Cult of Mac

Russia should prepare to cut itself off from the global internet

Russian president Vladimir Putin has been advised to make sure Russia is ready to cut itself of from the global internet in order to protect itself against attacks on its critical infrastructure. The warning came from German Klimenko who said attacks could come about because of "tectonic shifts' in relations with the West".

Source: Tech Dirt

Could we use roads to wirelessly charge electric vehicles?

Israeli startup Electroad is working to make charging stations for electric cars obsolete by retrofitting existing roads with buried coils to charge electric vehicles. The team has already performed successful tests of the technology, and will be demoing the electric roads on a larger scale with a public bus route in Tel Aviv.

Source: Inhabitat

Japanese insurer replaces office workers with AI robots

Japanese insurance firm Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance is making 34 employees redundant and replacing them with IBM’s Watson Explorer AI. The technology will save the firm about 140m yen (£1m) a year after the 200m yen (£1.4m) AI system is installed this month. Maintaining it will cost about 15m yen (£100k) a year.

Source: The Guardian

DeepMind’s AlphaGo is secretly beating human players online

Google DeepMind’s Go-playing AI has been posing as an unknown player called “Master” and thrashing players on an online Go platform called Tygem. The AI previously beat top player Lee Sedol at the ancient Chinese game, that is said to be infinitely harder than chess, in 2016.

Source: New Scientist

Faraday Future unveils super fast electric car

Start-up Faraday Future has unveiled a self-driving electric car that it says can accelerate from zero to 60mph (97km/h) in 2.39 seconds. Faraday said, at the CES tech show in Las Vegas, the FF91 accelerates faster than Tesla's Model S or any other electric car currently in production.

Source: BBC

Australian Prime Minister demands end to encryption

The Australian government has proposed legislation that would force messaging apps like WhatsApp to decrypt encrypted messages. “The laws of mathematics are very commendable, but the only law that applies in Australia is the law of Australia," said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Source: Independent

James Murdoch joins Tesla's board

Tesla has announced that it will add two independent directors to its board, including 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch. The additions have been announced just a few months after Tesla confirmed it was seeking to add independent directors without ties to CEO and founder Elon Musk.

Source: Tech Crunch

T.Rex wasn't capable of moving beyond a brisk walk

Scientists have concluded the size and weight of a T. Rex would have prevented it from moving faster than 20km/h. The scientists used a computer simulation to assess the dinosaur's speed, and found that if it had of moved from a brisk walk to a sprint, its legs would have snapped under the weight of its body.

Source: BBC

Samsung's Bixby virtual assistant now available in the US

Samsung has officially rolled out its Bixby voice assistant to S8 and S8 Plus owners in the US, so every American with one of the flagship phones can now talk to their very own virtual assistant. However, it's not currently clear when Bixby will be available in other English-speaking countries or other languages.

Source: Engadget

SpaceX says it can reuse rockets within 24 hours by 2018

Elon Musk has been detailing how SpaceX plans to be refurbishing and reusing Falcon 9 rocket boosters within a 24-hour turnaround window by 2018. At the ISS R&D conference on Wednesday, Musk said that the company already has a technical path in place to achieve the goal.

Source: Tech Crunch

Musk says he has approval for New York to Washington DC tunnel

Elon Musk has been commenting on the future of The Boring Company, his tunnel-digging endeavor. Musk took to Twitter to claim that he had, “Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins.”

Source: Ars Technica

You can now explore the International Space Station with Google Street View

If you’ve ever wondered what life is like aboard the International Space Station then Google has a treat in store for you because beginning today the ISS is available via Google Maps’ Street View.

Astronauts have been working and living on the ISS – a structure made up of 15 connected modules that floats 250 miles above Earth – for the past 16 years.

Now with Street View regular citizens can explore the station, and go everywhere from the sleeping quarters to where the space suits are kept. This is the first time Street View has ventured beyond planet Earth, and for the benefit of viewers the Street View feature also comes annotated, with handy little dots you can click on to explain what everything does, which is another first.

“In the six months that I spent on the International Space Station, it was difficult to find the words or take a picture that accurately describes the feeling of being in space,” said European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet in a blog post.

“Working with Google on my latest mission, I captured Street View imagery to show what the ISS looks like from the inside, and share what it’s like to look down on Earth from outer space.”

In his blog post, Pesquet goes on to describe how because of the constraints associated with living and working in space, it wasn’t possible to collect Street View using Google’s usual methods.

Instead, the Street View team worked with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama to design a gravity-free method of collecting the imagery using DSLR cameras and equipment already on the ISS.

Still photos were captured in space that were sent down to Earth where they were stitched together to create panoramic 360 degree imagery of the ISS.

Images courtesy of Google

“There are a lot of obstacles up there, and we had limited time to capture the imagery,” recalled Pesquet.

“Oh, and there’s that whole zero gravity thing.”

Pesquet ended his blog post by revealing the inspiration behind the Street View and ISS collaboration.

“Looking at Earth from above made me think about my own world a little differently, and I hope that the ISS on Street View changes your view of the world too.” said Pesquet.