this week

Russian censorship law bans proxies and VPNs

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that, as of November 1st, will ban technology which allows access to banned websites, which includes virtual private networks and proxies. While the law is ostensibly meant to curb extremist content, some have suggested its real intention is to prevent Russians from seeing content that might be critical of Putin.

Source: Engadget

Chinese chatbots shut down after anti-government posts

A popular Chinese messenger app has removed two chatbots, after they were found to be criticising the nation's Communist Party. The chatbots, Baby Q and Little Bing, were removed after social media users shared controversial comments, which included one response that referred to the government as "a corrupt and incompetent political regime".

Source: BBC

Automated 'sewbot' to make 800,000 Adidas t-shirts daily

Leading sportswear brand Adidas is planning to produce 800,000 T-shirts per day using a fully automated sewing bot. The technology has been developed in the USA, and will supply European sports brand Adidas with T-shirts made in the US by robots. The 'sewbot' is said to be a major breakthrough in the automation of garment assembly.

Alphabet sees salt as the answer to the problem of energy storage

Alphabet's X division is working on a energy storage system that turns electricity into streams of hot and cold air and funnels it into two tanks filled with salt, and two with antifreeze. Hot air then heats up the salt, and cold air cools the antifreeze. In reverse hot and cold air rush toward each other, creating powerful gusts that spin a turbine and spit out electricity.

Source: Bloomberg

Tim Cook: Apple's autonomous tech can be used for more than cars

Apple CEO Tim Cook has hinted that the company’s AI work is meant for more than just autonomous cars. Although, he isn't keen on revealing what else Apple is using the tech for. “[Autonomous] systems can be used in a variety of ways,” Cook said. “A vehicle is only one, but there are many different areas of it. And I don’t want to go any further with that.”

Source: The Verge

Time to think about the legality of augmented reality advertising

Legal issues associated with augmented reality are beginning to be discussed. A new app, called Skrite, lets users put messages and photos onto the sky. The tech is currently limited to smartphones but once AR evolves brands will be able to put adverts in the sky, which could see rival advertisers put adverts above competitors' locations.

Source: New Scientist

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC