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Submission + - What happens when self-driving cars can collude with the cops? (

schwit1 writes: ... So I downloaded that new app, registered it to a pre-paid Visa, and called for a Taxy.

The Taxy rolled up to the curb, matte black. It looked liked it wanted to disappear into the night, even in the day. What hacker doesn't want to roll in a matte black self-driving car?

I got into the passenger seat. There wasn't a driver seat. I pulled on the safety harness, two shoulder belts that clipped together right in front of my navel.

"Hello, Nic," it said. Like, out of the dashboard, but over on the driver side. As if there were a driver. "Hey," I said.

It cut out from the curb and back into traffic, deferring to human-driven cars but damned aggressive amongst the rest of the automated vehicles.

After two turns, the Taxy already looked like it it was heading the wrong direction.

"This isn't the way I usually take," I said. "You redirecting to avoid traffic or something?"

"I regret to inform you that your destination has been marked as a location of potential interest to the police."

I went for the safety harness release. It wouldn't let go ...

Submission + - Last January Was the Hottest Global Temperature Anomaly In Recorded History

merbs writes: NASA has released its global temperature data for January 2016, and, once again, the record for the hottest month in recorded history has been shattered. At a time when these kinds of records are broken with some regularity, it takes a particularly scorching month to raise eyebrows in the climate science community. It has to be the hottest hottest month by a pretty hot margin.

Sure enough, last January did the trick: It was 1.13 C warmer than the global average of 1951-1980 (the benchmark NASA uses to measure warming trends)—in other words, a full 2F warmer than pre-1980 levels.

Submission + - Greenhouse Gases Could Eventually Heat the Earth Enough to Boil its Oceans Away

merbs writes: In 2013, NASA’s former chief climate scientist James Hansen published a short white paper that described the “Venus Syndrome”—a situation that could unfold far in the future, in which so much carbon dioxide is loaded into the atmosphere that Earth is rendered a replica of the scorching second planet from the sun. Hansen concluded that though it would take millions of years, “Earth can ‘achieve’ Venus-like conditions, in the sense of ~90 bar surface pressure, only after first getting rid of its ocean via escape of hydrogen to space.”

We would, in other words, have to heat the Earth up enough to boil away the oceans—a feat that another scientist, Max Popp, of Princeton and NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, has now confirmed is entirely within the realm of possibility.

Submission + - There's a Wind Turbine on the Horizon with Blades the Size of Trump Tower

merbs writes: Imagine a stretch of open ocean, populated by a swath of wind turbines with skyscraper-sized blades, whipping into the gusts like enormous palm trees. The vision is partly terrifying, partly inspiring, and being taken entirely seriously by the federal government and one of our top research laboratories.

The University of Virginia's Sandia National Labs has unveiled the preliminary design for a new offshore wind turbine with 650-foot turbine blades. That, as its announcement points out, is twice the size of an American football field. It's also roughly the size of Trump Tower in New York.

Submission + - The Russian Plot to Use Space Mirrors to Turn Night Into Day

merbs writes: Throughout the early 90s, a team of Russian astronomers and engineers were hellbent on literally turning night into day. By shining a giant mirror onto the earth from space, they figured they could bring sunlight to the depths of night, extending the workday, cutting back on lighting costs and allowing laborers to toil longer. If this sounds a bit like the plot of a Bond film, well, it’s that too.

The difference is that for a second there, the scientists, led by Vladimir Sergeevich Syromyatnikov, one of the most important astronautical engineers in history, actually pulled it off.

Submission + - The Next Gold Rush Will Be 5,000 Feet Under the Sea, With Robot Drones

merbs writes: In Papua New Guinea, one well-financed, first-mover company is about to pioneer deep sea mining. And that will mean dispatching a fleet of giant remote-operated robotic miners 5,000 feet below the surface to harvest the riches scattered across ocean floor. These mammoth underwater vehicles look like they’ve been hauled off the set of a sci-fi film—think Avatar meets The Abyss. And they'll be dredging up copper, gold, and other valuable minerals, far beneath the gaze of human eyes.

Submission + - Windows 3.1 Is Still Alive, And It Just Killed a French Airport

merbs writes: A computer glitch that brought the Paris airport of Orly to a standstill Saturday has been traced back to the airport's "prehistoric" operating system. The computer failure had affected a system known as DECOR, which is used by air traffic controllers to communicate weather information to pilots. Pilots rely on the system when weather conditions are poor. DECOR, which is used in takeoff and landings, runs on Windows 3.1, an operating system that came onto the market in 1992.

Submission + - Nine Out of Ten of the Internet's Top Websites Are Leaking Your Data

merbs writes: The vast majority of websites you visit are sending your data to third-party sources, usually without your permission or knowledge. That’s not exactly breaking news, but the sheer scale and ubiquity of that leakage might be.

Tim Libert, a privacy researcher, has published new peer-reviewed research that sought to quantify all the “privacy compromising mechanisms” on the one million most popular websites worldwide. His conclusion? “Findings indicate that nearly 9 in 10 websites leak user data to parties of which the user is likely unaware.”

Submission + - The First Privately Funded Lunar Mission Set a Launch Date for 2017

merbs writes: If all goes according to plan, the world’s first private lunar mission will be launched just two years from now. SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit, has secured a launch contract with California-based Spaceflight Industries, and will aim to land a rover on the moon in the second half of 2017. It’s the first such launch contract to be verified by the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize competition.

Submission + - The Road to a 100% Clean-Powered Planet

merbs writes: Sven Teske's latest study, the tenth of its kind, shows that clean energy technologies can meet all of the world’s power demands by 2050. And, given his track record, perhaps we should take the conclusion seriously: The man who most accurately predicted today's clean power boom in 2005 is now saying we could see 100 percent clean energy by midcentury.

Submission + - The Campaign to Get Every American Free Money, Every Year

merbs writes: Supporters of a basic income have finally organized a proper political movement. Basic Income Action is, according to co-founder Dan O’Sullivan, “the first national organization educating and organizing the public to support a basic income.”He tells me that “Our goal is to educate and organize people to take action to win a basic income here in the US.”

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