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Posts from October, 2017

Tesla won’t confirm or deny reports of a Chinese factory deal

Oct 23

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Tesla says it will “more clearly define [its] plans for production in China by the end of the year.”

Continue reading Tesla won’t confirm or deny reports of a Chinese factory deal

Tesla won’t confirm or deny reports of a Chinese factory deal originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 22 Oct 2017 15:01:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sunday Drive: Taking a gaze into the automotive crystal ball

Oct 23

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Six cars, all coming for 2019, highlight the past week in automotive news.

Continue reading Sunday Drive: Taking a gaze into the automotive crystal ball

Sunday Drive: Taking a gaze into the automotive crystal ball originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 22 Oct 2017 14:01:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Jason Battersby’s TIE-X concept is the SR-72 Blackbird of The Empire

Oct 23

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Die-hard Star Wars fans might take issue with a few details. The rest of us will ooh and aah.

Continue reading Jason Battersby’s TIE-X concept is the SR-72 Blackbird of The Empire

Jason Battersby’s TIE-X concept is the SR-72 Blackbird of The Empire originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 22 Oct 2017 13:01:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Hold onto your ape hangers, American Chopper returns next year

Oct 23

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Paul Teutel Sr and Paul Jr return in early 2018 with a new season American Chopper.

Continue reading Hold onto your ape hangers, American Chopper returns next year

Hold onto your ape hangers, American Chopper returns next year originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 22 Oct 2017 12:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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The Factory Where Robots Build Robots

Oct 23

turkeydance shared Bloomberg’s profile of Fanuc, a secretive Japanese company with 40,000-square-foot factories “where robots made other robots in the dark…stopping only when no storage space remains.” About 80% of the company’s assembly work is automated, and its robots then go on to assemble and paint cars, build motors, and make electrical components. “King of them all is the Robodrill, which plays first violin in one of the great symphonies of modern production: machining the metal casing for Apple Inc.’s iPhones…” With 40% profit margins, the robot vendor has become a $50 billion company controlling most of the world’s market for factory automation and industrial robotics, Bloomberg reports:
In fact, Fanuc might just be the single most important manufacturing company in the world right now, because everything Fanuc does is designed to make it part of what every other manufacturing company is doing… The company even profits from its competitors’ sales, because more than half of all industrial robots are directed by its numerical-control software. Between the almost 4 million CNC systems and half-million or so industrial robots it has installed around the world, Fanuc has captured about one-quarter of the global market, making it the industry leader over competitors such as Yaskawa Motoman and ABB Robotics in Germany, each of which has about 300,000 industrial robots installed globally. Fanuc’s Robodrills now command an 80 percent share of the market for smartphone manufacturing robots.

Fanuc’s clients include Amazon and Tesla, but U.S. orders “are dwarfed by those from China — some 90,000 units, almost a third of the world’s total industrial robot orders last year.”


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US Preparing to Put Nuclear Bombers On 24-Hour Alert

Oct 23

DefenseOne reports on new preparations at Barksdale Air Force Base:
The U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991. That means the long-dormant concrete pads at the ends of this base’s 11,000-foot runway — dubbed the “Christmas tree” for their angular markings — could once again find several B-52s parked on them, laden with nuclear weapons and set to take off at a moment’s notice… Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, and other senior defense officials stressed that the alert order had not been given, but that preparations were under way in anticipation that it might come…
Already, various improvements have been made to prepare Barksdale — home to the 2d Bomb Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees the service’s nuclear forces — to return B-52s to an alert posture. Near the alert pads, an old concrete building — where B-52 crews during the Cold War would sleep, ready to run to their aircraft and take off at a moment’s notice — is being renovated. Inside, beds are being installed for more than 100 crew members, more than enough room for the crews that would man bombers positioned on the nine alert pads outside… Large paintings of the patches for each squadron at Barksdale adorn the walls of a large stairway. One painting — a symbol of the Cold War — depicts a silhouette of a B-52 with the words “Peace The Old Fashioned Way,” written underneath.
General Goldfein, the Air Force’s top officer and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “is asking his force to think about new ways that nuclear weapons could be used for deterrence, or even combat… ‘It’s no longer a bipolar world where it’s just us and the Soviet Union. We’ve got other players out there who have nuclear capability. It’s never been more important to make sure that we get this mission right.'”


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The Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility: Where Spacecraft Go To Die

Oct 23

dryriver writes: Whether you launch a satellite into space or an entire space station like the Russian Mir, the Chinese Tiangong-1 or the International Space Station, what goes up must eventually come down — re-enter earth’s atmosphere. The greater the mass of what is in space — Mir weighed 120 tons, the ISS weighs 450 tons and will be decommissioned in a decade — the greater the likelihood that larger parts will not burn up completely during re-entry and crash to earth at high velocity. So there is a need for a place on earth where things falling back from space are least likely to cause damage or human casualties. The Oceanic Pole Of Inaccessibility is one of two such places.

The place furthest away from land — it lies in the South Pacific some 2,700km (1,680 miles) south of the Pitcairn Islands — somewhere in the no-man’s land, or rather no-man’s-sea, between Australia, New Zealand and South America, has become a favorite crash site for returning space equipment. “Scattered over an area of approximately 1,500 sq km (580 sq miles) on the ocean floor of this region is a graveyard of satellites. At last count there were more than 260 of them, mostly Russian,” reports the BBC. “The wreckage of the Space Station Mir also lies there… Many times a year the supply module that goes to the International Space Station burns up in this region incinerating the station’s waste.” The International Space Station will also be carefully brought down in this region when its mission ends. No one is in any danger because of this controlled re-entry into our atmosphere. The region is not fished because oceanic currents avoid the area and do not bring nutrients to it, making marine life scarce.


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Bill Gates Tries A(nother) Billion-Dollar Plan To Reform Education

Oct 23

theodp shared this article from the Washington Post:
Bill Gates has a(nother) plan for K-12 public education. The others didn’t go so well, but the man, if anything, is persistent. Gates announced Thursday that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would spend more than $1.7 billion over the next five years to pay for new initiatives in public education, with all but 15 percent of it going to traditional public school districts and the rest to charter schools… He said most of the new money — about 60 percent — will be used to develop new curriculums and “networks of schools” that work together to identify local problems and solutions, using data to drive “continuous improvement.” He said that over the next several years, about 30 such networks would be supported, though he didn’t describe exactly what they are…
Though there wasn’t a lot of detail on exactly how the money would be spent, Gates, a believer in using big data to solve problems, repeatedly said foundation grants given to schools as part of this new effort would be driven by data. “Each [school] network will be backed by a team of education experts skilled in continuous improvement, coaching and data collection and analysis,” he said, an emphasis that is bound to worry critics already concerned about the amount of student data already collected and the way it is used for high-stakes decisions. In 2014, a $100 million student data collection project funded by the Gates foundation collapsed amid criticism that it couldn’t adequately protect information collected on children.

“In his speech, Gates said that education philanthropy was difficult, in part because it is easy to ‘fool yourself’ about what works and whether it can be easily scaled,” according to the article. It also argues that big spending on education by Gates and others “has raised questions about whether American democracy is well-served by wealthy people pouring so much money into pet education projects — regardless of whether they are grounded in research — that public policy and funding follow.”
By 2011 the Gates’ foundation had already spent $5 billion on education projects — and admitted that “it hasn’t led to significant improvements.”


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Silicon Valley ‘Divided Society and Made Everyone Raging Mad’, Argues Newsweek

Oct 23

“Anyone who is pissed off can now automatically find other people that are similarly pissed off,” argues author Jamie Bartlett, in a new essay shared by Slashdot reader schwit1 which calls the internet “a bottomless well of available grievance.” Here’s an excerpt from Newsweek:

Silicon Valley’s utopians genuinely but mistakenly believe that more information and connection makes us more analytical and informed. But when faced with quinzigabytes of data, the human tendency is to simplify things. Information overload forces us to rely on simple algorithms to make sense of the overwhelming noise. This is why, just like the advertising industry that increasingly drives it, the internet is fundamentally an emotional medium that plays to our base instinct to reduce problems and take sides, whether like or don’t like, my guy/not my guy, or simply good versus evil. It is no longer enough to disagree with someone, they must also be evil or stupid…
Nothing holds a tribe together like a dangerous enemy. That is the essence of identity politics gone bad: a universe of unbridgeable opinion between opposing tribes, whose differences are always highlighted, exaggerated, retweeted and shared. In the end, this leads us to ever more distinct and fragmented identities, all of us armed with solid data, righteous anger, a gutful of anger and a digital network of likeminded people. This is not total connectivity; it is total division.


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Google Says It Hasn’t Promised To Help News Sites By Sharing Money and User Data

Oct 23

UPDATE (2:53 PST): Google say it hasn’t lined up any deals to share revenue and user data with online news sites, calling Sunday news reports “totally wrong.”

“We have not reached any conclusions on the revenue side,” Google spokeswoman Maggie Shiels told CNET. “We haven’t reached any conclusions [regarding] subscriptions and need to speak to publishers.”

An anonymous reader shared the text of CNET’s original report:
The web giant is planning to share a chunk of its revenue with publishers, the Financial Times reported Sunday. Google’s plan is to mate its treasure trove of personal data with machine learning algorithms to help news publications grow their subscriber base, the newspaper reported… The deal Google is offering to news publishers will reportedly be similar to the arrangement Google has with traditional advertisers through its AdSense business. “We want to have a healthy ecosystem where we’ll benefit both as a society and with our business,” Richard Gringas, Google’s head of news, told the FT.
Financial Times claimed that Google had promised that the revenue sharing “will be very, very generous,” while TechCrunch had reported that Google would also be claiming “a 30% finder’s fee” for every new subscriber.


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