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The average temperature on Earth is in danger of exceeding a major climate threshold inside a decade, say researchers in Australia, if a dormant source of warming in the Pacific Ocean switches on, giving a boost to global temperature rise.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, governments around the world committed to keeping global warming to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But, according to a new analysis in the journal Geophysical Research Letters by Ben Henley and Andrew King of the University of Melbourne, the 1.5 degrees Celsius target may be reached or exceeded as early as 2026 if the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) shifts sea surface temperatures in the Pacific from a cool to a warm phase.


The IPO fluctuates in much the same way as El Niño and La Niña in the Pacific, but it occurs between every 10 to 30 years rather than roughly every two to seven. The study's authors write that, similar to El Niño and La Niña translating to "the boy" and "the girl," the IPO's phases are called El Tio and La Tia – "the cranky uncle" and "the kind auntie."

The planet experienced a positive IPO, or El Tio, in the periods 1925-1946 and 1977-1998, both of which were periods that saw "rapid" increases in global average temperatures, according to the study. The reverse — a prolonged negative phase, or La Tia — occurred from 1947-1976, when global temperature rise "stalled." A Tia formation has been present since 1999, and Henley and King suggest that this may have been responsible for temperatures rising less than some scientists had expected. 

A recent study in the journal Nature points to evidence of a return of El Tio, which Henley and King say could lead to a return of significant, average temperature increase around the world. 

Using computer models, Henley and King ran a range of scenarios. But under no model variation was the outlook comforting.


"Even if the IPO remains in a negative phase, our research shows we will still likely see global temperatures break through the 1.5 degrees Celsius guardrail by 2031," Henley said in a statement. "If the world is to have any hope of meeting the Paris target, governments will need to pursue policies that not only reduce emissions but remove carbon from the atmosphere."

The study assumes that countries will continue emitting carbon dioxide under a business as usual scenario. That pessimism has garnered some pushback from other researchers, who point out that a number of nations are taking steps to meet their Paris commitments.

Over the last few years, growth in greenhouse gas emissions has flatlined. And, at a meeting in Bonn last week, countries reaffirmed their commitment to Paris targets and began writing a "rule book" for achieving them. However, diplomats and scientists have long expressed concern that even meeting the agreed targets might not be enough to prevent temperatures climbing by 1.5 degrees Celsius. And there is a risk that President Donald Trump might withdraw the United States — responsible for 15 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions — from the agreement.


"Policy makers should be aware of just how quickly we are approaching 1.5 degrees Celsius," Henley said. "The task of reducing emissions is very urgent indeed."

Source: This article was published on space.com

Opera’s latest update for its desktop browser makes its easier to stay on top of conversations from various messaging apps, by baking their services right into the app.

Fire up Opera and you’ll now be able to access Facebook’s Messenger, WhatsApp and Telegram right from the browser’s sidebar. You can switch between them whenever you like, pin the messaging tab for easier access and use shortcuts to jump from one service to the other.


Additionally, you can quickly share images to these services by dragging and dropping photos on the messenger’s icon.


I was grateful for desktop versions of these apps when they launched, because they freed me from having to pick up my phone to reply to messages ever so often. But with so many of them to juggle, the number of extra browser tabs adds up quickly. Franz, which is a free app that lets you run multiple messengers in a single window, helped a bit – but it’s nice to have all my browser tabs and chats in a single app.Opera previously added features like a built-in adblocker and a free VPN service. You can grab the latest version of Opera for Mac, Windows and Linux here.

Source: This article was published on thenextweb.com

Thanks to Google Maps, hundreds of tourists got to visit a tiny, idyllic town in Norway. The problem? They were all 19 miles away from where they needed to be.

A digital platform economy is developing as a result of the rise of the Internet of Things. This removes the middleman and creates a more efficient economic market.


An emergence of digital platform economy is driving fundamental changes in our societies. But there is nothing new about platforms. Platform refers to a product, technology, or organization that enable direct interactions between two (or more) distinct actors. For example, most General Motors cars were already years ago built on a shared product platform. So, no matter if you bought an Opel or a Cadillac, the underlying structure of the car was actually similar. It makes sense, of course, to standardize production like this for economies of scale.


Platforms are a way to save costs, as they were for GM, but they also create flexibility and competitive advantage. Flexibility comes from the ability to customize the offering on top of the platform, as GM did for different cars in different price ranges. Microsoft Windows 95 might be the best example of competitive advantage created via platform.

A typical approach to monopolies is that they hinder innovation and development. However, this isn’t always the case. A dominant software platform such as Windows 95 allowed a sort of an ad hoc standardization that allowed smaller companies to create software that previously demanded immense resources. The dominant platform also made it possible for developers to create software only for this one platform, significantly reducing development costs. Clearly the platform position of Microsoft Windows 95 made the development of information technology faster. These assets also provided Microsoft with a long-lasting competitive advantage in the market.


Another great example of platform utilization is Apple App Store. Apple earns much more from its App Store than Google does from Google Play, even though Google has many times more downloads. Apple also gave developers much higher returns.


Internet of things (IoT), the next step in digitalization, is colliding digital and physical worlds. IoT will become part for our everyday life especially through platforms. There is a natural link between digitalization and platforms.

Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, and others have demonstrated that improving sensors and digital tools in physical environment makes it possible to scale up products and services almost like they are digital. These companies have emerged really fast, but are already as big as or bigger than the old players in their markets. They are often related to eating, living, and transportation, where the big money is and where people also really realize that things change. This is why there is so much talk about platforms and platform economy right now.


To be more precise about why platforms have a natural link to digitalisation, the following must be emphasized: standardization helps also in production of physical goods such as the GM cars where the old chassis of the vehicle could be, if desired, used in a new car. But when data, algorithms and apps are reused, it does not require deconstruction of the original goods. The optimal use of information, including data, databases, information, metadata, algorithms, codecs, learning algorithms, apps, programs, and scripts is much more efficient when the platform is digital, even though the product or service is physical.

Why IoT leads to the platform economy? [NT Kelsey]

So, when digitalization moves onward, service providers see it first in contexts that are easy to digitalize with the highest profits. Obviously, these contexts are houses and cars. Nevertheless, because recycling information is free, it makes sense to digitalize in smaller and smaller contexts. The more there are digital networks, the more it is economically reasonable to digitalize things. This means next we can see digitalization of clothes, household items, tools, and so on until everything is digitalized.


Digitalizing of all the things happens through combinatorial innovations, which means combining or recombining different component parts to create new inventions. This needs huge number of data points and thus they will become relevant for digitalization only after a long time. After that, there might be immense benefits from combinations. For example, combining mobility data with eating data would enable very detailed health profiling.

When everything becomes digitalized, the role of platforms and platform standards becomes more and more significant. Within platforms we are able to control interfaces, APIs (application programming interface, which enable communication between different programs), programs, information, and sensors of digital services. This is due to the fact that there are no other mechanisms that allow for 1) cost savings, 2) protection of business models, 3) third party innovations, or 4) aggressive scaling.


Then, platforms remove friction between people, creating more efficient markets, especially by decreasing the transaction costs. For example, Uber has decreased the transaction costs of finding someone willing to offer a low-cost ride below the opportunity cost of standing on a street corner trying to hail a cab. They also reduce investment costs, as in the case of Apple promising “no advertising fees” for companies that want to advertise in the App Store.

But these platforms also reduce the freedom of choice both from the buyer and the seller. The seller gets an advantage by not having to configurate offerings from the start. On the other hand s/he can only build the offering inside the service standardization of the platform. For example, Uber drivers can give you free snacks, but cannot drive you to random locations for fun. Apple’s App Store is known to be really strict on what is allowed and what is not. For example, application developers find it problematic that the App Store gives some apps and publishers, such as Apple, an advantage in the marketplace.

As digitalization becomes a more and more integral part of the physical world, the role of platforms becomes more important. As an increasing number of our interactions happen in digital platforms, it is important to develop the ways people can influence platforms and their rules. That’s why platform governance is one of the biggest societal questions of our era.

Source: This article was published on futurism.com 

Subgraph OS launched in public alpha at the weekend’s tech and democracy-focused Logan CIJ Symposium and got an endorsement from Ed Snowden – stamping it with some promise that it could be our future answer to an insecure online world.

“The internet is more hostile than its ever been,” the company’s president David Mirza Ahmad warned TNW.

“There are of course governments, law enforcers and intelligence agencies, but it’s not just state agencies using software vulnerabilities to implement malware systems for the purpose of surveillance, data infiltration or lateral pivoting.

“When people get compromised, it’s always this style of attack: you get sent an email with an attachment that exploits a software vulnerability in Microsoft Office or an email client or an image viewer that allows code to run and installs a remote access tool – a trojan horse – to steal documents.

“Subgraph is addressing that problem.”

The OS is based on Linux, features the Gnome user interface and includes security experts’ favorite part of the kernel, grsecurity, which doesn’t usually come as standard.

Many newer secure systems by the likes of Apple are built on the innovations found in this.

Jail cells

At a low level, Subgraph creates “jail cells” around different applications so that those that do not need to be exposed to the network or do not need to be able to access certain features are simply isolated from doing so. This is designed to prevent something like a malware-laden PDF opening the backdoor to your whole computer.

“We want to remove the security decisions that the user has to make by providing a holistic end-to-end OS,” he explains.

“Rather than having to ask which chat tool you should use, we’re curating applications, based on our assessments, so that users are equipped with the best tools, all integrated within the OS.”

A notoriously open bunch, the company has already worked to bring a Tor-friendly chat client written by their friends at Thoughtworks, called Coy, onto Subgraph.

But, where Linux has often been accused of lacking, Ahmad says a nice user interface will also be crucial for the OS’ success too.

“Security developers and privacy developers get a lot of criticism for focusing on the geeky, cool stuff – but we know that stuff will never get used unless it’s put into something that’s familiar.


“The longterm goal is that it can be used by anyone, and include things like a new secure email client, secure IM, so we’re working on tools for everyone that just have security built in.”

Reproducible builds

The team is also putting a lot of effort into forwarding the idea of “reproducible builds,” a way to use the source code of open-source software to ensure it’s what it claims to be.

“The Debian project, which is what we’re based on, is doing really great work in reproducible builds. It’s what I call open-source++ meaning a better and more verifiable way to do open source software.”

Ahmad explains that companies like Google are actually using similar sandboxing technology to Subgraph. “They’re doing really good work, all of them, but it’s not open-source, it’s not free.”

Having spent six years working as a swat team of security experts, and being self-sufficient in that regard, Subgraph is now backed by the US government’s Open Technology Fund – which has also handed money to Tor, Tails and Open Whisper Systems, the team behind Signal.

But, of course, when asked about that ongoing encryption debate in the US, Ahmad said: “We need strong crypto even for basic commerce. It’s important to make sure that bad laws get fought.”

Subgraph is awaiting a security audit and its beta is still six months away, with a full product unlikely to emerge before the end of the year. But the company is looking for people with a bit of knowhow, who aren’t expecting security or stability, to come and try it out now.

➤ SubGraph

Source : thenextweb.com

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