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LOS GATOS, Cali. — As Netflix continues to produce billions of dollars’ worth of original content, it’s easy to forget that the company’s business model is firmly rooted in the delivery of digital content, served with as little friction as possible.

For Los Gatos, California-based Netflix Inc., frequent improvements to how all of its content is delivered — both original and licensed — is not just for subscriber convenience or benefit.

Retaining the company’s 94 million paid subscribers is crucial, but growth is the name of the game and — when reading between the lines of its latest technology improvements — the company has its sights set on emerging markets.

Netflix uploads multiple versions of shows or movies to its cloud servers, encoded in different file sizes. When a subscriber starts watching content, Netflix will know which file to serve, based on the device being used.

A big screen TV on fast home internet service will be served a higher bitrate — the number of bits transmitted per second — more information makes the picture quality better, while someone watching on a cellphone will get a lower bitrate to reduce the amount of bandwidth being used.

Netflix has been trying to refine the way they encode their videos to push significantly better quality video at a lower bitrate, so as more people move to mobile devices, the video they consume won’t take up as much of their bandwidth limits.

But, more importantly, it also means the company can grow its subscriber base in emerging markets where smartphones and data plans are more common than home Internet service. 

“I’m originally from the Philippines, where the main access to the Internet is actually people’s cell phones,” Anne Aaron, Netflix’s director of video algorithms, told a small group of journalists at the company’s headquarters. 

“Every bit counts. So the role of my team is to make sure every bit actually adds to the video quality of what people watch, and our main goal is to have a great viewing experience where you enjoy the TV show or movie at any bit rate.”

 

Part of the way this is achieved is through efficiency. Netflix’s encoding process was once done on a per-title basis, meaning its algorithms would look at scenes with the most action and use that as a basis for how much to compress the quality of the video.

But Aaron’s team has moved the encoder algorithms to a “per chunk” basis, which would look at one-to-three minute segments at a time, which means they can compress higher quality into smaller bitrate because action moments often aren’t as frequent and the threshold is lower. 

“But why stop there? Let’s go even further and optimize per shot of the video,” Aaron said, adding that Netflix has brought in experts from around the world, including two professors that specialize in encoding, to help make their algorithms even more efficient. 

So now video looks equally as good at half the bitrate — and in some cases, it’s even lower. That drives down the bandwidth costs for subscribers, and potential new users in emerging markets are more likely to be attracted to video that looks good on any device, even at slower speeds.

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

“Every bit counts”

Language accuracy

Quality video that doesn’t take up a lot of bandwidth is half the battle. Netflix is also innovating when it comes to localization — the subtitles and dubbing done in other languages.

 

“In 2012, we launched Lilyhammer… in seven languages and 96 language assets,” said Denny Sheehan, Netflix’s director of content localization and quality control. “Cut to (this year) where we’ve launched Iron Fist in 20 languages and we have 572 language assets. And by language assets, I mean subtitles, audio dubs and audio description.” 

For Netflix and Sheehan’s team, the way to nail localization is by focusing on context. In some cases, the company bypasses local companies that offer people for hire and hires translators directly, in case there are questions on things like cultural jokes, voice inflection and other contextual elements that might be missed in a straight translation.

Netflix also uses style guides and glossaries of terminologies or key phrases to make sure there is consistency across shows or movies as well as in the marketing materials and elsewhere in the company. All departments can access an internal Wiki with the up to date style guide.

“To achieve the highest quality we also have to have really high bar for quality control, and so for our originals this is a very through and rigorous approach,” said Sheehan.

“Every subtitle event is gone through by the same quality control evaluator that has done every episode of every season of a series, so the person working on House of Cards season five for Japanese also worked on season one and that way we know that nothing is going to be lost season-to-season.”

To expand into more languages and markets with a high level of accuracy, Netflix launched its own translator program in March called Hermes. Anyone can register and choose a language they speak, then take a quick test.

Those who score in the highest percentiles will be contacted by Netflix and interviewed to become a paid translator. If eventually accepted, they’ll get a unique ID in the system and their history (including accuracy) can be seen both by Netflix or exported to show other companies if someone is looking for a full-time position in the field. 

 

“Everybody in the process (including quality control) is measured,” said Chris Fetner, Netflix’s director of media engineering partnerships. “If we start to see a trend where we feel like that person is not performing we’ll either coach them up to a new level, up to the level that we expect or we’ll discontinue using them.”

With Netflix’s eyes on new markets to keep its subscriber base growing, these kinds of technological innovations and focus on localization will already be in place during expansion to help bring new countries on board.

“Even if you think about India and places in Latin American, there are places that either the fixed line bandwidth is quite constrained,” said Ken Florance, Netflix’s vice president of content delivery.

“In Africa, India, parts of Asia, parts of Latin America where there wasn’t this huge build out of fixed lines to people’s homes, in a lot of cases some cellular networks are substituting for the last mile. So any of the benefits from a 200 kilobits stream looking great on a cell network in New York City will also be seen and look fantastic on an old copper DSL in Bogota (Colombia).”

Author: Josh McConnell
Source: business.financialpost.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

When it comes to smartphones, there are so many key areas that are important to users. Design, software, apps, battery life, price, and performance are all key factors, as is speed. And when it comes to speed, Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are the two fastest Android phones that have been released to date. They utilize new 10nm octa-core processors, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 in the US and Samsung’s Exynos 8895 elsewhere. They also sport the most optimized version yet of the Samsung Experience, formerly known as TouchWiz.

But there’s another factor that contributes to smartphone speed, and a new report suggests Samsung’s just-released Galaxy S8 will smoke the iPhone 8 when it’s released later this year.

There’s plenty we think we know about Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8, which is expected to be announced this September alongside new iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus models.

To mark the tenth anniversary of the original iPhone’s release, Apple will reportedly give the iPhone a complete design overhaul. The home button will be removed from the phone’s face, and the screen-to-body ratio is expected to be even more impressive than the 83% achieved by Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8+. We can also likely look forward to a new Touch ID scanner embedded in the display, new cameras on the front and back, nifty new augmented reality features, 3D scanning features, and a lightning-fast A11 processor.

But where speed is concerned, it appears as though there’s one thing we shouldn’t expect: Gigabit LTE.

In a speculative piece published this week, CNET noted that Apple’s upcoming new iPhones may not support the new faster wireless standard carriers are currently working to roll out. Dubbed “Gigabit LTE” because of its theoretical 1Gbps top data transfer speed, the new standard is already being tested by wireless carriers in the United States.

 

Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ include support for the new faster wireless standard, and several other Android phones that launch in 2017 will also be compatible with Gigabit LTE. Apple’s iPhone 8, however, may not support the faster download and upload speeds offered by Gigabit LTE.

As CNET pointed out, Apple uses modems built by both Qualcomm and Intel in its current iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models. Should Apple continue to utilize both suppliers, only one of the iPhone 8’s modems — the Qualcomm model — will support Gigabit LTE. As a result, Apple may intentionally slow the Qualcomm model to match the performance of the Intel model, as it has allegedly done with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

“This is not an area where Apple should want to cede competitive ground to Google and Samsung,” GlobalData analyst Avi Greengart told CNET.

Operating on the assumption that this speculation turns out to be accurate, does it really matter? Does it matter if Apple decides to “cede competitive ground” to it Android rivals in 2017? Probably not

Smartphone data connections aren’t like home internet connections, where capacity is important because multiple devices are utilizing available bandwidth. If you run a speed test on your smartphone right now, you might see speeds of 30Mbps, 40Mbps or even more. Those are blazing-fast speeds, but it’s only important to a degree.

First, there aren’t very many mobile services that are even capable of using speeds that fast — just like how large file downloads on your home computer might only hit 5Mbps even though you have a 100Mbps connection. Beyond that, any service that actually does utilize faster Gigabit LTE speeds would devour data caps in no time. What about unlimited plans? Sorry, but they’re all capped as well. The amount of full-speed data varies from one carrier to the next, but all unlimited plans include soft-caps of less than 30GB per billing period. After that, data speeds are likely to be throttled.

 

Down the road, next-gen technologies like Gigabit LTE and 5G will be crucial because more data-hungry services like live-streamed VR will roll out, and soft caps on “unlimited” data plans will be adjusted to accommodate them. But we’re not there yet, and we won’t get there anytime this year. Keep that in mind when Apple unveils the iPhone 8 (or iPhone Edition, or iPhone Pro, or whatever Apple decides to call it) this coming September.

Author: Zach Epstein
Source: bgr.com

Categorized in Others

The last couple months have seen a welcome change in the wireless industry. Instead of massively confusing bills and data caps, we’ve had prices slashed across the board and unlimited data plans for all. But thanks to the unending drive for consolidation and profits, the good times aren’t going to last.

During the recent 600MHz spectrum auction, which ran from the end of 2016 all the way to last week, the government imposed a “quiet rule” on carriers. They couldn’t talk about the auction, their plans with any spectrum, and they couldn’t talk with anyone about merging. But now that quiet time is over, it’s just a matter of time until some blockbuster deals happen.

 

Rumors suggest that T-Mobile, Sprint, and Dish are all in talks for partnerships, acquisitions, or mergers. For Sprint, it’s a fight for survival: recent financial results have been dire, and since the company didn’t buy any new spectrum in the FCC’s auction, the network won’t see substantial improvements in the near future. SoftBank, the Japanese company that owns Sprint, has been looking for a chance to unload Sprint for years.

The most-talked-about target is Deutsche Telekom, the majority owner of T-Mobile. The idea would be to merge T-Mobile and Sprint, the third-largest and fourth-largest networks in America, to form one super-network.

Although that might lead to slightly improved coverage, it would be terrible for consumers in general. The fight between T-Mobile and Sprint for customers has led to lower prices, the ending of multi-year-contracts, and a host of other consumer-friendly moves in recent years. Losing Sprint, which offers the cheapest contracts of any of the big networks, would mean losing the one company that applies downwards pressure to prices.

 

The alternatives aren’t much better. One of the few other companies with the money and desire to build out a US-wide cell network could be Amazon. Owning a wireless network would give Amazon direct control over delivering some of its services, like Prime Video, straight to consumers without having to go through an existing internet service provider. A wireless network could also be invaluable in the future for Amazon’s drone delivery service, which would need some kind of national command-and-control network.

It’s not just T-Mobile and Sprint that are rumored in merger deals, either. Dish Network, the satellite TV provider that also owns Sling TV, bought up $6 billion of spectrum at the FCC’s recent auction, and now sits on one of the largest spectrum holdings in the US. It’s possible that it could be bought out by a company like Comcast to build out a brand-new wireless network, or merge with an existing wireless network for further expansion. Any of those options would involve losing the country’s biggest independent TV provider to a major cable company, which would be more bad news for consumers.

Analyst Tim Farrar sees a combination of all these scenarios being the logical option: a three-way deal between T-Mobile, Amazon and Dish to build out a new network, using T-Mobile’s new spectrum and Dish’s spectrum holdings. Using Amazon’s capital, they could quickly build out a fast and wide-reaching network with brand-new technology, which could be used by T-Mobile for cell service, by Dish for internet TV, and by Amazon for world domination/any of Jeff Bezos’s pet projects.

 

The bottom line is that the status quo isn’t here to stay. Between Sprint’s financial woes, T-Mobile’s desire to build a giant new network at speed, and Dish’s unused spectrum, it seems that a deal is likely. The only questions are when, and how badly it will affect wireless customers.

Author: Chris Mills
Source: bgr.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

At this week's Facebook F8 conference in San Jose, Mark Zuckerberg doubled down on his crazy ambitious 10-year plan for the company, first revealed in April 2016.

Here's the current version of that roadmap, revealed by Zuckerberg this week: 

(Screenshot/Facebook) 
Basically, Zuckerberg's uses this roadmap to demonstrate Facebook's three-stage game plan in action: First, you take the time to develop a neat cutting-edge technology. Then you build a product based on it. Then you turn it into an ecosystem where developers and outside companies can use that technology to build their own businesses.

When Zuckerberg first announced this plan last year, it was big on vision, but short on specifics.

On Facebook's planet of 2026, the entire world has internet access — with many people likely getting it through Internet.org, Facebook's connectivity arm. Zuckerberg reiterated this week that the company is working on smart glasses that look like your normal everyday Warby Parkers. And underpinning all of this, Facebook is promising artificial intelligence good enough that we can talk to computers as easily as chatting with humans.

 

A world without screens

For science-fiction lovers, the world Facebook is starting to build is very cool and insanely ambitious. Instead of smartphones, tablets, TVs, or anything else with a screen, all our computing is projected straight into our eyes as we type with our brains.

A mixed-reality world is exciting for society and for Facebook shareholders. But it also opens the door to some crazy future scenarios, where Facebook, or some other tech company, intermediates everything you see, hear, and, maybe even, think. And as we ponder the implications of that kind of future, consider how fast we've already progressed on Zuckerberg's timeline.

facebook mark zuckerberg smart glasses
(Mark Zuckerberg promises that, oneGetty) 

We're now one year closer to Facebook's vision for 2026. And things are slowly, but surely, starting to come together, as the social network's plans for virtual and augmented reality, universal internet connectivity, and artificial intelligence start to slowly move from fantasy into reality.

In fact, Michael Abrash, the chief scientist of Facebook-owned Oculus Research, said this week that we could be just 5 years away from a point where augmented reality glasses become good enough to go mainstream. And Facebook is now developing technology that lets you "type" with your brain, meaning you'd type, point, and click by literally thinking at your smart glasses. Facebook is giving us a glimpse of this with the Camera Effects platform, making your phone into an AR device.

Fries with that?

The potential here is tremendous. Remember that Facebook's mission is all about sharing, and this kind of virtual, ubiquitous "teleportation" and interaction is an immensely powerful means to that end.

This week, Oculus unveiled "Facebook Spaces," a "social VR" app that lets denizens of virtual reality hang out with each other, even if some people are in the real world and some people have a headset strapped on. It's slightly creepy, but it's a sign of the way that Facebook sees you and your friends spending time together in the future. (Facebook Spaces, which lets you hang out with your friends virtually.Facebook) 

Facebook Spaces
And if you're wearing those glasses, there's no guarantee that the person who's taking your McDonald's order is a human, after all. Imagine a virtual avatar sitting at the cash register, projected straight into your eyeballs, and taking your order. With Facebook announcing its plans to revamp its Messenger platform with AI features that also make it more business-friendly, the virtual fast-food cashier is not such a far-fetched scenario.
 
 
Sure, Facebook Messenger chatbots have struggled to gain widespread acceptance since they were introduced a year ago. But as demonstrated with Microsoft's Xiaoice and even the Tay disaster, we're inching towards more human-like systems that you can just talk to. And if Facebook's crazy plan to let you "hear" with your skin plays out, they can talk to you while you're wearing those glasses. And again, you'll be able to reply with just a thought.
 
Regina Dugan F8
(Regina Dugan unveiled Facebook's mind reading ambitions on Wednesday.Facebook)
 
If we're all living in this kind of semi-virtual world, it makes Facebook key to every interaction, and crucially, every financial transaction we conduct in that sphere. It could make the company a lot of money, certainly.
 

 

 
So yes, while it's still at least a decade off, this is all happening, little bit by little bit. But with Facebook facing fresh questions every day for its role in our personal lives and our political elections, it's also important to remember that much of this gives the social network — as well as companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft which all pursuing the same ends — unprecedented control over our conceptions of reality. It's time to ask these questions now, and not later.
 
This article was published in  finance.yahoo.com by Matt Weinberger
Categorized in Others

(Natural News) Mark Zuckerberg and his team of social engineers are hoping to push the Facebook platform one step closer to singularity by developing new ways to invade the human mind in order to spy on people’s thoughts. According to reports, the social media giant is tasking a team of neuroscientists with developing a so-called “brain-computer interface” that will supposedly allow users to talk to each other telepathically, while also allowing Facebook to intercept this flow of communication for around-the-clock monitoring.

Known conspicuously as the “Building 8,” or B8, team, the crew working on the project is using advanced neuroscience and electrical engineering to build a platform whereby it will one day be possible for Facebook to use artificial intelligence to map the thoughts and movements of users’ brain in order to exploit them. The technology will have the ability to “capture a thought,” to quote the words of Zuckerberg, who explained how it will all work at a question and answer session he attended back in 2016.

 

In essence, the technology will give Facebook the ability to enter the human brain and extrapolate whatever is going on there, taking this information “in its ideal and perfect form in your head and shar[ing] that with the world,” Zuckerberg says. “The B8 team will apply DARPA-style breakthrough development at the intersection of ambitious science and product development,” reads a jobs announcement posted by Facebook about what the new project will entail. “It will operate on aggressive, fixed timelines, with extensive use of partnerships in universities, small and large businesses.”

Using Facebook contributes to the enslavement of humanity by machines

In an attempt to merge humans with machines, this latest Facebook endeavor is an absolute privacy and security nightmare that threatens to allow near-unlimited access into the human brain by advanced computer systems. Much like how Amazon’s “Alexa” can listen to speech and follow commands, Facebook’s B8 project will be able to listen to and track a person’s thoughts.

An alarming ramification of such a prospect is the idea that Facebook, potentially working in lockstep with government spying programs like those at the National Security Agency (NSA), might gain access to the private thoughts of individuals who would rather keep such information to themselves. Facebook’s attempts to create a more “realistic and immersive” experience with its products could end up creating a thought prison of epic proportions. 

Whether such technology ever comes to fruition remains to be seen, but this certainly wouldn’t be the first time that Facebook as pushed the limits of spying and control — nor is it the first time that emerging Facebook technology has had such nefarious underpinnings.

Facebook officials claim that users who are to become targets of active government monitoring or surveillance will be notified in advance, suggesting that anyone who has not received such a notice likely has nothing to worry about in terms of spying. But a statement released by Facebook’s security chief Alex Stamos about the company’s policy on this infers that only government “attacks” will be subject to such notification, and what exactly constitutes an attack?

“While we have always taken steps to secure accounts that we believe to have been compromised, we decided to show this additional warning if we have a strong suspicion that an attack could be government-sponsored,” Stamos says. “We do this because these types of attacks tend to be more advanced and dangerous than others, and we strongly encourage affected people to take the actions necessary to secure all of their online accounts.”

Stay informed on the abuse of technology to enslave humanity at GLITCH.news.

Sources:

Source : naturalnews.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

Over the years, we have become incredibly streetwise when protecting ourselves from crime. Our homes are often fitted with specialist alarms and locks to keep the bad guys away. A combination of our natural instincts and general self-awareness also ensures that we are careful to display any form of wealth in public or share our PINs with anyone.

After taking these many precautions, many will pat themselves on the back safe in the knowledge that homicide, burglary, and robbery figures are dropping. The good guys won. But, these crime figures are failing to tell the whole story when even serious crime faces disruption by technology.

 

While the headlines have been busy concentrating on how all businesses need to disrupt or be disrupted, we have failed to see how the common criminal has taken their crime spree online. Meanwhile, the common sense that we possess in the physical world seems strangely absent when we are faced with a shiny device and an internet connection.

study by Europe's police agency recently warned that technology is now at the "root" of all serious criminality and represents the "greatest challenge" to police forces. Forget smart homes; we seriously need to start thinking about the smart burglar who could be tracking your publically visible social media posts or vulnerabilities on your home network.

Even when locked behind bars, prisoners have been using drones to smuggle drugs and mobile phones over the prison walls. There is no doubting that technology brings more good than harm to our world and

It is not uncommon for home networks to now have over 25 devices connected, but how many people understand the importance or regular software updates that close security loopholes? Alternatively, the weakest device connected to your network could hand over the keys to your life and lifestyle habits. Recent reports that the CIA had hacked TV sets illustrates the vulnerabilities hidden under the hood of the always-online devices.

Analysts believe there are currently between six and twelve billion IoT devices in the world increasingly hogging our bandwidth. Considering that this number is expected to grow beyond 20 billion by 2020, this cautious IT guy has a few reservations around filling your home with smart products without understanding the implications.

Those wanting to add automation to their kitchen can now purchase a smart refrigerator, cooker, dishwasher, microwave, washing machine or toaster that is given a unique IP address on their home network. Many of these devices might last for 5-10 years, and yet worryingly there is no mention of software updates or lifecycle information on Samsung's Smart Fridge warranty page.

When making a purchase of any smart home product, nobody stops to think about what could happen in three years time when the manufacturer has moved on and stopped releasing security patches. How many people can safely identify exactly how many items are connected online and when they were last updated?

 

Hacking a home network could quickly enable a burglar to build an overview of your lifestyle habits and when you are home. If your heating is off or your refrigerator and cooker have been out of use for a few days, it would be relatively easy to assume that you are on holiday.

Manufacturers often seem to tag on IoT security to their product range as an afterthought. But, as we keep adding devices to home networks, many are starting to question if the industry has created a ticking time bomb that we will all have to face in the very near future.

However, this is not always the case. Tesla is an excellent example of how to do things right and clearly state their latest software releases. Nobody is saying we should turn our back on this technology or live in fear of their devices. As a global community, we just need to use take our streetwise vigilance with us when we go online too.

We now manage nearly every aspect of our life online, but our attitude towards securing the virtual playground is often boarding on negligent. Getting cyber streetwise with our digital lifestyle in an always connected world will probably be your best chance of ensuring that you are not a victim of crime.

The next time you find yourself shopping for a new smart home product, will you be checking for a software release schedule or how long the product will be supported for?Are you the kind of person that

Let me know your thoughts, experiences, and insights by commenting below.

Source : linkedin.com 

Categorized in Science & Tech

Jim Yong Kim said rising broadband access had created a world where "keeping up with the Jones's" meant those in the developing world were comparing their lives with those in advanced economies.

Technology and the internet could fuel a fresh migration surge from developing countries as robots and automation destroy millions of low-skilled jobs, according to the president of the World Bank.Jim Yong Kim said rising broadband access had created a world where "keeping up with the Jones's" meant those in the developing world were comparing their lives with those in advanced economies.While these rising aspirations had led to "dynamism" and "inclusive, sustainable growth" when accompanied by local opportunities, Mr Kim said it also risked creating a generation of "frustrated" workers.

"The evidence is very good that if you get access to broadband, overall satisfaction goes up, but the likelihood of wanting to migrate also goes up, and it goes up pretty dramatically. So seeing how other people live directly makes you want to migrate more," said Mr Kim."

It used to be that keeping up with the Jones's used to be about keeping up with your neighbours, but now the Jones's can be everywhere in the world."

Mr Kim said income growth expectations tended to increase as people realised the opportunities open to them.

 

"Aspirations linked to opportunity leads to dynamism and growth in the economy, but aspirations linked to lack of opportunity lead to frustration and there's some very suggestive research that makes us extremely worried."

As aspirations rise, more and more people get frustrated because the kinds of jobs that are available - certainly low skilled ones are going to be gone," he said.

average

 

"The traditional path to economic development, where you go from agriculture to light manufacturing to industrialisation, the path that Korea followed, that China followed, that so many countries followed, is not going to be open to huge numbers of low income countries today.

 

"So you're seeing the possibility that if broadband access becomes global quickly, then you can see reference incomes go up pretty dramatically which means that it makes our development task much much more urgent."Mr Kim stressed that technological developments had benefited the global economy, including those in developing countries.

labour share of income

He said organisations like the World Bank could use their ability to borrow at low interest rates on financial markets to help private sector companies to invest and create jobs.

Overseas development aid has fallen in many developing countries, particularly in Africa, as countries such as Germany use foreign aid money to cope with an influx of refugees from Syria, said Mr Kim.

He said that, with the exception of the UK, many countries had not increased their overseas development aid to countries he believed were most vulnerable to globalisation.

"Those of us in the development field have to have a much greater sense of urgency - we have to wake up to rising aspirations, we have to do something differently [and] let the private sector take on the things that are commercially viable."

 

Growth strengthening

Mr Kim said global growth was likely to strengthen over the next two years amid a brighter outlook in advanced and emerging economies.

He said there were “bright signs” appearing around the world as emerging markets recover from a commodity slump and growth in Europe shows signs of gathering momentum.


The World Bank chief also said he was “encouraged” by his conversations with President Donald Trump, despite signs that support for international financial institutions like the the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are waning under the new administration.


Mr Kim added that “question marks” remained over the direction of the US economy under Mr Trump, even though world growth, which is forecast at 2.7pc this year, was likely to “go up again in 2018”.


The World Bank predicted growth of 2.9pc next year at its most recent forecast in January.


Mr Kim said the outlook would be influenced by tax and spending decisions made by Mr Trump, noting that the “exuberance” displayed by markets and economic surveys in the wake of his election victory has been tempered in recent weeks.


“With US growth there’s still a question mark. There was a lot of exuberance at first and it’s a bit tempered now. But if Mr Trump is serious about investments in infrastructure - I know they’re having very in depth discussions about just how to do that - you can see the US continuing to perform.”


He said the European Union was also “doing better”, even as Brexit was likely to pose a downside risk to the bloc.


In a separate speech at the London School of Economics last night, Mr Kim said organisations like the World Bank had to do more to encourage private sector investment and not “crowd out” finance from businesses and individuals.


He said large organisations had to steer away from “low hanging fruit” and help to foster ambitious goals to create more jobs, boost growth and ensure low income countries were protected as technological developments destroy millions of jobs.


While the World Bank is perceived as a lender to developing countries, he said it needed to play the role of an investor.


“This is a no brainer, and the only way we’re going to get the resources we need to support the aspirations out there.”


Mr Trump’s nomination of Adam Lerrick as the next Treasury assistant secretary for international finance signalled that bodies like the World Bank will be scrutinised more carefully.


However, Mr Kim, who has met with Mr Trump as well as his advisers, including Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs chief, said: “They’re very interested in the possibility of working with us on issues that they care about.


“We’ve been really encouraged by our conversations with the Trump administration, so we’ll see what happens. I don’t think you really know what they’re going to come out with on any single issue yet because they’re just voraciously learning how government works.”

Author: Szu Ping Chan
Source: telegraph.co.uk

Categorized in Science & Tech

A communications test was performed in 1975 between Stanford and University College London for what was to become arguably the most important communication innovation of the 20th century: The Internet Protocol (IP). At its core, IP was focused on speed and simplicity. This required decentralization of ownership of the “web” and resulted in no one owning the Internet, nor the controls and routes used to transmit it.

While there are 75 million servers running the global Internet, there are 1.2 billion cars driving global transportation, with 253 million in the United States alone (the highest per capita rate of any large country). Personal vehicle ownership is grossly inefficient: Cars are estimated to be parked 95 percent of the time. And even with all of the advancement in logistics software, there’s still plenty of unused cargo capacity being moved around on land, sea and air.

There’s a reason the leading global Internet companies are looking at automated driving; they understand the key issue underlying the next web of transportation technology protocol is based on the same decentralization of ownership that created the Internet decades ago.

According to a 2015 McKinsey study, by 2030, 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities, up from about 50 percent today. Some automotive analysts have gone as far as predicting that on the existing trajectory, there will be 2.4 billion cars by 2030. Traffic and population growth will demand more transportation infrastructure, but many jurisdictions don’t have the funding, or the space, to build additional roads and rail. Connected and autonomous vehicle technologies offer a wiser solution, intended to optimize roadway and resource utilization, potentially saving billions in future infrastructure expansion.

These new modes of transit will be able to route cars via the Internet, reducing overall vehicle ownership, altering urban development patterns, limiting car crashes, increasing fossil fuel efficiency and saving consumers time and money.

Make your investments in smart transportation now, and big returns will come along for the ride.

Leading the charge is Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) which recently claimed that its fleet of self-driving vehicles logs about 3 million simulated miles every day. Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) Autopilot service propelled the company past others in the industry, leading Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, to claim his company will have self-driving cars in two years (plus a few years for the approval process).

 

The combination of increased urbanization (where car ownership is drastically lower per capita) and innovations in car sharing and autonomous driving will have a powerful impact on the way Americans look at car ownership. A recent study from KPMG predicts that in about 25 years, fewer than half of U.S. households will own more than one vehicle, a drop of around 15 percent. The report further claims that for each car-sharing vehicle in use, there are around 10 fewer cars on the road as drivers sell a car or postpone buying one.

And households using car-sharing services reduce emissions by up to 41 percent a year, according to a UC Berkeley study. While these services appear to only be disrupting the traditional taxi model, their true aim is exactly the same as the original goal of the Internet protocol: increased productivity through speed and simplicity. The kicker is that the current crop of drivers won’t be necessary, as they are simply mimicking the eventual autonomous car fleets that these companies will be deploying.

 

As one of the largest corporate operating costs is moving things cheaply and efficiently from point A to point B, cargo transportation is another arena about to be disrupted by autonomous vehicles. On land, freight trucks dwarf all other modes of transportation in terms of both value and total weight of goods transported. Although versatile, freight trucks come with many problems, including labor shortages and frequent accidents. Plus, many trucks are carrying little to no product as they move across the country.

However, with an Uber-style delivery network, mimicking Internet protocol, all of these problems could be history when each box or container is merely a packet moving along a cable. Companies will be able to place a shipping order online to a delivery service, schedule a driverless truck, fill it with their product and track it as it makes its way to its final destination while making perfectly calculated pick-ups and drop-offs in conjunction with the rest of the fleet.

Individuals in the future will no longer need to own a car; instead, they’ll just micro-rent shared driverless vehicles; and companies will enjoy the same convenience. In a driverless world, corporations will seamlessly and optimally share transport resources with other companies.

Moreover, the fatal and financial costs of human error will be noticeably diminished, if not entirely removed. The invention and implementation of autonomous mass transport protocol will have the same impact on transportation that the Internet protocol has had on communication.

 

This technology will fundamentally redesign our urban environment in ways we cannot yet imagine, change the way we use raw materials and share finite resources and enable a more efficient future. Make your investments in smart transportation now, and big returns will come along for the ride.

Source : techcrunch.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

It can send data to other spacecraft or back to Earth much quicker.

The ISS has a new technology on board that can transmit data from space much faster than what NASA uses today. See, the internet as we know ithere on Earth doesn't work as well for spacecraft millions of miles away. It requires all nodes or connection points on a network -- in space, these are satellites -- to be active at the same time to send information back to the ground team. Since that's not always possible due to the various elements that can block a connection, such as planets, other spacecraft, radiation, and so on and so forth, it takes a long time for data to make it back to Earth. In the worst cases, some data gets lost along the way. This new tech called Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) gets rid of those problems.

 

DTN uses a "store and forward" technique to send info to other spacecraft or back to NASA. It can store partial bundles of data in connection points and then forward those bundles when the next node becomes available. DTN doesn't require all nodes to be online at the same time, and that can dramatically cut down the time for data to reach its recipient. NASA's animation below explains it well:

 

 

NASA has been testing DTN for years, but this its first big deployment. While the ISS isn't exactly having issues beaming data back to the agency, the technique will be especially useful in the future, when there are more probes roaming our solar system and when we're sending spacecraft to much farther locations.

Source : engadget.com

 

Categorized in Science & Tech
One smartphone has more computing power than NASA used to put men on the moon in 1969.

If you own a smartphone, you have more computing power at your fingertips than NASA scientists had when they put people on the moon in 1969! And it’s in a small device, unlike the massive hardware the space agency used.

Technology moves in leaps and bounds. As someone who grew up before home computers, transoceanic phone lines, jet planes, satellites, organ transplants, birth control pills, photocopiers, hand-held calculators or cellphones, I’m amazed at how quickly technological innovation is occurring and by its profound effects on society. Every day, products are becoming smaller, faster, more efficient and accessible to a greater number of people.

 

Despite the phenomenal advances in everything from communications technology to transportation to energy systems, many people still believe the only way to get energy is to burn fossil fuels, as we’ve been doing since the dawn of the Industrial Age almost 300 years ago! In fact, evidence suggests people have been burning coal for heat as far back as 3490 BC in China.

Naysayers have always been with us. At various times, people have argued that humans would never be able to travel the oceans in steam-powered ships or fly in airplanes, let alone send spacecraft beyond the solar system. Street lights were controversial in the early 19th century. Some saw them as impossible. Others argued they would lead to increased illness, declining morals and rejection of God’s plan for periods of light and dark. At one time or another, people have claimed telephones, trains, automobiles, computers, nuclear power and radios were impossible or impractical. Many technological leaps stoked fears, often valid, that new inventions would put people out of work. The growing automobile industry in the early 20th century killed jobs in the horse-and-buggy business.

We’ve long been using coal, oil and gas for heat and energy for good reasons. They’re incredibly powerful and valuable resources that both provide and store energy. And they’re inexpensive — if you don’t take into account the costs of environmental damage and pollution-related health care. Millions of years ago, plants and microscopic organisms captured and transformed energy from the sun through photosynthesis, storing it in carbon and hydrogen bonds. As those plants and microorganisms died and were buried under layers of sediment, heat and pressure compressed the energy.

Despite their efficiency and cost, fossil fuels aren’t better energy sources than solar, wind and tide, even though renewables require separate storage for large-scale deployment. Fossil fuels pollute the environment, cause illness and death, accelerate global warming and damage or destroy ecosystems. They’ll also eventually run out. They’re already more difficult and expensive to obtain. Easily accessible sources are becoming depleted, spurring increased reliance on damaging and dangerous unconventional sources and methods such as oilsands, deep-sea drilling and fracking.

Fossil fuels are useful for many purposes beyond generating energy — some of which we have, no doubt, yet to discover. They’re used for medicines, plastic products and lubricants — another reason inefficiently burning through our limited supplies makes no sense.

Fortunately, clean energy technologies are improving daily. Just as many people are surprised at the rapid development of computing technologies used in smartphones and other devices, we’ll continue to see amazing developments in renewable energy. Wind and solar are improving and coming down in cost, as are energy storage systems. Electrical grid management systems are changing with advances in computer science. Innovative ideas like biomimicry are showing great promise in the energy field with research into areas like artificial photosynthesis.

Embracing science, innovation and progressive ideas gives us hope for a healthier future. It’s unfortunate that so many people, including government leaders in the U.S. and parts of Canada, are rejecting brilliant new ideas in favour of outdated and destructive ways of generating energy.

We’re well into the 21st century. If humans want to make it to the 22nd, we must change course. Science offers great tools for understanding and innovating. We owe it to ourselves to at least understand how science acquires and integrates knowledge and what that means. We can’t just keep digging up and burning non-renewable resources, polluting air, water and land and putting human health and survival at risk. Nor do we have to. We have better options.

 

David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.

Source : castlegarsource.com

Categorized in Others

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