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Waymo seeks injunction against Otto and Uber

Sun, 03/12/2017 - 09:46

Google Inc. parent firm Alphabet-owned Waymo has asked a federal court to block Uber’s self-driving car project, arguing that Uber is using its stolen technology.

Filing testimonies from its employees and a security engineer in a San Francisco court, Waymo described how former Google executive Anthony Levandowski stole proprietary company documents.

The lawsuit alleges that Levandowski stole nearly fourteen thousand digital files around a month before resigning from his job at Waymo to start his own company called Otto, a self-driving car technology provider.

Otto was later bought by Uber for $680 million, and Levandowski became the chief of the ride-hailing company’s autonomous car business.

Waymo spokesperson Johnny Luu said, “Competition should be fueled by innovation in the labs … we are asking the court step in to protect intellectual property developed by our engineers over thousands of hours and to prevent any use of that stolen IP.”

Waymo requested the federal court to issue a preliminary injunction against both Otto and Uber. A hearing on the injunction motion is slated for April 27, 2017.

Technology: Technology NewsCompanies: UberOtto

Great Barrier Reef experiencing coral bleaching for second consecutive year

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 09:10

The health of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is in ‘uncharted territory’ as the reef is experiencing an unprecedented year of mass coral bleaching for the second year in a row, climate scientists have warned.

The 1,400-mile Great Barrier Reef suffered its most severe bleaching in the recorded history during March and April last year. Scientists blamed warming sea temperatures for the problem.

Following an aerial survey off Australia’s eastern coast, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority warned on Thursday that coral bleaching is occurring again this year.

Reef recovery director David Wachenfeld said, “Regrettably, the temperatures have been high on the Great Barrier Reef this summer as well and unfortunately (we) are here to confirm... a mass coral bleaching event for the second consecutive year.”

Wachenfeld stressed that it is the first time on record that the Great Barrier Reef is experiencing coral bleaching for two years in sequence.

The Australian arm of the wildlife conservation group WWF stressed on the urgency of tackling climate change in Australia -- one of the worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters in the world.

General: Science NewsRegion: Australia

Google Cloud acquires Kaggle

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 09:19

The Google Cloud Platform announced on Wednesday that it has acquired the world’s largest community for data scientists and machine learning nerds, called Kaggle.

Kaggle allows AI enthusiasts to explore and analyze a large compilation of high quality datasets, in addition to running code in the cloud and receiving community feedback on work, among other things.

Fei-Fei Li, Google Cloud AI’s chief scientist, confirmed the acquisition and added that it would provide Kaggle members with direct access to Google’s advanced cloud machine learning milieu.

Speaking on the topic, Li added, “We must lower the barriers of entry to AI and make it available to the largest community of developers, users and enterprises, so they can apply it to their own unique needs. With Kaggle joining the Google Cloud team, we can accelerate this mission.”

Under the terms of the acquisition deal, the Kaggle will keep on operating as its own brand within the Google Cloud Platform.

The Silicon Valley powerhouse has been busy with its aim to create self-teaching technology for years. In a letter to shareholders last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote that the company will soon move from “mobile first” to an “AI first” in the world.

Technology: Technology NewsCompanies: Google

Apple claims to have fixed security holes mentioned in Wikileaks documents

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 08:42

Following the recent leak of a trove of confidential documents by Wikileaks purporting CIA’s ability to hack into Apple products, the iPhone-maker has claimed that it has fixed the bugs allegedly used by the U.S. intelligence agency to hack into its products.

Apple also claimed it is deeply committed to safeguard its customers’ privacy as well as security, claiming that the iPhone technology represents the best data security accessible to consumers.

In a newly released statement, Apple added, “While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities.”

The statement followed Wikileaks documents that claimed that the federal government’s intelligence agency had security holes or exploits that could work on iOS that is considered as a more secure option than Android.

Those exploits or bugs are commonly called “zero days,” a name given to security holes in a piece of technology that even the original producer does not know about.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant also urged users of iOS-based products to download the latest version of iOS to ensure that they get the most recent security updates.

Technology: TechnologyCompanies: Apple

NOAA budget cut could put lives at risk by hindering research: experts warn

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 08:48

As the Trump administration is reportedly mulling significant cuts to the budget of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), many experts have warned that any such move would hurt climate research and put lives at risk.

The Washington Post recently reported that the Trump administration has plans to cut NOAA's budget by 17 per cent. As the federal agency oversees weather forecasting as well as climate research, any such cuts could really put the public at risk by hampering research.

Marshall Shepherd, the director of University of Georgia's atmospheric science program, said, "Any weakening of our technological, scientific, and human capabilities related to weather and climate places American lives and property at risk."

David Titley, the director of Penn State University's Center for Solutions to Weather & Climate Risk, added that the proposed cut is opposite to the 'leave it better than you found it' philosophy.

Currently, NOAA's annual budget stands at around $5.6 billion. The figure represents a really small fraction of the federal government's discretionary budget of $1.2 trillion.

The proposed budget cut is part of President Trump's larger effort to boost military spending by $54 billion and afford that hike with cuts to other federal agencies. The government is also planning to cut the Environmental Protection Agency's $8.2 billion budget by a quarter.

Companies: NOAAGeneral: Science NewsPeople: Donald Trump

Environmental pollution kills 1.7M children under 5 every year

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 08:26

A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) has made the shocking revelation that environmental pollution is killing as many as 1.7 million children under age of 5 years every year.

The global organization blamed unsafe water, poor hygiene practices, and lack of sanitation as well as indoor and outdoor pollution for the killing of nearly two million lives. The estimated figure is equivalent to these pollutants being the cause of 25 per cent of kids 1 month to 5 years old.

WHO director-general Dr. Margaret Chan said, “A polluted environment is a deadly one -- particularly for young children. Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

The organization also highlighted the increased risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer from exposure to air pollution. It also warned that more than 90 per cent of the world’s population due to breathing air that violates the global body’s quality guidelines.

Experts also suggested that the most common causes of child deaths, including malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia, can be prevented through interventions like improved access to clean water, use of insecticide-treated bed nets, and clean cooking fuels.

General: HealthCompanies: WHO

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