Science, Technology and Innovation

Let’s face it, we’ll be no safer with a national facial recognition database

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A commitment to share the biometric data of most Australians – including your driving licence photo – agreed at Thursday’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting will result in a further erosion of our privacy. That sharing is not necessary. It will be costly. Bruce Baer Arnold The Conversation But will it save us from terrorism? Not all, although it will give people a false sense of comfort. Importantly, it will allow politicians and officials to show that they are ... Read More »

Here’s why you may not be able to bypass paywalls through web search anymore

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The era of using a Google search to bypass a news website’s paywall may be coming to an end Google has announced that subscription news websites will no longer have to provide users three free articles per day under its ‘Google first click free… ABC The move has been welcomed by media giants such as News Corp, which have paywalls in place and have long complained that the policy essentially forced them to give their content away for free if ... Read More »

Diesel cars help drive Australia’s energy emissions to highest level, report shows

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Exclusive Australia’s love affair with diesel cars has helped push the nation’s energy emissions to a record high, new analysis shows, in a warning that road transport rivals electricity as the most pressing energy challenge facing the… Nicole Hasham The Age Respected energy analyst Hugh Saddler compiled the disturbing report on behalf of progressive think tank The Australia… Dr Saddler said the failure of successive governments to invest in efficient transport infrastructure, such as rail, has allowed transport fuel emissions to keep rising – ... Read More »

Zuckerberg’s Preposterous Defense of Facebook

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Responding to President Trump’s tweet this week that “Facebook was always anti-Trump,” Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, defended the company by noting that Mr. Trump’s opponents also criticize it — as having aided Mr. Trump. Zeynep Tufecki The New York Times If everyone is upset with you, Mr. Zuckerberg suggested, you must be doing something right. “Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “That’s what running a platform ... Read More »

Australia launches $10m satellite program to help spy planes detect warships, asylum seeker boats

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Australia is building three new satellites that will conduct audio and visual surveillance for the Defence Force The Federal Government has given $10 million to the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra space team to complete the project. By political reporter Stephanie Borys ABC Work on the first satellite is already underway and is scheduled for lift-off next year. The device, which is known as a Cubesat, is the size of a loaf of bread and weighs about four ... Read More »

Monsanto banned from European parliament

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MEPs withdraw parliamentary access after the firm shunned a hearing into allegations that it unduly influenced studies into the safety of glyphosate used in its RoundUp weedkiller Arthur Nelsen The Guardian Monsanto lobbyists have been banned from entering the European parliament after the multinational refused to attend a parliamentary hearing into allegations of regulatory interference. It is the first time MEPs have used new rules to withdraw parliamentary access for firms that ignore a summons to attend parliamentary inquiries or ... Read More »

Vegetative-state patient responds to therapy

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A man in France has regained some degree of consciousness after being in a vegetative state for 15 years Doctors treated the 35-year-old, injured in a car accident, with an experimental therapy that involved implanting a nerve stimulator into his chest. Michelle Roberts BBC Within a month, he could respond to simple instructions, turning his head and following an object with his eyes. Experts say the results are potentially very exciting, but need repeating. Vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) may not work as ... Read More »

China’s audacious and inventive new generation of entrepreneurs

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Industries and consumers around the world will soon feel their impact “NEW era, new revolution. I am a MAKER, for the hearts of the dream.” The Economist So goes a rallying cry carved in giant letters on the wall of a warehouse in Shekou, a seaside enclave near Hong Kong. Many of China’s most promising entrepreneurs flocked there recently for a conference organised by TechCrunch, a technology publisher from Silicon Valley. Yet Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent—established Chinese internet giants collectively ... Read More »

30 years ago the world pledged to fix the ozone layer. And it worked

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Could the Montreal Protocol be the world’s most successful treaty? Alex Gray In 1987, countries around the world came together to sign it. World Economic Forum Their mission? To save the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol marks its 30th anniversary on 16 September 2017, the UN’s International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. The celebration is all the more special, because the treaty worked. Health benefits Thanks to the treaty, more than 135 billion tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions were prevented from reaching ... Read More »

Cassini crashes into Saturn — but could still deliver big discoveries

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Data from spacecraft could help determine the age of Saturn’s rings and the persistence of its magnetic field Alexandra Witze Nature At 4:55 a.m. California time on 15 September, hundreds of scientists watched their life’s work go up in flames. The Cassini spacecraft disintegrated in Saturn’s atmosphere in a mission-ending move meant to keep the probe from contaminating the planet’s moons, including Titan and Enceladus, that could harbor signs of… Cassini’s final images, transmitted in the hours before its death, included ... Read More »

Hebrew U tech chief seeks balance between academia and industry

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Yaron Daniely, the new head of Hebrew University’s tech transfer unit, wants technology created in the academic world to get a fair chance to market Shoshanna Solomon The Times of Israel Yaron Daniely, the Hebrew University’s newest pick to spearhead the commercialization of technologies developed within its ivory towers, is taking the reins at a delicate time. Israeli academia has come under public scrutiny for missing out on royalties on technologies developed by their researchers: earlier this month, the Israeli ... Read More »

Conservatives, liberals unite against Silicon Valley

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The fading of the tech industry’s bipartisan glow in Washington puts it at risk for tighter regulations. NANCY SCOLA Politico The days of unqualified praise from Washington are over for the country’s biggest tech companies, whose size and power are increasingly drawing attacks from both the left and the right. Democrats are condemning Facebook for allowing “fake news” and Russia-linked ads during the election, while conservatives accuse Google of silencing right-leaning viewpoints. President Donald Trump routinely accuses Amazon of dodging ... Read More »

Pope Francis slams ‘stupid’ climate change deniers

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Pontiff calls on politicians to take scientists’ advice as he raises alarm over global warming after major storms. Al Jazeera and news agencies Pope Francis has sharply criticised climate change deniers as “stupid” in the wake of a spate of powerful hurricanes that have wreaked havoc in the US, Mexico and the Caribbean. “Those who deny it [climate change] should go to the scientists and ask them,” the pontiff said on Monday during an in-flight press conference on the return leg of ... Read More »

The Guardian view on climate change: see you in court

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It is possible to determine which nations and companies are responsible for damaging the climate. It’s only a matter of time before courts decide they must pay for global warming. Editorial The Guardian Recent days have seen Houston, Texas literally sunk under sheer weight of rain, Carribbean islands battered by powerful storms barrelling across the Gulf and now Florida homes blasted by Irma, the largest of three hurricanes churning in the Atlantic basin. It seems almost certain that man-made climate ... Read More »

The secret to Germany’s scientific excellence

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With a national election this month, Germany proves that foresight and stability can power research. Alison Abbott Nature  Ask any German researcher why the country’s science base is blooming, and they are bound to mention Chancellor Angela Merkel. The world’s most powerful woman, they say, has not forgotten her roots as an East German physicist. During a decade of global financial turbulence, her government has increased annual science budgets in a stable, predictable, quintessentially German way. It has spurred competition ... Read More »

Liar, liar, pants on fire! Groups lie more than individuals, according to new research

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Key Takeaway: Something as simple as communication within groups, even if each group member has previously behaved honestly, can be the key to triggering collaborative, dishonest behavior. EurekAlert! CATONSVILLE, MD, September 6, 2017 – Do you pride yourself on being an honest person? Even individuals who have a proven track record of honest behavior are no match for the potentially negative influences present in a group dynamic, especially when money is at stake, according to a new study, published in ... Read More »