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The Download, Mar 14, 2017: Why Intel Wants Mobileye, Facebook’s Surveillance Ban, and a Pi Record

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Three Things You Need to Know Today 

Why Intel Is Buying Mobileye for $15 Billion
The chip maker’s purchase of the car tech firm puts it in the autonomous car driver’s seat. Mobileye makes technology that allows cars to sense the world around them, so its products already power autonomous systems in many vehicles. But it’s also developing: new AI approaches for self-driving cars, simulation systems that allow vehicles to learn in safety, and data-sharing platforms that automakers use to rapidly build high-definition maps. Taken together, those factors make it pivotal in the autonomous car sector, which, combined with chip-making chops, could capture Intel a chunk of the emerging market.

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Facebook Forbids Use of User Data for Surveillance
Where there’s data, there’s the chance to snoop—though maybe not when it comes to Facebook. Just last week we reported that Civil Liberties advocates are more concerned than ever about the warrantless collection of Americans’ communications, and representatives of the British government have warned that widespread use of big data is putting public privacy at risk. So a glimmer of good news from Facebook, which has finally announced that data about its users must no longer be used by developers to produce systems that can provide surveillance capabilities.

Your Doctor App Could Amplify Your Health Anxieties
On-demand digital consultations with doctors are convenient, but they could prove problematic. Technology is changing medicine, and new apps that provide a short video consult with a doctor for a small upfront fee are helping people save time by avoiding a trip to the hospital. But the app makers are observing that they’re proving popular with people who suffer from health anxieties. That raises ethical concerns: in many settings, such people would be so-called super-users who drive revenue, but here it may be more appropriate to suggest that they seek mental help.

Ten Fascinating Things  

American teenagers are less likely to use drugs than previous generations. The New York Times suggests that smartphones and computers may fill the void.

Spinning sails, which use a physical peculiarity to generate thrust via interactions with the wind, were invented a century ago. Now they're making a comeback.

When the emotions of an artificial intelligence system become more human-like, you might expect human-robot relations to blossom. That may not be the case.

Researchers can now neatly determine how mammalian DNA is folded up inside a cell, revealing how parts of a genome are made readily available for use.

Using laser pulses to guide electrons through semiconductors in computer chips could help make clock speeds far, far faster.

In the village of Bana, Burkina Faso, locals don’t have a word for “gene”—which is making it hard to prepare the community for a malaria battle using GM mosquitoes.

In the hostile conditions of Chile’s Atacama Desert, NASA has been testing a new breed of do-it-all Mars rovers.

Researchers have shown that they can use audio tones to control accelerometers and influence devices like smartphones and wearables.

Whether or not you meant to commit a crime can have a huge impact on the legal repercussions of your actions. Brain scans may be able to tell the difference.

Happy pi day! Celebrate with 22,459,157,718,361 digits of the number.

Quote of the Day

"SXSW is a lot like many other events now, where people pay money to fly in from all over the world to gather in one centralized location ... but in actuality are staring at their smartphones a good portion of the time."

— Tech blogger Lauren Goode observes an uncomfortable truth of our connected world, which even extends to events where human contact is practically the entire point.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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