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DeepMind’s Go Rematch, Hybrid Cop Cars, and Why We Need New Facebooks—The Download, April 10, 2017

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Three Things You Need to Know Today

We Need More Alternatives to Facebook
Guess when the following words were uttered: “Your industry possesses the most powerful voice in America. It has an inescapable duty to make that voice ring with intelligence and with leadership.” It's not present day: that was actually Federal Communications Commission chairman Newton Minow addressing TV executives in 1961. At the time, he argued that broadcasters needed increased competition—today, our own Brian Bergstein argues that Facebook needs the same.

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Smart Cities Demand Smarter Security
Urban areas drip with tech, but city officials will have to switch cyber defenses up a gear. This weekend the hurricane warning system in Dallas was hacked, causing 156 emergency sirens to sound off for hours. Results were limited to sleeplessness, complaints, and enough panic to double 911 calls—but how long until serious infrastructure hacks like those seen in Ukraine hit the U.S.? As RSA’s Peter Tran recently explained: “cyber security considerations should be on par with every design and architecture requirement when considering smart city strategies.”

The Coal Industry Gets Panicky
As fossil fuel use slides, the coal industry turns to Trump—but not how you might expect. For the third year in a row, Americans used less coal, burning 9 percent less in 2016 than 2015. The Trump administration has committed to reinvigorating the industry, promising to remove burdens to fossil fuel use—but it's not clear that the commitments will have much effect. The coal industry appears to concur: it’s urging the President to remain in the Paris climate agreement, as it believes that could provide the best opportunity to advocate fossil fuel use on a global stage.

Ten Fascinating Things

It’s time for a rematch: following previous success, DeepMind’s Go-playing AI will take on a human again this May, facing up to the world’s current top-ranked player.

Uber clings to the notion that its drivers are contractors—but in the wake of all its woes, some gig economy startups are treating people as regular employees.

Ford’s latest police car speeds over obstacles and bursts though junctions like any good pursuit vehicle. But it has a secret under the hood: it’s a hybrid.

The latest prescription to save lives outside the hospital? Home surveillance.

The Shadow Brokers, which previously failed to auction off a cache of NSA hacking tools, now claims to have published the entire stash online.

It’s not just tech billionaires racing to make money out of space travel: so is Russia.

Should it be possible to patent an organism? The synthetic biology community is trying hard to work that out.

In some parts of the world, weather forecasts are unreliable or non-existent. But analysis of cell phone signals could change that.

Here’s a surprising idea: despite its vocal dislike of the sector, the Trump administration may actually be embracing offshore wind power.

Is your intern texting in a meeting, or just taking notes? How Generation Z uses smartphones differently to the rest of us.

Quote of the Day

"We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce."

— Janette Wipper, a regional director at the U.S. Department of Labor, describes pay inequalities identified at Google.

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The problem with plug-in hybrids? Their drivers.

Plug-in hybrids are often sold as a transition to EVs, but new data from Europe shows we’re still underestimating the emissions they produce.

Google DeepMind’s new generative model makes Super Mario–like games from scratch

Genie learns how to control games by watching hours and hours of video. It could help train next-gen robots too.

How scientists traced a mysterious covid case back to six toilets

When wastewater surveillance turns into a hunt for a single infected individual, the ethics get tricky.

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