The Download

What's up in emerging technology

August 11, 2017 Ready meals without refrigeration

Amazon Is Reportedly Testing Military Tech For TV Dinners That Don’t Need Refrigerating

Source: Image credit:
  • adrigu | Flickr

White Supremacists Have Stumbled Into a Huge Issue in Genetic Ancestry Testing

Neo-Nazis, it turns out, dig gene tests—but they often don't like the results. Two sociologists, Aaron Panofsky and Joan Donovan, plowed through years of posts on the white-supremacist website Stormfront in search of accounts of people taking genetic… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Mr. Tech
U.S. and Russian flags pixelated and blending together

Hacker Whose Tools Were Used in DNC Hack Steps Forward

A Ukrainian hacker called "Profexer" who built one of the tools used to penetrate the Democratic National Committee servers last year has turned himself in to authorities. According to a report today in the New York Times, the man, who first contacted… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Mr. Tech
Microsoft's AI glider

Microsoft Is Training AI Gliders to Fly Themselves

Last week in the Nevada desert, Microsoft researchers threw a glider into the air, then left it to its own devices hoping that it would fly for hours. But they’re not as foolhardy as they sound: the New York Times reports that their Styrofoam aircraft… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • John Brecher and Microsoft
Tobacco plants that produce polio vaccine

Need a Polio Vaccine? Get a Plant to Grow It for You

Researchers from the U.K.'s John Innes Center have hijacked tobacco plants to have them produce a polio vaccine. Writing in Nature Communications, the team explains that they inserted genes from the polio virus into soil bacteria that's been engineered… Read more

Image credit:
  • John Innes Center
August 15, 2017 Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandoski texting in front of a lidar image

Inside the Self-Driving Bromance of Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski

Uber and Waymo's nasty legal dispute has taken a strange turn, as the release of a series of text messages between former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and his star self-driving-car engineer, Anthony Levandowski, charts the blossoming of a close connection… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Mr. Tech

Here Come the Mind-Blowing Smartphone Sensors That Could Bring AR to the Masses

Over the course of the next year, get ready for phones to get some awesome new imaging capabilities. We're talking more than just a tweak to the camera, or stereoscopic vision. Think full-on depth sensing and mapping. 

Today, Qualcomm released a video… Read more

Source: Video credit:
  • Qualcomm
Amazon Instant Pickup

Amazon’s Latest Delivery Estimate: Two Minutes

Jeff Bezos loves speed. First it was next-day delivery with Prime. Then it was same-day. Amazon Now upped the ante with in-the-hour provision of, well, whatever you need inside an hour. And AmazonFresh Pickup has groceries ready for you within 15 minutes.… Read more

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  • Amazon

Falling Robots Are Funny, but That’s How They’ll Learn to Take Your Job

If at first you don’t succeed, try again—and, if you’re a robot, again and again and again and again and again and again. Because it’s worth remembering that unlike many humans, automatons will keep at a task until they do achieve success.

This GIF of… Read more

Image credit:
  • Boston Dynamics
China's smog

China Is Establishing the World’s Biggest Carbon Market

When President Donald Trump withdrew America from the Paris pact, China emerged as the world’s unlikely climate leader. Now ClimateWire reports that China is living up to that role, with plans to establish a nationwide carbon market by November that… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Ken Lawrence | Unsplash
August 14, 2017 A memorial for Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend

How Much Should Tech Companies Police Hate Speech?

In the wake of neo-Nazi demonstrations that turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, the question on many people's minds is: what should tech companies do to curtail hate speech and violent racist groups online?

A piece in Wired puts… Read more

Source: Image credit:
  • Bob Mical | Flickr