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Google Glass Finds a New Home at the Factory

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 03:00

(Bloomberg) -- Remember Google Glass?


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Amazon Bets on Kohl’s as Its Own Brick-and-Mortar Efforts Falter

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 03:00

Two years ago, Kohl’s agreed to let Amazon customers return packages at stores in Chicago and Los Angeles. By tying up with Amazon, the department store chain gets more foot traffic from those making returns, enticing them with coupons to browse the store and buy something. For Amazon, the partnership helps solve one of the trickiest challenges in e-commerce: letting customers return products without subjecting them to nightmarish lines at the post office.


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Morgan Stanley’s Teflon Banker Chases Next Deal After Uber Flops

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 03:00

It was 2012 and the humiliating stock-market debut of Facebook Inc. was spawning investor losses and lawsuits. For now, Grimes remains the banker to beat in Silicon Valley, with one investor saying the only other competitor that’s comparable is one of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s top technology bankers, Ryan Limaye.


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Robot Apple Pickers Could Change Farming as We Know It

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 02:46

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast/Photos GettyWhile the Trump administration works to reduce the number of immigrants entering the United States, the U.S. economy is dealing with the worst labor shortage it’s seen in decades. This labor shortage is hitting nearly every industry, but among the worst is the agricultural industry.A recent survey found over half of California’s farmers have started using machines in place of humans to meet their needs in the past five years. One of those machines could be a robot.New Zealand’s farms have become a prime testing ground for this, as the country tries to tackle labor shortages in its agricultural industry.The answer to this problem, according to an American startup called Abundant Robotics, which has teamed up with major food producer T&G; Global, is to deploy apple-picking robots.How A.I. Engineered the Most Delicious, Efficient Basil Ever“We are steadily getting closer to making these robots commercially successful,” Manoj Karkee, an associate professor of biological systems engineering at the Washington State University, told The Daily Beast. “Not having enough labor in the field and feeling that gap is a big challenge right now—where farmers are already facing a tough time getting enough people to harvest their crop.”Karkee argued that robots picking our produce beyond apples will likely be commonplace in the not-too-distant future. Compared to other fruits, picking apples isn’t the greatest challenge for those who are designing agricultural robots, considering their simple shape and the fact they don’t bruise easily. According to Karkee, developing robotic hands that can properly handle more complex and more delicate fruits is still quite difficult.“We do a lot of research to understand how much pressure we can exert with these fruits before we bruise them,” Karkee said. “That’s part of the design process.”Some fruit might also require more than a robotic hand to pull them off the tree. With certain fruit—bananas, for example—designers may have to include a scissor-like instrument to remove the fruit from the tree. Designing a robot to locate the fruit in the tree’s foliage is another significant obstacle, according to Karkee. But no worries there: Researchers have actually figured out how trees can be grown to bear fruit near the outside of their canopy so robots can more easily harvest them. “Trees and any biological systems we work with are by nature uncertain and variable,” Karkee said. “When things are uncertain and variable, it becomes difficult to develop a robot that will always perform with the desired accuracy and robustness.”Karkee, for one, is not worried about how automation will reduce the number of jobs available. In fact, he thinks automating farming will increase the quality of available jobs. Instead of hard labor, workers could manage robots, putting less stress on their own bodies. “Philosophically, we want to reduce hard labor jobs and have machines do them while creating better year-round jobs for people in supervising these machines and maintaining these machines,” Karkee said.The Robotic Dairy Farms Paving the Way for Big MilkBut there’s a long way to go still before there will be fully automated farms. While fruit picking is well on its way to being automated, jobs that require qualitative reasoning, like pruning, will be more of a challenge. And there’s also cost. Karkee said that while large farms may be able to afford the switch to robots, smaller and medium-sized farms may not have that kind of capital. It’ll be a while before smaller, cheaper robots that are similarly efficient can be produced.Even if robots are able to perform these more complicated tasks, farmers will be hesitant to adopt this technology until they’ve seen that it’s reliable and produces the same results that a human can. “People take time to adopt new technologies,” Karkee said.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


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In coal we trust: Australian voters back PM Morrison's faith in fossil fuel

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 02:34

Battered by extended droughts, damaging floods, and more bushfires, Australian voters had been expected to hand a mandate to the Labor party to pursue its ambitious targets for renewable energy and carbon emissions cuts. Instead, they rejected the opposition's plans for tax reform and climate action, re-electing a Liberal-led center-right coalition headed by Morrison, a devout Pentecostal churchgoer who thanked fellow worshippers for his win at a Sydney church early on Sunday. The same coalition government last year scrapped a bipartisan national energy plan and dumped then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull because he was viewed as anti-coal.


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Girl’s Pink Lemonade Stand Challenge supports breast cancer research

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 01:58

When Kim Rhodes was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, her then 7-year-old daughter, Brynne, wanted to help. What started as a pink lemonade stand to raise money for research has since turned into an adventure. Kim and Brynne share their story.


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China's tech transfer problem is growing, EU business group says

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 01:04

Cases of European firms forced to transfer technology in China are increasing despite Beijing saying the problem does not exist, a European business lobby said, adding that its outlook on the country's regulatory environment is "bleak". China's trading partners have long complained that their companies are often compelled to hand over prized technology in exchange for access to the world's second-largest economy. Demands by the United States that China address the problem are central to the two countries' ongoing trade war, which has seen both sides pile tariffs on billions of dollars of each other's goods.


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The Tech Cold War Has Begun

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 22:44

Chipmakers including Qualcomm Inc., Xilinx Inc. and Broadcom Inc. have told employees they won’t supply to the Chinese electronics giant until further notice, Bloomberg News reported late Sunday in the U.S. Those companies will need clarification from the Trump administration on whether they can ship to Huawei, so for now it seems they’re erring on the side of caution. The prospect that the U.S. government would cut off the supply of components to Huawei was precisely what management had been anticipating for close to a year, Bloomberg News reported Friday.


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The Tech Cold War Has Begun

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 22:44

Chipmakers including Qualcomm Inc., Xilinx Inc. and Broadcom Inc. have told employees they won’t supply to the Chinese electronics giant until further notice, Bloomberg News reported late Sunday in the U.S. Those companies will need clarification from the Trump administration on whether they can ship to Huawei, so for now it seems they’re erring on the side of caution. The prospect that the U.S. government would cut off the supply of components to Huawei was precisely what management had been anticipating for close to a year, Bloomberg News reported Friday.


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Top U.S. Tech Companies Begin to Cut Off Vital Huawei Supplies

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 22:27

Chipmakers including Intel Corp., Qualcomm Inc., Xilinx Inc. and Broadcom Inc. have told their employees they will not supply Huawei till further notice, according to people familiar with their actions.


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Australia's Climate Wars Set to Heat Up After Coal Champion Wins

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 21:34

Rather than backing the opposition Labor party’s plans for sweeping cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, voters fell in behind a conservative government that has refused to legislate its Paris Agreement commitments. Morrison once brandished a lump of coal in parliament as a mark of his support for the industry, and in focusing his energy policy on lowering electricity prices has derided the reliability of wind and solar.


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Australia's Climate Wars Set to Heat Up After Coal Champion Wins

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 21:34

Rather than backing the opposition Labor party’s plans for sweeping cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, voters fell in behind a conservative government that has refused to legislate its Paris Agreement commitments. Morrison once brandished a lump of coal in parliament as a mark of his support for the industry, and in focusing his energy policy on lowering electricity prices has derided the reliability of wind and solar.


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Australia's conservative coalition secures parliamentary majority

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 21:25

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on Monday said Morrison's coalition has won 76 seats in Australia's parliament, which is comprised of 151 elected lawmakers. Respected Australian Broadcasting Corporation election analyst Antony Green said the Morrison's coalition will retain its lead in at least one more seat, allowing it to select a parliamentary speaker and still retain a majority. After a long and bitter election campaign, Morrison said Australians have had enough of politics.


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Germany's far-right AfD warms to climate change denial

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 21:07

They deny global warming, oppose wind farms, defend diesel engines and coal mines, and mock teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg as a green "cult" leader. Politicians of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) have discovered climate change denial in their campaign for European Parliamentary elections. In times of bitter social polarisation, the AfD has trained its sights on those voters who see ecological issues as an elitist concern that kills jobs and hurts industry.


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Traumatised by conflict, animals find haven in Jordan

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 20:49

For more than a year after being moved to a Jordanian wildlife reserve from war-hit Syria, two bears, Loz and Sukkar, would cower whenever planes flew by, traumatised by past bombardments. The sanctuary located in Jerash province north of Amman was set up by the Princess Alia Foundation, named after the king's sister, in cooperation with the international animal welfare organisation Four Paws.


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NASA's new flying robot gets its first hardware check in space

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 20:36

NASA's new robot is getting ready for work.Astrobee, a free-flying robot system that's designed to give astronauts a hand in space, has had its first hardware checks on the International Space Station.The system is actually a trio of robots, named Honey, Queen, and Bumble, which are propelled by electric fans and can return to their docking station to recharge their batteries. Two of the robots, Bumble and Honey, were launched to the space station on Apr. 17. NASA posted a photo of astronaut Anne McClain, who performed the first series of tests on Astrobee, which included checking the robot's avionics, cameras, propulsion, and docking for power and data transfer.Anne McClain checks Astrobee.Image: NASAAstrobee is a test to see how robots can take care of spacecraft when astronauts are away, which NASA explained will be crucial for deep-space missions, such as its plan to return to the moon.The robots feature cameras, microphones, and other sensors to help operators on the ground to monitor conditions. They can fly independently, or be controlled, allowing astronauts to concentrate on more important tasks. The robots are modular too, which means more features can be added when needed.SEE ALSO: Elon Musk shows us the 60 satellites that will one day help power a better internetIt'll be a little while until the system gets to work, with more tests to run until its project commissioning date sometime around October or November. Researchers are also planning more complex experiments, including carrying payloads, which will begin in 2020. WATCH: World's largest plane by wingspan lifts off into the history books


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China Tech Can't Spend Its Way Out of This Mess

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 19:26

Recent earnings reports from Baidu Inc., Alibaba Group Holding Co. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. show what happens when management remains desperate to keep the top line climbing. China’s biggest tech companies are not only battling a sustained economic slowdown, they’re getting to the natural end of a decades-long expansion – fueled by the theory that if revenue grows, profit will automatically follow. Baidu is the biggest victim of this folly.


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China's Starbucks Rival Lists on Nasdaq With Cars-to-Lattes Plan

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 17:08

For now, American investors seem impressed enough by Luckin’s aggressive expansion plan for the Xiamen-based company to raise a higher-than-expected $561 million in its initial public offering Thursday. Reinout Schakel, the company’s chief financial officer, said he was pleased with the trading debut. The Chinese startup is seeking to overtake Starbucks, opening more stores in two years than the industry giant has in 20 years.


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Sony's Deal With Microsoft Blindsided Its Own PlayStation Team

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 17:00

Perhaps no one was more shocked than employees of Sony’s PlayStation division, who have spent almost two decades fighting the U.S. software giant in the $38 billion video game console market. Last week, the companies announced a strategic partnership to co-develop game streaming technology and host some of PlayStation’s online services on the Redmond-based company’s Azure cloud platform. It comes after PlayStation spent seven years developing its own cloud gaming offering, with limited success.


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T-Mobile and Sprint Plan Concessions to Get Their $26.5 Billion Merger Cleared

Sun, 05/19/2019 - 16:50

The promises include the sale of one of their prepaid brands, a three-year buildout of their 5G network, and a reiterated pledge not to raise prices while the network is being constructed, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the matter is private. The new pledges follow talks with the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice both have to sign off on the transaction.


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