Goto

Collaborating Authors

The Independent - Tech


SpaceX Starship nears launch date after successful test of Mars-bound deep space SN20 engine, Elon Musk says

The Independent - Tech

SpaceX will launch its next-generation Starship SN20 rocket next month after successfully testing its deep space Raptor Vacuum engine, Elon Musk has confirmed. The launch will be the first orbital flight for the Mars-bound craft, which is being built to transport people and cargo around the Solar System. Previous Starship prototypes have performed high-altitude flight tests from SpaceX's Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, but the next stage of development requires a massive Super Heavy rocket in order to propel it to orbit. The November test will see Starship SN20 launch from Starbase before separating from the booster rocket and touching down 90 minutes later off the coast of Hawaii. SpaceX will attempt to catch the Super Heavy rocket using "robot chopsticks" attached to the launch tower – named'Mechazilla' by Mr Musk – that will guide it back down onto the pad.


Tesla's new 'Full Self Driving' software is rolling out after delays due to unknown 'issues'

The Independent - Tech

Tesla cars' 'Full Self Driving' capability, which does not allow the car to drive fully by themselves, is finally rolling out following a delay from the company to deal with unknown "issues." In a tweet yesterday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the company was "seeing some issues" with the new update and would be rolling it back temporarily to its previous version. The Full Self Driving beta was originally meant to be released on midnight of 7 October, but a few "last minute concerns" about the build delayed it until 11 October. On 24 October, Elon Musk said that "regression in some left turns at traffic lights" was found by the Tesla engineers, and undefined "other issues" meant the beta had to be delayed. Tesla's $10,000 "Full Self-Driving" option does not mean that the vehicles can drive themselves.


Facebook is getting a new name, report claims

The Independent - Tech

Facebook is going to change its name later this month in order to reflect its intention to build the metaverse. The social media company's rebranding, according to a report from The Verge, would put the Facebook app under the same umbrella as WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as Oculus and other services that Facebook owns. The purported move coincides with mounting scrutiny by the US government over its reported politically driven business practices and criticism over failure to tackle hate speech and misinformation on the platform. Whistleblower Frances Haugen recently came forward alleging that the company put its own profits ahead of the public good. Haugen leaked hundreds of company documents to The Wall Street Journal and testified before Congress.


TikTok user finds vast trove of voice recordings collected by Amazon's Alexa – and you can hear yours

The Independent - Tech

A TikTok video showing a woman's shock at how much voice data Amazon has collected on her has received millions of views and been liked hundreds of thousands of times. "I requested all the data Amazon has on me and here's what I found", she said in a video. The woman has two Amazon Echo Dot speakers and another Echo device to control her smart home lightbulbs. "When I downloaded the ZIP file these are all the folders it came with," she said. The audio files reveal thousands of short voice clips, which she describes as "so scary".


Google launches Pixel 6 and 6 Pro flagship phones with better AI, Android 12, and an iconic camera bump

The Independent - Tech

Google has finally announced the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, its dual flagship phones intended to take on Samsung and Apple. "The product is really, now, The Google Phone," Google's hardware chief Rick Osterloh has said, "so we are ready to invest a lot in marketing and we want to grow." The two phones, which were revealed in full at an event today, focus on Google's machine learning capabilities with a new Tensor SSC chip and its recently released Android 12 operating system, to make what Google claims is the "most personal and most helpful phone". With regards to the device's specifications, the Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch 60-90Hz OLED display, a 4600mAh battery, 8GB of RAM with 128 or 256GB of storage. The Pixel 6 Pro, meanwhile, has a larger 6.7-inch OLED with a 120Hz refresh rate screen.


Facial recognition cameras installed in UK school canteens

The Independent - Tech

Schools in Scotland are trialling facial recognition to allow pupils to pay for their lunches from Monday. The software is to be trialled across nine schools in North Ayrhsire, and hopes to speed up lunchtime sales by scanning the faces of pupils when at tills. Many schools already use biometric software, such as fingerprint recognition, to take payments but facial recognition is billed as being quicker and more Covid-secure. David Swanston, the manging director of CBR Cunninghams, who installed the software, said it was "the fastest way of recognising someone at the till." "In a secondary school you have around about a 25-minute period to serve potentially 1,000 pupils. So we need fast throughput at the point of sale, he told the Financial Times. MPs and peers urge education secretary to rethink plans to scrap most BTECs Covid cases near peak of second wave as schoolchildren fuel rise Schools reminded to allow absences arising from Covid'in exceptional circumstances' Schools reminded to allow absences arising from Covid'in exceptional circumstances' Mr Swanston said the software cut the average transaction time five seconds per pupil. But the new system has been criticised by privacy campaigners who say it normalises facial recognition software where there is little need for and was often operated without clear consent from the user. Silkie Carlo, of the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: "It's normalising biometric identity checks for something that is mundane.


Startup Reliable Robotics receives $100M in funding to replace pilots with robots

The Independent - Tech

A new startup that replaces pilots with robots has received $100 million in funding. Reliable Robotics argues that, with many planes now being controlled automatically, that pilots are the most expensive aspects of cargo operations. Trucking is monotonous and uninteresting work, meaning it is also the source of the most mistakes. Its technology is aimed at handling the taxi, takeoff, landing, and parking parts of cargo flights – monitored by licensed pilots remotely in the control centre. It is claimed that autonomous planes could save airlines approximately $60 billion per year.


Scientists find protein that could help people erase bad memories

The Independent - Tech

Researchers have discovered a protein that could be used to indicate whether people's emotions and their memories can be changed or even forgotten. Long-term memories are divided into two categories: fact-based memory, such as names, places, and events, and instinctive memory such as emotions or skills. Instinctive memories can be modified, scientists believe, and such research may be able to help people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The scientists at Cambridge University found that the presence of the "shank" protein acts as a support for receptors that determine how strong the connection is between various neurons and, as a result, may determine whether memories can be modified using the beta-blocker propranolol. If the protein is degraded, the memories become modifiable – although scientists are not yet clear whether it is directly involved in the memory breaking down, or if it's a product of a deeper reaction.


Military robot dogs seen with assault rifles attached to their backs

The Independent - Tech

Military security firm Ghost Robotics has built a mechanical dog capable of carrying a remote-controlled rifle on its back. The Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle (SPUR) is comprised of a 6.5mm Creedmore rifle from weapons company SWORD International combined with the quadruped unmanned ground vehicle from the robotics firm. First seen at the US Army's annual convention in Washington DC, as reported by The Drive, this is apparently one of the first systems like these with an actual weapon attached. It is unclear how much ammunition the gun contains, and how difficult it might be to reload. Ghost Robotics says that the robot dog can be commanded to chamber the first round from an unloaded state, clear the chamber, and'safeing' the gun (when the weapon is not cocked and no ammunition is present). It can fire bullets up to a 1200-metre distance.


Elon Musk says he's 'dying' to make a supersonic electric plane

The Independent - Tech

Elon Musk has said he is "dying" to expand beyond cars and trucks with Tesla and build an electric supersonic jet. The planes would use vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology to rise to a high altitude, before using battery-powered propulsion to reach speeds in excess of 1,236km/h (768mph). The polymath billionaire said the only thing stopping him from developing the next-generation aircraft is his current workload. Mr Musk currently heads two multi-billion dollar companies – SpaceX and Tesla – as well as neurotech startup Neuralink and tunnel-digging venture The Boring Company. He is also the co-founder of the artificial intelligence research laboratory OpenAI and the father of six children.