WIRED


The Physics of Why Bigger Drones Can Fly Longer

WIRED

You can get a drone in a wide range of sizes. Some of them fit in your palm (like the Syma X20) while others are quite large. But have you noticed anything about the flying time? Many of the super small drones have flight times that are less than five minutes. The larger drones (like the DJI Phantom 4) have a maximum flight time of closer to a half hour.


DJI Mavic Air: Specs, Price, Release Date

WIRED

Drone-maker DJI announced a new hobby aircraft today, one that weighs just a shade under a pound, fits in a jacket pocket, and is capable of flying itself. At that price, it hovers in DJI's lineup between the $499 DJI Spark, the gesture-controlled flyer released last year, and the more capable $999 Mavic Pro. The Mavic Air is tiny, half the size of a Mavic Pro, and about half the weight at just 15 ounces. When folded up, it's about the size of a paperback novel. At a press event in New York on Tuesday, DJI exec Michael Perry announced the Mavic Air by pulling it out of the pocket of his puffy Patagonia vest.


Tinder's Lack of Encryption Lets Strangers Spy on Your Swipes

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In 2018, you'd be forgiven for assuming that any sensitive app encrypts its connection from your phone to the cloud, so that the stranger two tables away at the coffee shop can't pull your secrets off the local Wi-Fi. That goes double for apps as personal as online dating services. But if you assumed that basic privacy protection for the world's most popular dating app, you'd be mistaken: As one application security company has found, Tinder's mobile apps still lack the standard encryption necessary to keep your photos, swipes, and matches hidden from snoops. On Tuesday, researchers at Tel Aviv-based app security firm Checkmarx demonstrated that Tinder still lacks basic HTTPS encryption for photos. Just by being on the same Wi-Fi network as any user of Tinder's iOS or Android app, the researchers could see any photo the user did, or even inject their own images into his or her photo stream.


Self-Driving Cars Mean New Love for the Auto Industry

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Henrik Fisker spent this year's CES at Booth 3315, standing next to a deep red, curvaceous, quirky electric sedan with doors that pivot like wings. The EMotion is the work of Fisker Inc, the car designer's latest venture. But the stage Fisker and the car stood on didn't say Fisker Inc. It said Quanergy--a Silicon Valley-based startup that makes lidar sensors for self-driving cars; it has plans to embed several of its units is discreetly into the new car. Fisker wasn't the only one shacking up at CES. Ford's display highlighted not cars, but its deal with Dominos to work on autonomous pizza deliveries.


How to Pre-Order Both of Nintendo's Labo Kits

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Nintendo has sold a lot of Switches in the last year thanks to the console's unique ability to play games on a TV and on the go, but also thanks to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Though they came from 30 year-old franchises, both games helped millions fall in love with them all over again. In 2018, Nintendo is setting its sights in a direction it hasn't aimed at before: the do-it yourself crowd. Nintendo Labo are a series of experiences for Switch that let you (or your kids) build cardboard objects and play games with them. Robots, fishing poles, pianos... there's a lot to build and try here.


Forget the Robot Singularity Apocalypse. Let's Talk About the *Multiplicity*

WIRED

For a species that's conquered Earth and traveled through space and invented the Slapchop, we humans sure are insecure when it comes to technology. Our greatest fear: the singularity, when the abilities of AI and robots surpass those of humans, growing so advanced that civilization is forced to reboot as humanity spirals into existential dread. Or worse, the machines turn us into batteries, à la The Matrix. As fun as that all sounds, UC Berkeley roboticist Ken Goldberg thinks the singularity is bunk. "I think it's counterproductive," he says.


AI Beat Humans at Reading! Maybe Not

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Microsoft and Chinese retailer Alibaba independently announced that they had made software that matched or outperformed humans on a reading-comprehension test devised at Stanford. Microsoft called it a "major milestone." Media coverage amplified the claims, with Newsweek estimating "millions of jobs at risk." Those jobs seem safe for a while. Closer examination of the tech giants' claims suggests their software hasn't yet drawn level with humans, even within the narrow confines of the test used.


What CES and Detroit Taught Us About The Future Of Cars

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That's because two of the most important exhibitions, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, happen every January. These are the shows where automakers fight for the attention of the media and the public, where they show us the cars we'll be driving, or driven by, as the future comes to pass. At CES 2018, the emphasis was still electrification, with flashy EV launches from the likes of Byton and Fisker. There was also a doubling down on autonomous driving technology. Companies are now getting confident about demonstrating their self-driving cars, including some without any human controls.


A Popular Crime-Predicting Algorithms Performed Worse Than Mechanical Turks in One Study

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The American criminal justice system couldn't get much less fair. Across the country, some 1.5 million people are locked up in state and federal prisons. More than 600,000 people, the vast majority of whom have yet to be convicted of a crime, sit behind bars in local jails. Black people make up 40 percent of those incarcerated, despite accounting for just 13 percent of the US population. With the size and cost of jails and prisons rising--not to mention the inherent injustice of the system--cities and states across the country have been lured by tech tools that promise to predict whether someone might commit a crime.


Nissan's Brain Wave Project Could Help You Drive by Reading Your Mind

WIRED

As I sit down in Nissan's simulator, I prepare myself for the fact that a cohort of researchers could scrutinize my skills as a wheelman with more rigor than the most aggravating backseat driver. And, I accept that this process involves wearing what looks like a too-small, sideways bicycle helmet, which holds 11 electrodes poking through my hair. "For each corner, there'll be an evaluation of your driving smoothness," says Lucian Gheorghe, the Nissan researcher in charge of this rig. Gheorghe is interested in motor related potentials, a specific pattern of activity the brain creates as it prepares to move a limb. It takes half a second for the body to translate that signal to the wave of an arm or kick of a leg, and Nissan wants to exploit the gap.