Studies Find Automatic Braking Can Cut Crashes Over 40%

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Studies Find Automatic Braking Can Cut Crashes Over 40%

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Studies Find Automatic Braking Can Cut Crashes Over 40%

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Two new U.S. studies show that automatic emergency braking can cut the number of rear-end automobile crashes in half, and reduce pickup truck crashes by more than 40%. From a report: The studies released Tuesday, one by a government-auto industry partnership and the other by the insurance industry, each used crash data to make the calculations. Automatic emergency braking can stop vehicles if a crash is imminent, or slow them to reduce the severity. Some automakers are moving toward a voluntary commitment by 20 companies to make the braking technology standard equipment on 95% of their light-duty models during the current model year that ends next August.

A study by The Partnership for Analytics Research in Traffic Safety compared data on auto equipment with 12 million police-reported crashes from 13 states that was collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the partnership said in a statement Tuesday. The group studied forward collision warning as well as emergency braking. The group found front-to-rear crashes were cut 49% when the striking vehicle had forward collision alert plus automatic braking, when compared with vehicles that didn't have either system. Rear crashes with injuries were cut by 53%, the study found. Vehicles with forward collision warning systems only reduced rear-end crashes by 16%, and cut rear crashes with injuries by 19%.

The 'World's Largest Floating Wind Farm' Produces Its First Power

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: A facility described as the world's largest floating wind farm produced its first power over the weekend, with more turbines set to come online before the year is out. In a statement Monday, Norwegian energy firm Equinor -- better known for its work in the oil and gas industry -- said power production from Hywind Tampen's first wind turbine took place on Sunday afternoon. While wind is a renewable energy source, Hywind Tampen will be used to help power operations at oil and gas fields in the North Sea. Equinor said Hywind Tampen's first power was sent to the Gullfaks oil and gas field.

Hywind Tampen is located around 140 kilometers (86.9 miles) off the coast of Norway, in depths ranging from 260 to 300 meters. Seven of the wind farm's turbines are slated to come on stream in 2022, with installation of the remaining four taking place in 2023. When complete, Equinor says it will have a system capacity of 88 megawatts. Equinor said Hywind Tampen was expected to meet around 35% of the Gullfaks and Snorre fields' electricity demand. "This will cut CO2 emissions from the fields by about 200,000 tonnes per year," the company added.

Waymo Is Using Its Self-Driving Taxis To Create Real-Time Weather Maps

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Waymo's latest car sensor arrays are "creating real-time weather maps to improve ride hailing services in Phoenix and San Francisco," reports Engadget. "The vehicles measure the raindrops on windows to detect the intensity of conditions like fog or rain." From the report: The technology gives Waymo a much finer-grained view of conditions than it gets from airport weather stations, radar and satellites. It can track the coastal fog as it rolls inland, or drizzle that radar would normally miss. While that's not as important in a dry locale like Phoenix, it can be vital in San Francisco and other cities where the weather can vary wildly between neighborhoods. There are a number of practical advantages to gathering this data, as you might guess. Waymo is using the info to improve its Driver AI's ability to handle rough weather, including more realistic simulations. The company also believes it can better understand the limits of its cars and set higher requirements for new self-driving systems. The tech also helps Waymo One better serve ride hailing passengers at a given time and place, and gives Waymo Via trucking customers more accurate delivery updates.

The current weather maps have their limitations. They may help in a warm city like San Francisco, where condensation and puddles are usually the greatest problems, but they won't be as useful for navigating snowy climates where merely seeing the lanes can be a challenge. There's also the question of whether or not it's ideal to have cars measure the very conditions that hamper their driving. This isn't necessarily the safest approach. Waymo describes the research in a blog post.

World's Largest Telescope Array Is Almost Ready To Stare Straight Into the Sun

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China just completed construction on what is now the world's largest telescope array at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. The country plans to aim it at our sun as part of what one expert is calling "the golden age of solar astronomy." Popular Mechanics reports: As reported in Nature earlier today, the Daocheng Solar Radio Telescope (DSRT) cost 100 million yuan ($14 million USD), and is comprised of over 300 antenna dishes situated in a 3 kilometer (1.87 miles) circumference formation. Initial testing will begin in June 2024, and will focus on an upcoming increase in solar activity over the next few years, particularly on how solar eruptions affect Earth.

"China now has instruments that can observe all levels of the sun, from its surface to the outermost atmosphere," Hui Tian, a solar physicist at Beijing's Peking University, told Nature. Compared to similar telescopic arrays, the DSRT will be more finely tuned, and thus potentially capture weaker signals from high-energy particles emitted during CME events. As the sky above us becomes increasingly -- and sometimes problematically -- crowded by satellites, developing more reliable, accurate, and detailed analysis of solar activity will be critical to further expansion.

The First Cubesat To Fly and Operate At the Moon Has Successfully Arrived

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: After a journey of nearly five months, taking it far beyond the Moon and back, the little CAPSTONE spacecraft has successfully entered into lunar orbit. "We received confirmation that CAPSTONE arrived in near-rectilinear halo orbit, and that is a huge, huge step for the agency," said NASA's chief of exploration systems development, Jim Free, on Sunday evening. "It just completed its first insertion burn a few minutes ago. And over the next few days they'll continue to refine its orbit, and be the first cubesat to fly and operate at the Moon."

This is an important orbit for NASA, and a special one, because it is really stable, requiring just a tiny amount of propellant to hold position. At its closest point to the Moon, this roughly week-long orbit passes within 3,000 km of the lunar surface, and at other points it is 70,000 km away. NASA plans to build a small space station, called the Lunar Gateway, here later this decade. But before then, the agency is starting small. CAPSTONE is a scrappy, commercial mission that was supported financially, in part, by a $13.7 million grant from NASA. Developed by a Colorado-based company named Advanced Space, with help from Terran Orbital, the spacecraft itself is modestly sized, just a 12U cubesat with a mass of around 25 kg. It could fit comfortably inside a mini-refrigerator.

The spacecraft launched at the end of June on an Electron rocket from New Zealand. Electron is the smallest rocket to launch a payload to the Moon, and its manufacturer, Rocket Lab, stressed the capabilities of the booster and its Photon upper stage to the maximum to send CAPSTONE on its long journey to the Moon. This was Rocket Lab's first deep space mission. [...] CAPSTONE will not only serve as a pathfinder in this new orbit -- verifying the theoretical properties modeled by NASA engineers -- it will also demonstrate a new system of autonomous navigation around and near the Moon. This Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System, or CAPS, is important because there is a lack of fixed tracking assets near the Moon, especially as the cislunar environment becomes more crowded during the coming decade. The mission is planned to operate for at least six months in this orbit.

A New Website Backed By Al Gore Tracks Big Polluters By Name

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A new global tracker created by the nonprofit Climate Trace is helping to make clear exactly where major greenhouse gas emissions are originating. According to NPR, the interactive map "uses a combination of satellites, sensors and machine learning to measure the top polluters worldwide." From the report: It observes how much greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide -- are being emitted at specific locations, such as power plants and oil refineries. Former Vice President Al Gore, who is a founding member of the initiative, said it is meant to serve as a more reliable and accurate alternative to companies self-reporting their emissions estimates. "Cheating is impossible with this artificial intelligence method, because they would have to somehow falsify multiple sets of data," he told NPR's Michel Martin on All Things Considered.

The emissions tool employs over 300 satellites; sensors on land, planes and ships; as well as artificial intelligence to build models of emission estimates. Right now, it tracks about 72,000 of the highest emitting greenhouse gas sources. That includes every power plant, large ship and large plane in the entire world, Gore said. And that's just the beginning. By next year, Gore hopes to be tracking millions of major emitting sites. "We will have essentially all of them," he said. Gore said 75% of the world's greenhouse emissions come from countries that have made pledges to become carbon-neutral by 2050. "Now that they know exactly where it's coming from, they have tools that will enable them to reduce their emissions," he told NPR.

He added that the database, which is free and accessible online, can help inform countries about how much pollution is being emitted by the companies they are working with or considering working with. It is not enough for companies to self-report, he said. For instance, Climate Trace found that the oil and gas industry has been significantly underreporting its emissions. That doesn't mean companies were intentionally cheating, Gore added. However, he said underreporting prevents governments and the public from staying on track with their net-zero pledge. Six regional governments in Mexico, Europe and Africa have already entered into working agreements for using the tool, Gore said.

Crypto Meltdown Continues, Next Up: BlockFi

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Long-time Slashdot reader kid_wonder writes: BlockFi, a crypto exchange, had suspended withdrawals on Friday and now appears to be having serious issues directly related to the FTX meltdown. In an email to customers this morning they said: "The rumors that a majority of BlockFi assets are custodied at FTX are false. That said, we do have significant exposure to FTX and associated corporate entities that encompasses obligations owed to us by Alameda, assets held at, and undrawn amounts from our credit line with FTX US. While we will continue to work on recovering all obligations owed to BlockFi, we expect that the recovery of the obligations owed to us by FTX will be delayed as FTX works through the bankruptcy process.

At this time, withdrawals from BlockFi continue to be paused. We also continue to ask clients not to submit any deposits to BlockFi Wallet or Interest Accounts." Reuters has a list of some firms who have given information about their exposure to FTX.

Xbox Transparency Report Reveals Up To 4.78 Million Accounts Were Proactively Suspended In Just Six Months

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Microsoft has released its first Digital Transparency Report for the Xbox gaming platform, revealing that the company took proactive action against throwaway accounts that violated its community guidelines 4.78 million times within a six-month period, usually in the form of temporary suspension. The Verge reports: The report, which provides information regarding content moderation and player safety, covers the period between January 1st and June 30th this year. It includes a range of information, including the number of reports submitted by players and breakdowns of various "proactive enforcements" (i.e., temporary account suspensions) taken by the Xbox team. Microsoft says the report forms part of its commitment to online safety. The data reveals that "proactive enforcements" by Microsoft increased almost tenfold since the last reporting period and that 4.33 million of the 4.78 million total enforcements concerned accounts that had been tampered with or used suspiciously outside of the Xbox platform guidelines. These unauthorized accounts can impact players in a variety of ways, from enabling cheating to spreading spam and artificially inflating friend / follower numbers.

A further breakdown of the data reveals 199,000 proactive enforcements taken by Xbox involving adult sexual content, 87,000 for fraud, and 54,000 for harassment or bullying. The report also claims that 100 percent of all actions in the last six-month period relating to account tampering, piracy, and phishing were taken proactively by Xbox rather than via reports made by its player base, which suggests that either fewer issues are being reported by players or the issues themselves are being addressed before players are aware of them. As proactive action has increased, the report also reveals that reports made by players have decreased significantly despite a growing player base, noting a 36 percent decline in player reports compared to the same period in 2021. A total of 33.07 million reports were made by players during the last period, with the vast majority relating to either in-game conduct (such as cheating, teamkilling, or intentionally throwing a match) or communications.

FTX's Failure Is Sparking a Massive Regulatory Response

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"The collapse of FTX will likely give rise to a number of criminal and civil actions against the exchange and its executives, like former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried," reports CoinDesk, citing a number of legal experts. "It's also likely to push forward actual regulatory changes, either via lawmakers or through federal agencies themselves." An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the report: FTX filed for bankruptcy last Friday, days after halting withdrawals and a little over a week after CoinDesk first reported that the balance sheet of FTX sister company Alameda Research held a surprisingly large amount of FTT, an exchange token issued by FTX. FTX was "fine," Bankman-Fried said in response to questions about his exchange's solvency, before a series of events showed otherwise. As a result, several state and federal agencies launched or expanded investigations into the company, including the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Securities Commission of the Bahamas and the Bahamas' Financial Crimes Investigation Branch. Members of the U.S. Congress from both political parties are also calling for further action as a result of the collapse. Some lawmakers are even talking about holding hearings, potentially by the end of the year, said Ron Hammond of the Blockchain Association.

The fact that regulators apparently had no view into some of the major projects that fell apart this year -- such as Celsius, Three Arrows, Luna and now FTX -- is "precisely the problem," said an industry participant who works closely with policymakers. Still, the individual told CoinDesk that they don't expect any major legislative action to occur this year. Most likely, Congress will look at bills like the Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act, a bill that Bankman-Fried supported but was written prior to that, in the upcoming year. According to an attorney who requested anonymity, the SEC may have an easier time kicking off the investigation just due to its mandate. "The SEC is in a much better position to go to court and get a freeze [on assets] if they believe there's a reason to do that," the attorney said. "The SEC also has a less cumbersome process for subpoenaing testimony and freezing documents." The SEC and DOJ are likely to cooperate though, to the extent that DOJ investigators may sit in on SEC interviews.

FTX has various U.S. connections, which is all the SEC and DOJ need to assert jurisdiction for their investigations.
FTX appears to be preparing for these investigations, with FTX US General Counsel Ryne Miller having already told the entire company to preserve documents. A former federal prosecutor told CoinDesk that the bankruptcy court may also shed light on the situation, thus assisting government investigators with their probes. "The bankruptcy court has the ability to now oversee the company and to obtain information from the company that, let's say the DOJ might not have been able to obtain as easily pre-bankruptcy, and they'll likely have access to a new trustee or an examiner and be able to learn in essentially real-time what's going on," the former prosecutor said. Executives like Bankman-Fried may also "be in a tough spot with respect to" deciding whether to cooperate or assert Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, the former prosecutor added. "A complicating factor -- for FTX anyway -- may be the fact that Bankman-Fried has tweeted his way through his company's collapse," adds CoinDesk.

"It's a complete nightmare," said Ken White, a former federal prosecutor and a partner at the Brown White & Osborn law firm. "This is a situation where all sorts of agencies are going to be looking at this, the SEC, the FTC, and probably the Department of Justice. There are all sorts of potential criminal and civil consequences -- lawsuits. Civil lawsuits are a certainty. And here he is sort of tweeting out his thoughts about it. It's every attorney's nightmare of what a client might do."

The main issue being that Bankman-Fried repeatedly took to Twitter to reassure users that everything was fine. "It creates new bases for criminal or civil claims against him just based on those tweets," White said. "So if he says that everything's fine, that their assets are real assets, and that's not true, then that can be securities fraud, and wire fraud, all sorts of other stuff, not to mention all sorts of civil causes of action ... It is just disastrously reckless."

Italy Outlaws Facial Recognition Tech, Except To Fight Crime

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Italy prohibited the use of facial recognition and "smart glasses" on Monday as its Data Protection Agency issued a rebuke to two municipalities experimenting with the technology. Reuters reports: Facial recognition systems using biometric data will not be allowed until a specific law is adopted or at least until the end of next year, the privacy watchdog said. The exception is when such technologies play a role in judicial investigations or the fight against crime. "The moratorium arises from the need to regulate eligibility requirements, conditions and guarantees relating to facial recognition, in compliance with the principle of proportionality," the agency said in a statement.

Under European Union and Italian law, the processing of personal data by public bodies using video devices is generally allowed on public interest grounds and when linked to the activity of public authorities, it added. However, municipalities that want to use them have to strike "urban security pacts" with central government representatives, it added. The agency was reacting to measures taken in the southern Italian city of Lecce, where authorities said they would begin using a technology based on facial recognition. The privacy watchdog also targeted the Tuscan city of Arezzo, where local police were due to be equipped with infrared super glasses that can recognise car number plates.

Paris Overtakes London As Europe's Largest Stock Market

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Britain has lost its position as Europe's largest stock market, as Paris overtook London for the first time since records began in 2003. The Independent reports: According to Bloomberg, the combined market value of primary listings on Monday on the Paris bourse ($2.823 trillion ) surpassed that of the London Stock Exchange ($2.821 trillion) -- finally closing a gap of around $1.5 trillion which has been narrowing since the Brexit referendum. The milestone shift on Monday came as French stocks were buoyed by optimism over the demand for French luxury goods in response to China's slight easing of Covid-19 restrictions, while the sharper fall in the pound's value against the dollar compared with that of the euro this year has also played a role, Bloomberg noted.

While the UK's FTSE 100 index has remain relatively stable this year, thanks in part to export revenues boosted by a lower pound, the FTSE 250 index -- comprising smaller, medium-sized businesses -- has plummeted in value by 17 per cent. This fall has been fueled by concerns over rocketing energy bills and interest rates, the latter of which surged in the wake of Liz Truss's disastrous mini-Budget which spooked investors with her rapidly-announced raft of unfunded tax cuts. By the fourth week of Ms Truss's premiership, British stock and bond markets had lost roughly $500 billion in combined value, Bloomberg reported.

Speaking as Office for National Statistics figures showed that Britain's was the only G7 economy to shrink in the three months to September, the chancellor said on Friday he was "under no illusion that there is a tough road ahead" requiring "extremely difficult decisions to restore confidence and economic stability." "But to achieve long-term, sustainable growth, we need to grip inflation, balance the books and get debt falling," Mr Hunt insisted, adding: "There is no other way." However, Michael Saunders -- an economist who, until August, spent six years as one of the nine members on the Bank of England committee responsible for setting interest rates -- suggested on Monday that, were it not for Brexit, "we probably wouldn't be talking about an austerity budget this week."

Libraries Are Launching Their Own Local Music Streaming Platforms

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Over a dozen public libraries in the U.S. and Canada have begun offering their own music streaming services to patrons, with the goal of boosting artists and local music scenes. The services are region-specific, and offer local artists non-exclusive licenses to make their albums available to the community. The concept originated in 2014 when Preston Austin and Kelly Hiser helped the Madison Public Library build the Yahara Music Library, an online library hosting music from local artists. By the time they completed their work on Yahara, they were confident they had a software prototype that other interested libraries could customize and deploy. "That became kind of the inspiration for building MUSICat," Austin told Motherboard, referring to the software platform he and Hiser created under a startup called Rabble.

Now, public libraries in Pittsburgh, Nashville, Fort Worth, and most recently New Orleans have launched their own community-oriented streaming services using MUSICat's open source software. Joshua Smith works at New Orleans Public Library and has been embedded in the city's rich music scene for over a decade. He oversaw the launch of Crescent City Sounds with help from a team of curators that represent local artists and business owners, music journalists and historians and more. "They helped me get the word out to the music community," Smith told Motherboard, noting that their community status helped spread the word that the library now accepts digital music submissions. Smith says that for this first round, the curators accepted albums from artists that were released in the last five years, and that while living within city limits wasn't necessarily a deal breaker, not gigging regularly in the area was. To be considered, applicants needed to submit at least one track from their album. [...] He says each selected artist received a $250 honorarium to license their music to the New Orleans Public Library for five years -- a far cry from the fractions-of-a-penny per stream paid to independent artists by platforms like Spotify. This honorarium and licensing agreement is roughly the standard for public libraries following Rabble's process model. Austin does insist that libraries using MUSICat meet the basic criteria of paying artists to license their work to their libraries. But for everything else, Austin notes that these pre-established models are guidelines, not guardrails.

One example of a public library that took MUSICat and ran with it is Capital City Records -- the music streaming platform of the Edmonton Public Library in Alberta, Canada. An early adopter of MUSICat, the library's collection has grown to amass over 200 local musicians. The project also created opportunities for the library to engage in spin-off projects like limited run of vinyl pressings and running library-focused music events throughout the city. While over 2,000 artists are featured on one of MUSICat's music platforms, Austin says the company wants to continue forming partnerships with libraries on the local level. So for music lovers looking to jump ship from Spotify, he has a clear message: "This is not Spotify for libraries," Austin said. "It's a little different. The localness is kind of key. I don't think we could, for example, use the same strategy on the same fee to license on aggregate collection, which was all the local music from all the libraries available on the music hat app, right, like something like that would need to, it would need to be about the local collections and take people to them and let them play that music in context."

A Simple Android Lock Screen Bypass Bug Landed a Researcher $70,000

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Google has paid out $70,000 to a security researcher for privately reporting an "accidental" security bug that allowed anyone to unlock Google Pixel phones without knowing its passcode. From a report: The lock screen bypass bug, tracked as CVE-2022-20465, is described as a local escalation of privilege bug because it allows someone, with the device in their hand, to access the device's data without having to enter the lock screen's passcode. Hungary-based researcher David Schutz said the bug was remarkably simple to exploit but took Google about five months to fix.

Schutz discovered anyone with physical access to a Google Pixel phone could swap in their own SIM card and enter its preset recovery code to bypass the Android's operating system's lock screen protections. In a blog post about the bug, published now that the bug is fixed, Schutz described how he found the bug accidentally, and reported it to Google's Android team.

Google Agrees To $392 Million Privacy Settlement With 40 States

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Google agreed to a record $391.5 million privacy settlement with a 40-state coalition of attorneys general on Monday for charges that it misled users into thinking they had turned off location tracking in their account settings even as the company continued collecting that information. From a report: Under the settlement, Google will also make its location tracking disclosures clearer starting in 2023. The attorneys general said that the agreement was the biggest internet privacy settlement by U.S. states. It capped a four-year investigation into the internet search giant's practices from 2014-2020, which the attorneys general said violated the states' consumer protection laws. Google said it had already corrected some of the practices mentioned in the settlement. "Consistent with improvements we've made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago," said Jose Castaneda, a spokesman for the company. States have taken an increasingly central role in reining in the power and business models of Silicon Valley corporations, amid a vacuum of action from federal lawmakers.

India Wants 'Phase Down' on All Fossil Fuels at COP27

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India is leading a push for the COP27 climate summit to conclude with a decision on phasing down all fossil fuels, a move that would expand the focus from just coal, but is likely to raise strong concerns from oil and gas-reliant countries. From a report: Indian negotiators formally called on the Egyptian Presidency of climate talks for the expanded language to be included in the cover text, a political statement of how countries will seek to tackle the climate crisis, according to people familiar with the matter. The push stems largely from the coal-dependent country's desire to not be singled out for its dependence on the dirty fossil fuel. The request is likely to put India at odds with other countries within its "Like-Minded Group of Developing Countries" negotiating bloc, like China and Saudi Arabia, who have typically acted as a brake on more climate ambition. There will also probably be concern that India's push is an effort to muddy the waters in reducing fossil fuel use globally, by making it harder to track and compare progress.
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