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Report: China hacked FDIC, U.S. officials covered it upAre Chinese hackers dialing back attacks on U.S.?

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Airbnb CEO vows to fix prejudice problemhow do tasers work elam pkg_00020205.jpghow do tasers work elam pkg_00020205.jpgTech could be the answer to policing issuesTesla has new, cheaper SUVTesla confirms another Autopilot accidentThe distinctive dots and dashes are carved in the sands by Martian winds.The distinctive dots and dashes are carved in the sands by Martian winds.Coded message seen on Mars?This color view from NASA's Juno spacecraft is made from some of the first images taken by JunoCam after the spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter on July 5th (UTC). The view shows that JunoCam survived its first pass through Jupiter's extreme radiation environment, and is ready to collect images of the giant planet as Juno begins its mission.
The image was taken on July 10, 2016 at 5:30 UTC, when the spacecraft was 2.7 million miles (4.3 million kilometers) from Jupiter on the outbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit. The image shows atmospheric features on Jupiter, including the Great Red Spot, and three of Jupiter's four largest moons.
JunoCam will continue to image Jupiter during Juno's capture orbits. The first high-resolution images of the planet will be taken on August 27 when the Juno spacecraft makes its next close pass to Jupiter.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
This color view from NASA's Juno spacecraft is made from some of the first images taken by JunoCam after the spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter on July 5th (UTC). The view shows that JunoCam survived its first pass through Jupiter's extreme radiation environment, and is ready to collect images of the giant planet as Juno begins its mission.
The image was taken on July 10, 2016 at 5:30 UTC, when the spacecraft was 2.7 million miles (4.3 million kilometers) from Jupiter on the outbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit. The image shows atmospheric features on Jupiter, including the Great Red Spot, and three of Jupiter's four largest moons.
JunoCam will continue to image Jupiter during Juno's capture orbits. The first high-resolution images of the planet will be taken on August 27 when the Juno spacecraft makes its next close pass to Jupiter.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
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CES 2016: The coolest tech of the year is about to go on display

CES is where the latest, greatest and not-so-greatest inventions get put on display each year.

At this year’s CES, the tech industry is exhibiting a few trends that it believes will start to take off in a big way in 2016: Cars are getting much smarter. Chinese smartphones are going to make a big push into the United States. Technology will become far more immersive. And practically everything will have a wireless Internet connection.

1. Cars are getting smarter

connected carsVolkwagen debuted a connected car at last year’s CES.

Sure, every tech company from Apple (AAPL, Tech30) to ZTE will be there. But so will Ford (F), GM (GM), Volkswagen, Kia and BMW. That’s because cars are now essentially smartphones on wheels.

Ford is widely expected to announce that it has entered a partnership with Google to create a new company that will develop driverless vehicles. Volkswagen will unveil its first electric car. Kia will debut its autonomous driving strategy.

And every car under the sun will have wireless connections that will let them sense where other cars are on the road, give you directions and connect iPads for your kids riding in the back seat. Wireless is becoming a standard feature.

2. Chinese smartphones are coming to the United States

huawei telecom

Ever heard of ZTE, Alcatel One Touch, Letv or Huawei? You will soon.

Each company already sells phones in the United States. Alcatel holds the No. 5 position in the U.S. smartphone market, according to IDC.

But in 2016, all the big-time Chinese smartphone players are making big pushes into the United States — and announcing their new offerings at CES.

They’re striking while the iron is hot. With cell phone carriers ditching contracts (and customers becoming responsible to cover the cost of their own phones), consumer choice in smartphones is more important than ever.

3. Technology will become far more immersive

ces vrVR was a big theme at last year’s CES. It promises to blow up this year.

Virtual reality and super-duper-ultra-high-definition TVs will once again be a big theme at CES.

It turns out that smartphones make for pretty decent virtual reality machines. So with a VR machine in everyone’s pocket, a growing number of smartphone makers and content companies will show off their latest tricks to immerse you in 3-D video.

Television makers are also running out of superlatives to describe their technology. We’ve gone from high definition to ultra high definition, and now we’ll see “quantum dot” technology at CES (the colors are richer, apparently).

4. Everything will have a wireless Internet connection

connected forksConnected forks were one of the stranger items in last year’s CES. They’ll return this year.

Seriously, everything. L’Oral will be at CES. So will a company that makes a connected pregnancy test. And a breathalyzer that measures your oral health.

Connected cutlery, kitchen gadgets, appliances, water bottles, pens, clothes … all of those will be at CES.

With 3,600 presenters at CES, there will inevitably be a lot of silly technology that no one needs. But the connected devices segment usually takes the cake, and this year promises to be no different.

CNNMoney (New York) First published January 2, 2016: 8:47 AM ET

Bluetooth technology is going to get a major upgrade in 2016

One of the most widely used technologies on the planet is getting a major upgrade in the coming year. On Wednesday, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced several enhancements to the technology that would increase its functionality with the Internet of Things (IoT) in 2016.

DONT MISS: Every single major Black Friday 2015 ad weve seen so far

There is significant demand from our members and the industry at large to enhance Bluetooth with the new capabilities were announcing today, said Toby Nixon, chairman of the Bluetooth SIG Board of Directors.

Current projections put the market potential for IoT between $2 and $11.1 trillion by 2025. The technical updates planned for Bluetooth technology in 2016 will help make these expectations a reality and accelerate growth in IoT.

These technical updates include increasing the range of Bluetooth Smart to 4x what it is currently capable of, as well as increasing the speed of Bluetooth by 100% without increasing energy consumption. Mesh networking will also be a major focus of the upgrade, enabling Bluetooth devices to connect together in networks that can cover an entire building or home, opening up home and industrial automation applications.

Although IoT is clearly the catalyst behind these changes, Bluetooth has become such a fundamental part of so many of our gadgets, well all benefit from the updates even those of us without connected homes.

U.S. manufacturing shrinks for first time in 3 years

The U.S. manufacturing sector shrank in November for the first time in three years, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). The ISM index hit 48.6% last month — anything below 50% means the sector contracted. The November reading is the lowest it’s been since 2009.

“Manufacturing is being pummeled by the stronger dollar and the weakness of global demand,” says Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, a research firm. But Ashworth says the news isn’t an indication of a looming U.S. recession.

The ISM index has declined for five straight months now.

Only five of the 18 manufacturing sectors in the U.S. actually grew.

It’s a grim confirmation that the headwinds of the global economic slowdown are hurting factories and plants across the country.

Related: 4 big financial events in December

First, the U.S. dollar continues to get stronger against most of the world’s major currencies. A strong dollar means that products made in the U.S. and sold abroad are becoming more expensive, and less attractive, to international buyers.

As the dollar has gained value, U.S. exports have fallen 6% so far this year compared to the same time a year ago, according to the Census Bureau.

Second, the global economic slowdown centered around China’s economy has cut back economic growth in many countries that buy U.S. goods. Many of those countries have export a lot of their raw material to China.

Related: 6 American stocks that can handle the strong dollar

If emerging markets like Brazil, Malaysia and Turkey don’t have much of an appetite for American products, that hurts manufacturing here.

The manufacturing contraction comes at an interesting time for the U.S. economy. The Federal Reserve could likely raise interest rates in two weeks for the first time in almost a decade. But historically, the Fed has not raised rates when the manufacturing index has been in the red. The manufacturing news only complicates the picture for the Fed.

Other parts of the economy are showing signs of resiliency, and the latest pulse on the U.S. job market comes Friday with the November jobs report. Still, the manufacturing decline raises concerns, some say.

“This report will add to fears that weakness in manufacturing will spread,” says Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, a research firm.

CNNMoney (New York) First published December 1, 2015: 11:26 AM ET

Rising in the East – CBS News

The following script is from “Rising in the East” which aired on April 10, 2016. Holly Williams is the correspondent. Michael Gavshon and David Levine, producers.

The Chinese economy is in trouble plagued by slowing growth and uncertainty in the stock markets. But there’s one industry that isn’t suffering: the movie business. In February, the Chinese box office brought in over a billion dollars for the first time ever, beating the U.S. and Canada. China, with its 1.3 billion people, is expected to become the biggest movie market in the world as early as next year. Hollywood has taken notice, partnering with Chinese studios and making blockbusters as much for Chinese audiences as American ones. But the U.S. film industry is also facing competition from Chinese moguls and movie stars with big ambitions. Tonight, a journey to a new Hollywood, rising in the East.

In the remote hills of Eastern China, this is a magic kingdom that not even Walt Disney could have dreamed up. It’s called Hengdian World Studios and at over 7,000 acres, it’s the largest film lot on the planet.

A palace for every dynasty, a village for every era, where some of the biggest movies in China have been filmed over the last two decades. These sets aren’t flimsy facades but full-scale brick and mortar replicas of China’s imperial past.

And when the films wrap, a brief silence before the sets are flooded by 15 million tourists who visit every year. It’s all the domain of Xu Wenrong, a one-time farmer who realized his fields were fertile ground for a new industry.

Permission is hardly ever granted to film in the real Forbidden City, China’s iconic landmark, so he built his own.

Holly Williams: It took several hundred years to build the real Forbidden City, and it took you five years to build this one.

Holly Williams: And you made the whole thing from cement?

Xu got the idea for this place 20 years ago after a visit to Hollywood. Movies weren’t big business in China back then, but he spent a billion dollars gambling on their growth.

Holly Williams: Do you feel a bit like an emperor when you come here?

Holly Williams: No, you’re just an ordinary guy…

An ordinary guy whose empire hosts 30 different productions every day. As the film crews compete for space with tourists, who crowd the sets straining to get a glimpse of the stars.

When the cameras start rolling, “movie magic.”

The movie business is booming across China. Shopping malls have popped up everywhere, and with them, theaters. Twenty-two new movie screens open every day, that’s right, every day. In the last five years, box office receipts have grown a staggering 350 per cent!


It’s created a kind of a mass hysteria and something China’s never seen before: star culture. Li Bingbing has been described as China’s Angelina Jolie.

Holly Williams: It feels as if the movie industry here in China is getting more and more like Hollywood.

Li Bingbing: The speed of the development, you can’t imagine, even for us.

Holly Williams: It’s changing so quickly.

Li Bingbing: So quickly. You–

Holly Williams: And–

Li Bingbing: –even you don’t even react, it’s already changed.


CBS News

And transformed into a multibillion dollar industry. Chinese studios produce over 600 features a year, action movies, sci-fi, thrillers.

Behind them is a group of pioneering movie moguls like Dennis Wang. He once worked as a Chinese food deliveryman in New York and is now chairman of the Huayi Bros, one of the largest studios in the country. The movie business has made him a billionaire, a capitalist with Chinese characteristics. Last year, he spent $30 million on a Picasso which he keeps in his pocket and in one of his other homes.

Holly Williams: So that’s the Picasso and you bought it from the Goldwyn family, who owned the MGM studios in Hollywood?

Holly Williams: So it’s not so much as a passing of the torch as a passing of the Picasso.

The biggest prize isn’t Picassos, but Hollywood itself. This year, a Chinese company purchased a Hollywood studio for $3.5 billion, others have been investing in multi-movie production deals with American companies to make films for the global market.

Holly Williams: You’re gonna use Hollywood directors, Hollywood stars–

Dennis Wang: Yes.

Holly Williams: –to make English-language films to compete with Hollywood?

Dennis Wang: Yes.

Holly Williams: And make global blockbusters?

Dennis Wang: Yes. I think we’ll be doing it in the next one or two years. Maybe in five years we’ll be doing it really well.

Holly Williams: In five years you’ll be competing with Hollywood.

Dennis Wang: I think we can do it.

Even though China’s economy has slumped in the last year… Dennis’ brother James, the Huayi Bros CEO, says the movie business is recession-proof.

James Wang: When the economy is weak, the movie business does really well. When times are bad, people go to the movies and feel happy and it doesn’t cost them much money.

Holly Williams: So the bad times, actually could be good for the film industry?

James Wang: In the last 20 years, the biggest box office earners have come out when the economy is bad. It’s interesting.

The sheer size of the Chinese market has Hollywood salivating and desperate to get in on the action. Dede Nickerson is an American film producer who’s spent the last 20 years making movies in China.

Dede Nickerson: Today, if you sit in a green light meeting in a Hollywood studio at any of the studios, at any of the major six studios, there– China is part of every green light discussion.

Holly Williams: They’re wondering, “Will Chinese audiences–“

Dede Nickerson: Well, they have to.

Holly Williams: –“like this film?”

Dede Nickerson: They– they have to because oftentimes the Chinese box office is larger than the U.S. box office. Especially for the big blockbuster films.

[Transformers: Whoever they are, there remains a price on my head.]

Blockbusters like Transformers 4, which made $300 million in China, was partly filmed there and co-stars Li Bingbing.

But the Chinese government has a quota system, which only allows 34 foreign films into the country every year. To get around the rule, Hollywood has been co-producing movies in China with local studios.

[Kung Fu Panda: I lost my father. I am so sorry.]

Kung Fu Panda 3 was animated in California and Shanghai at the SAME time and co-produced by DreamWorks and its spinoff, Oriental DreamWorks. CEO James Fong showed us how they were tailoring the movie for both audiences.

James Fong: What we’ve done is actually we are re-animating everything around the mouth and the throat so when you look at a Chinese version of the movie you no longer have a misalignment between the voices and the lip movement

Holly Williams: So in the Chinese version they look as if they are speaking in Chinese.

James Fong: That’s correct.

Holly Williams: Whereas in the U.S. version they look as if they’re speaking English. Has this ever been done before?

James Fong: This has never been done before?

For years, the only movies anyone could watch in China were communist propaganda, revolutionary heroes, patriotic peasants and guerilla soldiers. Those who strayed too far from the party line were thrown in jail, or worse.

As a teenager filmmaker, Chen Kaige was pressured to denounce his own father, also a director, as an enemy of the state.

Chen Kaige: I felt very, very guilty.

Holly Williams: But you were forced to do that by the political situation in China. You were only 14 years old.

Chen Kaige: No, I still feel guilty. Because I had a choice. I had a choice.

In the 90s, after things had loosened up, Chen chose to make films that were critical of the regime like “Farewell My Concubine,” which earned two Oscar nominations and tells the story of opera singers who are persecuted by Communist henchmen.

That movie helped put Chinese film on the map, but today, Chen, one of China’s most venerated filmmakers finds it hard to keep up.

Holly Williams: It’s become big business?

Chen Kaige: Exactly.

Holly Williams: Chinese people want–

Chen Kaige: Chinese people–

Holly Williams: –to see popcorn movies? Want to see blockbusters–

Chen Kaige: That’s totally understandable. You know, they don’t give a s**t. They just say, “Hey, we’re here to watch a movie.”

They’re a generation that’s grown up on China’s booming consumer culture — and on the surface their lifestyles look more and more like young peoples’ in the West.

Prosperity has transformed China. It’s no longer a closed Communist country. But amidst all this modernity the Chinese government still censors films and decides which ones can be shown in theatres. We asked to speak with the government officials who oversee the film industry here but they declined to be interviewed. Some things haven’t changed.

It’s not easy filming anything in China…those were just private security guards, but when it comes to making movies, the government’s involved in almost every step of the process from deciding which movies get made, to screening the final cut.

Censors held up this World War II epic, “City of Life and Death” for the better part of a year because the film depicted soldiers from Japan, China’s wartime enemy, in a flattering light. Lu Chuan was its director.

Lu Chuan: Because some– some newspaper does– put me as a traitor of–

Holly Williams: A traitor?

Lu Chuan: Yes, yes, yes.

Holly Williams: Because you dared to show a Japanese soldier as a human being?

Lu Chuan: Yes. Yeah.

He wasn’t certain his latest film, a monster movie, “Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe,” would fare any better even though it has nothing to do with politics.

Holly Williams: It’s very realistic looking. It’s very frightening–

Lu Chuan: That’s my– that’s my goal.

Three years ago the government didn’t allow monster movies. Today it does. Navigating the whims of the censors can be treacherous and confusing.

Lu Chuan: They will determine the fate of your movie, you know?

Holly Williams: And can you argue with them?

Lu Chuan: You can talk. You can argue, yes. You–

Holly Williams: Does it work?

Lu Chuan: Sometimes. But you have to compromise.

Hollywood’s been compromising to please the censors too, cutting whole sections out of films before they’re released in China. Like scenes depicting Chinese bad guys in Men in Black 3.

[Men in Black: You arrest me, that’s a hate crime.]

But Dede Nickerson, the China-based American producer, thinks U.S. studios are learning how to avoid that kind of meddling by the government.

Dede Nickerson: You’ll see less and less of that because China is so important to Hollywood that I would say that those decisions are going to get made when a film is being green lit to be careful about what may be offensive to Chinese people or to the Chinese authorities. Because–

Holly Williams: So they won’t need to cut scenes.

Dede Nickerson: They won’t need to cut because–

Holly Williams: They just won’t make them in–

Dede Nickerson: because–

Holly Williams: –the first place.

Dede Nickerson: –they won’t make them in the first place.

Self-censorship is the cost of doing business in China and a price U.S. studios are willing to pay. But Hollywood’s biggest challenge isn’t Chinese government interference. It’s competition from a young and dynamic industry.

Dede Nickerson: They are smart. They understand storytelling. They are super well-versed in what works in their own country. They are super well-versed in what works globally. I couldn’t be more excited. So I would say– you know, Hollywood, watch out.

2016 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Rapidly-spreading Zika virus having financial impact on U.S. travel industry

Fear of the rapidly-spreading Zika virus is beginning to create a financial crisis for the travel industry.

Many people are canceling plans to vacation in the Caribbean or Central or South America, often at the last moment, which can be costly to the would-be traveler as well as the airlines, cruise ships and tour companies counting on the revenue.

Business travel is also being affected as companies cancel meetings and conferences planned for affected areas, which means a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars for the hotel industry.

Most U.S. air carriers said their stock prices have already fallen 3 percent since news of the outbreak. Jet Blue said its stock fell 6 percent.

United and several other carriers began offering refunds to pregnant women who bought tickets to Zika affected countries, after the World Health Organization warned of a possible link between the spread of the virus to a spike of babies born with small heads.

Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the near future are being advised against travelling to infected areas.

Kathryn Janicek and her fiance, Ted, who live in Chicago, had planned to escape the cold with a honeymoon in Costa Rica. Now theyre scrambling to change those plans because theyd like to have a baby in the near future.

What if I do get stung, and the virus is in my body? Janicek asked. If I was just past the pregnancy age, if I wasnt planning on having kids I’d still be going, but I’m going to be 40 in May and I’m ready to go she told Fox News.

Kathryn and Ted will likely go to Europe instead.

Travel agents say their phones are ringing off the hook with people asking about the virus and wanting to change reservations. I think theres a lot of fear from travelers because its such a new virus still, its a little bit unknown said Nicki Squittieri, an agent with Legacy Travel. I think people are just kind of waiting to see where it spreads to, what doctors are going to be saying and just kind of monitoring the situation.

In response to the fear, travel company Expedia put out a statement for those booking with them. We advise travelers to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for the latest information regarding travel to areas affected by the Zika virus. We are keeping up-to-date with our supply partners on their policies, and should any traveler feel their plans are directly impacted, we encourage them to reach out to our customer service team for assistance.

The World Health Organization calls the rapid increase of the virus “explosive,” and expects it will eventually reach nearly every nation in the Americas.

The Zika virus, which is of African origin, was first detected in the Americas last year. The Pan American Health Organization issued an alert about the first confirmed infection in Brazil, according to the CDC. Outbreaks have now been reported in 24 different countries.

There have been 36 people in the U.S. diagnosed with the virus so far, although in all those instances the infection occurred outside the U.S., according to Dr. Anna Durbin from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

But now that the the World Health Organization declared the virus a “public health emergency of international concern,” efforts to create a vaccine have been ramped up, which could be in the testing stage in as little as three months.

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Ruth Ravve joined the Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1996 and currently serves as a Chicago-based producer.

Virginia Tech Student Had ‘Inappropriate Relationship’ With 13-Year-Old Murder Victim, Source Says

The Virginia Tech student charged with kidnapping and murdering a 13-year-old girl is suspected of having a relationship with the victim that a source familiar with the probe characterizes as “inappropriate.”

The source would not elaborate on the relationship to ABC News.

Police have given very little information about the nature of the relationship between the 18-year-old college student, David Eisenhauer, and the victim, Nicole Lovell, who was found dead after being reported missing from her room on Jan. 27.

Eisenhauer was arrested and charged with murder four days later. His attorney has not commented on the case.

“Based on the evidence collected to date, investigators have determined that Eisenhauer and Nicole were acquainted prior to her disappearance,” the Blacksburg Police Department said in a statement released following his arrest. “Eisenhauer used this relationship to his advantage to abduct the 13-year-old and then kill her.”

Eisenhauer’s friend, Natalie Keepers, was also arrested in connection with the case. Prosecutors said Eisenhauer allegedly told investigators that he had been with Nicole on the night she disappeared.

Eisenhauer allegedly told investigators that he had seen Nicole climb out of her window on the night of her disappearance. But he left after giving her a “side hug,” going back to the dorm of a close friend, later determined to be Keepers, Commonwealth prosecutor Mary Pettitt said in court on Thursday.

Investigators believe social media played a role in how Eisenhauer and Nicole communicated, and the app, Kik, released a statement saying that it was cooperating with the FBI in its investigation of the case.

Eisenhauer has been charged with kidnapping and first degree murder. Keepers was charged with being an accessory both before and after the fact as well as improper disposal of a body. Preliminary hearings have been scheduled for late March, but neither have had a chance to enter a plea yet.

Lawyers for both suspects have not made public statements regarding the cases.

Technology News Video –

STORY: Root looks like a smoke detector but is actually a sophisticated robot. A magnetic surface, wheels, and an impressive arsenal of sensors allow it to navigate a classroom white board. But Root isn’t actually programmed to do anything. Its tasks and functionality hinge on a child’s imagination. To operate – Root needs instructions, a line of code. Zivthan Dubrovsky of Harvard’s Wyss Institute recalls testing out Root with kids for the first time. He asked them this… SOUNDBITE (English) ZIVTHAN DUBROVSKY, HARVARD’S WYSS INSTITUTE, SAYING: “Can you make a text based java script line follower? They go ‘no that’s hard, can’t do that’, but we can put level one in front of them and they can do it in minutes.” Level one introduces kids to principles of programming using an interface of simple instructions and pictures. As they become more adept, they jump to levels 2 and 3, at which point writing computer code becomes second nature, according to Dubrovsky. He says getting kids interested in the abstract world of programming isn’t easy, but thinks Root can help with that. SOUNDBITE (English) ZIVTHAN DUBROVSKY, HARVARD’S WYSS INSTITUTE, SAYING: “We are not trying to create a fun toy where you are just making a racing game. We are going to figure out how to make the racing game and that is going to be a lot of work, a lot of perhaps negative energy. But then there is so much positive energy at the end that it is worth the effort.” The team hopes to partner up with education companies to develop curriculums based around Root with the hopes of enticing schools to add the robot to classrooms. SOUNDBITE (English) ZIVTHAN DUBROVSKY, HARVARD’S WYSS INSTITUTE, SAYING “Adding a robot into the classroom you are actually adding a third agent into the classroom and you enable a new interesting way of teaching where the students can become the teachers, teaching the robot to do things.” While at the same time learning a new skill, one that is increasingly important in a digital world where knowing how to code could become just as important as knowing to read and write.

Kinze Manufacturing lays off 121 workers

Ty Holland, left, and Wayne Gregg spray blue powder on a grain wagon auger on its way to a finishing oven at Kinze Manufacturing Co. near Williamsburg.(Photo: Register File Photo)Buy Photo

Kinze Manufacturing said it willlay off121 workers, effective in June, citinganother year of low grain prices that have hit farm equipment manufacturers especially hard.

The Williamsburg maker of planters, grain carts and other farm equipmentsaid Monday it has taken “numerous actions to address market conditions,” including implementinga 30-hour work week last year to avoid permanent cuts.

The company also said it “executed several aggressive marketing campaigns to help dealers reduce their inventories of both new and used Kinze equipment so that they would be in a better position to purchase new Kinze products.

“Despite our efforts, the current demand for agriculture equipment does not support our present staffing level,” the company said in a statement Monday.

Kinze said office and factory workforce cuts would become effective June 18.

Deere & Co., DuPont Pioneer, Caterpillar and other ag companies have cuthundreds ofworkers as the farm economy has softened.

This is the second layoff for Kinze, which cut215workers last June, also citing the farm downturn.

Corn and soybean prices have tumbled 50 percentor more after peaking in 2012, a year of widespread drought. At the same time, the costs to raise crops seed, fertilizer, land rents and other expenses have remained stubbornly high, squeezing farm income.

In Iowa, for example, farm income fell47 percentto $5.1 billion in 2014, the most recent data available,after peaking at $9.6 billion in 2011.

Kinze said farmers are working to controlcosts, including large capital investments in equipment.

In addition to matching staffing to expected demand, the layoffs will enable the company “to invest in product innovations that will help drive sales when the market improves,” it said.

The privately owned company said it wouldprovide insurance coverage for laid-off workers through the end of June and hosta career fair.

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Drones and Technology Convergence

Unexpected convergent consequences this is what happens when eight different exponential technologies all explode onto the scene at once.

This blog (4 of 7) is a look at drones. Future blogs will look at other tech areas.

An expert might be reasonably good at predicting the growth of a single exponential technology (e.g. 3D Printing), but try to predict the future when A.I., robotics, VR, drones and computation are all doubling, morphing and recombining You have a very exciting (read: unpredictable) future. This year, at my Abundance 360 Summit, I decided to explore this concept in sessions I called “Convergence Catalyzers.”

For each technology, I brought in an industry expert to identify their Top 5 Recent Breakthroughs (2012-2015) and their Top 5 Anticipated Breakthroughs (2016-2018). Then, we explored the patterns that emerged.

Virtual Reality Context

At A360 this year, my expert on drones was Chris Anderson.

Chris is the founder and CEO of 3D Robotics, where he has built one of the most successful UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) businesses and an incredibly large community of drone enthusiasts called DIY drones. Chris was formerly the Editor-in-Chief of WIRED Magazine. To put it lightly, he is brilliant and if you want to know anything about drones, Chris is the guy to talk to.

Before we dive in, here’s some more context.

A drone is an aerial robot that can be controlled remotely or autonomously.

Over the past few years, a technological tipping point, driven by the smartphone electronics industry, has demonetized the price of drones and democratized their use for everyone.

The cost of MEMs, accelerometers and gyroscopes have dropped 10 to 100-fold at the same time that cheap and powerful micro-controllers enable low-cost and powerful navigational control systems.

As a result, we now have drones that everyone can use, and companies like DJI and 3D Robotics are enabling both a consumer and entrepreneurial drone renaissance.

With the addition of next-generation sensors and high bandwidth communications, drones are now effective data gathering platforms used by the Construction, Agriculture Oil & Gas and Security industries.

At the same time, both Amazon and Google have announced much-anticipated drone package delivery services.

Soon, further advances in exponential technologies, batteries and material sciences will create another tipping point in drone technology, making them smart, cheap, reliable, scalable (both small and large), and ultimately ubiquitous.

Top 5 Recent Drone Breakthroughs: 2013 – 2015

Here are the breakthroughs Chris identified in drones from 2012-2015.

1. Drones go into mainstream business in Construction, Oil/Gas and Agriculture.

Over the past few years, drones have moved from the “government phase” to the “consumer phase” into the “commercial phase.”

In the consumer phase, the drone was more toy than tool. The video capabilities and simple flight interfaces made them fun and accessible. But more recently, these toys have been rapidly turning into tools, and we’re thinking of them now as “sensors in the sky.”

“It’s almost like we forget about the drone. Now, we are just connecting a sensor to the cloud and that sensor’s in the air. It’s below the satellites and above street view.”

These sensor platforms (“drones”) are now being used in real estate, precision agriculture, oil and gas, construction, and many other domains.

2. Cloud-connected consumer drones run distributed computation, running apps on drone, phone and cloud simultaneously.

“With today’s drones you get connectivity, you get the cloud, and if you architect your system correctly, the drone is just an extension of the Internet.”

When you distribute the computational task between these three things (the drone, the cloud, and the Internet), you get a very powerful platform that can do an extraordinary number of things, intelligently and at scale think of it as extending the App Store into the physical world and the sky.

3. Powerful onboard Linux processors appear on sub-$1,000 drones.

“Drones are very powerful computing platforms,” says Anderson. “They now have built-in, Linux-based, computer vision technology. They look like toys (and you can use them as toys), but they’re really flying AI platforms, and this is just the beginning.”

“Right now we’re doing 1 gigahertz but with these converging technologies, we’re going to be moving to multicore, multi-gigahertz GPUs, DSPs, the works and they’re going to be selling for less than a thousand bucks.”

4. Industry consortiums (e.g. Dronecode) emerge to build open software stack, drone policy leadership not driven by military.

Over the past few years, nonmilitary consortiums have emerged to push drone technology and collaboration forward. This particular movement is unique and impressive not only because so many people are collaborating/sharing, but also because it is so interdisciplinary.

Anderson expands, “We have the computer side; we have the computer vision side; we have the AI side; we have the cloud side; we have the applications side. No one company or industry knows all the potential applications.”

5. Prices for autonomous GPS-guided drones fall 50% (US $500), go mass-market retail.

Drones are demonetizing rapidly. Ten years ago, drones were million-dollar military/industrial things. Today they are on the shelves of Walmart. But it didn’t stop there…

Anderson explains further, “They started at $1,500 and now they’re at $500 and they’re soon going to $50, with even better technology onboard. The price decline in the industry is staggering.”

So what’s in store for the near future?

Top 6 Anticipated Drone Breakthroughs 2016 – 2018

Here are Anderson’s predictions for the most exciting, disruptive developments coming in drone technology over the next three years. As entrepreneurs and investors, these are the areas you should be focusing on, as the business opportunities are tremendous.

1. Drones are increasingly based on cutting-edge smartphone technology (Qualcomm Snapdragon platform).

The drone industry is leveraging billions of dollars of investment going into this kind of revolution in our pockets. We are using commodity hardware and open-source software to outperform military systems faster and cheaper.

“This is just the beginning,” says Anderson. “You will basically see supercomputer performance in toy level devices, just as we’re already seeing with smartphones.”

2. Computer vision, sense-and-avoid and optical tracking become standard in consumer drones.

The next big breakthrough in drone research will be “sense-and-avoid.”

Right now, drones are either manually piloted or GPS piloted, but as we integrate them into our urban fabric, they’ll need true autonomy.

Anderson expands, “Drones will need to have eyes. Sensors like radar, LiDAR, stereo vision, sonar, and they’ll need to use this to autonomously avoid obstacles and fly. It’s environmental awareness and it is necessary to safely navigate worlds they’ve never explored.”

“Eventually, the data from autonomous drones will convince the regulators that they’re safer than having a pilot.”

3. Major software companies integrate drone data into core offerings, taking “reality capture” mainstream.

“It’s really hard to digitize the physical world,” says Anderson. “Satellites are too high, and two-thirds of the planet’s covered by clouds at any given point in time. Street View is limited to the street. The way we’re going to digitize the planet is by putting sensors out there on drones, with anywhere/anytime access to the sky.”

Once we do that, we’ll create the biggest big data opportunity we’ve ever seen. Autodesk, Salesforce, SAP, Google, etc. want to take that data and turn it into analytics to track all kinds of things, like how things change.

4. Drones surpass satellites in amount of data gathered and used.

A transition is happening — Earth observation started in the space age with satellites.

Anderson continues, “I believe we’re going to see drones become the main way that we digitize the planet from the air. Satellites are going to be complimentary, covering big areas but at lower resolution.”

5. Drones become like Wi-Fi.

“Today the FCC doesn’t have to regulate or give you a license for Wi-Fi because it’s low power and self-de-conflicting it’s not a threat to anyone,” says Anderson.

“In the future, as drones become small enough, with low kinetic energy, and smart enough, I believe the FAA will regulate them like Wi-Fi. We want the FAA to create kind of an ‘open spectrum’ sandbox to allow for a huge amounts of innovation.”

The implications of these converging trends are staggering.

There has never been a more exciting time to be alive.–technology-conver_b_9341760.html

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