Tech

News about computers, smartphones, gadgets, apps, the Internet and the tech industry.

Years ago, Google's founders wondered what would happen if they could take their pieces of technical knowledge and apply them to cities.

"We started talking about all of these things that we could do if someone would just give us a city and put us in charge," Eric Schmidt, CEO of Alphabet, Google's parent company, joked recently.

The FCC And The Wave Of Deregulation

Nov 20, 2017

While much attention has been paid to potential legislation passing through Congress or to the actions of the president, the Federal Communications Commission has been quite active, according to the headlines:

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The Faroe Islands is a tiny archipelago about halfway between Iceland and Norway.

LEVI HANSSEN: There are a lot of people that don't even know that we exist.

Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, was a day filled with news. So much news, in fact, that you might have missed the announcement of a backflipping robot. In less than a minute, the video posted by Boston Dynamics inspired screaming emotions from all corners of the Internet. It's a revelation in robotics, some said. It's the beginning of humanity's end, chirped others.

If you're reading this on your phone while driving, stop it. Especially if you're a young neurotic extroverted guy who drives a lot.

Two seconds of attention to the insistent beeping and blinking of our mobile phones or simply changing the radio station accounts for at least 12 percent of car accidents worldwide and 14 percent of them in the U.S., according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Government agencies that deal with cybersecurity, like the National Security Agency, have two competing interests. On the one hand, they want to protect America's online infrastructure and economy from cyberattacks. On the other hand, government agencies want to harness tools to attack opponents in cyberspace.

In the Spring of 2009, the H1N1/09 virus — dubbed "swine flu" — made the jump from pigs to people and began claiming its first victims.

Fearing the beginning of a global swine flu pandemic, terrified health officials began planning for the worst. Shutting down the world's major airports became the nuclear option of their arsenal — the last hope for halting the virus from reaching unstoppable thresholds of contagion.

A workhorse truck and a new supercar are in the works for Tesla, after founder and CEO Elon Musk introduced his company's latest effort to widen the U.S. market for electric vehicles Thursday night. Musk called the Roadster "the fastest production car ever made, period."

Astronomers in California are building the largest digital camera in the world. It will go on a giant telescope taking shape in Chile called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

LSST is different from most large telescopes. Instead of staring at a tiny patch of the sky and taking essentially one snapshot in time, LSST will take a panorama of every part of the sky...and it will do so over and over and over. The idea is to see what's moving or changing in the heavens.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Tonight at the Latin Grammys, the hit song "Despacito" is up for four awards, including record of the year. Clearly a lot of people know this song. But it turns out the Google Home personal assistant does not. NPR's Aarti Shahani explains.

Updated at 11 p.m. ET

Following criticism of an in-game purchase system in the new game Star Wars Battlefront II, publisher Electronic Arts announced late Thursday, just hours before the game's worldwide release, that this system would be turned off while adjustments are made.

"This was never our intention. Sorry we didn't get this right," said a statement posted on Twitter.

Our original story continues:

Internet freedom is on the decline for the seventh consecutive year as governments around the world take to distorting information on social media in order to influence elections, a new report says.

The nongovernmental organization Freedom House released its annual Freedom on the Net report this week, which found that online "manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role" in elections in 18 countries, including the U.S.

This week, another big name in tech was toppled by accusations of sexual harassment — venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, an investor in Tesla and SpaceX who left his prominent Silicon Valley company.

The big-money world of Silicon Valley remains dominated by men and remains a hard place for women to speak out if they want to join the ranks of its richest. And some women think the best way to fight harassment is to tread carefully and get to the top.

Think "renewable energy" and the wind and sun come to mind, but someday it may be possible to add ocean energy to that list.

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