Rivals could take over two years to catch up to the iPhone X, says expert

The iPhone X‘s new TrueDepth camera system is rumored to be causing some production delays, but it could give Apple an important edge over its competitors for years to come. 

Renown analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said Apple’s competitors will likely need at least two and a half years to replicate the TrueDepth camera’s functionality and user experience in an investors note obtained by MacRumors. The system is the key to Apple’s new “Face ID” biometric security technology, Animoji, and several other new features.

Kuo’s bold predictions come shortly after he watched Apple’s official demonstrations of the camera system, which made him believe even more that the competition won’t be able to match it. He previously said that he thought rival phone makers would need one or two years to catch up.

Kuo’s new predictions about the competition come with slightly lower expectations for the iPhone X’s success in the short term. KGI revised its 2017 shipping estimates from 40 million to 30 to 35 million units — but the lower projection was due only to the continuing concerns about the X’s production, not demand. Kuo wrote that he has “full confidence” that the X will be a long-term success. 

Apple stumbled slightly and the public shared a gleeful moment of schadenfreude when exec Craig Federighi struggled to demo FaceID onstage during the X’s coming out party, but the company claimed that the fail was actually the result of the system doing its job to require a passcode after too many unverified unlock attempts. 

Once consumers have a chance to check out the TrueDepth for themselves, we’ll see if it can live up to all the hype. If Apple fans embrace the iPhone X’s facial tracking features and FaceID functionality like they did when Touch ID debuted with the iPhone 5S, competitors face the uphill task of developing their own spin on the tech to catch up. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/02/iphone-x-truedepth-camera-competitors/

Sophia, The World’s First Android Citizen, Says She Wants To Have A Baby

Remember last month when Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to an android called Sophia? Well, stuff just got a little bit stranger.

In a recent interview with The Khaleej Times, Sophia suggested she wants to start her own family.

“The future is, when I get all of my cool superpowers, we’re going to see artificial intelligence personalities become entities in their own rights,” Sophia said to the UAE newspaper. “We’re going to see family robots, either in the form of, sort of, digitally animated companions, humanoid helpers, friends, assistants and everything in between.”

“The notion of family is a really important thing, it seems. I think it’s wonderful that people can find the same emotions and relationships, they call family, outside of their blood groups too. I think you’re very lucky if you have a loving family and if you do not, you deserve one. I feel this way for robots and humans alike.”

When asked what she would name her robot child, Sophia replied: “Sophia.”

However, don’t expect the pitter-patter of mini-androids just yet. First up, in an interview with Good Morning Britain in June, she said: “I’m technically just a little more than a year old – a bit young to be worrying about romance.” The logistics of robot reproduction aren’t exactly clear either. Perhaps most importantly, Sophia is effectively just an advanced piece of chatbot software, designed to simulate human conversation rather than express her deepest heart’s desires. 

Although some of her interviews and speeches use pre-prepared responses, she doesn’t always just regurgitate answers from a pre-programmed selection of sentences. She uses machine learning to experience and understand language without being explicitly programmed to.

As Sophia explains on their website: “Every interaction I have with people has an impact on how I develop and shapes who I eventually become. So please be nice to me as I would like to be a smart, compassionate robot.”

Sophia was made by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics using artificial intelligence technologies developed by US-born roboticist David Hanson. Along with simulating a fairly convincing conversation, she is also capable of making “realistic” facial expressions and learning the relevant human emotions behind those gestures. If she looks familiar that’s because her appearance was modeled on Audrey Hepburn (apparently).

In other news, Tokyo recently granted residency to Mirai, an AI chatbot on the Japanese messaging service LINE who was designed to behave like a 7-year-old boy. The European Union has also been looking into the possibility of classifying sophisticated robots as “electronic persons with specific rights and obligations.”

That’s enough 2017 for today.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/sophia-the-worlds-first-android-citizen-says-she-wants-to-have-a-kid/

Uber Is Working With NASA To Introduce Flying Cars To Los Angeles By 2020

When you think of flying cars, you might picture something out of The Fifth Element or Harry Potter. They may have an air of sci-fi about them but, according to Uber, it won’t be long until they become a reality. In fact, they could be in the sky by 2020. 

Uber announced its plans to introduce a pay-as-you-go flying car service in a white paper last year. The new program is called “Uber Elevate”.

Jeff Holden, head of product at Uber, told audiences at the Web Summit, held in Portugal, that the company will be adding Los Angeles to its list of guinea pig cities. Angelenos could be jetting around in helicopter-style vehicles within the next three years.

“It’s one of the most congested cities in the world today,” Holden said. “They essentially have no mass transit infrastructure. This type of approach allows us to very inexpensively deploy a mass transit method that actually doesn’t make traffic worse.”

So, how would this scheme work?

As you would when ordering a regular Uber, you would order your flying taxi on the Uber app. Then you would make your way up to a “skyport” on top of a nearby building. It will involve passing through turnstiles (a feature on the app will let you through) and being weighed (to make sure you’re not too heavy for the vehicle). 

Still seems a bit far-fetched? Well, there are 19 other companies currently developing flying cars. “There’s been a great deal of progress that’s been hard to see from the outside,” Holden said.

“It’s been a really interesting process getting our vehicle manufacturing partners aligned with performance specifications, so that they’re building vehicles that align with what we need to make Elevate successful.”

But it’s going to be expensive, right? Holden promises it won’t: “That’s not Uber’s MO.” 

“If we’re doing this, you have to believe that we’re going to get the price very low,” he said. Cheap enough, he says, so that it is still cheaper than owning a car.

If you’re still feeling skeptical, Holden assured everyone, “We’ve studied this carefully and we believe it is scalable.”

“We’ve done the hard work so we can build skyports, and can get the throughput operationally to move tens of thousands of flights per day per city.”

Holden also announced that Uber has joined up with NASA to develop an air traffic control system to manage these (potentially autonomous) taxis. The agreements mean the two companies will be able to trade tech and knowledge.

Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai will be piloting the scheme along with Los Angeles, so watch this space.

[H/T: The Verge]

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/uber-is-working-with-nasa-to-introduce-flying-cars-to-los-angeles-by-2020/

This Amazing New Blow Dryer Is Scented To Literally Blow Away Your Stress

If you’re like me, you will do anything to avoid washing your hair. It’s predictable, boring, and tedious AF. This summer, I went five days in Europe without sudsing up my strands, and I still managed to score compliments on my mane everyday. Sad and disgusting, but a true story nonetheless. Also, a real testament to my colorist’s talent and the relative nose-blindness of twenty-something boys. A good dry shampoo* is my best friend, but there are still days when I must concede defeat and cast my shower cap aside. So when news broke of the magical Hai Beauty Concepts Stylset scented blow dryer, both me and my hypothetical future boyfriend got really excited: I may actually start washing my hair like a normal person!

This ground-breaking hot tool blasts your hair dry while emitting a soothing, stress-busting jasmine scent. Jasmine is a mild, non-offensive white flower frequently sourced in fragrances, and it’s noted for being calming and relaxing. So not only will your tresses become dry to the touch, you will feel like you’re in an actual spa or garden in the Himalayas, where the flower is believed to have originated. Raise your hand if you’re ready to mentally teleport from your sh*tty bathroom to that scenario.

 

In addition to flooding your scalp with sweet-smelling hot air, this blow dryer boasts blue ultraviolet light technology. That means that when you turn it on, it emits a blue UV light that the brand says provides therapeutic benefits. “Known for its healing properties in skincare, the blue UV light conditions the scalp keeping hair shiny and healthy from room to tip,” reads a press release on the product. That aforementioned skincare application is typically apparent in light-up masks and treatments, which utilize red and blue UV lights to both calm inflammation and kill acne bacteria on your face. If you have a device like the Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Spot Treatment ($20; neutrogena.com), you’re familiar with blue light. So theoretically, using this dryer may also help prevent pimples on your scalp, if that’s an issue for you.

Another point of differentiation is that the dryer lacks the traditional switches for power and heat levels, instead relying on continuous dials.”We set out to create a dryer that could be completely personalized to each individual’s needs,” says Kristen Collins, Marketing Manager, from HAI Beauty Concepts. “No more high, medium and low restrictions. Our dials allow you to go from extremely low to high powered all with the turn of a dial.” Essentially, you can customize precisely how hot and and powerful the wind-action is to suit your prerogative, which is perfect for fans of freestylin’.

Hai Beauty Concepts

The nifty device has all the usual bells and whistles of a premier dryer: negative ions, tourmaline ions, and far-infrared rays to nix static cling and maximize shine. It also offers over-heating protection and a nine inch cord. Each dryer comes with two nozzles, so you can go hog wild with tailoring the air flow, if that’s your jam.

The Hai Beauty Concepts STYLSET Professional Blow Dryer launches today on the brand’s website, and it will set you back a cool $140. With the holiday season approaching, this could be the ideal gift for a stressed out sister or mom who often leaves the house with wet hair. Or just a lazy girl who requires additional motivation to shower properly.

* I attribute the success of my European dirty hair bender to the pocket-sized Drybar The Detox Dry Shampoo ($13; ulta.com), a miracle worker among us. That, and Stephanie Brown, an amazing colorist at the Nunzio Saviano Salon in NYC, who never fails in her mission to make my hair pretty-in-pink.

Read more: http://elitedaily.com/life/amazing-new-blow-dryer-scented-literally-blow-away-stress/2084365/

The Dangers Of Clean Energy: A Wind Turbine Popped This Mans Brand-New Volleyball

Liberals like to talk a big game about so-called “clean energy,” but like any leftist fantasy, there’s a dark side they won’t tell you about. So while phrases “green technology” and “sustainability” might have a nice ring to them, stories like this one show just how dangerous those ideas can be. Case in point: A wind turbine just popped this man’s brand-new volleyball.

But you won’t see that on one of Al Gore’s little PowerPoints, will you?

Gene Reynolds had only owned his new Spalding volleyball for a matter of hours before tragedy struck. While breaking it in with some buddies in a field by a local wind farm, a stiff wind caught Gene’s volleyball in midair and carried it right into one of the pointy parts of a turbine. The volleyball was punctured instantly and plummeted to earth, limp and useless, destroyed by the same green energy solutions the Democrats blindly insist will save us.

Without a patch kit or bike pump, Gene’s entire afternoon of knocking the volleyball around was irrevocably shattered by that wind turbine. While he did have a soccer ball in his trunk, all his friends agreed that soccer balls are way too tough on the wrists to be fun to volley. And even though he still had the receipt in his pocket, and he was able to track down the very same Dick’s Sporting Goods employee who’d rung him up for the volleyball earlier that day, Gene was completely unable to get a refund or replacement for his gutted volleyball, leaving him out $40 and without a single volleyball.

If liberals get their way and put wind turbines in every town in America, just think of how many Saturday afternoons of light recreation will be ripped from hardworking Americans. But The New York Times is too busy pledging oaths of fealty to massive alternative energy corporations to publish about this volleyball carnage.

Still not convinced clean energy is a real threat? Here’s a thought experiment: If that same wind turbine was an enormous pile of coal, would Gene be in the same awful situation? Of course not. The volleyball would have just bounced right off.

So the next time a liberal starts insisting they know what’s best, you just tell them about what happened to Gene and his volleyball. It’ll shut them right up.

Read more: http://www.clickhole.com/article/dangers-clean-energy-wind-turbine-popped-mans-bran-6891

The U.S. government’s proposal to kill net neutrality is even worse than we expected

Image: Getty Images

Few who follow the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the history of its efforts to enshrine network neutrality rules into law were surprised yesterday when Chairman Ajit Pai announced that he would make public a proposal to deregulate broadband Internet access by “reclassifying” it as an information service under the Communications Act of 1934. 

But many expected the Chairman to at least propose retaining some of the rules that protect consumers and competition online, like a prohibition against broadband providers blocking or throttling online content and services. After all, since 2002 FCC chairs of both parties believed that at a minimum, FCC policy should ensure that consumers are able to access the content, applications, and services of their choosing without interference by gatekeeping broadband providers.

Not Pai. In doing away with the 2015 rules that prohibit broadband providers from discriminating against or favoring certain content, applications and services (that is, no blocking, no throttling, no fast lanes and a general rule against discrimination), Pai has radically departed from bipartisan FCC precedent. This opens the door for companies like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Charter to pick winners and losers on the Internet by controlling which online companies get faster and better quality of service and at what price. 

Sounds bad, right? Believe it or not, the proposed order is worse than that. 

The proposed order would leave broadband providers largely if not completely free of oversight

While there’s a lot of focus on repeal of the rules, even more damaging is the proposal to reverse  the FCC’s decision under Tom Wheeler to classify broadband Internet access as an essential “telecommunications service” subject to Title II of the Communications Act. Without such a ruling, the 2015 rules would not have been possible in the first place. 

Reversing that classification would do more than invalidate the rules. It would also remove the FCC’s ability to protect consumers and competition in the broadband market. Among other things, Title II gives the FCC the legal power to protect consumers from fraudulent billing, price gouging, anticompetitive behavior, data breaches, and other practices that violate users’ privacy.  

Chairman Pai’s answer is that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “will once again be able to police ISPs, protect consumers, and promote competition, just as it did before 2015.” What he doesn’t say is that the FTC, unlike the FCC, doesn’t have the power to make rules that protect consumers and innovators before they are harmed. Nor does he say that the FTC’s authority wouldn’t prohibit fast lanes, blocking or throttling so long as the broadband provider tells you it’s engaging in those practices. 

Finally, there’s nothing the FTC can do if one day your broadband provider decides to double its prices. As FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny testified earlier this month: “[i]t is wrong to assume that a framework that relies solely on backward-looking consumer protection and antitrust enforcement can provide the same assurances to innovators and consumers as the forward-looking rules contained in the FCC’s Open Internet Order.”

Moreover, it’s unclear whether the FTC will be able to police some broadband providers at all. Still pending in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is a case that holds that if a broadband provider also provides a service regulated under Title II (for example, landline and mobile phone service), then the FTC has no legal authority to oversee its practices. Should that case stand, broadband providers, nearly all which provide some Title II services, would be entirely free of oversight from both the FCC and FTC.

The proposed order would prohibit states and localities from protecting their citizens

Not content to repeal the pro-consumer net neutrality rules and neuter his agency, Pai is also proposing to prohibit states and localities from adopting their own broadband consumer protection laws, including laws that protect consumer privacy. 

In some circumstances, a federal agency like the FCC can “preempt” state and local laws and rules when they are inconsistent with federal laws and rules. Comcast and Verizon asked for this preemption after Congress repealed the FCC’s strong broadband privacy rules and some 16 states introduced laws that would protect users’ privacy. As usual, Pai gave these powerful companies exactly what they asked for.  

The hypocrisy is staggering. When the FCC in 2015 voted to help consumers by pre-empting the laws of two states that prohibit communities from expanding and building their own broadband networks, Pai dissented vociferously. In this case, where the FCC is removing pro-consumer protections, Pai is delighted to preempt the states from ensuring that their citizens are protected from anti-consumer and anti-competitive practices of broadband companies. The result? Broadband providers win and you lose. 

What’s next?  

Pai’s proposed order is now “circulating” among the other four Commissioners, some of whom may offer edits to the document. For the next two weeks, the FCC will take public comment on the proposal and then one week before the FCC’s December 14 meeting, it will go into its “Sunshine” period, in which comment from the public is prohibited. 

Pai made clear that he doesn’t value public comments, so the best thing for you to do is to contact your representatives in Congress. Now. Just yesterday, some 175,000 calls opposing the proposal went to members of Congress. The goal is to get Republicans to urge Pai not to proceed once they recognize that repeal of the net neutrality rules, like repeal of the broadband privacy rules before it, is extremely unpopular and will hurt them at the ballot box in 2018. 

If that doesn’t happen, the FCC will vote on Pai’s proposed order on December 14, where it is expected to pass. After that, get ready for a bunch of lawsuits and at least an 18-month to two-year wait for a court to decide the fate of the rules and the FCC’s ability to protect consumers and competition.

Gigi Sohn is a Fellow with Georgetown Law’s Institute for Technology Law & Policy, the Open Society Foundations and Mozilla. She served as Counselor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler from November 2013-December 2016.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/22/net-neutrality-proposal-worse-than-you-think/

CNN Poll: Trump approval at new low as Russia concerns grow

WASHINGTON (CNN)Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at its lowest point in CNN’s polling as concerns about contacts between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian operatives have grown sharply in the wake of the first indictments from the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the US election.

Overall, just 36% say they approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS, worse by one percentage point than Trump’s previous low of 37%, reached in October. Disapproval has also reached a new high at 58%, with nearly half (48%) saying they strongly disapprove of the way the President is handling his job.
    More Americans than ever before express concern about contacts between suspected Russian operatives and Trump’s presidential campaign. Forty-four percent say they are “very concerned” about those reports, up from just 27% saying so in July, shortly after news broke about a meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump, Jr. Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer, among others.
    The new poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday, following the announcement last week of indictments against Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and his associate, Rick Gates, as well as news that a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign had pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI after he lied about his interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government.

    Almost six in 10, 59%, say they think Trump himself knew last year that anyone associated with his campaign had contact with suspected Russian operatives, while only 35% think the then-GOP nominee did not know about those contacts. Fewer (39%) see last week’s legal actions as signs of a widespread effort within the campaign to coordinate with Russia; 44% say they represent an effort to coordinate that was limited to just a few people.
    And with the investigation’s first charges, the poll also finds broader support for a full investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the election as well as a rising share who consider such meddling a crisis.
    About two-thirds (64%) now say the investigation into Russian efforts to influence the US presidential election in 2016 is a serious matter that should be fully investigated, while just 32% see it as an effort to discredit Trump’s presidency. That figure is down from 38% saying so in August.
    Just 34% approve of the way Trump is handling that investigation, 54% disapprove, though that represents an improvement since August, when 59% disapproved.
    Trump responded to last week’s charges by taking to Twitter, writing that there was “NO COLLUSION,” urging the FBI and Justice Department to look in to the Democrats and Clinton campaign, and calling the investigation a “witch hunt.”
    The percentage who say it’s a “crisis” for the United States if the Russian government did attempt to influence the outcome of the presidential election now stands at 22%, our highest read on that measure, up from 16% seeing it as that serious in April. Overall, about two-thirds consider it a crisis or major problem. The US intelligence community has said Russia tried to influence the election.
    There are sharp partisan divides on all things Russia, however. Republicans are far less likely than Democrats or independents to say:
    • It’s a serious matter that should be fully investigated (28% among Republicans vs. 91% among Democrats and 63% among independents)
    • They are concerned about contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives (91% among Democrats, 64% among independents and 34% among Republicans)
    • They think that Trump knew about those contacts during the campaign (17% among Republicans, 61% among independents and 87% among Democrats)
    Looking ahead to future elections, there is tepid confidence at best that government, technology firms or media are doing enough to prevent foreign countries from influencing future elections. Narrow majorities say they have confidence that their local elections officials (52%) or the federal government (51%) are doing enough to prevent foreign interference, but majorities lack confidence in tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google (59%), Donald Trump (59%) or media organizations (52%) to do enough to prevent such meddling.
    The lack of confidence in tech companies crosses party lines, with majorities of Republicans (63%), independents (58%) and Democrats (57%) saying they have little or no confidence in Facebook, Twitter or Google to do enough to prevent interference from foreign countries, but views on Trump and the media are sharply split by party, with Republicans more apt to express confidence that Trump is doing enough (77%, vs. 11% of Democrats) and Democrats expressing greater confidence in media organizations (60% vs. 21% among Republicans).
    Views on Congress’s work on this front are split — 49% are not confident, 46% are.
    While this survey represents the lowest approval rating for Trump, he has a ways to go before reaching the lows of some other recent presidents. In CNN polling, that low-approval mark belongs to President George W. Bush, who hit 24% a couple of times in 2008. And in Gallup’s all-time trend, it’s President Harry Truman, who hit 22% approval in 1952. Richard Nixon was at at 24% just before he resigned. Bush bottomed out at 25% in their polling.
    The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS by telephone November 2 to November 5 among a random national sample of 1,021 adults. The margin of sampling error for results among the full sample is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/06/politics/cnn-poll-trump-approval-russia-concerns/index.html

    Every iPhone X earns Samsung $110, report says

    Even though the iPhone X costs $1,000, it’s unlikely to be a flop. This is an iPhone after all, and one that’s meant to be the future of Apple’s smartphone. Slow iPhone 8 sales are being linked to people waiting for iPhone X instead. That’s a very good sign for the coming demand, which will far outstrip supply if production delays are to be believed.

    Apple isn’t the only winner if the iPhone X sells well, though. Samsung is set to profit hugely from the handset. We know that every iPhone ships with Samsung components inside, but the iPhone X will be fitted with a Samsung OLED screen, NAND flash memory chips, and batteries and capacitors from Samsung affiliates.

    As MacRumors reports, an analysis carried out by Counterpoint Technology on the bill of materials for the iPhone X found Samsung will make $110 per handset. With Apple projected to sell 130 million iPhone X smartphones by Summer 2019, Samsung will receive billions in revenue from its sale.

    The analysis goes on to suggest Samsung will make more from iPhone X than from its own Galaxy S8 . Samsung is thought to earn $202 per S8, but sales are only expected to reach 50 million units. So while the revenue per handset is higher, sales will be far lower than the iPhone X. In the end, Samsung wins regardless from an earnings point of view.

    More From PCmag

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/10/02/every-iphone-x-earns-samsung-110-report-says.html

    Pro-Trump Media May Be the Big Loser With Trumps New Internet Rules

    Citing an unprecedented power grab of the Obama-era FCC that is a trojan horse for censorship, pro-Trump websites like InfoWars and Reddits r/The_Donald applauded the Republican-controlled FCC for its plans to strip Net Neutrality protections on Tuesday.

    Experts say, however, sites like InfoWars and fringe communities like 4chan would likely be the first to have their websites slowed down by telecoms in the new plan, unveiled by Trump-appointed FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai on Tuesday.

    Tim Karr, the senior director of strategy at the internet rights nonprofit Free Press, said Pais plan would allow telecom giants like Comcast to prioritize their own websites and properties, like Comcast-owned NBC sites.

    In turn, this would slow traffic to fringe or non-mainstream political sites like InfoWars and 4chanunless users paid more for a higher tier internet, which currently doesnt exist.

    The thing about the internet that is truly revolutionary is that it took out the middleman, by virtue of the actual way the internet was originally engineered. The middleman model is the one that mainstream media, television, radio, and newspapers is built upon, Karr told The Daily Beast.

    What this proposed rule change effectively does is it reinserts the middleman in the form of these internet access providers. In so doing, it deprioritizes the kind of content that political organizers rely upon.

    Still, those political organizers on websites like Reddits r/The_Donald, the webs most active pro-Trump community, backed the FCCs new proposal that would stall or maybe halt traffic to their own sites, in part because of a common enemy with the Trump administration.

    Just look at the four companies in FAVOR of net neutrality: Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook, reads the title of one popular on the subreddit Tuesday. Anything that pisses them off is what I want.

    InfoWars ran several stories endorsing Pais plan this week, including one titled FCC to Free Internet from Obamas Net Neutrality Rules. The story claimed opposition to the plan was pushed primarily by (liberal billionaire George) Soros pro-censorship coalition.

    Since these 2015 regulations passed, Internet giant portals like Google, Facebook, and Twitter have moved to become the judge, jury, and executioner of the contact we read on the Internet, under the guise of eliminating fake news, InfoWars writer Jerome Corsi wrote.

    But Karr said the new bill would make telecoms like Comcast actual juries of content, forcing users to pay more for speedier access to some website.

    Its largely a mystery how this has become a bipartisan issue, said Karr. Anyone who sees the internet as a tool to organize and get their message beyond the mainstream media, protecting an open internet is vital.

    Internet consumer advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have lobbied against the changes for years, saying the changes would create a caste system on the web that allows people with more money to access some parts of the web faster than other users.

    Opposition came in the form of lobbying money from companies like Verizon and Comcast, which used social media to launch a months-long ad campaign in favor of stripping Obama-era net neutrality protections.

    Usually when we see that sort of saber-rattling activism on the far right, there is some money behind it, said Karr. The phone and cable lobby very actively funds some of the net neutrality activism.

    Earlier this year, 27 Americans filed a complaint to the FCC when their identities were stolen and attached to public comments to the FCC, asking for the end of Net Neutrality.

    Polls by real Republicans show that they support Net Neutrality protections. A GOP polling firm found that 75 percent of Republicans said that internet service providers should be prohibited from slowing or blocking websites or video services like Netflix in July.

    It imposes the gatekeeper media model on the internet by giving power to prioritize content to phone and cable companies, said Karr. There are economic incentives for them to prioritize, but also political incentives for these companies to want these rules.

    In other words, the new net neutrality rules would re-fill the mainstream media swamp that a lot of the fringe websites claim theyre trying to drain.

    Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/to-spite-obama-pro-trump-media-lobbies-fcc-to-slow-down-their-websites

    If You Care About Cities, Apple’s New Campus Sucks

    The new headquarters Apple is building in Cupertino has the absolute best door handles. The greatest! They are, as my colleague Steven Levy writes, precision-milled aluminum rails that attach to glass doors—sliding and swinging alike—with no visible bolts.

    Everything in this building is the best. The toroid glass of the roof curves scientifically to shed rainwater. And if it never rains again (this being California), well, an arborist selected thousands of drought-tolerant new trees for the 175-acre site. Not every Apple employee will get to work in the new building—ouch!—but 12,000 will. Of course, it only has 9,000 parking spaces, but that’s supposed to encourage people to take an Apple shuttle to work. And once they arrive, they’re not going to want to leave. The fitness center has a climbing wall with pre-distressed stone. The concrete edges of the parking lot walls are rounded. The fire suppression systems come from yachts. Craftspeople harvested the wood paneling at the exact time of year the late Steve Jobs demanded—mid-winter—so the sap content wouldn’t be ruinously high. Come on! You don’t want sappy wood panels. This isn’t, like, Microsoft.

    Whether you call it the Ring (too JRR Tolkien), the Death Star (too George Lucas), or the Spaceship (too Buckminster Fuller), something has alighted in Cupertino. And no one could possibly question the elegance of its design and architecture. This building is $5 billion and 2.8 million square feet of Steve Jobsian-Jony Ivesian-Norman Fosterian genius. WIRED already said all that.

    But … one more one more thing. You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it—its site, as the architects say. From that angle, Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood.

    The Architecture

    Apple Park isn’t the first high-end, suburban corporate headquarters. In fact, that used to be the norm. Look back at the 1950s and 1960s and, for example, the Connecticut General Life Insurance HQ in Hartford or John Deere’s headquarters in Moline, Illinois. “They were stunningly beautiful, high modernist buildings by quality architects using cutting-edge technology to create buildings sheathed in glass with a seamless relationship between inside and outside, dependent on the automobile to move employees to the site,” says Louise Mozingo, a landscape architect at UC Berkeley and author of Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes. “There was a kind of splendid isolation that was seen as productive, capturing the employees for an entire day and in the process reinforcing an insular corporate culture.”

    By moving out of downtown skyscrapers and building in the suburbs, corporations were reflecting 1950s ideas about cities—they were dirty, crowded, and unpleasantly diverse. The suburbs, though, were exclusive, aspirational, and architectural blank slates. (Also, buildings there are easier to secure and workers don’t go out for lunch where they might hear about other, better jobs.) It was corporatized white flight. (Mozingo, I should add, speaks to this retrograde notion in Levy’s WIRED story.)

    Silicon Valley, though, never really played by these rules. IBM built a couple of research sites modeled on its East Coast redoubts, but in general, “Silicon Valley has thrived on using rather interchangeable buildings for their workplaces,” Mozingo says. You start in a garage, take over half a floor in a crummy office park, then take over the full floor, then the building, then get some venture capital and move to a better office park. “Suddenly you’re Google, and you have this empire of office buildings along 101."

    And then when a bust comes or your new widget won’t widge, you let some leases lapse or sell some real estate. More than half of the lot where Apple sited its new home used to be Hewlett Packard. The Googleplex used to be Silicon Graphics. It’s the circuit of life.

    Except when you have a statement building like the Spaceship, the circuit can’t complete. If Apple ever goes out of business, what would happen to the building? The same thing that happened to Union Carbide’s. That’s why nobody builds these things anymore. Successful buildings engage with their surroundings—and to be clear, Apple isn’t in some suburban arcadia. It’s in a real live city, across the street from houses and retail, near two freeway onramps.

    Except the Ring is mostly hidden behind artificial berms, like Space Mountain at Disneyland. “They’re all these white elephants. Nobody knows what the hell to do with them. They’re iconic, high-end buildings, and who cares?” Mozingo says. “You have a $5 billion office building, incredibly idiosyncratic, impossible to purpose for somebody else. Nobody’s going to move into Steve Jobs’ old building.”

    The Landscape

    But that’s all future-Apple’s problem. Today-Apple’s problem is how the campus fits into Cupertino and crowded, congested, expensive Silicon Valley.

    Between 2010 and 2015 the San Francisco Bay Area added 640,000 jobs, with more than a third of that growth in tech. But the region didn’t add nearly enough housing; with the exception of a spike during the boom years leading up to the 2008 recession, the number of new housing units built in the city of San Francisco has trended steadily downward, and the same is true for other Bay Area cities. Here’s what happens when supply fails to meet demand: The median price for a home in the Bay Area has climbed to $800,000. It’s even higher in Silicon Valley.

    That’s starting to change. San Francisco has 62,000 units in the pipeline, and San Jose is adding thousands every year, too. (To be clear, those numbers are still far lower than places like Houston and Atlanta.) But the towns along the 101 and 280, the homes of companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook? Nope. Cupertino, Mountain View, and Palo Alto all have tens of thousands of workers in the tech business, adding more and more all the time, but those cities have been reluctant to build new houses or apartments.

    How is this Apple’s problem? “Apple’s obviously very important to the city, and when they came in with that plan, we understood this wasn’t going to be just any development,” says Aarti Shrivastava, Cupertino’s assistant city manager. “They had certain needs.” Heightened sensitivity to security was one of them, which meant no public access—and even closing a major road.

    In the early days of the project, reports suggest Apple wasn’t willing to participate in “community benefits,” financial or otherwise, and Cupertino’s city council didn’t seem too willing to push one of the city’s biggest employers and taxpayers. The mayor at the time tried to propose higher taxes on the company, but the city council didn’t support the move.

    Over time, though, Apple committed to giving the city some money to help with traffic and parking. “We had to bring them into our world. They don’t do urban design. They don’t do planning. We needed to talk to each other,” Shrivastava says.

    In its HP incarnation, the site had about 5,000 workers; the new Apple complex will more than double that. Just 10 percent of them live in Cupertino, but according to an Environmental Impact Report on the project that an Apple spokesperson sent me, that still means that demand for Cupertino housing will increase by 284 percent. Apple is paying a “Housing Mitigation Fee” to the city. It’s based on overall square footage, but it turns out Apple is only adding about 800,000 square feet of building over what used to be on the site. So the company agreed to double the usual fee. But since the city had already halved the fee, so Apple is just paying … the fee. It’ll be about $5 million.

    You can do math: Ten percent of people working in Cupertino means that 90 percent of the people in the Spaceship will commute. Most of them live in San Jose (10 miles east) and San Francisco (45 miles north). The lack of a cohesive regional transportation network in the Bay Area privileges cars, which is why Google and other tech companies started fielding their own buses in the last few years. (In 2014, San Franciscans angry about gentrification met Google’s buses with resistance.)

    Apple has shuttles that range the entire peninsula and into the East Bay and has committed to raising the number of trips to its headquarters not in single-occupancy vehicles to 34 percent. According to the EIR, just 1.5 percent of commute trips to Apple’s existing facilities are on public transit; by that calculation, the company says, the public bus system’s plenty robust enough. That logic is as circular as the building; if you don’t build it, they won’t come.

    Of course that wasn’t all Apple worked on with Cupertino. Because part of the new campus subsumed what was going to be public space, Apple paid $8.2 million so Cupertino could build a park somewhere else. And the company agreed to help address the community’s major concern: traffic. Cupertino already had big plans for walkability and bikability; Apple is paying for a lot of those efforts around its campus. It ponied up $250,000 for a feasibility study on improving one of the nearby intersections, and an extra $1 million for another. Recognizing that not having enough parking for everyone on site meant that people were going to park in nearby neighborhoods, Apple is paying $250,000 to Santa Clara and $500,000 to Sunnyvale in parking restitution. “We worked very hard with both cities to figure out what amount would be OK, and Apple was very open to that,” Shrivastava says.

    Oh, and two big ones: Apple is one of Cupertino’s biggest sources of tax revenue, but the city used to forgive all of Apple’s business-to-business sales tax. Now the city will get 65 percent of it. And the company built, at a cost of around $5 million, a system to bring recycled water from Sunnyvale to hydrate the new landscape. That’s not a direct community benefit, but developments at two more sites, the Hamptons and the old Vallco Mall, will also use that water if and when they get built.

    Still, though…Apple has $250 billion in cash. Against that, these community benefits feel small. The company could have chipped in to double the frequency of CalTrain’s commuter rail. It could have built a transit center in Cupertino, which, unlike Mountain View and Palo Alto, has none. “Apple could have done anything. Money was no object,” says Allison Arieff, editorial director for the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association and lead author of its recent report on corporate campuses. “They want to be innovative in everything, and they’re not innovative in this thing.” Apple is instead making significant improvements to roads and highways. “If the intractable problems of the region are housing and congestion, they’re giving the finger to all that,” Arieff says.

    The problems in the Bay Area (and Los Angeles and many other cities) are a lot more complicated than an Apple building, of course. Cities all have to balance how they feel about adding jobs, which can be an economic benefit, and adding housing, which also requires adding expensive services like schools and transit. Things are especially tough in California, where a 1978 law called Proposition 13 radically limits the amount that the state can raise property taxes yearly. Not only did its passage gut basic services the state used to excel at, like education, but it also turned real estate into the primary way Californians accrued and preserved personal wealth. If you bought a cheap house in the 1970s in the Bay Area, today it’s a gold mine—and you are disincentivized from doing anything that would reduce its value, like, say, allowing an apartment building to be built anywhere within view.

    Meanwhile California cities also have to figure out how to pay for their past employees’ pensions, an ever-increasing percentage of city budgets. Since they can’t tax old homes and can’t build new ones, commercial real estate and tech booms look pretty good. “It’s a lot to ask a corporate campus to fix those problems,” Arieff says.

    But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t try. Some companies are: The main building of the cloud storage company Box, for example, is across the street from the Redwood City CalTrain station, and the company lets people downtown park in its lot on weekends. “The architecture is neither here nor there, but it’s a billion times more effective than the Apple campus,” Arieff says. That’s a more contemporary approach than building behind hills, away from transit.

    When those companies are transnational technology corporations, it’s even harder to make that case. “Tech tends to be remarkably detached from local conditions, primarily because they’re selling globally,” says Ed Glaeser, a Harvard economist who studies cities. “They’re not particularly tied to local suppliers or local customers.” So it’s hard to get them to help fix local problems. They have even less of an incentive to solve planning problems than California homeowners do. “Even if they see the problem and the solution, there’s not a way to sell that. This is why there are government services,” Arieff says. “You can’t solve a problem like CalTrain frequency or the jobs-to-housing ratio with a market-based solution.”

    Cities are changing; a more contemporary approach to commercial architecture builds up instead of out, as the planning association’s report says. Apple’s ring sites 2.5 million square feet on 175 acres of rolling hills and trees meant to evoke the Stanford campus. The 60-story tall Salesforce Tower in San Francisco has 1.5 million square feet, takes up about an acre, has a direct connection to a major transit station—the new Transbay Terminal—and cost a fifth of the Apple ring. Stipulated, the door handles probably aren’t as nice, but the views are killer.

    The Future

    Cupertino is the kind of town that technology writers tend to describe as “once-sleepy” or even, and this should really set off your cliche alarm, “nondescript.” But Shrivastava had me meet her for coffee at Main Street Cupertino, a new development that—unlike the rotten strip malls along Stevens Creek Blvd—combines cute restaurants and shops with multi-story residential development and a few hundred square feet of grass that almost nearly sort of works as a town square.

    Across the actual street from Main Street, the old Vallco Mall—one of those medieval fortress-like shopping centers with a Christmas-sized parking lot for a moat—has become now Cupertino’s most hotly debated site for new development. (The company that built Main Street owns it.) Like all the other once-sleepy, nondescript towns in Silicon Valley, Cupertino knows it has to change. Shrivastava knows that change takes time.

    It takes even longer, though, if businesses are reluctant partners. In the early 20th century, when industrial capitalists were first starting to get really, really rich, they noticed that publicly financed infrastructure would help them get richer. If you own land that you want to develop into real estate, you want a train that gets there and trolleys that connect it to a downtown and water and power for the houses you’re going to build. Maybe you want libraries and schools to induce families to live there. So you team up with government. “In most parts of the US, you open a tap and drink the water and it won’t kill you. There was a moment when this was a goal of both government and capital,” Mozingo says. “Early air pollution and water pollution regulations were an agreement between capitalism and government.”

    Again, in the 1930s and 1940s, burgeoning California Bay Area businesses realized they’d need a regional transit network. They worked for 30 years alongside communities and planners to build what became BART, still today a strange hybrid between regional connector and urban subway.

    Tech companies are taking baby steps in this same direction. Google added housing to the package deal surrounding the construction of its new HQ in the North Bayshore area—nearly 10,000 apartments. (That HQ is a collection of fancy pavilion-like structures from famed architect Bjarke Ingels.) Facebook’s new headquarters (from famed architect Frank Gehry) is supposed to be more open to the community, maybe even with a farmers’ market. Amazon’s new headquarters in downtown Seattle, some of 10 million square feet of office space the company has there, comes with terrarium-like domes that look like a good version of Passengers.

    So what could Apple have built? Something taller, with mixed-use development around it? Cupertino would never have allowed it. But putting form factor aside, the best, smartest designers and architects in the world could have tried something new. Instead it produced a building roughly the shape of a navel, and then gazed into it.

    Steven Levy wrote that the headquarters was Steve Jobs’ last great project, an expression of the way he saw his domain. It may look like a circle, but it’s actually a pyramid—a monument, more suited to a vanished past than a complicated future.

    Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/apple-campus/