Goodbye Rio, hello robots: Expect high-tech cool at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Hong Kong (CNN)A robot directs you to your stadium seat, while artificial meteorites streak across the sky.

Down below, hundreds of performers decked out in traditional Japanese costumes glide through the arena.
    You take all this in, as a multilingual translation app on your smartphone describes what’s going on.
    It sounds like science fiction, but this is the crazy vision that Japan wants to bring to life.
    Welcome to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — an event that Japan hopes will symbolize the country’s high-tech cool, and draw in visitors.

    Robot villages and meteorite showers



      Five sports added to Tokyo’s Olympics


    In 2020, the Tokyo Olympic committee, said Collins, aims to promote a similar message of hope, while also emphasizing what Japan is known for among the international community: technology and safety.
    “I think the kind of hope that Japan is trying to perpetuate both domestically and internationally is that it still had the wherewithal, despite being an aging population with stagnant growth,” said Collins.
    “Japan wants to show that they can be resourceful in the way that most modern cities and nations will have to be in this kind of turbulent global society.”

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    Tech is creating more jobs than Wall Street in NYC

    New York’s tech industry is making up for slower job growth on Wall Street.
    Image: Getty Images

    Tech is leaping past Wall Street in New York.

    The tech industry is creating more jobs than the finance sector. William Dudley, the president of the New York Federal Reserve, said the technology industry was stepping in where finance used to support the local economy, according to CNBC.

    Wall Street has in the past been integral to New York’s recovery after an economic crisis, Dudley said. This time around, it was the tech sector that provided that key revival.

    “Growth in these high-paying jobs is picking up much of the slack created by the softness of the securities industry,” he said.

    New York still isn’t Silicon Valley, but the city’s tech industry is having an increasingly important impact. The subsets of the technology industry that Dudley pointed to as creating the most jobs in New York were internet publishing, e-commerce and scientific research and development.

    While the New York tech scene has been growing, Wall Street has withered as a jobs engine. Both irresponsibility before the financial crisis and increased regulation afterward could be to blame for that, Dudley said.

    Even as some regulations have helped to keep Wall Street healthy in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, returns are still lower than they once were, potentially affecting the number of jobs these firms are creating.

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    Facebook’s second effort to bring internet access to India is going better than its first

    Indian demonstrators of Free Software Movement Karnataka hold placards during a protest against Facebook’s Free Basics initiative, in Bangalore on January 2, 2016.
    Image: MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP/Getty Images

    Facebook is launching a new scheme to bring cheap internet access to rural India, just months after net neutrality protestors blocked the companys plan to provide free internet to millions in the country.

    The company is currently testing Express Wi-Fi in India. The service, according to Facebook, will allow people to buy fast, reliable and affordable data packages without shelling out hundreds of rupees each month.

    In January, Indias telecoms regulator rejected Facebooks Free Basics program after more than a million people registered complaints abut the plan, which would have given free access to specific websites chosen by Facebook.

    Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of major Indian cities demanding Free Basics be barred because it would give prominence to certain websites and news sources. They claimed it would also grant Facebook unchallenged control over the information.

    Now, many of those who campaigned against Free Basics are celebrating Facebooks latest venture. Kiran Jonnalagadda, one of the co-founders of the net neutrality activist group Save the Internet, said that the new model could transform rural India.

    We welcome Facebook’s initiative to expand internet access in India by providing neutral access without discrimination on what sites a user may visit,” he told Mashable. “We are glad to see that Facebook has learnt from their earlier mistakes and responded positively,

    Meanwhile, Google has joined the race to get India online by offering free high speed WiFi at 100 railways stations by the end of 2016, the largest public WiFi service in the world.

    In rapidly developing India, a mobile phone revolution has reached even the most remote villages. Smartphones are increasingly widespread, but data connections are slow, expensive and weak, especially in rural parts of the country.

    Despite rising incomes and access to computers and smartphones, weak internet infrastructure means two-thirds of Indias 1.25 billion population are still not online. According to one report, internet usage in India could double to over 730 million by 2020.

    For tech giants, Indias unconnected population is a vast, unreached market, especially for online advertising. While local telecom providers are failing to provide a good service, Google and Facebook are racing to get the next billion online.

    Nikhil Pahwa, a net neutrality activist who also campaigned against Facebooks Free Basics program, wrote an essay arguing that companies like Facebook and Google were finally disrupting the dominance of Indias telecoms cartels.

    The WiFi that Facebook is providing only relies on BSNL for backhaul: theyre putting up hotspots and allowing kirana stores (kiosks) to sell recharge cards for Internet access We need more of this: more ISPs, more wires carrying Internet traffic, more hotspots, he writes.

    Tech analyst Rahul Chatterjee noted that the size of India’s market has caused tech companies and other industries to provide the necessary infrastructure to bring people online.

    Tech companies are providing cheap or free internet to get millions of Indians used to the internet ecosystem, while exposing them to controlled advertising,” he said. “As the digital needs of ordinary rural Indians grow, there could be a huge market for paid services too.

    It isnt just the tech giants that are eager for this to happen; financial institutions too are waiting for the day that they are able to correctly assess the lending-worthiness of a rural Indian. If the Indian John Doe suddenly decides to move his life online, then banks could start assessing credit-worthiness just by analyzing someones digital footprint. It could lead to huge economic growth in smaller cities and rural parts of the country.”

    Facebook still has ambitions to bring Free Basics to India. In an interview with the Verge, Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook would make another effort to bring the service to India once it was successfully rolled out in other parts of the world.

    We have had setbacks in a couple of countries, India of course being the biggest. With a billion people in India not online, its the most important [country] to get right,” Zuckerberg said.

    Weve learned a lot about how we need to interact with governments and the political system and regulators, and build support in order to have these things work,” Zuckerberg continued. “And I think well take those lessons forward on the future work were doing in Free Basics, which by the way is continuing to roll out around the world. One day, once weve shown that its a successful program around the world, I hope that well get another chance to come back to India and offer it there, too.”

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    Israeli startup Shine just signed an ad blocking deal with a third telecom

    Image: Getty images/ditto

    While mobile ad blocking has yet to catch on in the United States, one Israeli startup is doing its best to make sure it does everywhere else in the world.

    Shine, a longtime tormenter of the ad industry, just inked a deal with South African telecom Econet Wireless that will provide each of the network’s 40 million subscribers with Shine’s aggressive brand of mobile ad blocking technology.

    The agreement marks Shine’s third partnership of this kind, following a deal with Caribbean carrier Digicel last fall and another with European Three Group in February that’s still in a trial phase.

    But Shine’s latest collaborator is bigger than either of those networks Digicel boasts just 13 million subscribers and Three Group has 30 million across its various European brands.

    Zimbabwe, home to about a quarter of Econet’s subscribers, will be the first market to get the blocker, followed by Burundi, South Africa and Lesotho.

    The deals come as the growing worldwide popularity of ad blockers has locked the media and advertising industries in a heated battle with the makers of the software that drains their revenue.

    But in the United States and Europe, publishers have taken some solace in the fact that mobile ad blockers haven’t been widely adopted at least not yet.

    Unlike most, if not all, of its competitors, Shine’s scorched-earth ad blocking method operates at the network level rather than on an individual device. Its software is installed in a given cell carrier’s data centers, where it uses a combination of “deep packet inspection” and algorithms to strip ads before they make it to a phone.

    That means it can filter ads with discretion across apps and browsers pre-rolls and banners alike though it’s not entirely clear if it currently does so on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

    Its less encompassing mobile rivals are relegated to the Safari browser app, in which they operate at the mercy of Apple’s walled-garden rules.

    Scarier yet for those who depend on ads for a living, Shine’s ad blocker is switched on by default for customers of Econet and Digicel, meaning one would need to consciously decide they want to see ads in order to opt out.

    In Three’s case, stricter European regulators decided such a setting would be a violation of net neutrality (the legality of the entire deal also seems to remain an open question there).

    Unsurprisingly, Shine’s approach has drawn a lot of ire from the industries it victimizes; its public face, chief marketing officer Roi Carthy, has been called the “most hated man in publishing.”

    For his part, Carthy seems to relish the reputation. He’s an antagonistic fixture on the industry conference circuit, where he’s prone to describing his mission in militaristic terms Shine’s technology is “a nuclear weapon,” he has said, against the “consumer abuse” that is advertising.

    Shine sees its ad blocker as a consumer savior, cutting out the immense waste of cell data spent loading clunky ads and fending off the malware sometimes cloaked within them. That’s also essentially the proposition it makes to its telecom partners.

    But Shine will sooner or later run into the counter-intuitive reality that all ad blockers face that most of them make money not by doing what their name suggests, but by letting certain advertisers through their wall for a fee.

    AdBlock Plus, the biggest player in the desktop ad blocking space, has couched these business ambitions in its “Acceptable Ads Program,” a nebulous master list of whitelisted advertisers who’ve either paid for the privilege of being there or been added on the merit of their clean and efficient ads.

    Industry trade groups and consumer rights advocates have criticized the program for its lack of transparency.

    Shine seems to be headed down this same path; its executives frequently claim that the company doesn’t want to block all ads only the irrelevant and dangerous ones and it recently began testing an ad verification service, according to Business Insider, effectively putting it in competition with many ad tech companies.

    Such a business model could once again raise the specter of a net neutrality breach, since Shine’s ad blocker would ultimately be a floodgate controlling what web traffic people see.

    Regardless, Shine’s game plan represents an unprecedentedly brazen threat to publishers, app companies and other ad-supported web entities at a time when much of the internet’s traffic has increasingly shifted to mobile.

    Facebook, currently the most dominant force in the mobile ads industry along with Google, started cracking down on desktop ad blockers last week with a change to its code meant to render them ineffective. But the company now gets less than a fifth of its ad revenue from desktop a threat to its mobile app would no doubt be taken more seriously.

    Shine has said in the past it doesn’t block ads within Facebook, but Carthy more recently hinted to TechCrunch that it now has the ability.

    As the startup continues the drumbeat of its expansion, its battle with much of the rest of the internet can only heat up.

    Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

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    Joseph Gordon-Levitt Recalls Edward Snowden’s ‘Old-Fashioned Manners’

    More than a year after “Citizenfour” won an Oscar for recounting the impact of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks, the former government contractor’s story is once again hitting the big screen. 

    Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays the whistleblower in the upcoming Oliver-Stone-directed film “Snowden” stopped by The Huffington Post this week to discuss the movie and revealed what it was like to come face-to-face with the polarizing figure himself.

    Snowden was keenly involved in the production, Gordon-Levitt explained. Stone and Snowden went over various drafts of the script and incorporated the whistleblower’s feedback into the final product. In preparation, Gordon-Levitt said he flew to meet with the real-life inspiration for his character in Moscow, where the exiled Snowden is currently taking refuge. Surprisingly, getting a security clearance to speak with him wasn’t much of an issue.

    “I don’t know about security clearances, really I just flew into Moscow and then I went and met him at an office. And we sat together for four hours,” Gordon-Levitt said.

    During the meeting, Gordon-Levitt said he focused on the minute details of Snowden’s personality that would help him portray the man on screen. 

    “I wanted to understand who he was as a human being … You can tell a lot about a person [and] it can really inform a performance. Just how someone shakes your hand, or how someone eats,” Gordon-Levitt said. 

    One of the first things the actor noticed were Snowden’s “good, old-fashioned, gentlemanly manners.”

    “He’s from North Carolina and I think that, in that part of the country, there’s a lot more emphasis put on good manners than where I’m from in California,” he laughed.  

    During the conversation with HuffPost’s Matt Jacobs, Gordon-Levitt whose new five-part video series tackles the ways technology affects democracy also discussed how presidential elections have changed over the years. For example, when Abraham Lincoln debated with Sen. Stephen Douglas back in 1858, each nominee was given at least an hour to respond to a question.

    “[They would] do proper research, compose a thorough, thought-through response, and deliver it. And make a long speech about the question that had been asked,” he said.

    But nowadays, “debates are all about sound bites,” he said.  

    “They’re sort of like reality TV competition shows. And that’s a problem, because the truth is, the issues that we need to be talking about in presidential debates aren’t simple, they’re complicated … Whoever can create the best sound bite should not necessarily become the president,” he said. 

    Preach, Joe. Preach. 

    “Snowden” will hit theaters on Sept. 16.

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    T-Mobile wants to steal Verizon customers with a new approach to data

    T-Mobile CEO John Legere.
    Image: david a. grogan/cnbc/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    T-Mobile is ditching the data plan for an unlimited model that they hope will change how people use data and draw customers away from competitors like Verizon and AT&T.

    The company announced Thursday the launch of T-Mobile ONE, a cell phone plan it says has no limits on data. Subscribers pay $70 a month for the first line, $50 for the second and $20 a month for additional lines.

    The wireless provider already offers an unlimited data plan, but unlimited data is for an added price on top of the traditional cell phone plan. This plan instead incorporates unlimited data into the base price, and will be the only option for new customers.

    “We are completely destroying the whole concept of the data plan. It’s gone,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in his video announcement.

    Comparatively, Verizon offers five different size data plans ranging from 2GB for $35 to 24GB for $110 a month.

    Previously, T-Mobile has offered four different size data plans, including its unlimited plan.

    The T-Mobile ONE plan represents a big shift in how wireless companies approach data. Since Legere took over the company in 2012, T-Mobile has made an aggressive play for customers from the bigger wireless companies, Verizon and AT&T. Thursday’s announcement called out both networks.

    T-Mobile claims that Verizon and AT&T couldn’t offer a totally unlimited plan because their networks are too outdated and overcrowded.

    “Their networks are old. They built them with last generation technology for how people used phones back then just for phone calls,” Legere said.

    But not everyone is excited by T-Mobile’s new approach to data. The Simple Choice Unlimited plan T-Mobile already offers is $95, with a $10 monthly discount for adding a tablet and phone line. Some customers claim it works out to a better deal than the new option.

    Plus, data through T-Mobile ONE isn’t completely unlimited. Video streaming is limited to standard definition unless customers pay an additional $25 a month for access to high definition. Customers using more than 26GB of data a month have their traffic prioritized behind other users during high network demand after crossing a billing threshold. Tethering or turning on a wifi hotspot is capped at a 2G speed.

    Analysts say that the new plan arrives as T-Mobile is combating slowing growth in new customers. But the starting price for new customers is now $20 higher than the cheapest plan previously available.

    “T-Mobile is having less and less success with adding new customers and winning subscribers from competitors as time goes on, as its various Un-Carrier moves offer diminishing returns,” analyst Jan Dawson wrote on Medium.

    Still, T-Mobile expects this plan to increase customer loyalty and pointed out in its release that the plans were taken into account for its guidance in its July 27 earnings call.

    The T-Mobile ONE plan will take effect September 6.

    “Who knows? Maybe there will be some cool new phones in September,” Legere said.

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    Uber v drivers: judge rejects ‘unfair’ settlement in US class action lawsuit

    Prior to the proposed settlement the case had been schedule to go before a jury in June, leaving its future outcome unclear

    A federal judge has rejected the proposal to settle a major class-action lawsuit by California and Massachusetts drivers against Uber for $84m, ruling that the settlement as a whole as currently structured is not fair, adequate, and reasonable.

    In a ruling issued Thursday, Judge Edward M Chen noted that the settlement yields less than 5% of the total verdict value of all claims being released.

    In particular, Chen objected to the portion of the settlement that would accept $1m to settle a claim that is estimated to result in penalties to Uber of over $1bn, without providing any coherent analysis to justify such a relatively meager value.

    The settlement, mutually agreed by both sides, was fair and reasonable, an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. Were disappointed in this decision and are taking a look at our options.

    I am disappointed the judge did not approve the settlement, but I understand and I have heard him, said Shannon Liss-Riordan, the plaintiffs attorney.

    If a new agreement that meets the judges approval is not reached, she said, I will take the case to trial and fight my hardest for Uber drivers.

    Prior to the proposed settlement, the case had been scheduled to go before a jury in June. The future of the case is now unclear, especially since a decision on the suits class action certification is still pending before the ninth circuit court of appeals.

    Should Uber win that appeal which some analysts suggest is likely the scope of the suit would be substantially reduced, from 240,000 drivers to 8,000 drivers, and Uber could end up on the hook for much less than $84m.

    Those drivers not included in that reduced class would have to pursue claims against Uber individually, through arbitration.

    We are prepared to start bringing these claims individually, and more than 1,000 drivers in California have already signed up with us to bring individual claims in arbitration if that becomes necessary, Liss-Riordan said.

    Uber reached the settlement agreement with Liss-Riordan in April 2016, following three years of litigation over the question of whether Uber drivers are employees or independent contractors.

    By classifying drivers as independent contractors, Uber avoids substantial costs, such as minimum wage, overtime, healthcare benefits, and expense reimbursements. Independent contractors are also ineligible to form unions.

    Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Uber drivers would have remained independent contractors, but the company agreed to some non-monetary changes to its policies, including allowing drivers to accept tips.

    Chen questioned the worth of the non-monetary agreements, however, writing: Much of this non-monetary relief is not as valuable as the parties suggest … Uber may be permitting tipping, but it is also telling riders not to tip, further decreasing the amount of tips riders are likely to give.

    The proposed settlement was harshly criticized by many labor advocates and drivers, especially after it was revealed that Uber could have been forced to pay $852m in damages if it had lost the case in court.

    Notably, the original plaintiff in the case, Douglas OConnor, filed an objection to the settlement, stating: Uber drivers are being sold out and shortchanged by billions of dollars while sacrificing the determination of their classification as employees.

    In his ruling, Chen noted that the vast majority of class members are slated to receive less than $100 each from the settlement.

    But the judges chief objection to the settlement was the disposition of a claim brought under Californias Private Attorney General Act (PAGA).

    The 2004 state law allows for individual employees to bring claims against employers over violations of state labor law an action that would usually be performed by state enforcement agents.

    Where plaintiffs bring a PAGA representative claim, they take on a special responsibility to their fellow aggrieved workers who are effectively bound by any judgement, Chen wrote.

    In the proposed settlement, Uber and Liss-Riordan agreed to accept $1m for the PAGA claim, but a representative of Californias labor & workforce development agency estimated that the potential penalty for Uber under the law would exceed $1bn.

    Plaintiffs propose settling PAGA for only 0.1% of the potential verdict value, a reduction that the [Labor & Workforce Development Agency] has found has no rational basis, Chen wrote.

    In the longterm, it is possible that the question of drivers employment classification will become moot. On Thursday, Uber announced that it will begin deploying autonomous cars in Pittsburgh in a few weeks.

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    Find Out What James Cameron, Annie Clark, And Ellen DeGeneres Have To Say

    Ever wonder whats on the mind of todays most notable people? Well, dont miss our unbelievable roundup of the best and most talked about quotes of the day:

    I was at the 10-year anniversary of the film when Leo came up to me and said, Did you know there was an actual ship called the Titanic?! I Googled it, and apparently it was a pretty big deal in its day.
    —James Cameron
    On Titanic

    You used to have to knock on someones door to ask them if you could use their phone. Now you can just send them a text message asking to use it.
    —Annie Clark
    On how technology has changed the way we live

    Whenever I walk into a room, any room, I say I know youre in here! That way, if anyone was planning on sneaking up on me, theyll decide its not worth it.
    —Ellen DeGeneres
    On pranks

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    Airlander 10: is this the dawning of a new age of the airship?

    After maiden flight in Bedfordshire, creators of worlds largest aircraft say 100 could be in skies within five years

    Above a field in rural Bedfordshire, a shiny, futuristic craft the size of a football pitch ascends majestically into the evening sky, and gawping onlookers crane their necks for a better view. This could be the trailer for the latest Independence Day film, but it is the maiden flight of the Airlander 10, a helium-filled craft aiming to kickstart a new age of the airship.

    It has been a while coming the first flight had been delayed several times and Wednesdays takeoff was held up for hours but once in the air, showing off its curves as it banks and soars for its audience, the Airlander is quite a spectacle.

    At 92m long and 43.5m wide, this is the worlds largest aircraft, dwarfing heavyweights such as the Airbus A380 superjumbo. It is a bit cheaper, too, with a catalogue price of 25m, compared with $375m (287m) for an A380.

    It can also carry a 10-tonne payload, comparable with military transport helicopters such as the Boeing CH-47 Chinook, the US Air Forces workhorse of choice.

    People gather at Cardington airfield, Bedfordshire, to watch the spectacle. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

    The deep pockets of the worlds biggest military power were pivotal in getting the Airlander off the ground. The US Air Force poured about $300m into the project, envisaged as a battlefield surveillance mothership capable of floating above conflict zones for 21 days at a time if unmanned. But when the US government slashed military budgets in 2013, the Airlander was among the casualties.

    Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), the company behind the Airlanders development, gleefully bought back the lions share of the airship, minus the top-secret military hardware. It had been paid nearly $100m to build the craft and retrieved its creation for a mere $300,000.

    Since then HAV has raised money through several rounds of crowdfunding, and input from private investors. These include Peter Hambro, the mining magnate and scion of the Hambro banking dynasty, and Bruce Dickinson, the frontman of the heavy metal group Iron Maiden and a keen pilot.

    HAVs chief executive, Stephen McGlennan, has his eye on a stock market listing toward the end of this year to raise up to 30m. He believes there could be 100 of the airships in the skies within five years and says there is latent demand for around 1,000. Potential uses include tourist pleasure cruises, cargo transport and disaster relief.

    The Airlander is already attracting interest from military powers willing to spend where the US was not. At first, 40 to 50% of its use will be military, McGlennan predicts.

    The Airlander can stay airborne for weeks at a time, monitoring activity such as insurgents planting explosives. The craft may not be very subtle, but thats the point. You want them to see it, says McGlennan. Its about surveillance and keeping ground troops safe, but also about changing behaviours rather than catching people in the act.

    It can fly out of reach of all but specialised ground-to-air weaponry, so militants taking pot shots shouldnt pose too many problems. It doesnt pop, says McLennan.

    Unsurprisingly, references to airship disasters such as Hindenburg are strictly taboo at HAV. There is, however, no denying the historical link to a lesser-known tragedy. The cavernous hangars where the Airlander rests between flights once housed the ill-fated R101. At the time the worlds largest aircraft, the R101 crashed on 5 October 1930, killing 48 of the 54 people on board along with any chance of a viable British airship industry.

    The Airlander is immeasurably safer. It uses helium, which is far less flammable than the hydrogen that filled the R101 and the Hindenburg. Its hull is made from three layers of fabric, including Vectran, a material five times stronger than steel. HAV claims it can fly in high winds of up to 80 knots, the highest level on the Beaufort wind scale. It has a top speed of 100mph.

    Robust and gigantic it may be, but the Airlander is also impressively graceful. With a maiden flight now safely navigated, it could be blotting out the skies over UK towns within a few years.

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    Internet Connected & Sensor Free Presence Detector with the C.H.I.P.

    Lots of cool boards for makers and developers have been coming out, and the C.H.I.P. is one that boasts both built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. What really makes the C.H.I.P. standout, however, is that it only costs $9. You read that right. So, this WiFi-based presence detector will only cost you $9 because there’s no extra [&hellip
    The post Internet Connected & Sensor Free Presence Detector with the C.H.I.P. appeared first on .

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