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Future Tech

  • Uber’s selfie security system arrives in South Africa

    Transportation service Uber might've changed the way many travel about in South Africa, but it's also changing the way we use selfies. The company today announced a new security measure called Real-Time ID Check, which will require its drivers to occasionally send a selfie to Uber for verification purposes. The company then compares the picture sent to records of the driver, to allow said driver to operate the app. "This prevents fraud and protects drivers’ accounts from being compromised," the company writes on its official blog. "It also protects riders by building another layer of accountability into the app to ensure the...

  • Uber president Jeff Jones quits after nightmarish six months

    Uber president Jeff Jones is leaving the company after just six months on the job. While CEO Travis Kalanick is blaming his search for a COO as the reason Jones quit, the president told Recode that "that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided career are inconsistent with what saw and experienced at Uber." Jeff Jones worked as the CMO of retail giant Target before making the move to Uber in October 2016. While he was there, Jones spent a lot of his time talking to drivers to decipher the ride-sharing company's next move. He believed that the...

  • Snapping Dublin’s city lights from space is how NASA celebrated St Patrick’s Day

    Everyone feels just a little bit Irish when St. Patrick's Day comes around. This year, the feast fell on Friday with millions of human beings across the world enjoying festivities with families and friends. But it seems that even NASA's off-world astronauts were getting in on the fun. Astronaut Shane Kimbrough, who is currently residing on the ISS, shared the below snap of Dublin from the space station at night, detailing the city's ring roads, harbour and buzzing city centre. Happy #StPatricksDay Spectacular #Dublin, Ireland captured by @thom_astro from @Space_Station. Enjoy the #StPatricksFest Parade down there! pic.twitter.com/5yKuFyoOUc — Shane Kimbrough (@astro_kimbrough) March 17,...

  • AI-powered service wants to make manual transcription a thing of the past

    Baidu Research Labs announced yesterday that it is launching SwiftScribe, its first AI-powered transcription software. SwiftScribe aims to make the job easier for professional transcribers who spend hours manually transcribing audio. By pairing speech recognition software with a simple editing suite, the service claims to increase productivity and streamline workflow. The software takes Baidu's speech recognition engine, Deep Speech 2, and joins it with editing features that tackle the "biggest obstacles users face when transcribing". "We designed intuitive shortcut keys and innovative human-computer interaction to solve the problem of discontinuity," writes Tian Wu, SwiftScribe's project manager. The software's biggest asset is its ability to link text with audio,...

  • Imizamo Yethu: Uber will ferry your donations to fire victims

    The Hout Bay and Imizamo Yethu fires have seen numerous organisations and citizens step up to deliver goods and services. Now,Uber has joined the party, launching a two-day initiative that sees Uber drivers serving as couriers for donations. "Uber is working with the Cape Town Disaster Management Team and has created a temporary vehicle view called UberCOMMUNITY, that will allow Cape Town riders to request a vehicle, at no cost, that will collect donations," the smart cab service said in an emailed statement. The service will be available on Tuesday (14 March) and Wednesday (15 March), between 10am and 3pm. Users can't...

  • Johannesburg’s anti-Uber #TaxiStrike according to Twitter

    Update: We've received the following comment from Uber South Africa regarding the #TaxiStrike: Our technology is open and pro-choice and we are keen to offer it to a broad number of taxi drivers to boost their chances for profit. In fact many metered taxi drivers are already using our technology to boost their incomes and we would welcome more who wish to join their colleagues. We do not feel that it should be about Uber or Taxi but rather Uber AND Taxi. Threats and intimidation against those who want to use Uber to boost their income is unacceptable. Today’s protest only...

  • 3 tech body modifications to turn you into a cyborg

    If you've ever watched Inspector Gadget and wished that you were as cool as him, then you've chosen the right time to be alive. Over the past few years, scientists have worked on ways to integrate technology into the human body, with functionality ranging from medical diagnoses to sheer cool factor. And according to some scientists, the first person to live to 1000 has already been born. But while you wait for that technology, here are three body modifications that are as close you'll get to being a robot today. Tech tattoos Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed temporary tattoos called DuoSkin last year. These...

  • Scientists propose man-made magnetic field for Mars

    Mars is an inhospitable world with an atmosphere that has been stripped away over billions of years. However, scientists at a recent conference have proposed the introduction of a man-made magnetosphere to greatly improve matters. According to Universe Today, NASA's planetary sciences division held the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop last week, to talk about the future of planetary exploration. The workshop saw one presentation which proposed that a man-made magnetic field be used on the Red Planet. "Today, Mars is an arid and cold world with a very thin atmosphere that has significant frozen and underground water resources. The thin atmosphere both prevents liquid...

  • Hacker reports free ride Uber bug, ruins it for all of us

    While searching for bugs in Uber's system, white hat hacker and snitch Anand Prakash discovered one that would allow anyone with the know-how the ability to hail a ride without having to pay. But instead of doing the noble thing and spreading the news underground so the rest of us could have a few free rides before Uber found out, Prakash reported it straight to The Man himself. Uber, like many tech companies, offers a bug bounty programme -- meaning they pay anywhere between US$100 and US$10 000 to hackers who report bugs to them. The programmes both strengthens their security and...

  • Uber CEO admits he needs leadership help after disrespecting driver

    On 28 February, Bloomberg released a video of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver after a ride. The argument (which starts around the four minute mark) shows Kalanick and the driver, Fawzi Kamel, arguing about lower fares for UberBLACK. Kamel takes the rare opportunity to discuss his worries about his job to the company's CEO. He notes that Uber is "raising the standards" for drivers to qualify for Black, but "dropping the prices" for riders. Kalanick begins calmly stating that they have to keep ahead of competition, but when Kamel gets heated about being bankrupt because of Uber, Kalanick's...

  • SpaceX says it will send two private tourists around moon

    Elon Musk announced yesterday that SpaceX will be flying two unnamed private citizens on a trip around the moon next year. The citizens have already made a "significant deposit to do a moon mission", but will remain unnamed until they have passed health and fitness tests and consented to going public. Dragon 2, SpaceX's human-carrying space capsule, will be used to send the private tourists to the moon. The Dragon 2 has been designed for human beings from the outset, and "has a long flight heritage" according to Musk. The craft will be sent without humans on board to the International Space...

  • Boston Dynamics just can’t stop making awesome robots

    Boston Dynamics is remarkably adept at making scary robots. Handle is the company's latest, sporting two wheelies for feet, and a towering two metre-tall LeBron James body for presence. But it's real uniqueness is its simplicity. "Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principles found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex," the company writes referencing its previous Atlas and BigDog bots. "Wheels are efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs Handle can have the best...

  • NASA finds seven Earth-like exoplanets in one system

    In what is a landmark moment in the search for exoplanets and a possible future second home, NASA has announced the discovery of seven Earth-like exoplanets in one solar system. "Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water," NASA said on its website. The agency used the Spitzer space telescope to make the discovery, adding that it was the largest batch of habitable zone exoplanets it's ever found. "This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments,...

  • #DeleteUber 2.0: ex-Uber engineer details sexual harassment

    Less than a month after users boycotted Uber due to CEO Travis Kalanick's ties to US President Donald Trump, a former employee has sparked new outrage over a blog post detailing institutionalised sexism at the company. Susan J. Fowler, now an engineer at online payment company Stripe, left Uber last December. She is but one of many female engineers who left the company after human resources (HR) allegedly refused to deal with the inherent sexism in the workplace. In an essay posted Sunday, Fowler listed the many failings of both the HR department and the men she worked with. Fowler says she became aware of...

  • Help NASA find the ninth planet in our solar system

    Scientists have long believed there to be a ninth planet in our solar system, due to some theories that involve science and numbers and gravitational pulls. I'm not too sure. I like movies. What I do know though, is that they are now enlisting the help of the trusty web to expedite the search for the mysterious planet hiding out there in the dark -- and you can join in whenever you'd like. Backyard Worlds is asking people to look through flipbooks of data to identify moving objects. Mostly what you'll be finding are failed stars, but the creators assert that you may...