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Why the US Government Needs a User Agreement

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Before the US government gets carried away trying to regulate Facebook and other major tech companies, it should take a very long look inside its own walls.
The U.S. government is the biggest data miner in the country, dwarfing any tech company, including Facebook, in terms of the impact their data collection has on Americans lives. It starts with the Census Bureau—America’s repository of big data—which collects information on Americans’ ethnicity, age, health status, military status and more.
But it doesn’t stop there—the data also show where Americans live, what kind of housing they live in, what they earn, where they live, how they commute, what they spend on food, rent, housing, clothing, whether they have a desktop or a laptop, whether they’re on the Food Stamp program, and how long it takes to get to work to name just a few of the 77 questions in the American Community Survey.
And here’s my favorite: “About how much do you think this house and lot, apartment, or mobile home (and …

Faltered Carbon: Why You Have to Die to Live Forever

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By Jacqueline Leo
Ray Kurzweil must have had a good weekend. Finally, someone has taken his notion of merging man and machine and created a company that claims it will preserve the human brain and “back up its contents,” preserving the contents of your mind eternally. The company, Nectome, which sounds like a hybrid fruit, is derived from the Human Connectome Project and is funded by Y Combinator, the prescient Silicon Valley venture capital company that seeds new startups.

This new process is not as simple as checking the box on your living will that says you’ll donate your organs in the interest of science.  Nope. In order to participate, you have to die. And you have to pay $10,000 for the privilege of being killed in a humane way so that your brain isn’t starved of oxygen on your way out. You can read the gory details at MIT Technology Review in a story by Antonio Regalado.
Doctor-assisted suicide is legal in California under the End of Life Option Act so Nectome thinks it’s in t…

Slaughterbot 5

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Remember the letter that Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and others released in August 2015 warning the world about artificially intelligent weapons could destroy civilization? An organization called autonomousweapons.org has turned that prophesy into a compelling short video. Please take a look and tell me your thoughts.

Star Wars: In a Galaxy Far, Far Away, a Collision of Two Neutron Stars...

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An amazing look at two neutron stars in a head-on collision. Were they mating? Or dancing their lives away into a black a hole?

Can This New High-Tech Helmet Save Football, Inc?

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The National Football League took in $13 billion in revenue in 2016, nearly three times as much as the NBA and 37 percent more than Major League Baseball. The NFL’s commissioner and chief negotiator, Roger Goodell, the guy reviled by Tom Brady and network television CEOs alike, made a salary of nearly $32 million in 2015, not including his massive expense account.

With the big money dangling like a gold ring on a carousel, you would think nothing could stop kids from wanting to reach for that ring. Nothing except Mom and the American Academy of Pediatrics, who want to prevent children from getting head injuries.

Concussions have come out of the shadows of X-rays and into the light of functional MRIs and PET scans, where the damage from repeated head trauma can be traced. Parents realize that no amount of money can stop the shaking from Parkinson’s disease or cure Alzheimer’s and related cognitive disorders that can result from multiple concussions.



If a lot of kids stop playing high …

The Next Solar Storm Could Cripple Our Economy

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In 1859, Richard C. Carrington, a British astronomer, observed and recorded a major geomagnetic solar storm that produced a white light flare. The next day, "auroras could be seen in tropical latitudes and telegraph systems all over the world, starting to shock telegraph operators, operating while unplugged, and igniting the telegraph paper," according to a recent public interest report by the Federation of American Scientists.

The author of the report, Robert Coker, a former aerospace engineer for NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, says solar flares are known to have detrimental effects on satellite operations, GPS systems, hi-frequency airplane communications, navigation, and for good measure, the electrical power grid.

Coker calls sun flares and other electromagnetic disruptions space weather events. Minor events occur almost yearly, he says, resulting in GPS disruptions and rerouting of aircraft. More significant events occur once a decade, with extended local outages. …

The Problem with the GOP Tax Plan: It's an Entitlement Instead of a 'Deal'

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Trump and the GOP should look at tax reform as a "deal" instead of an overdue entitlement. For years, Republicans have been loath to hand over their “hard-earned money” to the federal government on April 15th, even though they benefit as much—if not more—than most Americans from the services the government provides.
Many in Congress have even taken a pledge concocted by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform never to raise taxes or eliminate tax loopholes. In effect, many Republicans have come to see tax reform as a right, on a par with free speech and other constitutional mandates.
There’s no doubt that a tax code that totals more than 10 million words needs reform—or at least a good editor. It costs American businesses a bundle in accounting, compliance, legal, and auditing costs. And none of those expenditures go toward productivity; they’re defensive and self-protective.
Still, there are likely to be winners and losers in the GOP plan, and one obvious loser is the U…