Assange: who should own the Internet? - TechCentral

Assange: who should own the Internet?

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Julian Assange

It is now a journalistic cliché to remark that George Orwell’s 1984 was prophetic. The novel was so prophetic that its prophecies have become modern-day prosaisms. Reading it now is a tedious experience. Against the omniscient marvels of today’s surveillance state, Big Brother’s fixtures — the watchful televisions and hidden microphones — seem quaint, even reassuring. By Julian Assange. Read more…

The last astronauts to fly to Hubble talk about their wild mission
On a sunny afternoon in May, 2009, seven astronauts strapped themselves into the space shuttle Atlantis and rocketed toward the heavens. They had a relatively simple but absolutely vital mission: replacing a camera and other key components of the Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope, orbiting some 560km up, was slowly going blind. The men and women of STS-125, also known as Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission 4, were to give it new eyes. It was in some ways a routine mission, but nevertheless nerve-wracking. Read more…

The open-source software Stephen Hawking says changed his life
For the past 20 years, the world-renowned physicist has relied on a computer to communicate with the world — controlling the machine using a muscle in his cheek. His limited movement meant everyday tasks were a painstaking process and even talking via his speech synthesiser took longer than one minute per word. Read more…

Haptic holograms let you touch the void in VR
Feeling is believing. A system that uses sound waves to project “haptic holograms” into mid-air — letting you touch 3D virtual objects with your bare hands — is poised to bring virtual reality into the physical world. Adding a sense of touch as well as sight and sound will make it easier to completely immerse yourself in virtual reality. And the ability to feel the shape of virtual objects could let doctors use their hands to examine a lump detected by a CT scan, for example. What’s more, museum visitors could handle virtual replicas of priceless exhibits while the real thing remained safely behind glass. Read more…

Google can now tell you’re not a robot with just one click
When Alan Turing first conceived of the Turing Test in 1947, he suggested that a computer program’s resemblance to a human mind could be gauged by making it answer a series of questions written by an interrogator in another room. Jump forward about seven decades, and Google says it’s now developed a Turing Test that can spot a bot by requiring it to do something far simpler: click on a checkbox. Read more…

Spacecraft bound for Pluto prepares for its close encounter
The first spacecraft to visit Pluto is set to wake up on 6 December in preparation for its midsummer rendezvous with the solar system’s most famous dwarf planet. The New Horizons spacecraft has been speeding toward Pluto for almost nine years, covering 4,7bn kilometres. To conserve energy and general wear and tear, the spacecraft has gone into intermittent hibernation, often for months at a time, slumbering for a total of five years. When sleeping, it was almost completely shut down, maintaining only enough power to send a weekly beep home telling mission controllers that it’s doing fine. But now it’s go time. Read more…

Amazon reveals the robots at the heart of its epic Cyber Monday operation
Don’t tell the kiddies, but Santa’s workshop isn’t at the North Pole. It’s here in Tracy, California, next to a line of rusting, graffiti-covered freight cars, in a building so long that you can’t see the whole thing without turning your head to take in its full immensity. This is Amazon’s latest-generation warehouse, a robot-powered marvel of efficiency that in some ways feels even more improbable than flying reindeer. Read more…

Apple’s first employee: the remarkable odyssey of Bill Fernandez
The Apple II got there first. It was the Wright Flyer I of personal computers. When the Wright brothers made their historic first flight in 1903, lots of other inventors were trying to fling their own shoddy little planes into the air. And in 1977, when Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple II, there were a zillion other nerds working on building a personal computer. But Woz beat them to it, and Jobs knew how to sell it. Read more…

A Bitcoin battle is brewing
Did you know the Bitcoin community is riven by tension, drama, competing agendas and at least two starkly different visions of our economic future? That even as major banks who thought of Bitcoin as snake oil re-assess its blockchain technology as a major breakthrough, and smart money pours into blockchain start-ups, the few at its cutting edge are increasingly divided against themselves? Read more…

These were 10 of science’s biggest triumphs this year
There’s no denying it: science is cool, and 2014 was no exception. This year, we discovered that one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, was shooting geysers out of cracks in its surface. We also found a way to make a teeny, tiny radio that requires no battery. The human race is pushing forward into the final frontier — and also the tiniest frontier. Read more…

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