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›  Uber Resumes Self-Driving Car Program In San Francisco After Crash

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) - Driverless vehicles operated by Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] were back on the road in San Francisco on Monday after one of its self-driving cars crashed in Arizona, the ride-hailing company said.

Uber’s autonomous vehicles in Arizona and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, remained grounded but were expected to be operating again soon, according to a spokeswoman for the company, who refused to be identified.

“We are resuming our development operations in San Francisco this morning,” she said in an email.

Uber’s San Francisco program is currently in development mode. It has two cars registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, but is not transporting passengers.

The spokeswoman said because of this, the company felt confident in putting the cars back on the road while it investigates the collision in Arizona.

On Friday, Uber suspended its pilot program in the three states. A human-driven vehicle “failed to yield” to an Uber vehicle while making a turn in Tempe, Arizona, said Josie Montenegro, a spokeswoman for the city’s police department.

“The vehicles collided, causing the autonomous vehicle to roll onto its side,” Montenegro said in an email. “There were no serious injuries.”

Two “safety” drivers were in the front seats of the Uber car, which was in self-driving mode at the time of the crash, Uber said on Friday, a standard requirement for its self-driving vehicles. The back seat was unoccupied.

Photos and a video posted on Twitter by Fresco News showed a Volvo SUV flipped on its side after an apparent collision involving two other, slightly damaged cars. Uber said the images appeared to be from the Tempe crash scene.


(Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Dan Grebler)

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  The Big Bend, A U-Shaped Skyscraper, Could Become The Longest In The World

U have to see this.

Architecture firm Oiio Studio has released a proposal for a curved skyscraper called The Big Bend that it hopes will become the “longest building in the world.” 

Renderings for the 4,000-foot structure show it towering above New York City’s so-called Billionaire’s Row in midtown Manhattan. The building rises from one base, curves over in a U shape, and touches the ground again at its second base.

Oiio says the design is meant to creatively solve challenges that builders face due to zoning laws in New York City.

“But what if we substituted height with length? What if our buildings were long instead of tall?” the building proposal on Oiio’s website asks. “If we manage to bend our structure instead of bending the zoning rules of New York, we would be able to create one of the most prestigious buildings in Manhattan. The longest building in the world.”

Not everyone is excited by the prospect of a record-setting building, however. Architectural Digest shared images of the proposed structure with the headline “This Skyscraper Could Ruin New York’s Skyline.”

Curbed New York says it’s improbable the project would ever become a reality.

“It seems highly unlikely that a project like this would ever get off the ground, so to speak—community members and preservation groups (including the Municipal Art Society) have already condemned the rise of supertalls along Central Park South, so adding another one to the mix couldn’t possibly go over well,” the website explained.

The building would measure 200 feet higher than One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the city, Business Insider noted.

See a selection of Oiio’s images of the building below.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  18 Injured When Hong Kong Escalator Suddenly Reverses At High Speed

Authorities arrested two mechanics after a crowded escalator in a Hong Kong shopping mall reversed direction without warning over the weekend, injuring 18 people.

Footage shows the 150-foot escalator operating normally, then suddenly reversing direction at high speed, sending dozens of people toppling over each other and tumbling toward the base.

I heard people screaming,” one witness told the South China Morning Post. “The escalator was going down but the speed accelerated.”

The People’s Daily tweeted video of the escalator reversing on Saturday:

The escalator is located inside the Langham Place shopping center. It passed inspection last week, according to The Guardian.

Images tweeted by the South China Morning Post show emergency workers responding to the scene.

Two mechanics, both employees of the Otis Elevator Company, were arrested in connection with the incident, CNN reported. They each face charges of obstruction of justice, police said.

“The arrest of our mechanics was a surprise,” Ian Fok, a spokesman for the Otis Elevator Company, said in a statement, according to the network. The suspects are 22 and 52 yeas old.

Initial reports suggested that a chain and emergency break malfunctioned on the machine. 

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Technology Gets Political: Upstart Resistbot Faxes Lawmakers For You

In these days of constantly contacting politicians to make sure our voices are heard, along comes a new technology to make things a bit easier.

Meet Resistbot, a free service that turns texts into faxes that are then sent to politicians across the country. Launched last month, the service is run by volunteers and supported by donations.

To mobilize the operation, users simply text the word “resist” to 50409. The automated bot will ask for a name and zip code to determine which public officials to contact. First messages go to senators, but users can also send them to representatives.

Creativity and clarity are key. Since the service doesn’t handle “form letters,” the user must create his or her own message.

“Our research shows that form letters are totally ignored by Congress. Only original, unique messages count,”  the Resistbot website states. “But they don’t have to be complicated or fancy. Just a few sentences from a real-life voter gets their attention. Don’t worry about typos or mistakes, that just further shows you’re a real person.”

Turning texts into faxes is a service that is not limited to any political party. Co-creator Jason Putorti told Recode earlier this month that the site will “faithfully deliver any message our users send in, but the voice of the product is for the liberals and conservatives in opposition to the Trump administration.”

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Uber Halts Self-Driving Car Fleet After Crash In Arizona

Uber is suspending its entire self-driving car program while it investigates a crash involving one of its vehicles in Tempe, Arizona.

The ride-hailing company confirmed the crash after a photo was posted on Twitter showing an Uber SUV Volvo on its side next to another dented car with broken windows.

No one was injured, Tempe police told Bloomberg News. The Uber vehicle was not found to be fault, as another car failed to yield the right of way.

“There was a person behind the wheel” of the Uber car, police spokesman Jose Montenegro told the publication. “It is uncertain at this time if they were controlling the vehicle at the time of the collision.”

All autonomous cars are currently required to have humans behind the wheel to take control of the vehicle if necessary. There were no passengers in the back seat, according to Uber.

Uber began testing its cars in Arizona after its self-driving program was shut down in California late last year because the company had failed to obtain the proper permits. California cracked down after Uber autonomous cars were seen breezing through red lights. The company agreed to comply with the state’s rules and once again began testing its cars in San Francisco earlier this month.

The Tempe crash is more bad news for the company, which recently has been hit by a litany of accusations, including complaints of sexual harassment and sexism in the workplace.

Uber used the software tool Greyball to dodge taxi enforcement officials, The New York Times reported earlier this month. And Waymo, the autonomous-car company owned by Google parent company Alphabet, sued Uber earlier this year for allegedly stealing designs for sensor technology.

Dashcam footage also recently captured company co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick berating a new driver, prompting Kalanick to issue a statement saying, “I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up.” 

Uber President Jeff Jones resigned last week after just six months on the job.

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-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Flying Taxis Could Soon Be Coming To A Sky Near You

Flying taxis and other futuristic passenger vehicles are about to take a giant leap out of science fiction and into reality.

It’s not exactly the vision of the “Back To The Future” film trilogy, which predicted that by 2015 we’d fill the skies with flying cars and get around on personal anti-gravity hoverboards.

But it turns out the movies may have just been a few years off. Singapore plans to have airborne cabs taking flight by 2030, according to the island city-state’s Business Times daily newspaper.

Singapore’s Ministry of Transport Permanent Secretary Pang Kin Keong said he’s in talks with tech companies to begin trials to create drones to carry passengers.

Three companies on tap to manufacture the drones include a Russian-made Hoversurf Scorpion, the German Volocopter VC and China’s autonomous aerial device Ehang 184, pictured at the top of this story and in the video below.

The electric-powered Ehang 184, with its four arms with eight mounted propellers and weighing 440 pounds, can transport a person for about 23 minutes ? covering a distance of 10 miles at a maximum height of just over 11,000 feet. The passenger would merely punch in a location on a control pad and Ehang 184 does the rest.

Single-person taxi drones aren’t the only ultra modern transportation mode on Singapore’s drawing board. They’re also looking to create driverless buses that carry multiple passengers.

Pang revealed both of these concepts at the Business Times Leaders’ Forum this week.

“There is going to be a significant shift in the public mindset from one of ownership of transport assets ? which is the mindset today ? to one of procurement of transport services as and when you need them,” Pang told the 400 forum attendees.

But you won’t have to wait until 2030 for Singapore’s launch of the Ehang 184. Dubai is preparing to roll out that high tech drone this summer, according to Fortune.com.

“Ehang 184 has enough room for a small suitcase and will be controlled through 4G mobile Internet,” Fortune reports. “It is able to carry a single passenger who weighs less than 220 pounds over short distances at 62 miles per hour with a fully-charged battery.” 

And with news that Uber has hired a NASA engineer to develop airborne cars, it’s surely only a matter of time before you, too, can hitch a ride in a flying cab.

Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Tracy Morgan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Moore, Padma Lakshmi and a whole host of other stars are teaming up for Stand for Rights: A Benefit for the ACLU. Donate now and join us at 7 p.m. Eastern on Friday, March 31 on Facebook Live. #standforrights2017

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Teenager Calls Cops On His Mom For Confiscating His Cell Phone

Hell that no fury like a teenager denied their cell phone.

A 15-year-old boy in southern Spain reported his mother to police after she confiscated his device in a bid to get him to study for a test.

The mom, 37, asked her son to hand over his phone at their home in El Ejido, near Almeria, on Feb. 28, La Voz De Almeria newspaper reports.

When he refused, she forcefully took it from him and allegedly scratched him in the resulting struggle, according to national El Pais newspaper.

The youngster denounced his mother for “mistreatment.” The mother appeared in court in Almeria this month, where prosecutors called for her to be jailed for nine months over the incident. 

But the judge, Luis Miguel Columna, dismissed the case. He ruled she was well within her rights” to seize the cell and had taken “the correct action.”

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Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Tracy Morgan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Moore, Padma Lakshmi and a whole host of other stars are teaming up for Stand for Rights: A Benefit for the ACLU. Donate now and join us at 7 p.m. Eastern on Friday, March 31 on Facebook Live. #standforrights2017

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Weekend Roundup: The End Of (Human) History

Francis Fukuyama famously declared that the triumph of liberal democracy and free markets after the Cold War heralded “the end of history.” Yuval Noah Harari now predicts the end of human history as post-Promethean science grants us godlike powers to redesign our own species and create a new one in the form of artificial intelligence. Only time will tell if his vision of the future is closer to the mark than Fukuyama’s, and if humans as we know ourselves today will even be around to witness it. As the Israeli historian says in a WorldPost interview, “Human history began when men created gods. It will end when men become gods.”

Harari contends that a new mythic authority ? “dataism” ? is being born and that the algorithm is its patron saint. “Authority came down from the clouds, moved to the human heart and now authority is shifting back to the Google cloud and the Microsoft cloud,” he provocatively quips. “Data and the ability to analyze data is the new source of authority. If you have a problem in life, whether it is what to study, whom to marry or whom to vote for, you don’t ask God above or your feelings inside, you ask Google or Facebook. If they have enough data on you, and enough computing power, they know what you feel already, and why you feel that way.” 

The Homo Deus author has little doubt that dataism’s brave new dominance over our lives will be established willingly. “What will ram such a future through the wall is health,” he says. “People will voluntarily give up their privacy.” And while Harari acknowledges the dangers these developments could bring, he also sees the potential for a future that goes beyond the humanist literature that has historically warned us that transgressing natural limits invites catastrophe.

“These are myths that try to assure humans that there is never going to be anything better than you. If you try to create something better than you, it will backfire and not succeed,” Harari says. But science is changing all that, he concludes. “Humans are now about to do something that natural selection never managed to do, which is to create inorganic life – AI. If you look at this in the cosmic terms of 4 billion years of life on Earth, not even in the short term of 50,000 years or so of human history, we are on the verge of breaking out of the organic realm.”

For Fukuyama, the prime locus of history’s end was a Europe whole and free after the fall of the Berlin Wall. And as leaders mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the European Union through the signing of the Treaty of Rome, things don’t look so rosy.

Writing from Brussels, Florian Lang worries that the Eastern European nations ? Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia ? that were some of the latest to join the EU in the wake of the Cold War “have not only throttled the speed of the European car but, also changed it into reverse gear” by promoting anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment and eroding civil liberties. 

Writing from Paris, Natalie Nougayrède warns that it is no exaggeration to say that the French republic is in danger in the upcoming elections as Marine Le Pen’s right-wing National Front sees recent advances in the polls. “France is today a deeply fragmented country,” the former editor of Le Monde says, “with no common national narrative driving it forward, no sense of direction, and a loss of trust in the political class. Wide gaps separate those who believe in openness and those who would prefer to erect walls on national borders. France’s upcoming presidential election is not just a battle for the Élysée Palace ? it amounts to a redefinition of a collective identity and a nation’s role in the world in the 21st century.”

Even if Le Pen falls short at the polls as Geert Wilders did in last week’s Dutch elections, Cas Mudde writes that the swell of authoritarianism and nativism exemplified by leaders like Le Pen and Wilders isn’t confined to anti-establishment parties. “Under the cover of fighting off the ‘populists,’” he says, “the political establishment is slowly but steadily hollowing out the liberal democratic system.”

Writing from Rome, populist Five Star Movement partisan Davide Casaleggio wants to dismantle the distant EU edifice and reboot democracy at the opposite end, from the bottom up at the grassroots. “People shouldn’t settle for delegation; they should be able to choose participation,” he argues. That can be done, says Casaleggio, through interactive technologies that enable citizens themselves to propose and deliberate legislation. At around 30 percent in recent national polls in Italy, the Five Star Movement may well have a chance to demonstrate if governance through social networks can supplant representative democracy and the Brussels bureaucracy.

Back in the United States where Twitter dictates much of the new administration’s actions lately, Jennifer Mercieca notes the paradox of U.S. President Donald Trump’s “conspiracy rhetoric.” What he “uses to legitimize himself as president threatens the fragile trust that legitimizes his government,” she says. Looking at one issue continually threatening Trump’s trust in the public eye ? his connection to Russia ? Matthew Rojansky writes that as America focuses on the Kremlin threat at home, Moscow is filling the power vacuum in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Our Singularity series this week reports on a short film that depicts moral philosophers debating the ethics of superintelligent AI in front of superintelligent AI. The Future of Life Institute’s Ariel Conn also focuses on superintelligent AI by examining its risk with leading researchers. One of the discussants, Roman Yampolskiy, calls on the principle of “non-zero probability” when answering how we should prepare for AI threats: “Even a small probability of existential risk becomes very impactful once multiplied by all the people it will affect,” he warns. “Nothing could be more important than avoiding the extermination of humanity.”



EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Co-Founder and Executive Advisor to the Berggruen Institute, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Executive Editor of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Suzanne Gaber is the Editorial Assistant of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is News Director at The Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s news coverage. Nick Robins-Early and Jesselyn Cook are World Reporters. Rowaida Abdelaziz is World Social Media Editor.

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media), Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).


CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as theAdvisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei KudrinPascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon MuskPierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel RoubiniNicolas SarkozyEric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter SchwartzAmartya SenJeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry SummersWu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony BlairJacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar IssingMario MontiRobert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


The WorldPost is a global media bridge that seeks to connect the world and connect the dots. Gathering together top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet, we aspire to be the one publication where the whole world meets.

We not only deliver breaking news from the best sources with original reportage on the ground and user-generated content; we bring the best minds and most authoritative as well as fresh and new voices together to make sense of events from a global perspective looking around, not a national perspective looking out.

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›  Spring Deals: Lowest Prices On TurboTax, Bowflex Power Rod Gym And Samsung's 8-Series Quantum Dot TVs

Welcome to TechBargains? Weekly deals, featuring the best deals that will prepare you for spring on electronics, computers, TVs and more. Act fast as stock is limited and these discounts will not last.

Samsung 8-Series KS800 4K LED Smart HDTV (Refurb) starting at $749.99 (Orig $1200)

If you want a premium Samsung TV without paying a premium price, then these refurbished Samsung?s KS800 8-series TVs are what you seek. The current prices are at a lower price point than Samsung?s budget models. You will not be disappointed with the picture quality, the sleek design and of course some of Samsung?s best technologies around HDR & 4K. We highly encourage you to go for the 65? if you are looking for a truly large screen since it is currently only $1050 compared to over $1500 at Best Buy or Amazon brand new.

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym (Up to 210lb Resistance) + Mat for $999 after Code: SPRINGFITNESS (Orig $1600)

This is one of the best prices we?ve seen on the Bowflex 2. The unique system does away with bulky weights in favor of spring loaded rods for continuous and uniform resistance. No cheating on the weights with this machine. There are no shipping fees and it even includes a free mat valued at $100. If you have the space, the Bowflex is more convenient than going to the gym. Plus you save on a one time cost up front versus a monthly fee.

Foodsaver V3240 Vacuum Sealer for $49.99 after Code: SAVE20 (Orig $99.99) The Foodsaver normally sells for around $85 or more at Amazon but today you can it for the best price we've seen of $50 from Foodsaver directly. Vacuum sealing can keep you food fresh about 5 times longer. Meats can stay fresh up to 3-years with freezing. Perfect for left-overs, fruits, vegetables and even game.

Lumsing Glory 10,000mAh USB Portable Battery for $8.99 after Code: 5CQQPI36

When you need to charge up your phone and there is no outlet around, these portable USB chargers are amazing. This has enough juice to power up an iPhone 7 three to four times and costs less than lunch. We highly recommend this if you are constantly on the go.

TurboTax Deluxe 2016 + State eFile Software (Digital Download or DVD) for $35.79

This is the best price on TurboTax you will see until the end of March. When April begins we expect prices to jump on TurboTax to take advantage of late filers. All the editions are on sale at the lowest prices we?ve seen so far. Not sure which one to get? Deluxe fits most tax situations such as owning a home or if you have 1099s. If you have income from rental properties or investment income, Premier is the choice for you. And if you own your own business, are a contractor or self employed then Home & Business is for you.

OMorc 180-degrees Seaview Snorkel Mask w/ GoPro Mount for $38.99 after Code: D8SEG2OZ (Orig $46.99)

This costs a little more than your traditional snorkel but has two design enhancements you will definitely want. The breathing chamber is designed to eliminate fogging and make it easier to breath. This also has a GoPro mount to fit an action camera.

Naipo Shiatsu Heating & Massage Pad for $36.99 after Code: 150D26DN (Orig $49.99)

After a tiring, stressful day, nothing beats a good neck massage. At $37 this is a steal compared to more recognizable brands that can cost upwards of $90. We?ve gifted these for multiple holidays and they are a present that still sees use year after year.

Motorola Moto 360 Sport 45mm Android Smartwatch w/ GPS for $109.99 (Orig $300)

Reviews have called this one of the most comfortable smart watches. It is highly usable with a very bright display that is viewable from all angles. It?s also one of the few smart watches that has a stand alone GPS. While you can get a FitBit, which is primarily an activity tracker, the Moto 360 is in the same price and functionality in addition to having the power of a smartwatch and Android Wear platform behind it.

Reach Barrier Garage Door Insulation Kit for $30.44 (Orig $49)

If your garage was freezing this winter, you can bet it will be blazing hot during the summer. This insulation kit blocks up to 95% of radiant heat and will save on your energy bill. It?s easy to install with adhesive squares you stick onto your garage door. This is a fast and easy project that you can tackle without many complications.

Cylen Home Ventilated Orthopedic Seat Cushion for $13.75 after Code: S42BVR78 (Orig $70)

If you don?t want to suffer from a sweaty butt during a road trip or have back pain when you sit, this orthopedic cushion will improve your comfort. It provides soft comfort in addition to firm support to your back.

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›  Historian: Human History 'Will End When Men Become Gods'

Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli historian and the internationally best-selling author of Sapiens, has a new book out about the future of humanity, called Homo DeusHe recently sat down with The WorldPost at a Berggruen Institute salon in Los Angeles. In the following interview, he discusses the new authority of “dataism” and godlike powers of science to redesign humanity and create an inorganic, new species ? artificial intelligence.

WorldPost: In your previous book, Sapiens, you observed that humans are the only species that can organize themselves around abstract ideas or codes ? myth, religion, ideology. In your new book, Homo Deus, you argue that a new ideology has arisen ? “dataism” ? that is the new organizing principle of humanity.

When big data is married to biology ? happening as we speak ? you worry that it will reduce the biological organism to a set of information that can be organized by programmed algorithms to seek a desired outcome. Those who subscribe to this view that the organism is an algorithm believe that the genome of humans and other species can be designed to order and that, if computers can process and place into patterns more information than the human brain can, then we can also create a new non-biological species ? artificial intelligence.

To be sure, deciphering a deadly virus to stem a spreading plague is something humanity would welcome. But what does it mean to be human in the age of the algorithm if all that it means to be human ? love, empathy, creativity, agony ? falls between lines of code? Are such godlike powers then a great benefit to humanity, or do they portend a dark future?

Yuval Noah Harari: Like every major invention, it has both a good and bad potential. But the scale is completely different. I titled the book Homo Deus because we really are becoming gods in the most literal sense possible. We are acquiring abilities that have always been thought to be divine abilities ? in particular, the ability to create life. And we can do with that whatever we want.

You talked earlier about how humans create networks of cooperation around abstractions. I don’t like the word “abstractions” very much because most people don’t think in abstractions. That is too difficult for them. They think in stories. And the best stories are not abstract; they are concrete. If you think about the great religions that have united large parts of humankind, people believe gods are very concrete ? there is an angry old man in the sky, and if I do something wrong, he will punish me.

In the book, I use the term “fiction,” not abstraction, because what really unites humans are fictional stories. That is also the case with the new revolution that is now unfolding. It is not going to be an abstract revolution but a very concrete one.

'If you have a problem in life, you don?t ask God, you ask Google or Facebook.'

The basic idea of dataism is a shift in authority. Previously, authority resided above the clouds and descended down to the pope, the king or the czar. Then for the last two or three centuries, authority came down from the clouds and took up residence in people’s hearts. Your feelings became the highest source of authority. The emotions of the voters in a democracy, not his or her rationality, became the number one authority in politics. In the economics of the consumer society, it is the feelings of the customer that drive every market. The feelings of the individual are the prime authority in ethics. “If it feels good, do it” is the basic ethical ideal of humanism.

So authority came down from the clouds, moved to the human heart and now authority is shifting back to the Google cloud and the Microsoft cloud. Data, and the ability to analyze data, is the new source of authority. If you have a problem in life, whether it is what to study, whom to marry or whom to vote for, you don’t ask God above or your feelings inside, you ask Google or Facebook. If they have enough data on you, and enough computing power, they know what you feel already and why you feel that way. Based on that, they can allegedly make much better decisions on your behalf than you can on your own.

WorldPost: Is that the ultimate objectivization of reality ? that which reduces your identity to only what data is known or collected? Or is it the opposite: subjectivization as the pure reflection of personal choices and preferences fed back to you? Or, compounded by the subjective bias of the algorithm inputs, is it both: subjective objectification?

Harari: Do you mean is it true?

WorldPost: What I’m getting at is that there seems to be a double movement going on simultaneously. Data-absorbing, peer-driven social media enables the collection of massive information on a person organized into the ultimate objectification of reality through mathematical algorithms. At the same time, we are seeing an explosion of the “subjectivization of facts” ? alternative facts, fake news ? that is unmoored from any objective reality other than the likes or dislikes of your very similar peers.

Harari: I don’t think the “subjectivization of facts” is anything new in what is happening now. This has been going on for thousands of years. All the big religions have been organized around fake news. Just think of the Bible. Fake news lasts forever in some cases.

WorldPost: Eternal fake news…

Harari: In big historical struggles, history does not go to the truth. It goes to the most effective story. And very often, the most effective story is not true. The idea that people sooner or later will discover that something is untrue usually doesn’t happen, as in the case of all the big religions.

With regard to the algorithms, there is a good chance, too, that this will be just a myth that they are the highest source of authority with all the answers. But people will believe that. They will voluntarily, consensually, give the algorithm that kind of authority. And that will be the reality in which we live.

We see it happening all around us. If you apply to the bank for a loan or for a job at a big corporation, very likely your application is being processed by an algorithm and not by a human being. Let’s say the algorithm refuses you, and you are not hired. You go to the company and ask why, and they say, “Because the algorithm said no.” And then you ask, “Why did it say no?” And they will say, “We don’t know. If we thought we could get a good reading by ourselves, we wouldn’t need an algorithm.”

The thing about the new generation of computer algorithms is that machines are now able to learn by themselves. They sift through immense piles of data and they, at least allegedly, find patterns that humans are unable to find, including whether you are a good fit for that job. And we trust that more and more.

There are some very good things about this, but also some big dangers. In the 20th century, we had this big fight over statistical discrimination against entire groups of people ? African Americans, women, gays or Jews ? based on faulty information.

People now look back to those days and say, “We must refight those battles.” Yes, perhaps some of them need to be refought. But as a military strategist, I know that people tend to prepare themselves for the previous war, and they miss the coming war. The much bigger danger in the coming decades won’t be this group discrimination, but something far more Kafkaesque ? discrimination against individuals. It doesn’t give you a loan. It doesn’t hire you. The algorithm doesn’t like you. The algorithm is not discriminating against you because you are Jewish, Muslim or gay, but because you are you.

There is something about your data that the algorithm doesn’t like. It is not about some category you fall into you. It is only you. There is something that is different about you versus everyone else that raises some warning sign. And you don’t even know what it is. And even if you know what it is, you can’t create a political movement around it because there is no one else in the world who suffers from this particular discrimination.

The other side of the coin that is being talked about widely these days is the capacity to individualize. You can write a book for one person. You can compose music or a movie just for one person. So we are developing the capacity to create for one person but also the capacity to oppress just one person. The Israeli military is extremely excited about the potential of having the first total surveillance system, to be used in the occupied territories. They will actually be able to follow each and every person instead of relying on statistics. 

'We are developing the capacity to create for one person but also the capacity to oppress just one person.'

WorldPost: Here, too, we have the same dialectic: by missing all those intangibles that make each of us a person, all those things that fall between lines of code that don’t fit into the pattern being searched, individuation by an algorithm is actually a form of depersonalization.

Doesn’t this kind of depersonalization ? particularly when big data and the algorithm merge with biology to reduce being to nothing more than an immune system ? prepare the way for a “Brave New Biocracy” that will manage human life from “sperm to worm, womb to tomb?” In short, individuation by an algorithm diminishes, not advances, human autonomy, no?

Harari: Yes. But again, there is both a danger and a promise. There are many good things about these medical algorithms. Today, you have hundreds of millions of people around the world who have no health care. They don’t have a doctor to diagnose a disease and to recommend treatment. Within a very short time, you will be able to have a much better AI doctor on your smartphone in a village in Colombia than the president of the U.S. has today from human doctors.

The big battle in this regard in the 21st century will be between privacy and health. And health will win. Most people will be willing to give up their privacy in exchange for much better health care, based on 24-hour monitoring of what’s happening inside their bodies.

Very soon people will walk around with biometric sensors on or even inside their bodies and will allow Facebook, the Chinese government or whomever to constantly monitor what’s happening in their bodies. The day the first cancer cell starts to multiply and spread, someone at Google or at the health authority will know and will be able to very easily nip the cancer in the bud. The day a flu epidemic starts, they will immediately know who are carrying it, and they can take very effective, quick and cheap action to prevent it. So the promises are enormous.

The dangers are also enormous. Just think of a place like North Korea. People will be walking around with biometric bracelets. If you see a picture of Kim Jong Un on a wall and your blood pressure elevates, which the algorithm correlates with some emotion like anger, then that is the end of you.

WorldPost: China already is developing a system of “social credit” that correlates all your observable behavior ? what you buy, who you talk to, whether you throw trash on the ground ? and gives you a score that will follow you through your life as you apply for college or a home loan. It will also be used to assess political loyalty and monitor official corruption.

Harari: We will see more and more of that everywhere. With all the genuine objections and worries that you have expressed, what will ram such a future through the wall is health. People will voluntarily give up their privacy.

WorldPost: Health care is the idol that confirms belief in the god of dataism.

Harari: Exactly.

'The big battle of the coming century will be between privacy and health. And health will win.'

WorldPost: How does your idea of dataism relate to the notion of the “singularity”? Do you see singularity as a kind of scientific Tower of Babel of hubris, a kind of Anthropocene surge, an algorithmic imperialism over all life? Ecology, on the other hand, proposes an equilibrium between nature and human potential. Where does your idea fit within that matrix?

Harari: Dataism is very close to singularity. I see singularity as the point beyond which our imagination completely fails because our imagination itself is only the manipulation of what we so far know. There are many things that can bring about the shift to singularity. It could be advances in bioengineering, in machine intelligence or a combination of the two. It could be some completely new technology not yet on the horizon. The key point is that you reach a certain level of technological development that renders all of our assumptions about everything we know about humans and the world irrelevant, because all that can be changed.

WorldPost: The ecological perspective is more about the equilibrium it would seek to balance the promise and perils of dataism so we get more of the benefit and less of the darker downside. You seem to be saying we ought to just go with the flow and commit to our mutation.

Harari: I’m not saying singularity or dataism are good. I am only looking at the long trajectory of human history. Humans have been getting more and more out of equilibrium as we advance in time. When you try to manipulate the system even more to bring back balance to an earlier state, you solve some of the problems, but the side effects only increase the disequilibrium. So you have more problems. The human reaction then is that we need even more control, even more manipulation.

Go back to the 19th century and read Marx and the Communist Manifesto ? he says, “All that is solid melts into air.” His reading of history is that the key characteristic of modern society is that it requires constant change and disruption. The implication is that you cannot live in equilibrium. For modern society, equilibrium is death. Everything collapses if you reach a point of equilibrium. In the case of the economy, it depends on constant growth. If we reach a point of zero growth and continue with that for more than a few years, the entire system will probably collapse.

WorldPost: Your book Homo Deus, it seems to me, is really a brilliant update of Goethe’s Faust. In that masterpiece of literature, the Earth Spirit puts down Faust’ hubris as a great achiever of earthly accomplishment by saying, “You are equal to the spirit you understand,” meaning human’s limited understanding is not at the level of the gods. Do you agree?

Harari: Not really. Faust, like Frankenstein or “The Matrix,” still has a humanist perspective. These are myths that try to assure humans that there is never going to be anything better than you. If you try to create something better than you, it will backfire and not succeed.

The basic structure of all these morality tales is: Act I, humans try to create utopia by some technological wizardry; Act II, something goes wrong; Act III, dystopia. This is very comforting to humans because it tells them it is impossible to go beyond you. The reason I like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World so much is that it plays with the scenario: Act I, we try to create a utopia; Act II, it succeeds. That is far more frightening ? something will come that is better than before.

WorldPost: But success is a failure that destroys human autonomy and dignity?

Harari: That is an open question. The basic humanist tendency is to think that way. But maybe not.

WorldPost: But all of history up to this point teaches that lesson. You are saying it is different now?

Harari: Going back to the Earth Spirit and Faust, humans are now about to do something that natural selection never managed to do, which is to create inorganic life ? AI. If you look at this in the cosmic terms of 4 billion years of life on Earth, not even in the short term of 50,000 years or so of human history, we are on the verge of breaking out of the organic realm. Then we can go to the Earth Spirit and say, “What do you think about that? We are equal to the spirit we understand, not you.”

Human history began when men created gods. It will end when men become gods.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Earlier on the Berggruen Institute:

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›  Siri Helps Hero 4-Year-Old Save His Unconscious Mom's Life

Siri helped a quick-thinking boy in England save his unconscious mom’s life.

Roman, 4, used his mother’s thumb to unlock her iPhone before asking Apple’s voice assistant for help after she passed out at their home in Croydon, South London, on March 7.

Siri dialed the emergency service number and the child informed a dispatcher what had happened. Heartbreaking audio, above, captures Roman saying his mom is “dead” because “she’s closing her eyes and she’s not breathing.”

Paramedics arrived on the scene 13 minutes later, revived the unidentified woman and took her to the hospital. Authorities have not revealed what caused her to fall unconscious.

It’s an amazing story,” Chief Superintendent Ade Adelekan, from London’s Metropolitan Police Service, said in a statement.

“Thanks to his quick thinking and by asking ‘Siri’ for help, this little boy saved his mum’s life and it means she is still here and can be extremely proud of him and his brothers,” Adelekan added.

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related Coverage + articlesList=56f53a79e4b0a3721819ac2f,581a2630e4b043bd31419e90,570fe6dfe4b088aea430dcc5

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Senate Republicans Vote To Overturn Internet Privacy Protections

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted narrowly to repeal regulations requiring internet service providers to do more to protect customers’ privacy than websites like Alphabet Inc’s Google <GOOGL.O> or Facebook Inc <FB.O>.

The vote was along party lines, with 50 Republicans approving the measure and 48 Democrats rejecting it. The two remaining Republicans in the Senate were absent and did not cast a vote.

According to the rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission in October under then-President Barack Obama, internet providers would need to obtain consumer consent before using precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history for advertising and internal marketing.

The vote was a victory for internet providers such as AT&T Inc <T.N>, Comcast Corp <CMCSA.O> and Verizon Communications Inc <VZ.N>, which had strongly opposed the rules.

The bill next goes to the U.S. House of Representatives, but it was not clear when they would take up the measure.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate was overturning a regulation that “makes the internet an uneven playing field, increases complexity, discourages competition, innovation, and infrastructure investment.”

But Democratic Senator Ed Markey said, “Republicans have just made it easier for American’s sensitive information about their health, finances and families to be used, shared, and sold to the highest bidder without their permission.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said consumers would have privacy protections even without the Obama administration internet provider rules.

In a joint statement, Democratic members of the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission said the Senate vote “creates a massive gap in consumer protection law as broadband and cable companies now have no discernible privacy requirements.”

Republican commissioners, including Pai, said in October that the rules would unfairly give websites like Facebook, Twitter Inc <TWTR.N> or Google the ability to harvest more data than internet service providers and thus dominate digital advertising. The FCC earlier this month delayed the data rules from taking effect.

The Internet and Television Association, a trade group, in a statement praised the vote as a “critical step towards re-establishing a balanced framework that is grounded in the long-standing and successful FTC privacy framework that applies equally to all parties operating online.”

Websites are governed by a less restrictive set of privacy rules overseen by the Federal Trade Commission.

Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for advocacy group Consumers Union, said the vote “is a huge step in the wrong direction, and it completely ignores the needs and concerns of consumers.”


(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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