government

The man behind Bezos’ next lunar guidance system talks future tech

Draper, the MIT spin-off engineering lab, is famed for developing the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer (not Draper Esprit, I hasten to add). Ken Gabriel, President and CEO, also recently made a major announcement. Blue Origin has now partnered with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to build elements of the company’s human-rated lunar lander, and Draper will lead the development of the lander’s avionics and guidance systems, with an aim to be ready to land a crew on the moon by 2024. “While Blue Origin is the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin is building the ascent stage, Northrop Grumman is building the transfer element and Draper is doing the GNC (guidance, navigation and control),” Blue Origin CEO and founder Jeff Bezos said, announcing the move at the International Astronautical Congress ...

Army photogrammetry technique makes 3D aerial maps in minutes

Aerial imagery is a common asset in military matters, but 3D maps can be difficult to collect on short notice without specialized equipment. This new photogrammetry technique from the Army Corps of Engineers, however, can make accurate 3D maps from ordinary aerial footage in just minutes. Photogrammetry is the process of comparing multiple photos of the same location or item to produce a 3D map of it. It’s a well-known method but in some cases is still reliable on human intelligence to determine, for instance, which frames of a video should be used to produce the best results. Ricky Massaro from the Army’s Geospatial Research Laboratory in Virginia has mitigated that problem and produced a highly efficient photogrammetric method that can turn aerial imagery into accurate 3D sur...

‘Magic: The Gathering’ game maker exposed 452,000 players’ account data

The maker of Magic: The Gathering has confirmed that a security lapse exposed the data on hundreds of thousands of game players. The game’s developer, the Washington-based Wizards of the Coast, left a database backup file in a public Amazon Web Services storage bucket. The database file contained user account information for the game’s online arena. But there was no password on the storage bucket, allowing anyone to access the files inside. The bucket is not believed to have been exposed for long — since around early-September — but it was long enough for U.K. cybersecurity firm Fidus Information Security to find the database. A review of the database file showed there were 452,634 players’ information, including about 470 email addresses associated with Wizards’ st...

The House and Senate finally agree on something: Robocalls

In these times of political strife, it’s nice that despite our differences we can still band together as a nation in the face of a catastrophe that affects us all equally. I speak, of course, of robocalls, and it seems that the House and Senate have put their differences aside for the present in order to collaborate on a law combating this scourge. Despite a great deal of FCC bluster, a few high-profile fines and some talk from telecoms about their plans to implement new anti-robocall standards, half the country’s phones are still blowing up regularly with recordings and scammers on the other side. If regulators find it difficult to act, ultimately what’s needed is legislation, and lawmakers — who no doubt are receiving the calls themselves, which might have given the tas...

Facebook’s Libra code chugs along ignoring regulatory deadlock

“5 months and growing strong” the Libra Association announced today in an post about its technical infrastructure that completely omits the fierce regulatory backlash to its cryptocurrency. 40 wallets, tools, and block explorers plus 1,700 Github commits have how now been built on its blockchain testnet that’s seen 51,000 mock transactions in the past two months. Libra nodes that process transactions are now being run by Coinbase, Uber, BisonTrails, Iliad, Xapo, Anchorage, and Facebook’s Calibra. Six more nodes are being established, plus there are 8 more getting set up from members who lack technical teams, meaning all 21 members have nodes running or in the works. But the update on the Libra backend doesn’t explain how the association plans to get all the wa...

Twitter makes its political ad ban official

The ban on political ads announced by Twitter two weeks ago has come into effect, and the rules are surprisingly simple — perhaps too simple. No political content as they define it may be promoted; candidates, parties, governments or officials, PACs and certain political nonprofit groups are banned from promoting content altogether. The idea intended to be made manifest in these policies is that “political message reach should be earned, not bought,” as the company puts it. It’s hard to argue with that (but Facebook will anyway). The new rules apply globally and to all ad types. It’s important to make clear at the outset that Twitter is not banning political content, it is banning the paid promotion of that content. Every topic is fair game and every person or organ...

Takeaways from Nvidia’s latest quarterly earnings

Nvidia has been on a wild growth ride the past five years. Surfing a wave around AI deep learning and cryptocurrency where its specialized chip architecture is among the highest performing, the company’s share price rose from the low $20s in late 2014 to eventually soar to almost $300 in September 2018. And then crypto winter set in, and within weeks the company’s market cap was sliced nearly in half as crypto miners canceled their orders and inventories at Nvidia started building up a glut of chips. After losing half its value, Nvidia faces reckoning Since that nadir in late 2018, the company has mostly been on the upswing as it has pushed expansion into a variety of other verticals like automotive, most notably by announcing the purchase of Israeli chip maker Mellanox for $6.9 billion in...

AWS confirms reports it will challenge JEDI contract award to Microsoft

Surely just about everyone was surprised when the Department of Defense last month named Microsoft as the winner of the decade-long, $10 billion JEDI cloud contract — none more so than Amazon, the company everyone assumed all along would be the winner. Today the company confirmed earlier reports that it was challenging the contract award in the Court of Federal Claims. The Federal Times broke this story. In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson suggested that there was possible bias and issues in the selection process. “AWS is uniquely experienced and qualified to provide the critical technology the U.S. military needs, and remains committed to supporting the DoD’s modernization efforts. We also believe it’s critical for our country that the government and its elected leade...

Can America ever rebuild its neighborhoods and communities?

We talk a lot about startup ecosystems around these parts, and for good reason. Strong ecosystems have great reservoirs of talent congregated close together, a culture built around helping one another on ambitious projects, and sufficient risk capital to ensure that interesting projects have the resources to get underway. Strip off the ecosystem layer though, and you are left with the actual, physical manifestation of a city or region — its housing, its transportation and mobility options, and its infrastructure. And if Charles Marohn’s Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity is any indication, a whole heck of a swath of America has little hope of ever tapping into the modern knowledge economy or creating the kind of sustainable growth that builds “Strong Towns....

Ex-Facebook CPO Chris Cox now advises on climate & campaign tech

Chris Cox’s motivational speeches were at the heart of Facebook’s new employee orientation. But after 14 years at the social network, the Chief Product Officer left in March amidst an executive shake-up and Facebook’s new plan to prioritize privacy by moving to encrypt its messaging apps. No details on his next projects were revealed. Now the 37-year-old leader will be putting his inspirational demeanor and keen strategy sense to work to protect the environment and improve the government. Today at Wired25 conference, Cox finally shared more about his work advising political technology developer for progressives Acronym, and climate change-tracking satellite startup Planet Labs. He also explained more about the circumstances of his departure from social network’s C-s...

Vape lung ‘breakthrough’ suggests lethal culprit in THC products could be vitamin E acetate

Official word has come down from federal authorities on one potential cause of the mystery illness affecting vape users: Vitamin E acetate, a chemical found in some vaping products that has been demonstrated to linger in the lungs long afterwards. The finding has been called a “breakthrough” but is far from the last word on the situation. Sadly, the condition has already claimed the lives of at least 39 people, and more than 2,000 cases have been reported collectively from every state but Alaska. At present the only advice offered has been to stop vaping altogether. In a media teleconference, the heads of the investigation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained the basis for pointing the finger at Vitamin E acetate. The substance was cited as a possible p...

I ran digital ads for a presidential campaign, and Twitter is right to ban them

Aaron Bartnick Contributor Share on Twitter Aaron Bartnick (@AaronBartnick) served as Digital Director for Congressman Seth Moulton’s presidential campaign. He is currently completing graduate studies at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. As the digital director for Congressman Seth Moulton’s 2020 presidential campaign, I was responsible for everything the campaign did on the internet: the emails you claim to hate, the videos we hoped would go viral, the online infrastructure that supported organizers in the field, and more. But our biggest investment of both time and money, by far, was in digital advertising. For our campaign and many others, digital ads were the single biggest expense outside of payroll. Yet these ads are terrible for campaigns, toxic for democracy and are even ba...

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