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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

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Uber Grounds Self-Driving Car Fleet After Serious Arizona Crash

Uber is suspending its entire self-driving car program while it investigates a serious crash of one of its vehicles in Arizona. Uber confirmed the accident after a photo was posted on Twitter showing an Uber SUV Volvo on its side next to another dented car with broken windows. The crash occurred in Tempe, but Uber offered few other details. A spokeswoman told Tech Crunch that Uber’s autonomous car program — currently being tested in Arizona, Pittsburgh and just recently again in San Francisco — has been suspended pending an investigation.

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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.

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Phone Companies Will Soon Banish Robocalls. For Real This Time

By Klint Finley for WIRED . If Democrats, Republics, and the telecommunications industry can agree on anything, it’s that robocalls are the worst. That’s why the Federal Communications Commission passed rules today that expand the authority of phone companies to block unwanted phone calls. Short version: If a phone number seems at all likely to be bogus, companies can block it. The law forbids marketers from calling people who are on the Do Not Call list. Yet according to the FCC, consumers last year received about 2.4 billion robocalls per month

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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 or Facebook Inc . 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

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The Hidden Breakthrough In Apple’s New Video App

By Margaret Rhodes for WIRED . You may be tempted to compare Clips, Apple’s new mobile video app, to Snapchat and Instagram. When it appears in the App Store next month, the slick new app will feature filters, stickers, and a press-to-record UI that makes it easy to capture, edit, and share snippets of video. But Clips is no mere Snapchat clone.

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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 Deus .  He 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.

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Google Boycott Expands After “Ad Scandal”

Major UK firms have pulled advertising from Google’s YouTube platform after discovering their brands were appearing alongside videos promoting terrorism and other inappropriate content. The decision by Sky, Vodafone, HSBC, Lloyds, and the Royal Bank of Scotland to suspend their ads follows the same action last week by other brands including L’Oreal, Audi, Sainsbury’s, the BBC, and The Guardian. Advertisers are rightfully aggrieved. Ads for The Guardian’s membership scheme have been placed alongside extremist material after an agency acting on the media group’s behalf used AdX, a Google-owned programmatic trading platform. Programmatic advertising is an efficient way to reach specific audiences online, but it can also risk some ads inadvertently appearing next to undesirable content if proper safety checks, such as whitelists or blacklists, are not put in place by both the ad platform and the ad buyer. Brands Unwittingly Funding Extremists Brand ads appearing on inappropriate places online is not a new phenomenon. The issue was pushed into the spotlight after an investigation by The Times  in February found several big brand ads, including Mercedes-Benz, Waitrose and Marie Curie, appeared on hate sites and YouTube videos created by supporters of terrorist groups such as Islamic State and Combat 18, a violent pro-Nazi faction

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