2017: As Told Through Elon Musk’s Tweets

Musk’s Year

2017 could arguably be called the year of Elon Musk. Love him or hate him, he seemed to be everywhere, doing just about everything. From Australian megabatteries, to teasing the world by suggesting he might blast a Tesla Roadster into space, Musk has dipped his toes into every sector. From Neuralink to Tesla to SpaceX and even the Boring Company, Musk is revolutionizing the way we think about and approach transportation, space travel, and even our own brains. So let’s take a look back at 2017 through the Twitter of the man who is taking reality and shaping it for the future:

Musk’s first tweet of 2017 marked progress in the reusable Falcon 9 rockets. Within this year alone, SpaceX launched 16 Falcon 9 rockets. In the new year, they expect to launch the Falcon Heavy, which includes boosters and modified first-stages from Falcon 9 rockets. The advancement of reusable rockets will allow us to further embrace space exploration.

Later in January, Musk retweeted Tesla on exploring the potential of long-term battery life and charging networks for electric vehicles. These developing technologies will be a firm part of the foundation that allows us to develop EV-friendly infrastructure and break away from fossil fuels.

He also tweeted about Hyperloop, which was not yet Virgin Hyperloop One. This year, more serious testing began for the advanced transportation technology.

Musk also made clear social commentary. He denounced the travel ban that the president signed in late January, while also asking for specific public suggestions on how to present his dissatisfaction to Donald Trump, as Musk was still on his advisory board at the time.

NASA announced in February that solar arrays were deployed on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, an announcement that Musk retweeted. This cargo craft has furthered the relationship between the government-based and private aerospace organizations.

When a group of scientists revisited the Drake equation in March, Musk even eloquently inquired about the current status of extraterrestrial detection. This year, many advances have been made to further our understanding of what could make life in the universe possible, as efforts made to detect habitable planets and contact potential extraterrestrial neighbors continued to move forward.

Musk also retweeted OpenAI, which he helped to found. This year saw an incredible array of advancements in artificial intelligence and in the ability of these systems to learn.

Neuralink took the world by storm as it brought to the forefront the concept of brain-computer interfaces. Musk’s work towards this “cyborg” goal became actualized this year.

In May, as throughout the year, Musk joked about his pun-titled Boring Company while they continue to dig and make progress in building a tunnel under Los Angeles. The L.A. tunnel will be used to ferry cars and people, and eventually, the company hopes, house a working Hyperloop.

After President Trump announced his intentions to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, Elon Musk publicly stated his departure from the President’s advisory council. He concisely expressed his feelings about the departure and the very real threats of climate change on Twitter.

Looking beyond the problems of our own planet, Musk also further legitimized plans to go to Mars. Previous inklings of future hopes to colonize the red planet became developing plans.

Through Tesla, Musk bet the cost of the battery that he could build the world’s largest lithium-ion battery for Southern Australia. And amazingly, he pulled it off ahead of schedule.

Despite his continued investment and work in its advancement, in August Musk warned the public of the potential dangers of AI. He stressed the need for regulation of this potentially disruptive technology.

Musk unveiled the aptly named “BFR” rocket, which is a work in progress that is part of SpaceX’s plan to get to Mars.

In October, Tesla jumped into action to assist Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, sending Powerpacks and solar panels to the island as well as discussing plans to restore its grid. Musk retweeted a series of pictures sent by Tesla from the island.

October’s Musk tweet of the month was perhaps this haunting photo, of a competed section of the Boring Company’s tunnel under L.A:

In November, Musk and Tesla finally revealed the Tesla semi, the electric semi truck that promises to make long-distance shipping a greener and more energy-efficient industry. Large companies have already responded to the new semi with enthusiasm.

He also took to Twitter to publicly confirmed rumors that the Boring company would compete for the contract to build a tunnel connecting Chicago’s airport to the city’s downtown, but clarified that the short route would not be a hyperloop.

In December, Musk managed to sneak one last success through the closing door of 2017, when the battery Tesla built for South Australia smoothly kicked in to save the region’s energy grid after a coal plant failure. Afterwards, he retweeted an article about how the battery is already re-shaping the energy market in Australia.

From defying government decisions to supporting efforts against climate change, revolutionizing transportation, and making a human future on Mars seem possible, Elon Musk has had a big year. As it drew to a close, however, he did take time to appreciate the network that let him share it all with us.

Here’s to hoping that this pioneer will be just as busy in 2018.

The post 2017: As Told Through Elon Musk’s Tweets appeared first on Futurism.

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Facebook told the U.S. government that it’s open to new, limited political ad disclosure rules

Its comments to the FEC, however, don’t mention issues-focused ads, which Russian agents bought in 2016.

Facebook told the U.S. government that it would support limited new federal rules requiring companies and campaigns to disclose more information about online political ads.

But the social giant — in comments filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday — did not appear to wade into what should be done about issues-related political ads, the kinds of ads purchased by Russian agents in an attempt to sow social unrest around the 2016 presidential election.

Specifically, Facebook said it supported the FEC’s efforts to clarify when tech companies must disclose the origin of political ads, and what those disclosures must include.

Facebook also endorsed rules requiring greater transparency around candidate-focused ads that run in the weeks around Election Day, a move that would subject tech platforms to similar guidelines that currently apply to broadcasters and newspapers.

And Facebook asked the FEC to be open-minded about how those disclosures should look. The tech company recently announced that it would place an icon on political ads about federal candidates to help users learn more about them — and it touted that plan as it urged the agency to consider similarly flexible rules.

Taken together, Facebook’s comments appear to amount to a marked departure from 2011, when the company actually sought an exemption from FEC advertising regulations. At the time, Facebook said its ads were too small for the feds to require it to include text explaining who paid for it in the first place. In the end, the FEC never adopted any rules.

“Ad formats available on Facebook have expanded dramatically since that time,” Facebook said Monday. “Today, some of Facebook’s ads continue to be limited in size, with text limitations or truncations based on format and placement of the ad. But other formats allow for additional creative flexibility. Ads can now include videos, can include scrolling carousels of images, and can even cover the entire screen of a mobile device.”

But Facebook’s comments omitted a key element: A reference to issue-focused ads, or the kinds of ads that don’t mention a specific candidate or campaign, but push a viewpoint on a specific social issue, like gun control.

Many of the ads purchased by Russian accounts during last year’s presidential election were issue-based ads intended to stoke unrest around issues like immigration, gun control or Black Lives Matter. Those ads do not currently require any kind of disclosure, and Facebook is not interested in regulating them, its comments appeared to suggest.

Doing so could require the company to regularly make editorial decisions about what counts as an issues-focused ad and what doesn’t, and Facebook has long argued that it provides a neutral platform for all ideas. In contrast, Google was less shy about pointing out the troublesome issues ads — and asking the FEC for clarity as to how they should be handled, particularly when they are purchased by foreign entities.

For now, the FEC does not yet have a proposal. It is only seeking initial public comment, the deadline for which is today. All three tech giants — Facebook, Google and Twitter — have asked for clarity as part of that process, even if they disagree on what those rules should cover.

The FEC could ultimately decide to stand down in 2017, adopting no regulations now, much as it did in 2011. In the meantime, it’s why lawmakers on Capitol Hill have pursued a bill of their own. So far, though, Facebook, Google and Twitter each has declined to endorse the measure, called the Honest Ads Act, which would require them to make copies of political ads available for public inspection.


Recode – All

Twitter just told Congress it found about 200 accounts linked to the same Russian agents found on Facebook

The company met with House and Senate investigators who are probing Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Twitter has found roughly 200 accounts believed to be tied to some of the same Russian-linked sources that purchased ads on Facebook in an attempt to provoke political tensions during the 2016 presidential election.

Twitter informed congressional investigators of its findings in a series of briefings in Washington, D.C., on Thursday — and the revelations are sure to stoke further speculation on Capitol Hill that Kremlin agents sought to co-opt social media platforms to stir social and political unrest in the U.S.

The company’s inquiry appears to have started in earnest earlier this month, after Facebook said roughly 470 Russian-linked accounts had purchased 3,000 advertisements, some of which sought to stoke racial or religious discord.

Twitter checked its own database for any information related to the 470 profiles and found 22 Twitter accounts that matched. Additionally, those 22 accounts had ties to 179 other Twitter accounts, and those found in violation of Twitter rules have been suspended.

“Neither the original accounts shared by Facebook, nor the additional related accounts we identified, were registered as advertisers on Twitter,” the company said in a blog post. “However, we continue to investigate these issues, and will take action on anything that violates our Terms of Service.”

The company confirmed the details after meeting with staff on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The two panels are investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Twitter’s representatives — led by Colin Crowell, its vice president of global public policy — also handed over copies of all sponsored tweets purchased by the news outlet Russia Today. Twitter said that RT spent $ 274,100 on U.S. ads in 2016. The U.S. government has previously identified that network, known as RT, as a Kremlin-backed partner along with WikiLeaks. At the same time, RT and its associated Twitter accounts were not part of the 200 suspended profiles.

In some cases, though, congressional aides appeared disappointed with the information Twitter provided. Some on the Senate Intelligence Committee, for example, fretted Twitter had not done more, and sooner, to patrol its website for Russian misinformation, according to a source familiar with its work. Afterwards, the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner, thrashed the social giant’s presentation as “frankly inadequate.”

That scrutiny presages a much more grueling grilling awaiting Twitter, along with its peers at two public congressional hearings on the horizon. The House Intelligence Committee expects to invite Facebook, Google and Twitter to testify in an open session in October, aides have said, while the Senate Intelligence Committee has officially invited all three companies to appear for a Nov. 1 hearing, sources previously told Recode.

With Facebook, meanwhile, lawmakers are focused on roughly 3,000 ads purchased by Russian sources in the months before Election Day. Some of the advertisements focused on racial, religious and other social issues, and at times they even played on both sides of an issue — advancing and opposing causes including Black Lives Matter and gun control, for example — in a bid to stir potential political unrest

In response, Facebook has pledged to adopt a number of new transparency requirements for political ads. It has pledged to turn over copies to congressional investigators. And the company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has admitted that misinformation did affect discussion on Facebook.

“Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post this week. “This is too important an issue to be dismissive.”

Google, meanwhile, has faced similar questions about the ads it sells, and to whom it sells them, as well as content posted on YouTube. It briefed Senate investigators in the spring, sources previously said, and is expected to return to the Hill.

For its part, Twitter entered its meeting Thursday under pressure from the likes of Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who had raised concerns that bots helped spread misinformation on its site. In response, Twitter highlighted in its blog post ways that it seeks to tackle these and other spam accounts, but the company noted it’s also contending with human-directed networks that spread falsehoods and fake news.

Going forward, Twitter also said it would make a number of changes to its platform, including “introducing new and escalating enforcements for suspicious logins, Tweets, and engagements, and shortening the amount of time suspicious accounts remain visible on Twitter while pending confirmation.”

But others, like Warner, want to subject Twitter and other social media sites to more political ad transparency requirements. The company did not comment specifically on his legislation, but added: “We welcome the opportunity to work with the FEC and leaders in Congress to review and strengthen guidelines for political advertising on social media.”


Recode – All

Hear the story of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 told by its designer

Philippe Starck is a world-renowned designer who has worked on anything from luxury hotels to Steve Jobs’ yacht. In smartphone circles, he’s known as the man behind the Xiaomi Mi Mix – the phone that kicked off the bezel-less craze (Sharp has been making Aquos Crystals since 2014, but those never went viral like the Mix did). Anyway, Starck also designed the sequel – Mi Mix 2. Listen to him and Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun talk about the Mix 2. Starck focuses on the creative inspirations, Jun prefers to talk about the tech side of things. What these two have in common is that both are born…

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told Peter Thiel that his support of Trump made Facebook look bad

It always comes back to emails.

Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, told venture capitalist Peter Thiel in an email during the 2016 presidential election that Thiel had displayed “catastrophically bad judgment” for his support of Donald Trump. The two Facebook board members’ previously unreported spat shows just how isolated Thiel’s politics have made him in Silicon Valley.

That’s via the New York Times, which reported Tuesday that Hastings, the chair of Facebook’s Board of Directors committee that evaluates other board members, told Thiel that he could suffer professionally for his politics.

“I see our board being about great judgment, particularly in unlikely disaster where we have to pick new leaders,” Hastings wrote in an email dated August 14 obtained by the Times. “I’m so mystified by your endorsement of Trump for our President, that for me it moves from ‘different judgment’ to ‘bad judgment.’ Some diversity in views is healthy, but catastrophically bad judgment (in my view) is not what anyone wants in a fellow board member.”

Thiel, a proudly contrarian investor, gave millions to super PACs that supported Trump and spoke on his behalf at the Republican National Convention just a few weeks before Hastings sent his note. The email seems to complicate what Thiel said in the final days before the election — that despite his advocacy for Trump, his “close working business relationships, I think all those are very well intact.”

Thiel said at the National Press Club in October that his “company,” at least, had not “in any meaningful way” experienced blowback from consumers or vendors.


Recode – All