MoviePass CEO: ‘We Watch How You Drive from Home to the Movies’

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MoviePass’s premise, letting users see a movie a day for only $ 10 a month, may sound too good to be true. As it turns out, it probably is. The service still only costs $ 10 a month, but there’s a catch. Namely, it’s the fact that MoviePass is planning on collecting its users’ location data and […]
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Curling and U.S. snowboarder Shaun White were popular Olympics topics on Facebook — we just don’t know how popular

Facebook didn’t release its typical audience metrics for the PyeongChang Olympics.

The Olympics are already over, and while American athletes didn’t dominate the podium, they did dominate the public conversation on Facebook.

On Monday, the social network unveiled some data about the past 17 days of Olympics-related conversations, including things like the “most-talked-about athlete,” U.S. snowboarder Shaun White; the “most-talked-about sports,” figure skating and curling; and the “most-’Liked’ post,” this great post highlighting many of the female athletes who represented African countries at the Games.

What was almost as interesting as the data Facebook did share, though, is what Facebook didn’t share: Total audience and interaction data around the Olympics, the standard metrics the company shares for almost all major events, like the World Cup, the Rio Olympics, the Sochi Olympics and the Super Bowl.

Snowboarder Shaun White smiles and holds up his 2018 Olympic gold medal. Quinn Rooney / Getty
Gold medalist Shaun White of the United States

Facebook usually releases a blog boasting that a massive number of people created a massive amount of Olympics-related interactions on Facebook over the course of the games. They aren’t doing that this year. A spokesperson says the company isn’t planning to share that data and didn’t elaborate as to why.

We have a guess. It’s possible that the numbers Facebook saw this year were smaller than the ones it announced for previous Olympics competitions — no one likes touting metrics that are getting smaller. If true, the downward trend would align with other data about the 2018 Olympics. TV viewership for NBC’s coverage of the PyeongChang Olympics was down 7 percent over Sochi’s ratings four years ago, for example.

So there was less interest in the Olympics on TV than there was four years ago. Maybe Facebook noticed the same thing.

Either way, here’s the list of the most-talked-about athletes on Facebook during the Olympics. American athletes did dominate this competition:

  1. Shaun White, Snowboarding, USA
  2. Red Gerard, Snowboarding, USA
  3. Adam Rippon, Figure Skating, USA
  4. Chloe Kim, Snowboarding, USA
  5. Scott Moir, Ice Dancing, Canada
  6. Tessa Virtue, Ice Dancing, Canada
  7. Martin Fourcade, Biathlon, France
  8. Lindsey Vonn, Alpine Skiing, USA
  9. Nathan Chen, Figure Skating, USA
  10. Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine Skiing, USA

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Coinbase responds to rampant overcharges: ‘We have identified a solution’

Digital currency exchange Coinbase responded this afternoon to a report from The Verge regarding rampant overcharging of users and unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts, saying in a statement that the company has “identified a solution” to the problem. The issue, which began percolating on the dedicated Coinbase subreddit late last week, appears to be related to a recent change in the way credit cards classify digital currency transactions. Users were reporting empty cryptocurrency accounts as a result, which was creating panic and calls for legal action among Coinbase customers.

“We’re currently investigating an issue where some customers were charged incorrectly for purchases of digital currency with credit and debit cards,”…

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Survival game ’We Happy Few’ is delayed until summer

We've been excited about We Happy Few, the paranoia-fueled horror survival game set in a small English town, for awhile now. But it looks like we're going to have to wait a bit longer to play it. While the game was originally scheduled to be released…
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Patreon rescinds maligned fee restructure: “We messed up. We’re sorry”

When Patreon, a platform for freelance creatives, announced it would start charging a $ 0.35 transaction fee on every payment placed on the website, many contributors were outraged. While the company initially defended the move, citing technical requirements, it’s now issued a repeal as well as an apology. And to the company’s leadership we say: bravo! Creators & patrons: We’ve heard you loud and clear. We’re sorry, and we’re not rolling out the fees change. — Patreon (@Patreon) December 13, 2017 In a blog post titled “We messed up. We’re sorry, and we’re not rolling out the fees change.” Patreon…

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Jeff Bezos: “We Have to Go to Space to Save Earth”

Eyes on the Prize

Jeff Bezos is a busy man. Obviously, his primary focus is Amazon, the half-a-trillion-dollar company he founded, but improving how goods are bought and sold here on Earth is far from his most ambitious goal. Through his aerospace company Blue Origin, Bezos wants to expand humanity’s reach in the solar system.

Want to Go To Space? This is How Much It Will Cost You
Click to View Full Infographic

During an interview at the invite-only Summit Series held in Los Angeles this weekend, Bezos recounted his long obsession with space, according to a TechCrunch report.

At his high school graduation, he gave a valedictory speech that ended with a play on the “Star Trek” tagline — “Space, the final frontier. Meet me there.” — and Bezos’ Summit Series interview added a little more urgency to his invitation: “We have to go to space to save Earth…We kind of have to hurry.”

While Bezos believes humanity needs to explore the universe beyond our planet and has previously said he envisions a future where “millions of people [are] working and living in space,” he was sure to note during his Summit Series interview that we shouldn’t simply give up on the Earth. “We’ve sent robotic probes to every planet in our solar system. This one is the best. It’s not even close,” he said, according to TechCrunch’s report.

The Greatest Barrier

A few decades after giving his valedictory speech, Bezos is now one of the people most likely to actually enable that off-world meet up by opening space to tourism and possible colonization. As he’s noted before, though, we’ve yet to overcome one very significant hurdle: cost.

“We should build a permanent settlement on one of the poles of the Moon,” said Bezos while receiving the Buzz Aldrin Space Innovation Award. “What’s holding us back from making that next step is that space travel is just too darned expensive.”

Bezos’ Summit Series interview expanded on this point, with the CEO noting how lowering the price of admission for space travel could lead to thousands of space-based startups the same way lowered infrastructure costs opened the internet up to web startups.

Key to lowering costs will be the development of reusable rockets, and just like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Bezos’ Blue Origin has been focused heavily on reusable rocket technology. Recently, the company reached a breakthrough with the next-generation space engine they plan to use for a rocket that could be ready to fly tourists into sub-orbital space by April 2019.

Indeed, the future of space exploration and perhaps even colonization is in the hands of companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, and as emphasized during Bezos’ Summit Series interview, it all starts with making space more accessible. We may still have decades to wait until humanity reaches Mars, but if Bezos has any say in the matter, he’ll be ready to meet us there.

The post Jeff Bezos: “We Have to Go to Space to Save Earth” appeared first on Futurism.


Former General Motors Executive: “We Are Approaching the End of the Automotive Era”

Relinquishing the Driver’s Seat

Saying that autonomous cars are slowly increasing in popularity is a bit of an understatement. An idea once relegated to works of sci-fi is slowing becoming a reality, and it’s seemingly only a matter of time before the majority of vehicles on our streets and highways are self-driving and we reach the end of the automotive era as we know it.

A glance at the companies investing in autonomous technologies should tell you everything you need to know about the tech’s expected impact — Tesla, Google, Lyft, Uber, General Motors, and Ford are just a handful of the many companies creating, testing, and deploying autonomous cars.

While figuring out how to sell self-driving cars to consumers might be a more near-term consideration for some of these companies, no doubt others see the possibility that we’re heading toward a future in which people no longer own cars at all or, at the very least, one in which owner-driven vehicles represent just a small minority of those on the road.

Bob Lutz sees such a future on the horizon.

The former VP of General Motors may have retired in 2010, but with 47 years’ worth of experience, few know the automotive industry as well as he does, so when he says we’re approaching the end of the automotive era, it’s in every automaker and car owner’s best interest to pay attention.

“The auto industry is on an accelerating change curve,” Lutz wrote in an article published by Automotive News. “For hundreds of years, the horse was the prime mover of humans, and for the past 120 years, it has been the automobile. Now, we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile because travel will be in standardized modules.”

Autonomous Public Transport: The Future of the Urban Commute [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Lutz expects the transition to autonomous cars to impact consumers fully within the next 15 to 20 years. The “tipping point,” as Lutz put it, will be when roughly 20 to 30 percent of vehicles are self-driving, which will cause society to realize that autonomous cars are safer than those driven by humans. Human-driven vehicles will then be made illegal on roads, and car owners will either have to scrap their vehicles or trade them in for something that can drive itself.

Public Acceptance

Interestingly enough, Lutz doesn’t believe public acceptance will be necessary for self-driving cars to find success. Companies like Uber, Lyft, FedEx, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, and Amazon will lead the charge, each buying thousands of low-, medium-, and high-end models to advance their businesses.

Those vehicles won’t be branded by their manufacturer, according to Lutz. Instead, they’ll bear the brand of the company using them, so while the autonomous car may look like one of, say, Ford’s models, it’ll be branded “Lyft” or converted into a UPS truck.

Lutz’s prediction that the end of the automotive era is nigh is supported by a number of recent assertions and actions by others.

NVIDIA’s CEO thinks we’re only four years away from fully autonomous cars, and Toyota believes they’ll have intelligent talking cars by 2020. California will allow self-driving cars without human drivers to operate on roads by mid-2018, and Google’s Waymo is expected to launch a self-driving car service within the next few months.

According to Lutz, automakers will be largely okay for the next 10 to 15 years, operating in a manner similar to what they do today. However, within 20 years, the shift to self-driving vehicles will be complete, and the human-driven automobile, repair facilities, and car dealerships will become relics of the past.

“I won’t be around to say, ‘I told you so,’ though if I do make it to [105-years old], I could no longer drive anyway because driving will be banned,” mused Lutz in his article. “So my timing once again is impeccable.”

The post Former General Motors Executive: “We Are Approaching the End of the Automotive Era” appeared first on Futurism.


“We Think That We Beat AIDS. We Think It Is Done. It Is Not.”

The Battleground

Over the course of the 20th century, tens of millions of people have died because of HIV. In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that, since the epidemic started in the early 1980s, more than 70 million people have been diagnosed with HIV. More than 35 million people have died of HIV. And today, there are more than 36 million people living with HIV or AIDS.

Keep in mind, these are just the numbers that we know about. The actual numbers could be far, far higher.

When the outbreak began, the disease was a death sentence. The chances of survival, all but zero. In previous decades, after being diagnosed with HIV, most individuals developed AIDS within 8 to 10 years. Once an individual was diagnosed with AIDS, they had a life expectancy of just two years.

In a harrowing report, the WHO summed the nature of this global killer:

Untreated disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has a case fatality rate that approaches 100%. Not since the bubonic plague of the 14th century has a single pathogen wreaked such havoc. AIDS has torn apart families and caused untold suffering in the most heavily burdened regions. In hard-hit areas, including some of the poorest parts of the world, HIV has reversed gains in life expectancy registered in the last three decades of the 20th century. HIV/AIDS is a major global health emergency.

Fortunately, recent advances in medicine have allowed us to fight back. In fact, because of these advances, the disease is no longer considered a terminal illness. It is no longer a death sentence. As we previously reported, scientists now list HIV as “chronic, manageable illness.” Although there is no cure, and you will have to take medicine to manage the disease the rest of your life, we can manage it. And in the end, individuals who have HIV ultimately have the exact same life expectancy as those without the virus…at least, they do if they are fortunate enough to have access to basic healthcare.

Globally, 400 million people do not have access to essential health services.

At the Social Good Summit today (Sept. 17, 2017), an event organized by the United Nations Foundation and Mashable, Whoopi Goldberg, the Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF, outlined the ways that we are—to be blunt—failing.

Recognizing a Truth

Goldberg began her discussion with Quinn Tivey, who is the Trustee for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, by noting a harsh truth: “We are under the impression that we beat AIDS. We think that it is done. It is not.” She continued her criticism by asserting that, while there are many people globally who are living normal lives with HIV, there are many more who are dying. “Yes, there are people living on medication, but we have not eradicated the disease.”

The truth of Goldberg’s assertions cannot be denied. Unfortunately, HIV education and treatment is not universal, and access to both effective prevention and medication dramatically impacts an individuals fate. These things are, quite literally, the difference between life and death.

In impoverished areas—in poor communities in wealthy societies—HIV remains a death sentence.

Although people living with HIV who have access to the latest medical advances can lead relatively normal lives, in impoverished countries and in poor communities in wealthy societies, HIV remains a death sentence. As Tivey noted in his conversation with Goldberg, “Poverty, inequality and HIV and AIDS are inextricably linked issues, particularly in the United States.”

Ultimately, facts like this are precisely why the Social Good Summit exists. Organized during the annual United Nations General Assembly week, the Summit aims to bring together entrepreneurs and innovators, scientists and thought leaders, politicians and citizens discuss how we can unlock the potential of science and technology and harness them to make the world a better, more equal, place.

The key, the first step, according to Goldberg, is to recognize that this is not an issue faced by one nation or people. This is an issue that we all must contend with, “It does not matter how wealthy you are. The disease doesn’t care…and that is the great equalizer.” She continued by noting that assisting others does not just help them, it greatly contributes to our own well-being by encouraging new collaborations and innovations. In this respect, Goldberg noted that “If you have, then you have to share.”

It is simple. It is small. But according to many experts and political leaders, developing a global consciousness is the first step to building the future that we all want.

The post “We Think That We Beat AIDS. We Think It Is Done. It Is Not.” appeared first on Futurism.


Expert: “We Are Spiraling Towards A Dystopian Future Where a Few Tech Companies Control Our Lives”

Who Controls the World?

There’s a growing concern that tech companies like Google and Amazon are becoming so large, they will soon be in control of every aspect of our lives. It’s easy to understand where the worries come from — Amazon is one of the largest online retailers in the world, and the go-to solution for the majority of modern shoppers; Google is the owner of what is, essentially, the default search engine, and also owns YouTube — arguably the easiest to use, and most popular video streaming service.

Between the two companies, they play a role in how people shop (; Google Express), search for information (, entertain themselves (Amazon Instant Video; YouTube), and communicate with their services (Alexa, Amazon Echo, and Google Assistant). If left unchecked, the growing consensus is they’ll become too big to stop, and will eventually stifle competition, since current laws and regulations in place aren’t enough to slow them down.

According to USA Today, Amazon alone sells over 50 percent of books sold in the U.S., has a 45 percent market share in cloud computing, and has about a 40 percent share of the online grocery market. As for Google, it has over an 80 percent share of the search engine market (as of August 2017), and has been previously reported to be capable of controlling what’s published and what’s seen using its search engine.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen echoed those fears in a speech at the 2017 Global Antitrust Enforcement Symposium in Washington D.C. on September 12. During her speech, she stated “we are spiraling towards a dystopian future where a few giant technology companies will ultimately gain sustained control over our economic lives.”

However, Ohlhausen doesn’t actually believe this to be the case, citing the early 2000’s merger between AOL and Time Warner, and where AOL is today, as proof that market dominance requires more than a larger market share. She argues that as long as companies like Amazon and Google continue to grow through smart decision-making and popularity, their actions are acceptable and not subject to any regulations, which primarily focus on consumer welfare.

Regulating Tech Companies

Not everyone thinks like this of course. Groups like the New America Foundation have repeatedly criticized Amazon, pointing to how it subverts regulations by drawing attention to it’s overall convenience, and lower prices.

“We cannot cognize the potential harms to competition posed by Amazon’s dominance if we measure competition primarily through price and output,” said Lina Khan, a fellow of the organizations Open Markets program, back in January.

Speaking to USA Today in June, Khan said it’s as if CEO Jeff Bezos created a map of antitrust laws specifically to determine the best ways to avoid them.

It’s unclear what companies with substantial influence like Google, Amazon, and Facebook would do if they no longer had competition or regulations to worry about, but it’s undeniable they each continue to expand in unexpected ways.

Ohlhausen ended her speech saying she and the FTC “vigorously supported policy positions that they sometimes love and sometimes hate.” Perhaps it’s time for a conversation she doesn’t necessarily agree with; one discussing the pros and cons of tech company’s seemingly unhindered growths.

The post Expert: “We Are Spiraling Towards A Dystopian Future Where a Few Tech Companies Control Our Lives” appeared first on Futurism.


NASA Just Unveiled Their Next Mission: “We Will Finally Touch the Sun.”

Named After the Living

As NASA readies itself for its historic mission to the Sun set sometime between July and August 2018, the space agency made an announcement today that highlights the importance of this mission. The Solar Probe Plus has now been renamed the Parker Solar Probe, after astrophysicist Eugene Parker who discovered the phenomenon that this first-ever mission to a star will be investigating.

Image credit: NASA/APL
Image credit: NASA/APL

“This is the first time NASA has named a spacecraft for a living individual,” NASA administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen said in today’s announcement. “It’s a testament to the importance of his body of work, founding a new field of science that also inspired my own research and many important science questions NASA continues to study and further understand every day. I’m very excited to be personally involved honoring a great man and his unprecedented legacy.”

Usually, NASA missions are renamed only after launch and certification, the agency noted. However, NASA decided not to follow the usual naming procedures to highlight the importance of Parker’s work and his contributions to heliophysics and space science, as well as how the planned mission ties in with his research.

What We’ll Be Probing

The Parker Solar Probe will examine a phenomenon known as a solar wind, which Parker first pointed out in 1958. High speed matter and magnetism, Parker theorized, constantly come out of the Sun and affect the planets and space around it.

The Next Big Solar Storm: An Apocalyptic Timeline
Click to View Full Infographic

“The solar probe is going to a region of space that has never been explored before,” Parker said in the NASA announcement. “It’s very exciting that we’ll finally get a look. One would like to have some more detailed measurements of what’s going on in the solar wind. I’m sure that there will be some surprises. There always are.”

Getting close enough to the Sun is crucial, and the Parker Solar Probe is equipped with technology that would allow it to do so. “It’s a spacecraft loaded with technological breakthroughs that will solve many of the largest mysteries about our star, including finding out why the sun’s corona is so much hotter than its surface,” explained Nicola Fox, the probe’s project scientist, in the announcement.

“Parker Solar Probe is going to answer questions about solar physics that we’ve puzzled over for more than six decades,” Fox said in the announcement. “We will finally touch the sun.”

The post NASA Just Unveiled Their Next Mission: “We Will Finally Touch the Sun.” appeared first on Futurism.