In New York, it’s now a crime to advertise short-term apartment listings on Airbnb

It was only a matter of time, are we now going to see the same thing happening in other major cities across the world?

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Hoping to find a cheap pad to crash while drifting through the Big Apple? You probably won’t be doing it through Airbnb. On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that levies steep fines on property owners who advertise short-term availability of their apartments and homes.

The legislation, which the New York state legislature passed in June, effectively strengthens New York’s existing laws on short-term property listings, which, as of 2010, prohibit apartments — defined as buildings with “three or more units” — from being rented out for less than 30 days. Owners found promoting listings which meet that criteria that category face stiff penalties: $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation, and $7,5000 for the third and every violation thereafter.

Read the rest of the story here.

A Virtual Reality Full Body Illusion Improves Body Image Disturbance in Anorexia Nervosa

What a fascinating use of VR. What would be interesting to see will be the effect of the self-image of the people who experience this treatment, not only from a medical perspective in treating an illness but also from a psychological perspective in changing a states of being such as someone’s confidence.

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Absract

Background

Patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) have a persistent distorted experience of the size of their body. Previously we found that the Rubber Hand Illusion improves hand size estimation in this group. Here we investigated whether a Full Body Illusion (FBI) affects body size estimation of body parts more emotionally salient than the hand. In the FBI, analogue to the RHI, participants experience ownership over an entire virtual body in VR after synchronous visuo-tactile stimulation of the actual and virtual body.

Methods and Results

We asked participants to estimate their body size (shoulders, abdomen, hips) before the FBI was induced, directly after induction and at ~2 hour 45 minutes follow-up. The results showed that AN patients (N = 30) decrease the overestimation of their shoulders, abdomen and hips directly after the FBI was induced. This effect was strongest for estimates of circumference, and also observed in the asynchronous control condition of the illusion. Moreover, at follow-up, the improvements in body size estimation could still be observed in the AN group. Notably, the HC group (N = 29) also showed changes in body size estimation after the FBI, but the effect showed a different pattern than that of the AN group.

Conclusion

The results lead us to conclude that the disturbed experience of body size in AN is flexible and can be changed, even for highly emotional body parts. As such this study offers novel starting points from which new interventions for body image disturbance in AN can be developed.

Full article: PLOS

Singapore’s Autonomous Vehicles hit the streets!

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Driverless vehicles hit the streets in Singapore, check out this video of them in action!!

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Car makers find California autonomous vehicle regulations proposal unworkable

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Last week, California issued proposed rules for testing self-driving cars while the parties affected pushed back. Company officials from automakers and Google’s Self-Driving Car Project are concerned the rules would slow down and add unnecessary difficulty to forward progress with vehicle autonomy, according to Reuters.

California’s proposal, which sits among other factors the self-driving industry players find objectionable, is based on the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations (NHTSA) guidelines issued in September. But it adds mandatory compliance. The NHTSA guidelines were proposed as voluntary suggestions for supporting, while at the same time regulating, self-driving car development.

California isn’t the only state in the U.S. where autonomous vehicle testing is currently taking place. Projects are also proposed or already underway in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, among others. The Golden State’s official policies and regulations have great weight, however, and not just because it has the greatest population. California currently has 18 companies testing self-driving tech; the state is a major tech development center for autonomous vehicles.

Google, General Motors, Volkswagen, Honda, and Ford all objected to a California proposal that carmakers gather a year’s worth of test data before even applying for an operating permit in the state. David Strickland, the head of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, a group whose members include Google, Ford, Lyft, Uber, and Volvo, said the California proposal “could greatly delay the benefits that self-driving vehicles can bring to safety and mobility for individuals.”

According to California DMV deputy director Brian Soublet, the state is open to “concrete suggestions” to change its proposals. “The goal is making sure that we can get this life-saving technology out on the streets,” Soublet said.

Another issue for the manufacturers is a requirement to obtain local approval of every city and town through which autonomous test vehicle would travel. That rule would be “unworkable, ” said Ron Medford, the director of safety for the Google Self-Driving Car Project. It would limit testing to specific areas and make it virtually impossible to collect data on the vehicles’ ability to travel to different areas.

It sounds like all parties involved want self-driving cars on the road as soon as possible, and the safety advantages are clear. But establishing rules, policies, and procedures to reach the goals of vehicle autonomy that are considered reasonable and workable is still a challenge.

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German Lawmakers Vote to Ban the Internal Combustion Engine

Looks like we may have as little as 14 years before the Internal Combustion Engine is banned from EU roads. Perhaps Brexit was a good thing after all!

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The modern internal combustion engine first came from Germany and now Germany wants to put a nail in its coffin. The Bundesrat has passed a resolution to ban the ICE beginning in 2030.

Germany’s Spiegel Magazine reported this morning that the country’s top legislative body was able to reach a bi-partisan agreement that hopes to allow only zero-emission vehicles on EU roads in 14 years. For the resolution to be instituted across Europe, it will have to be approved by the EU. But according to Forbes, “German regulations traditionally have shaped EU and UNECE regulations.

Greens party lawmaker Oliver Krischer told Spiegel, “If the Paris agreement to curb climate-warming emissions is to be taken seriously, no new combustion engine cars should be allowed on roads after 2030.”

The resolution calls on EU automakers to “review the current practices of taxation and dues with regard to a stimulation of emission-free mobility.” Creating a tougher tax burden could encourage manufacturers to push electric vehicles into production sooner, rather than later.

While larger approvals will still need to go through the legislative process, the fact that the country with the fourth-largest auto industry in the world is spearheading such sweeping change is a big sign of where we’re headed. It’s a road paved with slow-moving politicians making incremental changes and hoping the industry will warm up to the idea of not killing us all.

Source: Gizmodo

Historic Achievement: Microsoft researchers reach human parity in conversational speech recognition

Microsoft made an incredible announcement last week. That their voice recognition has achieved Human Parity. What does this mean? Well quite simply, machine are as good as humans as transcribing. Humans achieve a Word Error Rate (WER) of 5.9. Voice recognition went down from 6.3 last month to 5.9 this month, matching humans in terms of error rate.

For Microsoft Technology and Research: A research team photographed in Microsoft's Building 99 in Redmond, Wash. on Thursday, October 13, 2016. Photo by Dan DeLong
For Microsoft Technology and Research: A research team photographed in Microsoft’s Building 99 in Redmond, Wash. on Thursday, October 13, 2016. Photo by Dan DeLong

The most interesting part is the reaction of the Executive Vice President!

“Even five years ago, I wouldn’t have thought we could have achieved this. I just wouldn’t have thought it would be possible,” said Harry Shum, executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Intelligence and Research Group.

Source: Microsoft

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Costa Rica has gone 76 straight days using 100% renewable electricity

This is incredible! A sign of things to come although I think that other countries have a long way to go to follow suit! Exciting news though!!

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Costa Rica is pulling off a feat most countries just daydream about: For two straight months, the Central American country hasn’t burned any fossil fuels to generate electricity. That’s right: 100 percent renewable power.

This isn’t a blip, either. For 300 total days last year and 150 days so far this year, Costa Rica’s electricity has come entirely from renewable sources, mostly hydropower and geothermal. Heavy rains have helped four big hydroelectric dams run above their usual capacity, letting the country turn off its diesel generators.

Now, there’s a huge, huge caveat here: Costa Rica hasn’t eschewed all fossil fuels entirely. The country still has more than 1 million cars running on old-fashioned gasoline, which is why imported oil still supplies over half its total energy needs. The country also has cement plants that burn coal.

What Costa Rica’s doing is nevertheless impressive — and a reflection of how serious the tiny Central American country is about going green. At the same time, a closer look at the story shows just how difficult it would be for other countries to pull off something similar.

Read more: Vox

Every wondered how wind turbines got delivered?

This is amazing, watch these enormous parts get moved up a mountain. A sustainable future is well on its way when you seen these feats of engineering being put together across the planet!

‘The Matrix’ revisited: Tech billionaires are certain we live in a simulation

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If watching The Matrix caused you to question reality, you’re not alone. Many powerful tech leaders in Silicon Valley and elsewhere are so convinced we’re all living in a simulation that some of them are investing in ways to help us break out of it, according to Vanity Fair.

At Vanity Fair’s 2014 New Establishment Summit, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the case that our lives are not at all what we think they are. Musk concluded: “There’s a one in a billion chance that this is reality.” Earlier this year at Recode’s Code Conference, he broke it down: “The strongest argument for us being in a simulation is the following: 40 years ago, we had Pong. Two rectangles and a dot. Now, 40 years later, we have photo-realistic 3D with millions playing simultaneously. If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality,” he said. “It would seem to follow that the odds that we’re in base reality is one in millions.”

But it’s not just Elon Musk who’s convinced we’re living a game. Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, told The New Yorker: “Many people in Silicon Valley have become obsessed with the simulation hypothesis, the argument that what we experience as reality is in fact fabricated in a computer,” adding that two tech billionaires “have gone so far as to secretly engage scientists to work on breaking us out of the simulation.”

Vanity Fair reports that Nick Bostrom of Oxford University wrote a paper that has become the jump-off point for the whole we’re-in-a-simulation theory. The paper, Are You Living in a Computer Simulation? argues that, as summarized by Vanity Fair, “as technology grows faster and more superior, we will eventually build remarkably powerful machines that can build simulations of our forebears. But if that is the case, or so the theory goes, how do we know that we are the not creation of a simulation already built by our forebears?”

New York Times science writer John Markoff isn’t buying the theory, but notes that others are all-in. “It’s basically a religious belief system in the Valley,” he said.

Source: Digital Trends

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“Now is the Greathest Time to be Alive” – Barack Obama

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When WIRED asked me to guest-edit the November issue, I didn’t hesitate. I know it’s the height of election season, and I happen to have a day job that keeps me pretty busy. But given the chance to immerse myself in the possibility of interplanetary travel or join a deep-dive conversation on artificial intelligence, I’m going to say yes. I love this stuff. Always have. It’s why my favorite movie of last year was The Martian. Of course, I’m predisposed to love any movie where Americans defy the odds and inspire the world. But what really grabbed me about the film is that it shows how humans—through our ingenuity, our commitment to fact and reason, and ultimately our faith in each other—can science the heck out of just about any problem.

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