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TLDR Daily Update 2020-03-23
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Big Tech & Startups
Stories about tech giants, startups, and venture capital
Tesla and SpaceX employees are working on ventilators just in case they are needed. The announcement comes after a direct plea by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for Musk's companies to help hospitals in the fight against COVID-19. It is unclear what Musk's exact plans are at the moment. The project will require certified medical personnel to be involved and the resulting product must be approved by the FDA, which could delay production. Other automakers are also in talks with the White House to produce ventilators.
Tinder will allow users to change their location for free until April 30. The feature is usually reserved for paid members, but the company is enabling it in order to make self-quarantining more bearable for its users. Users can change their location through the app's settings. Other dating apps and sites have started implementing virtual and video dating services. Mixer events have now moved to online chat rooms.
Science & Cutting Edge Technology
Stories about scientific breakthroughs and futuristic technologies like AI, blockchain, and space travel
As COVID-19 grabs the attention of the world, the war against antibiotic-resistant bacteria wages on. The number of people dying from bacterial infections could grow from 700,000 annually last year to 10 million annually by 2050. Bacteria evolves resistance against antibiotics over time, and this process is accelerated by overuse. Felix, a biotech startup, believes that it can program viruses to target specific sites in bacteria, killing bad bacteria and halting its ability to evolve and become more resistant. The treatment is now in trials. This approach can potentially re-sensitize bacteria to traditional antibiotics.
Intel's new 'neuromorphic' computing system, Pohoiki Springs, contains 100 million neurons, about the same number of neurons as in the brain of a small mammal. Traditional computer chips can process a large amount of numbers but still cannot perform well with abstract problems, such as spotting the difference between cats and dogs. Pohoiki Springs uses special neuromorphic processors designed for machine learning, a computing technology that has significantly improved performance with abstract problems. The new system will be accessible via the cloud by members of the Intel Neuromorphic Research Community.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Tools, open source, and other resources for programmers, designers, and data scientists
This site is a collection of courses and learning resources aimed to improve technical documentation skills for engineers. It also shows what it is like to be a technical writer for Google. The courses are designed for professional software engineers, computer science students, and people in engineering-adjacent roles, such as product managers.
OpenDrop is a command-line tool for sharing files between devices directly over Wi-Fi. It is protocol-compatible with Apple AirDrop. OpenDrop is currently only capable of sending to Apple devices that are discoverable by everybody. Contacts only mode is not possible as it requires Apple-signed certificates.
Random stuff techies might be interested in
Humanity is now facing perhaps the biggest crisis of our generation, and the decisions that people and governments make in the next few weeks will probably shape the world for years to come. Unlike 50 years ago, governments couldn't track entire populations. It is now possible to do so, and COVID-19 might push this technology forward so that it becomes standard governmental procedure. Governments can theoretically track citizens' temperature and blood pressure through their smartphones and use the data to create containment strategies. This could be extremely useful during the coronavirus outbreak, but governments will probably hold onto these powers afterwards. While the technology could be helpful, other less-intrusive strategies such as increasing hand-washing would be more effective. A global policy on epidemics to get countries to cooperate on an agreed plan would be the most effective measure to prevent another outbreak like this from occurring.
Formula 1 launched an official Virtual Grand Prix series after a delay of the start of the real-life season. The mini-series began on March 22, in place of the Bahrain Grand Prix. It is available to view on F1's YouTube channel, Twitch, and Facebook account. The virtual races will continue until May. Cars will be run with equal performance, with fixed set-up and reduced damage. Anti-lock brakes and traction control options are available for drivers that are not familiar with the game. The format will follow that of the official F1 esports series.
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