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06.16.17 | 8:57 am

Oregon becomes first state to give people a non-binary gender option on drivers license

Beginning July 1, Oregon residents will be able to choose male, female, or X on their driver licenses and identification cards.

The rule change, made by a decision of the Oregon Transportation Commission on Thursday, makes Oregon the first U.S. state to allow residents to identify as "nonbinary," neither male nor female, on their state-issued identification. 

"I hope those who will use X as an identifier will feel an element of comfort moving forward," Commissioner Sean O'Hollaren told The Oregonian. "It's something we're not only doing because legally our hand is forced. It's something we should do because it's the right thing to do."

According to The Oregonian, the rule change came in the wake of a 2016 judicial decision that allowed a Portland army veteran to legally identify as neither male nor female, which may have been the first such ruling in the U.S.

 [Source illustration: chaluk/iStock]

06.26.17 | 7:37 pm

Report: Apple buys German company that holds key technology for augmented reality glasses

MacRumors sniffed out record of an Apple affiliate company in Germany buying a computer vision company called SensoMotoric Instruments. SensoMotoric is said to hold a trove of patents related to real-time eye-tracking, which could be used as an input method in a future pair of Apple AR glasses. Here's the SensoMotoric technology in action:

06.26.17 | 7:13 pm

Attention iPad fans: iOS 11 is now an extremely tempting public beta

Earlier this month at Apple's WWDC keynote, one of the biggest pieces of news was the seriously ambitious new features Apple is building into iOS 11, especially for iPad users. The software isn't set to ship until the fall, but Apple has now released the first public beta—a test version that anyone can install on an iPad (or iPhone).

The usual caveats apply: beta software is buggy by definition, and will likely break some third-party apps (even ones that will work fine by the time of iOS 11's official release). But it's unusual for any upcoming operating system to offer as many temptations to throw caution to the wind as this one does. Here's Mashable's Lance Ulanoff on the major additions, which include more advanced multitasking and a new file manager.

Me, I'm about to take the plunge—knowing that I have a backup which will, in the case of emergency, allow me to return (relunctantly) to iOS 10.

06.26.17 | 5:32 pm

CBO says Senate health care bill would leave 22 million people uninsured over the next decade

The numbers are in, and they're pretty scary. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) today estimated that the Senate's version of the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026. That's slightly better than estimates for the House's version of the bill, which the CBO projected would leave 23 million uninsured. The plan, which Senate Republicans revealed last week after cooking it up in secrecy, would increase the number of uninsured by 15 million next year alone, mostly because of the elimination of the Obamacare penalty, the office said. The legislation would also reduce the federal deficit by $321 billion over 10 years. Read the full projections here.

[Image: CBO]

06.26.17 | 5:07 pm

Pharma bro trial’s first big challenge? Finding jurors who don’t think Martin Shkreli is terrible

With controversial pharma exec Martin Shkreli's fraud trial set to begin in Brooklyn, at least a dozen jurors have been excused for bias against the so-called "pharma bro," Bloomberg reportsPotential jurors have called Shkreli "an evil man," a "snake," and a "price gouger." While Shkreli is perhaps best known for his unapologetic decision to raise the price of a drug used by HIV patients more than 5,000%, he's facing federal criminal charges for allegedly defrauding investors. In recent months, he's faced comparisons to President Trump for his refusal to curb controversial social media posts, even as he awaits his day in court.

06.26.17 | 4:34 pm

NASA and Lockheed Martin hope you don’t hear this supersonic jet coming

NASA said today it has reached a "significant milestone" in a project to create an ultra-quiet supersonic passenger jet. The space agency has completed a preliminary design review of its QueSST aircraft concept and found that it is capable of fulfilling objectives for what NASA calls "Low Boom Flight Demonstration," which basically means it should be able to fly at supersonic speeds without that noisy sonic boom. As NASA describes it, the airplane will just make a soft "thump," which I'm guessing is more pleasant. 

Last year, NASA teamed up with aerospace defense giant Lockheed Martin on the experimental project. Now that the design review is complete, NASA says the next step is to start soliciting proposals to actually build the thing. It expects to award a contract early next year with the hope that flight testing could begin by 2021. Check out more on the project here

[Image: NASA/Lockheed Martin]

06.26.17 | 3:09 pm

Apple rents a few SUVs from Hertz, Hertz shares jump 14%

Apple is renting a small fleet of vehicles from Hertz, according to DMV documents seen by Bloomberg. Apple will reportedly use the vehicles to test autonomous driving software and sensor systems. 

Hertz investors have been looking for something to feel good about after seeing the company's stock drop by 75% over the past year. Some implied role for Hertz in the self-driving future seems to have done the trick. 

And Avis stock got its biggest jolt in five years (+21%) earlier on Monday after Alphabet said its Waymo autonomous driving division will pay the rental company to store and manage a few of its autonomous testing vehicles in Phoenix. 

06.26.17 | 3:00 pm

Get ready to (maybe) hear a lot more ads on your favorite podcasts

According to a recent study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), ad revenue from podcasts is about to go way up. Last year, podcast ad revenue was about $119 million; this year, that number is projected to hit $220 million. 

Thus far, a podcast's success has been measured by number of downloads; beyond that, however, many advertisers have had little sense of how many people are actually listening to their ads, beyond tracking promo code usage. (Ad skipping is a phenomenon in podcasting, too.) Podcast creators, too, received little feedback. But as Apple beefs up its podcast analytics, advertisers and creators alike can be smarter about how they spend their money. So while IAB's study indicates that advertisers will be pouring a lot more money into podcasting, the podcast ad biz is still young, so we don't want to make any proclamations just yet. 

06.26.17 | 1:01 pm

Missouri women are a Senate vote away from living in an early stage of “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Ever feel like we are living in the first chapter of a dystopian novel? In an "emergency" special session, Missouri's Senate is currently considering legislation that would allow employers to fire or not hire women who use birth control or have had abortions. The bill has the support of the state's governor, Eric Greitens, and passed in the House last week. 

Under the bill, SB 5, landlords could also refuse to offer housing to women based on their reproductive health choices. The Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act prevents discrimination against women who have had an abortion, but makes no mention of birth control. That means that if this bill passes it would be perfectly legal for a boss or landlord to ask a women what forms of birth control they use.

Under His Eye indeed. 

via Newsweek

06.26.17 | 12:46 pm

The Super NES Classic will include an ill-fated 1990s game that never made it to market

Nintendo is releasing another retro console this fall, with one killer hook for classic game aficionados: Among the Super NES Classic's 21 preloaded games is Star Fox 2, which Nintendo canceled toward the end of development more than 20 years ago. (The company reportedly wanted to avoid unfavorable 3D graphics comparisons between the Super Nintendo and newer consoles like the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn, and eventually released a slicker Star Fox on the Nintendo 64.)

Nintendo plans to launch the Super NES Classic on September 29 for $80, though it's unclear if the company will produce enough of them this time around. With last year's NES Classic, Nintendo didn't seem to anticipate the demand for video game nostalgia, and ended production after an all-too limited run. It'd be a shame if the only way to play Star Fox 2 faced a similar fate.

06.26.17 | 12:42 pm

Waymo just tapped Avis to help it manage future self-driving car fleets

Earlier this year Waymo invited people in Phoenix to join its early rider program—its first public self-driving trial. There will be 600 Chrysler Pacifica minivans involved in this test fleet. Now we know who will manage them. Waymo is teaming up with rental car agency Avis, which will support and maintain the cars during the pilot, according to Reuters. The pilot and partnership with Avis is an important next step in Waymo's self-driving efforts, one that will test its ability to create self-driving technology but run related services. 

06.26.17 | 12:25 pm

Here are some MIT drones that can fly and drive to get you through your Monday

Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab have created a new prototype drone that can both fly and drive, and will undoubtedly rule the earth—or at least make sure your copy of Rise of the Robots is delivered from Amazon in a timely fashion.

The engineers were inspired by birds and bugs that can both walk and fly, TechCrunch reports. The eight quadcopter drones can currently only drive for up to 252 meters (275 yards) or fly for 90 meters (98 feet), so they still have a way to go, but it's a pretty cool and/or frightening feature depending on how you feel about these things. The new drones are designed to assess both air and car traffic and decide whether it is faster to drive or fly, which could be a hint of how flying cars could work in the future. Frankly, though, they should have just modified duck boats, so they could drive and sail and fly.

06.26.17 | 12:15 pm

Study: More boomers, senior citizens, and even Republicans are coming around to gay marriage

A new study from the Pew Research Center shows that support for same-sex marriage is at its highest point in over 20 years. While the traditional gift is cotton, the study is an apt way to mark the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's 2015 landmark decision Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same sex marriage.

The study shows that by a margin of nearly two-to-one (62% to 32%), more Americans now say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry than say they are opposed to it. Young people are the most supportive (cue up Whitney Houston singing, "I believe the children are the future…") with 76% of millennials and 65% of Gen Xers saying they support same-sex marriage. However, baby boomers are slowly getting on board, too, with 56% of them now favoring same-sex marriage, while 39% are opposed. Even senior citizens are realizing same-sex marriage won't trigger an angina attack, with support nearly doubling among members since 2007.

Support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally has steadily risen across racial and ethnic groups and even *gasp* Republicans. According to Pew, 47% of Republicans and independents who lean Republican now favor same-sex marriage, with 48% opposing it. (Yep, based on this study, a majority of Republicans no longer oppose same sex marriage.) As recently as 2013, Republicans opposed gay marriage by nearly two-to-one (61% to 33%). Guess two years after the fact, they realized that letting people marry whomever they want regardless of gender didn't trigger the apocalypse as written in the book of Revelations and/or The Hunger Games.

[Photo: Unsplash user Peter Hershey]