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05.23.16 | 6:58 am

What is Google’s “Area 120” incubator?

No, it's not quite as mysterious as Area 51, but the search giant had been pretty tight-lipped about the Area 120 incubator since reports of it first leaked last month. Now Google CEO Sundar Pichai has confirmed that Area 120 will be "part-incubator, part new take on the spirit of the 20% time program," says Forbes, referring to the program Google has historically had that allows their employees to spend 20% of their work time working on their own pet projects. Instead of being able to spend only one day a week on a pet project, Google employees who are accepted into the Area 120 incubator will be able to spend 6 months on it. "It is giving people a chance at 20% time more formally," Pichai said.

09.28.16 | 7:28 pm

FBI says hackers “poking around” voter registration sites 

FBI director James Comey said so during a Congressional hearing today on Capitol Hill. CNN sources later in the day said hackers targeted registration sites in more than a dozen states. Comey advised states to be diligent about security around the sites, and to be aware that hackers are "poking around."

"There have been a variety of scanning activities, which is a preamble for potential intrusion activities as well as some attempted intrusions at voter database registrations beyond those we knew about in July and August. We are urging the states just to make sure that their deadbolts are thrown and their locks are on and to get the best information they can from DHS just to make sure their systems are secure," Comey said.

The news marks a broadening of the FBI's investigation into suspected hacks around the U.S. presidential election. Hackers earlier this summer broke into Democratic National Committee servers, then broke into the servers of the Clinton campaign, and reports surfaced Tuesday of hack attempts against cell phones used by DNC officials. The FBI reportedly believes Russian government-backed hackers are behind all of it.

09.28.16 | 7:25 pm

Facebook’s F8 developers conference set for April 18-19

It's still seven months away, but it's already time to register for F8.

Facebook said today that you can now sign up for its annual developers conference, which will be held in San Jose, California on April 18 and 19, 2017.

09.28.16 | 6:01 pm

Medtronic’s “artificial pancreas” for patients with diabetes gets a green light 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved medical device maker Medtronic's "artificial pancreas," which automatically delivers insulin to patients with type 1 diabetes when they need it. The system measures patients' glucose levels every five minutes.

Previously, many patients had to manually monitor their diabetes by making educated guesses about the right dose of insulin. 

Some have pointed out that the approval came more quickly than expected, and point to the role of patient communities on Twitter and Facebook such as #WeAreNotWaiting. 

09.28.16 | 5:27 pm

Facebook using Arctic air to cool it latest data center

As you probably know, data centers generate heat. A whole lot of heat.

Cooling them down takes tremendous amounts of power, which is one reason why many tech companies locate data centers near big rivers.

Facebook had another idea, which Mark Zuckerberg wrote about today: Building one in the Arctic, where cool air is plentiful, and free.

Check out Fast Company's photo essay on the new project here

09.28.16 | 5:14 pm

Report: Spotify in advanced talks to buy SoundCloud

In a deal that could meaningfully change the competitive landscape for Apple Music, Spotify is reportedly angling to buy SoundCloud, Financial Times reports (behind paywall). An acquisition could dramatically increase the reach of Spotify and its advertiser and music publisher partners. SoundCloud said in 2014 its monthly active users number about 175 million, a huge base of prospects to up-sell to a paid service. 

Spotify has a sizable lead over Apple Music in number of paid subscribers, with 40 million. Apple Music has 17 million, but is gaining. 

SoundCloud just a few months ago launched its own streaming music service, called SoundCloud Go, but that service is said to have only a few hundred thousand paid subscribers. 

09.28.16 | 4:29 pm

Hello Kitty is running for president

Move over, Donald and Hillary. Hello Kitty is on the campaign trail. 

Sanrio, which creates Hello Kitty merchandise, has launched a marketing campaign that involves the cuddly anthropomorphic cat running for president. Much like the other candidates, she's selling heaps of merchandise, including buttons and trucker hats. 

09.28.16 | 4:19 pm

The internet loved GIFing Hillary’s comebacks during the debate

Giphy gave us the rundown on the moments viewers GIFed and shared the most. The two most popular GIFs involved Clinton's comebacks. 

Clinton's shoulder shimmy was a big hit. 

via Giphy

Trump seemed to criticize Clinton for staying home to prepare for the debate. Clinton struck back saying she'd also be prepared to be president. 


09.28.16 | 4:10 pm

Elon Musk won’t be the first man on Mars

Elon Musk won't be the first man on Mars. And though he's obsessed with traveling to the red planet, he's also concerned about dying while doing it, he explained yesterday during the Q&A session after his keynote at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico. "The probability of death on the first mission is quite high," he said, pointing out that he has young children he would like to see grow up.

Whenever he does decide to go to Mars, however, he says he would need to develop a clear succession plan for his company, in case he dies. His full answer to the question is in the video below:

09.28.16 | 4:02 pm

The lesson of LendUp’s $6.3M penalty: Fintech compliance needs to be in place on day one

Back in 2012-13, when LendUp was a fintech startup with as few as five employees, it misled some customers about its ability to build their credit scores and get them loans. This week, the payday loan company paid a high price for those youthful indiscretions: $6.3 million in fines and refunds, as mandated by federal and state regulators. 

The penalty sends a message to LendUp's fellow fintech startups that compliance controls need to be in place from day one. Being young and small is no excuse, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) now says—a precedent that had yet to be established at the time of the violations.

According to the Washington Post, the penalty puts LendUp investor Google Ventures (now GV) in an awkward position, especially as parent company Alphabet has banned payday lenders from advertising on Google. But GV's November 2013 Series A investment took place after the bulk of the issues identified by the CFPB had been resolved. 

09.28.16 | 2:55 pm

Scientists urge regulators to reconsider “3-parent” technique 

A mother lost two babies to Leigh syndrome, a fatal genetic disorder, and experienced a slew of miscarriages. To help her carry a healthy baby, scientists in Mexico used a new technique that involves taking the nucleus from one of the mother's eggs and implanting it into a donor egg with the nucleus removed but containing the healthy mitochondrial DNA. 

This technique is intended to help parents avoid passing on mitochondrial diseases, which afflict 1,000 to 4,000 people in the U.S. each year. 

Versions of this technique are banned in the U.S., but in Mexico, there are comparatively few rules. Some critics say it allows scientists to play God. But many in the scientific community are urging regulators to reconsider their stance. The ban is "not scientific, not rational, not evidence-based," Dr. Richard J. Paulson, president-elect of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine told the New York Times

09.28.16 | 2:50 pm

Google’s new YouTube-8M dataset includes over 500,000 hours of video

Now the wealth of information in YouTube videos—from mischievous cats and impossible stunts to documentaries and commencement speeches—will be available to researchers. The new YouTube-8M dataset includes 8 million YouTube video URLs (representing over 500,000 hours of video) is Google's newest research breakthrough. The labeled dataset "enables researchers and students without access to big data or big machines to do their research at previously unprecedented scale," according to Google's blog. For quality control, they used only public videos with more than 1,000 views and built a vocabulary of entities (for example, from "acoustic guitar" to "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" in the "Guitars" filter in the "Arts and Entertainment" category).