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10.13.16 | 12:22 pm

With PlayStation VR launch, all major virtual reality systems have finally shipped

First came Google Cardboard, in 2014. Then Samsung's Gear VR. Next was the Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive.

And now, finally, Sony's PlayStation VR has launched. Which means that, for reals this time, the consumer VR era is fully in effect. Oh, except for Google's new Daydream View

At $399, the PSVR is less expensive than the $599 Rift and $799 Vive. The Gear VR runs $99 and when the Daydream View comes out next month it'll be $79. Each system occupies a slightly different place on the spectrum of VR platform quality and feature sets. Sony is hoping to attract millions of buyers given that the PSVR works with the PlayStation 4—as opposed to a high-end gaming-quality PC, yet features positional tracking like the Rift and Vive.

12.05.16 | 8:54 pm

Could Hillary’s popular vote lead reach 3 million?

The new numbers in today (from the AP) show a widening popular vote victory for HRC, and a real possibility that the margin could reach 3 million before it's all said and done. The Electoral College will cast its votes for president December 19th.

12.05.16 | 8:38 pm

Apple plays the cute card with new iPhone 7 ad

Cute kids in cute period costumes acting cutely in a cute rendition of Romeo and Juliet on a cute elementary school stage. Proud father sitting in audience with iPhone 7 shoots cute performance of cute daughter. Then, moved, cute father cries, cutely. 

This stuff moves phones, baby.

12.05.16 | 7:27 pm

This new AI training ground is made from a thousand video games

An artificial intelligence system may have beaten the world's best Go player, but you shouldn't expect that same system, no matter how smart it is, to be able to play other games. That's a limitation of what some call "narrow AI"—an inability to expand outside of known domains. The folks behind OpenAI, a billion-dollar Silicon Valley artificial intelligence nonprofit started by tech superstars like Elon Musk and Y Combinator president Sam Altman, want to help change that dynamic in order to develop AI systems with broader capabilities. And games, because they present many complex tasks for players to complete, may well be the ideal platform for doing so.

That's why they've launched Universe, a new AI training and proving ground that mines a thousand video games from some of the world's biggest game companies—Electronic Arts, Valve, Microsoft, and others—in order to attempt to "develop a single AI agent that can flexibly apply its past experience on Universe environments to quickly master unfamiliar, difficult environments, which would be a major step towards general intelligence."

In the early going, AI agents developed using the system will likely only be able to handle simple tasks like navigating Web buttons, interfaces, and sliders, but over time, OpenAI hopes, they will be able to tackle more complex actions. 

12.05.16 | 6:26 pm

Evening intel: London is falling, tech giants target propaganda

• A coalition of internet giants including Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube are launching a program they hope will help them move more quickly to identify and remove terrorist propaganda. The new program would create a database of digital "fingerprints" that could be used to identify bad actors, the AP reports

• At the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in London, tech investors warned that the U.K.'s capital could lose its cachet among startups in the wake of Brexit. They called on the U.K. government to "answer lingering questions about immigration policy," Reuters reports

• The jury in the trial of Michael Slager, the South Carolina cop who shot Walter Scott, ended up in a deadlock. The mistrial comes despite compelling video evidence that Slager shot Scott in the back as he ran away.

• The new spaceship from Virgin Galactic completed its first successful glide flight. The company experienced a setback in 2014 when one if its spaceships crashed.

• And it turns out, there is no shortage of hubris among startup founders these days. About 20% of them think they are running a unicorn

12.05.16 | 5:34 pm

Meet the 5 biomedical researchers who won the Breakthrough Prize 

The Breakthrough Prize award ceremony represents a rare opportunity for researchers to get out of the lab, and on the red carpet. One scientist—developmental biologist Roeland Nusse, who spoke to Stat News—realized after he'd won the $3 million award that he didn't own a tux. 

Here are the five winners who got to attend the glamorous event in Silicon Valley and hobnob with tech billionaires: 

* Roeland Nusse: A Stanford University developmental biologist whose lab focuses on "growth, development, and integrity of animal tissue."

* Stephen Elledge: A Harvard-based biologist who studies how cells repair damaged DNA. 

* Harry Noller: A molecular biologist known for his deep research on the  structure of ribosomes, tiny particles consisting of RNA and associated proteins that are found in large numbers of living cells. 

* Yoshinori Ohsumi: A Japanese biologist who won the Nobel Prize in physiology for his discovery of the cell recycling process known as autophagy.

* Huda Yahya Zoghbi: Baylor College of Medicine medical researcher who focuses on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, among other diseases.

12.05.16 | 4:43 pm

Walter Scott mistrial shows difficulty in convicting cops, even with video evidence

If you've been keeping track at home, you probably weren't all that surprised by the news today that the jury deadlocked in the trial of Michael Slager, the South Carolina cop who shot Walter Scott, resulting in a mistrial. This despite video evidence that Slager shot Scott in the back as he ran away.

Although prosecutors say they may continue to pursue charges, the outcome is just the latest proof of how hard it is to hold police who shoot unarmed civilians accountable, and probably reinforces in many people's minds that cops are held to a different standard than the rest of us when it comes to using deadly force, especially in light of similar outcomes in other cases in South Carolina, Ohio, Maryland, and other states.

12.05.16 | 3:50 pm

Watch Virgin Galactic’s new spaceship complete its first glide flight 

Watch out, SpaceX: Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has a new spaceship, and it just completed its first glide flight. The new SpaceShipTwo, named VSS Unity, made the crucial test flight on Saturday over California's Mojave Desert. The craft was carried into the air by its mothership and released—gliding for 10 minutes by itself and landing at Mojave Air and Space Port. 

Further glide flights will be conducted before the craft moves on to rocket-powered flights, the Associated Press reports. Virgin suffered a major setback in 2014 when one of its spaceships broke up and crashed.

Fast Company recently caught up with Branson at an event in New York, where he talked about wanting to challenge some of President-elect Donald Trump's "worst ideas." Read the full interview here.

[Photo: Virgin Galactic]

12.05.16 | 2:30 pm

Afternoon intel: Is Mr. Kushner going to Washington?

• Austrian far-right candidate Norbert Hofer has conceded the presidency to Alexander Van der Bellen. As CNN notes, Hofer would have been the first "far-right head of state in Western Europe since the end of World War II."  

• Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are reportedly looking for homes in Washington, D.C., which isn't a good sign for people against nepotism

• Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) will be the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, leaving his current role on the Communications and Technology subcommittee open

Social activist and New York Daily News writer Shaun King has launched an "Injustice Boycott" of cities and companies that have kept silent on issues like racial inequality. 

Amazon has a new venture called Amazon Go, a physical store where the items that shoppers put into their cart are synced with a virtual cart—and you don't have to wait in line or go through the checkout. It's all online. 

12.05.16 | 1:40 pm

Meet the forensic scientist hired to help Sotheby’s in the battle against fake art

We've been hearing a lot about fake news lately, but fake art is pretty big a problem, too. It's soooo big, in fact, that Sotheby's has decided to create its own forensic unit to help spot fraudulent artworks. The famed auction house said today it has acquired the Massachusetts-based laboratory Orion Analytical and will fold the firm into a newly created Scientific Research Department. Orion's owner, art-fraud specialist James Martin, will lead the department as Sotheby's director of scientific research, adding a more substantial investigative layer to Sotheby's attribution and validation process. 

Martin, who has worked with Sotheby's for two decades, uses high-tech methods like technical imaging and magnified visual inspection to spot anomalies in artworks that could call their authenticity into question. You can read more about his background here

[Photo: Sotheby's]

12.05.16 | 1:37 pm

Startup founders think 2017 will be a good year for tech IPOs 

First Round Capital surveyed hundreds of startup founders and CEOs to see what they think the environment will be like in the coming year. The results are optimistic. Nine out of 10 startup leaders said they think now is a good time to start a company.   

They also see 2017 as a good time to sell or go public. About 43% of startup founders and CEOs think there's more opportunity for an exit, up from 33% last year. Roughly the same percentage think there will be more tech IPOs and mergers and acquisitions over the next 18 months. While 42% think they could be building the next billion-dollar company (and another 18% think they're definitely "raising a unicorn"), a third of all those surveyed don't intend to take their own companies public.   

12.05.16 | 12:34 pm

Leap Motion bringing hand-tracking to mobile VR

One of the biggest differences between high-end, tethered, virtual reality systems like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive and mobile platforms like Samsung's Gear VR is the far more immersive experience the pricier rigs offer by tracking users' hands, incorporating them into games and other content.

San Francisco's Leap Motion wants to do away with that difference, and today it said it is getting ready to ship its mobile VR platform, a combination of hardware and software meant to make it possible to track users' hands with untethered devices. In a blog post, Leap Motion CTO David Holz said its reference design, which it will be making available to mobile VR headset manufacturers, is capable of tracking 180 degrees by 180 degrees.

12.05.16 | 11:55 am

Activist Shaun King launches “Injustice Boycott” of cities and companies that facilitate or remain silent on racial injustice

Today, Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King rolled out plans for an "Injustice Boycott," a four-step initiative aimed at cities and companies that have facilitated or remained silent on issues of racial injustice and police brutality.

"It's not a petition. It's not a Facebook page. It's not a retweet or a hashtag," King said in a Medium post announcing the boycott, which begins on the 61st anniversary of the launch of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The initiative is targeting San Francisco, New York City, and Standing Rock, the Native American reservation that last night won a temporary stay of construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. 

Speaking to Fast Company, King says, "All over the country, people ask me what they can do about injustice. First and foremost, the Injustice Boycott was designed to give people a practical answer to that question. Secondly, of all the things we've tried to loosen the lid on the jars of justice over this past year, a true boycott has not been one of them. We simply want to do whatever we can to make justice more likely."

The Injustice Boycott, which King says includes "hundreds of thousands" of local activists, is structured into four tiers of action, which will commence in 43 days if the cities and corporations within them do not "meet the reasonable and humane demands of local activists."

1) A full tourism boycott of those three cities, accompanied with a plan to support local entrepreneurs.

2) A comprehensive divestment of funding from banks and financial institutions that organizers deem as contributing or remaining silent on racial injustice. (J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, for example, are backers of the Dakota Access Pipeline.)

3) A national boycott of large corporations headquartered in the targeted cities. (A sizeable list, which would include CBS, Macy's, Rocawear, Jamba Juice, Verizon, and ironically, Twitter.)

4) A series of "creatively disruptive" protests in the targeted cities, aimed to "shut down commerce and government work." (New York City is investing heavily in efforts to attract tourists.)

"We've spent months planning this boycott," King told Fast Company. "We are also rolling the boycott out in phases in order to help us be most effective."

King, a contributing writer for the New York Daily News and a widely known advocate for criminal justice reform, says nearly 5,000 people have signed up for the boycott's newsletter this morning alone.