TLDR Daily Update 2018-11-12

Amazon & Apple partner πŸ‘«, Alibaba's $30B day πŸ’°, Rocket Labs launches πŸš€

Big Tech & Startups

Alibaba sets new Singles Day record with more than $30.8 billion in sales in 24 hours (2 minute read)

In China, November 11th (11/11) is Singles Day, a day to celebrate being single. It's also turned into sort of their version of Black Friday, with Alibaba breaking its single day sales record this year by selling $30.8 billion worth of merchandise. On Singles day, Alibaba beat Amazon's record-setting Prime Day total of $4.68 billion in just 10 minutes.

Apple pumps up its Amazon listings with iPhones, iPads and more (2 minute read)

Apple has partnered with Amazon to sell its newest products, including the iPad Pro, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, Apple Watch 4, and Beats headphones. Currently most Apple products are only available on Amazon through third party sellers. These independent sellers will have their listings removed and will have to apply to Apple to be an Authorized Reseller. Only Authorized Resellers will be allowed to sell Apple products on Amazon. This deal is only for the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and India markets.
Science & Futuristic Technology

ML Engineering Career Transition Guide (Guide)

This is a guide written by a Google Brain engineer to help software engineers who want to get into ML engineering but don't know where to start. It gives some good advice on necessary qualifications, getting experience, learning resources, and applying for jobs. There is an emphasis on AI Safety, but I think this advice is sort of applicable to all sorts of ML engineering work (so if you want to build Skynet, you should still check this out).

Spinning Up (Course)

This is a free course by OpenAI (a non-profit AI research lab founded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman) to help beginners learn about deep reinforcement learning. There's a quick crash course on terminology, algorithms, and basic theory, a well-documented repo with code examples, and some code exercises. Pretty short, but looks very well done.

'Remarkable' decline in birth rates (2 minute read)

A study on birth rates between 1950 to 2017 (across all countries) showed a crazy decline in birth rates from 4.7 children per woman in 1950 to 2.4 children per woman last year. In over half of countries, this number is now below 2, meaning there aren't even enough children to maintain the population size. There were no countries like this in 1950. As countries get richer, three factors cause women to have less children: fewer deaths in childhood, greater access to contraception, and more education and work opportunities. On the low end, in Taiwan women only have 1 child on average, whereas women in Niger have 7.1 children on average. Ultimately, society may have to change substantially to cope with these demographic changes perhaps by increasing immigration, encouraging women to have more children, or raising the retirement age.

Rocket Launch in New Zealand Brings Quick, Cheap Space Access (3 minute read)

Government backed rocket launches generally cost between $150 million and $300 million. SpaceX was able to get costs down to about $60 million per launch. By using smaller rockets, Rocket Labs is able to send up satellites for a cost of just $5.7 million per launch. Rocket Labs' Electon Rocket is 56 feet tall compared to 230 feet for SpaceX's Falcon 9. Rocket Labs launches out of a remote sheep farm turned spaceport on New Zealand’s North Island. Rocket Labs had sent up two test flights in May 2017 and January 2018, but this was its first real commercial launch. It carried up 6 satellites for other companies, an entire ecosystem of startups with shoebox-sized satellites for imaging, science missions and communications is now starting to spring up around this new affordable launch service.

Britain funds research into drones that decide who they kill, says report (2 minute read)

Since 2015, the UK has declined to support UN proposals to ban fully autonomous weapons. Reporters have now discovered that the British military and defense contractors have been funding dozens of AI defense initiatives, including Taramis, an experimental supersonic stealth drone that can "hold an adversary at continuous risk of attack...penetrate deep inside hostile territory, find a target, facilitate either kinetic or non-kinetic influence upon it, assess the effect achieved, and provide intelligence back to commanders." The Ministry of Defence claims that unmanned aircraft probably won't be able to "independently locate and attack mobile targets" until close to 2030, and that there is currently no intent to develop weapons systems that "operate entirely without human input."

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