TLDR Daily Update 2019-10-28

Tesla's Solar Roof ☀️, China embraces Bitcoin ₿

Big Tech & Startups

Tesla launches Solarglass (Solar Roof V3)

Tesla has launched Solarglass, the third version of its Solar Roof tiles. Starting at $34,000, the new tiles are now cheaper and more appealing than a concrete tile roof with solar panels. The launch of Tesla's Solar Roof Tiles has been much slower than expected, with limited installations and delayed volume production. Production was delayed in order to make changes that would make the tiles cheaper and more durable. Tesla's Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo will be able to produce 1,000 roofs per week. The biggest difference with Solarglass is the ease of installation. Installation time has been reduced to only five to seven days.

Microsoft beats Amazon to win the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI cloud contract (1 minute read)

The Department of Defense has confirmed that Microsoft has been awarded a $10 billion cloud contract to provide the Pentagon with cloud services for basic storage, artificial intelligence processing, machine learning, and processing mission-critical workloads. Amazon was competing with Microsoft for the contract after IBM and Oracle were eliminated from the bidding back in April. The contract will last for 10 years. Microsoft currently has a contract with the US Army to supply modified versions of its HoloLens 2 headsets for combat and training in the military.
Science & Futuristic Technology

Facebook alters video to make people invisible to facial recognition (3 minute read)

Facebook AI Research has created a machine learning system to de-identify people in videos. Previous work by other startups has made de-identification for still images possible. Facebook's technology works by mapping a slightly distorted version of a person's face on the video. It was able to thwart state-of-the-art facial recognition systems during initial tests. The technology works on live video. Facial recognition can lead to a loss of privacy, so de-identification technology needs to be developed. Facebook's approach to de-identification pairs an adversarial autoencoder with a classifier network. It uses an encoder-decoder architecture to generate both a mask and an image. There are no plans to apply the technology to any of Facebook's apps at this time. Facebook is currently battling a $35 billion facial recognition lawsuit after making facial recognition a default on its platform earlier this year.

Bitcoin Price Surges as Chinese President Xi Jinping Embraces Blockchain Technology (2 minute read)

Bitcoin has skyrocketed by 40 percent overnight after Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke highly of blockchain technology. Xi said that China must increase investment, focus on a number of key core technologies, and accelerate the development of blockchain technology and industrial innovation. China had banned cryptocurrency exchanges in 2017. The country has been working on its own cryptocurrency since last year and is rumored to be close to release. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently testified about Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency, Libra, before the House Committee on Financial Services. All major US payment processors have left the Libra Association. Concerns regarding Libra include criminals exploiting the technology to conceal their identities and engage in financial wrongdoing.
Programming, Design & Data Science

polynote (GitHub Repo)

Polynote is a notebook environment that supports multiple languages. It currently supports Scala, Python, SQL, and Vega. It features auto-complete, parameter hints, a WYSIWYG editor for composing text cells, and runtime insight. Runtime insight includes features such as showing you what the kernel is doing at any time, a symbol table that shows variables and functions you have defined, and an editor that highlights failures and runtime exceptions.

RxDB (GitHub Repo)

RxDB, or Reactive Database, is a NoSQL-database for JavaScript Applications. It features multi-platform support, reactive data-handling, data encryption, import/export of the database-state, full TypeScript support, and more. It is useful for UI-based apps that always display the realtime state to the user.

Trump allegedly ordered former Defense Secretary James Mattis to ‘screw Amazon’ one year before awarding a hotly contested $10 billion defense cloud contract to Microsoft (2 minute read)

According to an upcoming book, Trump had ordered former Defense Secretary James Mattis to 'screw Amazon' out of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract that was recently awarded to Microsoft. Mattis had pushed back against the request as he wanted to pursue the contract fairly. Trump has publicly feuded with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in the past. The 10-year contract involves helping the Department of Defense move sensitive data to the cloud. Other competitors for the contract included IBM and Oracle. Google had dropped out of the bidding in 2018 over concerns that it would not be able to fulfill the terms of the contract.

Leaked audio captures Sundar Pichai discussing leaks at Google (1 minute read)

Leaked audio from an all-hands meeting at Google recorded Google CEO Sundar Pichai responding to concerns regarding recent hires, management, and trust. Google had recently hired a former Department of Homeland Security staffer who had defended a travel ban on citizens of predominantly Muslim nations. Employees who had been part of protest walkouts have claimed that they faced retaliation for their efforts. A new Chrome extension by Google automatically reports any staffer who creates a meeting event with more than 10 rooms or 100 participants. Staff claim that the extension was created to target dissenters, but managers say that it was created to reduce potential calendar spam. Pichai discussed the trouble of maintaining trust and transparency at scale, especially when internal discussions have been leaked for use against the company and some of its employees.

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