TLDR Daily Update 2020-08-18

Mission to Venus 🚀, Apple threatens Epic 📱, UFO task force 🛸

Big Tech & Startups

Apple Threatens to Terminate Epic Games' Developer Accounts on August 28 (3 minute read)

Apple plans to terminate Epic Games' access to its App Store and app development tools by August 28. This includes the development tools required to create software for the Unreal Engine. Epic has filed a court order in Northern California to remove the restrictions that Apple has placed on it. The dispute started when Epic attempted to introduce a direct payment system in its Fortnite app to defy Apple's App Store rules.

Facebook begins merging Instagram and Messenger chats in new update (1 minute read)

Facebook has begun integrating Instagram and Messenger's chat systems. The Facebook Messenger logo replaces the Instagram logo in the new update. Instagram chats are more colorful. Users still can't message each other directly across platforms, but Facebook has been clear about its plans to unify the messaging platforms.
Science & Futuristic Technology

AutoX launches its RoboTaxi service in Shanghai, competing with Didi’s pilot program (2 minute read)

AutoX has publicly launched its self-driving taxi service in Shanghai. RoboTaxi will start with a fleet of 100 vehicles in the Jiading District. Customers can book rides through AutoNavi or Letzgo. AutoX is the third company to hold a permit for driverless robotaxis in California. Didi, China's largest ride-hailing platform, launched its own robotaxi pilot program in Shanghai at the end of June. it plans to deploy more than one million autonomous vehicles by 2030.

Rocket Lab aims to launch private Venus mission in 2023 (3 minute read)

Rocket Lab, a Californian-based spaceflight company, is planning a robotic astrobiology mission to Venus in 2023. Venus used to be a planet with oceans, lakes, and rivers, before the planet became hot and dry. Scientists believe that there could be life in the planet's atmosphere, where potentially habitable pockets have temperatures and pressures similar to the Earth's surface environment. The Venus mission will involve deploying probes into the planet's atmosphere using Rocket Lab's Photon satellite platform. When Photon becomes available for customers, it will significantly lower the cost of doing science in space.
Programming, Design & Data Science

Hedy (GitHub Repo)

Hedy is a gradual programming language aimed at teaching programming and Python. It increases its syntactic elements as the student progresses, building to more complex syntax and additional concepts. There are currently 13 levels, covering topics such as printing and input, variables, code blocks, colons, brackets, and more. Hedy follows design principles based on research on learning.

Spinning Up in Deep RL (Website)

Spinning Up in Deep RL is an educational resource by OpenAI for learning about deep reinforcement learning. Reinforcement learning is a machine learning approach for teaching agents how to solve tasks by trial and error. The site includes an overview of reinforcement learning, an essay about how to get into an RL research role, a curated list of papers, and more.

New coronavirus strain in Malaysia could be more infectious than COVID-19 (2 minute read)

D614G, a new strain of the coronavirus, is making its way across Southeast Asia. Malaysian health officials say it could be more infectious than COVID-19. The strain has been detected in several countries across the continent. There is still little information on the strain.

Pentagon Announces Task Force to Study UFOs (4 minute read)

The Department of Defense has approved the establishment of an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force to detect, analyze, and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to US national security. There is a long history of government research into UFOs. The UAP Task Force will work with multiple agencies. Congress has requested information regarding unidentified aerial objects and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is evaluating the proposal and how best to respond to the request.

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