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Since entering the 2020 presidential race, Elizabeth Warren has fired off hyper-ambitious policy proposals almost nonstop: universal child care, abolishing the Electoral College, ending the Senate filibuster. On Monday morning, the Massachusetts senator proposed her latest big idea on Medium: wiping out the student debt of 42 million Americans and creating a free universal public college.

Today, more than 44 million Americans are collectively in debt for over $1.5 trillion. The average student leaves college with more than $37,000 in loans, making it more difficult for them to buy a home, have children, and start businesses. “The result,” Warren writes, “is a huge student loan debt burden that’s crushing millions of families and acting as an anchor on our economy.”

Warren proposes canceling up to $50,000 in student loan debt for every person with household income below $100,000 a year. The numbers get a little more complicated from there: For every three dollars over $100,000 a household makes per year, they get one dollar less in debt relief. Anyone making above $250,000 a year, the top five percent of households, is ineligible. By Warren’s projections, her plan would cancel some debt for 95 percent of those with student loans and fully wipe out debt for nearly 75 percent.

But alleviating current student debt would only be a temporary solution. As long as tuition is exorbitantly expensive and predatory loans flourish, another national debt crisis is inevitable. With that in mind, Warren is also calling to make tuition free for students at public two-year and four-year colleges, with an extra $100 billion in funding for Pell grants. And in a move aimed at closing the racial wealth gap, she also wants to create additional funding for historically black colleges and to bar colleges from making admissions decisions based on criminal history and immigration status.

All told, Warren writes that her debt cancelation plan would result in a one-time cost of $640 billion—that’s $60 billion less than banks got in the 2008 bailout—and with free college would have a combined cost of $1.2 trillion over 10 years. To cover it, Warren proposed a two percent tax on people making more than $50 million a year.

Today, the cost of getting a college degree—a nonnegotiable in an increasingly information-based economy—is so high that for the first time in decades, we’re seeing a surge in downward mobility. That’s the result of state and federal governments cutting funding for education while backing private companies that charge astronomical interest rates on student loans. Student debt is more aggressive and tenacious than any other kind. Creditors can garnish wages, and it’s one of the only kinds of debt that bankruptcy won’t eliminate. And as Warren writes:

Policymakers stood by as state after state pulled back on investments
in public higher education and sent tuition soaring. They stood by as
for-profit colleges exploded, luring in students with false promises
and loading them up with debt as their executives and investors raked
in billions in taxpayer dollars. They stood by as employers demanded
higher credentials while offloading the cost of getting those
credentials onto workers. And they stood by as corporations made huge
profits off of the new skills graduates gained through higher
education while giving workers almost nothing in the way of wage
increases—increases policymakers falsely promised would make
graduates’ debt worth it.

What Warren is saying is that the student debt isn’t the irresponsibility of individuals, it’s a national crisis resulting from decades of targeted policies. The government helped to make this mess, Warren argues, and therefore it has a duty to clean it up.

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G-Shock has enlisted boxing giant Everlast for the release of a Bluetooth-equipped GBA-800 G-SQUAD. Serving an all-red body — a reference to Everlast’s boxing heritage — the watch will perform as a fitness-first timepiece which tracks the wearer’s exercise in a phone-connected log.

The special-edition GBA-800 features a smattering of Everlast branding seen printed on the dial and strap and engraved into the watch’s rear case. The watch will calculate calories, track steps and measure time and data from the wearer’s physical activities, which will be interchangeably displayed on the retro digital screen.

Completing the boxing glove-themed look is a red and white co-branded tin case, which is adorned with the fitting “Choice of Champions” slogan.

Priced at ¥19,500 JPY (approx. $175 USD), the Everlast x G-Shock GBA-800 G-SQUAD is set for a release in June 2019.

For more collaborative G-Shock’s, take a look at this limited edition marble-themed 8FIVE2 DW-5600.

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On the day I make the long, traffic-clogged drive from Berkeley to Mountain View to meet Sebastian Thrun, Kitty Hawk’s CEO, it’s supposed to rain. Thrun meets me in the lobby, says hello, and notices my umbrella. He asks me if it’s raining. I tell him no, but that the forecast said it might. “Ah,” he says with a grin. “You are a pessimist.”

Slender, with a shaved head and wearing a suit just because he felt like it today, Thrun looks the part of a 21st-century Captain Nemo. At a time of backlash against Big Tech, he bounces along with untroubled enthusiasm, a blue-eyed riposte to Peter Thiel’s 2011 quip mocking Silicon Valley: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” By the time the German computer scientist was 36, he had tenure at Stanford University and was running its AI lab. In the mid-2000s he started working at Google, helping to create Street View and running Ground Truth, the massive effort that underpins Google Maps. Thrun launched the company’s self-driving car project as well as Google X, its “moon-shot factory.” So it’s no surprise that despite Thrun’s lack of aviation experience, his frequent patron, Google’s Larry Page, tapped him to run Kitty Hawk. (The company was founded in 2010 by Stanford aerodynamicist Ilan Kroo, who created an early version of what’s now the Cora aircraft. Page became the main funder, put Thrun in charge of the effort in 2016, and named it Kitty Hawk.)

Thrun believes his latest venture can “free the world from traffic,” but he doesn’t overestimate where things stand now. “We’re still in the infancy,” he says, “still at the very beginning.”

The first problems Kitty Hawk, Uber, and their ilk must stare down are technical. Take propulsion: Battery tech is getting cheaper and more competitive with gasoline, but it doesn’t provide anywhere near the energy density of jet fuel. For every pound of battery, you get 0.1 to 0.15 horsepower-hours. For liquid fuel, it’s 7.3 horsepower-hours, a 50-fold advantage. Electric motors are more efficient than combustion engines, but not by enough to close that gap. And the work of building a machine that defies gravity means weight matters more than any other consideration, like the price of materials. “In cars, the ranking is cost, volume, weight,” says Richard Anderson, director of the Eagle Flight Research Center at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “In airplanes, it’s weight, weight, weight, volume, cost.”

Reducing noise—a necessity for making flying cars ubiquitous—exacerbates the problem. You can quiet a flying car by slowing the rotors and changing their angle to produce more lift, but that requires more torque and more power. Basically, the less noisy an aircraft is, the more energy it demands.

Physics and chemistry can be brought to bear; battery power is getting better. The bigger obstacle (for flying-car fans, anyway) involves regulation. Self-driving-car developers have been able to charge ahead because they’ve found a hole in the regulatory regime; most states don’t explicitly ban autonomous driving. (Congress has been kicking around legislation for nearly two years.) The sky is far more tightly controlled. The Federal Aviation Administration has to approve any new aircraft and does not easily make changes—let alone usher in a new form of urban flight.

First comes safety certification. For most aircraft, it takes years of testing—and the agency has never certified an electric aircraft for commercial use, let alone one that toggles between vertical and horizontal travel. It’s not even clear how the FAA would classify something like Kitty Hawk’s Cora, or if it would require an entirely new classification.

The software taking all the work away from the human pilot brings a different problem. Historically, the FAA has allowed only deterministic software, programs that produce the same results from the same inputs. To certify that code, Anderson of Embry-Riddle says, “you have to test all the possible inputs that can go in and show that any output that comes out is not detrimental to the vehicle.” But software that makes decisions about rotor speeds, aircraft angles, and what’s an obstacle can’t be tested that way. It’s too complex.

“Flying cars aren’t like smartphones; you can’t let competing tech and protocols coexist while the market figures it out.”

Before flying cars can take off, the FAA must adopt a methodology that allows for a mathematical proof of safety. “This has been accepted in automotive stuff for years, but the safety aspects of airplanes have made our folks drag their feet,” Anderson says of the FAA. The agency sees significant potential in electric and autonomous aircraft, an FAA spokesperson says, “but the operational rules for a self-flying or autonomous aircraft are not in place, and this type of operation has not been tested.”

Nonetheless, Thrun and others have been encouraged by the FAA’s recent efforts to allow for new types of aviation. In 2017 the agency dumped highly prescriptive rules for small planes in favor of performance-based standards. Essentially, it demanded that aircraft be safe instead of specifying how to make them so. And it has steadily relaxed its restrictions on drones. But some worry that this slackening comes with too much risk. “It’s not clear the FAA has the staffing or the expertise to independently confirm that the companies who say ‘trust us’ for the unmanned industry have really done due diligence to earn that,” says Ella Atkins, who directs the University of Michigan’s Autonomous Aerospace Systems Lab. And the recent crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets, which killed 346 people between them, have raised questions about whether the regulator has become lax in how it lets companies certify new aircraft, especially aircraft that are so reliant on complex software.

Making sure flying cars won’t crash and kill their occupants—and people on the ground—is not the only serious safety question. More vexing, perhaps, may be what happens when they fill the skies and threaten to crash into each other, or into buildings, birds, cell towers, and power lines. Flying cars, whether piloted by humans or software, will need far more sophisticated systems than anything currently guiding commercial jets. Alphabet’s drone delivery company, Wing, has built its own air-traffic management system that assigns craft specific corridors of air space, and it has made parts of it open source in the hope that the industry will adopt the scheme. But flying cars aren’t like smartphones; you can’t let competing tech and protocols coexist while the market figures it out. Flying cars would require a single operating system—and therefore either a whole lot of cooperation between competing companies or a firm grip by the iron hand of regulators.

Solve all of that (piece of cake!) and the operational challenges of a flying-car service come into focus: What routes to fly, how much to charge, how to schedule maintenance without losing capacity. And what happens when someone gets sick and doesn’t grab the barf bag in time. It’s the kind of stuff airlines are used to dealing with, while Uber and upstarts like Kitty Hawk have to begin at square one.

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L’Europarlamento vota una mozione che mette al bando i software per fare incetta di biglietti di concerti o eventi su internet per rivenderli a un prezzo maggiorato. Si alzano le barriere contro il bagarinaggio online

live-concert-455762_1280
(Immagine: pixabay/CC)

Barriere più alte contro il fenomeno del secondary ticketing, il bagarinaggio online. Il Parlamento europeo ha approvato, nei giorni scorsi, una modifica alla direttiva sulle pratiche commerciali scorrette per impedire, di fatto, l’uso di programmi con cui alcune società fanno incetta dei biglietti di eventi e concerti per poi rivenderli a un prezzo maggiorato.

Nello specifico, lo scorso 17 aprile, l’Europarlamento ha votato la messa al bando dei software che permettono di acquistare un gran numero di biglietti in un dato momento. Con la nuova norma, l’Europa fissa degli standard minimi che dovranno poi essere recepiti dalle singole legislazioni degli stati membri nei prossimi mesi.

La misura è rivolta a porre un freno al dilagare del fenomeno del bagarinaggio online che, sfruttando tecnologie sempre più avanzate, riesce ad arrivare anche ad accaparrarsi il 42% dei biglietti previsti per eventi sportivi o culturali. E la modifica voluta dal Parlamento europeo impedisce soprattutto la rivendita di questi biglietti, rendendo così inutile il loro acquisto massiccio tramite i bot.

Il precedente

In Italia il problema ha iniziato a essere affrontato già da qualche anno. Nel 2017, per esempio, la piattaforma Mticket ha introdotto un sistema per cui al biglietto sono associati un numero di telefono e un sigillo fiscale per evitare la vendita secondaria.

Sempre nel 2017 l’Antitrust ha multato il sito Ticketone per non avere impedito l’acquisto automatico di una grande quantità di biglietti, che sarebbero poi stati rivenduti a prezzi superiori a quelli di vendita attraverso canali secondari.

Nel novembre 2018, invece, in un emendamento alla legge di bilancio presentato dal Movimento 5 Stelle, è stata introdotta la misura del biglietto nominale, che avrà corso a partire dal primo luglio, previsto per gli eventi con più di 5mila partecipanti. In questo modo, al momento del controllo dei biglietti, sarà controllata anche l’identità del possessore e scatteranno le multe in caso di biglietti anonimi.

Leggi anche


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Licenza Creative Commons

This opera is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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Remember last week when Samsung unveiled its “foldable” phone? Well, it appears there are still a few wrinkles to iron out. Meanwhile, Google walkout organizers say they’re facing retaliation from the company, a new Game of Thrones episode has come, and John Legend is putting Siri to shame. Here’s the news you need to know in two minutes or less.

Google retaliates against walkout organizers

Two Google employees who worked to organize a walkout of thousands of employees last November say the company is now retaliating against them. The employee claims range from demotions to forced medical leave. It’s not a great look for a company that just disbanded its AI Ethics Council this month.

Samsung delayed its foldable phone

Samsung’s much-hyped Galaxy Fold is on hold after review units sent out over the past couple of weeks failed fantastically. From flickering like a strobe light to bulges bubbling under the surface, it turns out making a usable foldable phone isn’t an open-and-shut process.

John Legend is your new Google Assistant

If you tell your Google Assistant to “talk like a Legend,” prepare for the smooth croons of Grammy-winner John Legend. It’s an interesting example of how digitally copied voices can make computers more fun to talk to, but it also opens the door to fake recordings meant to deceive. How accurate is Google’s attempt to re-create John Legend? Listen for yourself.

Cocktail Conversation

A big, juicy, controversial thing happened in Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode. We aren’t going to spoil it for you here if you haven’t seen it, but if you have and you need to talk, we have an episode review (and podcast) to get you through.

WIRED Recommends: Earth Day products

To celebrate Earth Day, we pulled together a list of our favorite upcycled and recycled products you can buy right now.

More News You Can Use

If you didn’t take this weekend to read the entire Mueller report, here are 14 overlooked takeaways you might want to know.

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The iconic Nintendo Game Boy made its debut in Japan back on April 21, 1989, and this year marks its 30th anniversary. Over the years, the Japanese gaming company perfected its craft, releasing the Game Boy Color in November 18 of 1998, quickly followed by the wide-screened Game Boy Advance in June of 2001. Two years later, the GBA was succeeded by the Game Boy Advance SP, solving a problem many encountered when playing with the handheld console in brighter conditions with its all-new backlit screen. Finally, on September 19 2005, Nintendo released the last iteration of the Game Boy with the Micro, a pocket-sized throwback design with a retro aesthetic.

Honoring the Game Boy family, many fans took to Twitter with the hashtag #ゲームボーイ30周年 (Game Boy’s 30th anniversary) to celebrate this legendary handheld with fan art and photos of their very own collections. Take a look at the tweets below for the Game Boy series in all its nostalgic, pixelated glory.

And in other gaming news, Fortnite just teased another crossover with Marvel for the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.

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A teenager from New York has opened a lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the tech company’s facial recognition software led to a false arrest. Ousmane Bah was arrested on November 29 in relation to a series of Apple Store thefts across Boston, New Jersey, Delaware and Manhattan. According to the lawsuit, the real thief used a stolen ID featuring Bah’s name, address and personal information. This ID did not feature a photograph, so Apple reportedly used the face recognition software to associate the thief’s face with Bah’s details.

The $1 billion USD lawsuit alleges that Apple’s “use of facial recognition software in its stores to track individuals suspected of theft is the type of Orwellian surveillance that consumers fear, particularly as it can be assumed that the majority of consumers are not aware that their faces are secretly being analyzed.” Keep an eye out for more details over the case in the future.

In other tech-related news, Samsung has postponed the launch of its Galaxy Fold.

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