National / International News

Injured Woods withdraws from US Open

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 21:53
Tiger Woods pulls out of next month's US Open at Pinehurst as he continues his recovery from back surgery.

GP appointments should be 'easier'

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 21:50
Getting doctors appointments should be made easier for people who are at work or school during the day, a report recommends.

VIDEO: Social network Ask.fm defends site

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 21:26
The social network ask.fm says it has made changes after claims of bullying on its website.

Pastor grateful for Robinson backing

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 21:09
The north Belfast Pastor who described Islam as "heathen" and "satanic" says he is touched that First Minister Peter Robinson defended him.

Medics in Sierra Leone Ebola push

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 20:56
International medical aid teams are to arrive in eastern Sierra Leone to try to deal with an outbreak of the deadly and highly contagious Ebola virus.

Lib Dem 'meltdown' and 1D fears - front pages

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 20:40
The Liberal Democrats' internal strife continues to make headlines, while a One Direction star's father tells the Mirror he's worried about his son.

Tuition fee changes 'could cost more'

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 20:12
College and university education in England could cost the public more than the old system despite a tripling in tuition fees, a union leader says.

Key moments in the history of ask.fm

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 19:57
Understanding the controversial social network

Ask.fm defends anonymity for users

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 19:55
The site's director of external affairs, Liva Biseniece, says Ask.fm is safe for users and lets them "explore important issues".

How did 'driverless' cars become 'self-driving' cars, and should we be worried?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 19:51

A futurist named Brad Templeton got mad at me some months ago. We don't say "driverless cars" anymore, he told me with a hint of scolding in his voice. We say "self-driving" cars.

OK, I thought. I didn't know the computer-navigated cars had feelings. But as much as the moment felt like a weird discussion of political correctness on behalf of sensors and data-crunching algorithms, it also made some sense to me. After all, it is true that the cars are being driven. Just not by humans. So, fair enough, I thought, and made the switch. Ever since then I've called them by the preferred nomenclature. 

But now that Google has released a new self-driving car prototype, I'm thinking more about it. While self-driving maybe more accurate than driverless, there's a lot more that comes with that, right? Driverless suggests unhinged. Nobody at the helm. A carriage out of control. But self-driving suggests independent, efficient--even magical. A self-driving car is something we want, because it does the work for us. 

Could it be then, that this is really about marketing? The new self-driving prototype we got to see this week has some interesting changes from past vehicles: no brake pedals and no steering wheel. It doesn't look like a car really, either. It's more of a pod. Maybe it's an owl. Whatever it is, it looks like its own thing, and that is also part of the plan. Because if you started seeing Priuses driving around without anyone in the driver's seat, you might not feel so good about it. Like some of Google's other recent inventions, this thing makes some of us a little nervous. If you've been keeping up with HBO's show "Silicon Valley," you might have caught the scene where the cowardly Jared gets screwed by a self-driving car's malfunctioning computer.

 

It's a really funny bit, in part because that feeling of helplessness hits so close to home. None of us want to be in the backseat, do we? This is America gosh darn it. Where we want the right to benefit from the endless permutations of human error. An even more cynical way of saying it, according to the unnamed futurist: We'd rather let drunk drivers kill people on the road than even entertain the thought of letting a computer do it at what is likely to be a far lower rate.

If you can't tell already, I support the idea of self-driving cars. I think they'll make our world more efficient, less polluting, and safer. But that doesn't mean I will ignore the possibility that we're being sold a product; that we're being conditioned. Words and designs carry meaning, and these vehicles are no different. That meaning is born in motivations both virtuous and unnerving. If you think companies like Google aren't thinking about how to deliver us video advertisements once we can all kick back and veg out during the road trip, you're not being cynical enough. So I'll do it--I'll call them self-driving cars. But I'll also leave you with another scene I'm reminded of while mulling all of this. It's from the movie "Wall-E," and it's a fate I hope we avoid.

 

How did 'driverless' cars become 'self-driving' cars, and should we be worried?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 19:51

A futurist named Brad Templeton got mad at me some months ago. We don't say "driverless cars" anymore, he told me with a hint of scolding in his voice. We say "self-driving" cars.

OK, I thought. I didn't know the computer-navigated cars had feelings. But as much as the moment felt like a weird discussion of political correctness on behalf of sensors and data-crunching algorithms, it also made some sense to me. After all, it is true that the cars are being driven. Just not by humans. So, fair enough, I thought, and made the switch. Ever since then I've called them by the preferred nomenclature. 

But now that Google has released a new self-driving car prototype, I'm thinking more about it. While self-driving maybe more accurate than driverless, there's a lot more that comes with that, right? Driverless suggests unhinged. Nobody at the helm. A carriage out of control. But self-driving suggests independent, efficient--even magical. A self-driving car is something we want, because it does the work for us. 

Could it be then, that this is really about marketing? The new self-driving prototype we got to see this week has some interesting changes from past vehicles: no brake pedals and no steering wheel. It doesn't look like a car really, either. It's more of a pod. Maybe it's an owl. Whatever it is, it looks like its own thing, and that is also part of the plan. Because if you started seeing Priuses driving around without anyone in the driver's seat, you might not feel so good about it. Like some of Google's other recent inventions, this thing makes some of us a little nervous. If you've been keeping up with HBO's show "Silicon Valley," you might have caught the scene where the cowardly Jared gets screwed by a self-driving car's malfunctioning computer.

 

It's a really funny bit, in part because that feeling of helplessness hits so close to home. None of us want to be in the backseat, do we? This is America gosh darn it. Where we want the right to benefit from the endless permutations of human error. An even more cynical way of saying it, according to the unnamed futurist: We'd rather let drunk drivers kill people on the road than even entertain the thought of letting a computer do it at what is likely to be a far lower rate.

If you can't tell already, I support the idea of self-driving cars. I think they'll make our world more efficient, less polluting, and safer. But that doesn't mean I will ignore the possibility that we're being sold a product; that we're being conditioned. Words and designs carry meaning, and these vehicles are no different. That meaning is born in motivations both virtuous and unnerving. If you think companies like Google aren't thinking about how to deliver us video advertisements once we can all kick back and veg out during the road trip, you're not being cynical enough. So I'll do it--I'll call them self-driving cars. But I'll also leave you with another scene I'm reminded of while mulling all of this. It's from the movie "Wall-E," and it's a fate I hope we avoid.

 

30s and 40s film archive completed

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 18:08
The British Council Film Collection, showing snapshots of typical life in Britain in the 1930s and 1940s, loads a final series of movies into its online archive.

Portraying a mass murderer on stage

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 17:43
Cast of a London play visit South African state killer in prison

Tesco finalises China retail deal

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 17:30
Tesco has finalised its joint venture with China Resources Enterprise (CRE) creating the largest food retailer in China.

VIDEO: Samsung unveils health wristband

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 17:21
Samsung unveils a prototype wristband that can be fitted with third-party sensors to gather a range of health data about the wearer's body.

The first 'hip-hop billionaire'?

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 17:07
Could Dr Dre become hip-hop's first billionaire?

10 Thoughts On Obama's West Point Policy Address

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 17:02

From his focus on peace instead of war to his praise for the U.S. stance in Ukraine, the president took a different tone Wednesday than he did in his 2009 commencement speech at the military academy.

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Can tobacco shed its 'toxic brand'?

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 16:59
Can the tobacco industry shed its "toxic brand"?

Holder Urges Prosecutors To Back Criminal Justice Changes

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 16:43

At a closed-door conference, the attorney general made his case for reducing some drug sentences and opening up the clemency process.

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Overweight total tops 2.1bn globally

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 16:43
The number of the world's population that are obese or overweight has topped 2.1 billion, latest figures show.
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