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Uber’s CEO Knows We Need Equality To Move The World Forward

Shortly after taking the helm as CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi read the now-infamous report on the beleaguered company’s culture, it was bad. Real bad. He had to take breaks, he admitted in an on-stage interview with legendary journalist Tina Brown yesterday at the Women in the World conference in New York City.

Uber has had to do a bit of soul-searching in the past year or so. There was the viral blog post from female engineer Susan Fowler that revealed the company’s toxic culture of serial harassment, eventually leading to the ousting Khosrowshahi’s predecessor Travis Kalanick. There was a massive data breach that came to light more than a year after it happened, and the lawsuit against self-driving car company Waymo. And most recently, an autonomous vehicle killed a pedestrian in Arizona. All this has been, understandably, bad for business — users have been deleting the app in droves, and the company’s stock tanked.

Khosrowshahi knew the company was in crisis, of course (though some of the above happened after he became CEO). But in some ways, that makes things easier to shake up. “The crisis was so big that I didn’t have to convince anyone to change things,” he said. He was drawn to the company because it presented a unique opportunity to make a difference in the world; if Uber was going to do that, Khosrowshahi knew the company’s values had to shift.

Late last year, after extensive crowdsourcing, voting, and focus group testing, Khosrowshahi released the company’s new norms, such as “We celebrate differences” and “We do the right thing.” Yes, these new values sound cheesy, but it’s a dramatic shift from the “hustlin’” and “toe-stepping” of the past that allowed such rampant and destructive behavior at the company.

“It’s clear that the culture and approach that got Uber where it is today is not what will get us to the next level,” Khosrowshahi wrote in a post about the new norms on LinkedIn.

At the Women in the World event, Khosrowshahi elaborated a bit on what exactly that means. “There are so many women who are COOs of these companies, but they never get to be CEO,” Brown said, pointing out that male CEOs always talk about their “great pipeline of women.” “But that pipeline seems pretty congested. My question is: How is your pipeline, Dara?”

Khosrowshahi noted that this takes time and investment. Too many companies focus on recruitment when they talk about women in leadership. Uber has done that, he said, but he’s really most interested in development “Recruitment is like a sugar high,” he said — if you really want women to be in charge, it takes years. He points to his time at Expedia, in which he put forth a conscious effort to raise the number of women in charge from about 15 percent to 25 percent. “It took years to do so because it took developing women, shaping them, working with our culture, making sure you move them to the right places in the company,” Khosrowshahi said. He seems to imply that they could do the same at Uber.

But true equality goes beyond gender  it means making a more equal society for everyone. And that fits into Uber’s larger vision of taking you wherever you need to go, no matter how you do it, even if it’s not in a car. Cars sit idle 95 percent of the time, Khosrowshahi said, and parking takes up 25 to 30 percent of space in cities. He envisions a future without car ownership. “If mobility and movement is available to everybody, the delta between the value of real estate in Manhattan vs Queens starts diminishing,” Khosrowshahi said. “Bringing the cost of movement down creates a society that is more equal, and creates opportunity for more people on broader basis.”

And why should you trust Uber to get us to that future? Khosrowshahi’s ready. “Because I’m in charge.”

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Science & Technology

NTP nuclear rocket engine will take humans to Mars in just three months

Although the romance of the peaceful atom has subsided since the mid-1960s, the idea of ​​using nuclear reactors for “civilian” purposes is still regularly returned. The new nuclear rocket engine (NRM) will deliver a man to Mars much faster than is possible now.

The danger of cosmic radiation is much more serious than the risk of infection from an accident with such an engine. The most dangerous of all the constraining vectors for projects of sending people to other bodies in the solar system is cosmic radiation. Radiation from our star and galactic rays can seriously damage the health of the mission crew. Therefore, when planning flights to Mars, engineers and scientists try to reduce travel time as much as possible.

One promising way to get to the Red Planet in just three months could be a new NTP engine. Its concept was developed and submitted to NASA by Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies ( USNC-Tech ) from Seattle, USA. The name of the unit is simply deciphered – Nuclear Thermal Propulsion ( NTP ), that is, “thermal nuclear power plant”. The novelty differs from its previously created or invented counterparts in the most secure design.

A key component of USNC’s development is mid – grade uranium fuel “pellets”. They contain 5% to 20% of the highly reactive isotope U- 235 coated with zirconium carbide ceramics. This degree of enrichment lies roughly halfway between the “civilian” nuclear power plants and the military. The proprietary ceramic coating technology makes the tablets incredibly resistant to mechanical damage and extreme temperatures.

Schematic diagram of a thermal nuclear rocket engine / © Wikipedia |  Tokono
Schematic diagram of a thermal nuclear rocket engine / © Wikipedia | Tokono

The company promises that their fuel elements are significantly superior in these parameters to those currently used at nuclear power plants. As a result, the engine will have a higher specific impulse with a lower degree of uranium enrichment than in earlier versions of NRE. In addition to the flight to Mars, among the goals of the ambitious project are other missions within the solar system. The perspectives of the concept will soon be considered by specialists from NASA and the US Department of Defense ( DoD ). Perhaps departments will even allow its commercial use by private companies.

Theoretically, NRE based on modern technologies can have a specific impulse (SR) seven times higher than that of chemical jet engines. And this is one of the key performance parameters. At the same time, unlike electric and plasma ones, the ID of a nuclear rocket engine is combined with high thrust. One of the limiting factors in the use of NRE, in addition to safety issues, are extremely high temperatures in the reactor core.

The higher the temperature of the gases flowing out of the engine, the more energy they have. And accordingly, they create traction. However, mankind has not yet come up with relatively inexpensive and safe materials that can withstand more than three thousand degrees Celsius without destruction. The solution created by USNC will operate at the limit of modern materials science (3000 ° C) and have a specific impulse twice that of the best liquid-propellant engines.

Tests of the first nuclear jet engine in 1967 / © NASA
Tests of the first nuclear jet engine in 1967 / © NASA

The official press release does not specify which working body will be used in NTP . Usually, in all NRE projects, the reactor core heats hydrogen, less often ammonia. But, since we are talking about a long-term mission, the creators could have chosen some other gas. Keeping liquid hydrogen on board for three months is no easy task. But you still need to invent something for the way back.

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Scientist Peter Scott-Morgan is set to become “the world’s first complete cyborg”

Scientist and roboticist Peter Scott Morgan, who is using an advanced version of Stephen Hawking's communication system, built by Intel. INTEL

Two years ago scientist Peter Scott-Morgan was diagnosed with motor neuron disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and today he is still fighting for a new life, not just for survival.

This October, Dr. Scott-Morgan is on track to become the world’s first full-fledged cyborg, potentially giving him more years of life.

The world’s first complete cyborg

It was in 2017 that Dr. Peter Scott-Morgan (a brilliant robotics writer, scientific writer, and talented speaker) was diagnosed with degenerative motor neuron disease that ultimately paralyzed his entire body except his eyes.

The diagnosis is understandably grim, especially considering that he has only two years to live, but he has not given up the fight.

Teaming up with world-class organizations with expertise in artificial intelligence, Dr. Scott-Morgan is transforming himself into what he calls “the world’s first fully fledged cyborg.”

“And when I say ‘Cyborg’, I mean not just that some kind of payment will be implanted in me, I mean that I will become the most advanced human cybernetic organism ever created on Earth for 13.8 billion years. My body and brain will be irreversibly changed, ”says Dr. Scott-Morgan.

What does it mean to be human

According to Dr. Scott-Morgan, he will become part robot and part living organism. Moreover, the change will not be one-time, but with subsequent updates.

“I have more updates in the process than Microsoft ,” says Dr. Scott-Morgan.

AI-powered creative expression

The cyborg artist is a great example of the power of human-AI collaboration. AI uses the data that make up Peter’s digital portrait ( articles, videos, images, and social media ) and is trained to recognize key ideas, experiences, and images.

Peter will introduce a theme, AI will suggest composition, and Peter will apply images to suggest style and mood. Peter will direct the AI ​​to render a new digital image that none of them could create alone.

A unique blend of AI and human, reflects Peter’s creative and emotional self – a critical aspect of what it means to be human.

Peter 2.0

This October, Dr. Scott-Morgan will undergo what he calls the latest procedure that will transform him into “Complete Cyborg”.

October 9 he tweeted a photo of himself, writing the following:

“This is my last post as Peter 1.0. Tomorrow I will trade my vote for potentially decades of life as we complete the last medical procedure for my transition to Full Cyborg, in the month that I was told statistically I would be dead. I am not dying, I am transforming. ! Oh, how I LOVE science !!! “.

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Science & Technology

Japan has developed an inflatable scooter that weighs practically nothing

The University of Tokyo engineers have developed the Poimo inflatable electric scooter, which is created individually for each owner. It is enough to send your photo to the manufacturers – and a personal optimized model will be assembled for you.

The scooter is designed with a special program for the body size of a particular user and his specific fit. Moreover, each owner is free to make any changes to this model. If he makes any changes to the drawing, the program will automatically redesign the electric bike to maintain its strength, stability and controllability. When the model is finished and approved, it is handed over to the manufacturer.

Scooter Poimo

The scooter consists of seven separate inflatable sections that are constructed from durable fabric and sewn with straight stitch. It remains to add electronic components – in particular, a brushless motor and a lithium-ion battery. 

The finished electric scooter weighs about 9 kg and can travel at speeds up to 6 km / h (that is, slightly faster than a pedestrian). It can work for an hour on one charge.

This is how the current version of Poimo looks like in action:

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