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Leftist Lenin Moreno crossed his fingers Monday for outright victory in Ecuador's presidential vote as impatience grew over a delay in publishing full results that could force a runoff. Sunday's election was a test of the legacy of outgoing President Rafael Correa, Moreno's more hardline ally and an outspoken critic of the United States. Moreno, 63, hoped to top 40 percent of the vote with a 10-point lead.
The world's first race on a professional track involving self-driving cars ended, not surprisingly, with a crash. As part of the Roborace competition held in Buenos Aires over the weekend, one of the two self-driving Devbot vehicles involved in the race slammed into a wall after miscalculating a particularly sharp turn.
While the Devbot vehicles weren't going all out, they weren't exactly driving at a leisurely pace either. At their best, both cars were driving in excess of 100 MPH, with one reaching a top speed of 115 MPH at one point.
In addition to racing around the track at high speeds, it's worth noting that each car can communicate with the other as to prevent them from crashing into each other. Unfortunately, the racetrack wall proved to be an insurmountable foe.
As for the software malfunction that caused the crash, Roborace's Justin Cooke explained what happened in an interview with the BBC:
One of the cars was trying to perform a manoeuvre, and it went really full-throttle and took the corner quite sharply and caught the edge of the barrier.
It's actually fantastic for us because the more we see these moments the more we are able to learn and understand what was the thinking behind the computer and its data.
Indeed, for as far along as self-driving software and hardware has progressed, it's clear that there's still a lot of work to be done before self-driving cars can replace human drivers completely across all driving environments.
While the DevBot vehicles are designed such that they "can be driven by a human or a computer", the versions used in the race over the weekend did not have any humans inside. Photos of the crash can be seen here.
By Stephen Kalin and Maher Chmaytelli SOUTH OF MOSUL/BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S.-backed Iraqi forces battling Islamic State fighters have fought their way close to Mosul's airport on the second day of a ground offensive on the jihadists' remaining stronghold in the western side of the city, military statements said on Monday. Federal police and elite interior ministry units known as Rapid Response are leading the charge toward the airport on the southern outskirts of Mosul and plan to turn it into a close support base for the push into western Mosul, commanders have said. The militants are essentially under siege in western Mosul, along with an estimated 750,000 civilians, after they were forced out of the eastern part of the city in the first phase of the campaign that ended last month, after 100 days of fighting.
Ukraine's military on Monday accused pro-Moscow rebels of breaking a new ceasefire deal barely hours after it came into effect, as Western powers warned Russia over its actions in the former Soviet state. The latest attempt to silence the guns in Ukraine was agreed after more than 30 people were killed in a sharp uptick of violence this month between government forces and Russian-backed separatists.
Nigeria on Monday urged the African Union to step in to stop what it said were "xenophobic attacks" on its citizens and other Africans in South Africa. "This is unacceptable to the people and government of Nigeria," a senior presidential aide on foreign affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said in an emailed statement. There was no independent verification of the claimed number of deaths, which may have been the result of wider criminal activities rather than anti-immigrant sentiment.
Amid rumors that the iPhone 8 will incorporate advanced facial recognition features, the Hebrew-language website Calcalist (via Times of Israel) is reporting that Apple recently acquired Realface, an up-and-coming Israeli startup with impressive real-time facial recognition software.
Lending credence to rumors that the iPhone 8 may forgo the use of Touch ID in favor of facial recognition, Realface's software is said to be sophisticated enough such that it can reliably be used as a foundation for mobile-based biometric authentication.
As is often the case when Apple acquires a company, Realface's web presence has already been wiped from the web. Still, thanks to the magic of Google, we were able to poke around and dig up some intriguing nuggets of information about the company's promising technology.
Realface boasts that it's AI software rests upon deep learning methods and is so reliable and quick that the end-result is an absolutely seamless user experience.
"Our technology provides our customers and end-users with the highest level of authentication and security available on all platforms," says Realface. "We have proprietary IP in the field of frictionless face recognition and effective learnings from facial features." Incidentally, Realface's technology is also capable of filtering out photos of faces and advanced sculptures designed to trick the software into thinking that a device's camera is honed in on an actual human face.
Further, Realface claims that its software can recognize faces with a 99.67% success rate, an impressive figure that is even higher than the average 97.5% success rate exhibited by humans. To this point, a profile on Realface from last year relays that the company's technology is so advanced that it can even distinguish between identical twins with alarming and impressive accuracy.
Below is a quick and dirty demo of the software in action.
What's particularly interesting is that Realface's technology is not only capable of discerning individual faces, but can also analyze specific facial expressions as a means to determine a user's mood. If this sounds somewhat familiar, Apple last year acquired Emotient, a company with similar AI technology of its own.
Now as for what Apple is planning to do with its growing portfolio of AI-based facial recognition software, well, that's the million dollar question. While initial speculation centered on Apple rolling out augmented reality features, perhaps similar to what the beloved MSQRD app does, more recent rumblings suggest that Apple wants to position facial recognition as a means to identify users and securely authorize sensitive transactions. Again, there are even reports that facial recognition might ultimately serve as a replacement for Touch ID.
While this seems far-fetched, Ming Chi-Kuo -- an analyst with the best track record regarding Apple rumors -- seems to think otherwise. In a recently issued research note, Kuo claims that the iPhone 8's rumored edgeless design cannot, for whatever reason, coexist peacefully with Touch ID. Consequently, Kuo relays that Apple wants to eventually replace Touch ID with a facial recognition solution.
When it comes to Apple, the old adage that when there's smoke, there's fire is generally true. That being the case, it stands to reason that facial recognition will be a huge and incredibly exciting component of the iPhone 8 user experience.
President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, a business associate and a Ukrainian lawmaker have drawn up a peace plan for the Russia-Ukraine conflict, presenting the proposal to the administration's former national security advisor, the New York Times reported Sunday. According to the report, Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen hand-delivered the proposal to the office of Michael Flynn, who resigned in disgrace a week later due to a separate incident involving contacts with Moscow's ambassador in Washington. The report underscored stubborn allegations of improper Russian influence on the Trump administration, with US intelligence agencies saying Moscow meddled in the American election in November to tip the outcome in the Republican's favor.
Finding out that the fiver in your wallet is worth thousands of pounds is a dream-come-true for some — but not everyone. A Northern Irish woman who discovered a rare £5 note worth £50,000 ($62,317) has given the note to charity because she says she has no use for the money. SEE ALSO: Some lucky duck got a £5 note 'worth £50,000' in a Christmas card The note is one of just four ultra-rare notes worth £50,000 in circulation in the UK. The note — which is engraved with a special Jane Austen inscription — is the third one to be snapped up, leaving just one left. The woman who discovered the note contacted the gallery founded by Graham Short — the artist who engraved the notes — stating her wish to donate the note to charity. "£5 note enclosed, I don't need it at my time of life. Please use it to help young people," reads the letter sent to the gallery by the donor, who prefers to remain anonymous. Image: graham short "The lady who found the note has surprised us all by sending it to the gallery and asking that it be used to help young people," reads a blog post on Short's website. According to the post, the proceeds from the note will be donated to children's charity Children in Need. "Currently contacting outlets connected to Children in Need to try and give this to a good cause so we honour the request of the lucky woman who originally discovered the note," the post continues. BONUS: This keychain can take away that annoying jingle your keys make
LG's upcoming G6 smartphone will offer users both front and back cameras for a wider angle and improved shot reports The Verge. According to the site LG confirmed the news in a (Korean language) blog post. The front camera will offer a 100-degree field of view, while the addition of two cameras on the back of the smartphone will offer a 125-degree angle, allowing for wider images to fit inside a square 1:1 ratio.
By Cod Satrusayang and Aukkaraporn Niyomyat BANGKOK (Reuters) - Monks and police scuffled on Monday at a Buddhist temple in Thailand where security forces are trying to arrest an influential former abbot on money-laundering charges. The standoff at the scandal-hit Dhammakaya Temple represents one of the biggest challenges to the authority of Thailand's junta since it took power in 2014. Police said they would try to avoid violence while threatening arrest for followers of the sprawling temple who have defied orders to leave and instead flocked there, hampering the search for 72-year-old Phra Dhammachayo.
By Maina Waruru ABU DHABI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A “solar revolution” is coming to Africa, comparable in scale and importance to the rapid surge in mobile phone use on the continent two decades ago, predicts the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency. Fast-dropping costs for solar power, combined with plenty of sun and a huge need for electricity on a continent where many are still without it, means solar has huge potential in Africa, said Adnan Amin, the director general of IRENA. “Africa’s solar potential is enormous,” he said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ran a death squad that killed many people, including a journalist and a pregnant woman, when he was mayor of a southern city, a retired policeman who claimed to be part of the group said Monday. Arthur Lascanas, sitting alongside three prominent human rights lawyers, broke down in tears as he listed a series of murders in Davao city that he alleged Duterte ordered either to eliminate critics or fight crime. Lascanas said he even killed his two brothers, who were involved in drug trafficking, due to "blind loyalty" to Duterte as well as cash rewards.
Indonesian Islamist groups on Monday called on the government to suspend the Christian governor of the capital and for the courts to convict him of blasphemy, demands they will make again at a rally outside parliament on Tuesday. Islamist groups have held two big rallies since November against the governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is on trial for insulting the Koran, and in the midst of an election in which he hopes to win a second term. "Our demands to parliament are that they urge the government to suspend Purnama ... and urge the Supreme Court and judges to detain him and impose the maximum sentence," said Muhammad al Khaththath of the Islamic People's Forum.
Mongolia has reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a $5.5 billion bailout package, officials announced, as the debt-wracked country tries to stabilise its economy. The landlocked north Asian nation has been hit hard by a more than 50 percent fall over the past five years in the price of copper, its main export. Billions of dollars' worth of natural resources lie buried beneath Mongolia's sprawling steppes, but development has been delayed for years and slowing growth in its biggest customer China has hobbled the economy.
In a blog post published Sunday, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler Riggetti details her experiences working for the company. Sadly, given she's a female engineer working at a thrusting, big-name Silicon Valley startup, the experiences are exactly what you'd expect.
In the post, Riggetti details numerous instances of overt sexist behaviour. She reportedly sent evidence, including email and chat logs to HR, but ran into a brick wall multiple times. In the end, she says that her attempts to quietly report sexist behaviour were turned against her:
I forwarded this absurd chain of emails to HR, and they requested to meet with me shortly after. I don't know what I expected after all of my earlier encounters with them, but this one was more ridiculous than I could have ever imagined. The HR rep began the meeting by asking me if I had noticed that *I* was the common theme in all of the reports I had been making, and that if I had ever considered that I might be the problem. I pointed out that everything I had reported came with extensive documentation and I clearly wasn't the instigator (or even a main character) in the majority of them - she countered by saying that there was absolutely no record in HR of any of the incidents I was claiming I had reported (which, of course, was a lie, and I reminded her I had email and chat records to prove it was a lie). She then asked me if women engineers at Uber were friends and talked a lot, and then asked me how often we communicated, what we talked about, what email addresses we used to communicate, which chat rooms we frequented, etc. - an absurd and insulting request that I refused to comply with. When I pointed out how few women were in SRE, she recounted with a story about how sometimes certain people of certain genders and ethnic backgrounds were better suited for some jobs than others, so I shouldn't be surprised by the gender ratios in engineering. Our meeting ended with her berating me about keeping email records of things, and told me it was unprofessional to report things via email to HR.
Beyond the reports to HR, Riggetti also details a company overrun with internal politics and management problems:
In the background, there was a game-of-thrones political war raging within the ranks of upper management in the infrastructure engineering organization. It seemed like every manager was fighting their peers and attempting to undermine their direct supervisor so that they could have their direct supervisor's job. No attempts were made by these managers to hide what they were doing: they boasted about it in meetings, told their direct reports about it, and the like.
Shortly after the blog post was published, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued a statement promising a (secret, internal) investigation into the matter, and reaffirmed Uber's committment to a equitable workplace where everyone isn't trying to stab each other in the back:
"I have just read Susan Fowler's blog. What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It's the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations. We seek to make Uber a just workplace and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber -- and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired."
This isn't the first time that Uber has run into human resources problems within its internal teams and management. In 2014, an Uber exec famously suggested digging up dirt on journalists to discredit them. That statement came in response to a journalist who had accused Uber of sexism once again.
More recently, #DeleteUber trended on Twitter after Uber removed surge pricing at JFK airport during a taxi strike -- a strike that was in protest of President Trump's Muslim travel ban. The same hashtag is trending again tonight following Riggetti's blog post.
By Anna Ringstrom and Jeff Mason STOCKHOLM/WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - A day after falsely suggesting there was an immigration-related security incident in Sweden, President Donald Trump said on Sunday his comment was based on a television report he had seen. Trump, who in his first weeks in office has tried to tighten U.S. borders sharply for national security reasons, told a rally on Saturday that Sweden was having serious problems with immigrants. "You look at what's happening last night in Sweden," Trump said.
Worldwide arms trade has risen to its highest level since the Cold War in the last five years, driven by a demand from the Middle East and Asia, a study said Monday. Between 2012-2016, arms imports in terms of volume by countries in Asia and Oceania accounted for 43 percent of global imports, a 7.7 rise compared to the previous 2007-2011 period, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). "Transfer of major weapons in 2012-16 reached their highest volume for any five-year period since the end of" the Cold War, the independent institute said in a statement.
One of the most intriguing robot kits at this year's show, UBTech's AstroBot kit can be built into one of three different characters and programmed using a simple mobile app. Available this spring for $199, AstroBot can be built as either a treaded robot that looks a bit like Walle, a humanoid-style robot or a wheeled vehicle. An infrared sensor keeps AstroBot from bumping into objects as it moves around.
FLORIDA, N.Y. (AP) — When Denise Krohn came home to find her goldendoodle Kirby bleeding on the kitchen floor, she at first thought it was a terrible accident. But she soon realized that her home had been ransacked, and that her other dog, Quigley, was lying dead on his favorite blanket in the living room.
Adolf Hitler's personal telephone, which the Fuehrer used to dictate many of his deadly World War II commands, sold at auction on Sunday for $243,000, the US house selling it announced. Originally a black Bakelite phone, later painted crimson and engraved with Hitler's name, the relic was found in the Nazi leader's Berlin bunker in 1945 following the regime's defeat. The auction house Alexander Historical Auctions, which did not reveal the winning bidder's identity, had estimated its worth between $200,000 and $300,000.
A Democrat who sits on the U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) is planning to resign before her term expires amid frustrations about partisan gridlock, the New York Times reported on Sunday. FEC Commissioner Ann Ravel told the Times in an interview she intended to submit her letter of resignation this week, a move that would open the door for President Donald Trump to make his own appointment to the panel. “The ability of the commission to perform its role has deteriorated significantly,” Ravel told the newspaper.
Critics on both sides of the aisle are blasting President Trump’s assertion that the media is “the enemy of the American people” — and comparing his escalated attack on the press to that of a dictator. “That’s how dictators get started,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in an interview that aired on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. McCain stopped short of calling Trump one.
A car bomb blast at a marketplace Somalia’s capital has killed at least 20 people and injured 50 others, said a local Somali official. The blast by a car bomb parked near a restaurant went off at a busy time when shoppers and traders were gathered inside the market, said district commissioner Ahmed Abdulle. Mohamed Haji, a butcher who suffered shrapnel wounds, pointed at a clothes shop devastated by the blast.
Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will explore closer defense ties after a meeting on Sunday between a senior Australian government minister and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Australia's Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne and Sheikh Mohammed, who is also Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, met on the sidelines of the biennial International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi.
Ukraine's Russian-backed insurgents on Friday accused a top official in the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) of aiding Kiev's forces in the 34-month war. A separatist leader made the accusation at a joint news conference in the rebel-controlled city of Lugansk with Alexander Hug -- the principal deputy chief of the group's special monitoring mission to Ukraine --- who denied the claim. The OSCE is a Cold-war era body drawn up to ensure peace in Europe.