Displaying items by tag: Elon Musk

After months of consideration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has finally granted SpaceX a license for up to a million terminals that would work on the ground with the company’s Starlink satellite constellation to deliver global broadband internet service.

The license, which runs until March 2035, permits Starlink to install the 48cm diameter dishes anywhere in the continental US, plus Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Isles.

Unlike normal licenses, which specify very precise locations, the FCC has given SpaceX permission for “blanket earth stations”.

Word of the 15-year license’s approval came in a public notice issued by the FCC. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has described the plug-and-point terminals, which are made in California, as looking like a “thin, flat, round UFO on a stick.”

The satellites, orbiting between 328km and 580km above the Earth’s surface, making the round-trip ground-satellite-ground latency around 30ms, will provide global coverage – meaning SpaceX will need to apply for licenses everywhere it plans to operate.

The company says: “Starlink is targeting service in the Northern US and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021.”

There are already 360 Starlink satellites in orbit, though it is unclear how many of that number have failed to work correctly. SpaceX is making them at a reported rate of six a day.

Published in Satellite Industry

Tesla is planning to increase prices by 3% on all cars except for the new mid-market Model 3.

Recently, Tesla said it would close down several stores in order to pay for a cut in the price of the Model 3 in the US to USD $35,000. The amount of stores to be closed down were not previously specified but Tesla has said that it now plans to close down “about half as many” stores as it makes half the cost savings.

The car manufacturer stated that if more stores were to be kept open, then the prices of their vehicles would have to increase by an average of about 3% worldwide.

Tesla has 378 stores and service locations worldwide but did not identify which ones would be closed.

A company spokesperson stated: “Over the past two weeks we have been closely evaluating every single Tesla retail location, and we have decided to keep significantly more stores open than previously announced as we continue to evaluate them over the course of several months.”

Tesla is planning to conduct online purchases which they claimed would take just a few minutes. The company said that buyers in store will be shown how to buy a Tesla online through their smartphones. They previously stated that if online sales were to increase, it would cause prices to decrease by an average of 6%.

In an attempt to convince customers to purchase their cars online, they said that it had a “generous returns policy” whereby the customer will be able to return a car after 1,000 miles or within seven days. This has been done to significantly decrease the need for test drivers.

Tesla has also said that some of its recently closed stores that used to be in “high visibility locations” will be reopened but with smaller amounts of staff and less cars.

The previous year has been “the most challenging” year in Tesla’s history as a business. The company has been attempting to cut costs as much as possible. In January, they announced a 7% job cut, equating to 3,000 job cuts.

Back in January, company founder Elon Musk stated that the company’s cars were still “too expensive for most people”.

He has been subject to a great deal of controversy over his tweet. Last month, he was held in contempt of court upon the request of the US regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, for violating a settlement month which was aimed at limiting his usage of social media.

This issue is due to his previous tweets about the company’s financial situation and some tweets from august last year in which he claimed he secured funds to make the company private.

Mr Musk has until today to officially respond.

Published in Finance

Qualcomm Technologies has laid out its vision for ubiquitous on-device artificial intelligence (AI) complementing cloud AI. In a press release the company said it “envision a world where AI makes devices, machines, automobiles, and things much more intelligent, simplifying and enriching our daily lives.”

In 2007, Qualcomm started exploring spiking neuron approaches to machine learning for computer vision and motion control applications, and later expanded the scope of the research to look not just at biologically inspired approaches but artificial neural networks — primarily deep learning.

Fast forward to today, and Qualcomm has announced the acquisition of Scyfer B.V., a company affiliated with University of Amsterdam and focused on cutting-edge machine learning techniques. Scyfer has built AI solutions for companies worldwide and in a number of different industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare and finance.

“We started fundamental research a decade ago, and our current products now support many AI use cases from computer vision and natural language processing to malware detection on a variety of devices — such as smartphones and cars — and we are researching broader topics, such as AI for wireless connectivity, power management and photography,” said Matt Grob, executive vice president, technology, Qualcomm Incorporated.  

Many companies focus on the execution of AI workloads in the cloud, but Qualcomm is focused on the implementation of AI on end devices – smartphones, cars, robotics, and the like – to ensure that processing can be done with or without a network or Wi-Fi connection, the company said. The benefits of on-device AI include immediate response, enhanced reliability, increased privacy protection, and efficient use of network bandwidth.

Qualcomm Technologies continues to push AI research forward and is bringing cutting-edge machine learning technologies to the forefront. Examples of such efforts include:

  • Advances in neural network techniques for semi-supervised and unsupervised training like generative adversarial networks (GANs), distributed learning, and privacy protecting
  • Network optimization for on-device applications including compression, inter-layer optimizations, optimizations for sparsity, and other techniques to take better advantage of memory and space/time complexity
  • And specialized hardware architectures designed to accelerate machine learning workloads with greater performance and energy efficiency in embedded devices

The acquisition of Scyfer brings with it a founder and renowned professor at the University of Amsterdam, Dr. Max Welling, which will help to further advance AI research and development at Qualcomm Technologies. Dr. Welling will continue his role as a professor at the University of Amsterdam, and the rest of the Scyfer team will continue to be based in Amsterdam.

In 2015, Qualcomm Technologies and the University of Amsterdam also established QUVA, a joint research lab focused on advancing the cutting-edge machine learning techniques for mobile and computer vision. Qualcomm said it’s excited to continue to work with the University of Amsterdam going forward, underscoring the importance of educating future generations in this important field.

Published in Government

One of the greatest threats to jobs around the world is automation - smart factories of the future. Germany’s ‘Industry 4.0’ initiative promotes the computerization of traditional industries such as manufacturing, as do many government initiatives around the world. While some praise the idea of “intelligent manufacturing”, tech leaders have spoken out in support of a universal basic income (UBI) to avoid technology companies being perceived as job destroyers.

In 1962, the first industrial robot made its debut as ‘Unimate’ which came online at General Motors in New Jersey. Since then, the manufacturing industry has changed drastically. In the 1990s, production robots were lined up in factories piecing together products across assembly lines in a painfully repetitive process. Now, the manufacturing industry is going through the first stages of adopting artificially intelligent robots that can make production decisions in real time.

How does real time artificial intelligence work in manufacturing? The technology enables sensors to spot defects in production. When a defect is detected, the data is fed to a computer system in the cloud, which can then immediately remove the defective part of equipment from the production line and order a replacement. This efficient real time problem solving can save manufacturers billions of dollars in repairs and recalls.

Jeff Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric (GE), says manufacturing and industrial companies “need to become digital to survive.” Immelt believes the manufacturing industry must “turn information into insights and into outcomes.”

The advantages of smart manufacturing are clear: it enables industrial product companies, for instance, to keep their inventories as lean as possible to reduce costs and keep stock on-hand for when needed. Germany’s Industry 4.0 initiative defines smart factories as being characterized by adaptability, resource efficiency, and making great use of wireless connections, sensors and big data.

5G, expected to be commercially deployed by 2020, will play a major role in connecting production line robotics by providing high-performance mobile services, says Ericsson’s recent report ‘The 5G Business Potential’. The manufacturing industry, it says, shows a strong market potential for ICT players.

The use of 5G in smart factories could offer “extensive benefits to manufacturing processes,” the report adds. “Connected cameras and sensing devices can, for example, provide feedback to control centers enabling skilled staff to control and steer manufacturing remotely, resulting in increased productivity and flexibility.”

Industry digitalization investments are growing, according to the report, generating revenue for ICT players worth an estimated US$3.3 trillion by 2026. In a nutshell, the manufacturing industry is entering a new digital intelligent era. Smart manufacturing aims to take advantage of advanced information and manufacturing technologies to enable flexibility in physical processes to address a dynamic and global market.

There will need to be increased workforce training for such flexibility and use of the technology rather than specific tasks as is customary in traditional manufacturing, according to experts. Many fear that smart manufacturing will become so advanced that the need for humans in the workforce will diminish.

“There is going to be a backlash when it comes to jobs,” said Sayantan Ghosal, an economics professor at the University of Glasgow speaking to CNBC, who has written about how unemployment could rise once AI is rampant in the workplace. Ghosal has spoken out in support of a universal basic income to support people who are affected by the digitization of industries such as manufacturing.

The pace of development of artificial intelligence software has “surprised” even top executives such as Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google. The rapid growth of automated services and “intelligent manufacturing” has led many leading figures in the technology community like Brin to support the idea of a UBI.

At the World Government Summit held in Dubai this year, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said a UBI would be necessary. “There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” he said. Echoing Musk’s prediction, Marc Beioff, chief executive of Salesforce, has warned that AI could create “digital refugees”.

The technology industry is becoming more aware of its role in driving automation and job displacement, according to experts, and technology companies do not want to be the punching bag for workers who are made redundant because of technology advancement. But it is still unclear how a basic universal income could work.

There have been suggestions that every government could pay its citizens a monthly sum to get by. However, this could backfire because it would only provide a bare minimum for living, and workers would still try to seek out higher standards of living by working. Another potential avenue for a UBI is through a sovereign wealth fund, where governments would take an equity stake in all of the major publicly listed companies in the country and pay citizens money from the investments.

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has floated the idea of a “robot tax” as a way for governments to generate more income for displaced workers in the future. In an interview with Quartz, Gates said, “If a human worker does $50,000 of work in a factory, that income is taxed. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”

Faced with the potential job losses automation could bring, governments are finding themselves at a tricky crossroad. On one hand, alarm bells have been sounded, warning of the potential layoffs the role of robotics could cause. But on the other hand, automation has been a major driver of efficiency in manufacturing and other complex industries.

Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States shows that manufacturing jobs increased in the country between 1994 and 2000. After that period, manufacturing jobs spiraled downwards – a loss of five million jobs in the intervening years. However, productivity during that period increased.

IDC’s ‘FutureScape: Worldwide Robotics 2017 Predictions’ report says almost one-third of robotic deployments will be smarter by 2018, capable of collaborating with other robots and working safely alongside humans. What’s more, the report predicts that by 2019, governments around the world will have drafted or implemented specific legislation for robotics and safety, security and privacy. However, the World Economic Forum predicts that automation will result in the net loss of over five million jobs across developed countries by 2020. Another study, conducted by the International Labor Organization, states that as many as 173 million workers across Southeast Asia are at risk of job displacement by robots, which are predicted to become prominent in the manufacturing of clothing.

Now that the evolution of technology is advancing at a faster rate than it ever has, governments, companies and experts are left to weigh the benefits of automation (efficiency, increased profits) against the disadvantages (mass job losses). Should jobs be sacrificed for the efficiency that technology can bring?  

Published in Reports

Private rocket company SpaceX successfully launched a rocket into space carrying a cargo ship for the International Space Station following a delayed take-off on February 18 due to technical difficulties. The launch was made from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, United States.

According to reports, the rocket booster touched down successfully on land nine minutes after taking off. This routine is part of SpaceX’s strategy to return rockets to earth so they can be reused rather than jettisoning them in the ocean after a single launch.

The SpaceX Dragon supply ship reached orbit just moments after the rocket booster touched down, which prompted cheers inside the SpaceX Mission Control room, BBC reported. The cargo will make its way to the International Space Station.

SpaceX resumed its flight activities on January 14 by launching a Falcon 9 vehicle from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on the coast of California. The company had to halt its activities after one of its vehicles exploded on the launch pad in September 2016.

The company’s high-profile founder, Elon Musk, aims for SpaceX to be the leader among several companies striving to deploy satellite-based internet services over the next few years. SpaceX also has companies queuing up for a ride to orbit, such as America’s civil space agency (NASA), the US military and some in the commercial sector. 

Published in Satellite Industry

US electrical car maker Tesla has launched its services in the UAE - following an official announcement by Tesla CEO, Elon Musk at the World Government Summit. Tesla has initiated operations in Dubai, and also disclosed plans to open a shop and service station in Abu Dhabi next year.

Tesla CEO, Elon Musk revealed that he planned to invest millions in the UAE on infrastructure including recharging stations - predicting that in the next twelve months consumers will be able to drive anywhere with an electric vehicle. Musk said, "We expect to invest tens of millions of dollars in the UAE for charging, service, and support infrastructure. By next year, you'll be able to travel anywhere in the GCC with an electric vehicle."

Musk believes the biggest challenge facing Tesla is trying to persuade car buyers to switch from petrol to electric, but is excited about expanding operations in the UAE. That said - orders have already started for Tesla's Model S sedan and Model X SUV, which are expected to be delivered this summer. Prices start from Dh275,000 for the Model S and Dh344,000 for the X.

A pop-up shop will be launched in Dubai Mall, a Tesla Ranger support center and service center will be erected near Interchange 2 of Sheikh Zayed Road, which is due to be open in July.

Chairman of the World Government Summit, Mohammad Abdulla Algerawi, then conducted an interview with Tesla's CEO on stage at the World Government Summit - in what was a captivating, thought provoking and ultimately fascinating experience for the large audience assembled to hear the thoughts of the tech visionary.

Musk outlined his vision for his organizations Tesla and SpaceX - and claimed that mass adoption of autonomous vehicles by car manufacturers was going to happen much quicker than people expect.

Musk said: "My guess is that in probably about ten years it will be very unusual for cars to be built that aren't fully autonomous. Almost all cars that will be produced will be capable of full autonomy in about ten years. Tesla cars that are made today have the sensor system necessary for full autonomy and we think probably enough compute power to be safer than a person."

The Chairman of the World Government Summit recalled the time when he first met with Musk at his office in SpaceX in July, 2015, and queried if he had plans to have a presence in the UAE, at that time Musk responded by saying, 'I'm busy in China, so not in the near future'. But in eighteen months he has made the decision to expand to the UAE - so why did the Tesla CEO make the move?

Musk said, "Well things are going reasonably well in China, we had some initial challenges figuring our charging and service infrastructure and various other things, but now it's going very well - so the timing appeared to be good to really make a significant debut in this region starting in Dubai."

When asked what's next in technology, Musk said the most near term impact from a technology standpoint is autonomous cars. Musk said: "It's going to happen much faster than people realize and it's going to be a great convenience to have an autonomous car, but there are many people whose job is to drive - in fact it might be the single largest employer of people is driving in various forms. So we need to figure out new roles for what do those people, but it will be very disruptive and quick."

Musk also added later in the conversation that he fully believes that in the future there will be a Universal Basic Income - simply because he feels there will be very few jobs we can do that can't be done better by a robot.

Published in Government

SpaceX launched 10 satellites into orbit on January 14 in a rousing return-to-flight mission that also included a rocket landing on a ship at sea. SpaceX's two-stage Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from a launch pad in California at 9:54 a.m. local California time, carrying 10 communications satellites to low-Earth orbit for the Virginia-based company Iridium, a global satellite communications, M2M and broadband company.

According to SpaceX representatives, deployment of the satellites began 59 minutes after liftoff and took about 15 minutes. The success of the launch was vitally important to SpaceX, following the September 1 launch pad explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 and its payload, the $200 million Amos-6 communications satellite. From that day on until the recent launch, SpaceX had been grounded as it investigated the accident and worked to ensure that something similar won’t happen again.

The cause of the incident was attributed to the failure of a high-pressure helium vessel inside the Falcon 9’s second-stage liquid-oxygen tank. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, described the incident as the “most difficult and complex failure” in the company’s history.

It wasn’t the first time SpaceX experienced technical difficulties. In June 2015, a Falcon 9 satellite broke apart shortly after launching the company’s robotic Dragon cargo capsule which was on a resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. It was later determined by SpaceX investigators that a faulty steel strut in the Falcon 9’s upper stage caused the fault. It wasn’t until December 2015 that an upgraded version of the Falcon 9 delivered 11 satellites to orbit for customer Orbcomm, making the first-ever soft landing during an orbital launch.

The main goal of the recent SpaceX launch was to successfully loft the 1,896-lb (860 kilograms) satellites into space, which are the first 10 members of Iridium’s planned 70-spacecraft “NEXT” constellation. According to Space.com, the other 60 satellites will also ride Falcon 9 rockets to orbit out of Vandenberg, on a series of six more launches.

"Iridium NEXT will dramatically enhance Iridium's ability to meet the growing demand for global mobile communications on land, at sea and in the skies," Iridium representatives wrote in an online description of NEXT, which they said will be the world's largest commercial satellite constellation when it's up and running, eventually replacing Iridium's current communications network, which consists of 66 satellites in low-Earth orbit.

Published in Satellite Industry

In what could be considered one of humankind’s first coalitions for the development of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), tech giants Google, Microsoft, and IBM have joined with Facebook and Amazon, to form the ‘Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society’. The move comes amid concerns that new artificial intelligence efforts could spin out of control and end up being detrimental to society.

The companies in the coalition "will conduct research, recommend best practices, and publish research under an open license in areas such as ethics, fairness, and inclusivity; transparency, privacy, and interoperability; collaboration between people and A.I. systems; and the trustworthiness, reliability, and robustness of the technology," according to a statement.

Academics, non-profit groups, and specialists in policy and ethics will be invited to join the board of the coalition. Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are among technology giants that have been investing in making machines smarter, contending the goal is to improve lives.

AFP reported that Microsoft took a further step on artificial intelligence recently, announcing a unit devoted to "democratizing" the technology, with more than 5,000 computer scientists and engineers. Microsoft expected its new A.I. and Research Group to speed up putting human-like thinking into virtual assistants, applications, services and computing infrastructures.

"We are focused on empowering both people and organizations, by democratizing access to intelligence to help solve our most pressing challenges," Microsoft chief executive, Satya Nadella said in a release. "To do this, we are infusing A.I. into everything we deliver across our computing platforms and experiences."

Late last year, SpaceX founder and Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, took part in creating nonprofit research company, OpenAI, devoted to developing artificial intelligence that will help people and not hurt them. Musk found himself in the middle of a technology world controversy by holding firm that A.I. could turn on humanity and be its ruin instead of a salvation.

"If we create some digital super-intelligence that exceeds us in every way by a lot, it is very important that it be benign," Musk said at a Code Conference in California in June. A danger, he contended, was that highly advanced artificial intelligence would be left to its own devices, or in the hands of a few people, to the detriment of civilization as a whole.

Published in Telecom Vendors