Time to declutter – what consumer VR means for interior design

Time to declutter – what consumer VR means for interior design

Time to declutter – what consumer VR means for interior design

In a 1963 short story called The Walls science fiction author Keith Laumer writes of a young husband whose enthusiasm for consumer electronics brings emotional ruin to his wife, Flora. Flora is forced to bear the brunt of her husband Harry’s need for ever-more intense audio-visual stimulation, which radically transforms their cramped urban home.

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Getting stuff wrong is key to smarter artificial intelligence

Getting stuff wrong is key to smarter artificial intelligence

Getting stuff wrong is key to smarter artificial intelligence

NEURAL networks, like the ones grabbing headlines for winning boardgames or driving cars, depend on huge amounts of computing hardware. That in turn means a colossal amount of power: the next wave may consume millions of watts each.

That’s one reason why some suggest we rethink what we want computers to be. Reducing the precision with which they analyse problems, and putting up with the odd “error”, can cut zeroes off their energy consumption (see “To make computers better, let them get sloppy“). And it has precedent in the human brain – an unrivalled piece of hardware using electrical fluctuations and requiring a million times less power than a computer.

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The many reasons why we love useless robots

The many reasons why we love useless robots

The many reasons why we love useless robots

The queen of shitty robots lives in Sweden.

It’s not a title she chose for herself, Simone Giertz assures me. It’s something that people started calling her ever since she began sharing her hopeless creations with the internet seven months ago.

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Skyscrapers of the future will be held together with glue

Skyscrapers of the future will be held together with glue

Skyscrapers of the future will be held together with glue

New Urbanist is Geoff Manaugh‘s monthly column that explores how technology and design are changing our cities, homes, the built environment – and ourselves

Glue is the future of architecture. At least that’s how architect Greg Lynn sees it. And he’s not alone. “Mechanical assembly is already waning in many industries,” Lynn says. “An airplane now is glued together. A car now is glued together. Even a lot of appliances are being glued together.” So why not skyscrapers?

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How Brexit could lead the UK to a dirtier future

How Brexit could lead the UK to a dirtier future

How Brexit could lead the UK to a dirtier future

While immigration and economics dominate the Brexit debate, there is another issue that needs discussing – the fate of environmental protections that keep our air and water clean, preserve treasured natural habitats and address global warming.

Most of them were agreed at the European level. Brexit would throw them into doubt.

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As internet giants brush up against regulation, who’s using who?

As internet giants brush up against regulation, who’s using who?

As internet giants brush up against regulation, who’s using who?

THE bigger, the better. For the most part, internet companies are judged by the number of users they have. Sign up enough people, the thinking goes, and revenues and profits will follow.

A large customer base can be useful in other ways, too. As internet companies have muscled in on existing business models, from taxi services to hotels, they have rubbed up against existing regulations. And so they have started lobbying to change them, just like their corporate brethren.

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This is what life is like in the smoggiest place on Earth

This is what life is like in the smoggiest place on Earth

This is what life is like in the smoggiest place on Earth

I SPEND most of my year waiting for January to arrive. It is the peak winter month in Delhi, bringing relief from the heat in the world’s second most populous urban area, home to 25 million people. It is a time to reclaim the outdoors.

But no more. Delhi is twice as polluted as Beijing. The air is so toxic that I have ended up staying indoors as much as possible. It often contains six to 10 times the internationally accepted upper level for the most harmful fine particles, known as PM2.5. These specks of smog can penetrate deep into the lungs and then into the blood. Jogging while trying not to breathe deeply is an impossible task, as I quickly discovered.

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We can’t treat global browning as a standalone issue

We can’t treat global browning as a standalone issue

We can’t treat global browning as a standalone issue

ANYONE remember global dimming? About 30 years ago, climatologists noticed a disconcerting trend in the amount of sunlight reaching Earth’s surface. Measurements soon confirmed their suspicions: across the world from the 1950s onwards, sunshine had declined by about 2 per cent per decade. In some places, it was down by as much as 10 per cent.

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How technology reveals the ghost cities in China and the West

How technology reveals the ghost cities in China and the West

How technology reveals the ghost cities in China and the West

It seems hard to lose track of an entire city. But that appears to be what’s taken place – and not just once, but over and over again. The infamous “ghost cities” of China have become a favourite internet meme of the past half-decade. These ghost cities are meant to be sprawling wastelands of empty streets and uninhabited megastructures, without a human being in sight. But for all the discussion, do these places really exist?

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