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Friday Five: 4/6-4/10

Jeff Stehlin

April showers bring May flowers, and Friday brings you some of this week’s best tech stories.

Stanford Scientist Demo Promising Aluminum-Ion Battery - Tech Crunch

While aluminum first sparks memories of tin foil hats in mom’s kitchen, Stanford scientists predict that the metal could soon be synonymous with modern science. The new aluminum-ion battery is predicted to be faster charging, longer lasting and safer than traditional lithium versions. Stanford’s battery is also bendable, which expands its applications to areas such as wearables and renewable energy. Although the battery needs multiple improvements before commercialization, the advancement foreshadows exciting prospects for many tech-related industries. It seems that the Energizer Bunny might be going, going… and gone.

Planes Without Pilots - New York Times

Could planes soon be controlled by artificial intelligence? In light of recent aviation accidents, government officials and aviation experts say yes. Advancements in sensor technology and computing are already underway at NASA and the Pentagon. And as Mary Cumming, the director of the Humans and Autonomy Laboratory at Duke University says,  “[the Germanwings crash] has done has elevated the question of should there or not be ways to externally control commercial aircraft.” Commercial aviation is already quite automated, and some pilots spend as little as seven minutes manually piloting their flights. And while we have self-driving cars and drones, is the world ready for robotic co-pilots?

Facebook Faces Lawsuit Over Facial Recognition Software - Mashable

What sounds the brainchild of some Lifetime movie could actually signal huge repercussions for social channel Facebook. An Illinois man claims that Facebook’s automatic ‘tag’ features breaks state law by collecting unsolicited biometric data. Although the lawsuit is still developing, Facebook believes that adequate prevention measures are available to all of its users. Is Facebook just working to streamline the photo-uploading process? Or is the company trying to create a robot army designed to look just like its users? Only time—and lots of lawyer fees—will tell.

Need a GIF? Check Out Hulu’s New Search Engine: PCMag

You get a GIF! You get a GIF! You get a GIF! In classic Oprah style, Hulu now allows all users to search for GIFs on its Tumblr site, ‘The Perfect GIF’. The site already has over 1,400 GIFs, and users can create queries with classifiers such as cleaning, dancing and cooking. Hulu pulls GIFS from some of television’s most popular networks—ABC, NBC, Comedy Central—and even helps purveyors search for GIFs from their favorite show. Hulu’s move directly challenges existing GIF platform, Giphy, but competition is welcome, as it should help employees across the globe find better-tailored GIFs for a variety of work-related emails.

G1ft3d animated GIF

U.S. Agencies Block Technology Exports for Supercomputer in China: Wall Street Journal

U.S. officials have blocked exports that are related to the world’s fastest supercomputer. This decision notably affects U.S. companies, such as Intel, that outpace Chinese chip development. Tech relations are historically tense between China and the U.S., and the supercomputer, known Tianhe-2, is cited as working against U.S. security and policy interests. With domestic concerns of cybersecurity and artificial intelligence already growing, officials fear the supercomputer’s military and scientific applications. Or, perhaps government officials simply worry that supercomputers will make another run at Jeopardy.

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