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Musk Now Has Real Competition in the Rush to Deploy Internet in Space




Wyler started OneWeb in 2012 and persuaded Branson to help bankroll it soon after, when the two were palling around on the British mogul’s Necker Island. While satellites have been used to relay internet data for decades, the existing services are slow and expensive, because the conventional sedan-size models are unwieldy, run on outdated technology, and orbit the Earth at about 18,500 miles up, making coverage spotty. Wyler’s pitch: Use more advanced gear to put thousands of cheaper satellites the size of washing machines into orbit 750 miles above the planet. In theory, the larger network of satellites should cover everybody, including the more than 3 billion people who can’t yet be reached by high-speed fiber optics.

The OneWeb founder promised to make low-cost antennas that could be placed on homes, schools, hospitals, and emergency services outposts and pull data down at an incredible clip. For the first time, the world would be surrounded by a type of computing shell that would give a Rwandan high school access to the same information and tools as a school in Mountain View, Calif., and make it possible for a climber to fill her Instagram feed from atop Mount Everest.

The sheer expense of Wyler’s project, including some pricier-than-expected technology, as well as some skeptical investors, have forced him to massage his ambitions for now. In the revised plan, the recently launched satellites will be joined by about 650 more over the next couple years. This first fleet will be aimed at making money by delivering high-speed internet to airplanes, cruise ships, and governments willing to pay to modernize their infrastructure.

Wyler says he hopes such customers will cover the costs of the global network, which will total billions of dollars more than he’s already raised. “This is the world’s largest civilian space project,” he says while driving around the grounds of the Guiana Space Centre. “We are not funded by NASA or a government, and it can’t run at a loss. We want to bring the internet to the poorest people in the world and have built the world’s most expensive system to do it, and the expansion of the service needs to pay for itself.” Branson, flanking Wyler, insists with characteristic optimism that the era of billionaires like him losing money on space ventures is over. “I think the time has come for space companies to succeed,” he says.

Companies with names like Telesat and LeoSat have similar plans for internet-beaming satellite constellations, but Wyler’s biggest competition has been Elon Musk, chief executive officer of SpaceX and Tesla Inc. and a Branson frenemy. (The two play-fight about their respective rocketry achievements while chilling together on Branson’s island.) SpaceX sent two space internet test systems into orbit last year, and its battle with OneWeb is fraught with extra helpings of bitterness and enmity. “My issue with SpaceX is personal,” Wyler says.

The OneWeb founder says he’s the one who has a huge technological lead, citing the low-cost antennas from a company he’s invested in called Wafer. “I haven’t found any other technology that is close,” he says. “It’s at least one to three years ahead of everything else.” (Note: After publication, Wyler said he meant to say the technology is five years ahead.) OneWeb also secured valuable wireless spectrum rights for its service well ahead of its rivals. If the satellites from the recent launch work as billed, the company will hold on to those broadcast frequencies for decades. Competitors will have to find spectrum of their own and persuade the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union that they won’t interfere with OneWeb’s service.

French Guiana provides an all-too-symbolic backdrop for Wyler and Branson’s quest to bring the trappings of modernity to poor and remote locales. The economy of the French territory, located in northeastern South America, is stuck in neutral, with limited farming and a heavy reliance on imports and subsidies from its colonizer. Many people are as likely to get around by canoe as they are on the dilapidated roads. Even the beaches struggle to lure tourists because of their biting sand fleas and murky, mud-colored waters. And the rainforests, which carry a hearty helping of yellow fever, offer more adventure than most outsiders seek.

Built in the 1960s, the Guiana Space Centre presents a study in contradictions with its surroundings. Its home city of Kourou is about an hour’s drive north of the capital, Cayenne, and was once home to the notoriously brutal Devil’s Island penal colony. To reach the spaceport, you travel on two-lane highways past densely packed rainforest and modest, brightly colored houses with tin roofs. Billboards along the highways alternate between plugs for potato chips and satellites. The facility takes up 266 square miles, employs thousands of people, and serves as the launch site for rockets from Europe. Arianespace, a European aerospace company, operates three launchpads: two for its own rockets, and one for a version of the Russian Soyuz, which carried the OneWeb satellites.

From a physics standpoint, Kourou has a lot going for it. It’s on the coast just 300 miles north of the equator, which means the rockets receive an added boost—the Earth spins fastest at its midpoint—and that most debris from a mishap is likely to fall into the ocean. In a typical year, Arianespace will send up about one rocket a month, although keeping up with OneWeb will require it to work faster. OneWeb has contracted with the company for more than 20 launches. By October, Wyler expects to witness one every three weeks or so, with each rocket carrying about 34 OneWeb satellites. If he’s right, he’ll quickly break by a wide margin the record number of satellites launched by a single company.

Launch days remain a special occasion here, even though they’ve been taking place for decades. Before blastoff, the French Foreign Legion clears the forest and seas and provides security on-site. As the event draws near, hundreds of people, including men in uniform and women in bright sundresses, arrive at a theater attached to the glass-enclosed mission control while an announcer delivers play-by-play commentary. Branson found himself taking selfies near a concession stand doling out fruit juices, finger sandwiches, and desserts.

When the launch happens, everyone runs out to a balcony to watch as a giant rocket streaks across the sky and to listen as its thunderous rumble cuts through the humid air. The event has the feel of game day in a small Texas town that runs on football.

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Trudeau Government Should Turn to Sustainable Floor Heating In Its New Deal





A consortium has been chosen by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to manage the $1.1-billion overhaul of five heating and cooling plants in the National Capital Region. However, this decision has been met with a lot of disapproval by the country’s largest federal public service union.

Early June, the department announced that Innovate Energy has been awarded the 30-year contract “to design, retrofit, maintain and operate the plants,”winning the bid over a rival group that included SNC-Lavalin.

Minister of Environment, Catherine McKenna, said the federal government was “leading by example” in its bid to drastically reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions across the country. McKenna noted that by supporting this project, they’re utilizing heating and cooling infrastructure to promote a more environmentally friendly option.

“We’re very proud that our government is working with partners like Innovate Energy to modernize this critical infrastructure,” she said during the announcement at one of the facilities that will be upgraded, the Cliff Heating and Cooling Plant in downtown Ottawa.

The plants would be known as the district energy system and would heat 80 buildings in the area with steam. It is also expected to cool 67 of these buildings with chilled water through more than 14 kilometres of underground pipes.

Under the Energy Services Acquisition Program, PSPC will be tasked with modernizing the outdated technology in the plants to lower emissions and supportgrowth in the eco-friendly technology sector.

During the first stage of the overhaul, the system would be converted from steam to low temperature hot water and then switched from steam to electric chillers—with the estimated completion date being 2025. PSPC notes that the project will reduce current emissions by 63 per cent, the equivalent of removing 14,000 non-eco-friendly cars off the road.

Afterwards, the natural gas powering the plant will then be replaced by carbon-neutral fuel sources, which according to estimated will reduce emissions by a further 28 per cent. The renovation project is bound to save the government an estimated fee of more than $750 million in heating and cooling costs in the next 40 years.

Furthermore, the implementation of radiant floor heating in Ottawa by the federal government would be an additional step in driving its agenda for a more eco-friendly state.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website, radiant floor heating has a lot of benefits and advantages over alternate heat systems and can cut heating costs by 25 to 50 per cent.

“It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through ducts,” the website states.

Radiant floor heating provides an equal amount of heat throughout a building, including areas that are difficult to heat, such as rooms with vaulted ceilings, garages or bathrooms. Consideringit warms people and objects directly—controlling the direct heat loss of the occupant—radiant floor heating provides comfort at lower thermostat settings.

“Radiators and other forms of ‘point’ heating circulate heat inefficiently and hence need to run for longer periods to obtain comfort levels,” reports the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNet).

Radiant heating is a clean and healthy option—a perfect choice for those with severe allergies—as it doesn’t rely on circulating air, meaning there are no potentially irritating particles blowing around the room. Additionally, it is more energy efficient, aesthetically pleasing with wall radiators or floor registers and virtually noiseless when in operation.

“They draw cold air across the floor and send warm air up to the ceiling, where it then falls, heating the room from the top down, creating drafts and circulating dust and allergens.”

It is important for the leadership in Ottawa to equally drive the adoption of radiant floor heating as doing this would lead to increased usage in residential buildings—and even government-owned buildings.

However, in October, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), a representative body of employees of the plants,began a campaign target at the government against their decision to use a public-private partnership (P3) for the retrofitting project, citing concerns about costs and safety.

According to the union, outside employees won’t be bound to the same health and safety standards of government workers and that typically P3 projects cost a lot more than traditional public financing deals.

The union demands that the government scraps the proposed project and meet PSAC members and experts to brainstorm on a new way forward that would ensure federal employees continue to operate and maintain the plants.

However, parliamentary secretary to public services and procurement minister, Steve MacKinnon said that the union officials have consulted him but that after conducting an analysis, the P3 option was still the best for the job.

“We didn’t have (to) sacrifice on safety or health — we didn’t have to sacrifice on job security,” he said.

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Steps to becoming a Data Scientist





Data science has become one of the most in-demand career paths in this century, according to Business Insider. With the amount of information being circulated online, it has created a huge demand for storing, interpreting and implementing big data for different purposes—hence the need for a data scientist.

Today, there too much information flying around for regular people to process efficiently and use. Therefore, it has become the responsibility of data scientists to collect, organize and analyze this data. Doing this helps various people, organizations, enterprise businesses and governments to manage, store and interpret this data for different purposes.

Though data scientists come from different educational backgrounds, a majority of them need to have a technical educational background. To pursue a career in data science, computer-related majors, graduations and post graduations in maths and statistics are quite useful.

Therefore, the steps to becoming a data scientist are quite straightforward.  After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in an IT related field—such as computer science, maths or physics—you can also further your education by obtaining a master’s degree in a data science or any other related field of study. With the necessary educational background, you can now search for a job and obtain the required experience in whichever filed you choose to invest your acquired skills.

Here are the necessary steps to be taken to become a data scientist.

Step 1: Obtain the necessary educational requirements

As earlier noted, different educational paths can still lead to a career in data science. However, it is impossible to begin a career in data science without obtaining a collegiate degree—as a four-year bachelor’s degree is really important. However, according to a report by Business Insider, over 73% of data scientist in existence today have a graduate degree and about 38% of them hold a Ph.D. Therefore, to rise above the crowd and get a high-end position in the field of data science, it is important to have a Master’s degree or a Ph.D.—and with various online data science masters program, obtaining one is quite easy.

Some institutions provide data science programs with courses that will equip students to analyze complex sets of data. These courses also involve a host of technical information about computers, statistics, data analysis techniques and many more. Completing these programs equips you with the necessary skills to function adequately as a data scientist.

Additionally, there are some technical—and computer-based degrees—that can aid you begin a career in data science. Some of them include studies in, Computer Science, Statistics, Social Science, Physics, Economics, Mathematics and Applied Math. These degrees will imbibe some important skills related to data science in you—namely, coding, experimenting, managing large amounts of data, solving quantitative problems and many others.

Step 2: Choose an area of specialization

There rarely exists an organization, agency or business today that doesn’t require the expertise of a data scientist. Hence, it is important that after acquiring the necessary education to start a career as a data scientist, you need to choose an area of specialization in the field you wish to work in.

Some of the specializations that exist in data science today include automotive, marketing, business, defence, sales, negotiation, insurance and many others.

Step 3: Kick start your career as a data scientist

After acquiring the necessary skills to become a data scientist, it is important to get a job in the filed and company of your choice where you can acquire some experience.

Many organizations offer valuable training to their data scientists and these pieces of training are typically centred around the specific internal systems and programs of an organization. Partaking in this training allows you learn some high-level analytical skills that were not taught during your various school programs—especially since data science is a constantly evolving field.

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Artificial intelligence pioneers win tech’s ‘Nobel Prize’





Computers have become so smart during the past 20 years that people don’t think twice about chatting with digital assistants like Alexa and Siri or seeing their friends automatically tagged in Facebook pictures.

But making those quantum leaps from science fiction to reality required hard work from computer scientists like Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun. The trio tapped into their own brainpower to make it possible for machines to learn like humans, a breakthrough now commonly known as “artificial intelligence,” or AI.

Their insights and persistence were rewarded Wednesday with the Turing Award, an honor that has become known as technology industry’s version of the Nobel Prize. It comes with a $1 million prize funded by Google, a company where AI has become part of its DNA.

The award marks the latest recognition of the instrumental role that artificial intelligence will likely play in redefining the relationship between humanity and technology in the decades ahead.

Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest-growing areas in all of science and one of the most talked-about topics in society,” said Cherri Pancake, president of the Association for Computing Machinery, the group behind the Turing Award.

Although they have known each other for than 30 years, Bengio, Hinton and LeCun have mostly worked separately on technology known as neural networks. These are the electronic engines that power tasks such as facial and speech recognition, areas where computers have made enormous strides over the past decade. Such neural networks also are a critical component of robotic systems that are automating a wide range of other human activity, including driving.

Their belief in the power of neural networks was once mocked by their peers, Hinton said. No more. He now works at Google as a vice president and senior fellow while LeCun is chief AI scientist at Facebook. Bengio remains immersed in academia as a University of Montreal professor in addition to serving as scientific director at the Artificial Intelligence Institute in Quebec.

“For a long time, people thought what the three of us were doing was nonsense,” Hinton said in an interview with The Associated Press. “They thought we were very misguided and what we were doing was a very surprising thing for apparently intelligent people to waste their time on. My message to young researchers is, don’t be put off if everyone tells you what are doing is silly.” Now, some people are worried that the results of the researchers’ efforts might spiral out of control.

While the AI revolution is raising hopes that computers will make most people’s lives more convenient and enjoyable, it’s also stoking fears that humanity eventually will be living at the mercy of machines.

Bengio, Hinton and LeCun share some of those concerns especially the doomsday scenarios that envision AI technology developed into weapons systems that wipe out humanity.

But they are far more optimistic about the other prospects of AI empowering computers to deliver more accurate warnings about floods and earthquakes, for instance, or detecting health risks, such as cancer and heart attacks, far earlier than human doctors.

“One thing is very clear, the techniques that we developed can be used for an enormous amount of good affecting hundreds of millions of people,” Hinton said.

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