TIME robotics

A Drug-Buying Robot Has Been Freed From Police Custody

!Mediengrupppe Bitnik Items purchased on the darknet by the Random Darknet Shopper

The bot, programmed to buy illegal goods online, was part of an art exhibition

A robot programmed to buy drugs from illegal online markets has been freed by Swiss police. The shopping bot, called the “Random Darknet Shopper,” was created last fall by a Swiss art group called !Mediengruppe Bitnik to purchase illicit goods online using a weekly allowance of $100 worth of Bitcoin. The various items the bot bought at random, including counterfeit sneakers and ecstasy, would be delivered to the art group’s gallery for an exhibition.

Swiss police captured the robot back in January and confiscated its purchases. However, last week, the art group announced that the police had returned Random Darknet Shopper as well as all of the goods it bought, except for the ecstasy. A Swiss police official told CNBC that the makers of the robot wouldn’t be charged for programming the robot to buy illegal items.

“This is a great day for the bot, for us and for freedom of art!” the art group wrote in a blog post.

[CNBC]

TIME Web

See Everything You’ve Ever Googled in One Terrifying Place

Here's how to find your search history—and delete it

Some of your deepest, darkest secrets have probably passed through the Google search bar. Now, you can download every last query you’ve ever typed into the search engine and see them all together in their raw glory (or shame).

The feature was first rolled out as an experiment last year but is now available to all users, according to the unofficial Google blog Google Operating System. To access the data, visit your Web History page, click the gear icon in the top-right corner and click “Download.” A warning box will appear advising users to enable two-step verification and to avoid downloading their search histories to public computers.

Click “Create Archive” and a zip file featuring all the search queries will be placed in a folder called “Takeout” in your Google Drive account. The file can then be downloaded to your computer. Only searches you made while logged into your Google account are included in the file.

If you’re horrified at the idea of every fleeting thought you’ve typed into Google being gathered in a single place, you can also delete your search history. On the Web history page where you download the archive, simply click the gear icon and select “Remove items” instead. In the drop-down menu, you’ll see an option to remove items since “the beginning of time.”

Read next: You Can Now Find Your Lost Phone by Googling It

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TIME russia

Watch This Slow-Moving Landslide Devour a Russian Road

The landslide was caused by a coal mining accident

A massive landslide moving like molasses downed trees and power lines before inching across a road in Russia earlier this month, and the whole incident was caught on video.

The landslide occurred near Novokuznetsk, which is east of the Ural Mountains, according to National Geographic. In the four-minute video, a mixture of soil and rocks moves with slow but deliberate force across the Russian landscape, dragging down everything that comes in its path. No one was hurt.

The disaster was caused by a collapse of waste material at a nearby coal mine, a coal industry official told local Russian media. Mines can be a common trigger for landslides worldwide.

[National Geographic]

TIME Media

ESPN Calls Foul on Verizon’s Play to Break Up Cable Bundles

Verizon's offering relegates ESPN to a sports add-on package

Verizon is finally offering customers a way to pay for cable without having to buy hundreds of channels they never watch. But the company’s plan to bust up the cable bundle may run afoul of its contracts with major cable networks, like ESPN.

Verizon’s new TV package, dubbed Custom TV, lets customers combine a base package of broadcast networks and a few cable channels like CNN with genre-specific additional packages related to sports, entertainment and other categories. Instead of being included in the primary offering, Verizon’s new service relegates ESPN to a sports add-on pack.

However, the Disney-owned ESPN said Friday that Verizon’s new slimmed down cable bundle “would not be authorized by our existing agreements,” claiming its deal with Verizon stipulates its flagship channels not be moved to an add-on sports tier. A Verizon spokeswoman did not respond to TIME’s request for comment, though a company executive earlier told the Wall Street Journal that the new bundles were expected to comply with contracts already struck with cable networks.

It’s no surprise that ESPN would be up in arms about being shuttled over to an optional tier of cable service. The sports network and other cable channels rake in huge profits because cable subscribers pay for many more channels than they actually watch. The average TV household pays for 189 channels about only watches about 17, according to Nielsen. That means popular channels like ESPN effectively subsidize less-viewed channels, like The Disney Channel. Initiatives like Verizon’s plan, as well as slimmed-down cable packages like Dish Network’s Sling TV streaming service, threaten this very lucrative model.

As of Monday morning, Verizon was still advertising ESPN as a channel available in the sports add-on pack for its Custom TV offering.

TIME Companies

How Google Almost Bought Tesla

Tesla Model S vehicles parked outside a car dealership in Shanghai on March 17, 2015.
Johannes Eisele—AFP/Getty Images Tesla Model S vehicles parked outside a car dealership in Shanghai on March 17, 2015.

Tesla was almost acquired as it approached bankruptcy

Tesla Motors is flying high these days, with a backlog of orders for its Model S electric car and a stock price above $200. But two years ago, the company was reportedly in such dire straits that it was nearly sold to Google.

An excerpt of an upcoming biography of Tesla CEO Elon Musk published by Bloomberg explains that Musk was on the verge of selling his unprofitable electric car company to Google early in 2013. Musk and Google CEO Larry Page are old friends, and Musk was able to work out some very favorable terms for the deal—Tesla would sell for $6 billion, Google would bankroll an extra $5 billion in capital expenditures for factory expansions and Musk would remain at the helm of Tesla for as long as eight years.

According to Bloomberg, the deal would have ensured that Tesla remained an independent brand until it produced an electric car that appealed to the mainstream market.

Spokespeople for Google and Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When the two companies were close to inking the deal, Model S sales finally began to take off, and Tesla squeaked out an $11 million profit in the first quarter of 2013. No longer fearing bankruptcy, Musk called off the deal with Google.

The two tech firms may soon be adversaries as Google expands its own ambitions in the world of driverless electric cars.

TIME Football

Johnny Manziel Apologies to Browns Fans After Troubled Rookie Season

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel watches from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cleveland on Dec. 14, 2014.
Tony Dejak—AP Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel watches from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cleveland on Dec. 14, 2014.

Quarterback says he wants to focus on football in coming months

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel has apologized to his team and his fans, saying he let them down in his difficult rookie season. In a statement released Friday, Manziel acknowledged that he had disappointed many people close to him and said he planned to work hard to regain everyone’s trust and respect. “I understand that will take time and will only happen through what I do and not what I say,” he said in the statement.

In January Manziel entered rehab at Caron, a treatment center in Pennsylvania that specializes in drug and alcohol issues. The decision followed a rookie season in which he performed poorly on the field and was involved in a number of off-the-field incidents involving drinking and partying. “I also understand there’s a lot of curiosity about this but anyone who has a friend or family member that’s been through things like this knows it’s an ongoing process,” he said, referring to his stint in rehab. “I’m going to continue to ask folks to try to respect my privacy as I determine to what degree I am comfortable talking about a subject which I consider very personal.”

Manziel is expected to rejoin Browns team practices next week. “I look forward to seeing my teammates next week and focusing on football and my desire to be the best possible player, teammate, and man that I can be,” he said.

Read next: Why NFL Players Are So Likely to Declare Bankruptcy

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TIME public health

California Measles Outbreak Is Over, Health Officials Say

No new cases related to the outbreak have been reported in 42 days

A measles outbreak that infected 131 Californians has ended, the state’s Department of Public Health said Friday.

The outbreak, which began in December at Disneyland, infected people ranging from 6 weeks to 70 years old, sending 19% of them to the hospital. No new cases related to the outbreak have been reported in 42 days, officials said.

“Having this measles outbreak behind us is a significant accomplishment,” Gil Chavez, California’s state epidemiologist, said during a press call. “Measles can be very serious with devastating consequences.”

Health officials believe a tourist brought measles to Disney’s Anaheim, Calif. theme parks in December, eventually infecting 42 people at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. The disease then spread to a number of students, teachers, health care workers and other Californians. No deaths were reported.

At least 56 of the people who contracted measles during the outbreak had not been vaccinated, according to Chavez (the vaccination status of 38% of those who were infected is unknown). He encouraged unvaccinated people to get the measles vaccine “to protect themselves, to protect their loved ones and to protect the community at large.”

TIME Innovation

This Is How Tech Will Totally Change Our Lives by 2025

Get ready to sell your own data and use algorithms on the job

The ever-increasing hunger for data will fundamentally change the way we live our lives over the next decade. That’s according to a new report by the Institute for the Future, a nonprofit think tank that has released a set of five predictions for the ways tech will change the future.

Personal data will continue to be shared, bought and sold at an ever-quickening pace, perhaps with more benefits to consumers. In the future, people might be able to personally sell info about their shopping habits or health activities to retailers or pharmaceutical companies, according the report. The Internet of Things is also expected to continue to expand, with predictions that everything from cars to coffee cups will be connected to the Internet by 2025.

Increasingly sophisticated algorithms will help workers in knowledge fields such as law and medicine navigate large bundles of information. Automation could either enhance these jobs or replace them outright, depending on how different professional fields advance.

Multisensory digital communications will also become more common in the future. The Apple Watch, which sends notifications via a wrist tap and allows users to transfer the rhythm of their heartbeat to other watches, offers a peek at the way senses aside from sight and sound may be used to communicate.

Finally, privacy tools and technology will likely improve in response to the vast amounts of data that users are constantly sending and receiving from the cloud. Striking a balance between leveraging data to increase efficiency and protecting the privacy rights of individual users will be an ongoing tension in the coming years.

TIME Media

Forget TV — This Is the Best Streaming Service for Movies

HBO vs. Netflix vs. Amazon Prime vs. Hulu Plus

In the ongoing hubbub about online streaming services replacing traditional television, it’s easy to forget that these digital platforms are also home to a massive number of movies. Netflix, after all, began as an alternative to Blockbuster for renting DVDs, and HBO was known for showing recently released films before it became the home of gangsters and dragons.

For the movie buffs out there, we’ve combed the offerings of HBO, Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and Hulu Plus to see which has the best film library. We’re trying to assess quality rather than quantity, so we’ve ranked the four services in three different categories: recent blockbusters, all-time classics and independent films.

These stats only reflect a snapshot of the different platofrms’ offerings as they stood on April 14, 2015. Streaming services are constantly swapping movies in and out as licensing contracts expire and new ones are struck. However, the data provides a good general perspective on which services are best for different types of films.

Recent Hits

HBO has a clear advantage when it comes to showing recent, popular films. Almost a quarter of the 50 top-grossing movies of 2013 and 2014 are currently available on its streaming services HBO Go and HBO Now, including The Lego Movie and X-Men: Days of Future Past. The standings are even more lopsided if you only consider 2014—HBO has 12 of the 50 highest-grossing movies from that year currently streaming, while Netflix has two and the other services have none.

HBO is trouncing its competitors here because it has several long-term deals with movie studios for the right to show films during the so-called “pay-TV window.” That’s a period of around eight months after a film’s theatrical release when it hits premium cable channels but isn’t yet being played on broadcast TV or basic cable. Netflix’s first major pay-TV window deal with Disney begins in 2016, at which point the streaming service’s movie library should improve significantly. However, HBO still has deals with sister company Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures.

All-Time Classics

Some people use movie streaming services as a way to rewatch old favorites or view culturally important films they’ve never seen. On this front, Netflix is the best service available, if we use the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 American films of all time as a proxy.

Thanks to the vastness of its library (and the affordability of nabbing licensing rights to old movies compared to newer ones), Netflix is a pretty good place to watch classic films. Hulu Plus is also a solid option thanks to its licensing deal to host the entire Criterion Collection, a selection of more than 800 classic films including Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times and The Gold Rush. You’ll have to be patient to watch old movies on HBO, which has a limited selection and focuses mostly on newly released films.

Independent Films

Again, the vastness of Netflix’s library gives it an advantage here. The service has almost a third of the 30 highest-grossing independent movies of 2013 and 2014. Still, the other services have some notable exclusives, with HBO carrying Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is the highest-grossing film of the lot, and Amazon featuring both The Bling Ring and Spring Breakers.

TIME Internet

Mark Zuckerberg Defends His Latest Initiative

Critics say his Internet.org project violates net neutrality principles

Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to deliver free Internet to the world has come under fire.

The Facebook CEO wrote a post on Friday defending Internet.org, an ambitious plan to bring Internet access to under-connected parts of the world. Critics say the initiative unfairly disadvantages websites that are not part of Internet.org, which offers some content for free.

“To give more people access to the Internet, it is useful to offer some service for free,” Zuckerberg said. “If someone can’t afford to pay for connectivity, it is always better to have some access than none at all.”

In places like India, Facebook has partnered with mobile operators to offer access to certain websites, like news sites, job boards and Facebook itself, without the need for a data plan.

The Times of India, a large media group in the country, has withdrawn its job board and some other sites from Internet.org and is urging competitors like BBC to do the same.

 

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