TIME pandemics

Bill Gates Says We Must Prepare for Future Pandemics as for ‘War’

Conference on vaccines and immunization
American businessman Bill Gates speaks at a conference under the motto 'Reach every child' of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) in Berlin, Germany, 27 Janaury 2015. Bernd von Jutrczenka—AP

The Microsoft boss warns the Ebola crisis was just the beginning

Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, has cautioned that a technology-based action plan is needed to guard against future pandemics similar to how we “prepare ourselves for war.”

Gates, whose charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation disburses nearly $4 billion worldwide, urged the international community to apply lessons learned from the Ebola crisis to develop a plan for future outbreaks. One strategy would be to create volunteer teams able to respond quickly to a public health emergency, the Agence-France Presse reported.

“A more difficult pathogen [than Ebola] could come along, a form of flu, a form of SARS or some type of virus that we haven’t seen before,” Gates told the AFP.

“We don’t know it will happen but it’s a high enough chance that one of the lessons of Ebola should be to ask ourselves: are we as ready for that as we should be? A good comparison is that we prepare ourselves for war — we have planes and training and we practise.”

Gates outlined his fears in a speech in Berlin for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation alliance, which delivers vaccines to the Global South. His warning comes on the heels of a World Bank statement that the globe is “dangerously unprepared” for another public health emergency similar to the Ebola outbreak.

[AFP]

TIME technology

Police Are Pressuring Google to Turn Off Waze’s Cop-Tracking Feature

They're worried about attacks on officers

Police are lobbying Google to disable a feature on an app that warns drivers when cops are nearby, saying it could lead to more attacks on officers.

Waze is one of the technology industry’s most popular apps with 50 million users in 200 countries, CBS News reports. The software uses GPS and social networking to give drivers’ real-time traffic alerts and warnings about congestion, car accidents, speed traps and weather conditions.

The app also marks where police are stationed on maps.

Sheriffs are worried the app could be used by would-be police killers to stalk their whereabouts.

There are no known incidents of attackers using Waze in this way but in the wake of several police shootings, law enforcement groups want the feature turned off.

Google has declined to comment on the campaign.

[CBS News]

TIME Parenting

This Place Just Made it Illegal to Give Kids Too Much Screen Time

Excess screen time is now considered to be the equivalent of smoking, drinking and using drugs.

Taiwanese parents are now legally obligated to monitor their children’s screen time.

Taiwanese lawmakers approved the “Child and Youth Welfare and Protection Act,” which expanded existing legislation to allow the government to fine parents of children under the age of 18 who are using electronic devices for extended periods of times. The law follows similar measures in China and South Korea that aims to limit screen time to a healthy level.

Citing health concerns, the Taiwanese government can fine parents up to $1595 ($50,000 Taiwanese Dollars) if their child’s use of electronic devices “exceeds a reasonable time,” according to Taiwan’s ETTV (and Google Translate). Under the new law, excess screen time is now considered to be the equivalent of vices like smoking, drinking, using drugs, and chewing betel nuts.

The new amendment doesn’t spell out exactly what time limits should be set on electronic devices (which are called 3C products in Taiwan), but says parents can be held liable if their children stare at screens for so long that its causes them to become ill, either physically or mentally, as Kotaku reports. While that should be O.K. for children angling for 15 more minutes of Minecraft, it’s unclear what is considered “reasonable” under the law— or how the Taiwanese government plans to regulate or monitor screen time.

According to Kotaku, so far the response to the legislation has been negative—which it undoubtedly would be in the U.S. as well—with Taiwanese citizens citing privacy concerns.

There are some parents however, who might welcome a little help prying their children’s eyes off screens. Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention issues, behavioral problems, learning difficulties, sleep disorders, and obesity. Too much time online may even inhibit a child’s ability to recognize emotions, according to a study by the University of California, Los Angeles. Despite these risks, as technology increasingly becomes a part of modern life, children are spending more and more time in front of screens. A recent study found that in the U.S. 8-year-olds spend an average of eight hours a day with some form of media, with teenagers often clocking in at 11 hour a day of media consumption. A 2013 study by Nickelodeon found that kids watch an average of 35 hours a week of television.

So how much is too much screen time? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under the age of two should have no screen time at all. Entertainment screen time should be limited to two hours a day for children ages 3-18, and that should be “high-quality content.” Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based non-profit, has suggestions for setting up a “media diet” that works for your family.

TIME family subscribers can read our in-depth report on Raising the Screen Generation here. And don’t forget to sign up for Time’s free parenting newsletter.

TIME technology

Apple Reportedly Selling More iPhones in China Than in U.S.

Apple Inc. Launches iPhone 6 And iPhone 6 Plus In China
Apple Store employees in Beijing welcome the customers to buy iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on Oct. 17, 2014 Feng Li—Getty Images

Analysts expect Apple to announce the historic tipping point in its next quarterly-earnings report

Apple may have sold more iPhones in China than the U.S. for the first time on record, according to advanced reports of Apple’s upcoming earnings report.

Analysts expect Apple to announce the historic tipping point on Tuesday, when Apple will unveil its global sales results for the final quarter of last year, the Financial Times reports.

UBS analysts told the Financial Times that China alone accounted for an estimated 36% of global iPhone shipments last quarter, while the U.S. slipped behind with 24% of shipments.

Analysts say a partnership with the country’s largest carrier, China Mobile, combined with the recent release of the iPhone 6, propelled sales growth in the region to a record high.

Read more at the Financial Times.

TIME movies

See 19th-Century Kinetoscope ‘Movies’ That Thomas Edison Helped Develop

'Edison' premieres on Jan. 27

Pretty much everyone knows that Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and the light bulb, but Edison, one of history’s most prolific creators, didn’t stop there. As this exclusive clip from PBS’ upcoming American Experience documentary Edison explains, he helped develop the technology behind the very first motion pictures — and it wasn’t an easy discovery.

Eventually, the Edison company produced a run of short films for the “kinetoscope,” an early device that allowed the public to watch the precursors of movies. Several of those seconds-long films can be seen in the video above. Though they pale in comparison to the computer-enhanced movies at your local IMAX theater, it’s not hard to imagine how they would have shocked and delighted the viewers of the 19th century.

Edison premieres on PBS on Jan. 27, 2015.

TIME Money

Apple CEO Tim Cook Earned $9 Million Last Year, Double His 2013 Pay

Pay hike comes after a stellar 2014 for the tech firm

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s total pay for 2014 was $9.22 million, more than double the financial compensation he received the year before.

Cook earned a salary of $1.75 million and his non-equity incentive compensation was $6.7 million, reports Bloomberg. His 2013 pay package was $4.25 million, according to files sent to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.

The pay increase comes after a highly successful 2014 in which Apple’s company value exceed $700 billion and the price of stocks rose above $119 per share, according to Bloomberg.

The boost comes amid optimism surrounding new products such as the iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Pay.

Cook succeed Steve Jobs as head of Apple just months before the company’s enigmatic founder died of pancreatic cancer.

[Bloomberg]

MONEY Tech

Google Wants to Sell You Cell Phone Service

Google is reportedly planning to become a wireless provider by piggybacking off of Sprint and T-Mobile's networks.

TIME Davos

How Technology Is Making All of Us Less Trusting

A technician checks the light in the Congress Hall before the start of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2014 in Davos Jan. 21, 2014
Denis Balibouse / Reuters

The world's major tech companies better pay attention to the growing backlash — before it's too late

Davos Man, take note: the technology that has enriched you is moving too fast for the average Joe.

That’s the takeaway from the 2015 Trust Barometer survey, released by public relations firm Edelman every year at the World Economic Forum in Davos. This year’s survey, which came out Wednesday, looks at thousands of consumers in 27 countries to get a sense of public trust in business, government, NGOs and media. This year, it’s falling across the board, with two-thirds of nations’ citizens being more distrustful than ever of all institutions, perhaps no surprise given that neither the private nor the public sector seems to have answers to the big questions of the day — geopolitical conflict, rising inequality, flat wages, market volatility, etc.

What’s interesting is how much people blame technology and the speed of technological change for the feeling of unease in the world today. Two to one, consumers in all the countries surveyed felt that technology was moving too quickly for them to cope with, and that governments and business weren’t doing enough to assess the long-term impact of shifts like GMO foods, fracking, disruptors like Uber or Apple Pay, or any of the myriad other digital services that affect privacy and security of people and companies.

That belies the conventional wisdom among tech gurus like, say, Jeff Bezos, who once said that, “New inventions and things that customers like are usually good for society.” Maybe, but increasingly people aren’t feeling that way. And it could have an impact on the regulatory environment facing tech companies. Expect more pushback on sharing-economy companies that skirt local regulation, a greater focus on the monopoly power of mammoth tech companies, and closer scrutiny of the personal wealth of tech titans themselves.

Two of the most interesting pieces of journalism I have read in recent years look at how the speed of digital change is affecting culture and public sentiment. Kurt Andersen’s wonderful Vanity Fair story from January 2012, posited the idea that culture is stuck in retro mode — think fashion’s obsession with past decades, and the nostalgia that’s rife in TV and film — because technology and globalization are moving so fast that people simply can’t take any more change, cognitively at least. Likewise, Leon Wieseltier’s sharp essay on the cover of the New York Times book review this past Sunday lamented how the fetishization of all things Big Tech has led us to focus on the speed, brevity and monetization of everything, to the detriment of “deep thought” and a broader understanding of the human experience.

I agree on both counts. And I hope that some of the tech luminaries here at Davos, like Marissa Mayer, Eric Schmidt and Sheryl Sandberg, are paying attention to this potential growing backlash, which I expect will heat up in the coming year.

TIME Software

Microsoft Shows Off Windows 10 and ‘HoloLens’

Alex Kipman
Microsoft engineer Alex Kipman releases a miniature helicopter designed on a hologram device and then created on a 3-D printer at an event demonstrating new features of Windows 10 at the company's headquarters on Jan. 21, 2015 Elaine Thompson—AP

Headset lets users view and interact with 3D images

(REDMOND, W.A.) — Microsoft on Wednesday took the wraps off a new version of Windows — and a new wearable 3D gadget it calls the HoloLens.

The company showed the new headset, which lets users view and interact with three-dimensional images, at an event where it also revealed new features coming to the company’s flagship operating software.

Executives said Windows 10 is designed to embrace the way people use computers today — offering a familiar experience as they switch back and forth from personal computers to tablets, smartphones and other gadgets such as gaming consoles or even holographic projectors.

While it’s designed to let apps work in similar fashion on all those devices, Windows 10 will also come with a new Web browser that will be closely integrated with Cortana, the company’s voice-activated answer to Siri. Microsoft is expanding Cortana to serve as a search engine and personal assistant, capable of answering questions and responding to commands such as “Play music” on desktop and laptop computers, as well as mobile devices.

And in a break from past practice, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will be released later this year as a free upgrade for anyone owning a computer or gadget that’s currently running Windows 8.1 or 7, the two previous versions of the software.

Microsoft is making a big bet that Windows 10 will help it regain ground the company has lost to the mobile computing boom. Windows has long been the dominating operating software for desktop and laptop computers, but that business has suffered as more people have begun using smartphones and tablets. Microsoft tried to reach those users by emphasizing touch-screen features in its last update, Windows 8, but many traditional PC users found it jarring and difficult to navigate.

Hoping to win back a larger audience, Microsoft is promising Windows 10 will provide a familiar experience to users on across devices, and a common platform for software developers to create apps that work on all of them.

“Windows 10 is built for a world in which there are going to be more devices on the planet than people,” CEO Satya Nadella told reporters and industry analysts at Microsoft’s headquarters. He said Microsoft wants to “enable that seamless cross-over, across devices as you move around at home and at work.”

Rivals including Apple and Google have also been working toward that goal, by making apps that, for example, save files or photos created on a PC and let the user retrieve them on a smartphone. But analysts say new features in Windows 10 could give Microsoft an edge.

For example, Microsoft executives showed new versions of the company’s Word app, its Outlook email service and a photo-storage app that look and act similarly on different screen sizes. They also promise to synchronize files so that changes made on one device would appear when the app is opened on another gadget.

Windows 10 will be used in Microsoft’s Xbox gaming systems as well. A new Xbox app for computers running Windows 10 will give gamers one place to find messages, video clips and games they have played on multiple devices. Microsoft gaming executive Phil Spencer also suggested programmers may eventually use Windows 10 to create other apps for TVs tied to an Xbox console.

As for the company’s new hologram device, executives did not say when it will be available for sale. But they talked about using it for games as well as more serious purposes, such as helping a surgeon visualize a new operating technique or showing someone how to perform plumbing repairs. Nadella said it will be priced to appeal to both consumers and businesses.

And there won’t be a Windows 9. Microsoft has skipped ahead in naming the next version, from Windows 8 to Windows 10, as though to put more distance between them.

TIME Archaeology

Scientists Unlock Secrets of Ancient Scrolls Near Pompeii

Italy Ancient Scrolls
David Blank, professor of Classics from the University of California, looks through a microscope at an ancient papyrus at the Naples' National Library, Italy, Jan. 20, 2015. Salvatore Laporta—AP

The breakthrough could help find more long-lost texts in a ruined library

Scrolls charred in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii are being read for the first time in almost 2,000 years, thanks to new X-ray technology.

The scrolls were recovered about 260 years ago from the ruins of the ancient Roman city Herculaneum, near Pompeii, preserved in a grand villa believed to be owned by the family of Julius Caesar’s father-in-law, the New York Times reports.

In the famous eruption, they were burned black by a blast of hot gas and had been thought to be indecipherable, since any attempt to unroll the brittle scrolls would destroy them.

But thanks to the new, advanced imaging technology, scientists in Naples, Italy have begun to decipher the first lines of two scrolls. CNET reports that the X-rays are so powerful that researchers analyzed the handwriting to determine the author of one of the scrolls, Epicurean philosopher Philodemus. These scrolls are just a small piece of what is thought to be still buried in the library of the Herculaneum villa, and this breakthrough could lead to the rediscovery of many long-lost texts by Rome and Greece’s most famous philosophers, according to the NYT.

The results appeared in the scientific journal Nature.

“This study, without compromising the physical integrity of the roll, has not merely discovered traces of the ink inside it, but has also helped identify with a certain likelihood the style of handwriting used in the text, along with its author,” the researchers conclude in the report.

“It holds out the promise that many philosophical works form the library of the ‘Villa dei Papiri’, the contents of which have so far remained unknown, may in future be deciphered without damaging the papyrus in any way.”

[CNET]

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