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Safe AI Requires Cultural Intelligence
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's words-of-wisdom department:
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report written by Gillian Hadfield via TechCrunch. Hadfield is a professor of law and strategic management at the the University of Toronto; a faculty affiliate at the Vector Institute for AI; and a senior policy advisor at OpenAI. From the report: Building machines that can perform any cognitive task means figuring out how to build AI that can not only learn about things like the biology of tomatoes but also about our highly variable and changing systems of norms about things like what we do with tomatoes. [...] For AI to be truly powerful will require machines to comprehend that norms can vary tremendously from group to group, making them seem unnecessary, yet it can be critical to follow them in a given community. [...] Norms concern things not only as apparently minor as what foods to combine but also things that communities consider tremendously consequential: who can marry whom, how children are to be treated, who is entitled to hold power, how businesses make and price their goods and services, when and how criticism can be shared publicly. Successful and safe AI that achieves our goals within the limits of socially accepted norms requires an understanding of not only how our physical systems behave, but also how human normative systems behave. Norms are not just fixed features of the environment, like the biology of a plant. They are dynamic and responsive structures that we make and remake on a daily basis, as we decide whether or when to let someone know that "this" is the way "we" do things around here. These normative systems are the systems on which we rely to solve the challenge of ensuring that people behave the way we want them to in our communities, workplaces and social environments. Only with confidence about how everyone around us is likely to behave are we all willing to trust and live and invest with one another. Ensuring that powerful AIs behave the way we want them to will not be so terribly different. Just as we need to raise our children to be competent participants in our systems of norms, we will need to train our machines to be similarly competent. It is not enough to be extremely knowledgeable about the facts of the universe; extreme competence also requires wisdom enough to know that there may be a rule here, in this group but not in that group. And that ignoring that rule may not just annoy the group; it may lead them to fear or reject the machine in their midst.

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Windows 10 Will Use the Cloud To Free Up Disk Space
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department:
The next update to Windows 10, due to be released in October, will be smarter about how it frees up disk space and cleans up temporary files. Ars Technica reports: As part of its Storage Sense feature, Windows will be able to automatically remove the local copies of OneDrive files (unless they've been set as always available offline). The operating system will determine which files to remove based on when they were opened: files used more recently than a certain number of days will be retained locally, while those that haven't been used will be replaced with placeholders. The system will remove files until the operating system reckons it has enough free space for normal operation.

Storage Sense will also be able to remove temporary or otherwise unneeded files such as system logs and image thumbnails. It will also be able to remove old files from the download directory. The temporary-file cleanup (which can also remove certain cache files, driver packages, old anti-virus definitions, and more) was previously handled by the Disk Cleanup tool. That tool is now deprecated, as Storage Sense does everything it used to do and more. Storage Sense can perform its cleanup process periodically (every day, week, or month) or automatically whenever the system is low on disk space.

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Google Replaces Its USB-C Headphone Adapter With a More Expensive Version
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nickel-and-dime department:
Google is now selling an updated headphone adapter that's supposed to be more responsive and drain less of your phone's battery. But these minor improvements come at a cost. The new dongle costs $12, whereas the old dongle sold for just $9. "That also means Google's headphone adapter now costs more than Apple's equivalent adapter for the iPhone," The Verge notes. From the report: Physically, though, the dongle is nearly identical to the USB-C to 3.5mm adapter that Google has been selling since last October: this new version is just a hair smaller in almost every dimension. Google says the new dongle will connect to your phone ever so slightly faster, and, more importantly, it's supposed to draw less power, translating to 38 percent more playback time. Android Police first spotted the update.

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FCC Says It Needs More Time To Review T-Mobile, Sprint Merger
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 04:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-is-money department:
The FCC says it needs more time to review the proposed Sprint-T-Mobile deal, the agency said in a letter to the companies Tuesday. According to CNBC, "The agency has paused an 'informal' 180-day transaction clock 'to allow for thorough staff and third-party review' of recently submitted materials." From the report: Sprint and T-Mobile have gone down a rocky road to a merger, calling off and resuming talks. The companies announced that they would merge last April in a bid to cut costs and combine forces to develop a next-generation network called 5G, which would provide faster speeds, more capacity and lower response times. But the companies could encounter hurdles to gaining regulatory approval for the tie-up. A deal between T-Mobile and Sprint, who are the third largest and fourth largest wireless carriers in the United States by subscribers, previously faced opposition from antitrust regulators under President Barack Obama's administration.

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Swiss Village Votes for Free Money. Now It Just Needs the Cash
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 04:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's worth-a-shot department:
A village in Switzerland has decided to go ahead with an experiment on basic income, with a payout of 2,500 francs ($2,570) per month. The next step is to raise money to finance the plan via crowdfunding. From a report: More than 50 percent of the inhabitants of Rheinau, close to the German border, signed up for the project, according to the organizers website. At least half the 1,300 inhabitants needed to say 'yes,' and the count stood at 692 on Monday. The submitted ballots still have to be checked against government data to ensure eligibility. The decision comes two years after a proposal for a nationwide unconditional state stipend failed to pass in a national vote. Rheinau, on the banks of the river Rhine an hour by train from the banking hub of Zurich, was selected by filmmaker Rebecca Panian for the basic income trial. She says she became fascinated by the notion during the national debate before up the 2016 vote, decided to select a village as a guinea pig, and make a documentary.

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A Look at the Dark Side of the Lives of Some Prominent YouTubers, Who Are Increasingly Saying They're Stressed, Depressed, Lonely, and Exhausted
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 02:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's other-side department:
Many YouTubers are finding themselves stressed, lonely and exhausted. The Guardian: For years, YouTubers have believed that they are loved most by their audience when they project a chirpy, grateful image. But what happens when the mask slips? This year there has been a wave of videos by prominent YouTubers talking about their burnout, chronic fatigue and depression. "This is all I ever wanted," said Elle Mills, a 20-year-old Filipino-Canadian YouTuber in a (monetised) video entitled Burnt Out At 19, posted in May. "And why the fuck am I so unfucking unhappy? It doesn't make any sense. You know what I mean? Because, like, this is literally my fucking dream. And I'm fucking so un-fucking-happy." [...] The anxieties are tied up with the relentless nature of their work. Tyler Blevins, AKA Ninja, makes an estimated $500,000 every month via live broadcasts of him playing the video game Fortnite on Twitch, a service for livestreaming video games that is owned by Amazon. Most of Blevins' revenue comes from Twitch subscribers or viewers who provide one-off donations (often in the hope that he will thank them by name "on air"). Blevins recently took to Twitter to complain that he didn't feel he could stop streaming. "Wanna know the struggles of streaming over other jobs?" he wrote, perhaps ill-advisedly for someone with such a stratospheric income. "I left for less than 48 hours and lost 40,000 subscribers on Twitch. I'll be back today... grinding again." There was little sympathy on Twitter for the millionaire. But the pressure he described is felt at every level of success, from the titans of the content landscape all the way down to the people with channels with just a few thousand subscribers, all of whom feel they must be constantly creating, always available and responding to their fans. "Constant releases build audience loyalty," says Austin Hourigan, who runs ShoddyCast, a YouTube channel with 1.2 million subscribers. "The more loyalty you build, the more likely your viewers are to come back, which gives you the closest thing to a financial safety net in what is otherwise a capricious space." When a YouTuber passes the 1 million subscribers mark, they are presented with a gold plaque to mark the event. Many of these plaques can be seen on shelves and walls in the background of presenters' rooms. In this way, the size of viewership and quantity of uploads become the main markers of value.

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Plex To Shut Down Its Cloud Service
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 02:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department:
Plex has informed users that it will be shutting down cloud-based media server Plex Cloud at the end of November. First launched in 2016, Plex Cloud offered users a way to easily access extra storage. Initially, users had to subscribe to Amazon Drive, which cost $59.99 a year for unlimited storage at the time and get a Plex Pass in order to use Plex Cloud. Later on, Plex added support for Dropbox, Google, and Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage. From a report, which looks at the rationale behind the move: "We've made the difficult decision to shut down the Plex Cloud service on November 30th, 2018," the company said in an email. "We've been actively working on ways to address various issues while keeping costs under control. We hold ourselves to a high standard, and unfortunately, after a lot of investigation and thought, we haven't found a solution capable of delivering a truly first class Plex experience to Plex Cloud users at a reasonable cost." Plex has traditionally relied on users operating their own media server to stream videos, music and more to mobile and TV-connected devices. Plex users often run their server hardware on dedicated computers or network-attached storage drives, but the reliance on such hardware has limited the appeal of the software to more casual users. [...] Behind the scenes, Plex was augmenting these storage solutions with its own cloud servers, capable of transcoding media on the fly to stream to a wide variety of devices. However, the company ran into some technical issues, which prompted it to first disable support for Amazon's cloud storage and then in February halt the creation of new cloud servers.

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Trump To Target Foreign Meddling In US Elections With Sanctions Order
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 01:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's actions-speak-louder-than-words department:
An anonymous reader shares an exclusive report from Reuters: President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order as soon as Wednesday that will slap sanctions on any foreign companies or people who interfere in U.S. elections, based on intelligence agency findings, two sources familiar with the matter said. Trump's decision to sign an executive order coincides with intelligence agencies, military and law enforcement preparing to defend the Nov. 6 congressional elections from predicted foreign attacks even as Trump derides a special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. We will update this story as it develops...

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Facebook's 'Rosetta' System Helps the Company Understand Text Within Image, Which is Crucial In Handling Memes, Flagging Abusing Content
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 01:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Facebook announced on Tuesday a new AI system, codenamed "Rosetta," which helps teams at the company as well as those at Instagram identify text within images to better understand what their subject is and more easily classify them for search or to flag abusive content. From a report: It's not all memes; the tool scans over a billion images and video frames daily across multiple languages in real time, according to a company blog post. Rosetta makes use of recent advances in optical character recognition (OCR) to first scan an image and detect text that is present, at which point the characters are placed inside a bounding box that is then analyzed by convolutional neural nets that try to recognize the characters and determine what's being communicated. This technology has been in practice for a while -- Facebook has been working with OCR since 2015 -- but implementing this across the company's vast networks provides a crazy degree of scale that motivated the company to develop some new strategies around character detection and recognition.

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Four-Day Working Week For All is a Realistic Goal This Century, UK Trade Unions Say
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Advances in technology mean that a four-day week working week is a realistic goal for most people by the end of this century, the leader of the UK's trade union movement has said. From a report: Frances O'Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), used her speech to the organisation's 150th annual gathering to insist that evolving technology and communications should cut the number hours spent at work. Speaking in Manchester on Monday, O'Grady said: "In the 19th century, unions campaigned for an eight-hour day. In the 20th century, we won the right to a two-day weekend and paid holidays. So, for the 21st century, let's lift our ambition again. I believe that in this century we can win a four-day working week, with decent pay for everyone. It's time to share the wealth from new technology, not allow those at the top to grab it for themselves." A report by the organisation says postwar economists promised employees would be working a 15-hour week by now and that polls showed a four-day week would be most people's preference. "Instead, new technology is threatening to intensify working lives. For some, the on-demand economy has meant packaging work into ever-smaller pieces of time," the report reads. "This is a return to the days of piece-work, creating a culture where workers are required to be constantly available to work." More than 1.4 million people work seven days a week, with 3.3 million working more than 45 hours a week, according to the report.

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Farmer Lobbying Group Sells Out Farmers, Helps Enshrine John Deere's Tractor Repair Monopoly
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's betrayal department:
Jason Koebler writes: The California Farm Bureau, a group that lobbies on behalf of farmers, reached a "right to repair" agreement with the Equipment Dealers Association (which represents John Deere and other manufacturers) last week. But the specifics of the agreement were written by the manufacturers, and falls far short of providing the types of change that would be needed to make repairing tractors easier. In fact, the agreement makes the same concessions that the Equipment Dealers Association announced in February it would voluntarily give to all farmers. The agreement will not allow farmers to buy repair parts, break firmware DRM, or otherwise alter software for the purposes of repair.

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The EU Could Vote To Wreck the Internet Tomorrow
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 10:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
The EU is preparing to vote Wednesday on sweeping new copyright guidelines that could dramatically reshape the internet and potentially harm your ability to share content online. From a report: As noted previously, the proposal is being driven by rights holders frightened by technological change, including brick and mortar publishers eager to blame companies like Google for their failure to evolve in the modern internet era. And while the EU's new Copyright Directive may be a well intentioned effort to modernize EU copyright rules, it still contains numerous provisions that could significantly harm the open internet. Most of those provisions remain largely intact despite a July vote that sent the proposal back to the drawing board in the wake of widespread activist backlash. The most problematic provisions of the plan include new licensing fees for sharing anything more than "insubstantial" portions of content. Such a "link tax" could prove costly for small news outlets, and, depending on final wording, could put volunteer-centric organizations like Wikipedia at risk since the original proposal failed to include a noncommercial exception. The most controversial component of the plan mandates that any website that lets users upload text, sounds, images, code, or other copyrighted works for public consumption (read: most of them) would need to employ automated copyright systems that filter these submissions against a database of copyrighted works at the website owner's expense. As we've consistently highlighted, such filters routinely don't work very well.

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Tencent Shuts Poker Platform Amid Widening Gaming Crackdown
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 10:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's crazy-crackdown department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Tencent Holdings will shut a popular Texas Hold'Em poker video game, the Chinese tech giant said to its users on Monday, in a further step to comply with intensifying government scrutiny hitting the country's gaming industry. Tencent said it would formally begin to shutter "Everyday Texas Hold'Em" from Monday and would closer the game's server from Sept 25. Tencent would compensate users in accordance with regulations of Ministry of Culture. The Shenzhen-based company, which draws a huge amount of its profit from gaming, is facing mounting challenges this year from stringent regulation and government censorship. It has had to pull one blockbuster game and seen others censured.

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Linux Distro Elive Emerges Alive After 8-Year Hibernation
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 09:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Designed to run on minimal hardware, Elive is very much a passion project of its leader, Samuel F Baggen. Based on Debian, the first version took a bow in 2005. The second stable version made an appearance in 2010 and it has been a long eight years for the third stable version to become available. The Register: Elive has an impressively low bar to entry, with hardware requirements for the distribution coming in at 256 MB RAM and a 500 MHz CPU, meaning that some very elderly silicon is theoretically going to be able to enjoy the highly polished Enlightenment desktop. "Theoretically" because after The Register took Elive 3.0.0 out for a spin on a relatively low-powered laptop, we'd frankly baulk at running it on anything much slower than a 533MHz Core 2 with at least 512 MB RAM. However, the Enlightenment UI is undeniably an attractive desktop, particularly if a macOS-alike dock is your thing, and runs at an impressive lick even on hardware that lacks graphics acceleration. At its core, Elive is based on the Debian 8 distribution (aka Jessie), using the 3.16 kernel and version 0.17.6 of the Enlightenment X11 Window Manager. It comes replete with a full set of applications, including the ubiquitous LibreOffice and Gimp, along with a variety of productivity and entertainment tools, some of which are Elive's own. Unlike the previous version of Elive, 3.0.0 removes the requirement of donating to the project in order to install the thing locally (although Baggen was quick to tell The Reg that cost-free alternatives existed, but often with annoying processes).

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British Airways Breach Caused By the Same Group That Hit Ticketmaster
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 09:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's leaving-traces-behind department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: A cyber-criminal operation known as Magecart is believed to have been behind the recent card breach announced last week by British Airways. The operation has been active since 2015 when RisqIQ and ClearSky researchers spotted the malware for the first time. The group's regular mode of operation involves hacking into online stores and hiding JavaScript code that steals payment card information entered into store checkout pages, information such as credit card numbers, names, addresses, and whatever is collected via payment forms. The group has been very active in the past three years, being blamed for injecting card skimming scripts on thousands of sites, with the most recent trove of compromised sites being discovered two weeks ago. Of all its hacks, the most notorious incident was when the group compromised a third-party chat provider and used its infrastructure to drop malicious scripts on the Ticketmaster checkout page. [...] In a report published today, researchers at RisqIQ say they found clues linking the same Magecart operation to the British Airways breach. This breach was announced last week when British Airways said that an unidentified hacker compromised its systems and stole the card details of over 380,000 users.

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Amazon is Stuffing Its Search Results Pages With Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 08:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's greenback-boogie department:
If it feels like Amazon's site is increasingly stuffed with ads, that's because it is. And it looks like that's working -- at least for brands that are willing to fork over ad dollars as part of their strategy to sell on Amazon. From a report: Amazon-sponsored product ads have been around since 2012. But lately, as the company has invested in growing its advertising business, they've become more aggressive. See, for example, our search below for "cereal." The first three results, which take up the whole screen above the fold -- everything visible before you scroll -- are sponsored placements that appear as search results: Ads for Kellogg's Special K, Quaker Life and Cap'n Crunch. (It's similarly dramatic on mobile, where it takes up the entire first screen.) This is followed by a section featuring Amazon's own brand, 365 Everyday Value, which was part of its Whole Foods acquisition. Not until scrolling down halfway on the next browser "page" do organic search results -- non-paid, non-Amazon brands -- come up: Post's Honey Bunches of Oats and Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats and Frosted Flakes.

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Google's Location Privacy Practices Are Under Investigation in Arizona: Report
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 08:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tough-luck department:
Google's alleged practice of recording location data about Android device owners even when they believe they have opted out of such tracking, reports The Washington Post, has sparked an investigation in Arizona, where the state's attorney general could potentially levy a hefty fine against the search giant. From the report: The probe, initiated by Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich and confirmed by a person familiar with his thinking but not authorized to speak on the record, could put pressure on other states and the federal government to follow suit, consumer advocates say -- though Google previously insisted it did not deceive consumers about the way it collects and taps data on their whereabouts. The attorney general signaled his interest in the matter in a public filing [PDF] that indicated the office had retained an outside law firm to assist in an investigation. The document, dated August 21, said the hired lawyers would help probe an unnamed tech company and its "storage of consumer location data, tracking of consumer location, and other consumer tracking through ... smartphone operating systems, even when consumers turn off 'location services' and take other steps to stop such tracking," according to the heavily redacted public notice.

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Climate Change Drives Bigger, Wetter Storms -- Storms Like Florence
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 06:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Rebecca Hersher, reporting for NPR: Hurricane Florence is moving relentlessly toward the Southeastern U.S. It's a large, powerful cyclone that will likely bring storm surge and high winds to coastal communities. But climate scientists say one of the biggest threats posed by Florence is rain. "Freshwater flooding poses the greatest risk to life," explains James Kossin, an atmospheric scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. And Florence could cause extensive freshwater flooding for two reasons. First, Florence is moving slowly, and could all but stop when it reaches land. "The storm could be over North Carolina and traveling incredibly slowly -- on the order of just a few miles per hour," explains Kossin, who says an official from the city of Charlotte, N.C., contacted him about rainfall projections for that city. If Florence stalls over the Southeast, it would be reminiscent of Hurricane Harvey, which spent days dumping rain on the Houston region last year. Some areas ended up with more than 60 inches, a catastrophic amount of water that shut down the entire region and resulted in at least 93 deaths. Slow-moving storms like Harvey are getting more common. A study published earlier this year by Kossin found that tropical cyclones around the world have slowed down 10 percent in the last 70 years. "We're seeing that in every ocean basin except the northern Indian Ocean," says Kossin, possibly because climate change is causing the wind currents that hurricanes ride to slow down. If Florence slows down and stalls when it hits land, it will the latest example of that trend. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., says global warming also affects the size and intensity of storms like Florence.

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Popular Illegal Streaming App Terrarium TV Is Shutting Down This Month
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 06:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's further-crackdown department:
NitroXenon, the developer of Terrarium TV, announced Monday evening that the infamous streaming service, available for Android users at no charge, is shutting down this month. TorrentFreak reports: Inspired by the simplicity of Popcorn Time, Terrarium TV eschewed the use of torrents as a supply protocol. Instead, the software pulled in content from file-hosting sites in a similar way to Kodi addons, but with an almost non-existent learning curve. Created by a developer who identified as Hong Kong-based Peter Chan (aka NitroXenon), Terrarium TV enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom over the past couple of years. With only Showbox and a handful of other applications getting anywhere close to its volume of active users, Terrarium TV became the go-to app for Android users looking for a Netflix-style fix. Now, however, the ride is over. In a notification pushed to Terrarium TV users last night, NitroXenon explained that his days of working on the app are over. "It has always been a great pleasure to work on this project. However, it is time to say goodbye. I am going to shut down Terrarium TV, forever," he wrote. "I know this day will come eventually. I know it would be hard to let go. But it is really time for me to move on to other projects."

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California Governor Says 100 Percent Clean Electricity Not Enough, State Must Go Carbon Neutral
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '18 at 05:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's aggressively-decarbonizing department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: On Monday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill mandating that the state's utilities move to 100-percent zero-emission electricity generation by 2045. Brown also issued an executive order today requiring the state to become carbon neutral by 2045, that is, mandating that the state remove as much greenhouse gas from the atmosphere as it puts into the atmosphere. One of the most interesting aspects of the zero-emissions bill signed today is that it also specifies that California can't increase the carbon emissions of another state to get cheap electricity. It appears that buying electricity from a coal plant in Nevada is fine if that electricity had been supplied prior to the bill's passing, but seeking out new out-of-state natural gas-fired plants to buy from would not be allowed. The bill's ambitiousness is compounded by the executive order that Gov. Brown signed today. The order requires California to become carbon neutral by 2045. "The achievement of carbon neutrality will require both significant reductions in carbon pollution and removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, including sequestration in forests, soils, and other natural landscapes," Brown's executive order states (PDF).

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