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XPRIZE Projects Aim To Convert CO2 Emissions, But Skepticism Remains
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '18 at 11:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's grand-prize department:
The XPRIZE foundation exists to encourage particular innovations that might be useful but from which conventional financial backers are likely to shy away. Previous X Prizes have been awarded for feats such as flying a reusable spacecraft to the edge of space, and designing cheap sensors to measure oceanic acidity. This week, the foundation announced a new prize. From a report: One pioneering team hopes to use carbon dioxide to make a stronger form of cement. Another wants to use carbon to make bioplastic. Still another is planning to transform CO2 into solid carbonates that can be used as building materials. The XPRIZE Foundation unveiled 10 teams yesterday as finalists in its $20 million contest to find a solution to carbon emissions. Its carbon competition is meant to find an economic use for planet-warming emissions. The basic idea: If emissions can be turned into a product, power companies will have an incentive to capture and sell carbon instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. A group of 47 teams from across the world initially submitted proposals. The remaining 10 teams will compete in two groups. One will test their technologies at a coal-fired power plant in Gillette, Wyo. The other will compete at a natural gas plant in Calgary, Alberta. Winners will be announced in 2020. They will split the $20 million purse. [...] Significant skepticism over carbon utilization's effectiveness persists, however. The chief concern is that global carbon emissions outweigh the market for carbon products. "There is no question you can do it. The question is whether it can be a meaningful contribution to climate mitigation," said Edward Rubin, a professor of environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

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Researchers Devise a Way To Generate Provably Random Numbers Using Quantum Mechanics
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '18 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-forward department:
No random number generator you've ever used is truly, provably random. Until now, that is. Researchers have used an experiment developed to test quantum mechanics to generate demonstrably random numbers, which could come in handy for encryption. From a report: The method uses photons to generate a string of random ones and zeros, and leans on the laws of physics to prove that these strings are truly random, rather than merely posing as random. The researchers say their work could improve digital security and cryptography. The challenge for existing random number generators is not only creating truly random numbers, but proving that those numbers are random. "It's hard to guarantee that a given classical source is really unpredictable," says Peter Bierhorst, a mathematician at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where this research took place. "Our quantum source and protocol is like a fail-safe. We're sure that no one can predict our numbers." For example, random number algorithms often rely on a source of data which may ultimately prove predictable, such as atmospheric noise. And however complex the algorithm, it's still applying consistent rules. Despite these potential imperfections, these methods are relied on in the day-to-day encryption of data. This team's method, however, makes use of the properties of quantum mechanics, or what Einstein described as "spooky action at a distance." Further reading: Wired, LiveScience, and CNET.

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You Think Discovering a Computer Virus Is Hard? Try Naming One
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '18 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-in-a-name? department:
Like astronomers who discover new stars, security experts who first identify computer bugs, viruses, worms, ransomware and other coding catastrophes often get to name their finds. Such discoveries now number in the thousands each year, so crafting a standout moniker can be a serious challenge. From a report: Two years ago, German security firm SerNet GmbH figured a punchy name for their bug discovery would give the company a publicity jolt. They called it Badlock, designed a fractured-lock logo and set up a website. The marketing push backfired when some security experts decided Badlock wasn't that bad. Cynical hackers called it Sadlock. "We would not do this again," says SerNet Chief Executive Johannes Loxen of the branding blitz, which he says was overkill because a relatively small number of people were affected by Badlock. Hackers are no fans of marketing. They brand things in their own way. Puns and historic references are the name of the game. "They see it as a kind of grass-roots initiative," says Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist who teaches courses on hacker culture at McGill University in Montreal. Some venerable names that have stood the test of time: The Love Bug, for the worm that attacked millions of Windows personal computers in 2000, and Y2K, a turn-of-the-century programming scare that didn't live up to its hype. Many names tend more toward geekspeak. The title of hacker magazine 2600 is a tip of the hat to 2600 hertz, the frequency old-school hackers reproduced to trick AT&T phone lines into giving them free calls. Computer worm Conficker is an amalgam of "configure" and a German expletive. Code Red is named after the Mountain Dew drink researchers guzzled while investigating the worm.

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A Wanted Man in China Has Been Caught Because of Facial Recognition Software
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '18 at 08:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's 1984 department:
An anonymous reader writes: The man was reportedly caught after facial recognition software running on cameras at a concert identified him, reports AbacusNews. That's despite there being over 50,000 people attending the concert, which took place in Nanchang, China. Law enforcement in the country has increasingly been turning to facial recognition software to surveil the public for persons of interest.

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Data Exfiltrators Send Info Over PCs' Power Supply Cables
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '18 at 08:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what-in-the-world department:
From a report on The Register: If you want your computer to be really secure, disconnect its power cable. So says Mordechai Guri and his team of side-channel sleuths at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The crew have penned a paper titled PowerHammer: Exfiltrating Data from Air-Gapped Computers through Power Lines that explains how attackers could install malware that regulates CPU utilisation and creates fluctuations in the current flow that could modulate and encode data. The variations would be "propagated through the power lines" to the outside world. Depending on the attacker's approach, data could be exfiltrated at between 10 and 1,000 bits-per-second. The higher speed would work if attackers can get at the cable connected to the computer's power supply. The slower speed works if attackers can only access a building's electrical services panel. The PowerHammer malware spikes the CPU utilisation by choosing cores that aren't currently in use by user operations (to make it less noticeable). Guri and his pals use frequency shift keying to encode data onto the line.

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Late To Bed, Early To Die? Night Owls May Die Sooner
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '18 at 07:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's psa department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Bad news for "night owls": Those who tend to stay up late and sleep in well past sunrise are at increased risk of early death, a new study from the United Kingdom suggests. The research, which involved nearly half a million people, found that self-described "evening people" were 10 percent more likely to die over a 6.5-year period, compared with self-described morning people. The findings add to a growing body of research that suggests that being a night owl could have negative effects on health. Many of these effects may be attributable to a misalignment between a person's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, and the socially imposed timing of work and other activities, the researchers said. "'Night owls' trying to live in a 'morning lark' world may have health consequences for their bodies," study co-author Kristen Knutson, an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a statement.

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'A Fresh, Clean Look.' Gmail Is About To Get a Makeover
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '18 at 07:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Google says it is working on a big refresh for Gmail on the web. From a report: The upgrade was revealed in a message from Google to administrators of G Suite accounts -- G Suite being the suite of Google services that organizations can use on their own web domains, rather than Google's. The message stated that the changes would be coming to consumer Gmail accounts, as well as G Suite accounts. Google said the refresh would include not only a "fresh, clean look for Gmail on the web," but also easy ways to access other Google services, such as Google Calendar, from the Gmail web app. The company recently started winding down its Chrome apps for all platforms but Google's own Chrome OS. Windows, Mac and Linux users are now being encouraged to instead use Google's web apps, and it's only logical that those interfaces are now getting upgraded to include the functionality that would otherwise be lost. The Verge has screenshots of the new interface.

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Reddit Continues To Protect Racist Language In Favor of Free Speech
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '18 at 05:40 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lone-wolf department:
In a thread about Reddit's 2017 transparency report, a user asked CEO Steve Huffman whether posts containing racism or racial slurs violate Reddit's terms. Huffman revealed that said speech are permissible on the site. "On Reddit, the way in which we think about speech is to separate behavior from beliefs," Huffman clarified. "This means on Reddit there will be people with beliefs different from your own, sometimes extremely so." Digital Trends reports: It's unclear if Huffman's comments are representative of Reddit's company policy, but protection of hate speech can -- and do -- lead to online harassment and cyberbullying. A recent study from Pew revealed that as many as 40 percent of Americans have experienced some form of harassment online. And even if hate speech may still be protected content on Reddit, Huffman was quick to point out that any threat of violence is not tolerated on the site. "When users actions conflict with our own content policies, we take action," he said. This distinction is consistent with Reddit's prior policies for enforcement. "Going forward, we will take action against any content that encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people; likewise we will also take action against content that glorifies or encourages the abuse of animals," the updated terms read, noting that "context is key."

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Apple Starts Alerting Users That It Will End 32-Bit App Support On the Mac
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '18 at 03:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's public-service-announcement department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Tomorrow at midnight PT, Apple will begin issuing an alert box when you open a 32-bit app in MacOS 10.13.4. It's a one-time (per app) alert, designed to help MacOS make the full transition to 64-bit. At some unspecified time in the future, the operating system will end its support for 32-bit technology meaning those apps that haven't been updated just won't work. That time, mind you, is not tomorrow, but the company's hoping that this messaging will help light a fire under users and developers to upgrade before that day comes. Says the company on its help page, "To ensure that the apps you purchase are as advanced as the Mac you run them on, all future Mac software will eventually be required to be 64-bit." As the company notes, the transition's been a long time coming. The company started making it 10 or so years ago with the Power Mac G5 desktop, so it hasn't exactly been an overnight ask for developers. Of course, if you've got older, non-supported software in your arsenal, the eventual end-of-lifing could put a severe damper on your workflow. For those users, there will no doubt be some shades of the transition from OS 9 to OS X in all of this.

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FDA Approves AI-Powered Software To Detect Diabetic Retinopathy
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '18 at 12:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's modern-day-science department:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved an AI-powered device that can be used by non-specialists to detect diabetic retinopathy in adults with diabetes. Engadget reports:
Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the high levels of blood sugar in the bloodstream cause damage to your retina's blood vessels. It's the most common cause of vision loss, according to the FDA. The approval comes for a device called IDx-DR, a software program that uses an AI algorithm to analyze images of the eye that can be taken in a regular doctor's office with a special camera, the Topcon NW400. The photos are then uploaded to a server that runs IDx-DR, which can then tell the doctor if there is a more than mild level of diabetic retinopathy present. If not, it will advise a re-screen in 12 months. The device and software can be used by health care providers who don't normally provide eye care services. The FDA warns that you shouldn't be screened with the device if you have had laser treatment, eye surgery or injections, as well as those with other conditions, like persistent vision loss, blurred vision, floaters, previously diagnosed macular edema and more.

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New Navigation App 'Live Roads' Promises 1.5m-Accuracy With Standard Cellphone Hardware
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '18 at 08:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
Jonathan M. Gitlin from Ars Technica reviews a new navigation app called Live Roads, which promises 1.5m-accuracy via your current smartphone without the need of any extra hardware. In a nutshell, the app provides more accurate mapping/navigation than what's currently available via Google Maps or Apple Maps, but it's still not quite as accurate as a true "HD map." HD maps are accurate to within a centimeter or two and are usually made by a combination of traditional surveying and lidar scanning. Here's an excerpt from the report: A few weeks after talking with the company, I was delivered a Samsung S7 loaded with Live Roads. I'll be honest: I'm not that familiar with Android, and this isn't really a review of the app. I used it enough to check that it does what it claims, but I didn't use it as my sole method of navigation. However, this brief bit of user-testing did let me check out the claims in that email. I don't think I'd equate the app with the HD maps that autonomous vehicles will need. For one thing it's readable by a human being; for another it's not quite that accurate. But the spatial resolution was indeed better than it should be on a consumer phone, and Live Roads was able to locate me down to a specific lane on a multi-lane road. Various navigation apps give you lane-specific instructions -- for instance, telling you to stay in the middle two lanes if you're approaching a complicated intersection. Where Live Roads differs is that it can also tell which lane you're actually in. Whether this is enough of a feature to build a business model around is an open question; I'm quite happy using Google Maps on iOS, with occasional forays into Waze (running in the background to warn of speed traps) and Apple Maps (if I'm driving something with CarPlay and the infotainment's built-in navigation sucks).

< article continued at Slashdot's new-and-improved department >

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Netflix Pulls Out of Cannes Following Rule Change
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '18 at 05:40 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
Netflix and Cannes are breaking up, at least for now. On Wednesday, Netflix chief Ted Sarandos said that the streaming platform won't be sending any films to the prestigious French festival, formally severing the strained relationship between the two power players. The decision was a long time coming, after Cannes established a rule that forbade films without a theatrical distribution plan from its competition. From, a report: In an exclusive interview with Variety, Netflix's chief content officer says that the festival sent a clear message with a new rule that bans any films without theatrical distribution in France from playing in competition. Netflix could screen some of its upcoming movies out of competition, but Sarandos says that doesn't make sense for the streaming service. "We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker," Sarandos says. "There's a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival. They've set the tone. I don't think it would be good for us to be there." Netflix made a big splash at the prestigious film festival last year with two movies that showed in competition: Bong Joon-ho's "Okja" and Noah Baumbach's "The Meyerowitz Stories." But after the 2017 announcement, French theaters owners and unions protested the inclusion of these films to Thierry Fremaux, the artistic director of Cannes. Netflix was amenable to having their movies play on big screens in France, but a law in the country requires movies to not appear in home platforms for 36 months after their theatrical release.

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Google's Phone App Is Getting the Power To Send Spam Calls Straight To Voicemail
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '18 at 05:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department:
According to 9to5Google, Google's dialer app for Pixel, Nexus, and Android One devices is being upgraded with the ability to send spam calls straight to voicemail. "In 2016, the app began alerting users to potential spam callers by flashing the incoming call screen bright red, with another 'Suspected spam caller' alert just underneath the phone number," reports 9to5Google. The new spam filtering feature goes a step further. From the report: [U]sers will not receive a missed call or voicemail notification, though filtered calls will appear in call history and any voicemails left will still show up in that respective tab. This feature is rolling out worldwide over the next few weeks, but those who join the new beta will have initial access to it. Like its other programs, Google notes that the test allows you to use experimental features before they're released. Google warns that features will still be in-development, might be unstable, and have "a few problems." Meanwhile, users will have the ability to submit in-app feedback throughout the process. Head to the Google Play listing for the Phone app and scroll down to "Become a tester" in order to join.

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Tesla Issues Strongest Statement Yet Blaming Driver For Deadly Autopilot Crash
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '18 at 04:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's blame-game department:
Tesla has released its strongest statement yet blaming the driver of a Tesla Model X that crashed on Autopilot almost three weeks ago. The driver, Walter Huang, died March 23rd in Mountain View when his Model X on Autopilot crashed headfirst into the safety barrier section of a divider that separates the carpool lane from the off-ramp to the left. Huang was an Apple engineer and former EA Games employee. ABC7News reports: Tesla confirmed its data shows Walter Huang was using Autopilot at the time of the crash, but that his hands were off the wheel for six seconds right before impact. Tesla sent Dan Noyes a statement Tuesday night that reads in part, "Autopilot requires the driver to be alert and have hands on the wheel... the crash happened on a clear day with several hundred feet of visibility ahead, which means that the only way for this accident to have occurred is if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road." The family's lawyer believes Tesla is blaming Huang to distract from the family's concern about the car's Autopilot.

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The Personality Traits That Put You At Risk For Smartphone Addiction
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '18 at 04:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's according-to-science department:
Zorro shares a report from The Washington Post: When the Trump-affiliated firm Cambridge Analytica obtained data on tens of millions of Facebook users, it used the "Big 5" or "Five Factor Model" personality test to target them with ads designed to influence their votes in the 2016 election. The test scores people on five traits -- openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism -- and was used in the election to predict the way a voter would respond to an advertisement. But the Big 5 can predict a lot more -- including how likely you are to even use Facebook or any other social media (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source).

That's because the way you score on the test can tell you how likely you are to become addicted to your screen. Research shows that people who score high on neuroticism, low on conscientiousness, and low on agreeableness are more likely to become addicted to social media, video games, instant messaging, or other online stimuli. Studies have also found that extraverts are more likely to become addicted to cellphone use than introverts. Some of the correlations make sense. Less agreeable people may be more apt to immerse themselves in technology because it does not require the kind of friendly interactions that real life does. Neurotic people have been shown to spend more time online because it validates their desire to belong or be part of a group. Conscientious people are less impulsive and therefore more able to control and organize their time. But then it gets complicated. Because according to a new study out of the State University of New York at Binghamton, specific combinations of those personality traits can mitigate or exaggerate one's propensity to addiction.

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'Fuchsia Is Not Linux': Google Publishes Documentation Explaining Their New OS
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '18 at 03:00 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-what-it-looks-like department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from XDA Developers: You've probably seen mentions of the Fuchsia operating system here and there since it has been in development for almost 2 years. It's Google's not-so-secretive operating system which many speculate will eventually replace Android. We've seen it grow from a barely functional mock-up UI in an app form to a version that actually boots on existing hardware. We've seen how much importance Google places on the project as veteran Android project managers are starting to work on it. But after all of this time, we've never once had either an official announcement from Google about the project or any documentation about it -- all of the information thus far has come as a result of people digging into the source code.

Now, that appears to be changing as Google has published a documentation page called "The Book." The page aims to explain what Fuchsia, the "modular, capability-based operating system" is and is not. The most prominent text on that page is a large section explaining that Fuchsia is NOT Linux, in case that wasn't clear already. Above that are several readme pages explaining Fuchsia's file systems, boot sequence, core libraries, sandboxing, and more. The rest of the page has sections explaining what the Zircon micro-kernel is and how the framework, storage, networking, graphics, media, user interface, and more are implemented.

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Instagram Will Soon Let You Download a Copy of Your Data
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '18 at 03:00 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's data-portability department:
An Instagram spokesperson has confirmed to TechCrunch that the site will soon let users download a copy of what they've shared on Instagram, including their photos, videos and messages. The new data portability tool could make it much easier for users to leave Instagram and go to a competing image social network. It will also help the site comply with the upcoming European GDPR privacy law that requires data portability, assuming the feature launches before May 25th. From the report: Instagram has historically made it very difficult to export your data. You can't drag, or tap and hold on images to save them. And you can't download images you've already posted. That's despite Instagram now being almost 8 years old and having over 800 million users. For comparison, Facebook launched its Download Your Information tool in 2010, just six years after launch. We're awaiting more info on whether you'll only be able to download your photos, videos, and messages; or if you'll also be able to export your following and follower lists, Likes, comments, Stories, and the captions you share with posts. It's also unclear whether photos and videos will export in the full fidelity that they're uploaded or displayed in, or whether they'll be compressed. Instagram told me "we'll share more details very soon when we actually launch the tool. But at a high level it allows you to download and export what you have shared on Instagram" so we'll have to wait for more clarity.

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Japan Team Maps 'Semi-Infinite' Trove of Rare Earth Elements
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '18 at 01:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hide-and-seek department:
schwit1 shares a report from The Japan Times: Japanese researchers have mapped vast reserves of rare earth elements in deep-sea mud, enough to feed global demand on a "semi-infinite basis," according to a new study. The deposit, found within Japan's exclusive economic zone waters, contains more than 16 million tons of the elements needed to build high-tech products ranging from mobile phones to electric vehicles, according to the study, released Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports. The team, comprised of several universities, businesses and government institutions, surveyed the western Pacific Ocean near Minamitori Island. In a sample area of the mineral-rich region, the team's survey estimated 1.2 million tons of "rare earth oxide" is deposited there, said the study, conducted jointly by Waseda University's Yutaro Takaya and the University of Tokyo's Yasuhiro Kato, among others. The finding extrapolates that a 2,500-sq. km region off the southern Japanese island should contain 16 million tons of the valuable elements, and "has the potential to supply these metals on a semi-infinite basis to the world," the study said.

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Japan Team Maps 'Semi-Infinite' Trove of Rare Earth Elements
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '18 at 01:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hide-and-seek department:
schwit1 quotes a report from The Japan Times: Japanese researchers have mapped vast reserves of rare earth elements in deep-sea mud, enough to feed global demand on a "semi-infinite basis," according to a new study. The deposit, found within Japan's exclusive economic zone waters, contains more than 16 million tons of the elements needed to build high-tech products ranging from mobile phones to electric vehicles, according to the study, released Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports. The team, comprised of several universities, businesses and government institutions, surveyed the western Pacific Ocean near Minamitori Island. In a sample area of the mineral-rich region, the team's survey estimated 1.2 million tons of "rare earth oxide" is deposited there, said the study, conducted jointly by Waseda University's Yutaro Takaya and the University of Tokyo's Yasuhiro Kato, among others. The finding extrapolates that a 2,500-sq. km region off the southern Japanese island should contain 16 million tons of the valuable elements, and "has the potential to supply these metals on a semi-infinite basis to the world," the study said.

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Apple Is Developing a TV Show Based On Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '18 at 01:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's galaxy-far-far-away department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Deadline: In a competitive situation, Apple has nabbed a TV series adaptation of Foundation, the seminal Isaac Asimov science fiction novel trilogy. The project, from Skydance Television, has been put in development for straight-to-series consideration. Deadline revealed last June that Skydance had made a deal with the Asimov estate and that David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman were cracking the code on a sprawling series based on the books that informed Star Wars and many other sci-fi films and TV series. Goyer and Friedman will be executive producers and showrunners. Skydance's David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross also will executive produce.

Originally published as a short story series in Astounding Magazine in 1942, Asimov's Foundation is the complex saga of humans scattered on planets throughout the galaxy, all living under the rule of the Galactic Empire. The protagonist is a psycho-historian who has an ability to read the future and foresees the empire's imminent collapse. He sets out to save the knowledge of mankind from being wiped out. Even the Game of Thrones' creative team would marvel at the number of empires that rise and fall in Foundation. Asimov's trilogy has been tried numerous times as a feature film at Fox, Warner Bros (with Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, who greenlit The Lord of the Rings), and then at Sony with Independence Day director Roland Emmerich. Many top sci-fi writers have done scripts and found it daunting to constrict the sprawling saga to a feature film format. Most recently, HBO tried developing a series with Interstellar co-writer and Westworld exec producer Jonathan Nolan, but a script was never ordered.

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