What’s new in tech
Boring under Los Angeles
Elon Musk’s rapid-transit test tunnel is on schedule to open next month, said Sean Keane in CNET.com. The tech billionaire walked the length of his Boring Company’s subterranean test loop, which winds beneath Los Angeles, last week. His thoughts on the 2-mile tunnel: It’s “disturbingly long.” The entrepreneur posted a video on Twitter of the underground track, which lies beneath the headquarters of his space travel company, SpaceX. On an electric-powered platform, travelers will whisk through the tunnel at upwards of 155 mph. Electric “skates” will carry vehicles along the rails. The test tunnel, part of a larger plan for underground paths to alleviate traffic congestion, is slated to open on Dec. 10, with free public rides the next night. The company also has a Chicago contract to build a subterranean track to O’Hare International Airport.
Shutting off extremists’ cash flow
PayPal is turning off the financial oxygen of groups at the far ends of the political spectrum, said Colin Lecher in TheVerge.com. The online payment company said it is canceling the accounts of the far-right Proud Boys, as well as those of several left-wing antifa groups. The move will make it harder for the groups to raise cash online. “The decision is the latest act of ‘deplatforming’ by the tech industry,” which has been struggling with how to effectively handle users with potentially “violent ideologies.” At least one anti-fascist group targeted by PayPal decried the decision, saying it shouldn’t be lumped together with the far-right extremists. Atlanta Antifa said it simply monitors and opposes the violent far right, acting as “community self-defense.”
The revolution won’t need batteries
“A world covered in sensors is near at hand,” said Christopher Mims in The Wall Street Journal. The key to the next tech revolution will be small, battery-less computers that “pull power from the air” via a wireless base station. As small as a stack of three quarters, and always on, the “untethered” sensors could replace many current machines. Today’s microchips still need too much power for this next wave of smart machines. But since the first computer was made, the energy efficiency of electronics “has improved by more than a factor of a trillion.” New microchips that use a minuscule amount of energy will power wearables, sensors, and smart cards. The downside? Surveillance and tracking devices whose emergence “should give us all pause.”