March 5, 2018

Artificial intelligence is poised to enter yet another aspect of your life: fast food. After years of preparation, a burger-flipping robot named Flippy made its debut on Monday at the Pasadena, California, location of the restaurant chain CaliBurger. Created by a tech startup called Miso Robotics, Flippy is the "first robotic kitchen assistant with artificial assistance."

CaliBurger is planning to install Flippy in 50 more of its locations. Each one costs about $60,000, Miso Robotics told local news station KTLA. The company has received $10 million in funding to bring Flippy to other restaurants as well, Tech Crunch reported.

If you're worried about robots taking more jobs, though, don't worry: Flippy still needs human coworkers to function, at least for now. Only once a human puts raw patties on the grill can it begin working. Equipped with thermal vision in addition to a regular camera, Flippy can detect exactly what stage of cooking the meat is at, allowing it to grill about 150 burgers in an hour, NPR reported. Once the meat is cooked, a human can add the toppings.

"This technology is not about replacing jobs," said David Zito, the CEO of Miso Robotics. Instead, CaliBurger and Miso aim to make Flippy part of an "integrated, part-robot, part human kitchen," NPR reported. Read more about Flippy at NPR. Shivani Ishwar

12:40 p.m.

The early returns on COVID-19 vaccinations have largely been positive in the United States and elsewhere. There have certainly been so-called "breakthrough" cases, in which fully vaccinated people have been infected, but The New York Times' David Leonhardt notes that statistics so far indicate the chances of that happening are about one in 11,000, and the rate dwindles even further when it comes to the chances of developing anything worse than a mild infection.

Still, many people who have completed the process are nervous. This is understandable, Leonhardt writes, given the novelty of the virus and the toll its taken. Still, the risk of dying from COVID-19 post-vaccination is probably more akin to "high profile," but "extremely rare dangers" like plane crashes, lightning strikes, or shark attacks. Getting in a car, on the other hand, is a "bigger threat," Leonhardt writes.

FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver and data scientist David Shor also made this point, with the latter writing that the "per hour risk of killing somebody driving sober is at least 33 times higher than the per hour risk of killing somebody from [COVID-19] hanging out maskless post-vaccination."

That's where sociologist Zeynep Tufekci jumped in. Tufekci generally agrees with Leonarhardt, Silver, and Shor in that COVID-19 vaccination leads to a "dramatic risk reduction." She does, however, think the risks of driving and doing certain activities while vaccinated are not completely comparable. That's because car accidents are generally more individualized, while spreading COVID-19 can lead to a transmission chain, which is why Tufekci thinks government agencies need to be explicit about how effectively the vaccines curb transmission to determine what the true risk factor is. Tim O'Donnell

11:33 a.m.

At this point, Natalie Shure writes in The New Republic, the "ongoing ubiquity" of outdoor masking has turned into "meaningless political theater," even as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The Atlantic's Derek Thompson seems to concur, writing that "mandating outdoor masks and closing public areas makes a show of 'taking the virus seriously,' while doing nothing to reduce indoor spread,'" adding that such rules may actually backfire in that they force people to gather inside, which is much riskier. Slate's Shannon Palus joined Shure and Thompson in arguing that outdoor masking makes little sense anymore, given how much more information there is about COVID-19 transmission these days.

Shure, Thompson, and Palus were quick to clarify that they're still very much in favor of wearing masks indoors, but they all pointed to several studies that found the risk of passing on the virus outdoors to be very small. The rare cases that do occur tend to "involve considerable close contact," as opposed to, say, "passing someone maskless on the street or in the park," Shure writes.

The counterargument is that wearing masks outdoors reinforces the idea that people should wear them indoors, but Thompson notes that Julia Marcus, a Harvard Medical School epidemiologist, found through some anecdotal interviews with mask skeptics that people became more open to adhering to indoor mandates when they learned outdoor masking wasn't as important. "The purpose of mask wearing isn't to send a message," Shure writes. "If it were we could just iron whatever slogan we wanted to onto a T-shirt. The point of mask-wearing is to reduce infection, and there's simply no reason to believe that wearing a mask while walking to the grocery store accomplishes this." Read more at The Atlantic, The New Republic, and Slate. Tim O'Donnell

10:53 a.m.

Meet the latest addition to Earth's mightiest heroes.

Marvel Studios on Monday debuted the teaser trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, its very first superhero movie centered around an Asian lead.

Simu Liu stars as the titular Marvel superhero. In the film, Shang-Chi is living in America after training to become an assassin under his father but walking away from it all, "only to find himself sucked back into his father's sinister domain," Entertainment Weekly writes.

Director Destin Daniel Cretton explained to Entertainment Weekly that the film tells a story about Asian identity and that its crew was a "big mix of Asian cultures coming together," while star Awkwafina added that she saw a "level of Asian representation that I haven't seen" while working on it. Liu also told Entertainment Weekly that although Shang-Chi draws from Marvel's comics, it avoids some aspects of the character's portrayal dating back to the 1970s that "could feel a little stereotypical."

For Liu, it's surely a bit surreal debuting as the character after tweeting at Marvel calling for an Asian superhero all the way back in 2014 — only to himself become the very hero he was looking for. Besides, today just so happens to be Liu's birthday. As far as birthday presents go, this was surely a pretty good one, and Liu could hardly contain his excitement as he tweeted, "THIS IS THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set to hit theaters in September. Brendan Morrow

9:49 a.m.

Things are complicated in the world of European soccer at the moment.

The continent's most powerful clubs — Manchester United, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, and several others from England, Italy, and Spain — are attempting to form their own "Super League," much to the chagrin of their domestic leagues and UEFA, the sport's European governing body.

Basically, it comes down to money; the venture would be lucrative for the clubs, and not so lucrative for the UEFA, leaving the two sides in an apparent standoff. The whole thing may wind up being a bluff by the clubs to get more money from UEFA's Champions League, an annual continent-wide competition featuring the best teams from several domestic leagues, but right now it's unclear just how serious either side is.

If no one blinks, the world's most famous competition, the FIFA World Cup, may wind up in the middle of the dispute. On Monday, UEFA's president Aleksander Čeferin confirmed that any players who participate in the Super League "will be banned" from playing in the World Cup or the European Football Championship. "They will not be allowed to play for their national teams," he said, adding that sanctions against the clubs and players would come "as soon as possible," per Italian soccer journalist Fabrizio Romano. FIFA has also previously said the players would be ineligible for international competitions, suggesting players from non-European countries would be affected.

The World Cup would go on as planned, but if the threat is ultimately realized, many of the world's greatest players would be absent, which, it's safe to say, is not a desirable outcome and could potentially greatly diminish the event. That scenario would have consequences for the U.S. men's national team, as well, considering several of its young stars, most notably 22-year-old Cristian Pulisic (who plays for Chelsea, a would-be Super League participant), would be subject to the ban. Read a full explainer of the situation at CBS Sports. Tim O'Donnell

9:24 a.m.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been taken to a prison hospital after his team warned his health is deteriorating and he could die "in a matter of days."

Navalny, the prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was moved to a hospital in a high security prison by Russian authorities on Monday, The New York Times reports.

"With the patient's consent, he was prescribed vitamin therapy," Russia's federal penitentiary service said, per The Washington Post.

Navalny for three weeks has been on a hunger strike, which he began to protest authorities not allowing him to see his personal doctors, according to The Associated Press. He was hospitalized last year after being poisoned with a nerve agent, which he has blamed on Putin.

Physician Yaroslav Ashikhmin has warned that test results show Navalny may be at risk of cardiac arrest due to increased levels of potassium, per NPR. On Friday, Ashikhmin wrote on Facebook, "Our patient could die at any moment." The U.S. has said that Russia will face "consequences if Mr Navalny dies."

After news of his transfer to a prison hospital was announced, top Navalny strategist Leonid Volkov dismissed this step, per The Associated Press, saying, "Until the lawyers locate him, we won't know where he is and what is up with him." Brendan Morrow

8:02 a.m.

The United States has reached a key milestone in its COVID-19 vaccination efforts, as every adult in the country is now eligible to receive a vaccine.

As of Monday, all adults in each U.S. state, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, were eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to The New York Times. The final states to open up eligibility to their entire adult population on Monday were Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont, per Axios.

"It's truly historic that we have already reached this milestone," the University of Washington Medical Center's Dr. Nandita Mani told the Times.

President Biden announced in March he was directing states to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccination by May 1. But as states increasingly moved to open up vaccinations to all adults sooner than that, Biden later moved the deadline up to April 19, and the goal of meeting this earlier date was successfully met on Monday.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of American adults have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, and about 32.5 percent of adults are fully vaccinated. At this rate, according to the Times, the U.S. is on pace to have 70 percent of its population vaccinated by the middle of June. Brendan Morrow

7:21 a.m.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory successfully flew its remote-controlled helicopter on Mars early Monday. "We can now say that human beings have flown a rotor craft on another planet," MiMi Aung, project manager for the Ingenuity helicopter, told her cheering crew after the data confirmed the test flight's success Monday morning. "We have been talking so long about our Wright Brothers moment on Mars, and here it is!"

Ingenuity, a solar-powered helicopter that landed on Mars on the belly of NASA's Perseverance rover, flew 10 feet into the air, hovered for about 20 seconds, then landed, JPL confirmed. Ingenuity's down-facing camera transmitted a black-and-white photo of its shadow on the Martian surface and Perseverance beamed back color video of the test flight. The proof-of-concept experiment proved that humans can fly aircraft remotely on planets with a tiny fraction of the Earth's atmosphere. A normal helicopter's blades rotate at about 400 revolutions per minute, NASA said, while Ingenuity's spin at about 2,500 rpm to overcome the thin atmosphere. Peter Weber

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