Electroimpact pays $485K in civil rights case

Mukilteo-based Electroimpact, one of Boeing’s best-known suppliers for aerospace tools and automation, will pay $485,000 after an investigation into allegations of anti-Muslim hiring practices and other discriminatory behavior, the Washington state attorney general’s office announced today. “The conduct outlined in our complaint is outrageous,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.

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Treasury chief downplays AI impact on jobs

Donald Trump and Steven Mnuchin

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during his White House swearing-in ceremony in February. (White House via YouTube)

Experts say the potential impact of automation and artificial intelligence could be one of the biggest economic issues of the 21st century, but Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says it’s not on his radar screen.

Mnuchin made his comments during a “News Shapers” sitdown with Axios’ Mike Allen. His observations are pointed enough, and brief enough, that they’re worth an extended quote:

Mnuchin: “In terms of artificial intelligence taking over American jobs, I think we’re like so far away from that, not even on my radar screen.”

Allen: “How far away?”

Mnuchin: “Far enough that it’s …”

Allen: “Seven more years?”

Mnuchin: “Seven more years? I think it’s 50 or 100 more years.”

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Spacewalkers get station ready for space taxis

Spacewalker and robotic arm

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet makes contact with the International Space Station’s robotic arm during a spacewalk. (NASA TV)

Spacewalkers made progress today on preparations at the International Space Station for the arrival of the first commercial space taxis.

During today’s operation, which lasted just over six and a half hours, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet disconnected cables and electrical connections on a big piece of equipment known as the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3, or PMA-3.

NASA said the astronauts also lubricated parts on the Dextre manipulator that’s at the end of the station’s Canadian-built robotic arm, inspected a radiator valve and replaced some external cameras.

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Another look at Jeff Bezos’ gee-whiz frontier

New Shepard and drone

An Amazon delivery drone hovers with Blue Origin’s New Shepard spaceship in the background. (Amazon via Ben Fox Rubin / YouTube)

We already knew that Amazon provided a rare public demonstration of its delivery drone dropping off some sunscreen at this week’s MARS 2017 conference in Palm Springs, Calif. We also knew that Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital rocket ship, which went to space and back five times, was on display at the invitation-only event, organized by Amazon to show off frontier technologies in Machine learning, home Automation, Robotics and Space exploration. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see a fresh video showing the drone at work with the spaceship in the background.

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Elon Musk teases Tesla Model 3 electric car

Tesla Model 3

A release candidate version of the Tesla Model 3 hits the streets. (Elon Musk via Twitter)

Tesla’s billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, is showing off a video of the company’s more affordable Model 3 electric car – but he’s also touting Tesla’s pricier models.

A clip that shows a black release candidate version of the Model 3 zipping down the street popped up this morning on Musk’s Twitter and Instagram feeds, and quickly picked up tens of thousands of views, plus thousands of shares.

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‘Life’ movie sparks reality check about Mars

Planetary protection officer in "Life."

Rebecca Ferguson plays Miranda North, a planetary protection officer aboard the International Space Station, in the movie “Life.” (Sony Pictures Digital Productions)

Let sleeping Martians lie, particularly if they have a strong grip: That’s one of the lessons you could take away from “Life,” the first monster movie set on the International Space Station.

The movie – which opens today and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds – blends the gory horror of “Alien” with the harrowing suspense of “Gravity.” It’s a tour de force of simulated zero-G acrobatics (done mostly with ropes and wires). And it’s an orbital illustration of Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong with having an alien on board does go wrong.

Purists may have questions about just how wrong it goes. Could a minuscule life form brought back from Mars really get that big that quickly? Is it really possible to combine neural, muscular and sensory functions in one cell? And just how easy is it for things to come loose (or get loose) on the space station?

The deepest question may well be, does this nightmare have any chance of happening in real life?

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$12 million gift boosts UW chemistry

Larry Dalton

Larry Dalton is a UW professor emeritus. (AcademicTree.org)

The University of Washington’s Department of Chemistry will be the beneficiary of a $12 million gift from an unusual source: one of its own professors. Most of the money committed by professor emeritus Larry Dalton and his wife, Nicole Boand, will go to establish the Dalton Postdoctoral Fellowship in Chemistry, the UW announced today.

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