Five developments in space, time and fusion

Projects from gravitational wave detection to viewing the Milky Way and generating thermonuclear power march ahead

Cern has announced plans for a Future Circular Collider. The £17.8bn machine would smash particles together inside a 62-mile tunnel – four times the size of the Large Hadron Collider. If funding can be secured, scientists hope the machine would be operational by the 2050s.

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‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism

Shoshana Zuboff’s new book is a chilling exposé of the business model that underpins the digital world. Observer tech columnist John Naughton explains the importance of Zuboff’s work and asks the author 10 key questions

We’re living through the most profound transformation in our information environment since Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of printing in circa 1439. And the problem with living through a revolution is that it’s impossible to take the long view of what’s happening. Hindsight is the only exact science in this business, and in that long run we’re all dead. Printing shaped and transformed societies over the next four centuries, but nobody in Mainz (Gutenberg’s home town) in, say, 1495 could have known that his technology would (among other things): fuel the Reformation and undermine the authority of the mighty Catholic church; enable the rise of what we now recognise as modern science; create unheard-of professions and industries; change the shape of our brains; and even recalibrate our conceptions of childhood. And yet printing did all this and more.

Why choose 1495? Because we’re about the same distance into our revolution, the one kicked off by digital technology and networking. And although it’s now gradually dawning on us that this really is a big deal and that epochal social and economic changes are under way, we’re as clueless about where it’s heading and what’s driving it as the citizens of Mainz were in 1495.

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From WhatsApp to Alexa : why the ad-free era is over

As we grow wiser to marketing, advertisers are finding new ways and places to plug products

We’ve weaned ourselves off banner advertisements, with a fifth of us using ad blockers in our internet browsers, according to research firm eMarketer. So-called “native advertising” online, where advertising is presented in a similar way to editorial, has failed to take off. A US study last year from Stanford University found native advertising is no better at getting us to buy than standard online ads.

“Consumers are very good at filtering out messages,” explains Lisa Du-Lieu, a senior lecturer in marketing at Huddersfield University. “If you don’t get their attention within the first couple of seconds, it just bounces off them.”

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Oracle systematically underpaid thousands of women, lawsuit says

Class action alleges female workers were paid average of $13,000 less per year than men doing similar jobs

Thousands of women were systematically underpaid at Oracle, one of Silicon Valley’s largest corporations, according to a new class-action complaint that details claims of pervasive wage discrimination.

A lawsuit filed in California on Friday seeks to represent more than 4,200 women and alleges that female employees were paid on average $13,000 less per year than men doing similar work. An analysis of payroll data found disparities with an “extraordinarily high degree of statistical significance”, the complaint said. Women made 3.8% less in base salaries on average than men in the same job categories, 13.2% less in bonuses, and 33.1% less in stock value, it alleges.

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Tesla to cut more than 3,000 jobs because cars ‘still too expensive’

Elon Musk says he has no choice but to reduce electric car manufacturer’s headcount

Tesla is cutting more than 3,000 jobs, or 7% of its workforce, after experiencing a year its founder, Elon Musk, said was both its most challenging and most successful.

The chief executive of the electric car manufacturer told staff on Friday that “the road ahead is very difficult” because its products were not yet affordable for most people and it was up against a big incumbent industry.

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Can a computer be creative? Chips with Everything podcast

In our latest collaboration, Jordan Erica Webber teams up with Ian Sample of the Guardian’s Science Weekly podcast to look at why artwork produced using AI is forcing us to confront how we define creativity

In October 2018, the British auction house Christie’s became the first to sell a work of art created by an algorithm.

The Portrait of Edmond Belamy was sold for $432,500 (£336,000), which was much higher than anyone had expected. This groundbreaking sale was controversial, not least in the AI art world itself.

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