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Updated: 14 min 14 sec ago

Age-Discrimination Suit Against Google Seeks Class Action For Engineers

Sat, 02/07/2016 - 2:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes the Daily Mail: A potential class action lawsuit that claims Google discriminated against people over 40 is one step closer to becoming a reality. A motion for conditional certification of collective action status was filed in a San Jose federal court Wednesday, which could open up a suit to anyone over 40 who feels they had been discriminated against by the tech company and not hired because of his or her age. The suit would include "all individuals who interviewed in-person for any software engineer, site reliability engineer, or systems engineer position with Google in the United States in the time period from August 13, 2010 through the present; were age 40 or older at the time of interview; and were refused employment by Google...." We've discussed ageism before on Slashdot. Now dcblogs shares an article from Computerworld, which says the lawsuit alleges a "systematic pattern" of discrimination, citing the median age of Google's workforce as 29 (according to PayScale), while the median age for U.S. computer programmers is 43. "I think this is long overdue and potentially huge..." says Dan Lyons, who has complained about ageism during his time at HubSpot. "When it comes to age bias, the tech industry doesn't even bother to lie.... Everyone in Silicon Valley knows this and everyone just accepts it."

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Why Did The Stars Wars and Star Trek Worlds Turn Out So Differently?

Sat, 02/07/2016 - 1:30pm writes: In the Star Trek world there is virtual reality, personal replicators, powerful weapons, and, it seems, a very high standard of living for most of humanity, while in Star Wars there is widespread slavery, lots of people seem to live at subsistence, and eventually much of the galaxy falls under the Jedi Reign of Terror. Why the difference? Tyler Cowen writes about some of the factors differentiating the world of Star Wars from that of Star Trek: 1) The armed forces in Star Trek seem broadly representative of society. Compare Uhura, Chekhov, and Sulu to the Imperial Storm troopers. 2) Captains Kirk and Picard do not descend into true power madness, unlike various Sith leaders and corrupted Jedi Knights. 3) In Star Trek, any starship can lay waste to a planet, whereas in Star Wars there is a single, centralized Death Star and no way to oppose it, implying stronger checks and balances in the world of Star Trek. 4) Star Trek embraces egalitarianism, namely that all humans consider themselves part of the same broader species. There is no special group comparable to the Jedi or the Sith, with special powers in their blood. 5) Star Trek replicators are sufficiently powerful it seems slavery is highly inefficient in that world.

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Canadian Man Invented a Wheel That Can Make Cars Move Sideways

Sat, 02/07/2016 - 11:30am
An anonymous reader writes: Canadian man William Liddiard invented a wheel that allows vehicles to move sideways. "True all-way drive for anything with wheels," Liddiard says in an online writeup for his successful prototype of "omni-directional" wheels. They consist of a specialized roller-equipped rim that can move horizontally and a tire that is rounded like a donut. "This is a world first bolt-on application for anything with wheels," wrote Liddiard. "Now you can drive in all directions, and turn on the spot, when needed." His demo video titled "you've never seen a car do this...," has received more than 1.1 million views since it was uploaded on May 10th. The wheels are a "proof of concept" prototype right now, but Liddiard says the design would allow them to be made as durable and safe as standard automotive wheels. Omni-directional wheels are nothing new, though they are typically only used in wheelchairs, robotics and other small-scale applications. Honda Motor Co. debuted an omni-directional wheel at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, but it wasn't for a full-sized car -- it was for a Segway-style mobility device. "My wheel can hold ten times more than the other [wheels], while maintaining speed," Liddiard told Postmedia in an interview earlier this year. He's currently trying to sell his invention to a major tire or automotive company.

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Amazon's Alexa Virtual Assistant Can Now Order Millions of Prime Products For You

Sat, 02/07/2016 - 7:30am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: Amazon added a new skill for its voice assistant Alexa on Friday, and it could help the e-commerce giant add even more revenue to its already billions in yearly sales from selling everything from toilet paper to toothpaste. With today's update, now you can tell Alexa you want to buy any one of its tens of millions of items that are sold on Amazon. The one caveat is that the item must be a Prime product, meaning it is fulfilled by Amazon and can be shipped to shopper's doorsteps within two days or less. So if your daughter or son wants a Elsa doll from Disney's Frozen movie, you simply ask, "Alexa, please order the Elsa doll from Frozen," and Alexa will suggest a toy that fits that description. You then say "yes" to continue the transaction, and Alexa will take care of charging your credit card, and shipping the product to your home. Quartz posted a story in early June in which it documents several concerns from parents that Amazon Echo is conditioning the kids of this generation to be rude.

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DVD Player Found In Tesla Autopilot Crash, Says Florida Officials

Sat, 02/07/2016 - 3:30am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A digital video disc player was found in the Tesla car that was on autopilot when its driver was killed in a collision with a truck in May, Florida Highway Patrol officials said on Friday. "There was a portable DVD player in the vehicle," said Sergeant Kim Montes of the FHP in a telephone interview. She said there was no camera found, mounted on the dash or of any kind, in the wreckage. A lawyer for a truck driver involved in the accident with the Tesla told Reuters his investigators had spoken to a witness who said the DVD player was playing a "Harry Potter" video after the accident, but the lawyer was unable to verify that beyond the witness account. Lawyers for the family of the victim, 40-year-old Joshua Brown, released a statement Friday saying the family is cooperating with the investigations "and hopes that information learned from this tragedy will trigger further innovation which enhances the safety of everyone on the roadways." Lawyers for the family of the victim, 40-year-old Joshua Brown, released a statement Friday saying the family is cooperating with the investigations "and hopes that information learned from this tragedy will trigger further innovation which enhances the safety of everyone on the roadways." Tesla said in a statement Friday, "Autopilot is by far the most advanced driver assistance system on the road, but it does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle and does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility."

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