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It’s time to disrupt nuclear weapons – TechCrunch



“Atomic bombs are primarily a means for the ruthless annihilation of cities.”

Those are the words of Leo Szilard, one of the scientists who pushed for the development of nuclear weapons. He wrote them as part of a petition signed by dozens of other scientists who had worked on the Manhattan Project pleading with President Harry Truman not to use the nuclear bomb on Japan.

Mere months after its introduction in 1945, the architects of today’s nuclear world feared the implications of the technology they had created.

Nearly 75 years later it’s time again to ask technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs and academics: will you be party to the ‘ruthless annihilation of cities’? Will you expend your talents in the service of nuclear weapons? Will you use technology to create or to destroy?

Our moment of choice

Humanity is at another turning point.

A new nuclear arms race has begun in earnest with the US and Russia leading the way; tearing up the promise of lasting peace in favor of a new Cold War. Russia’s latest weapon is built to destroy entire coast lines with a radioactive tsunami. The US is building new nuclear weapons that are ‘more likely to be used’.

Meanwhile, North Korea appears to again be building its nascent nuclear weapons program. And India and Pakistan stand on the verge of open nuclear conflict, which climate modeling shows could lead to a global famine killing upwards of 2 billion people.

An Indian student wearing a mask poses with her hands painted with a slogans for peace during a rally to mark Hiroshima Day, in Mumbai on August 6, 2018. (PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

How do we stop this march toward oblivion?

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has created an opening — a chance to radically change course with the power of international law and shifting norms. The nuclear ban treaty will become international law once 50 nations have ratified it. We are already at 22.

The financial world is also recognizing the risk, with some of the world’s biggest pension funds divesting from nuclear weapons. But there is something even more powerful than the almighty dollar; human capital.

“It took innovation, technological disruption, and ingenuity to create the nuclear dawn. We will need those same forces in greater measure to bring about a nuclear dusk.”

The nuclear weapons industrial complex relies on the most talented scientists, engineers, physicists and technologists to build this deadly arsenal. As more of that talent moves into the tech sector, defense contractors and the Pentagon is seeking to work with major technology companies and disruptive startups, as well as continue their work with universities.

Without those talented technologists, there would be no new nuclear arms race. It’s time to divest human capital from nuclear weapons.

A mistake to end humanity?

Just over one year ago Hawaiians took cover and frantically Googled, “What to do during a nuclear attack”. Days later many Japanese mobile phone users also received a false alert for an inbound nuclear missile.

The combination of human error and technological flaws these incidents exposed makes accidental nuclear attacks an inevitability if we don’t move to end nuclear weapons before they end us.

The development of new machine learning technologies, autonomous weapons systems, cyber threats and social media manipulation are already destabilizing the global political order and potentially increasing the risk of a nuclear cataclysm. That is why it’s vital that the technology community collectively commits to using their skills and knowledge to protect us from nuclear eradication by joining the effort for global nuclear abolition.

A mock “killer robot” is pictured in central London on April 23, 2013 during the launching of the Campaign to Stop “Killer Robots,” which calls for the ban of lethal robot weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without any human intervention. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots calls for a pre-emptive and comprehensive ban on the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons. (Photo: CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

We need to stop this foolish nuclear escalation in its tracks. Our commitment must be to a nuclear weapons-free world, by disrupting the trajectory we are currently heading on. Business as usual will likely end in nuclear war.

It took innovation, technological disruption, and ingenuity to create the nuclear dawn. We will need those same forces in greater measure to bring about a nuclear dusk — the complete disarmament of nuclear-armed states and safeguards against future proliferation.

The belief that we can keep doing what we have done for seven decades for another seven decades is naive. It relies on a fanciful, misplaced faith in the illogical idea of deterrence. We are told simultaneously that nuclear weapons keep the world safe, by never being used. They bestow power, but only make certain states powerful.

This fallacy has been exposed by this moment in time. Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons have proliferated. Key treaties have been torn up or are under threat. And even more states are threatening to develop nuclear weapons.

So I am putting out a call to you: join us with this necessary disruption; declare that you will not have a hand in our demise; declare that you will use technology for good.

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Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids don’t need a prescription



As always, it seems that technological innovations are coming full circle. The quality and conveniences of wireless audio made their way from earphones to hearing aids a few years back and now advancements in ear care are coming to consumer audio accessories. Bose, a name renowned for its audio technology, is taking advantage of that cycle and is launching the SoundControl Hearing Aid, its first stab at such a product but one that doesn’t need a doctor’s appointment to acquire.

There have been a handful of new devices that have come up in the past two or so years that aim to revolutionize the hearing aid market. Many of these seem to have taken cues from modern wireless earbuds in terms of the conveniences offered by smartphones, Bluetooth audio, and the like. One thing that these hearing aids have over your consumer wireless earbuds is the accuracy and personalization of settings to each person’s unique hearing profiles, something that Bose is now trying to address.

These hearing aids are, of course, considered medical devices more than consumer products and their precision and advanced features come at more than the cost of the device itself. They often need a doctor’s prescription or at least a checkup, something that is more than just inconvenient these days. Some hearing aid companies have started to adopt remote or virtual doctor’s appointments but Bose does away with even that.

That’s what makes the Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids special because they have been FDA-approved to be sold directly to consumers, no need for professional advice. That said, Bose’s Hear app, designed especially for this device, does offer the opportunity to have a one-on-one appointment with product experts for free. Given the price tag of this thing, it’s not exactly too generous an offer.

The Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids are lightweight and practically invisible, with the main electronics hiding behind your ears, out of sight. In just 30 minutes, you can set up your personal settings in the Bose Hear app without fiddling with confusing controls or even asking a doctor. Users will also be able to choose between Focusing on certain voices or letting sound in from Everywhere. A pair does cost a hefty $850, though, but it might still be a fraction of the total expenses for a formal hearing aid, not to mention a doctor’s fee.

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OnePlus 7 and 7T Android 11 update is reportedly very buggy



OnePlus has been making great strides and making big promises regarding its Android updates but it might need a bit more work when it comes to the quality of those updates. Though fortunately not the norm, OnePlus has been known to have pushed updates with rather notable issues, some of them worse than others. That is the unfortunate experience that OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7T owners are reportedly having after the Android 11 and OxygenOS 11 upgrade brought not only new features but also bugs that remain unfixed more than a month later.

OnePlus has had rather problematic upgrades but it seems that the OxygenOS 11 update, which also brings Android 11, is taking the cake. There have been reports about problems with the latest update across many of OnePlus’ phones, including the OnePlus Nord, but owners of the company’s 2019 models are the ones that seem to have gotten the short end of the stick.

A growing number of complaints on Reddit as well as OnePlus’s own forums reveal the rather unfavorable situation regarding the update. Those complaints are all over the place, from greater battery drain to dropped frames that could affect mobile gaming. There are also worrying reports of overheating, at least more than usual, which could raise red flags when it comes to safety.

Given the wide range of issues, there is no single known source of the problem other than the Android 11 update. Of course, other phones on Android 11 don’t report such problems and OnePlus users are quick to blame OxygenOS 11 as the real culprit. It doesn’t help that this version of OnePlus’s custom Android experience isn’t exactly that popular because of the heavy changes that the company made.

OnePlus already pushed a minor update to these phones but it doesn’t seem to have addressed the problems to users’ satisfaction. Unfortunately, the only way to get around the problem is to downgrade back to Android 10, which is also impractical for many OnePlus 7 and 7T owners.

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Windows Holographic 21H1 update brings major new features to HoloLens



Windows 10’s first major feature update of the year is already being prepared for rollout but it seems that the HoloLens 2 is getting dibs on its own major update before PCs. In fact, this update might be even more feature-packed than Windows 10’s May 2021 update itself. Windows Holographic version 21H1 is now available for download and it finally brings Microsoft’s better version of its Edge web browser, the one based on Google Chromium, of course.

Microsoft has been pushing its Chromium-based Edge rather aggressively wherever it can, replacing the old edgeHTML version as if it never existed. It isn’t just on PCs, of course, and even its mixed reality platform is getting the new Microsoft Edge web browser. And it isn’t just about having a shiny, modern web browser either.

The new Edge also enables WebXR experiences that the older web engine couldn’t support. Perhaps more importantly, it also allows PWAs or Progressive Web Apps to be installed alongside proper Windows apps from the Microsoft Store. Microsoft has also been pushing these web apps hard in an attempt to fill in the gaps left by its UWP platform.

Windows Holographic version 21H1 also pushes some changes to the operating system’s settings UI. One very notable change is the power menu that now behaves and looks more similar to the ones you see in Windows 10 on desktops. That includes the orange dots that indicate an update will occur when you restart or shut down the device.

The upgrade also makes handling multiple users less painful, now showing a list of users on the login screen to save you from typing user names over and over again. For devices in Kiosk mode, visitors can also be automatically logged in, though that default behavior can also be turned off by the device administrator. Windows Holographic 21H1 is available for the HoloLens 2 and also marks the end of support for the old version 1903 from two years ago.

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