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Future Technology Will Solve Climate Change? Don’t Believe It

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On climate change, leaders have a tendency to make lofty long-term promises but take only baby steps to reach them. At the United Nations climate summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave an interesting explanation for why: They believe technology eventually will pick up the slack. This represents an ideological divide with environmental advocates, who don’t put much stock in the inevitability of technological progress and would rather support fail-safe curbs on consumption now.

Merkel was responding to an address by the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who said world leaders weren’t doing enough to reach the goal set out in the Paris climate agreement: to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century.  “She gave a rousing speech,” Merkel told a press conference on Tuesday. “But also one which, in my view, underplayed the role of technology and innovation, particularly in the field of energy, but also in the field of energy savings, in opening up opportunities for us to achieve our goals.”

Merkel is not alone in believing future technology can stave off climate change. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a bizarre, technology-focused speech – mentioning “pink-eyed terminators” and “terrifying limbless chickens” – in which he argued that “new advances are making renewable energy ever cheaper, aiding our common struggle against climate change.”

Such potential technological solutions are mostly of the pie-in-the-sky variety. They include using satellites equipped with reflectors to deflect sunlight, and sucking out carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it deep underground. Some of the required technologies are untested, others prohibitively expensive. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has expressed a  preference for “bioenergy with carbon capture  and storage.” This process depends on growing “energy crops” – plants meant solely for energy production and that absorb CO2 as they grow – and capturing the CO2 released when power is generated from them. But the problem with the concept, still not applied anywhere on an industrial scale, is that the crops grown for biofuel would compete for land with food crops.

It’s impossible to order scientists to develop commercially viable technology to fit the time frame dictated by political decisions. No Moore’s Law, which describes the exponential increase in computer chips’ productivity and decrease in their cost, has been formulated for energy storage or carbon capture.

No wonder, then, that technology hasn’t been able magically to bridge the gap between political goals and reality. Germany set its 2020 climate goal, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared with the 1990 level, in 2014. That means it had a good understanding of the available technology. Still, the goal almost certainly won’t be reached: Germany is only on track for a 32% reduction.

So the climate activists can be forgiven for not believing in a technological magic bullet. What they propose instead are immediate consumption cuts: traveling less; not eating meat; repairing things such as clothes rather than throwing them away; turning down radiators; and switching off air conditioners. They broadly subscribe to the idea of sacrificing economic growth to sustainability.

Politically, at least for now, that’s a tough sell. It’s useless to tell the majority of voters they need sharply to lower their living standards so that global temperatures don’t rise another 0.5 degrees. That’s the freedom the climate activists enjoy and political leaders don’t. The disagreement between Merkel and Thunberg is one between a starry-eyed believer in progress and a hard-nosed pragmatist. But which of the two women plays which role is in the eye of the beholder.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-09-26/future-technology-will-solve-climate-change-don-t-believe-it

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The Future

The sequel to Sony’s PlayStation Phone apparently leaks, eight years too late

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Cast your mind back, if you can, to the tender world of gadgets circa 2011. Apple had just launched Siri on the iPhone, Google was making its biggest push into social networking with Google Plus, and Sony had decided it was time to release a true gaming smartphone: the much-anticipated “PlayStation Phone,” officially dubbed the Xperia Play.

It was not, by any means, a great success. A 2011 Engadget review praised the phone’s sliding mechanism and gamepad but bemoaned its dim screen and lack of playable titles. The device had its fans, though, many of whom were excited in 2012 by whispers of an Xperia Play 2. This promised sequel never emerged, but eight years after the PlayStation Phone 2 was first rumored, images purportedly showing the device have appeared online.

Pictures of the phone were shared on the Xperia subreddit by a user who found a listing for the device on Idle Fish, a Chinese secondhand goods store operated by Alibaba. The seller says the phone is only a prototype and there’s no way to verify its authenticity. The seller’s shop, though, suggests they have some sources in the world of obsolete tech, with other listings including a PS3 devkit and classic keyboards like the venerated IBM Model F.

The device has left and right shoulder buttons, as well as the usual D-pad and PlayStation buttons. 
Image: via Idle Fish
Yes it turns on! But it’s not clear if it can do more than that. 
Image: via Idle Fish
The rear of the device shows Sony’s old Xperia branding.
 Image: via Idle Fish

The phone certainly looks the part. It’s got the same slide-out mechanism as the original Xperia Play and the PSP Go, a D-pad, a set of standard PlayStation buttons, left and right shoulder buttons, and Xperia branding on the rear. There’s also a mysterious “3D” button, which was perhaps for features similar to the stereoscopic display on Nintendo’s 3DS.

Notably, the front of the phone has capacitive buttons instead of hardware buttons. That’s consistent with changes to the design of Xperia phones from 2012 onward, and it matches a leaked render of the Xperia Play 2 that did the rounds on gadget blogs back in 2012. In other words: this may well be the real deal, but we have no way of knowing for sure.

It’s certainly interesting to think, though, what might have happened if the Xperia Play had found a market. Would gaming smartphones have become mainstream instead of a niche, if persistent, product category? Despite its limitations, the Xperia Play reportedly handled PlayStation games extremely smoothly (check out this video review of the device from 2019 for an in-depth look) and who wouldn’t want to have the PS1’s back catalog in their pocket?

But Sony apparently thought the hybrid approach just wasn’t worth it. Indeed, in 2011, it also released the PS Vita: the successor to the PSP which handily took care of any Sony fans looking for a reliable and portable gaming experience.

And in 2020, it’s hard to imagine a dedicated gaming phone ever making a comeback. Why bother when you can simply stream most console games to your smartphone of choice? If the Xperia Play 2 has finally surfaced, it’s only as a shipwreck of a long-forgotten age.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2020/9/23/21452167/sony-xperia-play-2-playstation-phone-prototype-concept-leaked-images

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First Apple product with miniLED backlighting will be iPad Pro in Q4 – Kuo

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Following Monday’s miniLED report, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has a follow-up report out today stating that the first Apple product to use the technology will be a new iPad Pro in Q4 of this year.

Today’s report doesn’t get any more specific than that, but Kuo has previously predicted that the first model to get the improved backlighting system would be the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Kuo at the time thought this would be launched in Q1 2021, but better-than-expected progress has accelerated that timescale …

Background

It had been expected that Apple would gradually transition iPads and MacBooks to OLED screens. Apple first debuted OLED in the Apple Watch before adopting it for flagship iPhones. All four of this year’s iPhone 12 models are expected to have OLED screens.

However, Kuo said a year ago that Apple now appeared to be favoring continuing to use IPS-LCD screens for its larger products, but with miniLED backlighting to improve the quality. By using very many more smaller LEDs for backlighting, it provides greater control over small sections of the screen. This offers many of the same benefits as OLED: higher contrast ratio, increased brightness, deeper blacks, and better power efficiency.

But an LCD screen with miniLED backlighting is actually better than OLED in a couple of respects: it’s less prone to burn-in and has a longer life.

MiniLED technology is expensive, but Monday’s report said that Apple was bringing on board a second supplier, and using competition between them to drive down costs. Kuo thus expected miniLED screens to make it into 30-40% of iPads and 20-30% of MacBooks at some point next year.

MiniLED iPad Pro in Q4

Today’s report says that the first miniLED display will likely be in an iPad Pro. In the context of the earlier report, the smart money would be on a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro in Q4, with the 11-inch one lagging somewhat behind. Apple may also see a staggered launch as a way of boosting sales of the more expensive larger model.

Kuo also expands on his earlier prediction of Apple negotiating lower prices. He now expects Apple’s miniLED chip costs to fall by 50% in 2021 and a further 35% in 2022. He says that miniLED has already progressed from the ‘technology development’ stage to ‘economy of scale.’

The analyst says the results of price competition have already been seen in the miniLED television market, with costs falling dramatically as a result. Kuo expects a combination of lower production costs, economies of scale and Chinese government subsidies to continue to drive down the cost to Apple.

Source: https://9to5mac.com/2020/09/23/ipad-pro-in-q4/

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The Future

The first HarmonyOS-powered phone from Huawei to arrive in 2021

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Huawei’s HarmonyOS was unveiled last year during the Huawei Developer Conference and there’s a report claiming that this year’s conference on September 10 will bring the HarmonyOS 2.0. Interestingly, the rumor cites Richard Yu himself, the company’s CEO. And the first phone with the in-house operating system will launch as early as next year.

The first HarmonyOS-powered phone from Huawei to arrive in 2021

A smartphone running the said OS already exists and will likely hit the market next year along with a number of new devices including PCs, tablets, smart wearables and other IoT products. In fact, the first smartwatch running HarmonyOS is expected to make a debut until the end of this year.

Source: https://www.gsmarena.com/the_first_harmonyospowered_phone_from_huawei_to_arrive_in_2021-news-45132.php

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