Tech Digest daily roundup: Zero-carbon flights to run on liquid ammonia


A British company being launched at the Cop26 summit on Friday will unveil technology it claims could enable zero-carbon emission flights running on liquid ammonia by 2030. It aims to build lightweight reactors to “crack” the chemical to produce hydrogen to burn as fuel, a design it says could allow existing planes to be modified to store liquid ammonia rather than paraffin. Hydrogen is currently seen as the only possible “clean” fuel for future long-haul aviation, but the difficulty of safely storing it in fuel tanks, either as a gas or highly cooled liquid, means aerospace manufacturers have argued that vastly different planes would be needed. Small reactors could be retrofitted into passenger planes to allow the hydrogen to be obtained from ammonia…The Guardian 

One of Facebook’s earliest investors has labelled the social media giant’s plans for a metaverse as “dystopian”. Meta, as Facebook is now known, is investing billions in the project. But Roger McNamee told the BBC: “It’s a bad idea and the fact we are all sitting and looking at this like it’s normal should be alarming everyone.” Meta’s chief product officer Chris Cox told attendees at the Web Summit in Lisbon that the idea would make “the internet less flat”. He said it would be considerably better than video conferencing as a space for meetings. However, speaking at the same event, Mr McNamee was highly sceptical. “Facebook should not be allowed to create a dystopian metaverse,” he said. BBC 

One in three people are being monitored at work, including many who are now based at home, new research suggests. Prospect said its study among 2,400 workers shows new protections are needed because of the increase in employer surveillance. Around one in seven people working from home are being monitored by cameras, compared to one in 20 earlier this year, said the union. Four out of five respondents said the use of webcams to monitor remote workers should either be banned or heavily regulated. Only 8% of those surveyed believe employers should be allowed to decide unilaterally when to use cameras to monitor people working in their own homes. Yahoo!

Japanese video game maker Nintendo’s profit dropped 19% in the first half of its fiscal year from the previous year, when it received a big lift as people stuck at home by the coronavirus pandemic turned to its products. Kyoto-based Nintendo Co. reported Thursday a 171.8 billion yen ($1.5 billion) profit for the April-September period, down from 213 billion yen in the same period the previous year. Fiscal half sales slipped 19% to 624 billion yen ($5.5 billion). It did not break down quarterly numbers. Nintendo, which is behind the Super Mario and Pokemon games, was among the global companies that received a boost from the pandemic by providing at-home entertainment. AP News 

The minister in charge of the new law regulating behaviour online has told social media bosses to “remove your harmful algorithms today” – or face swift criminal prosecution. Nadine Dorries said she had been working with officials to make the proposed Online Safety Bill tougher to tackle tech firms who she said “have the ability to put right what they’re doing wrong now”. The plans include accelerating controversial measures that could see tech executives facing jail time. Under the proposals, which are currently in draft form, tech companies would have two years after the passage of the bill to prepare for the introduction of criminal sanctions. Ms Dorries said that delay was “a nonsense”, adding she wanted the grace period shortened to “three to six months”. Sky News



Chris Price
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