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Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Have no fear, super Apple is here + Nvidia wants in on metaverse plans + Working less could save the planet

Get used to hearing a lot more Matrix…sorry…metaverse talk: Facebook’s Matrix, sorry, Meta’s big venture in the “embodied internet” is spurring other companies to follow suit. Now the world’s largest chipmaker, Nvidia, is also staking its claim on virtual territory: “You might not think you’ll be in the metaverse, but I promise in the next five years all of us will be in one way or another,” company exec Richard Kerris told Bloomberg.

Nvidia has a vested interest in all things virtual: A widely used and fully realistic digital world will require more AI with greater processing power. Nvidia seems to be positioning itself to become the main provider of metaverse-related processors, expanding out of its existing video-game-chip market. The company’s bid to acquire competitor Arm from SoftBank would bring it the semiconductor tech that powers the sensors and cameras in most of our smartphones, which also happen to be crucial components in the VR hardware that we’ll apparently all be plugging ourselves into daily, five years down the road. Nvidia is also pushing its Omniverse software, which, like Meta’s Horizon Worlds, hopes to become the ubiquitous operating system for the metaverse.

The what-averse? If this is a reality you’re not yet acquainted with, find our recent explainer on the topic here.

Could saving the planet mean we all work a little less? For rich countries, a four day work week could be exactly what puts us on track to peeling back our carbon emissions and making the planet a little less hostile to human life, Simon Kuper writes for the Financial Times. If every additional hour of time spent working contributes to more carbon released into the atmosphere — in the form of commuter emissions and consumption — then rich countries “need to get poorer” if they really want to halt climate change, Kuper argues. Consumption currently accounts for about 60% of global emissions according to research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Generally speaking, as nations grow wealthier, their carbon emitting activities grow larger, which makes the promise of continued GDP growth untenable for our warming planet.

The argument for a shorter workweek also rests on the case for improving personal well-being: A mere 1 in five full-time workers feel “engaged” at work, according to a global study by Gallop. The ideal work week for maintaining well-being comes out — shockingly — to a mere eight hours a week, according to a Cambridge University study polling some 70k UK workers. But a four day work week might not work for everyone, and lower income workers couldn’t afford to take that kind of hit to their incomes. But then again, research has shown that better rested workers with more downtime are often even more productive than when working a traditional 9-5.

Siri, call 911: Apple is reportedly rolling out a new feature on iPhones and Apple Watches that will make them capable of detecting automobile collisions and automatically contacting emergency responders, sources told the Wall Street Journal. The new safety feature would rely on motion sensors that are able to detect sudden increases in gravity forces that take place in the event of a crash, but the company has yet to confirm if it will actually be utilizing the technology in the coming generation of devices next year.

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