Silicon Valley CEOs can’t get enough of Indian PM Modi

America’s top tech executives won’t pass up an opportunity to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai of Google sat down with Modi during his visit to Washington, D.C, on Sunday. Modi used the talks with 20 CEOs once again to tout his country’s status as a prime investment destination.

The Indian prime minister will meet President Trump for the first time later on Monday, when trade and immigration issues could make for tricky talks.

But there was no sign of tension at Sunday’s roundtable meeting with executives.

Bezos described the session as “terrific,” adding in tweet that he was “always impressed, energized by optimism and invention in India. Excited to keep investing and growing.”

Cook told reporters it was “fantastic.”

Modi courted leaders from corporate America during a previous visit in September 2015 when he held a similar CEO roundtable. He also toured Silicon Valley during that trip, meeting Cook and Pichai as well as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

1.3 billion consumers

All of them, with the exception of Musk, have also visited Modi in his home country as they each rush to capture a slice of India’s rapidly growing economy of 1.3 billion people.

Bezos has committed $5 billion to Amazon’s India business over the last three years, while Apple started manufacturing iPhones in the country for the first time last month. Google, Facebook and Microsoft, meanwhile, are all racing to bring hundreds of millions of Indians onto the internet.

Another of the roundtable attendees, Lockheed Martin chairwoman and CEO Marillyn Hewson, will be hoping India gives her company a contract to make F-16 fighter jets in the country.

Musk wants to bring Tesla to India as well, but has so far been stymied by the country’s regulations. He tweeted earlier this month that the electric carmaker is “in discussions” with the Indian government to temporarily relax some of those restrictions.

Walmart, whose CEO Doug McMillon also met Modi on Sunday, has also been trying unsuccessfully to set up its department stores in India for several years. But rules mandating that foreign retailers must source nearly a third of their materials locally have restricted the company to running wholesale distribution centers only.

7,000 reforms

Modi sought to dispel those concerns on Sunday, promoting the numerous reforms — 7,000, he claimed — that his government has initiated.

He focused on the biggest and most eagerly anticipated of those reforms, a goods and services tax set to roll out on Saturday. It will replace India’s tangled web of dozens of state tariffs with a single set of national tax rates.

“The rollout of the Goods and Services Tax on July 1 will, in a single stroke, convert India into a unified, continent-sized market of 1.3 billion people,” Modi wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

Pichai, who was born in India, appears optimistic. The Google CEO told Indian news agency ANI after meeting Modi that he was “excited” to see the tax overhaul happen.

“[The GST] shows that you can achieve reform by pushing hard for it, and I hope it’s just the beginning,” he said.

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SpaceX nails two rocket launches in one weekend

SpaceX just capped off two successful missions to space this weekend — the company’s quickest launch turnaround yet.

After it launched a communications satellite into orbit from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s private space outfit finished its run with a clean launch from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base on Sunday.

The launch Sunday marked SpaceX’s eighth launch so far this year. The company has now tied the record for the most launches in a single year, which it set in 2016.

The latest mission: to deliver a group of satellites into orbit for a company called Iridium. Those satellites will join a growing network dubbed the Iridium Next system.

Iridium Next has many goals. One of its most notable is to eliminate “black zones” where commercial airplanes can’t be tracked by providing global real-time surveillance of all flights.

That means missing airplanes — like the Malaysia Airlines flight that vanished three years ago over the Indian Ocean — could become a thing of the past.

It will take several more launches to get the full network into orbit. The launch Sunday was SpaceX’s second delivery; it sent up the first 10 satellites in January. There will be six more Iridium Next missions over the next year.

Friday’s mission was also noteworthy. It marked the second time SpaceX has reused a first-stage rocket booster, which flings the payload toward orbit. The booster was previously used in a January mission.

SpaceX wants to reuse its rockets so it can drastically slash the amount a single launch costs. The sticker price for a customer is about $62 million.

SpaceX is the only company that has recovered, refurbished and then re-flown an orbital class rocket.

By completing its second mission with a used rocket, SpaceX has again signaled to its customers that it can safely pull off the maneuver.

Sunday’s mission did not use a pre-flown booster. But SpaceX did manage to safely recover the first stage after that launch, setting it up to fly again one day.

So far, SpaceX has safely landed first-stage rockets on land or a droneship 13 times.

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Intel drones, virtual reality headed to 2018 Olympics

The next Olympic Games will be a spectacle of modern technology.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday announced a new partnership with Intel that will run through 2024. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip maker will provide drones, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and 360-degree video platforms to help capture Olympic events.

The partnership will start with the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.

The news comes one week after McDonald’s parted ways with the Olympics after a four decade long sponsorship. McDonald’s has worked with the Olympics since 1968.

Although technology at the Olympics is nothing new, it will play a bigger role in broadcasting games. For example, Intel said home viewers will be able to choose viewing points at Olympic venues, such as front row seats, through virtual reality and 360 video.

Drones will also become more prominent at the Olympics. Intel hasn’t announced the various ways it will use the technology but noted they’ll create “images in the sky,” likely during the opening ceremony. Intel-powered drones were used in Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show this year.

“Drones are excellent for light shows, filming at different angles and moving something light from point A to point B,” Intel chief strategy officer Aicha Evans told CNN Tech.

Evans said Intel’s technology will also help athletes and coaches. For example, coaches could use virtual reality to closely analyze an athletes’ performance from different angles, Evans said.

The sponsorship builds on Intel’s bigger push into sports. The company recently announced a three-year deal with Major League Baseball to use its True VR platform to broadcast live games and show highlights and on-demand replays.

Intel has also partnered with the National Football League. During Super Bowl LI in 2017, its “Be the Player” perspective, shown via 360 video, provided a point-of-view shot from any player on the field.

The Olympics Committee’s move is part of a greater effort to attract a younger audience amid declining viewership.

“The average audience age in traditional TV continues to go up. [Younger people] consume it off of different platforms and in different ways,” Timo Lumme, IOC managing director of TV and marketing services, told CNN Tech. “We know these technologies will engage a younger demographic.”

Technology continues to have a growing presence at the Olympics. In recent years, photographers have used 3D cameras and underwater robots to capture unique shots.

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How you move a computer mouse may reveal if you’re lying

The smallest things we do can give away our biggest secrets.

According to researchers at the University of Padova in Italy, how a person moves a mouse when answering questions on a computer may reveal whether or not they’re lying. The finding has the potential to identify everything from fake online reviews and fraudulent insurance claims to pedophiles and terrorists, the team suggests.

The researchers used an artificial intelligence algorithm trained to make decisions based on data. The computer system was presented labeled examples from individuals answering questions honestly and those providing false answers. With experience, the algorithm began to identify the differences in mouse movements between an honest and dishonest answer.

During the study, which involved 60 students at the University of Padova, participants answered a series of questions — some of which were unexpected. Half were told to assume a false identity and given time to practice it.

The truthful individuals slid their mouse directly to an answer. The dishonest individual took a longer, indirect path to their answer.

“Our brain is built to respond truthfully. When we lie, we usually suppress the first response and substitute it with a faked response,” said Giuseppe Sartori, lead researcher and a University of Padova professor.

The study was published recently in the online journal Plos One.

Sartori envisions the technology helping authorities identify terrorists who are entering European countries under false identities. Sartori’s technique does not require a person to know certain information, such as an accurate birthday or address, to determine if they are lying. Instead, authorities could detect lies by the manner in which specific questions were answered.

Sartori said the technology could also be used to identify a pedophile who signed up for an online service with a false age.

A well-coached individual could learn to lie convincingly with quick responses to questions. But they might stumble on tangential questions, such as stating their zodiac sign or a cross street near their home address.

However, there are limitations to the approach — artificial intelligence is only as good as the data it’s trained on. Sartori said more subjects need to be studied to ensure the results accurately reflect all human behavior.

The team’s next step is to examine the differences between how honest and dishonest individuals type on a keyboard when answering questions.

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Five airlines want you to fly supersonic again

The list of airlines that want to bring back supersonic travel is growing.

Boom Aerospace, an ambitious aerospace start-up, says it has convinced five airlines to buy into its vision for developing a airliner that flies faster than the speed of sound.

Blake Scholl, founder and chief executive of Denver-based Boom, said during a presentation at the Paris Air Show Tuesday that the five carriers have reserved their spots for 76 of Boom’s successor to the Concorde. That aircraft was taken out of service in 2003 after 27 years of commercial flights at more than twice the speed of sound.

With a planned speed of 2.2 times the speed of sound or 1,451 mph, the project’s lofty goals include sharply cutting flight time: New York to Paris to three and a half hours, San Francisco to Tokyo in less than five and a half hours and Los Angeles to Sydney in just seven hours.

Only one airline interested in Boom, so far, has made itself known. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways in 2016 has an option to take the first 10 aircraft the company builds.

Scholl won’t say who the four unidentified “world airlines” are. He promised the individual carriers would identify themselves at a later point to explain how a new generation of supersonic travel fit in their business.

“The airlines that are placing reservations with Boom now are putting real money against them, not small amounts, significant amounts of cash,” he said during a presentation at the Paris Air Show.

Two-steps to supersonic flying

Boom is advancing on a two-stage process to revive supersonic commercial air travel. Its first step is to develop a small aircraft called the XB-1 “Baby Boom” to validate many of the technologies for flying at Mach 2.2. Boom will first need to prove these work if it is to go forward with a full-size 45 to 55-seat airliner.

That small two-seat model begins assembly this year and flies late in 2018, Scholl said.

Scholl said that computer simulations have significantly sped up its initial process of finding the the right design of the full-size Boom jet.

“We’ve tested about a 1,000 design variations…most of them aren’t very good,” Scholl said. “But we’ve had a few that are.”

To date, the company has raised $41 million, which Scholl said will get the XB-1 airborne for the first time.

But Boom is going to need considerably more capital to turn its initial airborne technology trials into a full-fledged commercial aircraft program.

Japan, Russia and China have all offered significant state support as part of the development of new homegrown airliners. The barriers for a new commercial aviation start-up, especially a private one, are enormous.

“I think healthy skepticism is only fair,” Scholl said. “This is not a simple project.”

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