Weekly rewind: A new breed of megayacht, the best iPhone photos, AI salvation

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A lot can happen in a week when it comes to tech. The constant onslaught of news makes it nigh impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of this week’s top 10 tech stories, from how AI could save the world to how an exploding smartphone could come back into the world — it’s all here.

From predicting quakes to supercharging farming, how AI could save the world

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Picture this — It’s the year 2100 and our worst dystopian fears have come true. The Earth is in shambles; society is rife with poverty and inequality; you can hop across the Pacific on floating patches of plastic.

Humanity is facing more problems than it we can probably fix on our own. Without some drastic and immediate changes, we’re sure to usher in a bleak future. But we may also be able to solve these problems, or at least minimize their negative impacts, with the help of AI. Here are some of the ways how.

Read: From predicting quakes to supercharging farming, how AI could save the world

Refurbished Samsung Galaxy Note 7 R: News and rumors

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Samsung, not one to let recalled phones go to waste (even fire-prone ones), may soon sell a refurbished Galaxy Note 7. The smartphone maker announced it is investigating ways to recycle the Galaxy Note 7 in an environmentally conscious way, which may include selling refurbished versions of the previously recalled device.

Most recently, a version called the Galaxy Note 7 FE, or Fandom Edition, has been rumored to launch on July 7.  According to The Wall Street Journal, the device will have different internal components, and will be sold in South Korea. Altering the phone’s internals will help the public overcome fears about device safety, and may also lower the initially expensive price.

Read: Refurbished Samsung Galaxy Note 7 R: News and rumors

Volvo’s driverless-car engineers face a kangaroo conundrum

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Some Volvo engineers developing autonomous-vehicle technology recognized that they needed to test it in a range of conditions. After all, that’s why the likes of Waymo and Uber are trying out their self-driving gear in a number of states across the U.S. — to learn about how it handles different weather conditions, landscapes, road systems, and the like … and that includes handling kangaroos.

Ambitious companies as they are, no doubt these firms plan for their technology to one day go global, allowing drivers everywhere to hang up their car keys, sit back, and enjoy the ride. In that case, they’ll need to head Down Under at some point so they can work out how to get their cars to take evasive action when a kangaroo hops onto the road.

Read: Volvo’s driverless-car engineers face a kangaroo conundrum

How’s this for a milestone? Facebook hits 2 billion monthly users

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There are 7.5 billion people on this planet, and more than 25 percent of them are on Facebook.

In yet another impressive achievement for the social media behemoth, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on Tuesday that the Facebook community is now 2 billion people strong (in terms of monthly active users). Given that it started as nothing more than a college directory for the students of Harvard University in 2004, it is safe to say that the project has exceeded expectations.

Read: How’s this for a milestone? Facebook hits 2 billion monthly users

Becoming a smart city takes more than sensors and buzzwords

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What is a smart city? Not even the people building them seem to know yet.

“Get 10 people in a room and ask what a smart city is, you’ll get 11 answers,” Bob Bennett, Kansas City, Missouri’s chief innovation officer, told Digital Trends. That might be true, but most involved in smart city projects agree on one thing: No one’s really there yet.

“I think it’s the Wild West at this point, and smart cities mean something different to everybody,” said Jarrett Wendt, executive vice president of strategic innovations at Panasonic.

Read: Becoming a smart city takes more than sensors and buzzwords

Pandora says bye to users in Australia and New Zealand

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Pandora is calling it a day in Australia and New Zealand.

The Oakland, California-based music streaming company will shutter its service  in the two countries — the only markets outside of the U.S. where it operates — in the next few weeks.

A spokesperson for Pandora said it needed to concentrate its efforts on its main block of users, while pointing out that it’s not abandoning all hope of moving back into international markets at a later date.

Read: Pandora says bye to users in Australia and New Zealand

U.S. holds off expanding laptop flight ban, but increases security measures

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced plans for stricter security checks for passengers flying into the U.S.

Recent news reports suggested the DHS would expand an existing ban preventing passengers on certain Middle Eastern and African airlines from taking laptops and other electronic devices into the cabin, but for the time being at least, this won’t happen.

Instead, new security measures affecting 325,000 airline passengers coming to the U.S. daily from 280 international airports will be put in place in July.

Read: U.S. holds off expanding laptop flight ban, but increases security measures

These photos could be the best images shot with an iPhone this year

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The iPhone is now a decade old — and the iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAWARDS) continue to prove that small cameras can still pack a pretty big punch. This week, the IPPAWARDS announced the winners for the tenth annual global competition.

Brooklyn-based photographer Sebastiano Tomada took the grand prize as the iPhone Photographer of the Year with a photo of two children playing in Qayyarah, Iraq, as an oil well burns in the distance. The vertical shot utilizes leading lines and a punch of contrast to add artistic interest to the photojournalist’s shot.

Read: These photos could be the best images shot with an iPhone this year

The newest mega-yacht has its own garden (and its own beach!)

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Norwegian company Hareide Design has unveiled a new yacht that makes the common man’s yacht look like a leaky canoe.

The ship is named “108M” after its impressive size: 108 meters, or approximately 350 feet. The concept features a garden, floor-to-ceiling windows in the grand hall, and even its own private beach. The yacht’s design is meant to invoke a seamless indoor to outdoor experience so that passengers can be in touch with nature. It features a classic monohull design, yet it’s quite different from your traditional megayacht, which usually looks more like a luxury hotel than a nature conservatory. But you knew that, right?

Read: The newest mega-yacht has its own garden (and its own beach!)

‘Twin Peaks’ explained: ‘Part 8’ takes an experimental journey through darkness

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One of the great difficulties of writing about Twin Peaks, or even just watching it, is David Lynch’s “18 hour movie” approach to the new season. With most weekly shows, even more serialized productions like Breaking Bad, episodes have a distinct story arc. During the course of our Twin Peaks evaluation and analysis, it’s become clear that each episode is like a chapter of a novel, and without having seen the story from beginning to end, the importance and meaning of each episode can seem inscrutable.

That’s what makes Part 8 so fascinating. If a viewer is hoping for forward movement in Agent Cooper’s story, or ready answers to any of the pestilential questions the show has raised, this episode provides neither. What it does offer is a stunning experiment in form, and perhaps even an origin story for the evils that plague the world of Twin Peaks.

Read: ‘Twin Peaks’ explained: ‘Part 8’ takes an experimental journey through darkness