Factor Magazine: The Culture Issue – Out Now

It’s fair to say that anything that could have gone wrong in 2016 probably did. But there’s one area which hasn’t succumbed to 2016 and has instead gone from strength to strength: culture. Because as facetious as this sounds, even though the walls are caving in (probably, who really knows anymore) and the UK has chosen to leave the European Union, while the US has decided that Donald Trump is the most appropriate person to lead the country, you have to admit that TV, film, music, gaming and theatre have been damn good this year.

So in this, our culture issue, we invite our enlightened readers – yes, you – to join us in surveying what the cultural sphere looks like today and where it’s heading tomorrow.

Theatre hasn’t really changed in 2,000 years, but augmented reality could be about to drag it, kicking and screaming, into the future. We speak to CoLab Theatre about how augmented reality is reinventing the theatre experience.

When it comes to video games there’s very little that scriptwriter, and daughter of Terry, Rhianna Pratchett doesn’t know. So from her time as a journalist with PC Zone to her work on the Tomb Raider series, we hear what Pratchett thinks of her amazing career and get her opinion on how storytelling is transforming gaming.

For any gamers out there, we’ve asked the creator of Yogscast, Paul Sykes, to tell us all about the strange world of VR gaming videos, found out how the iconic game Worms came to be and looked at how fashion affects Deus Ex.

DJs spend their time travelling around the world to bring their music to an adoring public. But underneath it all, they’re really a bunch of tech geeks pressing buttons in darkened rooms. We speak to drum & bass DJ InsideInfo about his favourite tech.

As this is a celebration of culture, we couldn’t help but congratulate Netflix on a job well done. We’ll find out whether their run of making hit shows can continue in 2017. And with all the exclusive albums available on streaming services like Apple Music and Tidal, we asked if anyone has been tempted back into torrenting?

And if there are any philistines out there, don’t worry we’ve also got you covered. We speak to the man who almost drowned in space, look at the return of Julian Assange, and hear author Will Self’s opinions on everything from sports to the Unabomber.

As well as this there’s all the latest news, reviews of Nintendo and Microsoft’s latest offerings and we’ll look at what the internet has done to artists’ bottom lines in Issue 30 of Factor magazine – out now on iPad and online.

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC