10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

The future of computing. Image: Hanson Robotics.

Good morning.

1. Trump is killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as promised. Among three executive orders he signed overnight was one to withdraw from the Pacific Rim trade deal, which includes Australia. The federal government won’t say yet that it’s dead – there’s a possibility it might be renegotiated without the US.

2. In another important development for the Pacific region, the White House said the US would move to stop China taking over territory in international waters in the South China Sea. “It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country,” said White House spokesman Sean Spicer.

3. To markets, and in the absence of data the Australian dollar has been in the wars – except against the US dollar – as risk comes off. It’s getting quiet in iron ore market as Chinese New Year approaches. The major US stock indices were down 0.3-0.5%, and bond yields fell. There’s a bit of a wait-and-see mood possibly starting to settle in as Trump gets his feet under the desk. “America-first angst”, as one trader described it.

4. The accused Bourke Street rampage driver, Dimitrious Gargasoulas, has been charged with five counts of murder.

5. Talking to a speaker in your kitchen to help you order the groceries? Pfft. How about this instead?

Old mate there is “Professor Einstein”, a home assistant under development at Hanson Robotics. He was a star of the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, and is designed to enrich learning for children age 13 and up by combining interactive apps and games with a recognisable robot that follows along. He has eight motors and sensors that allow him to make over 50 facial expressions, and he connects via WiFi to a company database that feeds him information during an interaction with a human. Our reporter describes him as “creepy”.

6. Automation’s challenge to politics and industry is vast, but Richard Lumb, the CEO of Financial Services at Accenture, explains it neatly by talking about his 16-year-old daughter, who is currently finishing high school but only 11 of her classmates are taking the computer science course. Simply put, it’s one thing to create the jobs but quite another to be able to fill them with skilled workers. And that could lead to huge levels of job displacement as tech companies are forced to move.

7. Silicon Valley billionaires, meanwhile, are preparing for the robot apocalypse – but not in the way you might think. Tech elites could be among the most advanced doomsday preppers in the world, according to an article in the New Yorker. Among the preppers is Steve Huffman, the co-founder of Reddit. They’re not so much worried about robots but about the social backlash against the tech industry that could ignite as automation starts to displace jobs everywhere. Fascinating.

8. It’s a big year for smartphones, with Samsung due to release the Galaxy S8 and Apple due to roll out its next iPhone. It looks increasingly like the latter could have its fingerprint sensor built into the glass display, killing off the need for a home button.

9. Do you regularly get monosyllabic answers when you ask colleagues how they are doing? They may secretly hate you. Here are 12 signs that you’re secretly loathed.

10. The title of the new Star Wars movie, coming out in December this year, has been revealed. It’s “The Last Jedi”, and fans are freaking out that the font colour for the series title has, inexplicably, turned red.

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