10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

The Very Best PM. Picture: Facebook/WWOS

Cheers.

1. Markets. The ASX held onto its early 2017 gains yesterday, helped by solid returns from ANZ and BHP. And as oil put on 1.6% and the Dow crept ever closer to the 20,000 mark, futures traders were feeling confident enough to set the March mark 24 points higher, so expect a positive open on the ASX today. Iron ore prices are still sliding, but the Aussie dollar is grinding higher as the promising PMIs continue to roll in from around the world.

2. Did you hear the one about the currency that’s put on 15% already in 2017? Bitcoin is back pushing the $US1100 mark, and Cryptocompare thinks it knows why:

“In the first 24 hours of the new year, over 5 million bitcoins were bought in Chinese yuan, equating to $3.8 billion. In contrast, just 53,000 bitcoins were bought in US dollars.”

And if the US Fed keeps hiking in 2017, expect BTC to explode higher as the yuan weakens.

3. This is great. Online Go players have been outmatched in the past few days by a mysterious new player called “Master”:

This morning, AI gurus DeepMind admitted it was their bot, AlphaGo, and they were just giving it a run off the leash. AlphaGo beat one of the world’s best players, Lee Sedol, in a five-match tournament last year, so it’s no surprise that it’s been pasting online opponents. But it is a little surprising that someone is comfortable with releasing AI onto the internet that’s capable of out-manouevring pretty much every human being and making its own decisions. But we might just be paranoid.

4. Former Aussie PM Bob Hawke is 87 and still smashing the beers:

5. To CES, where BMW revealed another concept version of what it figures our driverless car future will look like. Dubbed the BMWi Inside Future, it’s tantalisingly pretty, with car interiors including panoramic displays and virtual “HoloActive Touch” systems. But the most jarring visual is this:

A bookshelf! With old school books, for an era where we’re all supposed to be reading digitally. Give the marketing person who added that subtle touch of genius a promotion, stat.

6. While we’re on old is new, someone is still sure as eggs a BlackBerry with a physical keyboard is a great idea. And high-end Apple users are starting to wonder why they feel forced to buy “pathetic” and “old” Macs from 2013. The Mac Pro “Trash Can” from 2013 is still their best choice – and it’s still $US3000. Perhaps innovation really is dead at Apple, and perhaps that’s why they’ve just tipped $US1 billion into the world’s largest technology venture fund.

7. Federal MP Andrew Wilkie reckons Centrelink’s crackdown on people it says owes them money is driving some of those people “to contemplate taking their own lives”. And he’s got the Commonwealth ombudsman to agree to investigate Centrelink’s new data-matching process.

8. When you think of Air Force pilots, you think of this:

But that was 30 years ago. And it was 10 years before that since the last time an American pilot got anywhere near that close to their target. Dogfights went out with hypercolour T-shirts, and that’s why this F-35 pilot says we should pay no attention to simulations in which Lockheed’s over-budget, much delayed and bug-ridden Joint Strike Fighters get shot down by F-16s from the 1970s.

9. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte says he has cousins fighting for ISIS. On awkward family reunions, he told Rappler:

“Let’s be understanding to each other. You are you and I am I, and I said, if we meet in one corner, so be it.”

10. The Russian SHERP ATV is unlike any off-road vehicle you’ve ever seen. It’s much, much more awesome than anything you’ve ever seen.

BONUS ITEM: Nick Young is shooting the lights out right now for the Lakers. And he knows it:

After the game, “Swaggy P” said God came to him a dream and told him to celebrate like “a man going back and forth like John Travolta”.

Have a great day. Your first week back is nearly over.

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