10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

The bots are coming, to do everything for you. Picture: TriStar Pictures

Good morning.

1. Facebook’s 10-year plan was rolled out at its annual F8 developer’s conference this morning. It looks something like this:

Image: Facebook

Zuckerberg says his plan is to “Give everyone the power to share anything with anyone.” He revealed “Messenger Platform”, a tool for businesses to employ intelligent chatbots for people to interact with straight in Facebook Messenger, then showed it off by ordering flowers via 1-800-Flowers, in Messenger, without picking up a phone. Here’s how that will change the way businesses think about customer service. He also gave out a free Samsung Galaxy S7 and VR headset for everyone at the show. Suckhole.

(We’re not jealous.)

2. Imagine if we could build a spaceship so fast it could blow past Pluto in three days? As it turns out, we can. Tiny ones, the size of postage stamps, powered by a lightsail which in turn is powered by a laser beam shot from Earth. Crazy, huh? Not so crazy Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner aren’t scared of throwing $US100 million at it in an incredible push to explore the universe for alien life.

3. The IMF’s World Economic Outlook is in for 2016. It’s a little better than 2015, with a slight acceleration in global growth from 3.1 to 3.2 per cent, followed by 3.5 per cent growth in 2017. But IMF chief economist Maurice Obstfeld still reckons growth “has been too slow for too long”. In Australia, growth is expected to “remain below potential at 2.5 per cent in 2016 but to rise above potential to 3 per cent over the next two years”. The IMF was also at pains to point out a Brexit could cause “severe” damage to the global economy.

4. Things are looking up today, anyway. The Australian dollar just closed at a 10-month high on the back of yesterday’s NAB business survey, and iron ore has rocketed to a five-week high to be up a giddy 39.5% for the year to date. Overnight the SPI 200 June contract rose 38 points, 0.8% for a gain of 0.8% and with solid gains for global banks overnight, it all points to a great day on the local for the bulls.

5. Steve Kovach loves Apple. He always thought it unfeasible that anyone could out-design Apple. Today, he admits Samsung and HTC have out-designed Apple. (Except he says it’s “infeasible” because he’s American.)

6. Basketball’s gonna need a bigger ring:

4 12 2016 3 32 40 PM

That’s Matt Van Komen, a high-schooler from Utah who stands at a whopping 223cm, or 7’4″ in the old scale. That’s doesn’t mean he’ll be a great basketballer, but we can still enjoy watching him throw down all these cool blocks and dunks.

7. It’s about time we gave Tesla more credit for how incredible the Model S is, says Matthew Debord. That’s because Tesla just announced a light upgrade to its flagship car in line with all the other upgrades over the past year and a half which are still keeping a four-year-old model ahead of the pack. This time around, there’s a cosmetic change to the front end, the addition of the Model X’s “Bioweapon Mode” and a faster charger. Debord doesn’t hold back – he reckons the Model S is starting to look like “the greatest vehicle in the history of the auto industry”. Even better than this:

Ferrari laferrari red small size
The Ferrari LaFerrari. Ferrari

8. Brooklyn man Alejandro “AJ” Fragoso finally has something to tell his grandkids. Your old pa, he’ll say, once held the world record for binge-watching telly. But by then, being glued to a screen for 94 hours straight will probably be a regular school week. Here’s all the shows he watched:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Twilight Zone
  • Bob’s Burgers, and
  • Adventure Time

9. Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” section was essential, if at times difficult, reading last week. In case you missed it, on the line was 92-year-old Holocaust survivor Henry Flescher, originally from Vienna, Austria. He was number 298 of 300 men taken off a train bound for Auschwitz, so he didn’t die, but he did spend the next couple of years at various other concentration camps. Here he is on the time the prisoners trapped a German shepherd:

That was the only time I’ve eaten dog, and it was the best meal I had in a long time. These days I prefer steak.

His main concern now is that he’s one of the last Holocaust survivors alive, and when they’re all gone, the sceptics will move in. As Flescher says:

It didn’t happen 500 years ago. It happened in my lifetime.

10. Loads of hipstery office workers love their standing desks and reckon they’re healthier than you because they use one. But an analysis of 20 different studies says that’s rubbish.

BONUS ITEM: NASA’s Image of the Day is always great. But rarely is it this great:

Picture: NASA/Ken Ulbrich

That’s “Air Force Test Pilot School T-38C” passing in front of the sun at a supersonic speed, creating shockwaves that are caught photographically for research.

Have a great day.