Irma hits Florida, China fossil-fuel car ban, ultimate AI guide

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

China eases currency controls. The central bank is due to scrap a rule that made it more expensive to short the yuan. Regulators are concerned about the steep climb of China’s currency versus the dollar in recent weeks.

The US calls for a vote on UN sanctions against North Korea. The United States and Japan want the UN security council to back stricter penalties that would curb oil supplies to Pyongyang, but Russia and China are skeptical.

Norway concludes a contested election. The two-day vote ending Monday pits prime minister Erna Solberg’s center-right party, which wants lower taxes, against an opposition center-left bloc that wants increased spending on public services.

While you were sleeping and over the weekend

Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida. The powerful storm hit the Florida Keys before veering west toward the uniquely vulnerable Tampa Bay area. Miami and the rest of the state experienced heavy rainfall and flooding, with three reported fatalities, and some 2.5 million people are without electricity.

China vowed to end fossil-fuel car production. The world’s largest auto market is working on a timetable to stop making internal combustion engines. Officials said the deadline for switching to exclusively electric cars may be slightly later than the 2040 date announced by the UK and France.

Myanmar spurned a ceasefire offer by Rohingya rebels. The Buddhist-majority government said it would not make a deal with “terrorists” after the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, the militant wing of the country’s repressed Muslim majority, announced a truce on Sunday.

A Brazilian meat tycoon surrendered to police on corruption charges. JBS SA boss Joesley Batista was arrested along with a senior company executive after a judge tore up a plea bargain agreement, ruling that they left out crucial information in testimony earlier this year.

A make-up chat between Saudi Arabia and Qatar failed. A phone call between Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman went badly awry after the countries could not agree on how to characterize their conversation. Qatar claimed that US president Donald Trump set up the peace talks, which the Saudis denied before suspending negotiations.

Quartz obsession interlude

Dave Gershgorn on the ultimate guide to artificial intelligence: “Progress in AI moves at different speeds depending on the medium. Right now, we’re seeing incredible growth in the ability to understand images and video, a field called computer vision. But that progress does little to help other AI understand text, a field called natural language processing. These fields are developing ‘narrow intelligence,’ which means the AI is powerful at working with images or audio or text, but can’t learn the same way from all three.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Humanity is going to need a lot more lithium. The electric battery boom will drain less than 1% of the reserves in the ground, but new mines will cost up to $750 billion.

The tech industry is erasing your individuality. Silicon Valley’s monopolists “hope to automate the choices, both large and small, we make as we float through the day.”

Online video is driving the demand for faster internet in Africa. Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei could be the big winner.

Surprising discoveries

The remains of a Viking warrior chief turned out to be female. The anonymous warrior was buried along with her weapons, horses, and a strategy board game.

Machine learning algorithms can identify sexuality from facial images. The AI was accurate up to 91% of the time for men and 83% for women.

The cliffs of Dover are full of fossilized cosmic dust. It could provide information about the water content in comets and asteroids.

Tesla automatically upgraded the batteries of vehicles fleeing the hurricane in Florida. A software update gave Irma refugees a few dozen more miles per charge.

An observant nurse is the heroine of Viagra’s origin story. She noted that men in a heart drug study were embarrassed by its unexpected side effect.

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