Photo: AP, Illustrations: Gizmodo Staff, Photo: Abacus News (YouTube)

If you’re receiving this message, please be advised that Site Gamma-Iota-Zeta has been compromised. Repeat, Site Gamma-Iota-Zeta has been compromised. This is not a drill. Containment failures detected for the following Class V entities: Magic Leap. A toilet paper roll with a Fitbit on it. BDSM-Bot. The witches from Hocus Pocus. The fossil-fuel industry. Mary Wiseman.

You are advised to shelter in place, read the following articles, and await assistance by a member of the Gizmodo editorial team. If no such assistance is forthcoming, we regret to inform you that you are on your own. Godspeed.

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The Magic Leap Con

Illustration: Jim Cooke ((GMG)

“Today, our world feels divided.” Rony Abovitz, CEO of the infamous mixed reality startup Magic Leap stood awkwardly on a circular stage, surrounded by hundreds of attendees of his company’s first developer conference, and first major public-facing event, eyeing a teleprompter, arms behind his back. “It feels broken,” he said. “Our new medium of spatial computing feels fresh. It doesn’t carry the baggage and negative headlines that are dominating the news today.”

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That, of course, is debatable. Few companies can attract titanic levels of investment, spawn years of breathless, myth-making press coverage, slowly frustrate its own fan base, get slapped with workplace-related lawsuits, and drift perilously towards becoming an industry-wide punchline without releasing a single product—all while retaining a $6 billion valuation. Magic Leap somehow managed to pull it off.

Leaked Whole Foods Email Clarifies How Amazon’s Pay Raises Will Work

Photo: Drew Anthony Smith ((Getty)

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Last week, Amazon stunned critics by announcing a $15-per-hour pay floor for all employees and temps across its own facilities and those of its subsidiaries like Whole Foods Market. Excitement gave way to confusion among workers operating with scant details as to how these raises would impact hourly employees making close to or above $15.

An internal email sent today by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey clarifies certain aspects of the pay changes—slated to go into effect November 1—and muddles others.

Why People Are Putting Fitness Trackers on Toilet Paper in China

Screenshot: Abacus News ((YouTube)

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It all started with a mystery: Why would a fitness tracker detect a beating heart on a roll of toilet paper?

As Chinese tech site Abacus reports, toilet paper is having a bit of a viral moment in China after fitness tracker owners discovered the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 would display a heart rate when attached to a roll. Users of the social media platform Weibo posted numerous images documenting the phenomenon. They also tested other cylindrical objects, such as bottles, cans, and even the appendage of a stuffed animal—all of which showed the mysterious phantom heart rate.

35 States Tell the FCC to Get Off Its Ass and Do Something About Spoofed Robocalls

Photo: Getty

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A bipartisan coalition of 35 attorneys general signed a formal request today for the Federal Communications Commission to do something about all the damn spoofing robocalls that have driven us all to basically stop answering our phones ever.

Seriously, I just got a spam call as I was writing this.

Last November, the FCC created the 2017 Call Blocking Order, which is supposed to provide phone companies a means of weeding out and blocking robocalls. But a group of concerned attorneys general have observed that the robocall issue is getting worse, despite the order.

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Would a BDSM Sex Robot Violate Asimov’s First Law of Robotics?

Illustration: Jim Cooke ((Gizmodo)

The sex robot community—the people who make the sex robots, and the people who want to have sex with the sex robots—suffered a blow this past week, when the Houston City Council voted to preemptively ban what would’ve been the first sex robot “brothel” in the U.S. But even those council members must know that their gesture was futile. Soon the stigma will fade, and Wal-Mart will sell these things in sixty different flavors. Which of course means that, sometime in the future, you’ll almost certainly be able to buy a BDSM robot.

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As repeatedly pondered over Twitter, before you can get yourself sexually trussed, whipped or choked by a large piece of machinery, we as a culture will need to reckon with—among many, many other things—Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. These laws state explicitly, right at the top, that “a robot may not injure a human being.” An originalist interpretation would lead one to conclude that Asimov would not be down with BDSM sex robots—but it’s hard to imagine he had them in mind when he drafted his famous rules.

Asimov’s been dead for a quarter-century, so for this week’s Giz Asks we surveyed lawyers, ethicists, computer scientists and philosophers on whether or not a BDSM robot would violate his first rule. Robots are fairly dumb at the moment to engage in fetishistic nuances of the human psyche, but the question becomes more complicated as technology advances, as technology always does.

Remember When Facebook Promised a Delete Button for Your Sent Messages? [Updated]

Photo: Getty Images

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Back in April, Mark Zuckerberg got caught deleting old messages he’d sent through Facebook. The tech company was forced to confirm that the CEO was reaching into other people’s inboxes and deleting old messages, but assured us that it was fine because Facebook would be giving the feature to everyone soon. Well, it’s the middle of October, six months later, and we’re still waiting.

Doctor Who’s Gallifrey Would Be a Nightmarishly Awful Place to Live

Gallifrey in all its glory
Image: BBC

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The Doctor, the eponymous star of Doctor Who, doesn’t visit her homeworld very often. This isn’t just because the Time Lords are an irascible bunch; after consulting with several Who-obsessed scientists, it’s clear that Gallifrey is less like the strangely habitable planets of Star Wars and more like the worst place in the universe to live.

Gallifrey made its first appearance in 1969, but has for the most part remains an off-screen presence. Since the start of the modern era of the show, the Doctor’s homeworld has been seen in flashbacks. It was long thought to have been destroyed, although it has recently transpired–spoiler alert–that it in fact survived the Last Great Time War between the Daleks and the Time Lords.

So, what do we know about this mysterious world?

Know Your Haunts: A Crash Course in Horror’s Most Confusingly Similar Ghostly Titles

Henry Thomas in Netflix’s upcoming series The Haunting of Hill House.
Photo: Steve Dietl ((Netflix)

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On Friday, Netflix debuts a new series based on The Haunting of Hill House, the third adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic horror novel. That’s a lot of Hauntings—on top of certain other, confusingly similar titles like The House on Haunted Hill. Get your ghosts in order with our handy cheat sheet.

We Have a Decade to Prevent a Total Climate Disaster

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By 2030, we as a collective 7 billion humans will know our fate, or at the very least, the fate of the most vulnerable among us. A landmark report released on Sunday sets the clock ticking for humanity and its quest to keep global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels.

The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlines what a world warmed by 1.5 degree Celsius would look like compared with the 2 degree Celsius warmer world enshrined in the Paris Agreement, and the pathways to get there. It shows that a 1.5 degree warmer world is much less brutal than a 2 degree warmer one, and that we have a lot of work to do in a very limited time in order to achieve it.

If we fail, the poorest among us will suffer the most.

It’s Mary Wiseman’s Star Trek Galaxy, and We’re Just Living in It

Tilly, three ways: masquerading in the Mirror Universe in Discovery’s first season; cleaning up some mess hall mania in Short Treks; and as a young Starfleet Academy student in Star Trek Online.
Photo: CBS, Image: Perfect World/Cryptic Studios

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It’s a great time to be a Star Trek: Discovery fan, but it’s an even better time to be a fan of Sylvia Tilly. Whether it’s in the first episode of Short Treks, Star Trek Online, or even Discovery’s home release, the someday future captain is all over Star Trek. To celebrate, we spoke with Tilly herself, Mary Wiseman, about what to look forward to.

Tilly is everywhere right now—Wiseman just headlined the first of the Short Treks minisodes that released last week on CBS All Access, and then this week, she’s lending her voice and likeness to the world of Star Trek Online, for a new ongoing story in the game set in the Discovery timeline. And fans can experience the highs and lows of Michael Burnham’s adventures—with the ever-dutiful Tilly beside her, whether it’s in this universe or the Mirror Universe—all over again when Discovery’s first season hits Blu-ray and DVD in November. Then, the show’s back for season two in January! It really does feel a bit all-Trek, all-the-time right now.

io9 spoke to Wiseman over the phone and learned more about how she’s found herself embraced by the boldly goings-on of the Star Trek universe.

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Hello, Salem! io9 Screened the Halloween Classic Hocus Pocus for a Total Newbie

Don’t you love when you get to share one of your favorite movies with someone who’s never seen it before? That’s the idea behind io9's new series, UnScene, where Gizmodo Media Group staffers celebrate their fandom by introducing first-timers to their beloved films. And of course, we had to start with the greatest Halloween movie of all: Hocus Pocus.

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io9 Deputy Editor Jill Pantozzi, a self-professed fan of everything Hocus Pocus (she even has the song’s incantation memorized)—the 1993 Kenny Ortega-directed Disney film—is joined by Gizmodo Deputy Editor Mario Aguilar to welcome him to the coven that is Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker. They chat about everything from awkward pre-teen masturbation references to the star power of un-dead loverboy Doug Jones.

Check out the video to see the debut episode of UnScene, and leave a comment with your favorite moments from Hocus Pocus. And if you still haven’t seen it, consider this your invitation! Don’t make us put a spell on you.

Netflix’s Witcher Series Has Cast 2 of Its Most Important Female Characters

Freya Allan and Anya Chalotra alongside their Witcher video game counterparts, Ciri and Yennefer.
Photo: Netflix, Image: CD Projekt Red

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Now we know just who’s behind two crucial figures in The Witcher television series. Netflix has confirmed the actors who will bring Ciri and Yennefer to life in its new fantasy epic.

Unveiled through a new interview with the Hollywood Reporter, showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich said Freya Allan (Into The Badlands) and Anya Chalotra (Wanderlust) will join Henry Cavill’s Geralt of Rivia, as Ciri and Yennefer of Vengerberg, respectively. After leaked casting calls for Ciri had potentially indicated that the character could be played by a minority actress, there was some backlash from Witcher fans that lead to Hissrich stepping away from social media. But according to the showrunner, it didn’t affect the extensive casting process for the series.

After Soyuz Failure, Space Is Now Weirdly Inaccessible to Astronauts

The Soyuz rocket carrying U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin.
Image: AP

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All crewed launches have been suspended by Russia’s space agency following yesterday’s Soyuz rocket failure. That’s a problem, because much of the world relies on Russian rockets to get both cargo and people into space. Consequently, we’re now facing the very real possibility of having an uncrewed International Space Station—something that hasn’t happened in nearly two decades.

Early yesterday, a Soyuz-FG booster rocket with a crewed Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft on top experienced a serious malfunction about three minutes into the flight, forcing U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin to make an emergency landing in the Kazakh steppe. Both are reported to be in “good condition,” but the same cannot be said for the rocket, which crashed around 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the city of Zhezkazgan in the Karaganda Region of Kazakhstan.

It’s the first incident of its kind for Roscosmos—Russia’s space agency—since the fall of the Soviet Union. In response, Russian officials have suspended all crewed launches pending a review of the booster rocket failure. A criminal probe is also underway to determine if safety regulations were violated during construction. To that end, a Russian government Investigative Committee is inspecting the launch site and seizing documents, AFP reports.

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Ancestry Sites Could Soon Expose Nearly Anyone’s Identity, Researchers Say

Image: PDPics ((Pixabay)

Genetic testing has helped plenty of people gain insight into their ancestry, and some services even help users find their long-lost relatives. But a new study published this week in Science suggests that the information uploaded to these services can be used to figure out your identity, regardless of whether you volunteered your DNA in the first place.

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The researchers behind the study were inspired by the recent case of the alleged Golden State Killer.

Earlier this year, Sacramento police arrested 72-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo for a wave of rapes and murders allegedly committed by DeAngelo in the 1970s and 1980s. And they claimed to have identified DeAngelo with the help of genealogy databases.

Hungry Dinosaurs May Be the Reason Humans Need Sunscreen

Illustration: Jim Cooke, photo: Shutterstock

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What do blind cavefish, dinosaurs, and sunburnt humans have in common? A lot more than you may realize, according to a thought-provoking new study.

New research published today in Current Biology shows that Somalian blind cavefish (Phreatichthys andruzzii) are missing an ancient DNA repair kit that protects many animals from the harmful effects of sunlight. This observation makes total sense, given that this cave-dwelling species has lived, and subsequently evolved, for millions of years in complete darkness. The lost system, called photoreactivation DNA repair function, uses energy from visible light to repair DNA damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light, and it’s found in many organisms, including bacteria, fungi, plants, and many animals. This repair kit is one of the reasons why plants can bask in the sun all day without becoming riddled with mutated DNA, while humans risk getting skin cancer when we sunbathe.