Apple Orders New Sci-Fi Series From Battlestar Galactica Mastermind Ronald D. Moore

For fans of high-end TV, Ronald D. Moore might not quite rank alongside creators like Mad Men’s Matthew Wiener or The Wire‘s David Simon – but he should. Moore was the mastermind behind 2004’s very serious, very good reboot of Battlestar Galactica, a series that arguably paved the way for everything from The Walking Dead to Westworld to, most obviously, Game of Thrones.

Now it looks like we’ll get a new space drama from Moore, thanks to Apple. Deadline reports that Apple has ordered an entire series to be created and written by Moore, along with two executive producers of the also-excellent Fargo TV series. Engadget reports that the series will “explore what would have happened if the space race between the United States, Soviet Russia, and the rest of the world hadn’t ended.”

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More important than the subject matter, the show’s pedigree suggests it will be full of deep characters, convoluted twists, and a fair bit of social commentary, putting it in the sweet spot for binge-worthy content that can attract broad attention as viewing habits shift from cable to streaming.

Apple has said it will spend $1 billion on original TV content, partly in response to a dramatic drop in iTunes’ share of online movie rentals in recent years. Apple’s first tentative steps into original programming, including the reality show Planet of the Apps, are included with an Apple Music membership, but Apple may also launch a new video service.

Sci-fi and fantasy series have been front and center in the streaming wars. So much so, in fact, that CBS recently anchored a big push for its All Access streaming service around a new Star Trek series – the franchise where Moore got his start.

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San Francisco Security Robot Fired After Public Outcry

A San Francisco animal shelter has announced it will no longer use a Knightscope security robot to patrol its office, after a widely-circulated report that described the robot being used to “deter” nearby homeless encampments and rising crime.

In a statement to Ars Technica, the San Francisco SPCA said it has “received hundreds of messages inciting violence and vandalism against our facility” after the story of the robot went viral. In response to that pressure, the organization will seek “a more fully informed, consensus-oriented, local approach” to the use of security robots. San Francisco authorities had already advised the SPCA to stop using the robot on sidewalks without proper approval.

Mountain View-based Knightscope has said in a statement that the robot “was not brought in to clear the area around the San Francisco SPCA of homeless individuals,” but only to “serve and protect the SPCA.”

The fracas reads as the latest installment in a long-running cultural and economic war over the present and future of San Francisco. The recent influx of tech companies and their high-paid employees has helped drive income inequality and make the onetime bohemian mecca the most expensive place to rent an apartment in the United States.

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Those underlying tensions have boiled over in protests against tech companies, including over private shuttles run by companies including Google. According to Ars Technica, the San Francisco SPCA facility is located in a rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood where inequality is particularly acute, contributing to the rise of homeless encampments on sidewalks. The SPCA reported a recent rise in vandalism and theft, which it has said declined after the security robot was put into service.

But in San Francisco’s current context, the optics of even a nonprofit using a high-tech robot to deter homeless people could hardly have been worse. In a further layer, the robot could be seen as taking a job from a human. SF SPCA President Jennifer Scarlett earlier told the San Francisco Business Times that the robot cost about $6 an hour to rent, while San Francisco’s minimum wage is $14 an hour. Scarlett said having humans perform the same duties would be “cost prohibitive,” though, suggesting no new workers will be hired to replace the laid-off robot.

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