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Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images(MENLO PARK, Calif.) — Facebook's answer to Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana is a virtual personal assistant called "M" that will be housed inside the company's Messenger app.

The social network wants users to know this one can do a lot more than answering questions and managing a person's calendar. M can actually help people complete tasks that other virtual assistants can't.

While M is artificially intelligent, it is trained and supervised by humans, making the service so smart that Facebook says it can "purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more."

People lucky enough to be testing the service will be able to send a note to M in messenger, just as they would chat to a friend. M can understand queries such as recommending a restaurant and offering to make reservations.

"This is early in the journey to build M into an at-scale service," David Marcus, vice president of messaging products at Facebook said in a post. "But it's an exciting step towards enabling people on Messenger to get things done across a variety of things, so they can get more time to focus on what's important in their lives."

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Apple(NEW YORK) -- It's official: After plenty of speculation, Apple Thursday confirmed it will hold an event Sept.  9 in San Francisco where it is widely expected the company will show off an iPhone 6S.

The event is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. PT and will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

Apple is remaining tight-lipped about the agenda for the event and in a characteristically coy invitation teased, "Hey Siri, give us a hint."

Among the biggest updates expected for the possible new iPhone release are an even sharper camera, faster processor and force touch technology, allowing users to press parts of the screen the same way they would a button, according to reports.

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McDonalds(NEW YORK) -- An animal rights group is calling for action from McDonald's after its investigation found abuses at a Tennessee poultry farm that supplies the fast food chain.

Mercy for Animals has posted an undercover video showing chickens being hit with sticks and having their heads stepped on in overcrowded and filthy conditions before being shipped off to a Tyson Foods facility.

The farm supplies both Tyson and McDonald's.

McDonald's released a statement saying the behavior depicted in the video is completely unacceptable. The company said it supports Tyson Foods' decision to terminate its contract with the farmer and is working with Tyson Foods to further investigate.

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Lisa Werner/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Amazon is turning the idea of an app store upside down.

The retailer is taking aim at the Google Play app store with its latest venture called Amazon Underground which claims to offer more than $10,000 worth of Android apps free of charge.

"Many apps that are marked as 'free" turn out to not be completely free. They use in-app payments to charge you for special items or to unlock features or levels," an announcement from Amazon said.

Many popular Android titles including everything from premium services such as PhotoSuite 4 and OfficeSuite Professional 8 are available via Amazon Underground, along with a slew of games that may otherwise have in-app purchases, including Angry Birds Slingshot Stella and Frozen Free Fall.

Amazon said it was able to work out the new model for an app store by reaching a compensation agreement with developers.

"We're paying them a certain amount on a per-minute played basis in exchange for them waiving their normal in-app fees," Amazon explained in a letter to customers. "To be clear, we're the ones picking up those per minute charges so for you it's simply free."

According to documentation on Amazon's website, the retailer will pay $0.0020 in the U.S. for every minute a person uses a developer's app, with aggregate usage time being calculated every day down to the millisecond and then rounding the total payout to the nearest penny.

Want to check it out? Users can download the Amazon Underground app, which will act as their portal to the free bounty of apps.

While free may sound nice, users can still expect to see some advertisements on occasion when launching or resuming the app.

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iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Facebook is testing a new personal digital assistant. Its called "M" and it works inside Facebook Messenger.

But unlike its competitors, the new service can complete tasks on your behalf.

"It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more," David Marcus, the vice president of messaging products at Facebook, explains in a Facebook post.

M is currently being tested in San Francisco. A wider roll-out is expected soon.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Amidst privacy concerns and the ubiquity of camera-bearing drones, an ammunition company has created a load aimed at, pun intended, "aerial drone/quad copter training and range shooting systems."

Snake River Shooting Products claims its new Drone Munition, "also generates a discussion on the growing drone market in general," according to the company’s site.

Its website notes, "Drones are now a $50 million industry and growing daily. The Drone Munition brand provides a cost effective solution for self defense as the Federal Government and States scramble to take action. Self defense applies whether it is a person based or machine based threat and is just as important as protecting your family! Our shot shell solutions provide a cost effective way to do just that!"

Incidentally, Snake River explains its new product isn't just for mechanical menaces: "Drone Munition is also a fantastic hunting load for small game, waterfowl, and turkeys!"

While warning about the "drone apocalypse" on one hand, the site also warns it's not exactly legal to hunt the remote control devices.

"Please remember that drones are aircraft and as such, are protected by the federal government. Our products are designed to be used in accordance with the law. Use your common sense, be informed and obey all laws with respect to drones and firearms," it says. 

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snyferok/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Walmart will cease sales of assault rifles in its stores in the U.S.

The New York Times reports that the policy change is related to customer demand and not gun politics. The decision, Walmart says, was made before the Wednesday shooting that left two television journalists dead in Virginia, but was widely publicized later in the day.

The Times quotes Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg as saying that the retailer would stop selling modern sporting rifles. Similar weapons have been used in prominent shootings including the 2012 movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado.

Walmart will still sell shotguns and other hunting weapons, the Times adds. The restocking will take place in the next two weeks -- in time for the fall season.

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JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After six straight days of major losses, Wall Street rebounded in a big way Wednesday, with all three major indices finishing the session up more than 3 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed nearly four percent to 16285.51 -- a gain of 619.07 on the day.

The Nasdaq jumped 191.05, 4.24 percent, to 4697.54, while the S&P 500 climbed 72.9 to 1940.51.

Unlike Tuesday, when the markets fell sharply near the end of the session, Wall Street was able to hold onto its gains through the closing bell Wednesday, erasing all of Tuesday's losses.

Wednesday's gains were bolstered at least in part by positive data on durable goods orders, a recovery for the dollar, and comments from New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley that hinted at pushing off a rate hike that was expected for next month. Early gains were also partially attributed to new stimulus measures from China's central bank.

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Courtesy Uber(TUCSON, Ariz.) — Uber's latest move into the world of self-driving cars is taking the ride-hailing service to Arizona.

Partnering with the University of Arizona's College of Optical Science, Uber will focus on safety and mapping technology for driverless vehicles, company officials said. A fleet of automobiles with futuristic looking white contraptions affixed to their roofs will travel the roads in Tucson testing out the mapping technology.

"We’re still in the early days of what’s possible – and I look forward to working with Arizona to make the next step of that journey a reality," Brian McClendon, vice president of advanced technology for Uber said in a statement.

The announcement coincided with an executive order signed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday supporting the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles in Arizona.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has previously expressed a fascination with driverless technology and said at a conference last year that autonomous cars would drive down the cost of hailing a ride since customers would no longer have to pay for the driver, or as Kalanick put it, "the other dude in the car."

The San Francisco-based company has also been testing its self-driving technology working alongside researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Dave J Hogan/Getty Images(STOCKHOLM) -- Here's a piece of good news for deep space voyagers.

If you feel you are in a black hole, Stephen Hawking believes all hope is not lost.

The famed cosmologist presented his new theory about black holes at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, on Tuesday. While being sucked into a black hole would spell doom, Hawking said black holes aren't as dark as they seem, allowing some information to escape.

"I propose that the information is stored not in the interior of the black hole as one might expect, but in its boundary, the event horizon," Hawking said, referring to the line beyond which theories suggest even light cannot escape.

Before entering the point of no return in the black hole, information is encoded in a two-dimensional hologram on the event horizon, he said. The stored information is then emitted in quantum fluctuations in "chaotic, useless form," Hawking said, noting that "for all practical purposes the information is lost."

Hawking's latest theory relates to the decades-old quandary of reconciling general relativity, Albert Einstein's groundbreaking framework for explaining gravity and quantum mechanics, which explains the forces of nature on the sub-atomic level.

Hawking also theorized black holes might also be passages to other universes -- but with a caveat. Anyone who enters one wouldn't be able to come back to our universe.

"So although I'm keen on space flight, I'm not going to try that," he joked.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street is once again poised for a rebound on Wednesday -- stock futures are up ahead of the opening bell. But if Tuesday is any indication, the gains could be short-lived.

Futures were also up on Tuesday and the stock market was on the verge of its first positive day in a week before a last minute sell-off made stocks tank for a sixth day in a row. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 205 points, or 1.29 percent, to close at 15,666. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 also saw losses, falling to 4,506 and 1,868, respectively.

Overseas Wednesday, European markets are trading lower despite new measures by the Chinese government to prop up its volatile economy.

In Asia, markets are mixed. The Shanghai Composite, China’s benchmark stock index, took another hit, falling 1.28 percent to close at 2,927. Japan's Nikkei, meanwhile, rebounded on Wednesday, climbing 3.2 percent to 18,377.

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Kevin Mazur/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- A Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costume is causing controversy online.

A couple of websites are selling the costume. It includes a version of the outfit Jenner wore on her famous Vanity Fair cover, plus a wig.

Spirit Halloween had defended the costume, saying it celebrated Jenner, but it has since taken the costume off its website. It says the costume will be made available in stores and online by the end of September.

Alex Schmider of the LGBT Center in Los Angeles objects to the costume. He says, "It implies that being transgender is somewhat of a costume, and treating it as such is offensive, ignorant and done in poor taste."

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Photo by David McNew/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Amazon announced the expansion of its Prime Now service to the Seattle area on Tuesday, in an effort to bring one-hour delivery to more of its clientele.

Prime Now is exclusively available to members of Amazon's Prime membership program and now provides one-hour deliver for thousands of items, including paper towels, milk, ice cream, televisions, and now, alcohol. The company said in a press release that wine and beer will be available through the Prime Now service.

"Prime Now is our fastest delivery option ever," said the program's director Stephenie Landry. Customers, she added, love the convenience of the program.

Tens of millions of people subscribe to Amazon Prime, giving them access to Prime Now. The one-hour delivery service will operate seven days a week between 8 a.m. and midnight for $7.99. Two-hour delivery will be free.

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A screen grab from the Google Map Maker webpage made on Aug. 25, 2015 shows the message that the tool is reopening in the United States with some changes. Google(NEW YORK) -- Google Map Maker made its triumphant return to the Internet this week with a set of new tools designed to thwart pranksters from carrying out the same types of stunts that prompted the service to be shut down in May.

The service, which allows user contributions to maps around the world, is being re-introduced this week in 45 countries, including the United States, with a set of new safeguards, including community moderators who can watch for inappropriate edits. Six countries were phased back in earlier this month.

Google also disabled the shape editing tool that was previously abused by some pranksters. In one instance, a large-scale prank involving the Android robot urinating on the Apple logo, placed on the outskirts of Rawlpindi, Pakistan. Previous hacks reported included one placing Edward Snowden in the White House and fake highway exits, among others.

The pranks were able to be pulled off because Google relies on auto-approval and user moderation to handle the edits. After the Android prank, Google switched to human moderators, only to see its backlog of edits grow.

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JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After spending most of the day appearing as though they would bounce back from a brutal week of trading, the markets closed lower yet again Tuesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which suffered its worst day of trading in four years on Monday, closed down 204.71 to 15666.64.

The Nasdaq dipped to 4506.49, 19.76 lower than its open, while the S&P 500 lost 25.53 to a close of 1867.68.

The Dow had been trading more than 400 points up earlier in the session, but near the close began to plummet.

After a global sell-off in the last three days, investors were concerned about a slowdown in the world's second-biggest economy, China, and how that could affect trade and U.S. businesses.

"The markets are caught between a domestic U.S. economy that is still struggling to gain momentum, but remains firmly in positive territory, and a global economy that appears to be poised for ongoing weakness," Lindsey Piegza, Stifel chief economist, said.

The Shanghai Composite Index was down 7.6 percent earlier Tuesday, leading to its biggest four-day fall since 1996. Shares there continued their downfall despite a move by The People’s Bank of China to cut lending rates with the hope that banks lend more money. The Chinese central bank cut interest rates for the fifth time since November to 4.6 percent from 4.85 percent and it lowered banks' reserve requirement.

Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody's Analytics, said the move by the Chinese government has given a lift to global stock markets, while U.S. economic data released Tuesday morning, including new home sales, showed strengthening.

"Most importantly, consumer confidence looks solid, particularly consumers' assessment of the job market," Zandi said, referring to the index of consumer confidence in August released Tuesday. "While the stock market is swinging up and down, the economy continues to steadily power forward."

Investment professionals say the best thing you can do in the wake of the Wall Street volatility is to be patient, knowing investments are meant for the long term.

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