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Gadget Ogling: Driving Partner, Hydration Station, and Flying Grabbers
September 24, 2016
After a bad experience when I was first behind the wheel as a teenager, I'm only just now learning to drive, more than a decade later. My partner and I are going through the school together, and when asked about our dream vehicles in class, she replied that she'd love a self-driving RV. Her wish eventually might turn true with a device that grants vehicles more autonomy.
Work in a New Automation Era
September 22, 2016
Automation has a habit of killing jobs, which has been true since the Industrial Revolution. However, it seems that we're discovering this truth all over again. We easily forget when we focus only on the job-creation aspects of automation, and that usually gets us in trouble. Since the IR, there have been five distinct economic waves lasting between 50 and 60 years.
GoPro Karma Lets New Hero5s Fly High
September 22, 2016
Pro earlier this week refreshed its product line, announcing two new action cameras, a cloud service and a drone. Its new Hero5 Black camera can capture 4K video at 30 frames a second and still photos at 12 megapixels, with RAW and WDR support. It has a 2-inch touch display, and stereo sound recording with advanced wind noise reduction. It can be voice-controlled in seven languages. The shooter will be available Oct. 2.
DoT Refreshes Rule Book to Include Self-Driving Cars
September 20, 2016
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has introduced new federal guidelines for the emerging highly automated vehicle industry -- including self-driving and semi-autonomous vehicles -- creating a framework that will help drive one of the most important new sectors in the national economy. Foxx was joined by Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Oracle Does the Cloud Dance
September 19, 2016
Sunday's Oracle OpenWorld keynotes were good -- especially compared with prior years -- but they still suffered from the perennial problem of trying to stuff too much content into a two-hour event. Diane Bryant, SVP at Intel and a big Oracle partner, spent an hour covering a very broad landscape. Perhaps the most interesting information in Bryant's presentation concerned Intel's new line of chips.
Why Russian Hackers Are Doing the US a Favor
September 19, 2016
Colin Powell's hacked email once again showcases that what people in office tell us and what they actually think are two very different things. Politicians work for us -- we are supposedly their employers. Yet we seem to know far less about what they do and think than what we need to know in order to vote intelligently. Powell's comments are actually far more damaging to Clinton than Trump.
Udacity Fuels Autonomous Vehicle Engineering Dreams
September 15, 2016
Online education company Udacity on Tuesday introduced a new "nanodegree" program in self-driving auto engineering. President Sebastian Thrun made the announcement. The goal is to build a crowdsourced, open source self-driving car, he said. Students will learn the skills and techniques used by self-driving car teams at the most innovative companies in the world, Udacity has promised.
Arya.ai's Braid Aims to Weave Together Neural Network Components
September 13, 2016
Startup Arya.ai on Monday introduced Braid, an open source tool available for free to companies developing neural networks. Braid is a flexible, customizable, modular meta-framework that works with operating systems for deep learning, according to the company. It is designed for rapid development and to support arbitrary network designs. It is simple and scalable, Arya.ai said.
How China Could Take Over the World's Tech and Automotive Markets
September 12, 2016
Nvidia and Baidu recently made an announcement with regard to self-driving cars that deserves closer attention. China currently is behind the U.S. in automotive technology, but it has passed the U.S. and Japan in automobile production -- I actually thought Japan was still ahead. China is producing twice the number of cars the U.S. is producing right now.
Dreaming Up Einstein
September 10, 2016
Salesforce isn't waiting for Dreamforce to begin the drumbeat over its AI offering called "Einstein." There is so much to discuss about this turn of events that it's hard to begin, so rather than starting at a conventional jumping-off point I'll start with the name. You couldn't have lived at any point in the 20th century and not have some idea of who Albert Einstein was.
Nvidia, Baidu Team on Cloud-to-Car AI Platform
September 1, 2016
Nvidia and Baidu have agreed to collaborate on the incorporation of artificial intelligence in a cloud-to-car autonomous vehicle platform, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said Wednesday. The companies plan to integrate Baidu's cloud platform and mapping technology with Nvidia's self-driving computing platform. They also will work together to create solutions for high-definition maps.
Einstein to Make Dreamforce Appearance
August 25, 2016
Salesforce plans to unveil Einstein, an artificial intelligence product, at next month's Dreamforce 16. Einstein integration will give Salesforce's sales, service, marketing, collaboration and e-commerce products predictive suggestion and insights capabilities. It will serve as a new nerve system across the entire business. AI is key to Salesforce's future, CEO Marc Benioff has emphasized.
Gadget Ogling: Musical Pizza Boxes, Backup Backpacks, and Tattooing Robots
August 25, 2016
Call it a gimmick, but I'm very much into the idea of having a pizza box that doubles as a turntable. Pizza Hut partnered with Novalia to make the box, which includes pitch and volume controls, a mixer, and touch-sensitive decks. Using printed electronics, DJs can crossfade, rewind and even scratch. The box pairs with smartphones and computers using Bluetooth and works with DJ software.
From the Olympic Non-Robbery to Ford Getting Out of Cars, to Evil NSA: A Strange Week
August 22, 2016
There were three stories that caught my eye last week that I think deserve some additional discussion. One is the alleged robbery of U.S. Olympians followed by questions of whether it really happened because their phones weren't stolen. There may be a legitimate reason for that, and it's one that suggests a lot of folks will be getting huge cellphone bills next month.
Uber Revs Engine in Self-Driving Race
August 18, 2016
Uber on Thursday announced plans to begin testing semi-autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh later this month. Its first partially self-driving Volvo XC90 vehicles reportedly will be assigned at random to customers who use the company's app. Each of the prototype cars will have an actual human on board to act as copilot and monitor the vehicle's performance from the driver's seat.
Intel's Project Alloy Tosses Reality Into a Blender
August 17, 2016
Intel on Tuesday presented its virtual reality vision -- a vision that mixes virtual and real worlds into a kind of merged reality -- to developers attending a conference in San Francisco. Mixing reality and unreality sometimes can be a recipe for disaster, but Intel thinks it will be a formula for success. At the center of Intel's vision is its Project Alloy mobile headset and its cutting edge RealSense software.
Intel Snaps Up Nervana to Jump-Start AI
August 16, 2016
Intel last week announced the acquisition of startup Nervana, in a bid to enhance the company's capabilities in artificial intelligence and deep learning. Nervana jumped out of the gate at its 2014 launch with a robust platform for deep learning, a framework called "Nervana Neon," and the Nervana Engine -- a groundbreaking ASIC chip scheduled for introduction by the first quarter of 2017.
DARPA Rewards Best Bug-Bombing Bots
August 11, 2016
The code warriors of the future literally might be computer code acting as warriors to defend against attackers on computer networks. DARPA gave us a glimpse into that future last Sunday, when it announced the winners of its Cyber Grand Challenge at DEF CON. Seven teams participated in the challenge to create systems that used bots to find and fix software problems without human intervention.
Alexa Takes On Smart Home Security Responsibilities
August 5, 2016
Millions of customers using Amazon's Alexa voice assistant technology now can add locks that can be controlled remotely to the growing ecosystem of smart home capabilities. August Home last week announced that Amazon's line of voice-assisted products, including the Echo, now support its smart products, allowing users to lock and unlock their doors using voice commands.
Gadget Ogling: Pokémon Go Drones, New Old Nintendo, and Snowden-Secured Smartphones
August 2, 2016
Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality smartphone game that's been eating away at the fabric of society in recent weeks, is enormously fun. I enjoy the mechanics, and that it pushes me to go on longer walks. That's all well and good in the nicer weather, but when there's two feet of snow, I don't really want to traipse around so much. That's why Pokédrone might be my new favorite thing.
UK Greenlights Amazon's Drone Delivery Tests
August 2, 2016
Amazon, which has appealed to U.S. regulators for years for permission to test package delivery with aerial drones, last week announced a new partnership with the UK government to launch a pilot program there. A cross-government team, supported by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, has granted Amazon permission to begin testing three critical performance factors.
Uber Sees the Cartography on the Wall
August 1, 2016
With an eye on its future, Uber last week announced it was increasing its investment in mapping. "The ongoing need for maps tailored to the Uber experience is why we're doubling down on our investment in mapping," said Brian McClendon, Uber's vice president of advanced technologies. Uber has committed to investing $500 million in the mapping initiative, according to news reports.
SolarCity Deal Would Take Tesla Where No Company Has Gone Before
August 1, 2016
Tesla Motors has announced that it has reached an agreement to purchase SolarCity. The deal could create the world's first vertically integrated sustainable energy company. The merger would drive efforts to develop rooftop solar systems, and better storage batteries for homes and businesses, as well as electric vehicles. It would, in essence, tie together Elon Musk's sustainable energy businesses.
Gadget Ogling: Pretty Printers, Bargain Smartwatches, and Font Finders
July 26, 2016
Paper, designed by Ludwig Rensch, is sadly a concept for now. It holds a ream of paper to make loading the printing material easier than shuffling with a stack of loose leafs. It can scan documents and send them to your phone if you desire. It can make copies. There's a string of LEDs to show how much ink is left for each color, and there's even a handle on top .
Aquila Test Flight Carries Facebook's Internet Ambitions Aloft
July 26, 2016
Facebook has carried out the first full-scale test flight of Aquila, a high-altitude solar-powered unmanned aircraft designed to provide Internet access to remote regions. The company had flown a one-fifth scale version of the airplane for several months. The full-sized craft has the wingspan of a Boeing 737 -- 46 yards -- but reportedly weighs less than 900 pounds fully laden.
Musk Plots Out Tesla's Next 10 Years
July 22, 2016
Elon Musk has unveiled a second master plan for Tesla, a follow-up to the vision he shared 10 years ago. The original master plan is now in the final stages of execution. The refresh sketches out a multiyear, four-pronged strategy that is about more than vehicles. Musk also plans to advance an integrated solar-roof-with-battery product and create a ride-sharing program, among other things.
Teal Pushes Drone Speed Limits
July 21, 2016
Teal Drones on Wednesday introduced what it billed as the world's fastest production drone. Aside from its drone's capabilities, the company is drawing attention because George Matus Jr., its founder and CEO, is an 18-year-old recent high school graduate. The drone can fly at 70 mph in all weather conditions and has reached a top speed of 85 mph. It can withstand 40 mph winds.
Gadget Ogling: Purely Personal Air, Transparent Audio, and Wah-Pedaling Shoes
July 18, 2016
I was diagnosed with mild asthma as a kid. I don't take any medication, yet knowing that illness lives in my respiratory system means I try to be especially conscious of what I'm breathing. Air quality is difficult to control, so a personal air purifier is something that fundamentally interests me. Wynd filters allergens, dust, smoke and other pollutants.
Apple Patents Tech to Foil Concert Pirates
July 16, 2016
A patent for an infrared system that could be used to shut off iPhone cameras and microphones at live performances is one of dozens recently awarded to Apple. The system could assist the music and movie industries by automatically disabling camera functions at movies or concerts. It could have other applications as well -- for example, turning an iOS device into a museum or city tour guide.
Consumer Reports Urges Tesla to Pull Plug on Autopilot
July 15, 2016
Consumer Reports has urged Tesla to disable the automatic steering function and change the name of its Autopilot driving assist feature. Questions recently have arisen over whether Tesla's Model S vehicles can operate safely without regular human intervention. Consumer Reports' change request sprang from concerns over a number of recent test crashes, including a fatal accident in Florida.
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What's your alarm level over cyberattacks on the Internet's infrastructure?
Red: A deadly cyberwar will occur -- It's when, not if.
Orange: A big one could be costly and threaten public safety.
Yellow: We need to improve cybersecurity at a faster pace.
Blue: Regional outages will become more frequent and more annoying.
Green: There's no way anyone could take out the entire Internet.