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Amazon Prime Air Zips Through British Countryside
December 15, 2016
Amazon on Wednesday announced that it had completed its first drone delivery in the UK. During the private customer trial period, packages of up to 5 pounds will be delivered within half an hour. The first live delivery took place a week ago, when a highly automated drone delivered a bag of popcorn and an Amazon Fire TV to a customer near Cambridge. It took 13 minutes for the order to arrive.
Uber's Self-Driving Fleet Takes On San Francisco
December 14, 2016
Uber on Wednesday rolled out a fleet of self-driving cars in San Francisco, the second U.S. city to participate in its pilot project. Pittsburgh was the first. Riders who request an UberX -- the lowest-priced Uber vehicle -- will be matched with one of the self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs if one is available and if the customers are willing, according to Anthony Levandowski, head of Uber's Advanced Technology Group.
Magic Leap Catches Flak Over Tricky Video
December 13, 2016
It turns out the awe-inspiring video Magic Leap unveiled last year is not a demo of its still-secretive mixed reality technology, but a bit of sleight of hand from special effects firm Weta Workshop, which is credited at the beginning and end of the clip. Magic Leap's post -- titled "Just another day in the office at Magic Leap" -- claims the video shows a game being played around the office.
Microsoft and Intel's Project Evo Ups the PC Game
December 9, 2016
Microsoft and Intel have announced Project Evo, their highly anticipated collaboration to create the next generation of personal computers. The project aims to expand on new advances in AI, mixed reality, advanced security and gaming, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft, unveiled some of Project Evo's ambitious plans at the WinHEC event in China.
Microsoft, Qualcomm Tuck Windows 10 Into ARM Devices
December 8, 2016
Microsoft on Wednesday announced the compatibility of Windows 10 and native Windows apps with ARM-based processors, including Qualcomm's Snapdragon, which currently powers a large percentage of Android devices. The new partnership will make it possible for Windows applications, peripherals and enterprise solutions to run on new mobile, power efficient and always-connected cellular PCs.
Uber Sees Gold in Autonomous Vehicle Field
December 7, 2016
Uber has announced the acquisition of startup Geometric Intelligence, a move designed to increase its presence in the autonomous vehicle technology field. Geometric CEO Gary Marcus will become the chief of Uber's new artificial intelligence business. He will lead the newly formed Uber AI Labs, which will be dedicated to conducting research into artificial intelligence and machine learning.
How Amazon Could Reshape More Industries in 2017
December 7, 2016
Anyone who attended the recent AWS re:Invent conference -- or watched many sessions online, as I did -- probably is still trying to absorb the full implications of all of the company's initiatives unveiled at the event. Although AWS already has redefined the computing and software development industries fundamentally, with its groundbreaking IaaS offerings, it isn't resting on its laurels.
Amazon's Register-Free Grocery Shopping Could Disrupt Retail
December 6, 2016
Amazon on Monday unveiled a prototype convenience store called "Amazon Go," which uses mobile e-commerce, machine learning and computer vision to allow customers to make purchases without a cashier. The 1,800 square foot concept store in Seattle uses the company's Just Walk Out technology, which incorporates many of the same concepts found in self-driving cars, Amazon said.
AI Platforms Welcome Devs With Open Arms
December 6, 2016
Two leaders in the field of artificial intelligence have announced that they're open-sourcing their AI platforms. After investing in building rich simulated environments to serve as laboratories for AI research, Google's DeepMind Lab said it would open the platform for the broader research community's use. DeepMind has "only barely scratched the surface of what is possible," the team said.
Facebook Videos Explain AI in a Nutshell
December 5, 2016
Facebook last week released six videos to educate people about artificial intelligence. AI will bring major changes to society, and will be the backbone of many of the most innovative apps and services of the future, but it remains mysterious, noted Yann LeCun, Facebook's director of AI research, and Joaquin Candela, the company's director of applied machine learning in an online post.
AWS Announces AI, Hybrid Cloud Innovations
December 3, 2016
Amazon Web Services has introduced a new set of technologies designed to pull the artificial intelligence expertise developed for its core retail business into the cloud, while expanding its hybrid cloud technologies into the field, where data services can use the IoT to access connected devices. AWS CEO Andy Jassy unveiled the new lineup of services at the company's annual re:Invent conference.
Apple Drone Fleet to Gather Maps Data
December 2, 2016
Apple reportedly has assembled a group of robotics and data-collection experts who will use drones to obtain data for updates to its Maps app. Apple, Google and others in the cartography space currently collect a lot of their data using motor vehicles equipped with high-tech gear. "That's a very expensive and time-consuming process," said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant Research.
Here's Looking at You, Alexa
November 30, 2016
Amazon is developing a premium version of its Alexa-powered Echo speaker, which will have a 7-inch touchscreen, in a bid to stave off competition from Google and other companies developing rival offerings, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. Designed for use in the kitchen, the new device would have an upward-tilting touchscreen that would permit a user to swipe controls from a standing position.
How AI Could End Stupid Thanksgiving Arguments
November 28, 2016
I'm writing this before Thanksgiving, which I used to hate and now don't -- largely because I no longer spend the day arguing with family. I've been listening to a lot of friends and relatives dread this year's event because of political discussions that are likely to occur, and the equally annoying comments and critiques from those who supported both candidates.
Gadget Ogling: Big Bendy Screens, Chatterbox Robots, and TV in the Cloud
November 22, 2016
I'm at long last about to start setting up my new home office. Goodbye, Ikea dining table. Hello, fancy new desk. When I actually have my new setup, I'd like to have a monitor at long last to complement my laptop. AOC's latest is under serious consideration. The AG352QCX is a 35-inch, curved behemoth with two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI 2.0 input, VGA, DVI, audio in and out ports, and DisplayPort 1.2.
One of the Best New VR Things: Buying a Car
November 21, 2016
I had a fascinating experience last week. I got to see and experience the new Jaguar I-Pace, the company's electric answer to the as-yet-unannounced Tesla Y SUV. I didn't just get to see the car -- I got to understand intimately why the car was created and what went into its design. I got to experience aspects of the vehicle viscerally, without actually getting into it.
GoPro's Drone Initiative Crashes With Karma Recall
November 18, 2016
GoPro's ambitious plans to be a player in the fledgling drone market crashed last week when it had to announce a product recall due to Karma UAV units falling from the sky. The company needed to resolve a performance issue related to loss of power during operation, it said. It indicated it would resume shipment of Karma at some point, but didn't suggest when.
First Hyperloop Could Blaze a Trail Between Dubai and Abu Dhabi
November 12, 2016
Hyperloop One, which aims to fulfill the vision of high-speed transportation promoted by Elon Musk, has signed a deal to develop a line between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. The project reportedly will have several stations throughout Dubai connecting the hyperloop system to Abu Dhabi. Pods will carry passengers and cargo between the two.
Daydream Believers May Boost VR, Suggest Early Reviews
November 10, 2016
Reviews for Google's Daydream View VR headset began to appear on Thursday, and the consensus among those who were able to test the new US$79 device appears to be two thumbs up. Although it has limitations, Daydream could be a gateway to affordable virtual reality technology, they suggested. The headset needs to be paired with Google's new line of Pixel and Pixel XL phones.
Samsung's Next Galaxy Phone Could Have Siri-Like Smarts
November 9, 2016
Samsung Electronics this week revealed plans to unveil its flagship Galaxy S8 mobile phone with a new digital assistant powered by AI. The assistant will be based on technology gained with Samsung's recent acquisition of Viv Labs. The plans call for Samsung to incorporate the AI into its family of electronics and appliances, ranging from mobile devices to wearable technology and home devices.
Microsoft Sees 3D Future for Everyone
November 3, 2016
Microsoft last week unveiled its new vision for bringing 3D to the masses through a modernized version of its Paint application for Windows 10. Paint 3D will be available in the Windows 10 Creators Update. Anyone who would like to start creating and sharing in Paint 3D can do so by joining the Windows Insider Program -- available for PC and Phone -- the company said.
MIT's Nightmare Machine Churns Out AI-Generated Horror
October 31, 2016
In honor of Halloween, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab launched the Nightmare Machine website, which allows visitors to vote on AI-generated horror images created via an open source deep neural network algorithm developed last year. Scientists from the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization collaborated on the project.
Microsoft Open Sources AI Toolkit
October 28, 2016
Microsoft has released an updated version of its Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit as an open source Beta. The deep learning system is used to speed advances in areas such as speech and image recognition and search relevance on CPUs and Nvidia GPUs. It also works with Microsoft's Azure GPU offering. The toolkit's developers initially were looking for a tool to speed up and improve their own research.
IBM's Watson Smartens Up iOS Enterprise Apps
October 27, 2016
IBM has announced that it will incorporate its IBM Watson cognitive capabilities into the MobileFirst for iOS ecosystem to help boost the productivity of the global workforce. It was a little more than two years ago that the company entered a groundbreaking partnership with Apple to enhance the mobile enterprise space. The move is part of an overall rollout of enhancements to IBM's Watson tech.
Microsoft's New Tech Targets Human Creativity
October 27, 2016
Microsoft made a slew of announcements at its New York City event Wednesday, focusing on the idea of user as creator. Among its new offerings: the Surface Studio, an all-in-one desktop computer with a touchscreen that's 12.5mm thick; the Surface Dial, a new input device that provides haptic feedback; the Surface Book i7; VR headsets for Windows 10; and a revamped Paint app with 3D capability.
Gadget Ogling: Magnificent Mics, Intriguing E-Ink, and Compact Computers
October 26, 2016
I've tried dipping my toes into the world of podcasting with a friend this year. We haven't found it easy to get together to record, but for the two trial runs we've had, I bought a Blue Snowball mic. I'm very pleased with the sound quality, so I'm fairly certain I'd be happy to have Blue's latest microphone, Raspberry. It's a gorgeous, portable little thing.
Why Large Companies Can't Innovate
October 24, 2016
One of the things that has made Dell World very different is that at the end, one or more controversial speakers take the stage and provide an incredible amount of insight for the folks who haven't left early. All three of the last three speeches were fascinating, but it wasn't until I wove them together that it became clear to me why innovation seems to evaporate the larger a company becomes.
Tesla: Everyone Gets a Self-Driving Car
October 21, 2016
Tesla on Wednesday announced plans to install hardware that will allow all of its cars to become driverless. The equipment will enable self-driving at a safety level substantially greater than human-driven cars, according to the company. The hardware includes eight cameras to provide 360-degree visibility; 12 ultrasonic sensors to detect hard and soft objects; and forward-facing radar.
Microsoft AI Beats Humans at Speech Recognition
October 20, 2016
Microsoft's Artificial Intelligence and Research Unit earlier this week reported that its speech recognition technology had surpassed the performance of human transcriptionists. The team last month published a paper describing its system's accuracy, said to be superior to that of IBM's famed Watson artificial intelligence.
AI and Customer Loyalty
October 19, 2016
AI and machine learning have taken the industry by storm. Some say they will usher in a new age of better business processes and customer orientation, while others fret that automation will kill jobs. There definitely will be jobs that no longer make sense for humans to do, thanks to automation. However, there are some neglected business processes where AI and ML could make real contributions.
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What's your reaction to the Turkish Crime Family's claim that it can access hundreds of millions of iCloud accounts?
I'm very worried -- I take all cyberthreats seriously.
I'm feeling secure -- I changed my password and set up 2FA.
I'm angry -- companies need to be more responsible.
I'm not at all concerned -- I trust Apple.
I'm resigned -- I expect to be breached at some point.
I don't care much -- the world has bigger problems.