Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Gates & Musk On The Inevitable A.I. Apocalypse

Bill Gates is arguably one of the smartest men in the world; his passion for technology cannot be understated. In addition to that Gates is also one of the biggest philanthropists in the world, but his outlook isn't positive on all things, namely artificial intelligence.

Image Credit: Simon Davis/DFID

Ask Me Anything - Gates

During a recent Ask Me Anything session on Reddit, Gates answered questions on topics that ranged from his biggest regrets to his favorite foods and outlined his predictions on the future, predictions that are both optimistic and ominous.

About halfway through the Q&A Gates was asked what personal computing will look like in 2045, to which Gates responded by saying that the next 30 years will be a time of rapid progress. Gates wrote, "Even in the next 10 years problems like vision and speech, understanding and translation will be very good. Mechanical robot tasks like picking fruit or moving a hospital patient will be solved. Once computers/robots get to a level of capability where seeing and moving is easy for them then they will be used very extensively."

Personal Agent Project

Gates then went on to talk about Microsoft's "Personal Agent" project, which is being designed to help people manage their memory, attention and focus. According to Gates, "The idea that you have to find applications and puck them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model - the agent will help solve this. It will work on all your devices."

Responses from the Redditers was mixed, with some users poking fun at Gates and others raising suspicions. "This technology you are developing sounds at its essence like the centralization of knowledge intake," wrote one users. "Ergo, whoever controls this will control what information people make their own. Even today, we see the daily consequences of people who live in an environment that essentially tunnel-visions their knowledge."

Summoning The Demon? - Musk

Naturally, this segued into a discussion about the threat of superintelligent machines to the human race. This question has been at the forefront of a lot of recent discussions among the world's leading futurists, including Stephen Hawking, who stated last month that artificial intelligence "could spell the end of the human race". Back in October at the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department's Centennial Symposium, Tesla head Elon Musk referred to A.I. as "summoning the demon".

Musk wrote, "I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I were to guess like what our biggest existential threat is, it's probably that. So we need to be very careful with the artificial intelligence. Increasingly scientists think there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don't do something very foolish. With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. in all those stories where there's the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it's like yeah he's sure he can control the demon. Didn't work out."

British inventor Clive Sinclair stated that he things A.I. will doom mankind. "Once you start to make machines that are rivaling and surpassing humans with intelligence, it's going to be very difficult for us to survive," Sinclair stated. "It's just an inevitability." In his interview, Gates put himself on the side of the alarmed.

Should We Be Concerned?

"I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don't understand why some people are not concerned."

Interestingly enough, Gates' comments come just after the managing director of Microsoft Research's Redmond Lab stated that the doomsday declarations about the threat to human life are over exaggerated.

"There have been concerns about the long-term prospect that we lose control of certain kinds of intelligences," said Eric Horvitz. "I fundamentally don't think that's going to happen. I think that we will be very proactive in the terms of how we field AI systems, and that in the end we'll be able to get incredible benefits from machine intelligence in all realms of life, from science to education to economics to daily life." Horivtz also noted that "over a quarter of all attention and resources" at Microsoft Research are focused on artificial intelligence.

The A.I. Apocalypse

Whether or not artificial intelligence is inevitably the end of mankind is still up for debate, but the good news, at least as far as I'm concerned, is that we still have a long time before any of that happens. Hopefully it's enough time for us to realize we're making an army of terminators before Arnold has to come back and fix things for us.


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Friday, January 23, 2015

Rodent-Sized Computer Is A Mouse AND A Desktop In One!

In Poland, a guy just created the craziest compact PC that you will probably ever see. His new invention is called "The Mouse Box", and it is literally small enough to fit inside a regular computer mouse says a software engineer from Nokia.

Is It A Mouse Or A Computer? Or Both?

Not only can it fit inside of a mouse, but that is exactly what it is: a computer inside of a mouse. With the Mouse Box, you really don't have to worry about traveling with your computer at all. You could probably fit it inside of your pocket actually. By combining a computer and a mouse into one thing, you literally have the two most important aspects of a desktop PC all in one.

But What Are The Specs?

Under the hood of this little guy, there's: a 1.4GHz processor, 128 GB of flash storage, Wi-Fi connectivity, a micro HDMI port so that you can connect it to just about any monitor or even a TV, two USB 3.0 ports, a gyroscope, and an accelerometer. And keep in mind, this is all inside of a mouse.

Which OS Will It Handle?

So far we don't really know what operating systems are able to run on the Mouse Box. But other than that, it has everything it needs to run a lot of programs and process a lot of data. Of course, you will also be able to greatly increase your productivity by using the cloud to for storage.

MouseBox Could Use Your Help!

Right now, the company plans to hopefully launch the product in a few months. At the moment, they are still building prototypes and working on a wireless charger for the Mouse Box. They are also working on trying to find financial backing to make all of this a lot smoother, easier and faster. With a product like this, I feel like it won't be that hard to find investors; though it appears they are still looking for donations and funding. Perhaps the best thing about the Mouse Box is the fact that it is going to be a relatively inexpensive device, so you'll be able to take one home soon!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Look Out iPad Mini, Nvidia's Shield Tablet Is Coming For You

Apple, You Have More Competition

While the iPad may be considered to be "THE" tablet to have, Nvidia's new Shield tablet offers an experience so similar, it's almost scary. First off, the actual feel of the tablet mimics that of the iPad. Everything from the curves to the edges takes influence directly from the iPad, and it's pretty plain to detect once it's in your hands. That being said however, the tablet itself is a bit bigger than the iPad Mini 3. The Shield tablet is a bit heavier, thicker, and taller than the Mini 3, but that doesn't REALLY matter in the grand scheme of things. The Shield comes with a full HD 1,920 x 1,200 resolution display and full stereo speakers on the front as well. In terms of consuming content and basic/light tablet use, it just might be better than the Mini 3
The "Not-For-Gaming" Gaming Tablet

Nvidia is known as a gaming company, and they've even released a console (The Shield Portable). It would be easy to assume that the tablet that they've released would be best suited for gaming, simply by association and track record. The tablet itself can, in fact, game on the go much like the Shield Portable. The only drawback is all of the accessories you need to game properly. What accessories? Well a controller for one and a reliable network for the other. Then if you want to get into multiplayer, you can, even on the same tablet! The problem is that you're gaming on a tablet device with a touchscreen between 4 different people. If your network isn't working well enough, then don't expect to play any top level games either. Enjoying gaming streams works well enough, if you plan on indulging in basic gaming app play.

Tablet Rentals For Business And Personal Events

It Could Be The "Perfect" Media Tab

Being marketed as a gaming tablet could have it's drawbacks for the Shield. Reason being, that it is quite an excellent media tablet. One of the biggest reasons for this is the addition of a stylus with the tablet itself. As long as you have a strong enough connection, you can stream all sorts of software directly to your tablet. For example, Photoshop. Any artist that knows the program well enough has the perfect drawing tablet right in their hands, especially since the touch screen is pressure sensitive as well. Of course, streaming outside of your home might take a bit longer because of the lack of strength with the connection.

The Shield tablet comes with an optional magnetic case, which is highly recommended. It also costs only a fraction of the price of a Galaxy Tab or an iPad Mini 3. It gives the overall, same experience as any other top level tablet, and at only $300 starting price. It's definitely worth checking into.

If you're still having second thoughts about the Nvidia Shield, next year's model is said to have a 64-bit processor, making it even faster!


BlackBerry Is Getting Back To Their Roots With Their New Phone, But They Add The Android App Store

BlackBerry has decided that after almost going out of business and being the underdog for years, they are going to get back in touch with their roots. There are putting out a brand new phone that is inspired by their classic design, except this time they are going to have an Android app store.

The phone is called the BlackBerry Classic. It is going to be shipping out to retailers some time in the middle of December, and there is going to be an official launch event on December 17th.

The Classic is bringing back what originally made BlackBerry what it is. It is going to have a physical QWERTY keyboard underneath it's screen, which is going to be 3.46 inches. It will also have a small trackpad just like the good old days, along with home, back, and menu buttons.

The keyboard isn't the only option to use though. The screen will actually be a touchscreen with 720p high definition with a pixel density of 291 pixels per inch. It also has a dual core 1.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage which can be expanded with the use of a microSD card. Other features include an 8 megapixel camera in the back and a 2 megapixel camera in the front which is perfect for video calling.

The operating system is BlackBerry 10.3.1, and you can still download all of the BlackBerry apps from their own app store. On top of that, you will be able to get Android apps as well. This was one of the biggest things that made people hate BlackBerry. Their app store sucked and offered almost nothing, and Android was killing it with seemingly millions of super useful and fun apps. Now you get to have that with your BlackBerry.

This is going to be a 4G LTE phone, but it won't work with Verizon, Spring, or US Cellular. If you have anything else and you are interested in giving this phone a shot, you should be able to do so.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Move Over iPhone 6, Android One Is A More Serious Threat (In The Low-Cost Market)

When it comes to smartphone operating systems there are really only two big names, Android and iOS (but there is a company that rents them all). I mean, there are others, but they have yet to hit the popularity and esteem of these two. One such operating system is that of Windows Phone. While Windows Phones aren't necessarily bad devices, they simply have had a rough time surpassing Android and iOS devices. Unfortunately for Windows Phone things don't look to be getting any easier. Even though Apple has released the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus its Android that Windows Phone should really be fearing.

Google's Android One project could very well be the final nail in the coffin for Windows Phone, making sure that these devices never become a serious threat to the smartphone market. Apple's newest devices are high-end phones with high-end prices, as usual. The iPhone 6 comes in 16GB, 64GB and 128GB varieties that run $199, $299 and $399, respectively. The iPhone 6 Plus comes with the same three versions with $299, $399 and $499 price tags. 

These numbers make Microsoft extremely happy as the company as all but given up on high-end smartphones. As a result, Microsoft is starting to target consumers that are a little more careful with their money and ones who aren't necessarily willing to for over that kind of cash for a smartphone. The flagship of this new business model is the company's Lumia 830 Windows Phone which comes with a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and a 5" screen. 

Corporate Vice President of Mobile Device Sales at Microsoft Chris Weber was quoted recently at the IFA Electronics Show in Berlin stating that the new marketing strategy for Windows Phone would be pricing. "We're going to challenge Apple and Samsung and expose the premium they are charging for a phone," Weber stated. 

That's the precise reason Microsoft should be worried about Android One. Android One is a project from Google that is designed to reduce the cost of Android phones. The company's target is the developing world, where Nokia used to have a very large presence and where Microsoft is hoping to use the Nokia name to grab a market share with low-cost Windows Phones. 

Google, on the other hand, is making it very easy for phone manufacturers to produce low-cost phones that will run stock Android without any modifications. To make matters worse for Microsoft, Google has already lined up Acer, Alcatel OneTouch, Asus, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic and Xolo along with chipmaker Qualcomm. Android One will launch first in India and then make its way to Indonesia, the Philippines and other South Asian countries by the end of this year. 

Google currently owns nearly 80% of the world's smartphone market. The biggest of these new markets are in developing countries, which is where Windows Phone needs to increase its profits. However, with Android One on the prowl it's unlikely that Microsoft will be able to make a dent in the market. While everyone is gawking at the new iPhones from Apple, Microsoft will be sweating bullets over Google's low-cost Android One phones.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Motorola Goes Crazy, Possibly Launching 8 New Smartphones Within Next 4 Months

Motorola has been popping up in the news left and right lately, but none of that news has been as exciting as the newest announcement from the mobile phone company. According to a recent report from TKTechNews, Motorola is planning on making up for its relatively quiet first half of the year by prepping as many as eight different smartphones all set to launch in the second half of this year. Yeah, you read that right, EIGHT different smartphones.

Phones like the Moto S and Moto X Play are poised to join the familiar Moto X+1 and Moto G but the real big news is that the company could be reviving the formerly popular Droid line with a potential three new Droid phones. If you are an avid follower of the mobile industry then you have probably already heard that Motorola should be releasing new versions of the Moto X and Moto G sometime around September 4. Outside of these two confirmations, everything else is rumor and hearsay, which is where things get tricky.

One model that recently started circling the rumor mill is code named "Shamu" and was tied to some talk regarding Nexus. However, this device could ultimately come out under the Moto S name when, or if, it ever surfaces for real. This shouldn't deter you from hoping for a Motorola Nexus, as that is always a possibility. In addition to that, the Moto X Play could also come out as a mini version of the Moto S.

Even more interesting is the fact that the Droid series of smartphones may no longer be exclusive to Verizon. An anonymous source has indicated that AT&T could be launching their very own branded versions of the handsets. Regardless of carrier, it is advisable for mobile users be on the lookout for a refreshed Droid and Droid Maxx in addition to a Droid Turbo, all set to come out this year. Side note: If you are a Star Wars fan then you will be pleased to know that one of these devices may be offered in conjunction with an upcoming Star Wars promotion, which is pretty exciting news if you ask me.

This is definitely an interesting report, amplified by the fact that we are already well into the second half of the year, meaning there isn't much time left for these eight new Motorola devices to start coming out for real. The specific eight devices that are rumored to be coming out are the Droid, Droid Maxx, Droid Turbo, Moto X+1, a successor to the Moto G, Moto S, Moto X Play and Motorola Nexus. While all these choices may seem like a good idea and a good way to boost sales for Motorola, this could have the opposite effect. Let me explain with an analogy I got from learning improvisational comedy: If I ask you to pick your favorite ice cream, it may take you a while to choose just one, but if I tell you to pick your favorite out of chocolate, strawberry or vanilla, your choice becomes easier and your response faster. Basically what I'm saying is sometimes less is more.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One Phone, Two OS choices Android or Windows

HTC and Microsoft are debuting the HTC One (M8) for Windows, making it the first time a device is offered on multiple operating systems – Android and Windows.

The phone comes with HTC BlinkFeed, HTC BoomSound, Duo Camera with UltraPixel technology, a 5MP wide-angle front-facing camera and support for the HTC Dot View case. 
Other specs include Windows Phone 8.1 Update, which incorporates a host of meaningful innovations including Cortana, Action Center, Apps Corner, and Live Tiles.

Cortana is Windows’ personal digital assistant, makes her HTC debut in this phone. Cortana is adept at search and setting calendar appointments. Cortana also offers the ability to warn you when it’s time to leave for your next appointment or remind you to pick up toilet paper and bread on the way home.

The HTC One (M8) for Windows is also covered by HTC Advantage, which provides the industry’s only free cracked screen replacement.

The HTC One (M8) for Windows is available only through Verizon Wireless.