If you love robots, there are a bunch of robotics competitions happening across the United States right now. Jeff Butts has all of the details about this steamworks-themed event pitting high school students against the clock and their opponents.
We write here a lot of about small drones. Amazon wants to deliver packages with drones. Drones have taken breathtaking aerial views of Apple Park. But what happens when one of the larger drones accidentally slams into a human being? Time for the automotive crash-test dummies to step up and tell the story! Well, the instrumentation does. Bloomberg has a great story on “Crashing Drones into Test Dummies for Safety” Watch a drone disintegrate as it strikes a crash-test dummy. It’s a battle of the bots. All for human safety, of course.
Check out Pebby, a pet toy that is raking in the pledges at Kickstarter. The company behind Pebby isn’t using these words, but think of it as “Sphero for your pet.” I bet Sphero is thinking that, too, but that’s for them to worry about. Anyway, this ball has a camera in it for recording your pet’s adorable antics or remotely monitoring said pet. That’s all well and good, BUT IT HAS LASERS, TOO! With an automatic “play” mode, Pebby will occupy and exercise your pet all on its own. And did I mention lasers? The play mode can activate those lasers and drive your cat to adorable antics! And boom! Video those antics at the same time. It charges in a cradle, and it can return to that cradle on its own. That means less stepping on it in the dark. Oh, and it pairs with a dongle you put on your pet, which helps Pebby interact with it. Watch the video to see Pebby in action. This is a brand new Kickstarter, and it’s already raised $68,000, well past its $50,000 goal. As of this writing, there are still Super Early Bird Special pledge levels of $124 that will net you a Pebby Smart Ball, Smart collar, and Wireless Charging Dock.
Siri started out with a female voice exclusively, but now it can be changed to male. Alexa uses only a female voice. Cortana’s voice, for now, is strictly female. Why is that? Is it sexism? Is it for better intelligibility? John looks into the matter.
It’s seldom convincing to pretend to know what Steve Jobs would have done in any situation were he alive today. We have general ideas, but invoking him as a cloak of authority is fraught with problems. On the other hand, when someone intimately familiar with Steve Jobs makes an astute observation, it’s worth a read. John Martellaro found one of those insights and highlights it.
Much has been written now about the moral guidance for autonomous cars and trucks. It’s a difficult problem that involves quantifying then instantiating into software the logic of life and death decisions. It would be nice for society to have more time to ponder, but the pace of technology leaves us precious little time for that. Machines are going to make moral decisions very soon. Shall we let them?
People are walking around, staring at their iPhones, mesmerized by messages and selfies. They’re reading lurid news, glued to YouTube videos and immersing themselves in Pokémon GO. Is this robotic behavior slowly replacing typical human behavior? Is it happening faster than robots can become more human? Could robots someday role reverse and become more human than we used to be? Page 2 of Friday’s Particle Debris expands the initial discussion and leaves us to ponder.
It’s a battle between two corporate giants. In one corner we have Apple. In the other corner is the networks. Neither side needs the other. Each side would like to gain, by agreement, from the other’s strengths. Neither side wants to give in much, thinking they know a lot about their own industry. How will it end? Which side is better prepared for the future?
The iPad launched with great enthusiasm, and just about everyone had to have one. It was boldly declared to be the harbinger of the Post-PC era. But then it faltered. Now, Apple is positioning the iPad to take up its long-intended role as the PC replacement. Here’s how Apple is going to return the iPad to glory.