The battlefield amongst the tech giants is constantly shifting. Each is innovating while looking for weaknesses in the competitors. A formal Apple partnership with Microsoft would change the balance of power.
Dr. Kiki Sanford is a neurophysiologist, a popular science communicator and creator of This Week in Science (TWIS) podcast and radio show. This is her fourth appearance here. In this episode, we chat about some some very interesting recent topics on TWIS. 1) Researchers showed that mini human brains implanted into mouse brains survived and functionally integrated into the host tissue. 2) Magnetoreception in birds is possible thanks to a protein in their eyes. They may actually have a heads-up display in their eyes for the Earth’s magnetic field. 3) Amazon’s announcement of its Vesta family robot project. 4) A new, non-invasive patch is being developed to allow diabetics to monitor their gluscose levels. Kiki has a special way of inspiring us to learn about science, so don’t miss BGM’s most popular guest.
Our popular culture carries with it themes, pseudo-science, and technical fears. Woe to any company whose product missteps into that quagmire.
Apple’s educational coding environment Swift Playgrounds 2 for iPad is available now with support for subscribing to playgrounds from third-party developers and additional robots.
Apple’s free Hour of Code classes for kids in its retail stores runs December 4th through 10th, and registration is open now. The sessions are open to kids age 12 and older and uses Swift Playgrounds on the iPad to teach coding concepts with robots. The company’s Hour of Code curriculum is available for free online, too, so schools can take advantage of Apple’s materials, too. You can sign up your kids for sessions at the special Today at Apple Hour of Code website.
From every quarter, details are emerging about the amazing nature of the iPhone X.
The new Apple TV 4K ushers in a new era of TV technology for Apple customers, so it’s time to learn some new tech.
Apple has been all about making our digital lives better with beautifully integrated hardware and software. What’s the thinking behind a billions dollars to compete with Netflix and Amazon?
Siri is our first exposure to artificial intelligence and may tell us something about whether AIs and robots will put us all out of work.
Apple announced exciting new Macs at WWDC 2017, but there are some loose ends that need attention before all’s well.
Apple Camp, which is Apple’s annual summer creative learning series for kids, is open for registration.
Robots are finding their way into our homes, and John Martellaro thinks Apple needs to set the bar for quality and security. John, along with Bryan Chaffin join Jeff Gamet to share their thoughts on Apple’s place in the personal robot market, plus they look at today’s iPhone 8 leak showing the Touch ID sensor embedded in the display.
Several things have become clear regarding AIs in our lives. There is little regulation. AIs can be manipulated in clever ways. Small devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo have very indirect business models so that they can be priced for the middle class, but have hidden drawbacks. John wonders where all this will lead with family service robots if Apple doesn’t step in and do it right.
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.