Tag Archives: AI

The Apocalypticon ~ around the world and (almost) back again

Around the world … A survey of satellite data published in the journal Cryosphere [links to a PDF] confirms what scientists have suspected for a while now: ice loss from the critical region of Antarctica is happening at an increasingly fast pace.
Antarctica lost roughly 1929 gigatons (a gigaton is one billion tons) of ice in 2015, which amounts to an increase of roughly 36 gigatons per year every year since 2008. Nearly 90% of that increase in loss occurred in West Antarctica, “probably in response to ocean warming,” according to NASA.
Photos and video emerging from the Indonesian island of Sumatra are absolutely terrifying. Thankfully, no one has been hurt, but the smoke and ash bubbling from Mount Sinabung after an eruption on February 19th is like watching a mythical monster slowing taking over the sky (left).
High levels of microplastics have been found in Northwest Atlantic fish. A study, published in open-access journal Frontiers in Marine Science, found microplastics in the stomachs of nearly three out of every four mesopelagic fish caught in the Northwest Atlantic.
And in the US, where a deranged president is urging teachers to get armed and trained [oh yay, schoolyard firefights, they won’t be dangerous …], legislators declared porn is a health risk but assault weapons are fine.
But actually, America’s greatest vulnerability is its continued inability to acknowledge the extent of its adversaries’ capabilities when it comes to cyber threats, says Ian Bremmer, founder and president of leading political risk firm Eurasia Group.
The latest bug to hit Apple devices wrought havoc on the internet.The issue, which has become known as the Telugu bug, gave people the ability to crash a wide range of iPhone, Mac and iPad apps just by sending a single character from the third-most-spoken language in India. Apple patched the bug a few days later (so update your Apple devices!) because mean-spirited users took to using the Telugu symbol to “bomb” other peoples’ devices. By adding the symbol to a user’s Twitter name, you can crash the iOS Twitter app simply by liking someone’s tweet.

Emerging risks of AI — A new report authored by over two-dozen experts on the implications of emerging technologies is sounding the alarm bells on the ways artificial intelligence could enable new forms of cybercrime, physical attacks, and political disruption over the next five to ten years.

Bonkers clock — Depending on the day, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is either the richest or second richest human on Earth. And while he’s trying to figure out how to use some of that money philanthropically, he announced construction has begun on the giant clock in the middle of nowhere that he put up $US42 million to build. The 10,000 Year Clock is intended as a symbolic reminder that we should consider the long-term impact of our actions.
~ Or he could spend that money on actually helping people … twat

Finally, some goodish news: more than 50% of Australia’s coal fleet will be over 40 years old by 2030, and the Australian electricity grid, along with these ageing fossil fuelled power stations, are increasingly vulnerable to worsening extreme weather events.
To reach zero carbon pollution well before 2050 in order to effectively tackle climate change, Australia needs to increase reliance on renewable energy. The good news is that Australia could reach 50% renewables by 2030 even without significant new energy storage.


Tomorrows’s big event, iPhone evolution, hints of new iPod touch, AI and sleep for Watch

(Image from Apple’s event live-streaming page for September 2017

Where to watch the Apple event livestream tomorrow — Tomorrow’s Apple event (13th September in New Zealand is 12th September in the US) should prove to be one of the most interesting product reveals in the history of the company, even if this weekend’s leaks took a bit of the surprise out of what we expect to see. Live streaming uses Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) technology and HLS requires an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with Safari on iOS 9.0 or later, a Mac with Safari on macOS v10.11 or later, or a PC with Microsoft Edge on Windows 10.
Apple has the livestream page all ready to go, and you can even add an event to your calendar to remind you to watch. There’s the Apple Events app on Apple TV (streaming via Apple TV requires an Apple TV 2nd or 3rd generation with software 6.2 or later or an Apple TV 4th generation).

I will be updating this site from 7am NZ time — I gather together multiple sources and try and publish the most cogent information. Initial posts may be followed by additional posts with, for example, more information and NZ prices/availability. [But I have a prediction: 20-50% of any new features will hardly be used by anyone.] 

Phone X event at Steve Jobs Theater frames the future of Apple, Inc reckons Daniel Eran Dilger at Apple Insider — “Next Tuesday, Apple is expected to unveil its largest array of new product introductions ever, ranging from iPhone 8 and a premium new iPhone X to a new 4K/HDR Apple TV, new Apple Watch Series 3, revamped AirPods and the new HomePod appliance–as well as its new Apple Park campus. Here’s why it all matters, focusing on the new lineup of iPhones.” [Er, doesn’t every announcement ‘frame the future of Apple’, Daniel?]

Evolution of the iPhone — Gadgets Desk has a good infographic tracing the evolution of the iPhone, from the original iPhone to current rumors for Tuesday’s iPhone 8/iPhone X launch. It’s an interesting walk down memory lane that includes specs and pics for each iPhone model (minus iPhone 5C and iPhone SE).
And an infographic from Decluttr shows how the Internet reacted to the iPhone over the years.  You’ll have to scroll for a while to get to the iPhone 7/7 Plus, but the comments are well worth your time.

A new iPod touch may be coming soon — Along with all of the other goodness found in this weekend’s leak of the iOS 11 golden master, it appears that the iPod touch may finally get an update. Leak source Benjamin Geskin found reference to a device labeled as “iPod8,1” in the code, which may point to an all new iPod touch.

Bodymatter, Inc. today announced the latest version of their iPhone and Apple Watch app, Sleep Watch — The company breaks new ground with the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in its popular sleep tracking app to empower individuals with unparalleled insight and control over their own sleep habits and general wellbeing.
Bodymatter’s AI is presented to users through the Discover feature, which provides users with feedback on how certain behaviors are influencing indicators of their sleep. The app gathers data as the user wears their Apple Watch and it finds statistically significant relationships between users’ habits (including exercise) and the quality of their sleep. The data is then shared with each user through Discover. By providing individualised insight on behaviors, users can then make smarter, and hopefully healthier, choices every day. Cost is NZ$4.49/US2.99.

Tuesday Talk ~ Augmenting this reality

NZ developers Quiver created this tech that brings things alive on physical colouring pages

The problem with Augmented Reality is, simply put, processing power, but this is something all smart and tablet devices are steadily overcoming. That said, even ten years ago there were some genuinely interesting and effective examples of augmented reality. Indeed, it was the buzz back then, but what happened? Pokémon Go, if anything, is what put it back on the table.

Apple is taking it really seriously now, too, with the release of ARKit, which helps developers create augmented reality apps. Augmented reality places extra content over an overlay usually served by the device’s camera: hold your phone up, for example, over a street scene and see additional information overlaid, or a historic site as it looked in the 1880s. Or try new furniture in your own lounge, or impose fantastical storylines on existing scenes, or play dress-ups. Once again, apps like these were available ten years ago already. But releasing ARKit really boots along the whole franchise. New Zealand companies have long been strong in this realm too, for example Quiver which has been making strong, effective AR content from long before ARKit arrived.
(If you want to see if you can run ARKit on your device, here’s a list.)

Apple has made other interesting forays too, of course. Another developer kit is HomeKit, and we saw HomePod announced at WWDC. This little round speaker is easy to write off as ‘just another’ networked speaker, but we won’t really know its full potential until it’s released, of course. But what it will actually do is enable all your Apple devices: your iPads, iPhone, Watch and Mac, to be expressed audibly, tying them all together in useful ways. HomePod will also connect to door chimes, thermostats, garage doors, air conditioners, electrical outlets and more. Literally, you could soon be controlling everything you interact with via your iPhone in your pockets, and you may be able to say things like ‘Open front door’ to your HomePod as well. Perhaps most interestingly, HomePod will work with energy management technologies: imagine a future where your solar roof panels power all these devices and you interact with them via HomePod, including managing your Apple home battery (Tesla has already entered this field – a home battery stores the day’s solar energy so you can use it at night, and not just when the sun is shining).

So, what about Artificial Intelligence? A cuddly pod we can all understand: talk to it, and it responds, and plays music … Artificial Intelligence is another story. You know, it’s intelligent. I have always imagined, thanks to a steady diet of sci-fi growing up, that if anything with any power had the same or better intelligence the us, it would (very sensibly) want to get rid of us. Look at us! We’re idiots. We’re wrecking our home planet and voting for even worse idiots than us.

Am I being crazy? Facebook’s AI program developed its own language, and humans couldn’t understand it. This all went a bit sideways when Facebook’s scientists and engineers realized they couldn’t understand their own chatbots. So Facebook had to shut them down. Yikes!