Monthly Archives: February 2018

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Behind Harman’s Bid to Remake the Car, With Samsung’s Clout Your next car might have LCDs stretching the width of the dash, a moonroof that’s actually a curved OLED panel, mood-shaping audio and cockpit lighting based on how you’re doing right now, and shape-shifting speakers that can sound like different brands. That’s the vision of Harman, now that it’s been a part of Samsung for a year. This is part of a broader trend toward consolidation. The hundred or so microprocessors or electronics modules in your car may soon be distilled down to a half-dozen major modules (with lots of processors inside). The assumption is that there’ll be less wiring inside the car, fewer connectors that can corrode, and better compatibility. For Harman, best known for its infotainment systems, it’s now branching into driver assist technology and support for the higher levels of autonomous driving. Harman’s new UX (user experience) […]

Job One for Quantum Computers: Boost Artificial Intelligence Josef Bsharah/Quanta Magazine In the early ’90s, Elizabeth Behrman, a physics professor at Wichita State University, began working to combine quantum physics with artificial intelligence—in particular, the then-maverick technology of neural networks. Most people thought she was mixing oil and water. “I had a heck of a time getting published,” she recalled. “The neural-network journals would say, ‘What is this quantum mechanics?’ and the physics journals would say, ‘What is this neural-network garbage?’” Quanta Magazine About Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences. Today the mashup of the two seems the most natural thing in the world. Neural networks and other machine-learning systems have become the most disruptive technology of […]

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Transhumanism Is Dominating Sci-Fi TV Netflix The future belongs to those who can afford it. This may be virtually true in today’s world, where surviving retirement can feel impossible, but it’s also the literal premise of Altered Carbon, Netflix’s new prestige sci-fi series. Based on Richard K. Morgan’s novel of same name, the neo-noir is set several hundred years in the future, when human consciousness has been digitized into microchip-like “stacks” constantly being swapped into and out of various bodies, or “sleeves.” This technology, along with innovations like human cloning and artificial intelligence, has given society a quantum leap, but it’s also sent socioeconomic stratification into overdrive, creating dire new realities for the poor and incarcerated while simultaneously producing an elite upper-class. Called “Mets”—short for “Methuselahs”—the members of Altered Carbon’s 0.001 percent have achieved virtual immortality thanks to vaults of their own cloned sleeves and […]

Angry Nerd: The Gig Economy’s Tipping Point The gig economy used to be so blissfully, mindlessly simple: Open app, order service, auto-pay. Boom—that’s it. Then side-gig platforms started turning this refreshingly straightforward transaction into an on-demand guilt trip by asking customers to tip. Wait. Before you @ me (#heartlesscheapskate), hear me out. I have no problem opening my digital wallet so that the first-name-only hero shuttling me through rush hour traffic or building my Ikea bookcase can earn what she deserves. I just don’t want their paycheck left to the discretion of randos like me. Because guess what? I’d rather these companies pay their workers more. It’s maddening to be expected to subsidize their race-to-the-bottom price wars with my cash and conscience. After all, in an Uber the rules aren’t so clear. How much do I tip the driver who endures a 30-­minute rant about my Tinder date? Do I […]