Leisure & Entertainment

Three ways that big data reveals what you really like to watch, read and listen to


Anyone who's watched "Bridget Jones's Diary" knows one of her New Year's resolutions is "Not go out every night but stay in and read books and listen to classical music." The reality, however, is substantially different. What people actually do in their leisure time often doesn't match with what they say they'll do. Economists have termed this phenomenon "hyperbolic discounting." In a famous study titled "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," a couple of economists found that, when people were offered the choice between a pay-per-visit contract and a monthly fee, they were more likely to choose the monthly fee and actually ended up paying more per visit.

The Increasingly Crowded AI Unicorn Club - CB Insights Research


AI startups valued at $1B nearly doubled in 2018. The AI unicorn club is getting crowded. A total of 17 AI startups reached $1B valuations in 2018, up from 9 the previous year. Register for the live briefing to find out about the top AI trends expected to reshape industries and economies this year. We define AI companies as those that use machine learning as a core differentiator, sell AI software, or build AI chips.

Alita: Battle Angel May Actually Get You Excited for the Avatar Sequels


If the eyes are the windows to the soul, the pair belonging to the cyborg heroine of Alita: Battle Angel are a set of double doors flung wide open, as limpid and blossoming as a Keane painting's. Alita (Rosa Salazar) enters the movie atop a heap of scrap outside the settlement of Iron City, which is where most of what human life remains on Earth has clustered in the mid–26th century. Or rather, her head does, along with a remnant of metallic spine dangling below. Storefront cybernetic surgeon Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) finds Alita's central nervous system and rebuilds her from the neck down, but the movie, which was directed by Robert Rodriguez and co-written by James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis, works in the other direction, from the gut--or is it the crotch--to the heart, only occasionally making it all the way to the brain. Although it's set in the year 2563, the driving force behind Alita is nostalgia.

Too scary? Elon Musk's OpenAI company won't release tech that can generate fake news


The spread of fake news is already a very real problem. Artificial intelligence could make the problem even worse. That prospect is so frightening that an Elon Musk-backed non-profit called OpenAI has decided not to publicly circulate AI-based text generation technology that enables researchers to spin an all-too-convincing--and yes, fabricated--machine-written article. "Due to our concerns about malicious applications of the technology, we are not releasing the trained model," OpenAI blogged. Such concerns go beyond just generating misleading news articles.

Second Spectrum and L.A. Clippers Select AWS as Official Cloud and Machine Learning Provider of Clippers CourtVision


The Clippers and Second Spectrum will use AWS machine learning and data analytics services to advance game analyses and drive new experiences for Clippers CourtVision, which launched to great acclaim at the start of the 2018-19 basketball season and has been billed by experts as the future of sports viewing. In addition, Clippers CourtVision will test Amazon SageMaker to build, train, and deploy machine learning-driven stats which will appear on live broadcasts and on-demand NBA game videos. Second Spectrum uses cameras in all 29 NBA arenas to collect 3D spatial data including ball and player locations and movements, which is stored and analyzed on AWS in real time. With help from AWS's broad range of services, Second Spectrum uses that data to generate augmented graphical overlays on Clippers broadcasts in real time, offering users an array of content options and Clippers CourtVision Modes with features ranging from live layouts of basketball plays, to the frame-by-frame probability of a shot going in, to a suite of graphics that animate based on conditions both simple and complex, giving fans a deeper understanding of and interaction with the game as the action unfurls on the court. Clippers CourtVision uses AWS Elemental Media Services to deliver the live game-watching experience.

Machine Learning Saves 'Avengers' VFX Artists Time


For visual-effects artists, time is always a struggle. When the call comes in to create something spectacular, artists and supervisors have to calculate how much run- way they have to get from the point of the idea for the vfx to the deadline. On "Avengers: Infinity War," the vfx crew found that a new innovation -- machine learning -- made it possible to create the character Thanos in a way that would have simply been impossible without it. The filmmakers envisioned a version of Thanos -- played by Josh Brolin -- that would be CG, but also incorporate all the subtle facial expressions and delicate hallmarks of a physical performance that could only been done by an actor. They knew that the facial tracking tech was there but asking vfx artists to manually adjust every inch of the CG version of the face of Thanos once they had all the tracking and scanning information would have been a disaster.

Designed by A.I.: Your Next Couch, Sweater, and Set of Golf Clubs


At Callaway, the high-end golf-equipment stalwart, the process of making clubs has always been quite labor-intensive--from grinding and polishing clubheads to crafting wood-and-steel-shafted irons and wedges. The company has also long combined such artisanal handwork with technological innovation, even partnering with aerospace titan Boeing recently to codesign several aerodynamic clubs. So when the company set out about four years ago to make its latest club line, called Epic Flash, it took the next evolutionary technological step, turning to artificial intelligence and machine learning for help. A typical club-design process might involve five to seven physical prototypes; for Epic Flash, Callaway created 15,000 virtual ones. From those, an algorithm determined the best design, selecting for peak performance--i.e., ball speed--while also conforming to the rules set forth by the U.S. Golf Association.

Uber's AI beats troublesome games with new type of reinforcement learning


Video games have become a proving ground for AIs and Uber has shown how its new type of reinforcement learning has succeeded where others have failed. Some of mankind's most complex games, like Go, have failed to challenge AIs from the likes of DeepMind. Reinforcement learning trains algorithms by running scenarios repeatedly with a'reward' given for successes, often a score increase. Two classic games from the 80s – Montezuma's Revenge and Pitfall! – have thus far been immune to a traditional reinforcement learning approach. This is because they have little in the way of notable rewards until later in the games.

AncestryDNA, Lenovo laptops, Garmin, Breville juicers, Roomba, and more on sale for Feb. 15


Did you know there's a sealed copy of the classic Super Mario Bros. for NES out there priced at over $100,000 at auction? No, you won't find anything priced for that much on this round-up, but if you have the money to spend on a single video game, by all means have at it. We've found plenty of other stuff that will be worth your time and money, though. Find deep savings on smart home devices from Nest, Google, and more, home products from Instant Pot and Dyson, and video streaming devices and tablets from Amazon. Plus, take a peek at our deep dive into Presidents Day sales here.

The Eye-Popping Alita: Battle Angel Never Ends--Literally


I'm going to go ahead and spoil Alita: Battle Angel for you. Not because I'm a dick, but because revealing the ending tells you nothing about the plot and will ruin absolutely nothing about the film. It ends--drum roll, please--with Alita (Rosa Salazar), sword in hand, staring down her foe, her Big Bad. Then it cuts to black and the credits play. The whole movie is a setup for a punch line that never comes.