Rumors started circulating last week that Amazon was exploring a free, ad-supported tier of its streaming music service. Turns out there was something to those rumblings. Today, the commerce giant announced that Alexa device owners in the US will be able to listen to top playlists and stations on Amazon Music at no additional charge, even if they are not Amazon Prime subscribers. Of course, this news also comes on the same day that Amazon's frenemies over at Google launched ad-supported free YouTube Music streaming on Google Home smart devices. Listeners will be able to ask Alexa to play music by creating stations based in a song, artist, era or genre.
I have always been fascinated with games. The seemingly infinite options available to perform an action under a tight timeline – it's a thrilling experience. So when I read about the incredible algorithms DeepMind was coming up with (like AlphaGo and AlphaStar), I was hooked. I wanted to learn how to make these systems on my own machine. And that led me into the world of deep reinforcement learning (Deep RL).
Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder had heavy praise for reigning MVP James Harden ahead of Game 2. Snyder had compared Harden to artificial intelligence on Tuesday and was asked to expand on that before Wednesday night's game. "The way he plays, there's an artistic nature to it… Obviously he's skilled, but I think the way he processes the game… He literally sees the whole court." I think the way he plays, there's an artistic nature to it. The feel that he has for different things on the court. He's able to put the ball on different locations that he wants, to manipulate spacing.
Science fiction didn't do a great job in preparing us for our first real encounters with AI. Most people probably still envision AI in the form of a sentient robot that can talk, move around, and experience feelings – something like WALL-E or C-3PO from the movies. Although that still may be the dream, it turns out that the current iteration of AI is actually quite different. With modern AI, all the "thinking" gets done in the cloud, and the algorithms aren't tied to the identity of a physical machine like we would have expected from the big screen. The modern iteration of AI works silently in the background without a face, and it's starting to impact everything it touches.
Go player Lee Sedol (R) during the third game of the Google DeepMind Challenge Match against Google-developed supercomputer AlphaGo. Leading Australian artificial intelligence scientist Professor Toby Walsh is warning that we are "sleepwalking" into an AI future in which billions of machines and computers will be able to think. Professor Walsh, from the University of New South Wales, is calling for a national discussion about whether society needs to adopt clear boundaries and guidelines around how AI is developed and how it's used in our lives. In his book It's Alive: Artificial Intelligence From The Logic Piano to Killer Robots, he has highlighted key questions in a series of predictions that describe how our future could be far better or far worse because of AI. Here's how he thinks society might change by 2050 thanks to artificial intelligence.
As Notre Dame Cathedral's majestic spire tumbled into the inferno on Monday night, live newsreaders around the world decried the tragic loss of this 12th-century marvel. The great timber roof – nicknamed "the forest" for the thousands of trees used in its beams – was gone, the rose windows feared melted, the heart of Paris destroyed forever. What few realised in the heat of the shocking footage was that much of what was ablaze was a 19th-century fantasy. Like most buildings of this age, Notre Dame is the sum of centuries of restorations and reinventions, a muddled patchwork of myth and speculation. Standing as a sturdy hulk on the banks of the Seine, the great stone pile has never been the most elegant or commanding of the ancient cathedrals, but it became the most famous. Begun in 1163, it was larger than any gothic church before it, employing some of the first flying buttresses to allow taller, thinner walls and larger expanses of glazing – including the spectacular rose windows that projected great cosmic wheels of colour into the luminous interior. "Where would [one] find … such magnificence and perfection, so high, so large, so strong, clothed round about with such a multiple variety of ornaments?"
Video game creators at Ubisoft Montréal – the development studio that rebuilt 18th-century Paris in its 2014 historical action game Assassin's Creed Unity – have joined the global outpouring of grief in the wake of Monday's devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. Ubisoft will be donating €500,000 to help with restoration efforts, and is also making Assassin's Creed Unity available free on PC for the next week, "giving everyone the chance to experience the majesty and beauty of Notre Dame the best way we know how", said a studio spokesperson. "We hope, with this small gesture, we can provide everyone an opportunity to appreciate our virtual homage to this monumental piece of architecture." Caroline Miousse, a level artist on the game, spent 14 months working almost exclusively on the cathedral, inside and out. It is furnished and decorated as it would have been in 1790, down to the paintings hanging on the walls.
Drone footage captured Notre Dame cathedral's beauty just five months before Monday's fire. Video game publisher Ubisoft, which recreated the Notre Dame Cathedral in its 2014 game "Assassin's Creed Unity," is willing to help in restoration efforts. The company announced Wednesday it is making a contribution of 500,000 Euros (about $565,000) to the rebuilding of the cathedral. And the Paris-headquartered game maker said Wednesday it will make its virtual rendition of the cathedral available to those involved in the rebuilding of the church. Ubisoft is also making "Assassin's Creed Unity" available free to players on PC for the next week.
Microsoft has revealed a new version of the Xbox – missing what until now was one of its central features. The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition comes without a disc drive, meaning that people are only able to play games or films that they have downloaded over the internet, and are unable to use discs. In exchange for that missing feature, Microsoft says the new Xbox will always be at least $50 cheaper than the normal version of the Xbox One S. The All-Digital edition will cost $250 initially, but will receive price cuts whenever the traditional version does, the company indicated. We'll tell you what's true. You can form your own view.
The long-delayed live-action Minecraft movie has a new release date, so fans might want to make a note in their calendars for March 4th, 2022. With so many delays, it was clear it'd still be a while yet before the film hits theatres, but the 2022 news might come as a disappointment to those who were at one point expecting to see Minecraft next month. Warner Bros. and Microsoft have also revealed some story details. The movie will focus on "a teenage girl and her unlikely group of adventurers. After the malevolent Ender Dragon sets out on a path of destruction, they must save their beautiful, blocky Overworld."