On the morning of December 13, 2018, the Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo wheeled down a stark runway in Mojave, California, ready to take off. Whining like a regular passenger jet, the twin-hulled catamaran of an airplane passed by owner Richard Branson, who stood clapping in an aviator jacket on the pavement. But WhiteKnightTwo wasn't just any plane: Hooked between the two hulls was a space plane called SpaceShipTwo, set to be the first private craft to regularly carry tourists away from this planet. WhiteKnightTwo rumbled along and lifted off, getting ready to climb to an altitude of 50,000 feet. From that height, the jet would release SpaceShipTwo; its two pilots would fire the engines and boost the craft into space. "3 … 2 … 1 …" came the words over the radio. SpaceShipTwo dropped like a sleek stone, free. "Fire, fire," said a controller.
The World Artificial Intelligence (AI) Conference kicked off on Thursday in Shanghai, where tech industry leaders like Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Tesla's Elon Musk are mingling with government officials and top scientists to discuss the future of AI. Here are some of the three-day conference's highlights so far: Shanghai plans to sign over 70 deals with leading tech companies and institutions, including a tie-up between the Pudong district government and telecommunications giant Huawei to build a 5G "innovation center." Didi says it could soon put passengers into driverless cars, and that self-driving tech has already cut accidents involving Didi drivers by 15% in the first half of the year. Ma and Musk traded thoughts in a 50-minute conversation -- but couldn't see eye to eye on how much we should fear AI and whether traveling to Mars is a worthy goal. China's Ministry of Science and Technology has added 10 companies including telecommunications giant Huawei and surveillance-technology maker Hikvision to a major national AI development program.
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer. Last summer Charles Bombardier unveiled the Solar Express--an imagined vehicle that would ferry cargo and passengers from Earth to Mars in less than two days. The radical notion drew a great deal of buzz--most notably from Buzz Aldrin, who praised the idea and reached out to the Canadian innovator with tips for improving the design.
In April, United Airlines hit a huge pocket of public relations turbulence after a passenger was forcibly removed from one of its partners' airplanes. The incident raised questions about blindly following procedures, passenger rights, and United's executive leadership. From chatbots to robotic bellhops, here are seven ways AI could impact business travel in the months, and years, ahead. On April 9, 2017, a paying passenger was dragged off United Express Flight 3411, from Chicago to Louisville, Ky. Four seats on the full flight were needed to accommodate airline crew members, as USA Today and others reported.
The move is the latest episode in a long-running battle between airlines and travel sites over how consumers search for and purchase flights. The airlines want customers to use their sites, which saves them money on commissions and could boost their ability to sell extras such as preferred seating. The travel sites accuse the airlines of trying to choke off competition for ticket sales.