If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
The last major Windows update broke some systems with particular antivirus software installed, and it's seemingly getting worse. Earlier this week we reported that Microsoft halted updates to Windows PCs running Sophos and Avast's security solutions, following user complaints that their machines were locking up or failing to boot. Since then, the list of known issues for the rogue update was itself updated to acknowledge compatibility issues with Avira and ArcaBit antivirus installed, with Microsoft temporarily blocking updates to those affected systems, too. Today, Ars Technica noticed that Microsoft is investigating compatibility issues for systems with McAfee antivirus installed, though it hasn't started blocking the April 9 update from those PCs just yet. Windows 7 and 8.1 computers can fall prey to the bug, along with some Windows Server installations.
I've said for years that Assassin's Creed is more impressive for its art nowadays than the games themselves, but still, who would've guessed that one day Assassin's Creed would be used to restore a priceless piece of architectural history? That news, plus a new Lego Star Wars, an Old Republic expansion and potential film adaptation, details for Netflix's Witcher series, a remake of cult classic shooter XIII, and more. This is gaming news for April 15 to 19. This week's first freebie is a big one, relatively speaking. You probably heard that Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris caught on fire this week.
Are you a busy astronaut with precious little time to clean your orbiting home? Do you find it hard to reach those awkward spots behind spacecraft control panels where bacteria love to lurk? Then you need GermRover: the must-have, labour-saving, sterilisation device for the modern space traveller. Astronauts currently spend several hours a week wiping down the inside of the International Space Station (ISS) to get rid of the microbes that previous residents have left behind. It is a laborious and unpopular task.
By any criteria, 5G is a significant advance on the previous 4G standards. The first 5G networks already offer download speeds of up to 600 megabits per second and have the potential to get significantly faster. By contrast, 4G generally operates at up to 28 Mbits/s--and most mobile-phone users will have experienced that rate grinding to zero from time to time, for reasons that aren't always clear.
As Uber finally closes in on its IPO, its self-driving car unit is getting a big cash infusion and some independence. The company announced tonight that Toyota, Denso and Softbank are investing a total of $1 billion in its Advanced Technologies Group (Uber ATG), in a deal that values that part of the company at $7.25 billion. This adds onto Toyota's $500 million investment last year, which the two said would lead to the creation of an autonomous fleet based on Toyota's Sienna minivan. So far, many of the big car companies are teaming up to develop autonomous tech combined with ridesharing angles as it's expected to be a huge market in the next few years. According to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, "The development of automated driving technology will transform transportation as we know it, making our streets safer and our cities more livable. Today's announcement, along with our ongoing OEM and supplier relationships, will help maintain Uber's position at the forefront of that transformation."
Facebook's AI Research team has created an AI called Vid2Play that can extract playable characters from videos of real people, creating a much higher-tech version of '80s full-motion video (FMV) games like Night Trap. The neural networks can analyze random videos of people doing specific actions, then recreate that character and action in any environment and allow you to control them with a joystick. The team used two neural networks called Pose2Pose and Pose2Frame. First, a video is fed into a Pose2Pose neural network designed for specific types of actions like dancing, tennis or fencing. The system then figures out where the person is compared to the background, and isolates them and their poses.
This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. If you want to see who's on the other side of your door without having to get up and look yourself, then the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the best choice for most everyone. It lets you screen (and record) visitors and keep an eye out for package deliveries. Motion and ring alerts to a smartphone are typically fast, audio and 1080p video are clear, and the Ring 2 can be powered by either standard doorbell wiring or a removable rechargeable battery. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 performs like a cross between a modestly aggressive guard dog and a trusty digital butler. In addition to notifying you--audibly and via smartphone--of activity, it records all motion events to the cloud, letting you view those recordings (as well as live video) on your phone or computer any time. It's also compatible with a good number of smart-home devices, platforms, and monitored security systems. Though video recording and storage require a subscription, the $30 annual fee (a mere 8¢ per day) for 60 days of unlimited video storage is downright cheap compared with the competition. We like the Ring Video Doorbell Pro for all the reasons we like the Ring 2. Additionally, it has a much slimmer and sleeker design that will fit in more doorframes and includes the option for customized motion-detection zones.
Details on what Apple may have in store for the next major versions of its operating systems are trickling out ahead of June's Worldwide Developers Conference. The latest leaks are linked to macOS 10.15, to which Apple could add some iOS features, such as Siri Shortcuts and Screen Time, according to 9to5 Mac. Apple revealed Siri Shortcuts at WWDC last year. It opens up the voice assistant, allowing you to create custom Siri commands for various apps, though you might need to download a Marzipan app (those ported from iPad to Mac) from the Mac App Store to use Shortcuts on your computer. It's a move that makes sense, as it should allow developers to make sure the Shortcuts for their apps still work after they port them to macOS.
Reports emerged last week that GM would not join Amazon in investing in electric vehicle startup Rivian, and now we have a little more clarity on why talks broke down. It seems GM wanted some exclusivity, but Rivian plans to build vehicles for other companies, as well as release up to six models under its own branding by 2025. Founder RJ Scaringe said Rivian is working on something related to the Amazon investment, but hinted to Bloomberg that it may not be a vehicle. He's open to selling his company's technology (it has developed long-lasting batteries) to other businesses for various products, including stationary batteries. So perhaps Amazon is interested in using Rivian's know-how for something other than vehicles, though it has also invested in a self-driving car startup.
When Uber publicly filed for an initial public offering last week, it cemented its reputation as a technology behemoth with more than a few liabilities. One particularly weighty albatross: its Autonomous Technology Group, which since 2015 has poured hundreds of millions into building self-driving car tech it has yet to commercialize. Make that at least $1 billion: According to the filing, Uber spent $457 million in 2018 on research and development for autonomous vehicles (and its other tech moonshots, like "flying taxis")--a figure up 19 percent from 2017. So it was good news for Uber--not to mention the potential shareholders circling its IPO--when it announced a major investment into its Autonomous Technology Group from a Japanese consortium on Thursday. The $1 billion infusion comes from Toyota, the automotive supplier Denso, and the Softbank Vision Fund, which is aggressively bankrolling ambitious transportation technology companies.