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Leisure & Entertainment


Voice Actor Erika Ishii on Video Game Roles and Motion Capture

Slate

This week, host Karen Han talks to voice actor and performer Erika Ishii, whose very long resume includes video games, animated series, and live action projects. In the interview, Erika explains their process of bringing video game characters to life–characters like Valkyrie in the game Apex Legends. Then Erika discusses diversity among both characters and performers in the video game industry and the ability to say no to projects that aren't the right fit. After the interview, Karen and co-host Isaac Butler talk about diversity in entertainment and the progress that has yet to be made. In the exclusive Slate Plus segment, Erika lists some of the voice actors and performances that have inspired them over the years.


'Stardew Valley' has sold more than 20 million copies

Engadget

Six years after its initial release, Stardew Valley has sold more than 20 million copies. Creator Eric Barone shared news of the accomplishment in an update posted to the game's press site and an interview with PC Gamer. "The 20 million copies milestone is really amazing," he told the outlet. But what's even more impressive is the increasing pace of Stardew Valley's sales. It took four years for the game to sell its first 10 million copies.


The most watched movies of the week: New releases and some unexpected classics

Mashable

Wondering what everyone's been watching this week? Well, spring is in the air and so is action, action, action! Every week, the popularity of movies across streaming might be determined by promotions, star power, critic raves, social media buzz, good old-fashioned word of mouth, or a new addition to a beloved franchise. While the reasons may vary, you can't argue with the numbers that streaming aggregator Reelgood collected from hundreds of streaming services in the U.S. and UK. As it has for weeks, The Batman continues to reign supreme.


Data the dog: Twitter turns its privacy policy into an old-school video game

The Guardian

On Friday, Elon Musk announced he was pausing his $45bn purchase of Twitter because he had only just discovered some of the accounts on the site were fake. But that's not the strangest thing that has happened to the beleaguered social media platform this week. Because on Tuesday the current top brass, perhaps trying to demonstrate their vision for the site, released a Super Nintendo-style browser game that recaps Twitter's private policy. The platform unveiled Twitter Data Dash, which plays like a vintage side-scrolling platformer that's been draped with a healthy dose of disinformation anxiety. You take control of a blue-hued puppy named Data and are tasked with retrieving five bones hidden in each of the game's day-glo urban environments.


DeepMind's new AI system can perform over 600 tasks – TechCrunch

#artificialintelligence

The ultimate achievement to some in the AI industry is creating a system with artificial general intelligence (AGI), or the ability to understand and learn any task that a human can. Long relegated to the domain of science fiction, it's been suggested that AGI would bring about systems with the ability to reason, plan, learn, represent knowledge, and communicate in natural language. Not every expert is convinced that AGI is a realistic goal -- or even possible. Gato is what DeepMind describes as a "general-purpose" system, a system that can be taught to perform many different types of tasks. Researchers at DeepMind trained Gato to complete 604, to be exact, including captioning images, engaging in dialogue, stacking blocks with a real robot arm, and playing Atari games. Jack Hessel, a research scientist at the Allen Institute for AI, points out that a single AI system that can solve many tasks isn't new.


Washington Post accused of activism for urging video game companies to take a stand on Roe v. Wade

FOX News

'Special Report' All-Star Panel reacts to the Senate voting to block a bill that would'codify' abortion nationwide. The Washington Post is facing accusations of activism over a report urging video game companies to take a stand on Roe v. Wade as the Supreme Court mulls overturning the decades-long precedent protecting the legalization of abortions on a federal level. On Wednesday, video game reporters Nathan Grayson and Shannon Liao penned a piece with the headline, "As Roe v. Wade repeal looms, video game industry stays mostly silent," documenting how giants in the gaming world are largely staying out of the abortion debate. The article began by citing Bungie, the "Destiny 2" studio owned by Sony that published a statement "in support of reproductive rights" that decried the overturning of Roe v. Wade among other studios and indie developers. The reporters appeared to side with the company as it faced viral backlash from critics, writing, "Bungie, for its part, stood firm."


Protecting payments in an era of deepfakes and advanced AI

#artificialintelligence

In the midst of unprecedented volumes of e-commerce since 2020, the number of digital payments made every day around the planet has exploded – hitting about $6.6 trillion in value last year, a 40 percent jump in two years. With all that money flowing through the world's payments rails, there's even more reason for cybercriminals to innovate ways to nab it. To help ensure payments security today requires advanced game theory skills to outthink and outmaneuver highly sophisticated criminal networks that are on track to steal up to $10.5 trillion in "booty" via cybersecurity damages, according to a recent Argus Research report. Payment processors around the globe are constantly playing against fraudsters and improving upon "their game" to protect customers' money. The target invariably moves, and scammers become ever more sophisticated.


Understand your Algorithm with Grad-CAM

#artificialintelligence

Is AI just a black box that we started trusting enough to drive cars, detect diseases, identify suspects just because of the hype? You may have heard of the Netflix documentary, Coded Bias (you can watch the film here). The film criticizes deep learning algorithms for their inherent biases; specifically their failure to detect dark-skinned and female faces. The film suggests that the solution to the problem is in government. To "push for the first-ever legislation in the U.S. to govern against bias in the algorithms that impact us all."


Racing tiny cars using only Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

#artificialintelligence

Thirteen university students from across Canada are in Ottawa to put their artificial intelligence skills to the test. It's called the Amazon Web Services DeepRacer League, where small 1/18th scale cars are being trained to complete a racetrack as fast as possible, by themselves. "It has major components in order to do the autonomous driving," says Amanda Foo, DeepRacer Senior Technical Program Manager. They are driven by what is called reinforcement learning. "It's just like training a dog," Carleton University mechanical engineering student Masoud Karimi says.


Sonos is adding Voice Control to its speakers, so pleading for everything to stop will actually do something

Mashable

Sonos is introducing voice commands for its speakers, finally letting you start your depression playlist by groaning from the couch as God intended. Announced today, Sonos Voice Control will arrive in a free software update for all voice-capable Sonos speakers running the Sonos S2 operating system, including the Roam, Beam, Move, and Arc. This update will let you issue oral commands to find specific songs, ask what's playing, control the sound on their TV, and adjust volume and playback all without using your hands. You won't be able to set timers or reminders, as Sonos Voice Control isn't a fully fledged voice assistant. However if you have more than one Sonos speaker, you will be able to use it to change where your audio is playing.