Collaborating Authors

The Real Pleasure and Pain of Making Choices in Video Games


It's important to be invested in the story when playing a video game. Sure, there are absolutely times when it's possible to just step back and enjoy the gameplay and visuals ( Sackboy has been great for this lately), but most of the time, it's the goal, character, and story arc that provide an anchor. Many of us don't have a lot of time to play on a day-to-day basis, so gaming time needs to feel consequential. With that in mind, you'd think that the trend toward actual consequences for character choices in a game would be a welcome shift. Being able to control the ending of the story based solely on the decisions your character makes is incredible for interactive storytelling.

Uneven plotting and tech issues mar an otherwise engrossing mystery in 'The Medium'


The Medium is an unforgiving game, but not for the reasons you might think. It's not that the horror adventure from Bloober Team, the Polish studio behind 2020's Blair Witch and the Layers of Fear series, is particularly challenging from a mechanical standpoint. It embraces a mix of play genres across 10-or-so hours, but everything you do is really there to serve the story. It's the hook meant to keep you playing. For most of the time you spend in The Medium's clutches, that story is hard to look away from. It's an ever-deepening mystery in which you play as Marianne, a woman who lives with each foot firmly planted in two different worlds: The real one that we know and live in every day, and a metaphysical one inhabited by the spirits of those who have passed on but not moved forward.

Walmart will use robots to turn stores into automated fulfillment centers


Back in 2019, Walmart started piloting its first local fulfillment center in Salem, which uses robots called the Alphabot to pick items from shelves. Now, the retail giant is turning more locations into automated fulfillment centers by converting a portion of the stores into warehouses or adding a new section. Walmart stocks automated fulfillment centers with frequently purchased goods, including consumables (such as fresh and frozen items) and electronics. They're meant to make order delivery and pickup a lot faster, and the Alphabot is a key element in making that possible. The wheeled robot can quickly go anywhere inside a warehouse to retrieve items from shelves and then take them to a workstation for assembly.

Heaven's Vault: A Linguist's Buried Treasure


I climb the stairs, my faithful robot Six warning me not to proceed. Do I heed their warning and take a step back? I can see a tall pillar-like statue up ahead, peering at me over a flight of stairs--the prospect of deciphering another fragment of glyphs is motivating me to proceed through the thinning air. As a linguist and writer, Heaven's Vault is the game that I've been waiting a very long time for. It brings together the craft of compelling narrative games and a BAFTA-nominated interactive story presented in a rich, visual novel interface, taking players on a journey of imagination and exploration within an entrancing game environment.

A New Way to Trace the History of Sci-Fi's Made-Up Words


One thing nerds like to argue about is what nerds are allowed to argue about. If you agree to stipulate that science fiction is often one of those things--and, hey, we could argue about that--then a problem to solve is the boundaries of that genre, the what-it-is and what-it-isn't. Finding the edges of science fiction is like taking a walk around a hypercube in zero-gee; you keep bumping into walls and falling into other dimensions. Reasonable people don't even agree on when it started-- Frankenstein? A story where a ghost kills people is horror; what if a robot did it?

NASA astronauts conduct first spacewalk of 2021

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Astronauts on Wednesday will conduct the first spacewalk of 2021 from the International Space Station (ISS). The event on Wednesday will be the first in a pair of spacewalks, the second set for Feb. 1. Both walks are planned to be 6.5 hours, according to NASA.

Dear Care and Feeding: My Husband Would Rather Play Video Games Than Help Me Parent


Care and Feeding is Slate's parenting advice column. Have a question for Care and Feeding? Submit it here or post it in the Slate Parenting Facebook group. My husband and I both have full-time jobs and an 18-month-old son. I am pregnant with our second child, due in February. Since our son was born, my husband seems to have regressed.

Fake News Is Rampant, Here Is How Artificial Intelligence Can Help


One of the latest collaborations between artificial intelligence and humans is further evidence of how machines and humans can create better results when working together. Artificial intelligence (AI) is now on the job to combat the spread of misinformation on the internet and social platforms thanks to the efforts of start-ups such as Logically. While AI is able to analyze the enormous amounts of info generated daily on a scale that's impossible for humans, ultimately, humans need to be part of the process of fact-checking to ensure credibility. As Lyric Jain, founder and CEO of Logically, said, toxic news travels faster than the truth. Our world desperately needs a way to discern truth from fiction in our news and public, political and economic discussions, and artificial intelligence will help us do that.

2020 in Review With Brian Tse


In 2020, Synced has covered a lot of memorable moments in the AI community. Such as the current situation of women in AI, the born of GPT-3, AI fight against covid-19, hot debates around AI bias, MT-DNN surpasses human baselines on GLUE, AlphaFold Cracked a 50-Year-Old Biology Challenge and so on. To close the chapter of 2020 and look forward to 2021, we are introducing a year-end special issue following Synced's tradition to look back at current AI achievements and explore the possible trend of future AI with leading AI experts. Here, we invite Mr. Brian Tse to share his insights about the current development and future trends of artificial intelligence. Brian Tse focuses on researching and improving cooperation over AI safety, governance, and stability between great powers. He is a Policy Affiliate at the University of Oxford's Center for the Governance of AI, Coordinator at the Beijing AI Academy's AI4SDGs Cooperation Network, and Senior Advisor at the Partnership on AI.

Tasker's Android phone automation connects with Google Assistant


People have long used Tasker to take care of repetitive tasks on their Android device, or to customize its features based on things like whether they're at home or at the office. Now the app's features are a little easier to use since you can trigger them via Google Assistant. XDA points out a post by the developer on Reddit where he points out the currently available triggers, which you can use to run your favorite automations by name. Tasker is an incredibly powerful utility, but it can be a bit complex and intimidating, and voice control could be the difference in making it usable on a regular basis around your home. If you have the Google Play Pass subscription then access is free, and there's also a seven day trial available, otherwise it costs $3.49 in the Play Store.