Washington Post


This may be the most important Nintendo Switch release so far

Washington Post

That makes Arms -- Nintendo's completely new multiplayer, motion-controlled game -- perhaps the most important Switch launch so far. It's essentially a boxing game -- but one that gives players cybernetic limbs and the chance to brawl it out in a high-tech arena. Players put one of the Switch's palm-sized Joy-Con controllers in each hand, which makes the punching motion feel fairly natural. When you punch with your real arms, your character punches on-screen with extendible cybernetic limbs.


The latest NSA leak is a reminder that your bosses can see your every move

Washington Post

The answer, according to some former NSA analysts, is that the agency routinely monitors many of its employees' computer activity. It is a $200 million-a-year industry, according to a study last year by 451 Research, a technology research firm, and is estimated to be worth $500 million by 2020. Employee monitoring recently came to light in a high-profile lawsuit involving Uber and Waymo, the self-driving car company owned by Google's parent firm, Alphabet. Privacy advocates have been pushing for years to have Congress review various communications privacy laws in light of updates to technology.


Tim Cook teases more details on Apple's car project

Washington Post

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has shed more light on his company's automotive efforts, revealing that the company is "focusing on autonomous systems," according to an interview with Bloomberg News published Tuesday. Are we looking at a future with two major autonomous vehicle systems just as we currently have two major smartphone systems? Automotive analysts say that building lots of working cars, and quickly, can be a far more complex endeavor than building a smartphone or laptop. All that could help explain why Apple, despite being one of the world's wealthiest companies, appears to be focusing more heavily -- for now -- on self-driving software.


China's plan to organize its society relies on 'big data' to rate everyone

Washington Post

Harnessing the power of big data and the ubiquity of smartphones, e-commerce and social media in a society where 700 million people live large parts of their lives online, the plan will also vacuum up court, police, banking, tax and employment records. At the heart of the social credit system is an attempt to control China's vast, anarchic and poorly regulated market economy, to punish companies selling poisoned food or phony medicine, to expose doctors taking bribes and uncover con men preying on the vulnerable. With few people in China owning credit cards or borrowing money from banks, credit information is scarce. The Baihe online dating site encourages users to display their Sesame Credit scores to attract potential partners; 15 percent of its users do so.


Elon Musk's strategy for taking on Uber and Lyft

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According to the company's fine print, people who want to use their self-driving-capable Teslas to earn a bit of money with ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft will be disappointed: "Using a self-driving Tesla for car sharing and ride hailing for friends and family is fine," the company writes, "but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year." In his updated master plan for the company from earlier this year, Musk outlined a "Tesla shared fleet" that could pick up passengers at the touch of a button -- just like Uber. By contributing their vehicles to the fleet, he said, Tesla owners could earn money that they could apply toward paying off their cars, making a Model 3, Model S or Model X more affordable. Musk's strategy for taking on Uber and Lyft appears to go like this: (1) Saturate the market with a huge number of affordable, self-driving, electric cars, such as the Model 3.


Every new Tesla now comes with full, self-driving hardware capabilities

Washington Post

The company said Wednesday that every new Tesla rolling off the factory floor will now come with the hardware necessary to support full, autonomous driving mode. This includes the recently announced Model 3, Tesla's electric vehicle targeted at mainstream consumers. Some of the company's existing Model S and Model X vehicles already have the technology, according to the company. Chances are it'll take a year or more for the feature to filter down to the public; by the end of 2017, Musk said, expect to see a cross-country test drive from Los Angeles to New York involving a Tesla operating completely autonomously for the duration of the trip.


How to win a game of 'Civilization,' according to its creator

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But he did discuss his own Civ playstyle, and he hinted at what future versions of Civ may hold as our real-world technology gets increasingly sophisticated. If you were to try and build a version of Civ for VR, what might that look like? But if you look at a game like Civ where it takes hours and hours to play, you don't want to wear a headset for that long. What technologies exist today that players might have researched as an abstract "Future Technology" in previous versions of Civ?


China has now eclipsed us in AI research

Washington Post

If you're not familiar with the term, "deep learning" is a subset of the overall branch of AI known as machine learning -- which basically involves the use of computer algorithms to perform pattern recognition and analysis. What's striking about it is that although the United States was an early leader on deep-learning research, China has effectively eclipsed it in terms of the number of papers published annually on the subject. Compared with other countries, the United States and China are spending tremendous research attention on deep learning. The government is pushing for a major role for itself in AI research, and here's why: Becoming a leader in artificial-intelligence research and development puts the United States in a better position to establish global norms on how AI should be used safely.


Americans are skittish about drones delivering their packages

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Postal Service, 57 percent of people are either neutral about it or think it's a bad idea. Even if a company said its drone delivery service were ready today, people would still reject it over a perception that it was not. But the thing is, many other countries are moving ahead with drone testing in a major way, while the United States only recently gave companies the green light to begin limited tests, according to Michael Drobac, a legal expert on drones at the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Here are the Postal Services's findings on drones, for example: With self-driving cars, studies by Kelley Blue Book and others have found that those with partly autonomous vehicles -- a Tesla with autopilot, or even more basic safety features such as automatic lane-keeping and assistive cruise control -- are more likely to view completely robotic cars more favorably.


Google's 'hardware' push is still really about its software

Washington Post

Google's "hardware" push is still really about its software. It's easier to think of the new gadgets as follow-ups to competitor products: a competitor for Apple's iPhone and for Amazon's Echo speaker. In what was ostensibly a hardware event, the real promise of the presentations was one of a personalized Google that can answer questions about your life rather than a general query. That extends beyond what Amazon's Alexa can offer -- smart as it is, that voice assistant still answers queries based on the general Web more than on your personal digital information.