"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," wrote Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin in A Dance With Dragons. "The man who never reads lives only one." As someone who has lived and ended more than a thousand lives in his story so far, Martin knows what he's talking about. But something interesting has happened in the decade since Martin wrote those words. There has been a sudden surge of what we might call multiple lives fiction: novels where the main character experiences a good chunk of her existence on repeat.
Most of us now encounter AI on a daily basis without noticing it. Social media feeds which show you the posts you are likely to engage with, music streaming platforms which suggest new music you may enjoy listening to, or chatbots which help renew insurance policies are all using a form of AI. We are now seeing what is commonly defined as "weak AI"; systems programmed with algorithms to reach conclusions and predict future behaviour by learning from data patterns. The more data fed to the system, the more accurate the system becomes in predicting future behaviours. The Scottish Government has flagged the food and drink industry, worth around £14 billion each year, as a key growth sector in its economic strategy.
Now that the world is gradually slipping under the wings of AI, it can be asserted that the sci-fi movies were not wrong. There are abundance of literature on examining the best sci-fi movies ever made and speculating their conversion into reality in times to come. However, though not a sci-fi movie in its truest sense, this genre of children literature provides a vision on artificial intelligence under the garb of a fairy-tale. It would not be wrong to say that this movie is the love child of fairy tale and technology which is typically Tim Burtonesque. The initial scene in the movie was a tragic one which showed how the boy's father lost his job because machines have replaced the human workforce to screw toothpaste caps. While this scene was a gentle reminder of the fact that machines, robots and humanoids will soon be substituting humans.
Whether your road trip soundtracks consist of music, news, entertainment, or talk, Spotify's Car Thing has you covered. The new smart player, currently available to select users in the U.S., puts your audio library just a voice command, tap, turn, or swipe away. "Car Thing enables you to play your favorite audio faster, so you're already listening to that hit song or the latest podcast episode before you've even pulled out of the driveway," according to a Spotify blog announcement. "Switching between your favorite audio is effortless, allowing you to shift gears to something else as soon as the mood strikes." You will need a Spotify Premium account to use Car Thing, but setup is simple: plug the device into a 12-volt power outlet, sync it with your smartphone (iOS 14 and Android 8 or above), and connect your phone to the vehicle's stereo.
The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter. An arc light, or arc lamp, is a source of illumination created when electricity flows between two carbon electrodes. Use of arc lamps dwindled in the 20th century, edged out by incandescents, but for a long time they were a common light source for movie projectors. Mostly this little detail is just a fun fact--something interesting to bring up at parties. But this week, it's a reminder that the history of cinema is long, even when our memories are short--and that the news of ArcLight Cinema shutting down can bring back a flood of recollections, even for people who may not know the theater chain's namesake.
When Amazon first introduced Alexa and the Echo speaker six years ago, the idea of talking to a digital assistant wasn't totally novel. Both the iPhone and Android phones had semi-intelligent voice controls -- but with the Echo, Amazon took its first step toward making something like Alexa a constant presence in your home. Since then, Apple and Google have followed suit, and now there's a huge variety of smart speakers available at various price points. As the market exploded, the downsides of having a device that's always listening for a wake word have become increasingly apparent. They can get activated unintentionally, sending private recordings back to monolithic companies to analyze. And even at the best of times, giving more personal information to Amazon, Apple and Google can be a questionable decision. That said, all these companies have made it easier to manage how your data is used -- you can opt out of humans reviewing some of your voice queries, and it's also less complicated to manage and erase your history with various digital assistants, too. The good news is that there's never been a better time to get a smart speaker, particularly if you're a music fan.
If you rode the metro in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo in 2018, you might have come across a new kind of advertising. Glowing interactive doors featured content targeted at individuals, according to assumptions made by artificial intelligence based on their appearance. Fitted with facial recognition cameras, the screens made instantaneous decisions about passengers' gender, age and emotional state, then served them ads accordingly. Digital rights groups said the technology violated the rights of trans and non-binary people because it assigned gender to individuals based on the physical shape of their face, potentially making incorrect judgments as to their identity. It also maintained a strictly male-female model of gender, ignoring the existence of non-binary people.
DJI has a new drone, the Air 2S, and it's one of the best drones I've ever flown. The Air 2S is externally nearly identical to last year's Mavic Air 2. It even uses the same batteries, which makes upgrading a little cheaper. There are some very welcome changes in this update. The Air 2S adds an object detection camera to the top of the drone, which improves the collision avoidance system. It really helps when you're flying toward something at high speed, since the drone pitches forward, rendering the front sensor slightly less effective.
It all started with an odd pile of shells: a pile that, upon closer inspection, fell apart like a flower losing its petals, introducing a burned-out nature documentarian named Craig Foster--and, in time, the world--to the octopus hiding cleverly inside. Known simply as "her," she would become the star of My Octopus Teacher, the Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary and surprise pandemic hit that told the story of Foster's unlikely relationship with that eight-armed mollusk. Released in September 2020, it arrived at the perfect moment. Audiences exhausted by lockdowns and unrelenting 2020-ness were primed for escape into the undersea fantasia of South Africa's kelp forests, where Foster met her. Best-selling books like The Soul of an Octopus and Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness had whetted public curiosity about these uncannily intelligent creatures with whom humans last shared a common ancestor 600 million years ago. Yet while most writing about octopuses emphasizes their ostensibly alien, unknowable nature,1 and serious, science-minded nature documentaries elevate concern about biodiversity over sentiment for a single animal, My Octopus Teacher defied convention. It embraced Foster's feelings for the octopus, which over the course of a year evolved from curiosity to care--even to love. And though her own feelings were left for viewers to interpret, the film's indelible impression was of nature populated by species who are not only beautiful and exquisitely evolved and ecologically important, but highly sentient, too. Nautilus talked to Foster about his octopus teacher and how getting to know her changed the way he thinks about nature. I write a lot about nature and biology and ecology, but in the last few years I've focused on the minds of animals and how we think about them.
The minds at Respawn Entertainment are wizards when it comes to the action-adventure genre. Twenty-fourteen's Titanfall and its criminally underrated followup, 2016's Titanfall 2, challenged traditional boots-on-the-ground shooters with a heightened sense of scale and verticality, while the more recent Jedi: Fallen Order etched itself as one of the greatest Star Wars narratives told in any medium. The Los Angeles studio's fixation with exoskeletons, Blade Runner, and visuals that bleed Wachowski and Masamune Shirow's Ghost In The Shell is nothing new, but they are intertwined with world-building to create headier pockets of science fiction bliss. The free-to-play shooter set in the Titanfall universe first launched in February 2019. No extended gameplay reveals that cringe out with comms from Chad and the rest of the QA team.