It's hard not to feel like technology is taking over when you turn on the TV and see some of your favorite characters dealing with their own personal robot revolution. Television shows have tackled emerging technologies and workplace modernization over the years, but few have hit the nail on the head quite as precisely as Justin Spitzer's workplace comedy, Superstore. Superstore, which follows a quirky group of employees at the giant, fictional Cloud 9 department store, premiered on NBC in 2015 and concluded its six-season run in March 2021. The show, which starred America Ferrera, Ben Feldman, and Lauren Ash, famously spoke to pressing hot-button issues, including politics, immigration, the environment, #MeToo, and cultural appropriation. Throughout it all, writers established a deep sense of relatability between their characters and real-life retail employees by addressing the growing presence of tech in the workplace.
Are you excited to walk around Disney's Avengers Campus, which opens at Disneyland California on June 4? No? There's a pandemic, you say? Let's try this another way: Would you be excited to walk around Disney's Avengers Campus if you knew there was a free-roaming robot modeled after Teen Groot that you might run into? Sure, wait until you're vaccinated. "Robot Teen Groot-as-tourist attraction" is still more "if" than "when" at this point -- the YouTube description makes that clear. But the Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development team did indeed build the thing, and it could offer a glimpse at what some of the future character interactions at Disney parks might look like.
The internet is terrified of the New York Police Department's newest "canine" on unit: Digidog, a robo-dog that the Netflix series "Black Mirror" warned of. After a video went viral of Digidog in action, the internet started comparing it to Series 4 Episode 5, "Metalhead," where human society is no longer in existence and has been overrun by robot dogs. Some fear that this new invention could eventually turn into something negative. It was first deployed in February when men were being held hostage in a Bronx apartment and the robot was able to see how safe it was and if it was safe for the police to enter, the New York Times reported. The creators of Digidog, Boston Dynamics, explained that these devices won't be used as a weapon, but a political art collective has shared a few examples of how easy it is for things to go downhill fast, including a handful of Muslim Americans being killed by drones, according to the Guardian.
Back in the nineties, my favorite TV show was called Tomorrow's World, a UK-based show which ran for a whopping 38 years on the BBC. It discussed the latest developments in science and technology (just look at this snippet of what the home in 2020 would look like). Back then, the future was extra exciting. Technology would make our lives infinitely easier – we'd be commuting to work in electric, automated cars, and life at home would just be one smooth series of button pushing. The height of this slightly skewed future gazing was my favorite Saturday morning space-age animated sitcom, The Jetsons, which first aired in the 1960s.
In the US, today is Inauguration Day, and as Joe Biden prepares to take the oath as our 46th president, it's worth taking a look back at the discussions four years ago. Back then, the "most tech-savvy" president exited as all eyes turned to Donald Trump trading in his Android Twitter machine for a secure device. We know how things went after that. Donald Trump isn't tweeting anymore (at least not from his main accounts), and the country is struggling through a pandemic. The outgoing president just saw his temporary YouTube ban extended and, in one of his last official acts, pardoned Anthony Levandowski for stealing self-driving car secrets from Google's subsidiary Waymo.
If you just watched The Mandalorian Chapter 16 (and if you haven't, why are you here?), And now, let's scream together. The Mandalorian's Season 2 finale, "The Rescue" would have taken a much darker turn and required an entirely different name if it weren't for the eleventh-hour arrival of the galaxy's most powerful Jedi. When Din and his allies are about to face an entire platoon of Dark Troopers (after we watched just ONE of them beat the hell out of him), they suddenly stop upon the arrival of a mysterious X-wing. A sole, hooded figure disembarks and proceeds to demolish trooper after trooper with a green lightsaber -- and a gloved robot hand.
Artificial intelligence has granted our minds clearance to be children again, but only to reflect on the gadgets from our favorite science fiction books, movies, and television shows that have made their way into reality. You may find it beneficial to bust out a few stretches before reading, as this trip down memory lane may leave you feeling a bit old. The Jetsons, which debuted 57 years ago this week, is often cited when people talk about the future of robots, flying cars, and other household technology. Like The Simpsons, The Jetsons often made predictions of the future with different technologies, such as a household robot or video phone. With new AI tech like Facebook Portal, iRobot Roomba, the world's first robotic vacuum, and Moley Robotic Kitchen, we can live in 2062 far ahead of its time.
The vehicle Elon Musk sees as the key to fast travel around the Earth and multiplanetary living has only taken short hops so far, but its next trip will reach 50,000 feet. The plan is to test out its aerodynamic capabilities and attempt a landing flip maneuver. SpaceX's stream begins at 7 AM, but stay tuned for more information on exactly when the test will go down if you want to watch live -- this could be historic. After multiple delays, CD Projekt Red's highly anticipated RPG (based on the table-top game of the same name) arrives on PC and consoles, and Jessica Conditt has spent about 20 hours in the world on Night City. The game is too deep for that to give a comprehensive view of what it contains (she took six hours to get beyond the prologue and meet Keanu Reeves) but more than enough to see if its 80s-tinged vision of the future holds up.
Machine learning is a fast-growing and successful branch of artificial intelligence. In essence, machine learning is the process of allowing a computer system to teach itself how to perform complex tasks by analyzing large sets of data, rather than being explicitly programmed with a particular algorithm or solution. In this way, machine learning enables a computer to learn how to perform a task on its own and to continue to optimize its approach over time, without direct human input. In other words, it's the computer that is creating the algorithm, not the programmers, and often these algorithms are sufficiently complicated that programmers can't explain how the computer is solving the problem. Humans can't trace the computer's logic from beginning to end; they can only determine if it's finding the right solution to the assigned problem, which is output as a "prediction."
In a year where Radio City is shuttered by the pandemic, Netflix's Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is the closest thing we have to a big Christmas spectacular. It's a cross between The Greatest Showman and Cats, bundled in shiny Christmas wrapping paper, with none other than John Legend as one of the minds behind the many songs packed into its two hours. At the center of that festive mishmash is an inventor named Jeronicus Jangle, a sentient doll, and a robot that, like Tinkerbell, is powered by belief. However, unlike Cats, David E. Talbert's movie is a coherent, compelling story that doesn't require booze or any other form of pre-gaming to be fully enjoyed. It's the filmic equivalent of the high that comes from eating way too many candy canes and drinking way too much hot chocolate.