If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
Disney's Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is going to cost you. For two guests in a standard cabin for a two-night adventure, you'll have to set aside just shy of $5,000. Disney is promising it as "part live immersive theater, part themed environment, part culinary extravaganza, part real-life role-playing game." The company offers more details on how your story might unfold, with the ability to choose to side with the First Order (boo), or ally with the resistance. There will also be lightsaber lessons, optional missions and the chance to interact with iconic SW characters who will, well, behave like video game NPCs.
Google revealed its latest smartphones all of a sudden -- and surprisingly quietly. Two new devices appeared on the company's online store and we have deep dives on both phones and Tensor, a new system-on-chip that'll power the next-gen of Pixel devices. A new Cyclops-esque visor that houses the camera sensors? Even more AI smarts across the entire device might be a little predictable, but it didn't stop Google from explaining exactly what its new SoC will offer. We go into plenty of detail on Google's new "four years in the making" chip right here, but expect more AI-based processes running simultaneously without overheating your phone.
The power of deepfake tech to hone digital effects into incredibly realistic video can't be underestimated. We've seen a top-level Tom Cruise impersonator transformed with a high-level deepfake artist, and now companies -- and film studios -- are taking notice. Luke Skywalker's CGI face in The Mandalorian was met with a lot of criticism, and one fan's efforts to improve it resulted in a new job. Lucasfilm has hired YouTuber Shamook to ensure future projects won't have wobbly representations of actors that are either much older or perhaps even deceased now. The latter, however, remains an ethical conundrum in itself, as demonstrated by the recent Anthony Bourdain documentary.
If you haven't already bought a new gaming monitor in the online shopping chaos we like to call Prime Day, Samsung might have something to halt any rash purchases. It unveiled its latest batch of budget Odyssey gaming monitors, including a flat rather than a curved model that can do 4K at 144Hz. Unlike Samsung's curvy G9 and G7 models, the new Odyssey G7 28 (G70) has a flat panel and uses IPS rather than QLED tech, which means it won't be as bright. With HDMI 2.1 compatibility, it can do 4K resolution at up to 144Hz, so it'll support Sony's PS5 and the Xbox Series X models at 4K 120Hz with room to spare. Alas, Samsung hasn't offered prices for this, the most interesting model.
Bitcoin has had a rollercoaster ride over the last months. Once Tesla's darling, with its value climbing, when the EV maker dropped BTC pricing, the cryptocurrency plummeted in value, (it's down 37 percent over the last month, at the time of writing). But hey, don't tell El Salvador. President Nayib Bukele has followed through on his campaign promise to make the turbulent Bitcoin legal tender, alongside the US dollar. It means that, in about 90 days, the cryptocurrency can be used as payment for goods or services unless a business doesn't have the facilities to accept it.
NASA's Curiosity rover has been able to register something which, while unremarkable on Earth, is an interesting phenomenon for Mars -- cloudy skies. The agency has shared images of "shining" clouds, able to form on a planet that has a relatively thin atmosphere. Nothing has been confirmed just yet, but they could be naturally formed dry-ice clouds, made of carbon dioxide. It might not match the appeal of ancient megafloods or possible signs of life, but Curiosity continues to offer up new Mars insights, both above and below the surface of the red planet. A little closer to home, Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has teamed up with Sony, Doshisha University and toy-maker Tomy on a ball-shaped transforming robot destined for the Moon.
At long last, Apple has addressed the remote for its set-top box. I can only assume we'll eventually see a documentary investigation and several conspiracy theories about why the old, easily-lost Apple TV remote stuck around for so long, but that's a question for another day. Now the new Apple TV 4K is here and you should read Devindra Hardawar's review. Not so much for the box itself, as upgrades for the processor, smart home integration and HDMI 2.1 are more about future proofing than current capability, but to dig into the qualities of the Siri Remote. The only thing it's apparently missing is some way to find it when it's missing, plus you can use it with older Apple TVs.
Have I Been Pwned is already a vital resource you can use to know if/when your data and passwords are exposed in a breach, but now it's getting some key improvements. Creator Troy Hunt has open-sourced the project, giving others a way to "roll their own" service and hopefully increase the availability of this tool. If you haven't already signed up, you simply input your email address or phone number, and if it's spotted in information dumped by hackers that could be used against you, then you get an alert. Combined with a password manager to enable unique passwords everywhere, as well as things like using two-factor authentication, it can help make your online experience more secure. The other way it's getting an upgrade is a new arrangement with the FBI so that when they find compromised passwords as part of their investigations, the data goes into HIBP and account owners are alerted.
Meet Moxie, a companion robot made specifically for children to play with every day. As Devindra Hardawar notes, the idea of an R2-D2 of your own is interesting, until it gets dystopian. So which side of the line does this bot fall? According to company co-founder Paolo Pirjanian, two months after launch, customers are averaging 25 minutes of engagement every day -- although that the company knows that isn't exactly encouraging. Devindra's kid is (wisely) robot-averse, so he tried it himself for a few weeks and was surprised by how well the conversations flowed.
On Friday China's space agency announced a successful landing for its Tianwen-1 mission that launched last summer. It joins NASA's Perseverance and the UAE's Hope as successful missions to reach the planet in 2021. Now its golf cart-sized Zhurong rover is doing self tests in preparation to explore the surface, so stay tuned for even more Mars pictures even though you were probably already doing that. Last year, right as people were really starting to grapple with pandemic life, Google decided to cancel its 2020 I/O developer conference entirely. This year, though, I/O is back -- just in a different form.