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) …
Getting a new gaming PC is a bit like opening Pandora's Box when it comes to deciding what to play. With frequent releases on Steam, a never-ending flow of free games on the Epic Games Store, a plethora of indie arthouse games on itch.io, and countless other launchers and storefronts to install and choose from, it can feel like the Netflix effect of paralysis by choice. So if you got yourself a new PC for the holiday, or even earlier, this list of excellent games released this year is a primer on what to consider. Some may be no-brainers because they are the biggest releases of the last few months, but others should not be overlooked. Many titles featured here can be downloaded and played via a PC Game Pass subscription, the PC version of Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass, while subscribers to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate get access to games on both Xbox and PC platforms.
Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text. Welcome back to Talking Tech. Brett Molina's off today, but I'm being joined by our colleague, Tech column's Marc Saltzman.
We all have stuff that we've bought ourselves -- or asked others to buy for us -- that makes us happy, even if we suspect our friends may not understand why it's so great. It could be a $100-plus coffee cup that keeps your liquid at the exact right temperature. Or a video game that you've been playing for years. Or a hair styler that is way expensive but would make you look fabulous. We asked the staff of The Verge what some of their guilty pleasures are, and the braver among us volunteered some answers. I'm hesitant to call it a "guilty" pleasure because I have used this $550 (or more) GE Opal 2.0 ice machine every day for nearly a full year and not once have I felt guilt about spending such an obscene amount of cash on a kitchen gadget that does exactly one thing.
Its memory manipulation makes us hyperinflate the value or quality of past relationships, experiences, things we loved. When we see them again, the disappointment can be a shock. No, Speed Racer was not a good cartoon show. No, your grade school crush wasn't that impressed at your spelling test scores. But yes, the first Halo game was, and still is, the greatest first-person shooter video game ever made. It all adds up to an unforgettable experience that begins what becomes an iconic trilogy of titles.
As for Microsoft, these partnerships stand to curry favor with a new generation of players as Halo reenters an industry that's changed dramatically over the series's 20-year history. The Halo Championship Series has been around since 2014, but the league has been dormant for the past two years while developer 343 Industries focused on the release of "Halo Infinite." Hasandjekic said the esport has always been a "grass-roots scene" with open events and tournaments. That's partly why the Halo Championship Series is structured the way it is; Microsoft wants to have as many players and teams competing as possible, Hasandjekic said. And that's also why Halo has stayed away from selling franchise slots, for now.
There are two possible disappointments with the campaign. First, there is indeed a lack of biome diversity, as some fans feared based on early previews. In terms of lore, Zeta Halo is the largest and most ancient of the ringworlds in the series. In terms of game design, "Infinite" is also the largest a Halo game has ever been. Still, players are restricted to one portion of the ringworld, largely peppered with trees similar to those you'd find in the Pacific Northwest, along with swamps and mountains.
It's been a strange year for video games. There's no way for any of us to know just how much release schedules were impacted by the pandemic, but there's no doubt whatsoever that changes had to be made. A nixxed feature here, a shifted release date there. The year-plus spent at the mercy of COVID was an inescapable chaos agent. Again and again, games that no one saw coming or which had been written off for whatever reason defied expectations.
The best thing I can say about Halo: Infinite is that it gets better as it goes. The single-player campaign starts out as a basic first-person shooter dripping in nostalgia juice, and it ends up as a rudimentary open-world shooter swimming in sci-fi tropes, starring everyone's favorite emotionless space soldier and his co-dependent AI assistant. As the first open-world entry in the Halo franchise and with more than a year of extra development time, I had high hopes for Infinite. And even with a grapple hook, this game just can't reach them. I say all of this with love in my heart.
Video games make for great stocking stuffers for kids and kids at heart. But with so many console and computer titles to choose from, shopping for a gamer can be an overwhelming endeavor. After all, no one wants to gift a dud that will quickly become a drink coaster or shiny Christmas ornament. If you're looking for some suggestions, the following are a handful of recommended gaming picks – a very subjective look at some of 2021's best – divided into various age groups. Prices are $60 unless otherwise specified.
With the autumn video game release schedule now in full swing, the thoughts of many PC owners are turning to hardware upgrades. Blockbusters such as Halo Infinite, Battlefield 1942 and Forza Horizon 5 will all support demanding visual effects such as ray tracing, so it seems like the perfect time to invest in new kit. There's just one problem: this is probably the worst, most expensive time in recent memory to boost your processing power. Manufacturing and distribution problems, together with skyrocketing demand, have seen prices soar, especially for high-end graphics cards. "There are GTX 1080Ti cards listed on eBay for over £500 – that's a four-year-old GPU for half a grand," says Chris Wilson, design director at Cardboard Sword.