Why you’ll wear a body camera

A number of years ago, PG remembers reading a science fiction story about a future in which a large percentage of the population wore body cameras. From TechConnect: InfoTrends says people will take 1.2 trillion digital photos this year. That’s 100 billion more than last year and nearly double the number taken as recently as 2013. … Read more

A Neural Network Wrote the Next ‘Game of Thrones’ Book Because George R.R. Martin Hasn’t

From Motherboard: Minutes after the epic finale of the seventh season of Game of Thrones, fans of the show were already dismayed to hear that the final, six-episode season of the series isn’t set to air until spring 2019. For readers of the A Song of Ice and Fire novel series on which the TV show is based, disappointment … Read more

The next Amazon

From The Bookseller: In June a bookseller briefly became the richest man on the planet. From humble beginnings as a successful Wall Street trader in the late nineties, he saw an opportunity to change the way that books are sold. At around the same time, the first Penguin books website launched, and readers could buy … Read more

Amazon: AI To Drive Competitive Advantage

From Seeking Alpha: Everyone who follows the tech space knows that artificial intelligence (“AI”) is one of the hottest area of investment. From my anecdotal experience, if you ask market participants to list who they think is the current leader in AI, most will say Google, then followed by perhaps Microsoft  or NVIDIA. Being labeled … Read more

AI and Big Data Are Changing Our Attention Spans

From Think Growth: The business of answering that question attracts hundreds of billions of dollars every year. As long as there have been things to buy, there has been a market for human attention. Long ago, capitalizing on human attention consisted of little more than the call of a street vendor over the din of … Read more

Are you forgetful? That’s just your brain erasing useless memories

From The Verge: Most of us think “perfect” memory means never forgetting, but maybe forgetting actually helps us navigate a world that is random and ever-changing. So say two neuroscientists in a review published today in the journal Neuron. The argument is that memory isn’t supposed to act like a video recorder, but instead like … Read more

Japan e-book distributor Media Do to build ‘AI translator’

From Nikkei Asian Review: Japanese electronic book distributor Media Do will develop an artificial intelligence-based automatic translation system to make its e-books available for English-speaking readers. The company hopes to reach a broader market and promote digitization at a time when Japan’s book market is shrinking. Media Do has teamed up with two Tokyo-based AI startups … Read more

How Apple Sees the Near Future

From The Atlantic: Without once saying the words “artificial intelligence,” a stream of Apple executives described a vision of the near future in which Siri, the company’s AI avatar, stitches together the company’s many hardware products. And they introduced a new—and widely anticipated—entry into their lineup: a $349 cylindrical voice-controlled speaker they call HomePod. After … Read more

Google’s AI Invents Sounds Humans Have Never Heard Before

From Wired: Jesse Engel is playing an instrument that’s somewhere between a clavichord and a Hammond organ—18th-century classical crossed with 20th-century rhythm and blues. Then he drags a marker across his laptop screen. Suddenly, the instrument is somewhere else between a clavichord and a Hammond. Before, it was, say, 15 percent clavichord. Now it’s closer … Read more

Get Ready for Amazon Phone Take 2

From Madison.com: To say that Amazon’s first attempt at entering the wireless phone market did not go well would be sugarcoating on the level of saying, “the Titanic’s maiden voyage left room for improvement.” Fire Phone was a near-instant failure. It was a device nobody really needed sold at a premium price. Its only truly … Read more

Retailers look past apps to the next frontier of digital shopping: Chatbots

From The Washington Post: Artificial intelligence is being touted as a tool for addressing some of humanity’s most pressing problems, including climate change and cancer. But starting this week, you can put it to work for something a little more prosaic: ordering a hoagie. On Tuesday, Mastercard announced it has partnered with Subway and two … Read more

Authors need help with their digital presence that they still are not getting

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin: A major difference between book publishing today and book publishing 25 years ago is the practical power of the author brand in marketing. Multi-book authors can not only build their own followings in ways that can be usefully exploited, they now have an unprecedented capability to help each other. … Read more

The High-Speed Trading Behind Your Amazon Purchase

From The Wall Street Journal: I wanted to buy some mini marshmallows recently, so I went on Amazon. Perhaps because of their resemblance to packing material—light, bulky, ubiquitous—I figured they’d be cheap. But when I found the most popular brand, not only did the marshmallows cost twice what I’d pay at my local store, but … Read more

How millions of kids are being shaped by know-it-all voice assistants

From MSN: Kids adore their new robot siblings. As millions of American families buy robotic voice assistants to turn off lights, order pizzas and fetch movie times, children are eagerly co-opting the gadgets to settle dinner table disputes, answer homework questions and entertain friends at sleepover parties. Many parents have been startled and intrigued by … Read more

What News-Writing Bots Mean for the Future of Journalism

From Wired: When Republican Steve King beat back Democratic challenger Kim Weaver in the race for Iowa’s 4th congressional district seat in November, The Washington Post snapped into action, covering both the win and the wider electoral trend. “Republicans retained control of the House and lost only a handful of seats from their commanding majority,” … Read more

See how old Amazon’s AI thinks you are

From The Verge: Amazon’s latest artificial intelligence tool is a piece of image recognition software that can learn to guess a human’s age. The feature is powered by Amazon’s Rekognition platform, which is a developer toolkit that exists as part of the company’s AWS cloud computing service. So long as you’re willing to go through … Read more

Retailers Turn to Silicon Valley to Lure Customers

From The Wall Street Journal: In the age of Amazon.com Inc., other retailers are scrambling to find a way to keep consumers shopping on their sites and in stores. The trick? Personalization, via data and tech. Sunglass Hut is employing deep learning and image-recognition technology from San Francisco-based Sentient Technologies Holdings Ltd. for its e-commerce … Read more

Alexa Gives Amazon a Powerful Data Advantage

From the MIT Technology Review: “Hey, Alexa”—a phrase that millions of people call out at home just before telling Amazon their desires at that moment. All those people asking Alexa to order kitchen supplies, turn on the lights, or play music gives Amazon a valuable stockpile of data that it could use to fend off … Read more

Amazon promotes Alexa everywhere strategy

From ZDNet: Amazon’s Alexa is the brain of its Echo and digital assistant efforts, and the company is rapidly beginning to distribute the technology into other products At the Consumer Electronics Show 2017, it’s clear that Amazon aims to put Alexa everywhere. Google will also look to embed its Google Assistant everywhere too — in … Read more

Can Tech Companies Be Trusted With AI Governance?

From Statista: Public-facing AI tools, including text-based applications like ChatGPT or text-to-image models like Stable Diffusion, Midjourney or DALL-E 2, have quickly turned into the newest digital frontier in terms of regulatory, legal and online privacy issues. Already malicious actors are committing criminal offenses and spreading mis- and disinformation aided by the capabilities of generative … Read more

The Man of Your Dreams For $300

From The Cut: Eren, from Ankara, Turkey, is about six-foot-three with sky-blue eyes and shoulder-length hair. He’s in his 20s, a Libra, and very well groomed: He gets manicures, buys designer brands, and always smells nice, usually of Dove lotion. His favorite color is orange, and in his downtime he loves to bake and read … Read more

The Dark Risk of Large Language Models

From Wired: CAUSALITY WILL BE hard to prove—was it really the words of the chatbot that put the murderer over the edge? Nobody will know for sure. But the perpetrator will have spoken to the chatbot, and the chatbot will have encouraged the act. Or perhaps a chatbot has broken someone’s heart so badly they … Read more

Outsmart Your Brain

From The Wall Street Journal: Much has been made of ChatGPT, the artificial-intelligence algorithm, and its potential to disrupt education. We have already seen that it can write college essays and take graduate exams with alarming aptitude. At the very least, we’ll need new guards against students who rely on ChapGPT to cheat. One might … Read more

Abstracts written by ChatGPT fool scientists

From Nature: An artificial-intelligence (AI) chatbot can write such convincing fake research-paper abstracts that scientists are often unable to spot them, according to a preprint posted on the bioRxiv server in late December1. Researchers are divided over the implications for science. “I am very worried,” says Sandra Wachter, who studies technology and regulation at the … Read more

It’s Time to Teach AI How to Be Forgetful

From Wired: OUR BRAIN HAS evolved to make predictions and explanations in unstable and ill-defined situations. For instance, to understand a novel situation, the brain generates a single explanation on the fly. If this explanation is upturned by additional information, a second explanation is generated.  Machine learning, on the other hand, typically takes a different path: … Read more

FBI director warns about Beijing’s AI program

From AINews: FBI Director Christopher Wray has warned about the national security threat posed by Beijing’s AI program. During a panel at the World Economic Forum, Wray explained that Beijing’s AI program “is not constrained by the rule of law”. Wray says Beijing has “a bigger hacking program than any other nation” and will use machine … Read more

What will the internet of the future look like?

From DW: Companies worldwide are working on the next generation of the internet. The “metaverse” or “web3” could overhaul the web as we know it. But how do you avoid repeating the mistakes of today’s internet? Are we on the cusp of yet another internet revolution? We are, according to technology experts gathered in Berlin … Read more

Flooded with AI-generated images, some art communities ban them completely

From ars technica: Confronted with an overwhelming amount of artificial-intelligence-generated artwork flooding in, some online art communities have taken dramatic steps to ban or curb its presence on their sites, including Newgrounds, Inkblot Art, and Fur Affinity, according to Andy Baio of Waxy.org. Baio, who has been following AI art ethics closely on his blog, … Read more

Types of Intuition

From The London Review of Books: The​ philosopher Stuart Hampshire served in British military intelligence during the Second World War. When we were colleagues at Princeton he told me about the following incident, which must have taken place shortly after the Normandy landings. The French Resistance had captured an important collaborator, who was thought to have information … Read more

Pandemic Speeds Americans’ Embrace of Digital Commerce

PG doesn’t usually post excerpts of more than one Wall Street Journal each day, but thinks this one includes important information that, among other things, does not bode well for traditional bookstores and (he suspects) physical books. From The Wall Street Journal: Brooke Mallers recently bought a used car online, she uses food and grocery … Read more

The Spy Who Read Me

From Public Books: “Spying and fiction are not entirely different processes,” says historian of British espionage Ben Macintyre, in a conversation with master of spy fiction and former intelligence officer John le Carré. “You try to create an artificial world. And the better and more realistic and more emotionally believable you can make that world, … Read more

The Spy Who Read Me

From Public Books: “Spying and fiction are not entirely different processes,” says historian of British espionage Ben Macintyre, in a conversation with master of spy fiction and former intelligence officer John le Carré. “You try to create an artificial world. And the better and more realistic and more emotionally believable you can make that world, … Read more

Facebook Gets a New Look

From The Wall Street Journal: Facebook Inc. rolled out a substantial redesign of its website and mobile app, geared partly toward steering users to participate in more group conversations as the company strives to reduce abusive content and the scrutiny resulting from it. . . . . Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview that … Read more

As Old as Adam

From The Times Literary Supplement: An extract from Ian McEwan’s new novel Machines Like Me   In an alternative 1982, our narrator, Charlie, has just purchased a limited-edition robot, Adam, “the first truly viable manufactured human with plausible intelligence and looks”. Upstairs, Charlie’s neighbour, Miranda, is preparing to come round for dinner… He stood before me, … Read more

Our Software Is Biased like We Are. Can New Laws Change That?

From The Wall Street Journal: Lawyers for Eric Loomis stood before the Supreme Court of Wisconsin in April 2016, and argued that their client had experienced a uniquely 21st-century abridgment of his rights: Mr. Loomis had been discriminated against by a computer algorithm. Three years prior, Mr. Loomis was found guilty of attempting to flee police and operating a … Read more

The Media’s Post-Advertising Future Is Also Its Past

From The Atlantic: It’s my holiday tradition to bring tidings of discomfort and sorrow to my colleagues in the news business. One year ago, I described the media apocalypse coming for both digital upstarts and legacy brands. Vice and BuzzFeed had slashed their revenue projections by hundreds of millions of dollars, while The New York Times had announced a steep decline in advertising. Twelve months later, … Read more

H&M Has a Plan to Save Itself

From Slate: H&M is good at making amazing frocks for the Met ball, but it’s less good at making money: The company’s profits for the first quarter of this year were down 69 percent, and it effectively ran out of cash in 2017. Cue the “pivot” headlines! The latest pitch from the fast-fashion retailer, covered as a “pivot” in the Wall Street Journal … Read more

Amazon Seeks to Defend Alexa’s Lead as Competition Heats Up

From The Wall Street Journal: Amazon.com Inc.  is pouring more resources into Alexa to maintain its edge as competition heats up among artificial-intelligence assistants, according to people familiar with the company’s thinking. Amazon is adding hundreds of engineers to the Alexa program and giving it hiring preference over other divisions, the people said. It has also put … Read more