Big Tech &
Tesla cars will soon talk to pedestrians (1 minute read)
Elon Musk has tweeted a video showing a Tesla vehicle playing a recorded clip to passing pedestrians. The feature will apparently let Tesla owners communicate with people outside the car without having to open their windows. There are no further details on how the system would work. It is unknown whether drivers will be able to speak directly to people on the outside of the vehicle or if it will only support pre-recorded speech. The system could be helpful for alerting people to a driver's intentions without having to use the car horn.
Real-world photos confirm Samsung’s next flagship phone is called the Galaxy S20 (1 minute read)
The next Samsung flagship phone will be the Galaxy S20. XDA Developers published pictures of the new Galaxy S20 Plus, with the startup screen confirming the new name. The new screen has a hole-punch cutout similar to the selfie camera hole in the Galaxy Note 10, and the screen is flatter and less curved on the sides. Samsung's newest device is rumored to contain a regular wide lens, an ultra-wide lens, a macro lens, and a portrait camera. The entire line of Galaxy S20 devices will be announced at Samsung's Unpacked event on February 11.
Meet Mars 2020, NASA’s rover for finding life on Mars (8 minute read)
The Mars 2020 rover will look for traces of life in a 3.5 billion-year-old river delta on the red planet. It is currently in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's clean room, which has strictly controlled temperature, humidity, and operating procedures to minimize airborne dust, particulates, and biological contamination that could interfere with electronics and Martian experiments. People must go through a meticulous cleaning and preparation routine in order to access the room. Keeping the Mars 2020 rover clean has been a unique challenge for JPL, and it is important as the focus of the mission is on astrobiology. The rover will launch from Cape Canaveral during a July/August window for a planned landing on February 8, 2021. Its mission will run for one Mars year and cover an area of 12 miles.
Algorithms can now detect your heart rate and stress levels over video chat (3 minute read)
A startup called Binah.ai has created a system that uses plethysmography to detect slight changes in facial coloring in order to monitor stress levels. Studies have shown that slight facial color changes can indicate breathing and oxygen levels. The system can also test for heart rate, stress level, oxygen saturation, respiration, and heart rate variability using its AI algorithm. Affective computing is a field of artificial intelligence that tries to understand a person's emotional state. There are no published studies on the effectiveness of Binah.ai's technology. The system can be extremely helpful in healthcare settings as patients' vitals can be measured without human contact while they are waiting to be treated. Several healthcare institutions are already testing Binah.ai's algorithms. It may also have applications in law enforcement.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Alpine.js (GitHub Repo)
craft.js (GitHub Repo)
Craft.js is a React framework for building drag and drop page editors. It allows you to create custom page editors without having to modify the library itself in order to change the user interface and behavior. Examples of page editors built with Craft.js are linked in the repository.
A World Without Work by Daniel Susskind review – should we be delighted or terrified? (4 minute read)
Writers have long been imagining a world where machines replace humans, freeing humans up from having to work and the consequences of the switch to an automated world. Many of these imaginings end up in a dystopian world where the majority of humans are doomed to live empty lives of poverty and despair. Daniel Susskind is an economics scholar and a former government policy advisor. His book, 'A World Without Work', paints the picture of the future with predictions borne from reason. Automation has replaced human labor in routine tasks throughout the last couple of centuries without destroying entire occupations. It has even created new types of jobs. However, as technology improves, it seems inevitable that the number of jobs will start to decrease. Different ways of wealth distribution will need to be implemented, as well as ways to distribute the amount of work left. People will need to rethink what a 'meaningful life' actually means, as the importance of work will start to fade away.
Eight big takeaways from CES 2020 (6 minute read)
CES is over, and while there doesn't seem to be a clear 'Next Big Thing', there is an abundance of new ideas. TV makers are continuing to look for the next expensive thing to encourage consumers to upgrade. Rolling TVs, 8K, and radical bezel-less or ultra-thin designs were common at CES. While foldable screens still seem to be a while away, flexible screen technology has improved significantly. The battle between AMD and Intel seems to be ramping up, with both companies striving to create hardware for new form factors. Many companies presented concept designs at CES, but most didn't seem to have a firm purpose or direction. Smaller companies are feeling the pressure from large companies like Google, and some lawsuits were filed just hours after CES opened. Sex technology is becoming less taboo at the show. AI, 8K, and 5G are becoming more normalized and less worshipped as a technology.