Graphcore Builds Intelligence Processing Units For Better AI

British startup Graphcore has developed an AI chip for computers that attempts to mimic the neurons and synapses of the human brain, so that it can “ponder” questions rather than analyze data. Up until now, said Graphcore co-founder and chief executive Nigel Toon, GPUs and CPUs have excelled at precision, using vast amounts of energy to achieve small steps. Toon and Graphcore co-founder and CTO Simon Knowles dub their less precise chips as “intelligence processing units” (IPUs), that excel at aggregating approximate data points. Continue reading Graphcore Builds Intelligence Processing Units For Better AI

Hyperloop Projects Bring New Travel Tech Closer to Reality

Hyperloop technology — which relies on magnetic levitation, steel tubs and vacuum pumps — is one way that hopeful technologists promise to improve the travel experience. Most recently, a Missouri congressman proposed a hyperloop between Kansas City, Missouri and St. Louis, which would take 30 minutes to travel 250 miles. In Las Vegas, Nevada, Elon Musk’s The Boring Company (TBC) landed its first commercial contract, for $48.7 million, to build a “people mover” that would shuttle people around the city’s Convention Center, expected to be ready for CES 2021. Continue reading Hyperloop Projects Bring New Travel Tech Closer to Reality

Israeli Firm Debuts One-Camera Vehicle Surveillance System

At CES 2019, Tel Aviv-based Guardian Optical Technologies debuted Optical Cabin Control (OCC) for the car’s interior. The single camera, a bit bigger than one featured in a mobile phone, is installed in the car’s ceiling and uses machine learning to keep an eye on the driver — and the kids in the backseat. More specifically, the camera watches to see if the driver takes his hands off the wheel, his eyes off the road or closes his eyes. To train the system, the company hired a diverse group of people, wearing different clothes and holding various accessories and pets. Continue reading Israeli Firm Debuts One-Camera Vehicle Surveillance System

We Were Passengers in a Las Vegas ‘Self-Driving’ Rideshare

Autonomous vehicles have been a part of tech culture for so long that it’s hard to realize that only a handful of people have actually ridden in one. So it was with great surprise that our very first Lyft ride out of our Las Vegas hotel on Sunday night was in a “self-driving” vehicle. Lyft partnered with Irish auto-parts-company-turned-autonomous-vehicle-startup Aptiv (formerly known as Delphi) to offer CES attendees and Vegas commuters the option to ride in one of their 30 “self-driving” BMW 5 Series. Continue reading We Were Passengers in a Las Vegas ‘Self-Driving’ Rideshare

CES 2019: Yet Another Transformation Waiting in the Wings?

The ETC@USC team is heading to Las Vegas this weekend to deliver daily news and analysis from CTA’s annual CES trade show. Yesterday, ETC’s Don Levy pointed out that “the transformative potential of 5G … will likely emerge as the hot underlying topic of CES” and ETCentric will be covering the “show with particular interest in how developments can impact or disrupt media, entertainment and technology companies.” We’ve been watching for signs of a next transformational change that’s been growing in the background since Ericsson started testing 5G in 2015. At CES, we’ll be looking for supplementary trends to see how close we are to a sea change in distribution and personalization. Continue reading CES 2019: Yet Another Transformation Waiting in the Wings?

Series of Tweets Cost Elon Musk Chair Position, Major Fine

As part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk has agreed to pay a $20 million fine and step down as chairman of the California-based electric automaker for three years. The SEC accused Musk of securities fraud after he tweeted from his personal Twitter account that he had secured enough funding to take Tesla private. Musk has admitted to no wrong-doing. In addition to Musk’s significant personal fine, Tesla has agreed to develop leadership reforms and pay $20 million for not properly vetting the CEO’s tweets. Continue reading Series of Tweets Cost Elon Musk Chair Position, Major Fine

Elon Musk Envisions Future Los Angeles with Hyperloop Travel

Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, Space Exploration Technologies, and Boring, tweeted how Los Angeles residents will be able to take advantage of an integration of all three of his companies’ endeavors: drive their electric car to an electric pod in a Boring tunnel that will take them to the Port of Los Angeles where SpaceX will have rockets that he hopes will fly to Mars. Musk aims to “solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic,” with autonomous pods that will travel at 600 miles per hour through a network of tunnels. Continue reading Elon Musk Envisions Future Los Angeles with Hyperloop Travel

Chinese Tech Giant Tencent Buys 12 Percent Stake in Snap

Less than one day after Snap Inc. posted disappointing quarterly results and its stock subsequently plunged, the company revealed that Chinese Internet titan Tencent Holdings recently purchased a 12 percent stake in Snap. Chinese tech companies such as Tencent, Alibaba Group and Baidu have been investing in U.S. firms. According to Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi, Snap’s main problems include declining user growth and competition from the more established Instagram. Disappointing ad revenue is reportedly also disappointing investors. Continue reading Chinese Tech Giant Tencent Buys 12 Percent Stake in Snap

General Motors Promises an All-Electric Future for its Vehicles

While autonomous and connected vehicles have been getting much of the press attention this year, there has also been a push toward electric cars. General Motors recently announced that it is ending its gas and diesel efforts to focus on an all-electric, zero-emissions future. The American automotive icon plans to roll out two new fully electric vehicles in 2017 and at least 18 more electric models by 2023. GM is not alone in this pursuit. Aston Martin, Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo are among the auto manufacturers that have made similar announcements in recent months to eventually phase out gas- and diesel-powered vehicles. GM, which sold 10 million vehicles in 2016, is one of the world’s largest automakers.

Continue reading General Motors Promises an All-Electric Future for its Vehicles

Startup Debuts Prototype of Game Controlled by Brainwaves

Neurable, a Boston-based startup founded by engineer/neuroscientist Ramses Alcaide, is showing a prototype of a game, with the working title “Awakening,” that allows users to break out of a virtual room by issuing mental commands. The prototype, said to be a few years away from commercial introduction, includes an HTC virtual reality headset and seven sensors that read brainwaves. The user selects objects by looking in the general direction of the object she wishes to select, thus narrowing the number of items to be considered. Continue reading Startup Debuts Prototype of Game Controlled by Brainwaves

Intel Buys Mobileye, Marking Commitment to Driverless Cars

Intel has purchased Mobileye for $15.3 billion, a strong statement that it is pursuing the autonomous vehicle market sector. The Israeli-based Mobileye, which supplies its technologies to most major car manufacturers, makes cameras, sensors and software that alert vehicles to obstacles in their paths and has become a leader in digital mapping and sensors. Mobileye co-founder Amnon Shashua will head Intel’s self-driving car initiative as an Intel senior vice president, and his company will continue to be based in Israel. Continue reading Intel Buys Mobileye, Marking Commitment to Driverless Cars

Apple Will Test Its Autonomous Vehicles on California Roads

Apple received a permit from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to test ​​autonomous vehicles, a project thus far shrouded in secrecy. The company now joins Alphabet and Tesla on the public roads of California, the largest state by population. Moving off of private roads to public ones is the next step towards fine-tuning the AI systems that interact with the real world. The permit specifically covers three 2015 Lexus sport-utility vehicles and six operators who must sit behind the wheel, to take over driving if necessary. Continue reading Apple Will Test Its Autonomous Vehicles on California Roads

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Corp. Seeks to Enhance Brains with AI

Tesla founder Elon Musk has launched a new company, Neuralink Corp., to dig deep into so-called neural lace technology that would merge the human brain with artificial intelligence. Musk already heads up two complex businesses. At Tesla, he is under pressure to deliver the Model 3, priced at $35,000, on time. At SpaceX, the ambitious plan is to launch both a satellite-based Internet business and a rocket to carry humans to Mars. Max Hodak, who founded robotic startup Transcriptic, is a member of Neuralink’s founding team. Continue reading Elon Musk’s Neuralink Corp. Seeks to Enhance Brains with AI

California DMV’s Report on Self-Driving Cars Shows Progress

The California Department of Motor Vehicles released its annual report from the 11 companies with state permits to test autonomous vehicles as of end of 2015, and they have all made rapid progress. The report, which covers December 2015 to November 2016, recounts how many times humans had to take over driving tasks. Google and General Motors in particular have excelled, with cars that can drive hundreds of miles at a stretch without a hitch. Nissan has gone from needing intervention every 14 miles — to assistance needed after 247 miles. Continue reading California DMV’s Report on Self-Driving Cars Shows Progress

Alphabet’s Waymo Driverless Vehicle Unit Partners With Fiat

Alphabet just spun off its research lab X’s autonomous vehicle project into a separate company named Waymo, to be led by chief executive John Krafcik. The move means the company believes its driverless car technology is nearing readiness for commercialization, due to advancements in sensor technology and breakthroughs in machine learning. Although Alphabet was an early leader in this field, the company has struggled to build a business around the technology, as Tesla, Uber and GM have moved forward. Alphabet is working with Fiat Chrysler on a ride-sharing service to launch next year. Continue reading Alphabet’s Waymo Driverless Vehicle Unit Partners With Fiat

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