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How AlphaGo illustrates the “warm bath and ice bucket” view of technology progress » Tech.pinions – Perspective, Insight, Analysis
»Remember the last time you took a bath or shower and it started lukewarm but you gradually warmed it by adding more hot water, until it reached a temperature so hot you could never have got into it at the start? Isn’t it strange how we can be immune to subtle, slow changes all around us?
Then there’s the other extreme – the ice bucket experience, where you’re abruptly plunged into something so dramatically different you can’t think of anything else.
The warm bath and the ice bucket: that’s how technology progresses, too.
By the time you read this, the first game of the five-match Go tournament pitting Google Deepmind AlphaGo program v Lee Sedol, the world’s best Go player, will have been played. The result will be at https://gogameguru.com/alphago-1/.
But which is AI, do you think: the warm bath or the ice bucket?
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»Worldwide tablet shipments will drop to 195m units in 2016, down -5.9% from 2015, according to a new International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker forecast. Looking beyond 2016, IDC expects the overall market to return to positive growth, albeit single digit, driven by growing demand for detachable devices. This somewhat hybrid category that brings together slate tablets and PCs is expected to grow from 16.6m shipments in 2015 to 63.8m in 2020.
“Beyond the growing demand for detachable devices, we’re also witnessing an increase in competition within this segment that will help drive design, innovation, and a decline in average prices,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director, Tablets. “At the latest Mobile World Congress, we saw new entrants, like Alcatel and Huawei, coming from the mobile space and expanding their portfolio to address the demand for detachables. Everyone in the industry recognizes that traditional personal computers like desktops and notebooks will potentially be replaced by detachables in the coming years and this is why we will see a lot of new products being introduced this year.”
The change from slate form factor to detachables will bring along two other changes to the tablet industry. First, devices with larger screen sizes (9″ and above) will experience growth throughout the forecast while those under 9inches will decline. And second, Microsoft-based devices will begin taking share from the other platforms, most notably Android.
This “detachable” v “slate” v “you can get an extra keyboard as an add-on” is confusing as hell, and IDC isn’t making it any clearer. Nowhere in this release, or anywhere on IDC’s site that I’ve seen, is there a definition of what makes a “detachable”. Is the Surface Pro? The Surface Book? The iPad Pro? An iPad to which you add a Logitech keyboard?
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»I had three hardware problems. First, the standard S7 ran hot, sometimes uncomfortably so. Second, the backs of both new Galaxies were slippery. I almost dropped each once.
My worst hardware problem — and it’s quite annoying — is that the fingerprint reader, built into the rectangular physical home button, failed on me. On both models, I kept getting a message to wipe off the home button and try again, even though the button and my thumb were each bone dry. If I left my thumb on the reader a bit longer, or pressed harder, it would work, but this was still a fail because it made unlocking the phone with my thumb a chore. Oddly, this didn’t happen with a second finger. Samsung had no explanation, but that same thumb has unlocked several other brands of handsets quickly and reliably…
…As has happened so often in the past, Samsung’s best efforts at hardware are let down by software. The company told me it had stopped trying half-baked software ideas, and reduced duplication of Samsung and Android apps by about 30%.
I agree that the S7’s have the cleanest software build of any Galaxy I’ve tested, and that Samsung’s TouchWiz interface has been toned down. But there’s still too much duplicate software for my taste. For instance, out of the box, there are still two email apps, two music services, two photo-viewing apps, two messaging apps, and, except on Verizon, two browsers and dueling wireless payment services. (Samsung says Verizon barred including Samsung’s browser and Samsung Pay out of the box.) And Verizon builds in a third messaging app…
…Worse, despite Samsung’s newfound software restraint, the company couldn’t stop itself from offering a complex new system of software shortcuts on the larger S7 Edge model. This is the new iteration of a useless feature from last year’s Edge model, and it is better. But it’s the kind of thing that just strikes me as a gimmick. You can swipe in from a small area of the right edge to see various different vertical rows of supposedly quick-action icons: frequent contacts, favorite apps,news, automated tasks and more. Some of these actually can be expanded to two vertical rows.
It sounds at first glance like a time-saving idea, but I found it to be a sort of competing user interface which I frequently forgot about.
So the hardware is beautiful.. and then the problems start? Terrible headline which doesn’t do the job a headline should. The phone running hot will be down to the Snapdragon 820 chip. And what does “reduced duplication by 30%” mean?
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»LG, the No. 2 TV maker worldwide, is actually holding steady. Tim Alessi, director of new product development, told CNET that 3D “still remains a meaningful step-up feature for many” consumers. About a third of the 2016 series TVs it will sell in the US support the feature. On the other hand, all of them will be high-end 4K OLED and LED LCD models.
Case in point: LG’s main series of flat 4K OLED for 2016, the B6, won’t support 3D. That’s a shame for any remaining 3D fans because its 2015 predecessor, the EF9500 series, delivered the best 3D image quality we’ve ever tested.
Then there’s Vizio. A major brand in the US but not worldwide, Vizio hasn’t offered 3D on any of its TVs since 2013; even the exceedingly expensive Reference Series is 2D-only. And Sony’s rep told CNET that only two of its US series, the X930D and X940D, will support 3D in 2016. The cheapest costs $3,200.
3D movies continue to be released in theaters, and 3D Blu-ray discs will likely be sold for a few more years, so owners of current 3D TVs still have some use for those glasses. Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Vudu still offer a few titles too, but they can be difficult to find, and the new 4K Blu-ray disc format contains no provisions for 3D support at all.
Yeah, 3D TV is dead; Philips is giving up on it too, and broadcasters have abandonedit. There was never a reason for it, too big an installed base to fight against, and the requirement for special glasses (what if you had friends round?) too taxing.
»One theory is that the scan is actually generated by Photogrammetry, a technique of capturing images of the sculpture from a variety of angles. The images are then fed into software such as Agisoft Photoscan that analyzes all the images for common points, and generates a 3D model of the subject. Paul Docherty is a researcher who has extensively used photogrammetry to reconstruct historic artifacts and sites, including a model of Nefertiti’s bust using available imagery he gathered online. He catalogued the process in his article 3D Modelling the Bust of Queen Nefertiti, and also spoke on the 3D in Review podcast about his efforts. Mr. Docherty has since gone on to question the Nefertiti Hack scan in his article Nefertiti Hack – Questions regarding the 3D scan of the bust of Nefertiti, in which he agrees that there is no way this scan was captured with a Kinect. So, its possible that the scan could have been made using a series of 45-120 high res images covertly gathered with a cellphone, but if that’s the way it was done, why show the Kinect in the video?
The last possibility and reigning theory is that Ms. Badri and Mr. Nelles’ elusive hacker partners are literally real hackers who stole a copy of the high resolution scan from the Museum’s servers. A high resolution scan must exist, as a high res 3D printed replica is already available for sale online. Museum officials have dismissed the Other Nefertiti model as “of minor quality”, but that’s not what we are seeing in this highly detailed scan. Perhaps the file was obtained from someone involved in printing the reproduction, or it was a scan made of the reproduction? Indeed, the common belief in online 3D Printing community chatter is that the Kinect “story” is a fabrication to hide the fact that the model was actually stolen data from a commercial high quality scan. If the artists were behind a server hack, the legal ramifications for them are much more serious than scanning the object, which has few, if any legal precedents.
More detail from Kahl points out that a Kinect could never have done this – it lacks the precision. So a server hack seems most likely.
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»While we’re ready to move on to newer benchmarks for 2016, our system performance benchmarks from 2015 are still going to provide a pretty good idea for what to expect from the Galaxy S7 and Snapdragon 820 by extension. For those that are unfamiliar with what the Snapdragon 820 is, I’d reference our previous articles on the Snapdragon 820.
In essence, we’re looking at a 2×2 CPU configuration with 2.2 GHz Kryo cores for the performance cluster, and 1.6 GHz Kryo cores for the efficiency cluster. Binding the two clusters together are some power aware scheduling at the kernel level and a custom interconnect to handle coherency between the two clusters. Memory is also improved relative to the Snapdragon 810, with a bump to LPDDR4-1800 over the former’s LPDDR4-1600. Of course, there’s a lot more to talk about here, but for now we can simply look at how the Snapdragon 820 compares in our benchmarks.
Yes, have a look. What stands out is that in 11 comparative benchmark tests, the S7’s 820 processor beats the six-month-old IPhone 6S Plus in just three. I’m not much of a believer in the importance of benchmarks – they won’t tell you how smoothly a screen will scroll, no matter what the frame rate, because animation code is a different thing from simply refreshing the screen – but this seems remarkable. How soon before Apple’s lead isn’t just six months, but a year?
And then take a look at the battery life figures, where Ho comments:
»looking at the iPhone 6s Plus relative to the Galaxy S7 edge it’s pretty obvious that there is a power efficiency gap between the two in this test. Despite the enormous difference in battery size – the Galaxy S7 edge has a battery that is 33% larger than the iPhone 6s Plus – the difference in battery life between the iPhone and Galaxy in this test is small, on the order of half an hour or 5-6% [longer for the S7 Edge]. This is balanced against a higher resolution (but AMOLED) display, which means we’re looking at SoC efficiency compounded with a difference in display power.
But of course it’s the people who are upgrading from two-year-old phones who will see the dramatic difference in speed and, on this evidence, battery life. (Thanks @papanic for the link.)
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»Erin Andrews’s lawsuit and trial this month against the Nashville Marriott (Andrews is suing the hotel for allowing a stalker to book the room next to hers and surreptitiously film nude videos of her in 2008 while she worked for ESPN) has not gone unnoticed for front-facing women in the sports media who travel regularly for work. Last week I contacted seven women who appear on television regularly (ESPN’s Josina Anderson, SNY’s Kerith Burke, Fox Sports reporter Laura Okmin, SportsNetLA Dodgers host and reporter Alanna Rizzo, NBC Sunday Night Football reporter Michele Tafoya, YES Network’s Yankees reporter Meredith Marakovits and Kusnierek). With them, I discussed the topic of security while on the road. I was curious if what happened to Andrews changed their approach about where they stay, what they do at hotels, or produced any new travel precautions for them.
“I don’t have a lot of say in where I stay or what hotel chains my company uses,” said Burke. “I do remember feeling sad and scared after what happened to Erin. I travel with Band-Aids to put over the peepholes. I prefer to join a coworker at the hotel restaurant or bar so strangers don’t approach me as much. There’s a noticeable difference when I eat or drink alone. I don’t like hotel rooms on the first floor. I don’t like rooms by the elevators. Depending on the length of my stay, I don’t get maid service because I don’t want anyone in my room except me.”
“I am very cautious,” said Rizzo. “I never post on social media where the team is staying. I used to stay under my actual name at hotels but this year that will be changed. There have been several occurrences when savvy fans have located the team hotel and have called my room asking me for a date or for money for their fundraisers.”
Erin Andrews was awarded millions of dollars against the hotel chain which failed to prevent the stalker making reservations.
Most men don’t realise how for women staying alone in a hotel isn’t necessarily a fun-packed fest; it’s more like a test of nerve, where they take multiple precautions. (It’s not just female sports reporters.)
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Peter Bright responds to a (slightly puzzling) piece by Tim Sweeney of Epic Games in The Guardian, and says that for a lot of people smartphones and tablets feel a lot more secure, by design:
»Beyond the API-level checking to get in the store, the sandboxing means that apps simply can’t access things they shouldn’t.
This combination of security, isolation, compatibility, reliability, and predictability has given consoles, smartphones, tablets, and even Chromebooks substantial appeal when compared to the PC. Smartphones, consoles, and Chromebooks are all growing, expanding markets. Windows PCs aren’t, and the perceived failings in these areas are among the reasons that many users say they prefer their iPhone or their iPad to their PC. Their iPads are safe and consistent, and users just know that they’ll work in the right way.
The traditional PC has none of that, which is why Microsoft is trying to build it. The Store is central to this. UWP provides big parts of the infrastructure, in particular, sandboxed security and clean installation and uninstallation. The Store provides other parts. It provides infrastructure such as app updating and in-app purchasing, and it also allows Microsoft to enforce various technical rules, such as prohibiting the use of some APIs, mandating adequate performance in certain scenarios, and informing developers if their apps are crashing too much. Microsoft needs both the Store and UWPs together to deliver the kind of platform that consumers have shown they want. Take away the Store, and the platform concept as a whole is compromised.
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»The Federal Communications Commission said Monday that it had reached a settlement with Verizon Wireless for its use of hidden tracking technology known as “supercookies,” which were used for targeted advertising without customers’ permission.
As part of the settlement, Verizon Wireless was fined $1.35m and is required to notify consumers of its data collection program, as well as get permission from users before sharing consumer data with third-party partners.
The penalty was small, but the enforcement action drew wide attention from the telecom industry as a glimpse of the F.C.C.’s expanding ambitions into privacy regulation. The agency is expected to soon consider first-time privacy rules for Internet service providers that could include mandates that wireless and fixed broadband providers get permission from users before tracking their behavior online.
Guess who now works at the FCC? Jonathan Mayer, who discovered Google’s hacking of Safari to plant Doubleclick cookies, and another company that was using Verizon supercookies to recreate its own. Expect more enforcement from the FCC.
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»“I think what many people still don’t realize is that: YouTube Red exists largely as an effort to counter Adblock,” PewDiePie wrote on his blog. “Using Adblock doesn’t mean you’re clever and above the system. YouTube Red exists because using Adblock has actual consequences.”
The biggest of those consequences is a reduction in the CPMs (cost per 1,000 views) that marketers will pay to YouTube and the video creators. And that dropping value leads to the creation of services like YouTube Red and Roostr.tv.
“It’s not a secret to anyone that the CPMs people have been earning are dropping lately,” Roostr.tv content producer Elena Nizhnik told GamesBeat. “So a lot of gamers that are doing this full-time have been looking for additional ways to get supplemental income. If it’s not direct sponsorships for gear or something brick-and-mortar, many have been looking at doing deals with mobile publishers.”
An estimate from anti-adblock service Pagefair claims that 198 million people use software to black ads on the Web, and that number is growing rapidly. Nizhnik says she makes YouTube videos herself, and the dropping CPMs are affecting her.
“I’ve seen how my earnings have been dropping this year compared to last,” she said. “So many people are using Adblock. And you only monetize the views where Adblock isn’t on.”
The consequence is that they start to push “cost per install” deals from games companies. But do they really believe what they’re pushing?
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified.