All posts in “Artificial Intelligence”

AI Everywhere: Surprising ways we already interact with artificial intelligence

If someone were to say to you that you’ve spent all day interacting with artificial intelligence, you’d probably stop and try to recount any instances of accidentally running into a robot.

Despite what’s constantly being hammered into our brains via science fiction movies and television, AI comes in many forms, which may surprise you. Not only has artificial intelligence become integrated within a number of industries, but it’s teaching people how to streamline business and optimize their lives.

From social media to public service, some people are interacting with artificial intelligence every single day and it may surprise you how broadly it is being adopted. Here are some ways we’re already using AI on the daily. 

How we use AI every single day

Sometimes the integration of artificial intelligence presents itself in a more obvious manner. Take virtual assistants, for example: Increasingly when you sign onto a website and are greeted with a chatbot, you’re more likely to interact with a computer-generated assistant and referred to a human only if your question is quite complex. You’ll know pretty quickly whether it’s a human or a robot, like how UBank’s Robochat introduces itself.

PSA: Google’s art selfie feature is US only for now


Google’s Arts & Culture app has been around for about a year and half. But it’s taken an art selfie feature to generate a bit of viral interest in the app — with a steady stream of delighted/outraged tweets bubbling up over the weekend as users assessed the results of their fine art doppelgänger. Oh what price vanity, etc etc…

While complaints about the app’s matches included not being offered any matches (with some putting this down to the Eurocentrism of art history), or being facially matched with an artwork of a different gender or age, the most outraged Twitter chatter was on account of people not being able to access the feature at all.

We understand that’s because it’s still experimental and has been region-blocked — specifically it’s limited to the US right now.

Judging by reports from some US Twitter users, it’s not even universally available within the US either. Google declined to comment when we asked about its rollout intentions for the feature. So if you’re really desperate to try it out then you could try signing up to a (reputable) VPN with a US exit node to workaround the region-block.

Or else you could just enjoy the rest of the app’s features — such as virtual art tours, info about nearby museums and cultural events, and an art recognizer feature that uses computer vision so you can point your phone at an artwork and be served tidbits of info about it.

Alternative apps for turning your selfies into faux works of art are also available.

Nvidia CEO clarifies its GPUs are ‘absolutely’ immune to Meltdown and Spectre


Nvidia issued a security bulletin on Tuesday detailing updates it made to its driver software to address the so-called Meltdown CPU vulnerability revealed by Google’s Project Zero. The bulletin was misinterpreted by some outlets as an admission that Nvidia’s GPUs were also affected.

“Our GPUs are immune, they’re not affected by these security issues,” Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said during a general press Q&A this morning. “What we did is we released driver updates to patch the CPU security vulnerability. We are patching the CPU vulnerability the same way that Amazon , the same way that SAP, the same way that Microsoft, etc are patching, because we have software as well.”

Huang explained that anyone running any kind of software has to patch that software for the CPU vulnerabilities discovered by researchers. He stressed that in no way is Nvidia patching for any issues in its own hardware.

“I am absolutely certain that our GPU is not affected,” Huang said, in no uncertain terms.

Nvidia also updated its security bulletin to make clear that its own hardware products are not affected by the disclosed vulnerabilities, to the best of their knowledge right now.

Samsung really wants you to start talking to your fridge

The Samsung Family Hub refrigerator makes its debut at CES 2018.
The Samsung Family Hub refrigerator makes its debut at CES 2018.

Image: Mashable / michael nunez

Samsung is still finding ways to pack more features into perhaps the least exciting thing in your house: your refrigerator.

The tech giant announced today at CES a new version of its smart refrigerator that now includes voice controls, AKG speakers, and smart home integrations. 

The new Samsung Family Hub refrigerator has many of the same options as the original 2016 model, but adds a bunch of entertainment and smart home controls. Now, you can use the fridge to operate smart home products using Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant.

That’s right: Samsung is turning your fridge into a centralized hub for your smart home. The fridge works with any SmartThings product and lets you control these items using voice commands. 

Image: Samsung

For example, you can ask Bixby to show you a live video feed from an internet-connected camera (like a baby monitor or security camera), or dim the lights around your home. The fridge’s display makes it easy to navigate through various smart home devices.

The new Family Hub refrigerator also adds a couple of extra options like a meal planner that provides food recipes and accommodates for dietary restrictions. The fridge also works as an entertainment hub, letting you play music, share calendars, photos, memos, and more.

The entire concept is way more than anyone’s ever asked for from a refrigerator, but there are certainly some interesting things it enables. Mainly, I’m impressed by how useful it might actually be to have a gigantic tablet built into a fridge. Posting digital sticky notes or sharing calendars, to me, seem like really useful features. Of course, you could always just do it the old-fashioned way with a pen, paper, and a magnet.

For more coverage from the event, check out our official CES page.

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Google launches smart displays with JBL, Lenovo, LG and Sony


For the longest time, we’ve been waiting for Google to bring its Assistant to devices with a screen. After all, voice assistants are great — until you need some visual information to go with their answers. To address this, Amazon launched the Echo Show and Spot last year and now it’s Google’s turn. But it’s not launching a Google Home with a screen. Instead, the company today announced it is working with JBL, Lenovo, LG and Sony to launch new smart displays later this year.

Gummi Hafsteinsson, the product management director for Google Assistant, told me these touch-enabled devices, which Google likes to call “smart displays,” will support all of the standard Google services you would expect to find on what is essentially a Google Home with a screen. Think YouTube, Google Photos, Duo for video calling and more. In addition, though, Google will open the platform to developers, who will be able to write their own actions (which is what Google now calls any… well… action you perform with the Assistant).

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The smart displays also will feature all of the usual Google notifications, similar to the old Google Now screen on Android. This means you’ll see upcoming appointments, reminders, a graphical view of what traffic on your route to work looks like, etc. And while it’s not in use, the display can show you photos from Google Photos, just like your Chromecast.

Given that these are Google-enabled displays, you’ll even be able to cast videos directly to them, though, given their size, that’s probably only interesting if you plan on watching a lot of YouTube videos in your kitchen.

“One thing we’ve noticed is that as people have conversations with the Assistant, there are times where you would love to have a device with a screen,” Hafsteinsson told me ahead of the announcement.

Prices for these smart displays will likely fall in around $200. Lenovo plans to charge $199 for the eight-inch version of its Smart Display and $249 for its 10-inch display. Other partners haven’t announced pricing yet. Most of the devices we’ve seen so far feature HD displays and all of the usual connectivity options.

For now, it’s not clear when exactly these devices will go on sale, but JBL says it will sell its JBL View in the summer (but only in the U.S.) and Lenovo is targeting a similar date.

It’s worth noting that there’s another partner involved here, too: at the heart of these devices is Qualcomm’s new Home Hub platform. The company is launching two new system on chips at CES this year (the SDA 624 and SDA 212) that support Google’s Android Things platform. The 624, specifically, is what’s powering these smart displays thanks to its support of video cameras and touch displays.

Seshu Madavapeddy, Qualcomm’s VP of product management for IoT, told me his company is making a major investment in IoT devices for the home and he believes that Google is taking the right approach by making Android Things — and hence the Google Assistant — available on multiple platforms.

Google also is bringing the Assistant to more Android TV devices. So far, the Sony Bravia TVs and Nvidia’s Shield TV were the only ones, but now Changhong, Funai and Haier are also on board and LG will soon launch a new line of LG TVs with the Assistant built in, too.

Google also is expanding its partner ecosystem in the headphone space, where JBL, LG and Sony are launching headphones that are optimized for use with the Assistant (so you can walk down the Las Vegas Strip and talk to the Assistant).

While it’s no surprise that Google is interested in these smart displays, it’s a bit of a surprise that it’s working with partners first and not launching its own Google Home-branded device. Hafsteinsson likened this to Google’s approach to Assistant-enabled headphones. It launched these with Bose first and only then announced its own Pixel Buds (to middling reviews). Since we’ve already heard rumors about Google building its own device, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if Google launched its own smart display sometime in 2018, too.

Hafsteinsson also stressed that Google worked very closely with these partners. “We want to make sure we deliver a really good experience,” he told me, stressing that in these early days “you want to make sure that the quality matters as much as the quantity.” He also noted that opening up the Assistant ecosystem allows for more differentiation. “People have preferences for a particular design, audio quality, etc.,” he told me. “People look at other factors beyond the assistant.”