Slaughter Bots

Another terrifying development at the nexus of autonomous weapon systems and artificial intelligence. Korea announced that it’s developing a system that,

would search for and eliminate targets without human control, are called the third revolution in the battleground after gunpowder and nuclear weapons.

Such weapons would include an AI-based missile that can control its speed and altitude on its own and detect an enemy radar fence in real time while in flight. AI-equipped unmanned submarines and armed quadcopters would also be among autonomous arms.

Project launched at Korean institute to develop AI weapons

Every time Boston Dynamics publishes a new video showing the latest features on its killer robots we all laugh nervously about Skynet and our new overlords but the shit is getting real.

Concerned? Educate yourself and take action at autonomousweapons.org

The week that was (02-23-2018)

Fergie brought down the house at the NBA All-Star Game with her jazzy rendition of the national anthem. Not in a good way.

As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley she lost to Arnold Schwarzenegger to be governor of California. Now Elizabeth Swaney hacked the qualification rules for the Olympics and made it into the the Ladies Ski Halfpipe to add another skill to her LinkedIn profile.

A second Russian athlete was busted for doping. Nadezhda Sergeeva, who was photographed earlier this month wearing an “I don’t do doping” sweatshirt.

Scientists at Bayer invented an onion that doesn’t make you cry.

In a sign of the times, the makers of Lucky Charms breakfast cereal are retiring the antiquitated hourglass charm and replacing it with a unicorn.

Apple’s new corporate headquarters officially opened at their new “spaceship” campus. The miles of curved glass walls are spotless of course but the problem is, people keep running into them.

This individual will moderate one of the debates in the upcoming Pennsylvania governor’s race. Who is Alex Trebek, the host of the TV game show Jeopardy!

Police in Argentina arrested six people for running a cocaine smuggling operation out of the basement of the Russian Embassy.

A nation sick of inaction over last week’s shooting took matters into their own hands to cut off one source of funding and political influence. While #boycottNRA trended on Twitter, multiple companies announced an end to special discounts for NRA members.

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Native Podcast Players

The New York Times app added a native podcast player that does an excellent job of complimenting their news rather than competing with it. The player was launched to support The Daily, their flagship news show.

What is really interesting about this player is that it lets the user continue to browse while listening. Tap play to listen and then swipe away when you’re done. That’s it.

What’s great about this is that it keeps you in the NYTimes app and doesn’t send you elsewhere to consume audio. You remain in the NYT experience.

  1. Simple and unobtrusive.
  2. Allows simultaneous browsing and listening.
  3. Continues to play in the background, even if you switch apps or put the phone in your pocket.
  4. Dual platform, iOS and Android
  5. Provides link to subscribe to future episodes in your phone’s default podcast app. It does not try to compete with your existing podcast app.

The Experience

When you tap on play, you get a welcome message with simple explanation of how the player works.

As you’re listening, the player goes grey so as not to visually compete with text of the article. This use case is immediately obvious because you can browse the show notes while reading the article or read the source article while listening to associated podcast (The Daily often features interviews with the authors behind major feature pieces).

The podcast will continue to play while browsing other stories or checking other apps, it’ll also play in the background after you put your phone in your pocket.

Audio switches if you listen to another audio app (ie. music app, YouTube). The NYT player saves your place so you can go back to the NYT app and pick up where you left off.

Swipe left to dismiss.

Tapping on the player “chicklet” brings up more controls so you pause/play and scrub back and forth or skip forward or backwards 10 seconds. There is also a link to subscribe to the full podcast via your installed podcast app (Apple Podcast app on iOS, RadioPublic Free Podcasts App on Google Play Store on my Android device).

From the NY Times press release announcing the player,

The in-app player will allow audio to continue playing even if you navigate away from it, leave the app or put your device to sleep, allowing you to read through related articles and other content while you listen. Audio can be controlled within the app, with the device level controls, or even with an Apple Watch.

I think the level of integration of the New York Times podcast player is perfect. It’s just enough to extend the story without getting in the way.  All it takes is a tap to play or a swipe to dismiss but there are hooks into a full-fledged podcast app should you want to subscribe or download for late.

I see more of this and it would be really cool if the NYT Labs could share their code on their Github repository so others can take advantage of what they’ve done and perhaps improve on it.

Other native players

Others publishers are adding native players to augment their text stories as well.

Japanese TV News

Television news programs in Japan are famously entertaining. The sets are more interesting and the hosts are much more physically involved with the story-telling. Below are some screenshots of a lengthy and incredibly detailed explanation of the sport of speedskating.

Here they are talking about the importance of drafting complete with a huge fan for effect. I can’t imagine Brian Williams or Savannah Guthrie doing this.

Well, maybe Al Roker.

The week that was (02-16-2018)

Children were shot down and murdered in cold blood. Thoughts & Prayers trended on social media.

An Arizona woman has been diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome, a rare condition that causes her to switch accents.

Parents at a school in Japan asked the school scale back on the budget for their new $800 uniforms. The school had hired Armani.

The leather-bound book titled Gaines Universal Register or American and British Kalendar for the year 1793 has been checked out too often from the Schenectady Union College library. Tucked inside archivists discovered an envelope containing a few strands of hair from George Washington.

Scientists in Bolivia, desperate to raise awareness for the last known living male Sehuencas water frog created a match.com profile to find him a mate.

The Chinese military has re-assigned 60,000 troops to plant trees.

Lions in South Africa fought back and ate an illegal poacher in Kruger National Park. All that remained was a loaded rifle and his head.

A scientist at Oxford won awards for his photo of a single atom.

A Texas man man was unsuccessful in appealing a DWI conviction after he argued that the state’s legal threshold for intoxication “unfairly discriminates against alcoholics.”

First it was 16-year old Jack Bergeson. Then a couple more teenagers. Finally this week a dog is now running to be the next Governor of Kansas.

Clever Moscow residents have found a way to force a reluctant city government to clear record snow that is clogging their streets. They write the name of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on piles of it.

We learned that the entire Finnish Olympic squad in Pyeongchang is knitting a blanket for the presidential couple’s newborn son.

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#knittingteamfi

I have a new appreciation for Team Finland.

Childhood Nightmare (updated)

The stuff of nightmares when I was growing up was this scene from the slasher, Trilogy of Terror.

Boston Dynamics just released an update

Of course, Black Mirror perfects the terror.

The week that was (2-9-2018)

The Crisco didn’t work so well last time so Philadelphia city workers tried something else to keep the sports fans from climbing the city lamp posts, hydraulic fluid. It didn’t work.

Boston University lost their bet with Temple University so BU students will be eating Philly Cheese Steaks under a banner congratulating the Eagles on their Super Bowl victory.

Budweiser honored its bet with Eagles offensive lineman Lane Johnson and bought Bud Light for the everyone at the Eagles Super Bowl parade.

A Florida man who was missing at sea was found after 16 days of subsisting on Doritos and cookies.

Headline of the Week award goes to Inverse for “Flat Earther’s Rocket Launch Fails Spectacularly, Disappointing Tens”

Police in Scotland had a tense, 45-minute stand-off with a tiger until they discovered it was a stuffed animal.

In Mexico, someone tried to send a live tiger cub through express mail.

Remember the emotional support peacock from last week? This week a college student was told by Spirit Airlines at the gate that her pet hamster, Pebbles, would not be allowed onboard her flight so she flushed him down the toilet.

Ever sensible Finland started wheels turning for the EU to evaluate the repeal of Daylight Savings Time.

Japanese scientists were at it again. Apparently chemicals found in McDonald’s french fries stimulates hair growth.

Sensing opportunity with the legalization of recreational pot in California, one enterprising Girl Scout sold over 300 boxes of cookies in six hours outside of a San Diego pot dispensary. All for a good cause?

A self-driving truck drove itself 2,400 miles from Los Angeles to Jacksonville.

The US Army is now training with unmanned robots that shoot .50-caliber bullets from a machine gun.

The Norwegian Olympic team in South Korea misused Google Translate and ended up taking delivery of 15,000 eggs.

The Winter Olympics skating competitions kicked off in Korea with a dreadful Paul Anka cover of Wonderwall.

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