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Emergent // Future Report: Flying Cars, Understanding AI and Machine Learning, WWDC News, and More

Flying Cars, Understanding AI and Machine Learning, WWDC News, and MoreIssue 13
This week we check in on
Larry Page’s flying-car project, get a primer in AI, ML, and Deep Learning, take a look at all the Apple WWDC news, and check out the Vive VR headset. Plus, what we’re reading and a few things for you to try at home.

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We Were Promised… Flying Cars? 🚗

You Might Have Heard: Larry Page has a secret flying-car factory.

Not only that, but he’s invested over $100M into the flying-car startup Zee.Aero, and is also an investor in the competing firm, Kitty Hawk.

Flying cars have always been a part of our collective imagination, for better or worse, but for flying cars to become a reality they need to be able to fly autonomously.

“With ultralight composites and better battery tech we may actually be drawing near a basic functional design,” TechCrunch writes. “In a few decades it may seem absurd that we drove our own cars for a century, with the dead from traffic accidents totaling in the millions.”


A Primer on AI, and Machine Learning 🤖

This video presentation by a16z Deal and Research head Frank Chen, walks through the basics of AI, deep learning, and machine learning, explaining how we got here, why now, and what the next breakthrough is.

Every company is now a data company, capable of using machine learning in the cloud to deploy intelligent apps at scale, thanks to three machine learning trends: data flywheels, the algorithm economy, and cloud-hosted intelligence.

Despite playing catchup to Google and Microsoft, Facebook wants to dominate in AI and machine learning. They’ve tripled their investment in processing power for research, and hired up more than 150 people.

Meanwhile, a patent for “Face Detection Using Machine Learning” was just granted. 😳

PLUS: A few considerations when setting up deep learning hardware.


News from WWDC 📱🖥⌚️

The big news from Apple WWDC this year is that they’re opening up Siri to app developers in an effort to keep pace with Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, all of which are betting that voice commands and chatbots will be one of the next big computing paradigms.

HomeKit, the Apple Internet of Things platform, got a big updateand a dedicated app to control all the devices in your home, andfeatures access to connected cameras from the lock screen, geofencing, automation, Siri commands, and Apple Watch support.

One More Thing: Apple added facial and object recognition to the iPhone and iPad.

The computer vision tech runs natively on the device, and doesn’t require you to upload all the images to the cloud. With the Photos app, you can now recognize faces and objects across your photo library to help you to find a specific photo with ease.

In addition, the app has a new feature called Memories, which bundles photos according to events and places.

PLUS: The 13 biggest announcements from Apple WWDC 2016


Vive VR Headset Now Shipping 🎮

The VR headset from HTC started shipping last week in 24 countries, with delivery in two to three days. Head to a Microsoft, GameStop, and Micro Center store for a demo before plopping down $799.

But, should you buy an HTC Vive right now?

Still unsure? Here’s an HTC Vive vs Oculus Rift comparison.

tl;dr
The Rift has better sound and ergonomics; The Vive has better controllers and smoother tracking of head and hand motions.

“Both of these devices are good enough to deliver a great VR experience to millions of people. This is the beginning of something big.”

PLUS: VR rollercoasters are coming, and they look amazing.

ALSO: Augmented reality startup Blippar unveils its “visual browser,” an app for recognizing real-world objects using machine learning.


What We’re Reading 📚

  • What are the odds we are living in a computer simulation?Citing the speed with which video games are improving, Elon Musk suggested that the development of simulations “indistinguishable from reality” was inevitable. The likelihood that we are living in “base reality,” Musk concluded, was just “one in billions.” (The New Yorker)
  • Ray Kurzweil’s four big insights for predicting the future.“How we eat, work, play, communicate, and travel are deeply affected by the development of new technology. But what is the underlying engine that drives technological progress? Does technological change progress at a steady rate? Can we predict what’s coming in 5 or 10 years?” (Singularity Hub)
  • Mastering Programming. “The theme here is scaling your brain. The journeyman learns to solve bigger problems by solving more problems at once. The master learns to solve even bigger problems than that by solving fewer problems at once.” (Kent Beck)
  • How big data and poker-playing bots are blurring the line between man and machine. “Science, mathematics, and gambling have long been intertwined, and thanks to advances in big data and machine learning, our sense of what’s predictable is growing, crowding out the spaces formerly ruled by chance.” (Kernal Mag)
  • A New Theory Explains How Consciousness Evolved. “If the wind rustles the grass and you misinterpret it as a lion, no harm done. But if you fail to detect an actual lion, you’re taken out of the gene pool.” (The Atlantic)
  • Jessica Livingston’s Pretty Complete List on How Not to Fail. “Nothing else you do will matter if you’re not making something people want. You can be the best spokesperson, the best fundraiser, the best programmer, but if you aren’t building a product that satisfies a real need, you’ll never succeed.” (The Macro)

Try This At Home 🛠


Emergent Future is a weekly, hand-curated dispatch exploring technology through the lens of artificial intelligence, data science, and the shape of things to come. Subscribe here.

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