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Emergent Future Weekly: Self-Driving Ubers, The Future of Tech, Merged Reality, and More

Emergent Future Weekly: Self-Driving Ubers, The Future of Tech, Merged Reality, and MoreIssue 21
This week we look at
Uber’s self-driving cars launching in Pittsburgh this month, and how Ford and BMW are keeping pace. We take a look at Intel’s “merged reality” headset. And, recap Chris Dixon’s 11 transformative technologies, along with news from the past week that should restore your faith in humanity.

Plus, we compile our top projects to try at home, and favorite articles from the past week. 

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Self-Driving Uber’s 🚗

You Might Have Heard: Uber’s launching a fleet of autonomous cars this summer in Pittsburgh.

Later this month, Uber will allow customers in downtown Pittsburgh to summon self-driving cars from their phone.

The cars will be supervised by humans from driver’s seat, and launches with custom Volvo XC90s and Ford Fusions outfitted with sensors, cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers.

Missing out on being first to market with a self-driving car-sharing service would be an “existential threat,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says.

But Did You Know? Uber acquired the self-driving truck startup Otto, which makes a kit that turns big-rig trucks into autonomous highway vehicles.

PLUS: Ford plans to have a fleet of autonomous cars operating in a riding-hailing service by 2021, while BMW’s roadmap includes an autonomous i20 by 2025.

Oh, and Airbus is working on a flying taxi.

GO DEEPER: End-to-End Deep Learning for Self-Driving Cars


Tomorrow’s Tech, Today ⚗🔭🔬

Venture capitalist Chris Dixon outlines 11 new technologies that will transform the world and improve human welfare. The list includes popular technologies, like self driving cars, clean energy, VR/AR, drones, and flying cars.

As well as what it means to have the entire world outfitted with super computers in their pocket, how blockchain technologies are an innovative new protocol, the creation a new space age, and what technology means to education, healthcare, and our ability to create healthy, sustainable food alternatives.

Although every month this year has been the hottest in recorded history, here’s a few headlines from the past week sure to helprestore your faith in humanity:

ENERGY – New lithium metal batteries could make smartphones, drones, and electric cars last twice as long. SolarCity is developingroofs made of solar cells. A study finds that electric cars could replace 90% of cars on the road, reducing emissions by 30%. Check out Block Island, a wind farm out in the Atlantic Ocean

EDUCATION – A free coding school is opening in California. Four coding bootcamps granted Government financial aid eligibility.

SPACE – SpaceX landed their fourth rocket on a drone ship.NASA’s research is now available for free online. Astronomers discovered an “Earth-like” planet nearby.

HEALTHCARE – Computers trounce pathologists in predicting lung cancer type and severity. Kernel is developing a brain prosthetic to improve memory; fight Alzheimer’s and dementia. Scientists created nanorobots that travel down the bloodstream to target cancerous tumors.


Intel’s Merged Reality Headset 😎

Intel showed off Project Alloy, their new VR headset. Unlike Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, the headset is an all-in-one, wireless unit with all of its cameras, sensors, and input controls are built-in.

The company’s calling it “merged reality,” which blends real life images from the real world into the virtual environment.

Two more Intel headlines:

Plus: After getting lapped by NVIDIA, Intel’s now betting big on deep learning.


What We’re Reading 📚

  • How Alexa learns about you. How do services like Amazon’s Alexa understand your voice? Appliance Science looks at the role of machine learning and natural language processing in your voice-controlled future. (CNET)
  • How an Algorithm Learned to Identify Depressed Individuals by Studying Their Instagram Photos. Your mental health is reflected in the images you choose to post on social media, say researchers who have trained a machine to spot depression on Instagram. (MIT Technology Review)
  • The Art of Forecasting in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. The human/artificial intelligence (AI) relationship is just heating up. So when is AI better at predicting outcomes, and when are humans? What happens when you combine forces? And more broadly, what role will human judgment play as machines continue to evolve? (Deloitte University Press)
  • If the age of self-driving cars is upon us, what’s keeping them off the roads? As Google and Uber trial prototypes, the future of fully driverless cars and safer roads should come sooner than anyone thought – but they’re in no mood to rush (Guardian)
  • The post-post world: deliveries in the age of drones. For hundreds of years our things have been delivered by people: people on foot, people on bikes, people in vans. But tech promises to change all of that, and to many observers the future of post looks distinctly non-human. (Techradar)
  • How Machine Learning Will Change What You Eat. Smarter technology could make farms more efficient and food tastier, though environmentalists argue none of it is guilt-free. (Fast Company)

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.

Product manager at Algorithmia helping to give developers super powers.

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