AI won’t destroy us, and Tesla is proof

Ignore the noise about a “Terminator scenario” in which machines become self-aware and seek to destroy their flawed human masters. Those of us who live and work in the “salt mines” of machine learning and artificial intelligence are almost universally unafraid. Still, a few well-known technical folk heroes continue to push this “sky is falling” narrative. The most prolific of them is Elon Musk, famed founder of Tesla and SpaceX. Not only do I think he’s wrong, I think his own company, Tesla Motors, is a compelling proof point against his argument.

When it comes to AI, Musk and Tesla are a fascinating combination of contradictions. Tesla is one of the heaviest AI manufacturing companies in the world. The company almost single-handedly started the discussion on self-driving cars. (How much more “AI” can you get than a self-driving car?) Yet even while investing billions into AI to make smart self-driving cars, Musk rails against AI as a threat to our very existence. This is an especially strange narrative when you consider Tesla’s own difficulties with AI: The company produced just 260 new Model 3 cars in the third quarter of 2017, with Musk blaming the delays on a subcontractor dropping the ball, which required Tesla to “rewrite the software from scratch.” Rumor has it that the software in question was an AI element of the battery module production line.

Let me stop here for a moment and drill down on this point: Tesla has bet its future on fully automating the production of the Model 3, removing humans from the equation entirely. I’ll admit, I know nothing about manufacturing cars, but I do know software, and I think this is a shrewd play. A new, fully automated manufacturing process is going to take a while to sort out and get operating well. But once researchers work through those bugs, the line will move much faster than it ever could with humans as part of the process.

Let’s return to our original question, “Will machines destroy their flawed human masters?” The AI to run a factory is very complex and hard to get right, but at least there are a finite number of variables involved. Even so, Tesla has a difficult time bringing this online. If you can’t make machines solve a finite state problem that is pretty unchanged from day to day, I’m not sure why you’d ever worry that the machines will become self-aware and destroy us.

Tesla is having a tough time bringing its automated production facility online, yet Tesla and all the other car manufacturers want us to trust them to build a fully self-driving car. I don’t know about you, but that scares me. As hard as it is to build the AI for an automated manufacturing facility, it’s a whole lot easier than building the AI for a self-driving car. A car is produced the same way today as it was yesterday, and the same way it’ll be produced tomorrow. On the other hand, there are always new and unexpected variables in navigating the traffic from your house to the corner store. So if you can’t automate your production facility with absolute perfection, don’t ask me to believe my car can drive me anywhere I want in safety.

In time, AI will get better at approximating human intelligence, but we are still a long, long way from that point. So, I’m sorry Elon, but I don’t think Arnie and Cyberdyne will destroy the planet anytime soon. The technology to make that kind of leap doesn’t yet exist, and personally, I doubt it ever will.

Jeff Catlin is the chief executive officer of Lexalytics, a company that provides cloud and on-prem text analytics solutions. 

Black Friday is over, but that won’t stop Sam’s Club from having another sale – BGR

Black Friday is long gone but that doesn’t mean Christmas sales are over. Green Monday is almost upon us, with eBay and Target already unveiling new sales promotions for next week.

But it’s Sam’s Club “Bonus Black Friday” sale that you have to check out, as it’s got an unusual twist: it’s all based on Christmas movies.

Shopping for Christmas gifts isn’t the only thing you’ll be doing these days. Chances are that you’re going to watch plenty of Christmas movies, which is a yearly ritual one can’t escape.

Sam’s Club one day sale takes place in December 16th, with sales starting in stores at 7:00 AM local time. You’ll be able to shop online even earlier than that, with discounts going live at 12:01 AM EST over at SamsClub.com/OneDayOnly.

Below, you’ll find Sam’s Club movie-based deals which include several gems, like a 55-inch Samsung curved Smart TV and Xbox One S bundle, 1TB PS4, as well as Apple Watch (Series 3 and Series 2) deals:

  • The Holiday = You can take a break from real life without crossing the pond with the SAMSUNG 55” CLASS CURVED UHD SMART TV** AND XBOX ONE® S FORZA 3 BUNDLE. One click and you might just fall in love. Buy BOTH for just $698! ($280 savings)
  • Polar Express = You won’t have to worry about the ice cracking underneath your ride when you have new PIRELLI OR GOOD YEAR TIRES. (up to $140* – save $80 instantly on purchase of 4 new tires + $60 off tire installation)
  • A Christmas Story = Ruined Christmas dinner have you saying “Oh, Fudge?” With the snap of a few sparks and a quick whiff of ozone, the POWER PRESSURE COOKER® PLUS will blaze forth in unparalleled glory. (event price: $69.98) ($20 savings)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life = You may not be able to lasso the moon, but you can land in the stars with all that shines this year. Sam’s Club is offering up to $500 off diamond jewelry. Just take a peek at the sparkling holiday look book!
  • Home Alone = Paint cans and blow torches may have worked for Kevin, but you can protect your home from bandits wet and sticky alike with the SAMSUNG 4-CHANNEL 4-CAMERA 1080P WIRELESS NVR SECURITY SYSTEM. (event price: $329 + free shipping) ($70 savings)
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas = You don’t have to rely on Lucy for advice. Do all the searching you want on your new ACER® 2-IN-1 TOUCHSCREEN 15.6” FULL HD IPS NOTEBOOK. (event price: 399 + free shipping) ($150 savings)
  • Love Actually = You can listen to Billy Mack’s version of “Love is All Around” in any kind of weather with the NYNE ROCKTM XTREME SPEAKER (event price: $99.88) ($50 savings).
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer = Reindeer games getting you down? You’ll be shouting out with glee when you see the SONY® 1TB PLAYSTATION® 4 under the tree! (event price: $249 + free shipping) ($50 savings)
  • White Christmas = Whether you’re dreaming of a “White Christmas” or a “Heat Wave” you can sing along with your festive favorites with ITUNES $100 MULTI-PACK GIFT CARDS(event price: 84.47 + free shipping) ($10 savings)
  • Elf = The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear. But the second best way may be with the COPPER CHEF® PRO 8-PIECE HEAVY GAUGE COOKWARE SET.(event price: $69.98 + free shipping) ($30 savings)
  • A Christmas Carol = The ghost of Christmas future has arrived with the latest APPLE WATCH® SERIES 3 OR SERIES 2. (Check club or samsclub.com for low member price)
  • Christmas Vacation = Don’t you dare buy that Jelly of the Month Club membership for your friends and family. Instead, give them a FREE MEMBERSHIP TO SAM’S CLUB. Right now new Plus members will receive a Savings Membership certificate to pass along to a friend or family member. It really is the gift that keeps on giving the whole year!
  • Home Alone 2 = We can’t all be lucky enough to stay at the Plaza Hotel for Christmas, but you can feel like you are when you use the MEMBER’S MARK HOTEL PREMIER COLLECTION BATH TOWELS. (event price: $4.98)

Sam’s Club ad for the event is available at this link.

The iMac Pro might be the first ARM Mac, but it won’t be the last

In the latest in a long line of leaks lately, a recent report says that the upcoming iMac Pro will also include an A10 Fusion chip—the same processor that powers the iPhone 7 series. This is a shoe we’ve been expecting to drop for some time, and it’s fueled a lot of discussion of whether or not a Mac solely powered by an ARM processor might be in the offing. 

I think it’s pretty clear that if this report is true—and the evidence is solid enough to believe it is—that this first Mac with an ARM chip won’t be the last. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean that Apple’s about to throw the x86 architecture to the side and put all its chips—if you’ll pardon the expression—on ARM.

ARM is my copilot 

The A10 chip in the iMac Pro seems to be relegated to certain specific functions, though we don’t know all the details of its responsibilities yet. Secure boot has been mentioned as one task, which would also have the side effect of making it harder to run macOS on unauthorized hardware. But the other prominent feature that the A10 apparently handles is “Hey Siri” functionality for the Mac. 

Which draws an interesting parallel back to Apple’s iOS devices. The first iPhones to allow you to say “Hey Siri” without actually touching the device were the 6s and 6s Plus, which harnessed the M9 coprocessor, generally dedicated to tracking activity, to listen for Siri commands. 

So let’s cook up a little analogy: the A10 chip in the iMac Pro is to its x86 processor as the M-series motion coprocessors are to the A-series processors in iOS devices. That is to say that they handle a limited range of tasks, especially those that you don’t want to ramp the entire processor up for because of power or heat concerns. Obviously those concerns are reduced on a device that’s always plugged in and doesn’t have the same space constraints as one that you carry in your pocket, which means you can use an even more powerful processor, like the A10, for those tasks. There are some indications that the A10 could even keep listening when the iMac Pro is shut down, although it’s unclear exactly what the utility of that might be. 

First among equals 

But this is all just the start. Apple’s invested a boatload of time, energy, and money into developing its A-series chips, and with good reason. For one, it allows the company to exert deep technological control on its entire platform, letting it develop the very hardware- and software-spanning features that it likes to boast about. For another, it makes Apple a master of its own destiny, by not having to rely on another company’s timeline or roadmap for building chips. That’s a strategy that we’ve long seen, where Apple brings key technologies in house so that it’s not beholden to a third party, as it’s done with everything from mapping features to, more recently, GPUs. (And now, it’s rumored, to cellular modems—no surprise given its recent tiff with Qualcomm.) 

Much as Apple might value its close partnership with Intel, corporate memory is long, and there’s no doubt that Apple hasn’t forgotten the era when its PowerPC chips lagged behind the x86 chips that powered rival PCs. That’s a situation that Apple, like Scarlett O’Hara vowing she’ll never go hungry again, doesn’t ever want to return to. 

Given all of that, it seems pretty likely that the iMac Pro is only the first Mac to have an A-series chip in it. Apple will eventually want to extend the features it’s using the ARM chip for, especially those related to security, to the rest of its Mac line, and no doubt it will come up with additional features that the ARM coprocessor is ideal for. The Mac’s great strength has always been its close ties between hardware and software, and the integration of an Apple-designed processor just takes that to the next level.

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Here’s Why You Won’t Miss the Home Button on the iPhone X

One of the biggest complaints about the iPhone X — besides the lack of Touch ID — is its complete lack of a home button. Instead of the standard set of gestures and buttons that have defined the product for years, iPhone users must now relearn how to navigate Apple’s latest headset. Gone are the days of simply swiping up to access the Control Center and down for notifications, but, thankfully, the new gestures aren’t a huge departure from the originals.

Swiping down on the screen of your iPhone X will still bring up notifications, but only if you swipe from the left side of the screen to the right side of the notch in the center. If you swipe from the right side of said notch (where the battery and signal icons are located), you will now bring up the Control Center, which used to be located at the bottom of the screen.

Swiping up from the bottom now brings up the home screen, nixing the need for the traditional home button. Simply swipe up from the small line located on the bottom of your lock screen, or from the very edge of your phone. Easy, right?

iPhone X

While you could swipe up in the same motion and hold your finger in the middle of the screen to access Multitasking, there’s a actually a faster way to do it. To open Multitasking immediately, swipe up from the button of your screen and to the right in one motion.

The latest iteration of iOS 11 also offers Multitasking Gestures, which allow you to quickly access the last app you were using — simply swipe right along the bottom of your screen to do so. If you swipe to the left, you can even bring up the  app you used before that.

Many iPhone X users also miss Accessibility mode, a feature seemingly absent on the latest iPhone. In previous iPhone models, lightly tapping twice on the home button allowed you to pull the contents of your screen down, allowing you to access them more easily with one hand. Thankfully, you can still do this! After you’ve ensured Reachability is toggled on — you can do this by going to Settings > Accessibility — swipe down on the very bottom of your screen to trigger the feature.

Gesture controls aren’t the only thing Apple changed with the new iPhone. The physical buttons lining the sides of the iPhone now perform different functions to some extent, because of the missing home button. To turn off your device, hold the Sleep/Wake button and one of the volume buttons (it doesn’t matter which one) until you see a prompt to power down.

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If you hold the Sleep/Wake button for an extended period of time, you’ll activate Siri. If you double tap it, Apple Pay will launch. To take a screenshot, hold the Volume Up and Sleep/Wake button for one second, or until you see a copy of the screenshot appear in the lower-left corner. With all the same features — along with a few new-and-improved ones — just a click or two away, you’re not going to miss the home button on the iPhone X.

David Cogen — a regular contributor here at Digital Trends — runs TheUnlockr, a popular tech blog that focuses on tech news, tips and tricks, and the latest tech. You can also find him on Twitter discussing the latest tech trends.




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The iPhone X won’t be in stock consistently for months – BGR

After initial doom-and-gloom warnings about severe iPhone X shortages at launch, things are looking up. If you order a phone right now from Apple’s online store, you’re looking at a ship time of two to three weeks, which is a dramatic improvement on the six-week wait times when the iPhone X hadn’t launched yet.

But you still shouldn’t expect the phone to be consistently in stock — as in, being able to pop down the Apple Store on your way to work to pick one up — for a while. Apple doesn’t comment on its stock levels or manufacturing plans, but the carriers (who still sell around 75% of iPhones) do, and their forecast isn’t all that great.

Speaking at an investor conference, T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter predicted that demand for the iPhone X would “roll over” into the first quarter of 2018. According to a write-up of the event from MobileWorldLive, Braxton predicted that “going into the holiday season we do think we will still be overall supply constrained,” so there won’t be consistent stock in T-Mobile stores over Christmas, at the very least.

This might ultimately be the “super-cycle” of iPhone upgrades that some analysts were predicted. For most phone launches, manufacturers see a bump in demand for the months immediately following the launch, and then sales tail off, and return to the regular sales pattern. But with the iPhone X, it seems that the surge in demand will last for nearly six months. What Braxton was getting at in his comments is that customers will have seen the iPhone X launch in September, planned on buying one more or less right away, but won’t actually go to the store and buy the phone until 2018. That’s unusual, and shows the amount of interest that Apple has managed to generate in its shiniest new gadget.