Artificial Intelligence has been around for quite some time now. Many industries have been using it in one form or another And most of us don’t even really know that we’re using AI. Google, however, is bringing it to the forefront. And, it kind of is, already. But they’re really going to start bringing it. During the Google I/O Conference this week, Google made several announcements outlining where it’s going to be. And it’s going to be everywhere. It was all over the keynote. With the intention that Google is going to be “AI first”. I wrote a couple of posts this week about some of their more interesting initiatives, but they’re right. AI is involved with all of it.
So what does this mean? Well, I think it means that it’s going to be easier for us to do things. Maybe that’s simplified, but when you get down to it, what else is AI doing? For example, cities use AI to identify infrastructure issues. A vehicle can be equipped with a camera that will automatically detect a pothole for example. This makes people’s lives a bit easier. And I would also add, more efficient. If we take that line of thinking and apply it to what Google is doing, the reach of AI could be endless. Google has it’s fingers in a lot of different pots.
But, the pothole identifying version of AI isn’t what people want. Or at least not most consumers. … Read the rest
Nike LED Running Track Allows You to Compete Against Yourself
If you happen to be in Manila, perhaps you want to check out the Nike LED running track. What is this, you ask? It is a 200 metre track in the centre of Manila. It is in the shape of a Nike shoe imprint, which essentially allows you to run in a figure eight. But the coolest part about it? It is lined with LED screens. The screens are there to give you the impression that you’re running against someone. In an attempt to push you harder and make you run farther and faster. Its an interesting concept.
How it works is that you attach some kind of censor to your shoe. You select an avatar and then run one lap around the track. From there, the avatar runs along side you. The faster and farther you run, the larger the avatar gets. Which hopefully pushes you to kick it up a notch. Why is this so cool? Well, technology aside, it’s giving you a running partner essentially. How many times have you heard people complain that they don’t want to work out because they don’t have someone to do it with? They need an accountability partner to get them going. And now you don’t need a physical person to do this with you.
Also, think about it from the perspective of training. This avatar is always going to be just a few seconds faster than you are. Doesn’t that motivate you to want to do a little bit better? … Read the rest
What is this Ransomware Attack Everyone is Talking About?
I’m sure by now everyone has heard about the ransomware known as WannaCry that hit yesterday. It is estimated that it hit at least 57,000 people. What I’m unclear about is whether or not that’s the number of people that paid the ransom. Or just the number of computers/people it attacked. Either way, that’s an incredible number. Especially when you consider how much money was being asked for by the attackers. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let me first start by explaining what ransomware is. Essentially, it is software that can take over or block certain aspects of your computer system. That is, until you pay the ransom. Ransomware seems to be gaining popularity lately.
And why is that you ask? A hacker can take over the files on your computer, and not release them back to you until you pay their ransom. And the ransom seems to be relatively low in price. In yesterday’s case, it was only $300 to start. What is interesting is that if you don’t pay the $300 within a set amount of time, the ransom will double. Continuing until you give in. Also making it an urgent request. Pay now or else. I’m sure in many cases, people feel like they don’t have any other option. So they pay the ransom, to get their files back. In some cases, however, that doesn’t always happen. You’re then left without the money that you started with, and then without your files.… Read the rest
Virtual Reality Therapy More Effective For Managing Pain?
Virtual Reality is seen as a way to submerse yourself into another “world”. Maybe as a way to disconnect from your own existence and temporarily become part of another. Virtual reality, however, is being used to treat pain. There are several studies reviewing this theory in both the United States and Canada, but the bottom line is showing that virtual reality is more effective at relieving pain than something like morphine. If this turns out to actually be the case, this is a huge breakthrough in my opinion. The question I have is how will it be used and by whom? Will I be referred to someone specializing in VR in order to treat the pain? Or can it be self-managed?
Regardless of what the answer is, I can only see the benefits of this. With more and more people being prescribed medication to kill the pain, this seems like an amazing alternative. As I’m not a medical professional myself, I am going to avoid getting into a lot of detail around how or why this works. But it seems like it provides a distraction to the patient during those pain periods. Researchers developed an environmental therapy known as SnowWorld to help patients who have been burned during skin grafting treatments. What is interesting to me, is how we can trick our minds into believing that we are somewhere else, in order to minimize the pain. How can this be possible?… Read the rest
New York City Introduces StreetSmart App to Help Combat Homelessness
The City of New York is trying to combat homelessness by using technology. Normally, I am all for this, but I wonder how effective this tool is actually going to be? The application is known as StreetSmart, and it provides information to agencies and case workers on specific individuals. Which, in theory, is amazing as it will allow the city to help homeless people in a more meaningful way. But at the same time how are they going to do it? While I am not trying to be insensitive, but off the top it sounds like a catch, track and release type of programs that we see with animals.
Except in this case, the intention is to be able to provide adequate services to homeless people. Off the bat one would think that this means a place to stay. And of course, that’s important. However, there are other services that someone who is homeless might need that often gets over looked. For example, having access to proper medical care is extremely important. I don’t want to generalize, but many people who are homeless may also be suffering from some kind of mental health disability. Which only compounds their ability to find appropriate services.
On one hand, I commend the City of New York for their efforts as I feel this will provide better services. However, on the other hand, I just wonder how they’re going to be able to manage the intake. … Read the rest
You Can Now Delete Your Uber Account Right From the App
Uber is letting you delete your account from within the app itself. That’s awesome right? Well, technically yes, but why was it such a difficult process in the first place? I probably sound like a broken record most days, but why are things like this so difficult in the first place? I have never understood things that aren’t user friendly. Especially when they’re driven by users to begin with. Apps for example. You want people to download and ultimately use them. So why make them difficult in the first place? It’s ultimately a turn off, in my opinion. And a deterrent from wanting to use your app.
So why is Uber finally doing this? They are saying that its part of their new privacy settings. Previously, you had to contact the Uber support team and asked to have your account closed and ultimately your data removed from their system. Which likely infuriated many users. Especially with all the bad press that Uber has been getting lately, it’s no wonder that people want to leave. And just deleting the app from your phone wasn’t enough.
According to a Gizmodo report, internally this privacy setting has been given the code name “Dear John”. Which is actually kind of funny if you ask me. For the young kids out there, this is not a reference to the Channing Tatum movie of the same name. But rather a reference to a woman writing a letter to her husband, letting him know that she’s found someone else. … Read the rest
MasterCard to Add Fingerprint Authentication for Purchases
The future of biometrics. has arrived! I wrote a post about facial recognition and its use by airport security. And another post about Alabama asking it’s citizens to submit their taxes via selfie. Well, now MasterCard wants you to verify your identity using your fingerprint. But not just your fingerprint. They are also wanting you to put your PIN number in as well. Which makes some sense, as a two step authentication process. But to me, it seems a bit much. Doesn’t it? In all of these scenarios, we are giving a part of ourselves to an organization. Whether it’s a corporation like MasterCard, or the IRS. We are giving out our personal data in ways that we never have before.
I don’t really like the idea of this. For many reasons, but let me start with the fingerprint recognition feature on my phone. If my finger is wet, or if I’m sweating, then my fingerprint doesn’t get recognized. Ok, you’re probably saying make sure your hands are dry. No problem. But because the button is so small, and apparently my finger is huge, it’s still doesn’t always get recognized. It’s one tiny part of my actual fingerprint. Not the entire thing. This is extremely frustrating for me and I’m just trying to get into my phone. Imagine what could happen if you’re trying to make a purchase and it doesn’t work?
I like the idea of the two step authentication process, but what happens if it doesn’t work? … Read the rest