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Hyperloop hype is building as Musk recieved multi-state okay

(TECH NEWS) Musk’s joke of a project is looking less and less like a joke with each milestone he hits.

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hyperloop hololens

A serious joke

Remember when Elon Musk’s hyperloop project was potentially a joke even though he bought a giant drill? Now Musk has the green light to, well, avoid green lights. And red lights. And yellow lights.

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On July 20, Musk tweeted he “received verbal approval” to proceed with the hyperloop project, which is proposed to connect New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.

GET IN THE (HYPER)LOOP

In case you’ve been out of the loop about hyperloop, here’s a refresher course. In 2013, Musk released the concept in an open-source white paper, but basically said he was too busy to deal with it.

In half jest, Musk named the project The Boring Company.

Nothing happened for a while, but in January of this year, Musk started cryptically tweeting about digging a tunnel. Turns out he got a hold giant drills and began construction on the SpaceX campus.

DIGGING YOURSELF INTO A HOLE

At the end of June, the first section of an LA tunnel was completed. So much for joking about the feasibility of the project.

To be fair to the doubters, it’s a huge project.

In fact, Madeline Brozen, associate director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA, said potential costs for the project are “incomprehensible.”

But we’re talking about the guy who created SpaceX, a space travel firm and premier electronic car-maker Tesla. If nothing else, the SpaceX campus is going to have a cool underground transportation system.

OKAY SO WHAT IS IT?

Musk’s hyperloop project proposes creating a super high-speed underground rail system that would take passengers from NYC to DC in just under a half hour. 29 minutes, to be precise.

It’s basically a subterranean bullet train using thus unproven technology.

Which sounds awesome and very futuristic, but there are still many steps in place before Musk’s dream traffic solution gets past verbal approval.

Although innovation often comes from the private sector, actually constructing the hyperloop will require a tunnel full of permits and regulations.

NEXT STEPS

So far, spokespeople for the governors of states the hyperloop is proposed to go through/under say Musk has not made contact with them. However, a company spokesperson for the Boring Company stated the company has “had a number of promising conversations with local, state, and federal government officials,” about the matter, and “with a few exceptions, feedback has been positive.”

Despite the massive amount of funds and red tape navigation this will take, I’m stoked.

It might take decades (I’m not a city planner, I don’t know timelines), but this ridiculously futuristic project seems well worth it to solve the traffic headache.

Texas loop

Plus, Musk even promised via Twitter that Texas could have its very own hyperloop, so now I have something to daydream about while trapped on I-35.

It’s good to have dreams. Here’s to hoping we get to see Musk’s traffic solution dream come true.

#HyperloopHype

Lindsay is an editor for The American Genius with a Communication Studies degree and English minor from Southwestern University. Lindsay is interested in social interactions across and through various media, particularly television, and will gladly hyper-analyze cartoons and comics with anyone, cats included.

Tech News

New Apple Watch is awesome, but past watches could be just as good for cheaper

(TECH NEWS) The Apple Watch Series 6 is a ridiculous display of self-flattery—but that doesn’t mean people won’t line up to buy it in droves.

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Apple Watch being worn on wrist showing weather for Montreal.

The Apple Watch has been the subject of everything from speculation to ridicule during its relatively short tenure on this planet. While most have nothing but praise for the most recent iteration, that praise comes at a cost: The Apple Watch’s ghost of Christmas past.

Or, to put it more literally, the fact that the Apple Watch’s prior version and accompanying variations are too good—and, at this point, too comparatively cheap—to warrant buying the most recent (and expensive) option.

Sure, the Apple Watch Series 6 has a bevy of health features—a sensor that can take an ECG and a blood oxygen test, to name a couple—but the Series 5 has almost everything else that makes the Apple Watch Series 6 “notable.” According to Gear Patrol, even the Series 4 is comparable if you don’t mind forgoing the option to have the Apple Watch’s screen on all of the time.

More pressingly, Gear Patrol points out, is the availability of discount options from Apple. The Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple Watch SE are, at this point, budget options that still do the job for smart watch enthusiasts.

Not to mention any Apple Watch can run updates can utilize Apple’s Fitness Plus subscription—another selling point that, despite its lucrative potential, doesn’t justify buying a $400 watch when a cheaper option is present.

It’s worth noting that Apple is no stranger to outdoing themselves retroactively. Every year, Apple’s “new” MacBook, iPhone, and iPad models are subjected to extensive benchmarking by every tech goatee around. And the conclusion is usually that buying a generation or two behind is fine—and, from a financial perspective, smart.

And yet, as the holidays roll around or the initial drop date of a new product arrives, Apple invariably goes through inventory like a tabby cat through unattended butter.

The Apple Watch is already a parody of itself, yet its immense popularity and subtle innovation has promoted it through several generations and a few spin-off iterations. And that’s not even including the massive Apple-specific watch band market that appears to have popped up as a result.

Say what you will about the Series 6; when the chips are on the table, my money’s on the consumers making the same decisions they always make.

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Microsoft acquires powerful AI language processor GPT-3, to what end?

(TECH NEWS) This powerful AI language processor sounds surprisingly human, and Microsoft has acquired rights to the code. How much should we worry?

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Code on screen, powering AI technology

The newly-released GPT-3 is the most insane language model in the NLP (natural language processor) field of machine learning. Developed by OpenAI, GPT-3 can generate strikingly human-like text for a vast range of purposes like bots and advertising, to poetry and creative writing.

While GPT-3 is accessible to everyone, OpenAI has expressed concerns over using this AI tech for insidious purposes. For this reason, Microsoft’s new exclusive license on the GPT-3 language model may be a tad worrisome.

First of all, for those unfamiliar with the NPL field, software engineer, and Youtuber, Aaron Jack, provides a detailed overview of GPT-3’s capabilities and why everyone should be paying attention.

Microsoft’s deal with OpenAI should come as little surprise since OpenAI uses the Azure cloud platform to access enough information to train their models.

Microsoft chief technology officer Kevin Scott announced the deal on the company blog this week: “We see this as an incredible opportunity to expand our Azure-powered AI platform in a way that democratizes AI technology, enables new products, services and experiences, and increases the positive impact of AI at Scale,” said Scott.

“Our mission at Microsoft is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, so we want to make sure that this AI platform is available to everyone – researchers, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, businesses – to empower their ambitions to create something new and interesting.”

OpenAI has assured that Microsoft’s exclusive license does not affect the general public’s access to the GPT-3 model. The difference is Microsoft will be able to use the source code to combine with their products.

While OpenAI needs Azure to train these models, handing over the source code to another party is, to put it mildly, tricky. With the earlier GPT-2 model, OpenAI initially refused publishing the research out of fear it could be used to generate fake news and propaganda.

Though the company found there was no evidence to suggest the GPT-2 was utilized this way and later released the information, handing the key of the exponentially more powerful iteration to one company will undoubtedly hold ramifications in the tech world.

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Tech News

What is UI/UX? Take a little time to learn for free!

(TECH NEWS) For the all-time low price of—well, free—Invise gives you the option of learning a few basic UI and UX design techniques.

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Woman browsing web, made easy with UI/UX

There’s no denying the strong impact UI and UX design has on the success of a website, app, or service—and, thanks to some timely altruism, you can add basic design understanding to your résumé for free.

Invise is a self-described beginner’s guide to the UI/UX field, and while they do not purport to deliver expert knowledge or “paid courses”, the introduction overview alone is pretty hefty.

The best part—aside from the “free” aspect—is how simple it is to get a copy of the guide: You enter your email address on the Invise website, click the appropriate button, and the guide is yours after a quick email verification.

According to Invise, their beginner’s guide to UI and UX covers everything from color theory and typography to layout, research principles, and prototyping. They even include a segment on tools and resources to use for optimal UI/UX work so that you don’t have to take any risks on dicey software.

UI—short for “user interface”—and UX, or “user experience”, are two critical design aspects found in everything from websites to app and video game menus. As anyone who has ever picked up an outdated smartphone knows, a janky presentation of options or—worse yet—a lack of intuitive menus can break a user’s experience far faster than slow hardware.

Similarly, if you’re looking to retain customers who visit your website or blog, presenting their options to them in a jarring or unfamiliar way—or selecting colors that clash for your landing page—can be just as fatal as not having a website to begin with.

The overarching problem, then, becomes one of cost. Hiring a design expert is expensive and can be time-consuming, so Invise is a welcome alternative—and, as a bonus, you don’t have to dictate your company’s vision to a stranger and hope that they “get it” if you’re doing your own design work.

2020 probably isn’t the year to break the bank on design choices, but the importance of UI and UX in your business can’t be overstated. If you have time to read up on some design basics and a small budget for a few of the bare-bones tools, you can take a relatively educated shot at putting together a modern, desirable interface.

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