For a real adventure
When I was a kid, I thought one of the most dashing and romantic things in the world would be to go to a crowded airport, a duffel bag slung over one shoulder, and breathlessly announce to the ticket agent, “I want one ticket on the next plane out of here,” and then go wherever the path took me. As an adult in a pre-9/11 world, I still thought the same thing.
In a world grown smaller and smaller through countless online travel sites, each with detailed reviews of locales and the best options for everything once there, the sense of adventure feels a little lost.
Until now, maybe.
Jubel is a startup travel site that offers what its competitors do not: the ability to create a true bespoke adventure travel experience, where as much or as little as you desire is kept as a surprise.
How it works
When planning your trip with Jubel, one begins by telling the site a little bit about what you have in mind. Jubel focuses on alternative travel experiences, ones off the beaten and over-traveled path.
Jubel’s research team has done extensive research on these out-of-the way locations to prevent the traveler from being dependent upon second-rate or incomplete information.
Their local networks of trusted locations allow you to have a rich experience that’s uniquely yours, as they tailor the trip to your specific survey responses. The site advertises that travelers can start with a trip idea “vague as ‘a completely blind journey somewhere in the world,’ or they can be more specific, for those travelers who know what might be of more interest to them, for example, again from Jubel’s website, “a culturally rich Indonesian experience.”
Users select the theme for their adventure (called a path on Jubel’s site), and identify destinations (along with a preferred budget for travel) along the way that would be of potential interest through a detailed, yet uncumbersome, survey.
For those who get analysis paralysis of all of the great places to go and see on a trip, Jubel provides an inspirations page with more information about preferred sites. They also allow users to contact agents directly for support in finding that perfect destination or activity before the trip is completely planned, as well as at any point during the trip to address questions or unanticipated needs that may arise during the trip.
Fully comprehensive price points
Once you’ve provided Jubel with the necessary information about what places and types of experiences you’re interested in, they do the rest! They design a trip, totally custom-made for you, without any prior commitment.
For some other sites, who promise low fares to surprise destinations, you’re taking a bit of a gamble. You pay upfront and only then are told of the dates, times, or destinations. Not so with Jubal. You only proceed with payment and finalization of trip plans once you’re satisfied with the destination and the price point. The pricing is comprehensive to boot: you’re quoted a proposal that takes into account flights, hotel, and any additional transportation needs once you’re there.
Keep it a surprise (or not)
Once you’re on the road, you can keep your next stops a secret from yourself, or cheat ahead by peeking early, whatever suits your comfort level. Jubel takes care of both ends of the traveler spectrum by sending the Jubel Pack to you after payment. These sealed envelopes provide you with the next local destination for your adventure, along with recommendations handpicked for you based on the survey information you provided and their deep knowledge of what’s worth seeing. You’re completely in charge here; the pace of your trip is (somewhat) up to you and how quickly you wish to proceed through the Jubal Pack.
Adventure and magic
The site advertises that being surprised along the path is an inherently valuable part of the journey. For some travelers, who prefer to have complete charge of their destinations and itineraries in advance, planning with Jubel, even with the ability to open all of the envelopes directly on receipt of the Jubel Pack, may seem a bit overwhelming. For those of us who want to experience adventure as a part of the magic of travel, it might be just the trip we’ve been waiting for. Take their survey to see what kind of adventure they can plan for you.
Snap a business card pic, Microsoft app finds ’em on LinkedIn
(TECH NEWS) Microsoft Pix is teaming with LinkedIn in a neat way that will benefit networking, especially if you have any lazy bones in your body.
Have you ever been watching some sort of action-adventure movie where there’s a command center with all sorts of unbelievable technology that kind of blows your mind? Well, every day we come closer and closer to living within that command center.
You may think that I’m talkin’ crazy, but check this out – there is a new technology that can scan a business card, and find the business card’s owner on LinkedIn. (Can I get a “say what????!”)
This app is courtesy of Microsoft and goes by the name Pix (it’s not new, but this function is).
The way it works is simple: Bill Jones hands you his business card, you fire up the Pix app (currently only on the iPhone. Sorry, Droids), you snap a picture of the card and the app takes the details (phone number, company, etc.) and finds Bill on LinkedIn. Bingo.
It also will automatically take that information and will create a new profile for Bill Jones within your phone’s contacts. After you scan the business card through Pix, Microsoft will ask if you want to take action.
At this point, Pix will recognize and capture phone numbers, email addresses, and URLs. If your phone is logged into LinkedIn, the apps will work together to find Bill’s profile. Part of me wants to think that this is kind of creepy but a larger part of me thinks that it’s really cool.
According to Microsoft Research’s Principal Program Manager, Josh Weisberg, “Pix is powered by AI to streamline and enhance the experience of taking a picture with a series of intelligent actions: recognizing the subject of a photo, inferring users’ intent and capturing the best quality picture.”
“It’s the combination of both understanding and intelligently acting on a users’ intent that sets Pix apart. Today’s update works with LinkedIn to add yet another intelligent dimension to Pix’s capabilities.”
Pix itself originally launched in 2016 as a way to compete against AI’s ability to edit a photo by use of exposure, focus, and color. This new integration in working with LinkedIn is a time saver, and is beneficial for those who collect business cards like candy and forget to actually do something with them.
Walmart and the blockchain, sitting in a tree
(TECH NEWS) Say goodbye to #foodwaste with Walmart’s new smart package delivery proposal featuring everyone’s favorite pal, blockchain.
Following the trend of adding “smart” as a prefix to any word to make it futuristic, Walmart now proposes “smart packages.” The retail giant filed for a new patent to improve their shipping and package tracking process using blockchain.
Last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released the application, which was filed back in August 2017.
Officially, the application notes the smart package will have “a body portion having an inner volume” and “a door coupled to the body portion” that can be open or closed to restrict or allow access to the package contents.
In other words, they’ve patented a box with a door on it that also has lots of monitoring devices.
Various iterations lay claim to all versions of said box include smart packaging utilizing a combination of monitoring devices, modular adapters, autonomous delivery vehicles, and blockchain.
Monitoring devices would regulate location tracking, inner content removal, and environmental conditions of the package like temperature and humidity. This could help reduce loss of products sensitive to environmental changes, like fresh produce.
Modular adapters perform these actions as well, and also ensure the package has access to a power source and the delivery vehicle’s security system to prevent theft.
Blockchain comes into play with a delivery encryption system, monitoring, authenticating, and registering packages. As it moves through the supply chain, packages will be registered throughout the process.
The blockchain would be hashed with private key addresses of sellers, couriers, and buyers to track the chain of custody. Every step of the shipping process would be documented, providing greater accountability and easier record keeping.
This isn’t Walmart’s first foray into the world of blockchain. Last year they teamed up with Nestle, Kroger, and other food companies in a partnership with IBM to improve food traceability with blockchain.
Walmart also took part in a similar food tracking program in China with JD.com last year as well.
And let’s not forget Walmart’s May 2017 USPTO application to use blockchain tech for package delivery via unmanned drones. Their more recent application builds on the drone idea, which also proposed tracking packages with blockchain and monitoring product conditions during delivery.
In their latest application, Walmart notes, “online customers many times seek to purchase items that may require a controlled environment and further seek to have greater security in the shipping packaging that the items are shipped in.”
Implementing blockchain and smart package monitoring as part of the shipping process could greatly reduce product loss and improve shipment tracking.
Experts warn of actual AI risks – we’re about to live in a sci fi movie
(TECH NEWS) A new report on AI indicates that the sci fi dystopias we’ve been dreaming up are actually possible. Within a few short years. Welp.
Long before artificial intelligence (AI) was even a real thing, science fiction novels and films have warned us about the potentially catastrophic dangers of giving machines too much power.
Now that AI actually exists, and in fact, is fairly widespread, it may be time to consider some of the potential drawbacks and dangers of the technology, before we find ourselves in a nightmarish dystopia the likes of which we’ve only begun to imagine.
Experts from the industry as well as academia have done exactly that, in a recently released 100-page report, “The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, Mitigation.”
The report was written by 26 experts over the course of a two-day workshop held in the UK last month. The authors broke down the potential negative uses of artificial intelligence into three categories – physical, digital, or political.
In the digital category are listed all of the ways that hackers and other criminals can use these advancements to hack, phish, and steal information more quickly and easily. AI can be used to create fake emails and websites for stealing information, or to scan software for potential vulnerabilities much more quickly and efficiently than a human can. AI systems can even be developed specifically to fool other AI systems.
Physical uses included AI-enhanced weapons to automate military and/or terrorist attacks. Commercial drones can be fitted with artificial intelligence programs, and automated vehicles can be hacked for use as weapons. The report also warns of remote attacks, since AI weapons can be controlled from afar, and, most alarmingly, “robot swarms” – which are, horrifyingly, exactly what they sound like.
Lastly, the report warned that artificial intelligence could be used by governments and other special interest entities to influence politics and generate propaganda.
AI systems are getting creepily good at generating faked images and videos – a skill that would make it all too easy to create propaganda from scratch. Furthermore, AI can be used to find the most important and vulnerable targets for such propaganda – a potential practice the report calls “personalized persuasion.” The technology can also be used to squash dissenting opinions by scanning the internet and removing them.
The overall message of the report is that developments in this technology are “dual use” — meaning that AI can be created that is either helpful to humans, or harmful, depending on the intentions of the people programming it.
That means that for every positive advancement in AI, there could be a villain developing a malicious use of the technology. Experts are already working on solutions, but they won’t know exactly what problems they’ll have to combat until those problems appear.
The report concludes that all of these evil-minded uses for these technologies could easily be achieved within the next five years. Buckle up.
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