Last week in tech: Did artificial intelligence write this post? Maybe.
Hear a robot make a call, see a robot go for a run, and make fun of old tech in this week's collection of tech stories.
Like it or not, artificial intelligence already plays a considerable role in your life. Maybe Facebook’s algorithm pointed you toward this article. Maybe you just switched off a Netflix movie that magically popped up in your recommendations. Maybe you’re hiding under your bed hoping that hyper-intelligent machines won’t find you. OK, that last one is an exaggeration, but maybe not by as much as you’d think. In fact, a recent Pew research survey found that more than 70 percent of people are worried about a future in “in which machines do many jobs currently done by humans.” If you’re one of those people, last week’s Google-dominated, AI-heavy tech news cycle definitely didn’t help.
Luckily, this column is still solely the product of human effort (except for autocorrect, which I still need to fix words like “occasion” that I’m seemingly incapable of learning). Here’s a rundown of last week’s biggest technology stories.
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This week’s episode covers the highs and lows of Google’s big developers conference, as well as the latest news about net neutrality and a story about taking a bath while wearing jeans. You can listen in the player above, subscribe on SoundCloud, iTunes, or Stitcher.
Boston Dynamics robots went for a jog
Google’s AI announcements were almost entirely software-based, but the roboticists at Boston Dynamics showed off some impressive video of its Atlas robot. This time, the creation is out for a jog, which is really impressive, but after an indulgent Mother’s Day brunch, it also feels a little passive aggressive to watch that robot happily running.
The company also announced that it plans to sell its dog-like SpotMini robots starting in 2019 to companies who want to use them as security, or maybe for aspiring filmmakers who want to rip off that one episode of Black Mirror.
Elon Musk showed off a big tunnel
The boyfriend of musician Grimes has been bragging about his subterranean tunnel below LA and now it’s nearing completion. Musk says rides will be free during the testing phase of the Boring Company’s first underground tube when it starts operation later this year.
Everyone checked their Klout score one last time before the service dies
My final Klout score
For as long as social media has existed, people have wanted to “win” at it by getting more followers and exerting more influence over the rest of the internet. Klout was a service designed to track how much influence you had across various channels and on a variety of topics and it will officially shut down on May 25th, presumably to avoid compliance with the GDPR requirements. When I signed up, Dane Cook had a really high score, if that’s any indication of where this service falls in the grand timeline of internet foolishness. My final Klout score is 62.
All new houses in California will have to come with solar panels
California has a long history of cranking up the environmental regulations beyond what the federal government requires—a trend especially true with cars. Starting in 2020, the Golden State state will require its home-buying residents to take advantage of all those sunny days. Reactions are mixed so far, but it will be interesting to see if other states follow suit.
Microsoft showed off some of its new tech at its annual Build conference
Google’s developers conference dominated the news cycle last week, but Microsoft showed off some new tech of its own at its Build conference. Check out our round-up of the important developments including a totally adorable new friendship between Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s disembodied digital assistant, Cortana.
Uber shared a little more about its flying taxis
Uber Flying Taxi
The Uber Elevate conference happened last week and it gave us another look at Uber’s upcoming flying taxi, which it hopes to have in the skies by 2023. The electric vehicle will fly at an altitude between 1,000 and 2,000 feet, but there’s no word if the service will let you repel down on a rope to your destination like a super spy. (It probably won’t.)
There’s an important Net Neutrality vote coming up
You may have noticed some of your favorite websites nagging you to take action in the fight for Net Neutrality. That’s because Senate democrats have forced a vote on the issue that’s coming up before June 12, although it could happen this week. Get a top-level view of the issue here.
Marshall revamped its headphones
Marshall Major III headphones
Guitar amps are Marshall’s primary concern, but the company has had a lot of success making headphones as well. The updated version of the popular Major over-the-ear headphones comes in both wired and Bluetooth and has larger 40mm drivers to increase audio output. The wired version is just $79, while the Bluetooth model is $150, which makes them relatively affordable for this level of performance. Plus, they look very cool.