Will AI bring about the end of humans? Will supersonic air travel soon be a thing? What will the next iPhone look like? All these and more answered in this week’s look at the wonderful world of technology.
Stephen Hawking and the raise of AI
In an interview with the BBC, Stephen Hawking has said that "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."
The discussion came about due to clever new technology that allows the professor, who suffers motor neurons disease, to communicate better by predicting what he is likely to say next.
The basic form of AI, developed by Intel and Swiftkey (makers of the famous smartphone keyboard) may be a long way off from taking over the world, but when one of the smartest men ion the world says it may happen down the line, it may pay to listen.
American company Lockheed Martin are working with NASA on a passenger jet that could potentially travel from New York to Los Angeles in 2 hours, instead of the standard 5 hours plus.
The N+2, which will not see a public release until at least 2025, would carry 80 passengers and travel supersonic speeds.
However, supersonic travels means sonic booms, which is why engineers have developed a new type of propulsion for the plane that, they claim, is 100 times quieter than the Concorde.
iPhone drop protection
As many smartphone users with cracked screens know, iPhone screens do not like being dropped.
To combat this, Apple have now patented a concept that could potentially put an end to such tragedies by sensing when a phone is in free fall and forcing it to land safely. Like a cat.
When dropped, the phone will shift its centre of gravity, forcing it to rotate mid-air, ensuring the least damage prone parts avoid the impact.
However, this is just a patent and not in any way confirmed to be included in future devices.
The next iPhone rumours
Speaking of iPhones, it wasn’t that long ago that the 6 and 6 Plus came out, but already talk is circulating around the next Apple releases.
The Telegraph have compiled a list of all the questions you may have about the possibly named iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, including what features it will have (including a camera to rival a DSLR and wireless charging), when it may be coming, and what it could look like.
It’s all speculation at this stage, but it’s fun speculation.
Amazon’s dismal year
It hasn’t been a great year for Amazon. Their Fire phone was considered a flop, there’s been a good chunk of media criticism, and a dip in stock are just some of the things that went wrong, and all of which were covered when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was grilled by Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget at a conference.
This article from Wired covers the hard questions Blodget put to Bezos, and the responses he received.
A good read on a company that is not scared to take chances, even if it ends up costing them billions.
Holograms are cool. Touching and physically interacting with one would be even cooler.
That’s what UK company Ultrahaptics are developing, creating a method of providing haptic feedback for holographic imagery by using ultrasonic technology.
As reported by Mashable, the system can deliver different haptic feedback and virtually tactile shapes through ultrasonic waves by pulsing the feedback of the ultrasonic waves or changing their modulation frequency.
The developers are most excited for how this can be used with virtual reality devices such as Oculus Rift.
“Now you can only see and hear, you can't touch,” says Tom Carter, the CTO of Ultrahaptics. “So the ultimate hope would be that you could put on those virtual reality goggles and feel and touch the virtual world."