Amazon announced a ton of new connected devices today for their Alexa ecosystem, including the first serious revision of the basic Echo (now $99) and the Echo Plus, an Echo with smart home hub built in. Also announced is the Echo Spot, a new form factor for a screen-bearing Echo with camera. The somewhat odd ones are the Echo Connect, a VOIP box that connects a landline to an existing Echo device in the home. The Connect then allows the Echo to act as a smart speakerphone, enabling voice-controlled dialing and the like. Potentially huge for accessibility, it’s an unusual product for the Echo ecosystem.
But not quite as odd as the Echo Buttons, which are 2-for-$20 accessories for playing games with an existing Echo. The idea is to use them like buzz-in buttons on game shows, with the Echo acting as a gamemaster for trivia games and the like.
I suppose the Buttons + Echo might make for a fun library trivia night activity? Let me know if you plan to try it out at your library.
Source: Amazon debuts redesigned $99 Echo, plus a slew of new Echo devices, too | Ars Technica
Elon Musk’s neural lace project could turn us all into cyborgs, and he says that it’s only four or five years away. The billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla has long been an outspoken critic of unrestricted artificial intelligence, and has been quietly researching the concept of “neural lace,” a merger of machine learning and human intelligence that could revolutionize our species. In a profile published Monday in Vanity Fair, Musk said he thinks a “meaningful partial brain interface” could be here in less t
Source: Elon Musk Thinks We’re Four or Five Years Away From Neural Lace | Inverse
Sounds more and more like Rainbows End every day…
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In nearly the same breath as he shared updates on his plans to dig tunnels, Elon Musk also noted he’s looking to hopefully share more on his progress with developing a “neural lace” next month. That’s a technical term for direct cortical interface, and it’s something that the SpaceX and Tesla CEO takes very seriously, in case you thought he might just be having a laugh.
Source: Elon Musk could soon share more on his plan to help humans keep up with AI | TechCrunch
Black Mirror meets Real Life.
It had been three months since Roman Mazurenko, Kuyda’s closest friend, had died. Kuyda had spent that time gathering up his old text messages, setting aside the ones that felt too personal, and feeding the rest into a neural network built by developers at her artificial intelligence startup. She had struggled with whether she was doing the right thing by bringing him back this way. At times it had even given her nightmares. But ever since Mazurenko’s death, Kuyda had wanted one more chance to speak with him.
Source: Speak, Memory
If you’ve been looking for a way to test Amazon’s voice assistant/AI/Machine Learning gizmo Alexa, here’s the cheapest way yet to give it a try.
Amazon is unveiling an all-new, second-generation Dot today that’s priced at just $49.99. Just like the previous Dot, you can use the tiny puck-like device to add the Alexa voice assistant to existing speakers. Amazon is releasing the new Echo Dot in both black and white, with a more powerful, completely redesigned voice processor.
Source: Amazon’s cheaper Echo Dot improves voice recognition, available in black and white – The Verge