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DT Daily: Amazon Fire Stick, Elon Musk on A.I., laser bullets

Today on DT Daily: Amazon goes to war with a little stick, Elon Musk’s A.I. tech fear, and some scientists build a Death Star. Well, maybe just a little one.

Amazon is the latest company to get into the battle for TV eyeballs with their introduction of the Fire TV Stick, the newest dongle set to battle Google’s Chromecast and a similar device from Roku.

Like Google’s Chromecast and the Roku Streaming Stick, the Fire TV Stick is a stick-of-gum sized device you simply plug into the HDMI port of your HD TV in order to stream a wide variety of content. So what makes it different from its competitors? It’s rocking a dual-core processor, 8 gigs of storage, an optional voice-control remote, and of course, access to Amazon’s vast content reserves.

You also get a Prime upgrade for a month in the deal to feed your TV addiction. It’s only $39, unless you’re already a Prime member, in which case it’s only $19 – but that price ends today, which makes it a pretty easy call, in our opinion.

For all his smarts, huge fortune and amazing engineering prowess, there’s one area of technology that scares modern tycoon Elon Musk: artificial intelligence.

At the recent MIT AeroAstro Centennial Symposium, an attendee asked Musk what he thought of A.I. His response? He said creating A.I. would be on par with “summoning a demon, and he called the primary archetype of the technology, the murderous HAL 9000 computer envisioned by Arthur C. Clarke in 2001 A Space Odyssey, a “puppy” compared to the real dangers A.I. might represent to humanity. Skynet, anyone?

A.I. gone bad – is it ever good? – has been a staple of science fiction for decades, but real efforts to create it are underway, including by Google, Facebook and numerous research institutes. It’s also at the heart of the next Avengers movie. So is Musk right? What do you think about artificial intelligence? Go ahead and leave us a comment below.

Another area where science fiction is becoming science fact is laser weaponry. Right now, actual combat lasers are huge affairs that have to be carried on battleships or housed in buildings. But that may be about to change. Researchers in Poland recently released a grainy video that shows them creating a laser pulse, or bullet, packing an enormous 10 terawatts of power. So how did they aim it down a hallway? Easy: the device that generates the pulse can sit on a desk.

Each laser bullet is about 3 feet long and the device can fire 10 per second. While the video makes it look like it’s going slowly, don’t be fooled, the laser blasts are moving at the speed of light. It’s just a special kind of photography that makes it look slowed down. And it must be storm troopers pulling the trigger, because they’re not coming anywhere near hitting a guy sitting in a chair in the hallway.