If you drive for Uber, you might think about asking for a raise. Why? Because the country of Saudi Arabia just decided to invest in the ride-sharing start-up to the tune of $3.5 billion. That’s a whole lot of Uber Pool rides for a country that doesn’t seem to need ride sharing in any capacity, so why the sudden windfall for Uber?
Saudi Arabia’s rulers apparently recognize that depending on oil revenue to keep the nation solvent is probably not going to pan out in the long run. In fact, Saudi Arabia is working on taking their state-owned oil company, Aramco, public in an upcoming monster mega-IPO, with many financial analysts pegging the value at near two trillion dollars. So, they’ve decided to start diversifying their investment portfolio and the Uber windfall is just one small step.
Saudi Arabia also owns $116 billion worth of the US debt, so dropping $3.5 billion into Uber suddenly seems like pocket change. We’d expect more big “investments” in the near future.
No one has ever accused Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City boss Elon Musk of having a lack of vision, but a vision he recently shared at a tech conference has people talking… about reality.
Or more specifically, what our human reality might really be, as in a giant simulation of reality being run by super-intelligent beings, possibly super-intelligent artificial intelligences. The meta-tech subject came up from a questioner at Code Conference, where Musk was a panel guest. Musk says he has thought about the idea “a lot,” and thinks we probably are in such a simulation. Right now. And granted, this is not a new idea, it goes back over 40 years.
Musk cites the rapid progress of video games, from Pong to nascent VR, which he says – and you’ve gotta agree here at least – will eventually become so good as to become indistinguishable from “reality.” And the logic goes that if the VR game you’re playing gets good enough, why not simulate people, setting, societies, entire planets and so on? Right? Sims, anyone? Anyway, we’ve got the clips of Elon pondering the big questions here, and it’s worth watching.
Speaking of big thinkers, the folks tinkering with A.I. over at Facebook have released Deep Text, a language-processing engine that, as you might expect, reads your posts and then tries to help you out. The ability for a computer to “read” text is no great challenge. But understanding the nuances of written communication – and then deciding on an action to take – are different challenges altogether.
With Deep Text, Facebook says they are hoping to decipher the intent behinds what is written, and then act on that – say, if you need a ride somewhere, or are hungry, or need to talk with someone – like maybe one of the chatty A-I bots they’re also refining, of course.