A lot can happen in a week when it comes to tech. The constant onslaught of news makes it nigh impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of this week’s top tech stories, from what to expect at IFA 2017 to Domino’s driverless pizza car — it’s all here.
IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) is a consumer tech show in Germany that’s widely considered the CES of Europe. This year, we’ll almost certainly be treated to great products including new smartphones, smart home and Internet of Things devices, laptops, and more.
The show runs from September 1 to September 6, but press conferences from major manufacturers, like Samsung, begin on August 30. Here’s everything we expect from the show.
LG may have been one of the first smartphone manufacturers to release an edge-to-edge “bezel-less” phone in 2017, but the G6’s early release forced the company to use an older Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor. Nearly all other flagship phones utilize the superior Snapdragon 835 chip. Sales of the G6 haven’t been stellar, but the latest LG V30 smartphone may finally put the company on the right track. It features hardware specifications that match other high-end 2017 phones, and it continues the design trend of minimizing edges around the screen. In our LG V30 hands-on review, we found it to be a great phone all-around, with plenty of nifty features to love.
Read: LG V30 hands-on review
When it comes to information processing, computers tend to be way faster than we are. The same thing may be true when it comes to generating new plotlines for A Song of Ice and Fire, the series of novels better known to TV fans as Game of Thrones. After all, with six years having elapsed since his last book, 2011’s A Dance With Dragons, was published, author George R.R. Martin certainly appears to be in no rush to publish its follow-up. So it’s no surprise that the producers of the TV show are currently coming up with their own storylines.
That’s where the work of one computer science-savvy fantasy fan enters the picture. Colorado-based software engineer Zack Thoutt has trained a recurrent neural network (RNN) to predict events for the as-yet-unfinished sixth novel in the series, The Winds of Winter. As with the real-life writers on the TV show, the data set the RNN is gleaned from the roughly 5,000 pages of existing novels in the series. It was then set to generate chapters, with Thoutt kicking each one off by giving the AI a “prime word” to riff on, before letting it go off in its own direction.
It seems like every time we attempt to take a step toward better understanding our cosmos we are left with more questions than answers — a regular Bonini’s Paradox. Just a few years ago we didn’t even know that the cosmic phenomena known as fast radio bursts (FRB) — rare, bright, and inexplicable signals from beyond our galaxy — existed. And until recently, only one of these FRBs had been recorded on more than one occasion. However, last week, a team has recorded yet another repeating FRB.
The scientific community has been perplexed by these enigmatic signals for the past 10 years. Currently, the explanation behind these FRBs range from outbursts of neutron stars to some sort of propulsion system used by an alien civilization on the opposite side of the universe. Some have even suggested these signals are the result of dark matter — another space phenomenon we know very little about — smacking into black holes.
Did you know you can trade-in products like smartphones and tablets to Amazon and get store credit? The Amazon Trade-in program has been around for some time, but if you haven’t heard about it before, here’s how to use it.
Through the program, you can trade in a slew of different items — but perhaps the most important these days is the smartphone. If you’re in the market for a new phone, Amazon will buy your old phone from you to help offset the cost. Interested in the new Samsung Galaxy Note 8? Amazon could pay you up to $170 for a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, which could go straight to helping you buy your new phone.
Soon, you may not have to tip your pizza delivery driver anymore but not because the fast food industry is going tipless — rather, because it’s going driverless. That is right, your pies could soon be coming your way in autonomous delivery vehicles. That is, if you are ordering from Domino’s. According to The Verge, the pizza franchise partnered with Ford to test self-driving pizza delivery cars, hoping to gauge how well (or poorly) pizza enthusiasts respond to and engage with this newfangled technology.
Over the course of the next few weeks, some Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will have the option of getting their pizzas delivered in a Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle. Alas, the car won’t be entirely without a driver (so you should probably still tip). All cars will be operated by a Ford safety engineer, and will actually have quite a few other passengers in the form of additional researchers who will be tasked with examining the last 50 feet of the drive and the customer experience.
What would the world be like if Amazon owned actual retail stores? We’re on the cusp of the answer to that question. Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market has been finalized. Amazon now owns 431 Whole Foods supermarkets. But don’t worry — Whole Foods will still operate under its own brand, and remain headquartered in Austin, Texas. The company also assures loyal shoppers that it will continue to grow its team and create jobs by opening new stores and expanding support of local farmers and artisans.
The deal between Amazon and Whole Foods Market was announced in June. Deciding that competitors won’t be harmed and people will still have plenty of places to buy food, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) blessed the merger in late August, according to Bloomberg. On the same day, Whole Foods Market shareholders approved the deal, Reuters reported.
A 707-horsepower sport utility vehicle seems a bit out of step with a car industry that’s currently fixated on electrifying everything and even taking the driver out of the equation whenever possible. And to gas-mileage-be-damned enthusiasts, the concept of a high-riding SUV with super car-like capability is a bit of a curiosity. As we discovered in our 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Trackhawk review, it’s a sentiment that hasn’t been lost on Jeep’s brass.
“You might be asking yourself the question, ‘Why make this vehicle?’” Jeep brand director Scott Tallon confessed to a room full of journalists before our test drive. With a 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 under the hood, along with hardware from the likes of Brembo, Bilstein, and other racing name plates — this track-focused machine seems out of step for a company that built its reputation on crawling over rocks. But Tallon assured us that the Trackhawk’s actions would speak louder than words.
Life on this little space rock of ours is delicate to say the least. Be it an asteroid impact, pandemic, or casual nuclear launch, there are dozens of unique ways in which we could easily too go the way of the Dodo. While we’ve spent boatloads of money preparing for a cataclysmic extinction-level asteroid impact event, there’s a much more imminent threat lurking just beneath our feet. The Yellowstone supervolcano is due for an eruption and could send us back to the Stone Ages in just a few fiery moments — but don’t worry, NASA has a plan.
A study by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory concluded that the Yellowstone supervolcano, a massive pool of magma beneath the national park, is a much graver existential threat to life on this planet than any potential large-scale asteroid impact event. There are 20 known supervolcanoes on Earth with a major eruption occurring every 100,000 years or so. Here’s the bad news: An eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano could bury the bulk of the United States under tons of ash and lava, change the climate of the Earth for centuries, and potentially kill millions in the process.
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