Trends with Benefits: NASA propaganda, E3 explained, AI that pretends to care

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) lit up Los Angeles this week, and DT’s Computing Editor Matt Smith, gives us a breakdown of some of the biggest news.

First, Microsoft made a splash with cross-platform Xbox games you can buy once and play on both your PC and your console. Players on both platforms will also face off in multiplayer, which could lead to some interesting skirmishes.

Sony also gave word that PlayStation VR for the PS4 will be available in October. The early reports suggest it isn’t really impressing a lot of people, but the lower price point will definitely be a bonus. Sony also partnered with Disney for a number of new Star Wars games, which will surely be a big draw.

Nintendo, not one to be left out, introduced a new version of The Legend of Zelda. Breath of the Wild, as it’s known, will allow for an open world and more interactive play, bringing the classic franchise into the modern age of gaming.

According to the MIT Technology Review, Amazon is exploring ways to allow Alexa to better understand the emotions of its owners. Could this be the start of everyone having their own personal J.A.R.V.I.S., ala Tony Stark?

Would you trust a robotic cooler on wheels to bring your next Amazon package? Starship Technologies has a concept for ground-based drone deliveries, and Drew had some hands-on experience with it. It’s designed for city deliveries of goods using sidewalks, and by all accounts, it handles the terrain just fine. But would it be secure?

Elon Musk wants to establish a steady cargo route between Earth and Mars. The freight path is planned to start within two years, allowing for a far cheaper way to get supplies to the Red Planet. The cargo would leave every 26 months, when the planets are naturally at their closest distance in orbit.

NASA is already planning for the colonization of Mars, and even came up with some images designed to encourage employment for future explorers. While the sci-fi propaganda style is tongue-in-cheek, they are very well done, and you can even print them out for at-home posters!

Today’s episode features Rick Stella, Drew Prindle, Matt Smith and Greg Nibler. Please subscribe and share Trends with Benefits, and send your questions to We also broadcast the show live on YouTube every Thursday at 2:30 pm PST.