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Future Tech

  • Uber Lite launches in India

    Uber Lite is now a thing, but it's not a new offering from the ride-hailing service. Instead, it's a new app, keeping up with tech companies' recent trend of developing low bandwidth, low footprint apps for emerging markets. "Uber Lite is a simple version of the rider app that saves space, works on any network, and on any Android phone," said Shirish Andhare, the company's head of product for emerging markets, in an announcement. Uber Lite weighs in at around 5MB, notably slimmer than the 40.4MB required to install the traditional Android app. Visually, it sheds the default initial map overlay on...

  • Siri’s definition of ‘mother’ is beyond spicy

    Want to hear Siri swear at you and your beloved mother? Ask her for the definition of your favourite parent. She'll initially reply with a common definition, but she also offers another slightly more suspect explanation. "Do you wanna hear the next one?" she asks, and if you innocently reply "yes", she provides a brief suggestion that it's, uh, "short for motherfucker". This little bug or Apple employee inside joke was discovered by Reddit this past weekend. And it seemingly works with all versions of Siri, from MacOS to iPhones as old as the 5 and as new as the X. It's extremely...

  • Why work won’t become obsolete in the age of artificial intelligence

    The rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence has spawned a fourth industrial revolution that has left many wondering where to next. After all, if robots can perform our roles at a much cheaper rate, what hope is there for gainful employment in years to come? But while the skeptics among us may point to an era of joblessness in which humans are snubbed by their computer-driven counterparts, historical data points towards the likelihood of an impending societal shift, whereby the nature of work evolves to cater to advancing human needs. We need only look back a few short decades to...

  • Did Barack Obama really say ‘Stay woke, bitches’ in this viral video?

    "Thank you. And stay woke, bitches," is not a quote you'd normally attribute to former US President Barack Obama. But filmmaker Jordan Peele just made this a reality, by using intelligent visual trickery. Okay, that isn't the most pertinent takeaway from this story. Peele, the mastermind behind megahit Get Out, this week demonstrated how AI technology could be used in digital warfare. Teaming up with Buzzfeed, his Monkeypaw Productions team created a fake public service announcement delivered by AI Obama, to show just how artificial intelligence and visual editing tools could be used to spread misinformation in the future. And it's scary. Not only...

  • 2018 Sasol Solar Challenge will begin in September, end in Stellenbosch

    Get your sun hats, parasols and high-tech solar-powered vehicles ready. The latest edition Sasol Solar Challenge endurance event will kick off in September 2018. The competition's leaderboard is determined by total distance covered across a seven day period by vehicles powered by the sun's rays. The team with the most distance covered wins the title. And unlike traditional endurance racing, it's not the first team across the finish line who receives the plaudits. 15 teams from Australia, China, Japan, the Netherlands, the US and South Africa, will take part in the challenge, including two teams who have not competed in the...

  • ‘Small number’ of Boeing’s computer systems hit by WannaCry malware

    Remember WannaCry? It was 2017's big security story, infecting more than a quarter-million Windows computers at its most prolific point. But its prominence died down after tech doctors quelled its spread. But like a bad case of influenza, it's definitely not dead, and reports suggest aircraft manufacturer Boeing found that out the hard way on Wednesday. According to the Seattle Times, the firm's 777 assembly line in North Carolina was affected, but it was contained to a small number of machines. "The vulnerability was limited to a few machines. We deployed software patches. There was no interruption to the 777 jet program...

  • South Africa, you can now tip your Uber driver

    Feeling bad about not tipping your Uber driver for making your day? If saying "thanks" is just too cold for you, from today, riders can now give their drivers monetary appreciation through the app. The feature first hit the United States and Canada in July 2017, but has now been enabled in South Africa some seven months later. "Over the years, we’ve heard a lot of drivers asking us to roll out an in-app tipping function, so their clients can more easily reward great service and the act of going above and beyond what’s expected," explained Alon Lits, Uber sub-Saharan Africa's...

  • Uber autonomous car kills pedestrian in Arizona

    The autonomous car industry has been dealt a major blow this week. On Sunday, an Uber self driving vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. The 49-year-old pedestrian was reportedly walking alongside her bicycle "outside the crosswalk" when she was hit. It's the first time a self driving car was involved in a pedestrian death. The car involved was a modified Volvo XC90 fitted with Uber's sensing technology, and occupied by a human in the driver's seat keeping tabs on the vehicle's systems. Additionally, said systems are supposed to react to obstacles in the vehicle's path and markings along the road,...

  • Uber launches Incident Response Team ‘call-back’ in South Africa

    Uber South Africa now has its own Incident Response Team, the company announced Tuesday. This incident system has been operational as trial since December 2017, however the system is this week live for all riders in South Africa. Riders can also now submit safety concerns (along with phone number and description of the incident) through the Uber app. They will then receive a "call-back" from Uber's response team. "We have listened to the hundreds of thousands of riders using the Uber app in South Africa and they've expressed the need to be able to speak with our teams in the event of...

  • NJ man orders a R19 000 Uber after a frat party brain fade

    The longest Uber trip ever recorded in South Africa spanned between Cape Town and Durban via Bloemfontein. We're not sure who this dedicated driver was, nor if the passenger knew that aircraft have been a viable form of travel for nearly a century now. But these long, seemingly unnecessary Uber trips aren't as rare as you may think. Just ask Kenneth Bachman a resident of New Jersey, USA. According to CBS, Bachman last week paid more than US$1600 (R19 000) for an Uber trip from a frat party at West Virginia University back home to the east coast of the country. Sorry,...

  • The Moon is getting its own 4G network in 2019

    I only just got 4G LTE in my area, but noooo, serving the planet Earth is just too damn boring for some companies. Four firms, including Nokia and Audi, will in 2019 build a 4G network on the surface of the Moon, because even Millennial space dust needs high bandwidth. The move was announced this week at MWC 2018 in Barcelona. But this ludicrous idea does have a point. The network will allow astronauts to beam information -- be it video, audio or raw data -- from the Moon to Earth, that is, once humans actually reach the satellite's surface once again. And...

  • Sci-fi gone real: flying cars, commercial space travel and teleportation

    Sci-fi gone real is a series that focusses on the extravagant concepts dreamt up in the world of sci-fi, exploring just how close they are to becoming a reality. In this piece, we will be exploring the topic of transportation. From teleportation to flying cars, reality is rapidly becoming stranger than fiction. If you’re over the hassles and limitations of contemporary transportation, then this article might hold some hope for you yet. Teleportation Imagine a world without traffic jams or twenty-hour flights; a world where distance is merely the obstacle of scientific and mathematical endeavours. Well, this world might be a lot...

  • Elon Musk bids Starman farewell in a final Instagram snap

    SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has shared the "last pic" of his cherry-red Tesla roadster hurting towards the Asteroid Belt, after it was launched into space on Tuesday. The launch itself was historic, giving SpaceX claim to the most powerful operational rocket, the Falcon Heavy. "Last pic of Starman in Roadster enroute to Mars orbit and then the Asteroid Belt," he wrote on Instagram. Last pic of Starman in Roadster enroute to Mars orbit and then the Asteroid Belt A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on Feb 7, 2018 at 2:00pm PST And with the caption, he included an image taken looking down...

  • How AI will affect the future property market

    Much discussed as a revolutionary technology of the future, artificial intelligence (AI) is already having an impact in the present, reshaping the way work is carried out across a range of industries, from manufacturing to customer service. One of the niche arenas where its impact has not yet been significant is the real estate market, but this is also set to change. In the past, a buyer using a realtor would have outlined some basic factors -- price, room requirements and area -- to the agent, who would then interpose their own interpretation of those parameters and show the resulting...

  • Sci-fi gone real: cyborgs, cloning and the science of new life

    Sci-fi gone real is a series that focusses on the extravagant concepts dreamt up in the world of sci-fi, exploring just how close they are to becoming a reality. In this piece we discuss ‘new life’. From artificial intelligence to terraforming, mad scientists all over the world are hard at work dissecting and, potentially, changing the very fabric of existence. Cloning Cloning is a concept that has been explored so extensively in sci-fi works that it almost seems a reality. But, like with most of the other entries on this list, it looks like truth is becoming stranger than fiction, and has...