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Future Tech

  • Disney uses AI to predict viewers’ expressions, but it isn’t foolproof

    Disney Research used neural networks to model audience's reactions to its movies, and said it was able to provide data superior to "conventional methods". The AI was apparently able to tell how a viewer would react to the rest of the movie from just a few minutes of watching their face. Dubbed factorised variational autoencoders (or FVAEs for people with less time in their day), the method was able to learn expressions like smiling and laughing on its own. "What's more, they were able to show how these facial expressions correlated with humorous scenes," Ph.D. student Zhiwei Deng told Phys.org. Using this technology, Disney could then find out...

  • SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy set for November, but will it even leave launchpad?

    The Falcon Heavy is SpaceX's next big rocket, but it's been a long time coming. It was set to be launched late last year, but a Falcon 9 launchpad explosion resulted in several delays and pushbacks across SpaceX's missions. Now, company founder Elon Musk has confirmed a new date for the heavyweight launch. "Falcon Heavy maiden launch this November," Musk simply wrote on Instagram. It's one of the most ambitious space endeavours yet, as the new rocket is expected to carry a bigger payload to orbit than the now-retired Space Shuttle. And the ambition isn't lost on Musk. The Falcon Heavy has received a...

  • Mayor: Cape Town to source 20% of energy from renewables by 2020

    Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille today took to Twitter in an hour-long update regarding key issues affecting the City of Cape Town, including the ongoing water crisis, the superblocking in Imizamo Yethu, and climate change. The speech itself was delivered at a city council meeting, but livetweeted from her account before the full speech was published Thursday afternoon. Cape Town's water crisis continues "Let me start with the water crisis and yes despite the recent rains, we are still in a drought," she began, shedding light on the City's plans to combat the low dam levels and drier-than-normal winter. She also lambasted...

  • Google Home breaks up domestic abuse by calling police

    Smart speakers are arguably the hottest thing in consumer tech right now, as the likes of Amazon, Google and Apple all tussle it out. Now, Google Home has strengthened its case after it broke up a domestic violence incident. It seems like an amazing tech miracle, but it was more of a fluke than anything, upon closer inspection. According to ABC News, Eduardo Barros was house-sitting with his girlfriend and her child in New Mexico when they got into an argument that became physical. It's alleged that Barros had a gun and threatened to kill her. "Did you call the sheriffs?" he then asked her. The...

  • You can now tip your Uber driver in the US and Canada

    If you're an Uber or UberEATS user in North America, you can now tip your driver through the app. The new feature addition is part of Uber's 180 Days of Change campaign announced in late June, which outlined a number of key focus areas for the company. Adding driver tipping to the app was one. While tipping was initially available in three US cities, the company has now rolled out the feature to around 100 additional cities including a handful in Canada. Tipping is entirely optional, and can be done using the app after a delivery has been made or a trip has...

  • Uber hits 5 billion trips milestone

    It's the week of milestones and today it's Uber's turn: the company has reached five billion trips. Uber hit one billion trips in late 2015 -- five years after launching -- and in less than two years it has quintupled its intake. On 20 May, 156 riders simultaneously pushed Uber over the milestone, and the company is rewarding each of the drivers with US$500. 5 billion rides, 6 continents, 76 countries—thank you to the riders and drivers who powered this journey. pic.twitter.com/9cFN7YESTX — Uber (@Uber) June 29, 2017 To put the number into perspective: if one trip was called every second, it would have take...

  • ‘Extended reality’ is the next gold mine for companies, digital professionals

    Spending time with the augmented and virtual reality gurus at this year's Augmented World Expo in San Francisco proved two things: Technology is advancing so fast in this field that even the experts are struggling to keep up and; unless our local digital professionals start working with these technologies soon, we are going to be playing a very expensive digital catchup. AR 2.0 is the next wave Despite the fact that AR remains fairly untested by many local companies, there is no doubt that it is now going mainstream globally. Gartner predicted that by 2020, more than 100-million consumers will shop in...

  • 5 fun AIs that let you play with images in unexpected ways

    The thought of AI can be scary, and it would be rational for the inevitability of the singularity to make you anxious. But sometimes it's best to ignore the dark cloud that is the unknown future to play with some cool AI-powered software that messes with images/sketches to create funny and cool-looking things. It's time to enter uncanny valley. Pix2Pix human generator Pix2Pix is the brainchild of Dutch Public Broadcaster NPO, and it uses "hundreds of drawings and photographs" of presenter Lara Rense to create a neural system that lets you create a realistic photo of her from a crude sketch. Of course,...

  • Uber employees sign petition to reinstate ex-CEO Travis Kalanick

    More than one thousand Uber employees have signed a petition calling for the reinstatement of former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, according to a report by Axios. Kalanick was forced to resign on Wednesday after pressure from shareholders, and has not yet been replaced. The founder had tackled many a controversy in the past year, but it was a personal family tragedy that eventually led to his resignation. According to an email obtained by Recode, employees understand that he is a flawed leader, but believe he should be reinstated anyway. "Nobody is perfect, but I fundamentally believe he can evolve into the leader Uber needs today and...

  • Uber promises drivers tipping, paid wait times & more

    Just before news of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick's resignation surfaced, the company was trying to grab attention in a more positive light -- with promises to its drivers. The company sent out an email to its drivers yesterday announcing the launch of its 180 Days of Change. The email detailed the "meaningful changes and improvements" it was bringing to drivers' experiences with the app. The campaign appears to be a six month project that reveals a new improvement every month. The first month, Uber assured, was dedicated to earnings. The biggest improvement it focused on was tipping -- "the feature asked for most." Only...

  • Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigns – report

    Travis Kalanick has resigned as CEO of Uber due to pressure from investors, it has been reported. The Uber CEO resigned after five of the firm's key investors demanded he do so, the New York Times reported, citing "two people with knowledge of the situation". It's claimed that several investors sent a letter to Kalanick in Chicago, demanding that he step down. The Uber CEO had been on an indefinite leave of absence after the death of his mother in a boating accident last month. "I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life...

  • Uber CEO Travis Kalanick takes indefinite leave of absence

    Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has announced that he will take an indefinite leave of absence after the company's tumultuous past year. The announcement comes after a slew of issues regarding policy, leadership and prejudice plaguing the transport company in 2017. "For the last eight years my life has always been about Uber," Kalanick wrote in a letter to employees, announcing his move. "Recent events have brought home for me that people are more important than work, and that I need to take some time off of the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on...

  • Spree adds AI-powered image search to iOS app

    Online retailer Spree has today announced an app feature that allows users to find clothing items that are similar to uploaded images. Available now on the iOS app version, the retailer says it's the first in Africa to offer the feature that employs "the latest artificial intelligence technologies". The move, Spree explains, is a bid to remain ahead of disruptive trends in the retail industry. "Searching for items with photos and images saves consumers from having to type keyword combinations, which is especially challenging on mobile devices," Spree's head of customer experience Sven Schoof, explains. "In a world where words are commonly replaced...

  • Interview: Botpress’ Justin Watson explains ‘the WordPress of bots’

    The second Botcon Africa conference took place last month in Cape Town, delivering a number of insightful talks from leaders in the field of bots, AI and more. One of the more interesting companies was Botpress, which joins the likes of Chatfuel as being an emerging bot development platform. We interviewed founder Justin Watson, covering comparisons to Wordpress, what's missing from bot development and more. During his talk at the event, Watson touched on a variety of features/functions missing from today's bot systems. "There's probably not enough integration of the graphical elements," Watson told Memeburn, adding that more graphically rich interfaces are...

  • Cape Town women ‘assaulted’ by Uber driver, ‘threatened’ by SAPS

    Update: Upon request for comment, Uber's representatives sent Memeburn the following statement. We are deeply committed to the safety of all who use the Uber app. Immediately upon hearing of any situation involving a rider or driver, Uber takes the necessary steps to investigate the allegation and is in contact with both the rider and driver to offer support. Uber has an incident response team who are trained to deal with any critical safety issues and works with the relevant stakeholders in order to resolve any incident with a matter of urgency. We are constantly developing new technologies to ensure safety before,...