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Dell’s New XPS 13 is Here – And It Doesn’t Like Stains At All

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Dell has once again successfully managed to improve one of it’s best selling laptops, the XPS 13. Ahead of the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is scheduled to be held in Vegas later this week, Dell has released a refreshed edition of its quite-successful Dell XPS 13. One of the much-touted feature of the recent XPS series has been the InfinityEdge display, allowing Dell to fit a 13-inch screen into an 11-inch frame (talk about size-zero).

The laptop is now thinner, lighter than its predecessor, and also comes in a brand new rose gold edition. At 1.22 kg, the new XPS 13 is one of the lightest 13-inches laptop in the market, placing it squarely in the market of the MacBook Air. The company also claims that the new XPS 13 looks just as good even after 3 years of use and, in addition to that, you can wipe off any kind of stains; which, if true, could give whiteboards a serious run for their money. In order to make the carbon-fibre more obvious, Dell also decided to go with a white textured palm rest which can get extremely dirty, in a matter of seconds; We are hoping their 7-day instawipe technology works as well as they advertise it.

This bezel-less laptop offers the same internal specifications as its older sibling – Intel’s 8th Gen Core i5-8250 U, going up to 3.4 GHz, and the Core i7-8550U clocked at 4 GHz. You get three flavours of RAM – 4 GB, 8 GB, and 16 GB.

In terms of storage, we get an ample amount of choices – from a 128 GB SSD to a 1 TB PCIe SSD (That’s a lot of high-speed data, folks!). Going further, Dell declares itself to have a battery life of 20 hours with the Full HD touch display. However, a 4K model with an UltraSharp HD InfinityEdge touch display, and a battery life of up to 11 hours is also up for grabs. Furthermore, the XPS 13 plays nice with Windows Hello as an added perk, packing voice, facial recognition, and an optional fingerprint reader in the power button.

Keeping in tune with latest trends, Dell has replaced the USB 3.0 ports to USB C-type, which means you have to lug your adapters around if you haven’t completely switched sides yet. Much to all photographers’ chagrin, the laptop’s SD card has given way to a microSD card reader, which is honestly a lot less useful.

Going into minute upgrades (read: possible marketing gimmicks), Dell maintains that the XPS 13 stays cooler, owing to its woven glass fibre structure, aiding them to dissipate heat faster, and hence facilitate better performance. The company also boasts that you can wipe off all kinds of stains from the laptop, as long as it’s not a stain of the scale suffered by the Galaxy Note 7.

Oh, what’s this? The webcam has changed places from the incredibly awkward lower left side to the less awkward mid-lower bezel, but you still have to make do with chin-shots when calling your loved ones over Skype. The new Dell XPS 13 is already available for purchase in the United States at a retail price of $999 (approximately Rs 63,369). A Linux-edition is available for $50 less.

OnePlus 5T On The Horizon, If Rumors Are To Be Believed

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We’ve been focusing a lot of our energy on the Pixel 2, Galaxy Note 8, and LG V30 as of late, but there are still a couple more flagship phones coming down the pipeline in 2017: Huawei’s Mate 10, subjected to plenty of leaks and rumors, along with OnePlus’ next ‘T’ release, which has actually been kept well under wraps. Well, until today.

A new report from GizmoChina claims to have details on OnePlus’ next flagship phone, though I’m going to preface this article by saying they should be taken with a big grain of salt.

According to the leak, the OnePlus 5T release date is set for some time in November 2017. That would certainly make sense, as 2016’s OnePlus 3T was also unveiled in November. Not really.

OnePlus 5T is expected to sport most of the same under-the-hood specs as the OnePlus 5, unveiled earlier this year in June. If you can recall, the OnePlus 3 and 3T shared the same design, with most of the same specs, save for the upgraded processor and battery capacity; But if this new report is to be believed, OnePlus is taking a much different approach to its annual ‘T’ release.

The report states that the OnePlus 5T will supposedly feature a 6.0-inch 2,160 x 1,080 resolution display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. As we all know, the OnePlus 5 came with a 5.5-inch 1080p display, with a 16:9 aspect ratio. That means, instead of only upgrading a few key under-the-hood specs from the OnePlus 5, the company will use an entirely different design and display in the 5T. This change was expected to come with the OnePlus 6, but definitely not the 5T.

What makes us question this report, even more, is the supposed leaked render of the OnePlus 5T, which looks an awful lot like the leaked OPPO F5 render that showed up not too long ago. Not only are the two renders nearly identical, the reported 5T image is shown with OPPO’s software, not OxygenOS. I think it’s safe to say that this isn’t an extremely accurate representation of what the 5T will look like.

Those are the only details known about the OnePlus 5T, so perhaps we should use this time to speculate a little more about the upcoming OnePlus device.

Last year, the 3T featured the faster Snapdragon 821 chipset, which was a notable step up from the 820 found in the OnePlus 3. However, the go-to chipset from Qualcomm in 2017 has been the Snapdragon 835, which has powered just about every major flagship released in the US this year. However, multiple sources say that Qualcomm has no plans to release a Snapdragon 836. In other words, OnePlus doesn’t have many options if it’s looking to include a faster processor in its 5T. But let’s be honest — do we even need a processor with more power than the Snapdragon 835 right now?

There’s also room for improvement on the battery front. The OnePlus 3 launched with a 3,000 mAh battery, going through a big upgrade to 3,400 mAh in the 3T. Similarly, the OnePlus 5 launched with a slightly smaller 3,300 cell, which could definitely be upgraded a few hundred milliampere hours.

What would you like to see in the OnePlus 5T? Upgraded battery? Camera improvements? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Elon Musk & Martin Luther King Jr. Want You To Have Free Money

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At the World Government Summit 2017 Elon Musk declared that the global economy will eventually move towards adopting the “universal basic income”. He stressed that the struggle would then not be to earn a living but to find meaning in one’s life.

Universal Basic Income refers to a substantive amount of money given periodically to everybody regardless of their work status. Or simply put, free money for everyone, no strings attached.

Even though the concept of Universal Basic Income has been abuzz recently, the concept itself is quite old. The roots of the basic income can be found in early 16th century, where Thomas More (1516) suggested it as a better cure for crime than punishment.The debate on Universal Basic Income has attracted a wide variety of people, ranging from economists and political thinkers to feminists and philosophers. Amongst the diverse supporters of Universal Basic Income was also Martin Luther King Jr.,he believed that the government’s approach to solving poverty had been indirect and a more effective solution would be to grant each American a ‘guaranteed income’, which they can spend as per their needs, like education, housing, food etc.

However, the recent and strongest push towards realising a Universal Basic income has come from Silicon Valley, from tech entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. Some like Y Combinator’s Sam Altman and Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar have even funded their own Universal Basic Income programmes.

As we get closer to automation UBI becomes even more relevant. The number of robots in workplaces is increasing exponentially as their installation costs are reducing. The developing countries are at a greater risk, it is estimated that 69% of all jobs in India, 77% in China and 80% in Nepal are at risk of completely being replaced by robots.

In the coming decades, 57% of existing jobs around the world will be non-existent for humans.

Such mass unemployment in a relatively short period could spell doom for the global economy, as incomes fall and demand for goods decreases, along with rising crime and wide economic disparity. The dream of a techno-utopian society that silicon valley has presented us with might soon turn into a hellish nightmare.

This realisation has led the Silicon Valley to take this 16th-century seemingly improbable idea and turn it into algorithms to make it a reality.

Yet we must question the motives of the people behind this recent rush towards UBI, as Vice’s Nathan Schneider points out:

A basic income designed by venture capitalists in Silicon Valley is more likely to reinforce their power than to strengthen the poor. But a basic income arrived at through the vision and the struggle of those who need it most would help ensure that it meets their needs first. If we’re looking for a way through the robot apocalypse, we can do better than turn to the people who are causing it.”

The pilot projects of Basic Income in India has shown promising results.Villages spent more on food and healthcare, children’s school performance improved in 68 percent of families, time spent in school nearly tripled, personal savings tripled, and new business startups doubled.

Whether it was to combat poverty or crime and now mass unemployment, the idea of Universal Basic Income has always found a voice in prominent leaders and the general population alike. But for the first time in human history, we’ve come this close to implementing an idea which might radically change our goals both at a societal and individual level. As Fox Piven suggested that an income guarantee will free us from the “tyranny of wage slavery” and allow the development of new talents and unbound expression of creativity. Sciences and Arts which till now did not offer strong financial rewards will be able to flourish. We may very well be at the beginning of a second renaissance.  

The real struggle then, the struggle to find meaning, not just individually but as a species will then begin.  

OnePlus 5 – What Is The Company Whipping Up This Time?

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OnePlus has another surprise in its red sack for us this year. With its OnePlus 5 in the queue for launch, the company is ready to be the showstopper.

Running on OnePlus basic Oxygen OS based on Android Nougat 7.1.1 backed by Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835, an Octa-Core processor and two RAM variants of 6 GB and 8 GB, the phone is perfectly engineered for all your needs.

The 5.5 inch AMOLED capacitive touch screen and 7mm width give the phone an elegant look.

Though the lack of a memory card slot might bug some people, the company has its own back. The phone comes in 3 memory variants. That are 64 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB.

Coming now to the USP of the phone- its dual camera. The phone has a 12 MP dual primary camera with LED flash giving your picture depth as well as clarity. The phone also has an 8 MP front camera.

Apart from these, the phone has a front mounted fingerprint scanner, a GPS, dual sim slots and comes in its three classic colours – Gunmetal, Soft Gold and Midnight Black and has a type C USB port for faster charging.

With all this said, the company is about to set a bar too high with the launch of this phone in July.

Xiaomi Traces Apple’s Path Again With Xiaomi Mi 6

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As we’ve said before, Xiaomi never fails to surprise us with its leaps in the tech world. And this time again, it hasn’t failed us. The only difference being, some won’t like this surprise.

Walking on the path laid by its mother brand, The Apple Inc., Xiaomi has also removed its headphone jack in the new Xiaomi Mi 6. And in its place, given a USB type-C bi-purpose adapter. Sound familiar, eh?

But still, the people’s brand has yet some new features to offer you to make this phone the one for you.

For the work-oholics

Mi6 comes with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with two internal memory variants: 64gb and 128gb and an Octa-core CPU thereby making it the perfect combination of memory and speed. The option of adding an external memory is available but only by compromising a sim slot. Its sleek design and a weight of mere 168 grams make it easy to carry. It supports all standard bandwidths, i.e 2G, 3G and 4G.

For the camera queens/ kings

Mi6 has a dual rear camera of 12mp each capable of recording 4K videos supported by a dual tone LED flash. It has features like touch focus, Geo-tagging, HDR and panorama. The front camera is of 8mp which can capture crystal clear pictures.

For the binge watchers

The 5.15” screen has a resolution of 1080 × 1920 pixels then supported by stereo speakers. The lack of the headphone jack might pinch some people. But well, you can’t have everything. Right?

With the added features of a front mounted fingerprint scanner which is different from its predecessors and NFC, beating this phone with the same price range for any company would be “Mission: Impossible”

Get the relation? Mi6.. Mission: impossible? Yeah? Good.

Neuralink: Linking the human brain to AI

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What used to seem like an insight into the far future has now been pulled into the present as Elon Musk’s new start up, Neuralink Corp, focuses on bringing human beings at par with artificial intelligence with the help of groundbreaking neural lace technology.  The dramatic progress of artificial intelligence has raised various concerns about the position of humans in the social hierarchy of a society driven by technology.

The threats with artificial intelligence brings with itself are being addressed with an attempt to make it a part of the core of humanity. The initial aim of Neuralink is to be used in the treatment of neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. This shall pave the path for humans to be able to upload and download their thoughts in real time along with accessing digital information without a physical interface.

How can neural lace technology prevent the human race being rendered useless in the long run?

If everything goes as planned, a third digital layer between the cortex and the limbic system shall act as a digital interface between the human brain and certain devices. It shall facilitate communication between human beings and physical electronic devices solely based on the power of thought. As a result a symbiotic relationship will be formed between human beings and artificial intelligence encouraging higher cognitive function.

Thus, by applying the concept of become what you fear, a society in which artificial intelligence reigns and humans become house cats can be kept at bay with the help of these implantable electrodes intertwining humans and computers. Even though a neural lace which functions in the specified manner is far from being developed, this seem to be first step in the narrowing of the gap between the data processing capabilities of a human being and a computer.

Xiaomi Mi Band 3 Concept Revealed

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Xiaomi’s CEO, Lei Jun, was opportunely able to put forward the idea fueling Xiaomi’s success by elaborating on the meaning of the name of the company. By linking “Xiao” to the Buddhist concept of a single grain of a Buddhist being as great as a mountain and “mi” being an acronym for Mission Impossible referring to the obstacles encountered in starting the company, he brought forward Xiaomi’s idea of revolutionizing technology.

Xiaomi redefined the arena of wearable technology with their efficient, and low cost Mi Band. A superb device with basic features, Mi Band 1 managed to win the heart of millions of people across China and India.

The Mi Band 1s and the Mi Band 2 carried the baton further with more advanced and much requested features like an OLED screen, a pedometer and a heart rate sensor. The OLED screen allowed the users to check the time, amount of charge remaining, steps covered, heart rate, and other vital information. The improved companion app Mi Fit kept up with the improvements, providing per-app customized notification through vibrations.

A new leak suggests that the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 is on the horizon, although it fails to provide any advanced detail other than the features already built into Mi Band 2. As per the report, it is scheduled to be announced in 2017, and will have more than two versions up for sale.

Xiaomi Mi Band 2 Xiaomi Mi Band 2
Xiaomi Mi Band 2

The leaked concept art hints at a futuristic design, complete with a touch screen which would seemingly allow the user to control various functions of their smartphone through the watch. Owing to the improved design and features, the Mi Band 3 is also said to be more expensive than its predecessors, at $33.

Xiaomi is at the forefront of the innovative electronics market in China with offerings from lifestyle products like Air Purifiers to gadgets like the Xiaomi Notebook Air. With the price point as its chief marketing strategy, it will be interesting to watch how the market reacts to premium products from the Chinese technology giant.

 

Enhanced Autopilot: Is it as safe as proposed to be?

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The soft launch of the much awaited over the air software update of Enhanced Autopilot started showing its effects in about 1000 Tesla vehicles equipped with the advanced Hardware 2, launched last October to facilitate fully autonomous driving. To be followed by a planned worldwide rollout of the update in the remaining vehicles currently functioning in Shadow Mode, a slow and steady effectuation of the update will be witnessed.

What is Shadow Mode?

The vehicles working in Shadow Mode have not taken any self driving action till date rather they have logged the instances where the Autopilot might have taken action and compare those results to the action taken by human drivers. By pitting their software against human drivers, Tesla has managed to collect statistical data regarding potential autonomous vehicle actions to steer consumer’s opinions about self driving cars.

All vehicles are expected to receive Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC), an  Autosteer beta version at only low speeds and Forward Collision Warning features by the end of this week. These features have been introduced with the motive of increasing one’s safety on road, making driving in traffic and making one more confident about letting a software do the driving.

A still from the video of a Tesla Predicting Car Crash
This still captured from Tesla’s camera was taken before the car slowed down on its own, predicting the crash                                                          which was yet to take place.

A video which vent viral last month showed a Tesla predicting a car crash between the car in front of the Tesla and a SUV which had been hidden from view with the help of radar. This successfully served as a testament for the company’s software technologies. Elon Musk firmly believes that Hardware 2 could cut accidents in half and facilitate self driving at a safety level twice than that of a human. Over the past two years, customers have started entrusting their lives to the Autopilot mode more often owing to the advancements in self driving technology surpassing the human efficiency.

Level 5/5 technologies for autonomous driving which had been in Tesla’s pipeline for a long while have finally come into the picture. Tesla’s self driving algorithms have not been launched in a complete package but will be improved and introduced over time. However, the launch of the update seems to be marked by caution as it works on new software and new hardware. It’s a leap towards achieving Tesla’s goal seeing fully autonomous cars on road by the end of 2017. The effectiveness of Enhanced Autopilot can only be measured by the volume of road data collected from its fleet of Hardware 2 vehicles.

Will the Tesla dream be the future?

The three biggest factors preventing autonomous cars from hitting the road are-

  • High prices of technological components
  • Lack on consumer trust in fully autonomous vehicles
  • Relatively nonexistent regulations

Quite often experts have raised their concerns about the premature introduction of self driving cars in a legal system which doesn’t seem to be accommodating them sabotaging the advancements in this field. The current regulations surrounding fully autonomous cars aren’t particularly clear but they still prevent their use as of now.

However, various instances are proving Musk’s claims of a fully automated car being safer than one driven by a human driver which has led to a noticeable increase in consumer credence. The caution that’s being exercised in the launch of the Enhanced Autopilot and the valuable data collected from vehicles operating in Shadow Mode is expected to work in the furtherance of Tesla’s goal of an autonomous future in the realm of cars.

Stephen Hawking Warns About Threats To Humanity

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At the beginning of the twenty first century, we find ourselves caught in the middle of a cumbersome, world-wide crisis. It is a profound, multidimensional crisis which encompasses almost every aspect of our life- our health and livelihood, our economy, technology and politics. World renowned physicist, Stephen Hawking, took it upon himself to convey the message that we face the very threat of the complete wipe out of the human race owing to single disaster.

In the run up to his BBC Reith Lectures being broadcast, Professor Stephen Hawking said that the major threats to humanity are currently of our own making. With his inimitable ability to convey himself, Hawking seems to have provided us with enough logical data which concedes us to believe that the end is near.

Major Threats to Humanity in Hawking’s Opinion:

Global Warming

While Donald Trump might be in oblivion driven denial about climate change, Hawking seems to have made sure that we don’t forget that Global Warming is a real threat by remarking about the prospects of Earth becoming much like its sister planet, Venus.  Our constant interference in the environmental setup has in turn interfered with the moderate conditions that let us inhabit the earth. However, with technological leaps governing the provision of a second home for humans, Hawking believes in whole of humanity surviving the mayhem Global Warming is yet to bring about.

Usage of Atoms for Peace

We have stockpiled over tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and brought upon ourselves the looming threat of an upcoming nuclear war. Yet, the arms race is still extant to “make the planet safer”. Nuclear weapons do not increase our security rather just increase the likelihood of global destruction.

Genetic Modification

Standing against machines offering complete efficiency without any monetary aspect to them except for the upfront investment, humans allowed themselves to take the risk of genetic modification. A concept straight out science fiction, we might be unfortunate enough to witness it becoming a reality, Hawking fears.

Artificial Intelligence

Even after discounting the threat of a nuclear war, we are left with another one of our creations threatening our way of living. Artificial Intelligence has crept into our daily lives at a rate that has left most innovators in a fix. Hawking joined Tesla’s Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Google executive Demis Hassabis in signing a letter that warned against a military artificial intelligence arms race. An imbalance has already come into existence with respect to the benefits AI brings with itself. The risk of working on AI doesn’t end with the unemployment of the working class but also encompasses the possibility of machines acquiring the intelligence to engineer themselves in a far more advanced manner than we can imagine.

Stephen Hawking expressed his concerns about the developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence with the help of a rather interesting analogy,

“You’re probably not an evil ant-hater who steps on ants out of malice, but if you’re in charge of a hydroelectric green energy project and there’s an anthill in the region to be flooded, too bad for the ants. Let’s not place humanity in the position of those ants.”

Is there a solution?

Hawking brilliant answer to this question was, “By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race. However, we will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period.We are not going to stop making progress, or reverse it, so we have to recognise the dangers and control them.”

A technological and cultural shift of this depth was inevitable. What’s yet to be seen is whether the primitive instinct will take over us to stop us from guiding ourselves to our own end.

Amazon Go: A Convenience Store Sans Checkout Lines

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Amazon Go: First grocery store sans checkout lanes

 

Over the past five years, we’ve seen a quick integration of self checkout lanes and virtual reality in the retailing experience. Some find it to be extremely beneficial while many still prefer the human interaction that comes along with traditional checkout lanes.  However, the fact that they are here for the long haul remains unchanged.

With that in mind, Amazon stepped up its game by unveiling its store which requires no checkout. It might feel a lot like pick-pocketing as you can’t a hole being burnt in your wallet. Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology uses the Amazon Go app to charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.

How different is it from a normal grocery store?

Essentially, there is no difference at all. You browse through the store, get what you want and instead of waiting in a line to leave without breaking any law, you just walk out. Nevertheless, this store shall have computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning replacing all human aspects apart from restocking the store.

To draw a parallel, one can compare this store to a self driving car and as in the case of self driving cars, this advancement has resulted in a great amount of hysteria and divided opinions.

Fresh produce along with meal kits is available in Amazon Go store.
The Amazon Go store could serve as a venue where meal kits might succeed along with fresh foods.

Tracking the movements of the customer within the store works well in the store’s interests as it facilitates better targeting, upselling customers on more products, effective changes in layout and proper monitoring of trends. That’s precisely why companies like Euclid, Nomi and RetailNext have already incorporated it in their retailing experienced. What hasn’t previously been done is providing the direct interaction of a smartphone with real world items thus attaching the item to the individual as being done by Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology. By combining the customer’s shopping history with his tracked movements across the store, Amazon strives to improve the shopping experience by making it more personalized.

By keeping the details of how the Just Walk Out Technology works hazy, Amazon has ensured that its store in the beta stage in Seattle serves as the only portal to future retail. With a launch for the public scheduled in early 2017, Amazon has left us wondering how it’ll prevent people without the Amazon Go app from entering the store or how it’ll prevent nuances which might arrive on separating billing from buying.