Samsung adds and swiftly removes sexist Bixby descriptor tags:
Samsung’s new voice assistant Bixby has finally arrived, and unfortunately, it was accompanied by sexist descriptions for its male and female voice options.
Under “language and speaking style” in the Bixby menu, as several have pointed out on Twitter, the female voice was accompanied by descriptive tags such as “chipper, clear, and cheerful,” while the male voice was described as “assertive, confident, and clear.” After it was spotted and dissent circulated online, Samsung said it would remove the gendered hashtags, telling Gizmodo it is “working diligently to remove the hashtag descriptions from the Bixby service,” and it is “constantly learning from customer feedback.”
The subtitle to this article is “Why does this keep happening”.
I can’t tell you why this keeps happening but I’ll tell you this: the Korean-American women I know personally refuse to date Korean men from Korea because of their — pick your adjective — outdated, sexist, and/or backwards views on the roles of men and women.
via Daring Fireball
No, No, No.
(Just a reminder that engineers are brilliant but have zero fashion sense.)
Android 7.1+ has a “Panic Detection” Mode that Detects Frantic Back Button Presses:
While many readers of Android-centric websites such as our own are less likely to come across situations where a rogue application compromises their system, the same may not be true for the general population. Nearly every week we hear from various security researchers about new malware targeting Android users. Most of these malicious attacks can be avoided by inspecting permissions or avoiding installing sketchy-looking applications, and while we do recommend our readers take their phone’s security into their own hands, Google is responsible for securing every Android phone. To that end, the company quietly introduced a new security feature in Android 7.1 Nougat called “panic detection” which listens for multiple back button presses in succession then returns the user to their home screen.
I hate all the malware on my iPhone.
Oh yeah, I never have to deal with malware or “panic detection”.
Open always wins, right?
Actor Carl Reiner — at 95 years old — just wrote an op-ed in The New York Times directed at Justice Anthony Kennedy:
I would like to start with congratulatory wishes on your forthcoming 81st birthday.
As someone who has almost a decade and a half on you, I can tell you this: It may well be that the best part of your career has just begun. As a nonagenarian who has just completed the most prolific, productive five years of my life, I feel it incumbent upon me to urge a hearty octogenarian such as yourself not to put your feet up on the ottoman just yet. You have important and fulfilling work ahead of you.
When I turned 81, I had finished “Oceans Eleven” and was gearing up for “Oceans Twelve” while also writing another book, which led me to a cross-country book tour.
Just a reminder that most of us aren’t trying hard enough.
The new phone from the creator of Android didn’t ship when he said it would:
The new phone from Android creator Andy Rubin appears to be delayed.
When he announced the Essential smartphone at Recode’s Code Conference in May, Rubin said it would start shipping within 30 days, The Verge reported. The company also started accepting pre-orders for the $699 device.
But more than 30 days have passed since then, and Essential isn’t shipping the phone yet.
Creating a computer operating system doesn’t mean you have any idea how to design and market a successful phone.
The Essential Phone isn’t as essential as Andy Rubin thinks it is.
Since I’ve taken one jab at Android, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind readers this was Rubin’s vision of Android:
Rubin’s grand vision of Android was barely an evolution of Palm Pilot OS.
Android wasn’t designed for multi-touch which is why it took so long for Android UI to approach the velvet-y smoothness iOS had from the beginning.
Over in the r/apple subreddit, u/Arve highlights an interesting thread in the r/audiophile subreddit concerning what’s under the hood in Apple’s new Siri-enabled HomePod:
There is one comment from that thread I’d like to highlight:
- They’re using some form of dynamic modeling, and likely also current sensing that allows them to have a p-p excursion of 20 mm in a 4″ driver. This is completely unheard of in the home market. You can read an introduction to the topic here. The practical upshot is that that 4″ driver can go louder than larger drivers, and with significantly less distortion. It’s also stuff you typically find in speakers with five-figure price tags (The Beolab 90 does this, and I also suspect that the Kii Three does). It’s a quantum leap over what a typical passive speaker does, and you don’t really even find it in higher-end powered speakers
- The speaker uses six integrated beamforming microphones to probe the room dimensions, and alter its output so it sounds its best wherever it is placed in the room. It’ll know how large the room is, and where in the room it is placed.
- The room correction applied after probing its own position isn’t simplistic DSP of frequency response, as the speaker has seven drivers that are used to create a beamforming speaker array,. so they can direct specific sound in specific directions. The only other speakers that do this is the Beolab 90, and Lexicon SL-1. The Beolab 90 is $85,000/pair, and no price tag is set for the Lexicon, but the expectation in the industry is “astronomical”.
Lots of people online are calling it overpriced because they think Apple just slapped a bunch of speakers in a circular configuration and added Siri, but the engineering behind it is extremely audiophile niche stuff. And it does this all automatically with no acoustical set up or technical know how. And even if you are obsessive about your existing tuned audio set up, just think of how much better enthusiast stuff will become once this kind of technology becomes the accepted mainstream baseline for speakers.
So Apple has included a technology in HomePod only found in $85K speakers.
Details like this make the differences between Apple and Amazon crystal clear.
The fact that both HomePod and Echo both have integrated AI assistants is where the comparisons end. The purpose of the Echo is to make it easier to order more things from Amazon. Apple has nothing analogous to Amazon’s megastore, so it needs to be something more than a “good enough” speaker you can order shit from.
Eugene Wei explains the recent scandals in the news — Silicon Valley sexual harassment incidents, Bill Cobsy rape charges, everything Donald Trump does — in the context of common knowledge and “distributed truth”:
We need look no further than the highest office in the land to see that common knowledge often isn’t enough. When the audio of Billy Bush and Donald Trump laughing it up on the bus broke, I thought for sure that would be the incident to sink him. For once, Trump had been caught on tape, when the press and public weren’t in the room to serve as an explicit audience. The tape could be entered into evidence as common knowledge for the public. Then there was video of Trump mocking a disabled reporter.
And on and on and on. Trump has laid so much rope by which the public could have hung him that his feet ended up back on the ground. He is the troll who thumbs his nose at the two intellectually neutered political parties, realizing they have neither the will nor the ideas to do anything as he and his family laugh their way to the bank. In literature, the court jester is often the wisest fool in the room, but sometimes an idiot is just an idiot. If the gloves do not fit, you must acquit. Who will ever forget? What’s depressing about Trump is how he seems to be an exemplar of the variant: the gloves do fit, but you can’t do shit.
It’s easy to feel helpless when we see the ugly truth exposed on a person as bad as Donald Trump and then watch him walk away without punishment.
Luckily Wei shows us justice is possible (although not guaranteed). It just requires a lot of resilience and courage.
The first sentence of the first paragraph from the front page of the Sunday New York Times:
Men and women still don’t seem to have figured out how to work or socialize together.
Hey! We’re humans. Animals pretending to be professionals. We fancy ourselves logical beings not affected by our hormones and emotions.
The front page story continues:
For many, according to a new Morning Consult poll conducted for The New York Times, it is better simply to avoid each other.
Many men and women are wary of a range of one-on-one situations, the poll found. Around a quarter think private work meetings with colleagues of the opposite sex are inappropriate. Nearly two-thirds say people should take extra caution around members of the opposite sex at work. A majority of women, and nearly half of men, say it’s unacceptable to have dinner or drinks alone with someone of the opposite sex other than their spouse.
The Times also published a story a few days ago on women in tech on the culture of harassment in the Silicon Valley tech world.
I currently work in Sunnyvale, but I lived and worked in Manhattan for 10 years, so the bro culture out here on the west coast is still kind of new to me.
Are guys in Silicon Valley not masturbating enough? What the fuck is wrong guys out here?
In his op-ed piece, Understanding Republican Cruelty, Paul Krugman explains the redistribution of wealth going on with Republican health legislation:
More than 40 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts would go to people with annual incomes over $1 million — but even these lucky few would see their after-tax income rise only by a barely noticeable 2 percent.
So it’s vast suffering — including, according to the best estimates, around 200,000 preventable deaths — imposed on many of our fellow citizens in order to give a handful of wealthy people what amounts to some extra pocket change. And the public hates the idea: Polling shows overwhelming popular opposition, even though many voters don’t realize just how cruel the bill really is. For example, only a minority of voters are aware of the plan to make savage cuts to Medicaid.
In fact, my guess is that the bill has low approval even among those who would get a significant tax cut. Warren Buffett has denounced the Senate bill as the “Relief for the Rich Act,” and he’s surely not the only billionaire who feels that way.
It’s fucked up to see an administration so hostile towards the people they represent.
iOS 11 on an iPad Pro still won’t replace your laptop:
The complex gestures we see in iOS 11 will only get more tricky in the future as Apple continues to build them out instead of supporting a mouse. If Apple does want the iPad Pro to be considered as laptop contender, then it will need to refine its keyboard hardware and its software gestures and features. Apple still needs to prove that the touchscreen can truly replace a keyboard and mouse for professional productivity, so get used to remembering lots of gestures and swiping around on an iPad display instead of simply pointing and clicking for the foreseeable future.
In other news, your motorcycle still won’t replace your car.
John Gruber explains it well:
Again, Apple is not trying to convince everyone to replace a traditional Mac or PC with an iPad. Apple executives say that the Mac has a bright and long future because they really do think the Mac has a bright and long future. Any review of the iPad and iOS 11 from the perspective of whether it can replace a MacBook for everyone is going to completely miss what is better about the iPad and why.
While the nerd community is busy listing all the ways they can’t do their nerdy work on an iPad, millions of everyday people are being productive on iPhones and iPads without ever having touched macOS or Windows.
Apple’s AR is closer to reality than Google’s:
Looking at this distance-measuring app, it seems so simple and obvious. Of course your super-powered, multi-core phone should be smart enough to measure out basic distances, and there have indeed been many wonky apps trying to do that in the past. But measuring with AR, as already shown off by Google Tango phones, allows you a much more intuitive method for doing it. Having the phone actually aware of the three-dimensional space in its view allows for precise measurements, which can be represented with a neat hologram of a measuring tape. Apple’s advantage in the contest for doing this best is simple: while Google Tango demands special hardware, ARKit requires only that you have a recent iOS device. At WWDC earlier this month, Craig Federighi described ARKit as “the largest AR platform in the world,” and he was right.
This isn’t just about raw engineering brilliance. Google and Microsoft can easily go toe-to-toe with Apple in that realm. This is about design, and making a sophisticated technology approachable to everyday people. It seems Apple still understands this better than their competitors.
In 2016, Microsoft introduced its approach to augmented reality with their big, fat headset, the HoloLens. They demonstrated how you could play Minecraft in your living room, stacking virtual blocks in real space. This demo reminded me that despite the departure of Steve Ballmer and their new-found love of hardware in their Surface devices, this is the same company that came to multi-touch market with a $10,000 table. Some things never change.
The ARKit demo apps in the story quoted above might look cute or trivial, but as Clay Christiansen said, the next big thing always starts out being dismissed as a toy.
Sure, a phone screen isn’t as immersive as an AR headset, but this is just the first step and one with a much lower barrier to entry than a big headset.
These Truckers Work Alongside the Coders Trying to Eliminate Their Jobs:
Economically speaking—that is, in the most brutal terms—truckers are disposable. Almost anyone can become a professional driver with a month or so of training, and most don’t stick around for long; median pay is about $40,000 per year, and the work is often unhealthy, painful, and lonely. Software engineers, on the other hand, are some of the best-paid, hardest-to-hire employees in the modern economy. The variety that Seltz-Axmacher employs—specialists in AI and machine learning—are even better paid and even harder to hire. Google has been known to pay its self-driving car engineers millions or even tens of millions. Starsky’s coders don’t make that much, but the point remains: In its cabs, side by side, are representatives of some of the most and least promising careers in America.
Self-driving tractor trailers are replacing truck drivers, but truck driving is an under-paid, unappealing job. In this respect, it’s a perfect place for AI, but it doesn’t address the 3.5 million Americans who drive trucks for a living and need income.
Over at the Bleacher Report, Jeremy Botter on the likelihood of Conor McGregor returning to the UFC after his boxing match on August 26th against Floyd Mayweather:
On Wednesday, the impossible dream, the flight of fancy, the ridiculous notion became reality: Floyd Mayweather, owner of all sporting pay-per-view records of note, will exit a two-year retirement for the August 26 boxing match against Conor McGregor, the brightest star mixed martial arts has ever seen.
McGregor is the highest-paid Ultimate Fighting Championship athlete ever, but the leap he is about to make is an extraordinary one. He says he’ll go from his comparatively low estimated paydays to over $100 million in one night.
And then, according to UFC President Dana White, he’ll come back to the UFC for a lightweight title defense in December, where he will presumably go back to making $3 million guaranteed for his fights. From $100 million to $3 million, for the same amount of work.
Sure he will.
One hundred million dollars. McGregor is already a winner, even in the event Mayweather defensive-boxes his way to a win.
I’m not sure if McGregor has anything left to prove. The disproportionally large number of naysayers grows exponentially before every one of his fights. He beat Chad Mendez. He beat Jose Aldo. He beat Nate Diaz in UFC 202 (after initially losing to Diaz in UFC 196). He beat Eddie Alvarez.
I’d love to see Mayweather get his bell run by McGregor’s left.