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Pixel Buds A in green accidentally leaked by Google email

Google has had a terrible time keeping its upcoming Pixel phones under a tight lid. From the Pixel 3a to the current Pixel 5, leaks have left Google with almost nothing else to surprise. This time, it seems to be the one causing the leak as an unrelated email about the Google Nest confirms the existence and appearance of what may be known as the Pixel Buds A, which, considering where it appeared, also hints it might be coming really soon now.

Now at its second generation, Google’s Pixel Buds have split camps, unsurprisingly. While its integration with other Google products, particularly Google Assistant and Translate and Android phones, is laudable, some have been less impressed with its actual audio quality and battery life. That it costs a lot for those features didn’t sit well with many either.

The rumored Pixel Buds A might be changing that, however, if it follows Google’s tradition of appending “a” to its more affordable Pixel phones. The Google leak, which appeared in an official email sent to the Google Nest mailing list, doesn’t exactly say anything about that but it at least confirms what the new Pixel Buds would look like.

In terms of overall shape, the Pixel Buds A will be virtually indistinguishable from its predecessors. The only visual clue will actually be the fact that the previously black insides of the charging case will match the color the buds come in. The buds themselves will also actually come in full color, in this case, a darker shade of green, instead of the dual-tone design the previous buds had.

There is definitely some renewed interest in Google’s Pixel Buds after the news that the company just acquired 3D audio specialist Dysonics. Of course, it would take time before that spatial audio technology gets integrated into future Pixel Buds. It would also make those more expensive than the price tier that the Pixel Buds A might be aiming for anyway.

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Dyson’s V15 Detect vacuum uses a green laser to light up your grimy floors

Another year, another new Dyson vacuum. 2021 brings some of the biggest changes we’ve seen in a long time though, which is why the company is jumping from the V11 all the way to V15. Most notably, the new V15 Detect packs a green laser to help you see just how grimy your floors are.

While plenty of vacuums already use LEDs to help you see dirt on your floor, Dyson is trying to one-up everyone by including a much cooler-sounding green laser instead (only available on the ‘Fluffy’ cleaner head meant for hard floors). The laser is precisely angled at 1.5 degrees and 7.2mm off the ground to make dust as visible as possible.

Why green, you ask? Dyson says it provides the best contrast. Which I guess makes sense; a white LED would be hard to see on a light-colored surface, but I’ve never seen anyone with bright green floors.

But it’s not only the light show that gives you a better idea of how clean your floors actually are. The vacuum also includes a new acoustic piezo sensor that actually tells you how much dust you’re picking up. This sensor also allows the vacuum to increase suction when it comes across a large amount of dust. Once levels stabilize, the vacuum’s suction will return to normal.

Dyson goes so far as to show a breakdown of the dust size and quantity on the vacuum’s LCD screen. That’s not something I ever thought I’d want to know, but it’s still pretty cool considering how accurate the sensor claims to be; Dyson says the sensor can detect particles as small as 10 microns — the size of some bacteria.

Aside from letting you know how grimy your floors are with scientific precision, Dyson claims its new vacuum accessories address probably the most annoying problem with vacuum cleaners all around: hair getting tangled in the brush bar.

For its new mini-motorized brush head — meant for cleaning furniture and the like — the company developed a new conical brush bar that is able to spiral hair and fur off into the dust bin rather than allowing it to get tangled and build up over time.

[Read more: How to use AI to better serve your customers]

For its larger brush bar, Dyson is instead using essentially what amounts to a fancy hair comb to collect hair and prevent it from tangling around the brush bar.

But wait, there’s more! After introducing the supersized Dyson Outsize last year meant for giant American homes, Dyson today announced a smaller variant to its vacuum meant for smaller spaces called the Dyson Omni-glide.

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The key to making AI green is quantum computing

We’ve painted ourselves into another corner with artificial intelligence. We’re finally starting to breakthrough the usefulness barrier but we’re butting up against the limits of our our ability to responsibly meet our machines’ massive energy requirements.

At the current rate of growth, it appears we’ll have to turn Earth into Coruscant if we want to keep spending unfathomable amounts of energy training systems such as GPT-3 .

The problem: Simply put, AI takes too much time and energy to train. A layperson might imagine a bunch of code on a laptop screen when they think about AI development, but the truth is that many of the systems we use today were trained on massive GPU networks, supercomputers, or both. We’re talking incredible amounts of power. And, worse, it takes a long time to train AI.

The reason AI is so good at the things it’s good at, such as image recognition or natural language processing, is because it basically just does the same thing over and over again, making tiny changes each time, until it gets things right. But we’re not talking about running a few simulations. It can take hundreds or even thousands of hours to train up a robust AI system.

One expert estimated that GPT-3, a natural language processing system created by OpenAI, would cost about $4.6 million to train. But that assumes one-shot training. And very, very few powerful AI systems are trained in one fell swoop. Realistically, the total expenses involved in getting GPT-3 to spit out impressively coherent gibberish are probably in the hundreds-of-millions.

GPT-3 is among the high-end abusers, but there are countless AI systems out there sucking up hugely disproportionate amounts of energy when compared to standard computation models.

The problem? If AI is the future, under the current power-sucking paradigm, the future won’t be green. And that may mean we simply won’t have a future.

The solution: Quantum computing.

An international team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Vienna, MIT, Austria, and New York, recently published research demonstrating “quantum speed-up” in a hybrid artificial intelligence system.

In other words: they managed to exploit quantum mechanics in order to allow AI to find more than one solution at the same time. This, of course, speeds up the training process.

Per the team’s paper:

The crucial question for practical applications is how fast agents learn. Although various studies have made use of quantum mechanics to speed up the agent’s decision-making process, a reduction in learning time has not yet been demonstrated.

Here we present a reinforcement learning experiment in which the learning process of an agent is sped up by using a quantum communication channel with the environment. We further show that combining this scenario with classical communication enables the evaluation of this improvement and allows optimal control of the learning progress.


This is the cool part. They ran 10,000 models through 165 experiments to determine how they functioned using classical AI and how they functioned when augmented with special quantum chips.

And by special, that is to say, you know how classical CPUs process via manipulation of electricity? The quantum chips the team used were nanophotonic, meaning they use light instead of electricity.

The gist of the operation is that in circumstance where classical AI bogs down solving very difficult problems (think: supercomputer problems), they found the hybrid-quantum system outperformed standard models.

Interestingly, when presented with less difficult challenges, the researchers didn’t not observe any performance boost. Seems like you need to get it into fifth gear before you kick in the quantum turbocharger.

There’s still a lot to be done before we can roll out the old “mission accomplished” banner. The team’s work wasn’t the solution we’re eventually aiming for, but more of a small-scale model of how it could work once we figure out how to apply their techniques to larger, real problems.

You can read the whole paper here on Nature.

H/t: Shelly Fan, Singularity Hub

Published March 17, 2021 — 19:41 UTC

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Elgato’s new mouse mat doubles as a green screen (and it’s genius)

If you’ve stopped by Twitch anytime in the past few years, you’ve likely noticed that a lot of streamers are using green screens these days. Rather than show the room around them with their webcam, they’ll instead use chroma keys and green screens to hide everything except for them, keeping the focus entirely on themselves and the gameplay.

Green screens and streaming now seem to go together like peanut butter and chocolate, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Elgato’s latest announcement: a desk mat that doubles as a green screen. Officially dubbed the Green Screen Mouse Mat, there’s probably a few wondering why you’d need a chroma key desk mat, but Elgato makes the case rather effectively.

For instance, many competitive gamers and speedrunners will often have hand cams that show off their hand movements and button inputs. With the Green Screen Mouse Mat, you can treat those cameras just as you would a chroma key webcam and green screen, ultimately covering up less of the game with your hand cam.

There’s also the fact that trading card pack openings have become a popular category on Twitch, and using something like this on your desk could allow you to easily use an overlay while the camera is focused on your hands and your pulls. So, if you’re a a streamer who regularly uses green screens or has an overhead camera that’s focused on your mouse/keyboard, controller, or just desk in general, this could be a good addition to your streaming setup.

Of course, that’s all assuming that you’re okay with having a bright green mouse mat on your desk rather than one that’s more of a neutral color. If that’s not a roadblock for you, you can pick up Elgato’s Green Screen Mouse Mat from the company’s website for $29.99.

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The Huawei rollercoaster continues as Google gets a green light to license Android again

Barely a month after the U.S. government placed a ban on companies doing business with Huawei due to an unspecified national security threat, President Donald Trump has seemingly softened his hard stance. In a press conference at the G20 Conference Saturday, he announced that “American companies will continue” to do business with the beleaguered telecom giant.

While it’s unclear whether that extends to the 5G network technology that Huawei is developing, it most certainly applies to Google and Android. Under the terms of the previous ban, Google was barred from selling an Android license to Huawei, meaning its phones could use the base open-source code, but would not have access to the all-important Play Store and Google apps.

While Trump didn’t specifically mention Google, Qualcomm, or Intel in the announcement, he made a point of calling out the “complex and highly scientific” products created by U.S. tech companies: “What we’ve done in Silicon Valley is incredible and nobody has been able to compete with it, and I’ve agreed to allow them to continue to sell that product (to Huawei).”

While the ban hadn’t technically taken effect due to a 90-day reprieve, it was already affecting the development of future products. Huawei had confirmed that it was working on its own OS and was reportedly reaching out to other China brands such as Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi as partners. Now that Google can continue to sell its Android license to Huawei, the company will need to decide whether to continue pursuing the project or stick with its EMUI OS.

One thing that isn’t changing, however, is Huawei’s ability to sell its phones in the United States. However, Trump didn’t close the door on that possibility either, saying the two countries “will have to save that to the very end” of their negotiations over tariffs. 

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