Google's latest artificial intelligence, AlphaGo Zero, now has the ability to teach itself how to master board games after only knowing the rules, and without any human intervention. While previous AI took months to beat the world champion Go player, this latest system was able to master these games in less than a day.
This Week in Tech News
With a current value of over $14,000 per, Bitcoin has skyrocketed in value in the last month, but has also dropped dramatically in the last few days. Leo says the Bitcoin craze reminds him of the Holland Tulip Craze of the 1600s, where tulips became all the rage, prompting people to even offer land for a single tulip bulb. Bitcoin is just like that.
The holidays are a time where product releases and tech news slow down. This gives technology reporters a chance to look back over the year and come up with winners and losers. This is also when reviews really get into the nitty-gritty of what works and what doesn't. Looking at candidates for Phone of the Year, Leo says that there's plenty of contenders.
Though Monday is known as "Cyber Monday," the day people take to the internet to find great online deals for Christmas, Black Friday sales figures show a rise in online shopping, including a double-digit increase in using mobile devices to buy goods. The average order was $135, up from last year.
Phone sales were also big this year, with deals on the iPhone X that offered gift cards if you bought one. Walmart gave a $300 gift card.
Cyber Monday is expected to be even bigger, by 10-20%.
According to a recent study funded by Google, 15% of users have reported that their email or social media account was taken over due to phishing scams. Leo says that over 25 million users were bit by an email phishing scam, while about 35,000 were victim to keystroke loggers. Leo says that this is the season for scams and that users may get emails from the "IRS" or even phone calls demanding personal information. It's always a scam and users shouldn't fall for it.
We survived another Black Friday. Braving fist fights for deals on last year's models, Leo says that traffic was terrible for Black Friday, and there were plenty of deals to be had. Cyber Monday is coming, where people shop for special deals online. Leo wonders if after Net Neutrality rules are tossed next month if ISPs will charge a toll for visiting sites like Amazon next year.
Leo says that the FCC has decided to completely ignore the comments of the public, which amounted to nearly 50 million, and apparently will toss out existing Net Neutrality rules. Most people just don't care that much about it. We have fought this back time and time again, but Leo says we're probably going to lose this round, and heaven only knows what will happen next.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is coming to Xbox at the end of December and has been very popular on the PC with Steam for a while now. This is a "Battle Royal" game, which is kind of like Hunger Games. You're dropped into a very realistic, large and vivid world with 99 other people. The goal is to get as many weapons as you can, kill as many other people as you can, and be the last player standing. This is interesting because this is an independent game, not from a big game company, and it's hugely successful.
Tesla founder Elon Musk has announced a new Roadster and an electric semi truck. Elon made a lot of money in his youth by creating an e-payment system that eventually merged with Paypal. He then used that money to fund a couple of other ventures, including SpaceX, with plans for colonizing Mars in the next ten years or even sooner. The other company he founded was Tesla which started with the Model S electric car. He then added other models like the Model X and more recently the Model 3.
Leo says that phone manufacturers like Apple and Google are taking advantage of the hyper-competitive nature of the tech blogging world by only giving out limited quantities of smartphones, and at the very last minute for only 24 hours. This strategy was pretty interesting because it gave bloggers limited hands-on time with their latest phones before they had to publish a review. As such, Leo says they didn't really have time to focus on bread and butter features like battery life or issues like screen burn-in. Instead, they're focusing on the newest features.