Transcendence

The trailer for an intriguing movie has just been released.  Transcendence, which opens in April 2014, stars Johnny Depp, and is directed by Wally Pfister, long-time cameraman and collaborator for Chris Nolan, the director of Inception, and the hugely successful Dark Knight trilogy.  As well as Depp, the strong cast includes Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara (House of Cards) and Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3). This quote from the trailer explains why the movie is causing excitement among those who think that a conscious machine may be created within the next few decades. "Imagine a machine with...

Virtual reality – for real?

$75m is a large investment for a one year-old company, even for Silicon Valley in these excitable times.  Oculus VR has just added that sum to its previous $18.4m Kickstarter and series A rounds. The reason for the excitement is that the Oculus Rift headset just might be the first product to provide a genuine virtual reality experience for consumers.  Only 300 people have tried the current prototype, but over 42,000 people have bought developer kits based on its predecessor. Previous VR products have failed to provide a genuinely realistic environment, and some have made users feel dizzy or nauseous. ...

Europe hits the gas pedal on driverless cars

There is no longer any doubt that driverless cars are coming.  Google recently announced that its test cars have completed half a million miles, with a flawless safety record. It hopes the technology will be available to the public in 2017.  Elon Musk, of PayPal and Space X fame, hopes that his electric car company Tesla Motors will have autonomous cars ready a year earlier. Outside the USA, governments and manufacturers don't want to be left behind.  Nissan has carried out the first public road test of an autonomous vehicle on a Japanese highway, and now European governments are getting...

Hollywood passes the Turing Test

When will a computer pass the Turing Test?  December 18th.  Well, according to Hollywood, anyway.  That's when "Her", a film by Spike Jonze, opens in the US.  Critics who saw it at the New York Film Festival in October liked it enough to give it a 100% fresh rating on the Rotten Tomatoes review site, and Scarlett Johansson is being talked about as a serious Oscar contender even though she never actually appears in the film. The plot involves a sensitive man played by Joaquin Phoenix who is upset by the failure of a long-term relationship.  He falls in love with...