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One small backflip for a robot is one giant leaping backflip for humankind

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Something that often bothers me about sci-fi is the loner inventor trope. A guy in a garage builds a robot, or AI, or frequently both that are somehow decades beyond the technology of his day, and all the wild implications of his vast technological leap are the fuel for the next two and a half hours of popcorn entertainment.

But the latest video from Boston Dynamics is the closest equivalent I've ever witnessed IRL. Sure, it’s the achievement of an entire company, and they’re doing it on YouTube for everyone to see, not in a basement. But a backflip?

It’s hard to even appreciate how hard this is for robots to do, because it’s hard to appreciate how difficult walking still is for humanoids. I wrote a whole piece about the problem of...

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Ferret
1 day ago
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New Tesla Roadster

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New Tesla Roadster

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Tesla is back with a new version of the car that put it on the map. The all-new 2+2 Tesla Roadster goes from 0-to-60 in a mindblowing 1.9s, 1/4 mile in 8.8s, has a top speed of 250 mpg, and will offer a driving range of up to 620 miles. It’s $200K to start, but still, holy crap.

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Ferret
1 day ago
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Oh My
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New video shows off the Tesla Roadster’s insane acceleration

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Tesla Roadster Speed

For as impressive and intriguing as the Tesla Semi is, the real highlight of Tesla's special event yesterday was the surprise unveiling of a brand new Roadster. Spec wise, Tesla's next-gen Roadster is an absolute beast. Tesla's new car -- which won't debut till 2020 -- can go from 0-60 MPH in 1.9 seconds flat, easily making it the fastest production car in the world. And as far as range is concerned, the Roadster can travel 600 miles on a single charge.

"You'll be able to travel from LA to San Francisco, and back, at highway speed without recharging," Musk said yesterday. "The point of doing this is to just give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars. Driving a gasoline sports car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche."

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New video shows off the Tesla Roadster’s insane acceleration originally appeared on BGR.com on Fri, 17 Nov 2017 at 10:58:54 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.





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Ferret
2 days ago
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this thing is bonkers
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Boston Dynamics has a new robot dog, and this one might be its creepiest yet

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spotmini robot

When it comes to creepy robots, it's impossible to compete with Boston Dynamics. The company, which was famously bought then sold by Google, has always had a knack for making bots with unsettlingly realistic movements, and it just teased its latest creation which most certainly continues the trend.

The newly redesigned SpotMini robot "dog" is a lot like previous Boston Dynamics creations in that it walks on four sturdy legs and has an unusual prancing style of locomotion. It's also kind of adorable, in a dystopian future sort of way. Just check it out for yourself.

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Boston Dynamics has a new robot dog, and this one might be its creepiest yet originally appeared on BGR.com on Wed, 15 Nov 2017 at 19:34:50 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.





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Ferret
3 days ago
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ROBOT. DOG.
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Christopher Tolkien Resigns From The Tolkien Estate and His Departure Will Change Everything

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J.R.R. Tolkien's son, Christopher Tolkien, who has led the Tolkien estate as its President for years. At 93-years-old he has resigned and stepped down as president and there's no doubt that this will change everything on how J.R.R. Tolkien's work is handled from here on out.

You see, even though Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a huge hit with critics and fans, Christopher hated what Jackson did with those films. He also was the guy who was blocking any of the other Middle Earth stories, outside of The Hobbit, from being adapted. 

The news of Christopher's resignation comes from TheOneRing.net and with Christopher no longer in charge, there are sure to be a lot of big things coming involving the stories and characters from Middle Earth, especially with the new series that Amazon Studios is developing. He won't be there to block certain things from being played with.

It seems like he's been preparing to retire for a while. At 93-years-old it makes sense to retire! Christopher has been dedicated his life to preserving his father’s work, and over the years he's edited and published several stories and collections involving Middle Earth. The last thing he worked on was the publication of the book Beren and Luthien, and in the preface of the book, he says “this is (preemptively) my last book in the long series of editions of my father’s writings.” 

The guy definitely deserves the respect from Tolkien's fans for what he has done with his father work over the years. There is honor in the work that he has accomplished. One thing I have to admire about Christopher is that he was more interested in preserving the legacy of his father than money. That mindset will probably leave with Christopher. The other remaining members of the estate are reportedly much more willing to negotiate and sell off the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s properties, so I'm sure we'll see a lot of people swooping in to try and get their hands on them. Those remaining members include J.R.R. Tolkien’s daughter, Priscilla Tolkien, and various grandchildren.

I doubt that Amazon will be the only studio that will get the rights to some of Tolkien's work. The report goes on to say:

This opens up Tolkien and Middle-earth as possible franchises in the same way that Harry Potter’s world is a place you can visit at Universal Studios or that Disney will soon have a Star Wars area. There are few properties in the world that can be talked about in the same way as Middle-earth. Warner Bros. see the value and so does Amazon.
That doesn’t mean the Tolkien Estate will move toward making the rights to “Beren And Luthien” available but it does mean my wish to produce “The Silmarillion” as HBO series is slightly less impossible than it was before. That is what has changed really. Things once impossible are now possible.
The estate may elect to only allow more content based solely on “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.” Or they may carefully cultivate the entire library.

It's going to be really interesting to see what happens now in bringing stories and characters from middle earth to life in film and TV. There's no doubt we'll see some big exciting things in the future with what Amazon Studio is developing an beyond. 

 



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Ferret
3 days ago
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oh wow. This throws the deal with Amazon into a whole new light.
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Google Maps gets a new look

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The world is an ever-evolving place. And as it changes, Google Maps changes with it. As roads close, businesses open, or local events happen in your neighborhood, you’ll see it on Google Maps. When you schedule an event using Google Calendar, get a reservation confirmation in Gmail, or add a restaurant to your “Want to Go” list, Google Maps reflects that too. Now, we’re updating Google Maps with a new look that better reflects your world, right now.

First, we’ve updated the driving, navigation, transit and explore maps to better highlight the information most relevant to each experience (think gas stations for navigation, train stations for transit, and so on). We’ve also updated our color scheme and added new icons to help you quickly identify exactly what kind of point of interest you’re looking at. Places like a cafe, church, museum or hospital will have a designated color and icon, so that it’s easy to find that type of destination on the map. For example, if you’re in a new neighborhood and searching for a coffee shop, you could open the map to find the nearest orange icon (which is the color for Food & Drink spots).

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We’ve created a cheat sheet of the new colors and icons to help you get acquainted with the new look:

You’ll see these changes over the next few weeks in all Google products that incorporate Google Maps, including the Assistant, Search, Earth, and Android Auto. Over time, the new style will also appear in the apps, websites and experiences offered by companies that use Google Maps APIs as well. 

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So no matter how or where you’re using Google Maps, you’ll have the same consistent experience.

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Ferret
3 days ago
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Ch-ch-ch-changes
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