Light Start – Waterproof Leica, anti-missile drones, Uber food, and sarcastic AI


Leica’s latest object of desire is waterproof

Leica X ULeica cameras are like luxury motor vehicles. Everyone wants one but not everyone can cover the price tag. The German company’s latest, the Leica X-U, is no different. It’ll cost, at its very cheapest, more than R50,000 but you might want to take out that personal loan after all. The X-U will survive immersion up to 15 metres (in water, not beer or vodka or something), has been dust-sealed and will work in the cold as well. That’s in addition to the 16.5-megapixel APS-C sensor, the Summilux 23mm lens and f1.7 aperture. It’s not the elegant, all-metal body we’re used to seeing from Leica but that’s the price you pay for a high-performance camera from the likes of Audi. Did we say Audi? Actually, they did have a hand in the camera’s design so perhaps that explains some of the price. It launches at the end of January.

Source: via The Verge

Next up for the US military – drones with “lasers” designed to take down missilesLasersThe United States military have always had a fondness for technology. That’s never gone away, but their ambitions tend to get packed into smaller packages. Like the Boeing 747 that was designed to shoot down missiles using a high-powered laser. That one’s been around for 10 years, eventually retiring because it was so expensive. But now the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) are thinking about mounting the same system on drones, which are a lot cheaper to keep aloft. They’d also be easier to maintain, get in range of potential missile threats, and avoid countermeasures. It’s difficult enough to pop an American fighter pilot with ageing Soviet surplus planes, it’d be a huge chore to catch a drone flitting around a missile launch site. The laser-toting drones don’t exist yet but, according to the MDA, “We have significantly ramped up our program in terms of investment and talking about it more of what else needs to be done to mature this capability.” Mike Myers would be pleased.

Source: Defense One

Look out Mr. Delivery, Uber’s going to be delivering food soon*

Uber LogoSouth Africa’s metered taxi industry might still be upset but home food delivery services here won’t have to worry just yet. Yes, Uber is set to launch a standalone food delivery service and app, called UberEATS, but it’s going to be limited to ten cities. And those ten cities are based in the United States, following a month-long trial in Toronto, Canada. The service will be dropping the whole “you need to catch an Uber” restriction in favour of plain old food delivery come March this year and delicious noms will be available to users in Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Austin, Washington D.C., Houston, San Francisco and Atlanta. It’s a start. Depending on its success, we may see UberEATS becoming more widespread.

*Some geographical restrictions may apply

Source: Wall Street Journal

That’s just what we need: Sarcastic artificial intelligence

BlackadderPerhaps we should clear this up: This isn’t some development where the robotic overmind is going to exterminate us all while making cutting remarks about our lack of dress sense and/or intelligence. Entrants into a challenge hosted by Cornell University have created an artificial intelligence system which is able to recognise sarcasm, with a 75% success rate, which was an improvement over the initial 71%. That’s also a lot more accurate than most of the people we encounter on a daily basis, who wouldn’t recognise sarcasm if it peed on their shoes. The system is called TrueRatr, and it detects sarcasm in online reviews. That’s a pretty good place to find it, because there’s nothing like an annoyed consumer with a sense of humour to provide entertaining reading. TrueRatr is available on GitHub (link below) if you’d like to contribute. It still battles somewhat, because stupidity can sometimes reach almost artistic levels, but the first step in teaching something to use something else is to teach the first thing what the second thing looks like. There are a lot of jokes in that last line but everyone’s just been so accommodating to humour lately…

Source: GitHub via Ars Technica


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