Apple’s AI director on advances in machine learning for its self-driving car project

Apple’s secretive autonomous car project has shifted focus over the years, but this year, it seems to be picking up speed. In April, the company received a permit to test self-driving cars in California, while in June, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that they were working on software that could allow cars — and maybe other things — to drive themselves. During a talk on Friday, Apple’s director of artificial intelligence research, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, spoke about some of the company’s recent advances in machine learning that would be useful for such a project.

Wired reports that Salakhutdinov spoke before a group of AI experts at the end of this year’s Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference in Long Beach, California….

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A new trailer for Netflix’s Altered Carbon introduces an improbable murder

Netflix debuted a new trailer for its upcoming cyberpunk show, Altered Carbon, introducing the main story for the show: after he’s murdered, Earth’s richest man hires an ex-soldier to track down his killer.

The streaming service released an announcement trailer last week that introduced the show’s main McGuffin: humans have developed a technology that allows for someone to transfer their consciousness from one body to another. The rich and powerful can now afford to become effectively immortal, jumping from body to body, while murder victims can be brought back to life to testify against their killers.

In the trailer, Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) says that at the age of 365, he was killed. The police think think that he killed…

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The week’s best tech deals include Amazon Echo, iPhone X, and DJI Spark discounts

We’re nine days into December and there’s still Black Friday deals that you can find online, including the new Amazon Echo, Google Home and Xbox One S console. Tomorrow, Amazon is expected to launch discounts on several more of its devices — matching most of its Cyber Monday pricing.

As reported on earlier this week, Best Buy is running a three-day Apple sale (ending tonight, Saturday, December 9th) which offers discounts on the new iPhones and iPad Pro. There’s also quite a few headphone, computer, and more deals to check out this weekend.

Amazon devices

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Andy Rubin returns to Essential after leave of absence

Weeks after taking a leave of absence from Essential, CEO Andy Rubin has returned to work, according to Recode.

Rubin took leave from his company in late November following a report in The Information about an “inappropriate relationship” prior to his departure from Google. A spokesperson for Rubin denied the allegations.

Recode notes that Essential and Rubin wouldn’t comment about the situation, but says that his return should help ease some worries about the company after the lackluster release of its first product, the Essential Phone. Rubin is also expected to be working on the company’s next product, the Essential Home, which is designed to take on smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home — but with a focus on local data…

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Japanese firm to send overworking employees home by nagging them with music-blaring office drones

Since World War II, Japan has struggled with a work culture that consists of excessive overtime. To curb that behavior, one firm is planning to use drones that fly around the office blasting Auld Lang Syne to get employees to realize it’s time to go home.

The system, developed by office security and cleaning firm Taisei and telecom giant NTT, will see drones patrolling the office on a scheduled flight path. The drones will also record footages of what they see during the flight to identify employees who remain in the office after standard work hours.

“You can’t really work when you think ‘it’s coming over any time now,’” Taisei director Norihiro Kato told The Japan Times. Auld Lang Syne is typically played in Japanese malls to announce…

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