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‘Flying Sports Car’ Could Be the Smallest in the World

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Futuristic vehicles are not new, but one man’s small “flying sports car” is the latest tech innovation to dominate social media feeds.

According to Tech Insider, Kyxz Mendiola, a Filipino inventor, invested millions of his own pesos to develop and build this high-tech ride over the past six years. Dubbed “Koncepto Millenya,” this flying sports car uses a combination of drone and computer technology to work. With 16 motors, 16 propellers, and 16 onboard computers, the vehicle can propel itself skyward, fly in the sky, and land smoothly.

Flying cars, such as Mendiola’s model, could help ease urban commutes in the future. In major metropolis areas worldwide, including Manila and New York City, traffic congestion is one of the top issues for residents. If people were allowed to fly these “car-like drones,” they might be able to get to places in a shorter period of time. Until then, it will be interesting to see what other flying cars pop up, as people continue to reimagine how technology can make our lives (and commutes) easier.

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This Emotional Lexus Ad Was Written by an AI

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‘Tis the season to tug at audience heartstrings with tear-inducing commercials (I’m looking at you, John Lewis).

But Lexus took things a step further this week when it introduced the world’s first ad scripted entirely by artificial intelligence.

Trained by IBM’s Watson on 15 years’ worth of award-winning luxury advertisements and human emotional responses, the bespoke AI managed to keep its message original and on-brand.

“When I was handed the script, the melodrama of the story convinced me of its potential,” director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, State of Play, Whitney) said in a statement.

The minute-long film tells the tale of a Takumi master craftsman, fresh off his latest creation, the Lexus ES sedan.

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Like a parent seeing their child off to college, the engineer releases his vehicle into the wild—only for it to be taken away and threatened with destruction. But at the crucial moment, the car’s automatic emergency braking system kicks in, saving it (and the craftsman) from devastation.

“The fact that AI gave a fellow machine sentience, placed it in a sort of combat situation, and then had it escaping into the sunset was such an emotional response from what is essentially a digital platform,” Macdonald said.

This project is a collaboration between The&Partnership London, Visual Voice, IBM Watson, and the University of New South Wales’ MindX division.

“From the outset, it was almost impossible to know what level of quality or intelligibility the AI would produce,” Visual Voice co-founder Alex Newland said. “To see the project brought together with such a rich finished piece is extremely satisfying and exciting to witness.”

The “Driven by Intuition” film was created using a bespoke AI (via Lexus)

AI-generated text is still very much a work in progress: 2017 produced a handful of trial runs, including a seven-minute movie co-starring David Hasselhoff, a magical new Harry Potter book chapter, and one final Scrubs monologue (performed by Zach “JD” Braff himself).

The latest from Lexus, however, may help push machine learning to the forefront of entertainment and marketing.

“I thought I’d be writing an ad with the assistance of AI,” Dave Bedwood, creative partner at The&Partnership, said. “Instead it took over and wrote the whole script: a machine telling the story of a machine coming to life.

“Much AI work to date has been interesting because of the process itself,” he continued. “This has been because the end product is good in its own right.”

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Elon Musk Renames SpaceX’s Monster Rocket–Again

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When you own four companies and are the 54th-richest person in the world, you can do whatever you want—including change the name of your space-bound rocket.

Elon Musk this week announced he is “renaming” SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket (also known as Big F*****g Rocket, or BFR) to Starship.

He tweeted the news on Monday, later clarifying that “Starship” is the name of the spaceship itself; the rocket booster will be called Super Heavy.

Fans responded with requests for more information, queries about the change, and a few choice words for the South African entrepreneur.

One eagle-eyed follower pointed out that the name is erroneous, “unless this ‘starship’ is sent on a mission to another star system.”

“Later versions will,” Musk wrote in a response, teasing a future in which the spacecraft may leave the Solar System. Our closest known neighbor is Alpha Centauri, some 4.3 light-years from Earth.

Another suggested this may not be the last time this spaceship is rebranded.

The BFR, er, Starship, is designed to be a sustainable interplanetary spaceship.

A whopping 387 feet tall, the monster vehicle could one day make obsolete the rest of SpaceX’s fleet.

Built for up to 100 people, its first trip will carry only a skeleton crew—including Yusaku Maezawa, the first private citizen to travel beyond low-Earth orbit.

The 42-year-old Japanese billionaire will assemble a band of virtuosos—painters, photographers, musicians, film directors, fashion designers, architects—to accompany him on a round-the-Moon mission.

“All our resources will turn toward building BFR,” Musk said in 2017, estimating the company will need about $5 billion to get the ship off the ground. An undisclosed chunk of that money comes straight from Maezawa’s ticket.

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Americans Are Checking Their Phones More Than Ever

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Like most people, my smartphone is an extension of me: It’s the first thing I see after I wake up and one of the last things I see before I go to sleep. It sits on my desk as I work, in my pocket while I travel, and in my hand when I make a cup of tea.

And I know I’m not alone.

According to consulting firm Deloitte, Americans are viewing their smartphones more often than ever before—on average 52 times per day, up 6 percent from last year.

The unsurprising data was revealed as part of the UK-based firm’s 2018 Global Mobile Consumer Survey, which confirms the central role of handsets in the connected ecosystem.

One of the only gadgets (aside from smartwatches) to gain market penetration over the last year, smartphones have become a primary form of online access for 20 percent of U.S. adults.

After all, who needs traditional broadband service when you’ve got a mobile connection and Wi-Fi?

“This year’s survey really advances the story of smartphones as the true center of our lives, both inside and outside the home,” Deloitte Vice Chairman Kevin Westcott said in a statement.

“The smartphone remains the go-to device for consumers,” he continued, “enabling them to do anything they desire: communicate, work, socialize, consume entertainment, stay fit, or take take of things at home.”

But the first step is admitting you have a problem. And many people have.

Nearly 40 percent of Americans think they use their smartphone too much, Deloitte said; a whopping 60 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds concede to mobile overuse.

And while 63 percent of folks claim they’re trying to limit handset usage, only a little more than half are succeeding.

“While smartphones are becoming the nerve center of our homes, our businesses, our families, and our lives, consumers are craving more speed and responsiveness as their usage patterns mature,” according to Mic Locker, a managing director in Deloitte’s Technology, Media, and Telecommunications industry practice.

“It will be interesting to watch the availability of 5G networks and 5G-enabled smartphones over the next year to see if consumers’ yearning for better performance is satisfied,” she added.

That’s not the only thing smartphone-addicted Americans desire: A majority of folks also worry about keeping their personal data private.

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