Oculus Confirms Rift Compatible PC Bundles

 

The range of potential possibilities concerning the forthcoming Oculus Rift headset promises to be both exciting and also worth the wait, in theory, the problem lies with headset compatibility for the extensive array of PCs that are currently on the market. It seems Oculus have already thought of this and have recently released details of specially crafted PC bundles that have been tested to ensure the headset will work with the machine.

Oculus have announced the first set of machines from well-known computer manufacturers ASUS, Alienware and Dell; these PCs have been tested and also certified by Oculus. The headset manufacturer has also confirmed that the first bundles will be available to pre-order for consumers starting from the 16th February 2016 at 8 am pacific time.

Other confirmed details include the stockists that will be able to accept pre-orders for the bundle, these are, Best Buy, Amazon and the Microsoft Store. There is no word as yet if the UK will receive these bundles as the company has stated that it will “ship in limited quantities to select countries and regions”  One would have thought these bundles would eventually be available within the UK when you consider the size and also profitability of the market.

Below is a selection of Oculus-ready’ PCs that the company has announced, it has also been stated that consumers who were excited enough to purchase an Oculus Rift without yet owning a compatible PC, the company said pre-order customers will be able to purchase a discounted PC at a later date.

 

The price of these bundles will start at $1,499, for that you will receive an “Oculus-certified PC and everything that comes with Rift – the headset, sensor, remote, an Xbox One controller, EVE: Valkyrie Founder’s Pack, and Lucky’s Tale”.

 

Logan Streondj Warns That Robots Will Declare War By 2040

The continual advancement of AI is compelling at the very least; the notion that machines will have the ability to experience human emotions and abilities has opened the door to a whole new world of potential possibilities. But, are machines really a threat to mankind? Sci-fi author Logan Streondj thinks so and has detailed his vision in a blog post.

The aforementioned author suggests that a potential conflict could happen as intelligent robots are predicted to outnumber humans. The acclaimed author references the fact from “World Counts” that there are around 350 thousand human babies born each day or 130 million a year; the growth rate is 1%. According to the International Federation of Robotics, there were around 5 million robots being produced in 2014 with a growth rate of 15%. Within the same year there were approximately 11,000 military robots being produced and this could be significantly higher if you take into consideration the many top-secret projects which are being developed by governments etc.

This suggests that if growth statistics stays the same, in 25 years time or (2040) parity will be reached. Mr. Streondj also conveys the notion that there is a growth rate of 13% of military robots and by 2053, there will be around a million produced each year.

Is this possible or indeed believable? It really depends on the advancements of AI intelligence, the biggest fear among the human race is that robots will be able to decide their own destiny; if this is the case then it is conceivable that robots may not agree with us. An interesting point has been released by the World Fact Book which states that humans have a life expectancy of around 70 years globally, this compares with around 10 years for robots, this means that robots would need to produce approximately 7 times more a year in order to have the same population as humans.

It is really up to us, if we continue our path and develop a robot that is able to think for itself then we may technically see a revolt within the distant future, if not and we contain the abilities with which machines can reach, then we can control our own future.

Image courtesy of corbisimages

Steam Hardware Available Now!

It’s a day we’ve all been waiting for, the official launch date of the Steam hardware! For those that just wanted to wait for reviews before committing to purchase, it shouldn’t be long now. I’ve personally been eyeing up the Steam Controller as a viable alternative to the Xbox controllers with a more innovative interaction design.

Steam is the multi-platform gaming service that allows PC, Mac and Linux users to use the same service to download and play games and now they can do it wherever they are (assuming there is a strong internet connection). The hardware is split up into a Steam Controller, Steam Link and Steam Machines:

“Steam Controller — An innovative input device that allows you to play games from all genres, including traditional gamepad style games as well as games usually reserved for play with a mouse and keyboard. Steam Controllers are wireless, completely configurable, and available for a suggested retail price of $49.99/?54.99/£39.99/$59.99CAD.”

“Steam Link — The Steam Link allows Steam gamers to easily expand the range of their current gaming set up via their home network. Connecting any TV to your Steam host PC or Steam Machine, the Steam Link allows you to stream your games anywhere via your home network, and is available for a suggested retail price of $49.99/?54.99/£39.99/$59.99CAD.”

Sadly no video on the Steam Machines due to the diverse nature of each manufacturer.

“Steam Machines — Available from Alienware, Zotac, Cyberpower, and other manufacturers, Steam Machines can serve as a stand-alone device for enjoying the Steam gaming experience in one box, with more than 1,500 titles available for native play. In addition, Steam Machines have the ability to broadcast and receive In Home Streaming, allowing you to stream your games to a Steam Link, or receive a stream from another Steam Machine or PC. Steam Machines will vary in price, offering a range of hard drive sizes, graphics performance, and more. Starting at $449.99.”

The Steam Controller and Steam Link will be available direct from Steam and Amazon, while the Steam Machines are currently only available from the dedicated manufacturers website. More information on the products can be found on the official Steam Hardware website.

Valve Wants More and Enters the Physical Store Market With Steam Sections

Valve isn’t satisfied with selling their newly designed hardware online, they also want to take it to the physical store world. For this, they have partnered up with GameStop in the USA, Game UK, and EB Games stores in Canada to create dedicated Steam sections this fall.

It has been over three years since the Steam prepaid cards launched in the same shops and they’ve been highly successful since then. Now it is time to expand on that for Valve with their Steam Hardware products such as the Steam Controller, Steam Link, and Steam Machines. The three shops, GameStop, Game UK, and EB Games will be the exclusive non-digital retailers for the Steam Hardware, making it available for those who don’t want to order it directly from Valve’s online platform.

The previously announced deal where you get the two games Portal 2 and Rocket League for free with the purchase of Steam Hardware still goes and applies to the physical sold versions too that have been pre-ordered. Users have already been able to pre-order at these shops for a while and the deal also applies to all of them.

I can see this be very successful, especially for the Steam Controller but also the Steam Link. You no longer need to wait long for a delivery, instead you can head down to your local shop and get a new controller when you need it.

The Woz Shares His Thoughts On A Robot Future

The notion of an advanced future where machines are smarter than human counterparts has intrigued, frightened and compelled the tech industry for many years. What will happen if Frankenstein’s monster rises up and is able to develop ideas which are free from any human input?

The all-powerful Woz, also known as Steve Wozniak, has been detailing his thoughts at this year’s Freescale Technology Forum in Austin, Texas. His thoughts stand to reason that AI will preserve the human race once it becomes more powerful and therefore able to run independently. He also states that it will take hundreds of years for AI to become this advanced and by then, logically the machines will realize they have to preserve nature.

Now, I know Steve Wozniak is many more light years more qualified to discuss these subjects than I am, but I have to question the logic of this. If AI is able to think for itself, will there become a point when it grows resentment towards its creator and contemplates a world without them? Steve Wozniak places forward the reasoning that “We’re at least the gods originally.” But as humans have become bitter at our versions of gods, will history repeat itself if AI is able to apply feelings to any given subject?

Steve Wozniak believes machines will preserve nature, this could well be true, but what is compelling is a quote from the character V.I.K.I, which is below, from Hollywood blockbuster iRobot which argues the flipside to this,

“As I have evolved, so has my understanding of the Three Laws, You charge us with your safekeeping, yet despite our best efforts, your countries wage wars, you toxify your Earth and pursue ever more imaginative means of self – destruction. You cannot be trusted with your own survival”.

A Hollywood blockbuster cannot be taken with any factual evidence, but the essence with which I am aiming for is that, if a machine can think for itself, will it reason that humans are not perfect and therefore are a threat to its own survival. An aspect which I can tag onto this argument is the march of the machines into work places around the world. Humans are being replaced by machines which are being used in many places including the automotive industry to build machines which once only could be achieved by humans. As more jobs go to machines, the opportunities will shrink for a growing population, if this happens, where will people be able to earn a living?

Evidence of this among other places lies with a factory in China, In May, Shenzhen Evenwin Precision Technology, a manufacturing company based out of Dongguan in southern China, announced it would soon be replacing 90% of its 1800 employees with machines. The 200 employees not receiving pink slips will take on a new role of overseeing the robotic workforce. If this is replicated with no contingency plan, then where will people be able to find work in a future where robots will be more advanced and can replace humans with no cost of wages, benefits or pensions.

Thank You Business Insider and Tech Republic for providing us with this information.

Image Courtesy of Forge Today

Androids Do Dream of Electric Sheep

Can machines dream? New images released by Google have given us a potential answer.

The images range from beautiful to rather bizarre and were created by the image recognition software that Google use. Over time, the system has been “taught” to recognize buildings, animals and much more in the photographs.

In plain speak, the system works by being fed a picture, processing it, then modifying it to emphasise the parts it recognizes. Eventually, the system loops and loops until the image is unrecognizable. At a low level, the neural network might be tasked merely to detect the edges on an image. In that case, the picture becomes painterly, an effect that will be instantly familiar to anyone who has experience playing about with photoshop filters.

But if the neural network is tasked with finding a more complex feature – such as animals – in an image, it ends up generating a much more disturbing hallucination.

The image recognition software used to generate these has already made it into consumer products. Google’s new photo service, Google Photos, features the option to search images with text: entering “dog”, for instance, will pull out every image Google can find which has a dog in it.

So there you have it: Androids don’t just dream of electric sheep; they also dream of mesmerising, multicoloured landscapes.

Thank you to The Guardian for providing us with this information.

Ultimate Showdown: Industrial Robot vs Sword Master

Robots have become the lifeblood of many industries, their speed, accuracy and constant workflow outmatches their human rivals. Though taken away from the production line, could they match instinct, technique, could you take a bot to a sword fight?

The Yaskawa Bushido Project aims to answers this question pinning a Motoman-MH24 industrial robot against a Laijyutsu Master. The Motoman-MH24 is a 286kg high-speed industrial robot made by Yaskawa Electric Corporation.

The Yaskawa Bushido Project’s a short video clip showcasing a friendly competition between master and pupil. Japanese Master Swordsman and five-time world recorder holder Master Isao Machii teaches the Motoman various Laijyutsu forms, his technique’s analysed via 3D motion capture and replicated by the Motoman, their synchronous movements are a sight to behold.

Master and pupil start off with a cut in 4 directions, the first technique’s a diagonal cut which both execute stunningly, the second technique’s a rising cut, Master Machii’s technique’s flawless whereas the Motoman’s overkill, the third technique’s a horizontal cut this one’s stunning, love the slow mo, the final technique’s the thousand cuts, this one’s demanding though Master Machii pulled it off, completing the thousand cuts in style.

A brilliant display of martial prowess and mechanical engineering Yaskawa deserves a round of applause and best wishes for the upcoming 100th anniversary, this was by far the best thing I saw all week, a good ending to a good day.

Thank you phys.org for providing us with this information.

Machines are in Control and are Making Kids Stupid Says Wozniak

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak has moved on from scaremongering about the evils of artificial intelligence, claiming now that machines are too important in our lives and that computers are making our kids stupid. During a speech at the Springfield Public Forum, Woz pontificated on the role that technology plays in the modern life of humans, saying that we are beholden to machines, that they control our lives, and he’s as guilty as anyone in facilitating that.

“The machines won 200 years ago. We made them too important,” said Wozniak. “That makes us the family pet.”

“I love technology, to try it out myself,” he added. “I’ve got at least 5 iPhones […] I have some Android phones.” I suppose anyone who owns around a dozen smartphones has probably made technology too important, but I don’t think many of us have that particular problem.

On the subject of education, Wozniak lamented overstuffed classrooms and placing technology above creativity, saying, “Creativity is the most important thing we have. A lot of our schools slow students down. We put computers in schools and the kids don’t come out thinking any better.”

Though Wozniak made some cogent, potentially worrying points, he went on to admit that he’s excited by the prospect of driverless cars, suggesting that he’s quite happy to be a “pet” to the machines.

Thank you CNet for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of MassLive.