Artificial Intelligence: Not quite there yet.


I've generally been impressed with the abilities of virtual assistants in recent years - Siri, Alexa, Cortana, "Okay Google" - to come up with the right answer to real, factual questions asked verbally in natural language by flesh-and-blood humans. However, it turns out we shouldn't trust those answers quite yet. Tom Scocca writes an account of his misadventures regarding an article he wrote, correcting a widespread falsehood about the time required to caramelize onions. He found that Google was extracting a quote his article specifically identified as false, using that as the "correct" answer, and crediting Tom for it. A convoluted path, and it'd require impressive artificial intelligence to parse the correct context - but that's what's needed if an AI assistant is to be truly trusted. It's since been corrected - possibly manually? - and the right answer is shown in the image above. But be warned: AI just isn't quite there yet.
[Gizmodo]

Knife + Fork = Knork

Sure, everyone loves a plastic spork when you need one, but what about the knork? I've frequently used a fork edge to cut through food, with varying success; imagine if the utensil had been designed with that in mind? As Dave Cortright explains on Cool Tools, the knork has an outside edge sharp enough for food but not so sharp as to cut your cheek, and a handle shaped for the application of lateral force. However, would it work as a disposable plastic utensil, reducing waste as the spork does? If not, it may be destined to languish as a sideshow, no matter how many stars it garners on Amazon...
[Cool Tools]

ACLU Dash Button

Amazon Dash buttons are kinda stupid. Trump is really stupid. But hey, can one stupid thing cancel out another? Thanks to intrepid hacker Nathan Pryor, they can! He customized a Dash button so that each press donates $5 to the ACLU. Pressing a button is a satisfying alternative to throwing something across the room or screaming into a pillow - and with this button, it might actually do some good!
[via Engadget & TechCrunch]

Kwik Sip: A drinking fountain in every faucet!

I kind of wish I that I lived in an alternate universe where the Kwik Sip faucet attachment was the ubiquitous norm instead of a weird, geeky outlier. Every faucet magically turns into a drinking fountain anytime you want it? Count me in.
[via Cool Tools]

Curtain Rod Design for Better Darkness

If you really need a dark room - I'm not saying because of a hangover, but I'm thinking it - the cracks of sunlight that creep through the sides of your curtains can be painful. Umbra's Twilight curtain rod addresses that with a simple design tweak: the rod continues around the corner to go flush to the wall, allowing the curtain to do the same. Simple, clever, and effective; rest easy!
[via Lifehacker]

Apple Stores Remove Security Tethers

You know those security tethers that keep on-display electronics from being stolen from stores? Apple is experimenting with removing these traditionally necessary inconveniences. Some reports indicate that iPhones are going untethered in some Apple stores, and this is impressive: Apple is betting that its lost-iPhone mode, which bricks the phone, will make it a sufficiently unattractive target for theft. That's how it's supposed to work with end users, too, and putting it into action in stores may help spread the word: "Don't bother stealing iPhones, they'll just get bricked." Here's hoping!
[via GizmodoCNET, & MacRumors]

Designed Response: Earrings to catch AirPods

Apple's totally-wireless AirPods have the cool sheen of being The Future, but they battle the persistent fear that they'll fall out of your ears and be lost forever. 3D printer company M3D has designed a response: 3D-printable earrings that act as baskets to catch falling AirPods. It's a cute example of design as commentary on another design; a designed response. It's also mainly a marketing move: M3D has made the design files available on Thingverse, and gotten some nice publicity practically for free. The product isn't serious, but the commentary - and the brand awareness - certainly are.
[via Gizmodo]