A View from MIT TR Editors
Recommended from Around the Web (Week ending January 30, 2016)
A roundup of the most interesting stories from other sites, collected by the staff at MIT Technology Review.
Siri, Alexa, and Other Virtual Assistants Put to the Test
Here’s a nice review of the various artificial personal assistants out there today. I must admit, I find Amazon’s home-helper, Alexa, equal parts amazing and infuriating.
—Will Knight, senior editor, AI
Without Reform from Beijing, “The World Will Endure More China Scares”
Everything you need to know about why market crashes are endemic to China’s still-growing economy—and why they’re likely to happen again. “Markets react in such terror at every hint the renminbi might fall in value” because “a weaker renminbi reduces the dollar value of the goods China can buy on international markets, at a time when demand from its traditional industrial and construction sectors is already declining.”
—Richard Martin, senior editor, energy
Exclusive: Google’s New Head of Virtual Reality on What They’re Planning Next
In this piece, Time interviews Google’s virtual reality head, Clay Bavor, about the challenges of Google Cardboard and what the company may be working on next.
—Rachel Metz, senior editor, mobile
Scandinavia’s Most Metal Sound Systems Are Made of Horse Skulls
Archaeologists have found horse skulls under the floors of ancient houses and barns across the British Isles and Scandinavia. They believe the skulls may have been put their as a primitive acoustic device, designed to amplify the sounds of dancing or threshing wheat.
—Michael Reilly, senior editor, news and commentary
Here’s How Free Basics Is Actually Being Sold Around the World
Facebook says its “Free Basics” scheme that make mobile access to some Web services free can help get more people online. But mobile providers that offer Free Basics in countries such as Bolivia and Uganda report that most people who use the service are already paying for mobile Internet access. Rather than hooking in Internet newcomers, Facebook’s initiative appears to function more like a marketing tool that keeps mobile networks’ existing customers engaged.
—Tom Simonite, San Francisco bureau chief
The Vinyl Record Factory That Makes Your Niche Music Dreams Come True
New technology is amazing in its own right, but it’s also incredible that rich, layered sound can come out of a plastic disc with fine-tuned grooves etched into it. Wired digs into how vinyl actually does what it does.
—Julia Sklar, social media editor
We Asked a Robot to Write an Obit for AI Pioneer Marvin Minsky
Proper form for and an obituary about Marvin Minsky from Wired. MIT Technology Review posted our own salute.
—J. Juniper Friedman, associate Web producer