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Bits: Making the Technology of the Future Work Today





Monday, March 28, 2016
Daily Report
Making the Technology of the Future Work Today | “I stood alone in an empty room beside a ferocious dinosaur,” writes Brian X. Chen. He isn’t happy about it. Yet.
Mr. Chen is reviewing the first games for Oculus Rift, the virtual reality, or VR, system released by Facebook on Monday. He does so with a certain crabby excitement: It requires a $1,500 computer-and-goggles setup that is something of an eyesore, the rig doesn’t fit, and some of the early games don’t feel as if they need this elaborate production.
In other words, it feels like the early days in most path-breaking technologies. A little-noticed quality of the future is that it arrives consisting mostly of the past. All innovations consist of things already around us, with a few innovations — and people, even video game designers, interact with them using the rules they already know.
It took about 40 years after the invention of the printing press for paper folding to commonly create smaller, cheaper volumes. In the early days of cars, people drove “horseless carriages,” fearful of travel at a ripping 20 miles an hour. The first web pages looked like cluttered magazines. In every case, it took awhile to learn the rules of the new tech, and then embed them into the product.
That seems to be where VR is now, here but not yet at home. Mr. Chen likes what he sees, but is waiting for more content, delivered better, and using features like motion controllers that will show up later this year.
Other things are also on their way, and could eventually make VR as ordinary a part of life as the iPhone (first released to polite bemusement in 2007, without the apps that made it essential.) Facebook’s work in livestreaming and 360-degree cameras are an attempt to build a network that can easily handle VR globally.
As we recently wrote, some of the biggest tech companies are racing to make artificial intelligence part of the ordinary computing platform. This isalready reshaping both the architecture of computing, and the kind of start-ups we’re seeing in Silicon Valley.
If the past is any guide, A.I. will be part of VR, once designers figure out how all this stuff should hang together. But that is all in the future. Which is, in a small way, always showing up in tech.
The Oculus Rift is the first virtual reality product of its kind to reach consumers.

The Oculus Rift Is Here, but Virtual Reality Is Still Rough Around the Edges | The headset from Facebook’s company is pricey, setup is clunky, use is taxing and content could use more inspiration. Still, the technology transports.

Diane Greene of Google said teaching companies how to use A.I. will be a big business.

Silicon Valley Looks to Artificial Intelligence for the Next Big Thing | Tech’s new architecture melds large computing clouds and artificial intelligence to create efficient computing resources and data-based businesses.

Lee Se-dol of South Korea, a champion Go player, on March 15 after losing the final match against Google's artificial intelligence program, AlphaGo, in Seoul.

The Race Is On to Control Artificial Intelligence, and Tech’s Future | Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft are using high salaries and games pitting humans against computers to try to claim the standard on which all companies will build their A.I. technology.

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