Plus the first human-to-brain interface, and why robots could rule the world within 200 years.
By Jason Imms on August 30, 2013 at 9:47 am
Welcome to the Friday Tech Roundup! Contained herein is your weekly dose of some of the best tech news from across the Internet, rounded up for your edification and entertainment. Read on for all the details of the Xbox One’s 6% GPU clock speed increase, the Nintendo 2DS, an the University of Washington’s first human brain-to-brain interface.
Microsoft announces a 6% increase in Xbox One GPU clock speed, awaits thunderous applause
In a podcast with Microsoft’s chief online spruiker Major Nelson, Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten announced that the Xbox One’s GPU has received a clock speed increase from 800 MHz to 853 MHz. Apparently, rigorous testing has shown that the console can handle the extra heat load without any cause for concern, though frankly, the 6% increase in clock speed isn’t exactly Earth-shattering. Whitten also notes that significant optimisations have been made to the graphics driver, “You start with the base DX [DirectX] driver and you take out all parts that don’t look like Xbox One, and you add in everything that really, really optimises that experience.”
It can be difficult to parse the PR-laden rhetoric of first-party interviews, so here’s John Carmack during his QuakeCon 2013 keynote on the subject of the new console generation, “It’s almost amazing how close they are in capabilities, how common they are. The capabilities they give are essentially the same.”
Nintendo announces the 2DS, a slightly cheaper, feature-lite version of the 3DS
You would be forgiven for assuming that today is April 1st at the news that Nintendo is releasing a new entry level handheld: The Nintendo 2DS. The new model eschews the stereoscopic 3D feature of the 3DS, and has a new “fixed, slate-type form design,” which means no more centre hinge. The 2DS will be capable of playing “games available for Nintendo 3DS, as well as Nintendo DS in 2D.” The new handheld will be available in white/red and black/blue from October 12 in Australia, with an RRP of AU$149.95. For those worried about portability, Nintendo are graciously offering for sale a carry case, available for purchase on launch day. (Source: Nintendo press release.)
Logitech and Razer seemingly compete to produce the craziest looking gaming mouse
Razer and Logitech are no strangers to making weird looking mice, and the Razer Ouroboros and Logitech G602 are strong contenders for the weird looking prize. The Logitech G602 is a wireless gaming mouse that is purportedly “lag-free,” can run for up to 250 hours on a single charge in “gaming mode,” and crams 11 programmable buttons onto the side of the body and left mouse-button. Instead of masses of buttons, the Razer Ouroboros focuses on ergonomics and accessibility, being equally friendly to left-handed users, and containing a massive amount of adjustments.
Users can adjust the angle of the palm rest, retract the back panel, and swap out the side panels to suit their hand and preferences. The Ouroboros is a wired/wireless hybrid, claiming an approximate 12 hours of continuous gaming use. The Logitech G602 and Razer Ouroboros are set to retail for US$79.99 and US$149.99, respectively. (Source: Press Releases, Ouroboros | G602)
Do as I think, not as I do: Researchers develop a successful human brain-to-brain interface
Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a human brain-to-brain interface, which in a recent test, allowed one researcher to cause another to involuntarily carry out his bidding. The test consisted of a one-button videogame, and two researchers connected by two common technologies: an EEG brain monitor, and a transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) device. Professor Rajesh Rao was hooked up to the EEG, and sat in front of a display showing a simple game in which the player is tasked with pressing a button to fire a cannon at pirate ships, and avoiding supply planes. On the far side of the campus, Andrea Stocco sat connected to Rao via TMS, unable to see the game, with his hand hovering over a spacebar.
By imagining using his right hand to press the spacebar, Rao was able to cause Stocco to involuntarily carry out the action. Working together, the pair were able to successfully play the game. “This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his,” Rao said in an interview with The Verge. The team hopes to expand the test to accommodate more intricate brain-to-brain communication, and to widen the pool of test subjects.
Cambridge University scientists warn that AI could take over the world within the next two centuries
Scientists from Cambridge University in the UK have warned that there is a possibility that artificial intelligences could take over the world within the next two centuries. The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER), due to open next year, was founded by a philosopher, a scientist, and a software engineer, and fears that computers could one day come to rule the world. “It seems reasonable a prediction that some time in this or the next century intelligence will escape the constraints of the body”, says Huw Price, co-founder of CSER, and Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy.
“Nature didn’t anticipate us, and we in our turn shouldn’t take AGI [artificial general intelligence] for granted. We need to take seriously the possibility that there might be a ‘Pandora’s box’ moment with AGI that, if missed, could be disastrous.” Price is quick to confirm that this is an entirely theoretical proposition at this stage, but that it would be complacent of humanity to leave the research unexplored. Cambridge stated that “luminaries in science, policy, law, risk and computing from across the University and beyond” are to be involved in the project.
Header image courtesy Wired.