Siri As a Therapist... And More News You Might Have Missed

The most interesting tech-related stories impacting government and industry

ABBA to Tour As Holograms

Swedish 1970s pop sensation ABBA is following in the footsteps of Tupac Shakur and Michael Jackson by planning another global tour — as holograms.

The musical foursome — Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad — will be made into “digital avatars” for a virtual reality tour. Those avatars will mirror ABBA’s 1979 look, when the group’s music peaked

So why would ABBA want to do this? Commitment-free performances.

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“It’s perfect. We can be onstage while I’m home walking the dogs,” Andersson told the Herald Sun. Mashable

Google AI Lead Not Worried about ‘AI Apocalypse’

While techies like Elon Musk are sounding the alarm about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence, others are saying that kind of apocalyptic talk is actually more harmful than helpful.

"There’s a huge amount of unwarranted hype around AI right now," Bloomberg quoted John Giannandrea, Google’s AI chief, as saying at the TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco. "This leap into, ‘Somebody is going to produce a superhuman intelligence and then there’s going to be all these ethical issues’ is unwarranted and borderline irresponsible."

Google has invested in AI safety and ethics, but Giannandrea said the more extreme worries are exaggerated.

"I’m definitely not worried about the AI apocalypse," he said. "I just object to the hype and the sound bites that some people have been making." Bloomberg

Play Cupid with Your Facebook Friends

Think you’d make a great matchmaker? Well, now you can try your skills with a new app called Matchmaker, from Hinge. It will allow you to pair up your friends who already use the dating app.

Hinge founder Justin McLeod told TechCrunch the new app is currently more of an experiment aimed at exploring whether there’s real interest for this kind of service.

“We found a lot of people who felt like they missed out on the dating app craze wanted to be able to participate in some way,” he said. “A lot of times, people will pull out their friend’s phone and swipe for them on other apps.”

Available in beta for iOS, once you’ve downloaded Matchmaker, you’ll be able to see who of your Facebook pals currently use Hinge. TechCrunch

New $50M Innovation Fund to Fuel Next-Gen AI

A division within Salesforce.com is rolling out a $50 million fund to invest in startups using artificial intelligence.

The idea is the Salesforce AI Innovation Fund will attract more developers to create AI apps that work with other Salesforce products. AI startups Highspot, Squirro and TalkIQ are the first recipients of funding to speed up their development of transformative AI solutions on Salesforce.

Salesforce has been using AI more since unveiling Einstein in September 2016, a collection of AI services acquired and built on the Salesforce ecosystem. Einstein delivers over 475 million AI-powered predictions every day, according to the company.

Artificial intelligence could make companies and workers “smarter, faster, more efficient and more productive,” said John Somorjai, executive vice president of corporate development and Salesforce Ventures, Salesforce.

“The new Salesforce AI Innovation Fund will help accelerate the development of transformative AI solutions that extend and complement Salesforce, helping our customers reach new levels of success," he added. Salesforce

Siri, Why Am I Feeling Blue?

According to an Apple job posting spotted by Quartz and others, many people use Siri as a therapist so the company is on the hunt for software engineers trained in psychology to improve Siri’s responses to those hard questions.

“We are looking for people passionate about the power of data and have the skills to transform data to intelligent sources that will take Siri to next level,” according to the ad.

The ad further states the right candidate needs to have strong computer science fundamentals and be familiar with algorithms — ideally, “Someone with a combination of strong programming skills and a true team player who can collaborate with engineers in several technical areas.”

The job has been vacant since April, suggesting “it’s turned out to be a tall order to fill,” Quartz said.

“Still, it shouldn’t be impossible to find people who are interested in making machines more understanding,” continued the news site. “If it is, we should probably stop asking Siri such serious questions. Quartz

 

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