Lorde’s second coming: ‘Pop music is my number one inspiration’

There’s a lyric on Lorde’s new album, Melodrama, which catches the ear. It runs, “bet you rue the day you kissed a writer in the dark,” and it’s tart, taut and right. It sounds like the work of someone who has learned the power of words.

There are plenty more standouts where that one came from. You have the “couple of Top Gun pilots flying with nowhere to be” on Homemade Dynamite or “I do my make-up in someone else’s car” on Green Light. When it comes to lyrical snap, the New Zealander is truly running things this time around.

It’s taken a couple of long years for Ella Yelich-O’Connor to follow up her debut, Pure Heroine, but the results demonstrate that it has been time worth taking. That debut and its success changed everything for her, turning the then-teenager’s universe upside-down, so it’s natural that this record seems to be about coming to terms with all those changes and transformations.

Lorde: “My writing this time was inspired by records I really admired, the classic albums like ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac or ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon. Photograph: Brendan Walter

In New York, I could be Ella, getting my subway card out, sitting in diners for hours, eavesdropping on people and being myself”

In the last few weeks since she reached the end of the recording and mixing hullabaloo, Yelich-O’Connor has finally been able to begin to make sense of what the songs represent.

“It’s kind of amazing to look at things now from a place of relative calm. I was grappling with and fighting my way through a lot of things on Melodrama as I went along so I can now go ‘oh yeah, that’s what I was upset about a year ago’ and ‘that’s what I was hypothesising about’.”

Young hearts

Melodrama is a record about many things, but chiefly what happens when young hearts run free in a new city. “This record was born out of me going out and dancing a lot and wanting to write music that would work in those spaces,” she says. “I hope you can hear the prints of bodies and dancefloors and you can hear where the love came from. Pure Heroine was much more stationary – I was in one town and there were certain parameters to what I was doing – but Melodrama is something much different.”

She spent much of the time working on this record living in New York. For the most part, she went unrecognised in the city, allowing her to get on with the job of writing and recording, and especially observing.

“Part of why I went to New York was for that anonymity. In New Zealand, everyone knows who I am and while they’re very sweet, I was never able to forget who I was and what I was doing. I’m Lorde and I’m making an album.

Kodi Boxes Are Coming Under Fire For Plugins That Enable Copyright Infringement

Authorities across the world are increasingly taking action over Kodi media streaming hardware which is being sold on eBay and other sites. These boxes are pre-loaded with Kodi and a set of plugins that allow users to watch live video or movies and TV shows, all without paying a penny.

Kodi is a free and open source media streamer with a long history. It started life as Xbox Media Centre or XBMC, and was designed as a way to get video playback on your original generation Xbox. As time has passed though the software has opened up to more plugins and has been used as a platform to watch copyrighted material without paying.

Kodi has even managed to find itself being covered in the mainstream press as the sale of devices which are described as “Kodi fully loaded”. These boxes are designed to appeal to the mass market and feature a pretty standard piece of network streaming hardware with Kodi installed. Included with this will be a set of plugins that allow you to watch content like live sports, as well as pretty much every TV programme ever made, and all without paying more than the initial cost of the box.Image result for Kodi Boxes Are Coming Under Fire For Plugins That Enable Copyright Infringement

Increasingly though sellers of these boxes are running into legal problems. The EU now requires that box sellers verify that the software provided on the boxes they sell doesn’t infringe on the copyright of others. And you may now be aware that the government has sought much harsher punishments for copyright infringers.

And US satellite broadcaster Dish Network is now seeking $150,000 per infringement, which would make the liability for any box seller become fairly massive. For many doing this the financial rewards just aren’t significant enough to risk such stiff penalties. For most of the plugin authors there’s no real money to be made here, and like most forms of copyright infringement it’s about user convenience more than it is about depriving any business of money.

For example, it’s a lot easier to tap a couple of buttons on a Kodi box than it is to get your West Wing DVD box set out and play an episode. It’s nicer to have all your favourite shows in one interface than to have to jump from Netflix to Amazon Prime to iTunes. And what’s more, streaming services don’t universally run on every type of streamer.

As always though, the fight to stop people selling boxes doesn’t really address the issues. These plugins often use files stored on the cloud. These are hosted on Dropbox, Google Drive or other similar services and shutting them down is next to impossible. It sends a message of course, but the problem won’t go away.

The Amazing Artificial Intelligence We Were Promised Is Coming, Finally

HIGHLIGHTS

  • While past AI used brute-force computing, today’s uses machine learning.
  • AI is now exceeding the capabilities of humans.
  • AI will soon be everywhere.
We have been hearing predictions for decades of a takeover of the world by artificial intelligence. In 1957, Herbert A. Simon predicted that within 10 years a digital computer would be the world’s chess champion. That didn’t happen until 1996. And despite Marvin Minsky’s 1970 prediction that “in from three to eight years we will have a machine with the general intelligence of an average human being,” we still consider that a feat of science fiction.The pioneers of artificial intelligence were surely off on the timing, but they weren’t wrong; AI is coming. It is going to be in our TV sets and driving our cars; it will be our friend and personal assistant; it will take the role of our doctor. There have been more advances in AI over the past three years than there were in the previous three decades.

The Amazing Artificial Intelligence We Were Promised Is Coming, Finally

Even technology leaders such as Apple have been caught off guard by the rapid evolution of machine learning, the technology that powers AI. At its recent Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple opened up its AI systems so that independent developers could help it create technologies that rival what Google and Amazon have already built. Apple is way behind.

The AI of the past used brute-force computing to analyze data and present them in a way that seemed human. The programmer supplied the intelligence in the form of decision trees and algorithms. Imagine that you were trying to build a machine that could play tic-tac-toe. You would give it specific rules on what move to make, and it would follow them. That is essentially how IBM’s Big Blue computer beat chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997, by using a supercomputer to calculate every possible move faster than he could.

Today’s AI uses machine learning in which you give it examples of previous games and let it learn from those examples. The computer is taught what to learn and how to learn and makes its own decisions. What’s more, the new AIs are modeling the human mind itself using techniques similar to our learning processes. Before, it could take millions of lines of computer code to perform tasks such as handwriting recognition. Now it can be done in hundreds of lines . What is required is a large number of examples so that the computer can teach itself.

The new programming techniques use neural networks which are modeled on the human brain, in which information is processed in layers and the connections between these layers are strengthened based on what is learned. This is called deep learning because of the increasing numbers of layers of information that are processed by increasingly faster computers. These are enabling computers to recognize images, voice, and text and to do human-like things.

Google searches used to use a technique called Page Rank to come up with their results. Using rigid proprietary algorithms, they analyzed the text and links on Web pages to determine what was most relevant and important. Google is replacing this technique in searches and most of its other products with algorithms based on deep learning, the same technologies that it used to defeat a human player at the game Go. During that extremely complex game, observers were themselves confused as to why their computer had made the moves it had.

 

In the fields in which it is trained, AI is now exceeding the capabilities of humans.

AI has applications in every area in which data are processed and decisions required. Wired founding editor Kevin Kelly likened AI to electricity: a cheap, reliable, industrial-grade digital smartness running behind everything. He said that it “will enliven inert objects, much as electricity did more than a century ago. Everything that we formerly electrified we will now ‘cognitize.’ This new utilitarian AI will also augment us individually as people (deepening our memory, speeding our recognition) and collectively as a species. There is almost nothing we can think of that cannot be made new, different, or interesting by infusing it with some extra IQ. In fact, the business plans of the next 10,000 startups are easy to forecast: Take X and add AI This is a big deal, and now it’s here.”

AI will soon be everywhere. Businesses are infusing AI into their products and helping them analyze the vast amounts of data they are gathering. Google, Amazon, and Apple are working on voice assistants for our homes that manage our lights, order our food, and schedule our meetings. Robotic assistants such as Rosie from “The Jetsons” and R2-D2 of Star Wars are about a decade away.

Do we need to be worried about the runaway “artificial general intelligence” that goes out of control and takes over the world? Yes but perhaps not for another 15 or 20 years. There are justified fears that rather than being told what to learn and complementing our capabilities, AIs will start learning everything there is to learn and know far more than we do. Though some people, such as futurist Ray Kurzweil, see us using AI to augment our capabilities and evolve together, others, such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, fear that AI will usurp us. We really don’t know where all this will go.

What is certain is that AI is here and making amazing things possible.

WWDC 2017: Amazon Prime Video Coming to Apple TV and TV App

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Tim Cook announced Prime Video for Apple TV
  • tvOS updates to be revealed later this year
  • Prime Video will be available on all Apple TVs

Apple kicked off its WWDC 2017 on Monday with a keynote address at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California, where CEO Tim Cook announced new updates to its four key operating systems – tvOS, watchOS, macOS, and iOS. Talking about tvOS, Apple is finally bringing Amazon Prime Video to its Apple TV, as expected.

Cook announced the company’s partnership with Amazon, which will now see the latter’s video subscription service part of Apple TV’s app catalogue. The mention was brief and Cook did not explicitly say when Prime Video will be made available, so you could see it as early as today, or with the next tvOS update, which the CEO has teased for later this year. Furthermore, Prime Video will be available on all Apple TV generations currently in production. It will also be coming to the TV app.WWDC 2017: Amazon Prime Video Coming to Apple TV and TV App

The Apple-Amazon announcement was expected since early last month, where some media reports suggested that the Prime Video app will go live this summer. One of the reasons Amazon’s service can now be part of Apple TV could be because Apple earlier this year changed its App Store policy increasing the tvOS apps size limit from 200MB to 4GB. This means larger apps will now be supported on Apple TV.

The new deal between the two companies may also mean that Amazon will soon resume selling the Apple TV streaming player on its e-commerce properties, something it has stopped doing back in 2015 alongside the Google Chromecast as it saw both the streaming players as a direct competition to its Fire TV streaming player. Note, that this bit has not been confirmed, and was said to be part of the reported deal.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Is Coming to PS VR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is going to be available on VR
  • Sony showed a gameplay trailer for this game
  • Bethesda continues to bring Skyrim to more platforms

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim continues to be the juggernaut that propels Bethesda across platforms. After its announcement on the Nintendo Switch, the massively successful game was announced for Sony PlayStation VR at Sony’s E3 2017 event.

The VR footage showed the protagonist wielding a bow and arrow and taking on dragons, which is a big part of the game’s quests. The environment is quite immersive in VR and the game appears to play quite differently as well. At the moment it isn’t clear if the game is getting any extra content for VR aside from the full game along with official add-ons in Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn.The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Is Coming to PS VR

We did not see a release date for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Sony PlayStation VR, but since it’s an old game we can safely expect it to make it sometime soon. Bethesda has been aggressively porting Skyrim to as many platforms as possible.

This move may irk fans of The Elder Scrolls series as they’ve been waiting for a new game in the franchise, but their wait will last a while longer. This year’s E3 showed that at the moment Bethesda wants to take Skyrim to more platforms, so perhaps the next game in the series is further down the road.

If you’re not sure what Skyrim is all about, it’s a role-playing game that was extremely popular for letting you do insane things. Taking down dragons with your bare hands was just one of these things, apart from taking arrows to the knees.

Age of Empires: Definitive Edition With 4K Support Coming This Year, Beta Signups Open

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Interested players can join the beta for the game
  • All civilisations from original game will be available in new entry
  • The game features both single player and multiplayer modes

In terms of visual fidelity, video games might have taken giant leaps in last two decades but very few games can match the nostalgia of playing Age of Empires on old-school computers back in the day. Seems like this nostalgia will soon be getting a resolution fix as at E3 2017 in the US on Monday, Microsoft announced during PC Gaming Show that the remastered version of the game – called Age of Empires: Definitive Edition – will be coming to Windows 10 PCs later this year in UHD.

Age of Empires: Definitive Edition will allow users to play the real-time strategy game from Microsoft Studios in up to 4K resolution and will feature upgraded art assets and a brand-new narrative. The remastered version of the game will feature hundreds of new as well as rebuilt sound effects.

Age of Empires: Definitive Edition With 4K Support Coming This Year, Beta Signups Open

In terms of game modes, Age of Empires: Definitive Edition will come with both single player and multiplayer modes. Additionally, there will be a classic mode that will provide users with the gameplay from the original series. Gamers will be able to play all the civilisations from the original Age of Empires and the Rise of Rome expansion as well, as per a post by game developer Forgotten Empires.

The game will be coming later this year but those who are interested can join the beta via the Age of Empires: Definitive Edition official website. Interestingly, Microsoft mentioned that this announcement is just a start and it will be rolling over to company’s Gamescom event, where some more information will be shared regarding the franchise. In all likelihood, this can be considered as a tease for the next entry in the game series.