On Shania Twain's 'Life's About to Get Good,' We Have No Choice But to Take Her Word for It

There’s something just so inherently delightful about the prospect of a brand-new Shania Twain single, from an upcoming brand-new Shania Twain album, in 2017. The last time Shania released an album, LeBron James had yet to even make his NBA debut, and after endless false-start rumors and reported delays, it was starting to look like she might not release another until well after he retired. It’s not an exaggeration to say there’s been no substitute for her barnstorming country-pop while she’s been gone, either: No star to appear in her wake has matched her effortless charm, her global ambition and her absolute sledgehammer hooks.

This is all to say that “Life’s About to Get Good,” released Thursday (June 15) as the first taste from Now, due in September, didn’t have to actually be all that good to still be a welcome presence in our lives, especially going into the warm-weather months. Luckily, it is anyway; a rollicking anthem of folk-pop perseverance with a gently throbbing pulse, a sing-along-by-song’s-end chorus and an inscrutable, almost quacking hook on the verses that sounds like it should be marking a Naked and Famous song. It’s marvelous, it’s irresistible — it’s Come on Over-worthy, which 20 years later is still pretty much the highest compliment you can give to a song of its ilk.

It is also — rather quietly — completely devastating. If you don’t know about the drama Twain has undergone in her personal life since she’s been gone, a quick summary: She separated from superproducer husband Robert “Mutt” Lange after nearly 15 years of marriage, with Lange alleged to have been having an affair with Twain’s best friend, Marie-Anne Thiébaud. Shania bounced back quickly, however, and within two years she was remarried — to Frédéric Thiébaud, former husband of Marie-Anne. It’s the kind of stuff that would’ve been deemed over-the-top even in a classic country song, and it’s unignorable context when considering the alternately heartbreaking and heart-filling lyrics of of “Life’s About to Get Good.”

Despite the song’s sunny sonic demeanor and Twain’s unwavering delivery throughout, the verses are a pretty big downer from the opening lines: “I wasn’t just broken, I was shattered/ I trusted you so much, you were all that mattered.” The second verse gets even more brutal: “The longer my tears fell, the wider the river/ It killed me that you’d give your life to be with her.” And then the absolute killer at second verse’s end, as the singer resolves to move on despite her wallowing instincts, declaring “It was time to forget you… for-e-ver.” The pause before the final word and way she extends it to emphasize all three syllables sounds like she’s still considering pulling it back at any second, and it’s spine-tingling just to hear her reach the end of it.

Shania Twain performs on the Toyota Mane Stage during day 2 of 2017 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 29, 2017 in Indio, Calif.

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Shania Twain Announces New Album ‘Now’: Listen to the First Single

But that’s where the chorus comes in, and thank heaven. The refrain is such an instantly familiar affirmation that it threatens to overwhelm the nuance of the preceding verses, as Twain rhapsodizes (with sturdy backing-vocal support), “Life’s about joy/ Life’s about pain/ It’s all about forgiving and the will to walk away.” She soldiers on with newfound determination: “I’m ready to be loved/ And love the way I should/ Life’s about, life’s about to get good.” It keeps the song from ever becoming a drag — Shania would never, not with a lead single — but has just enough lived-and-learned bruising to steer clear of being pat, either.

And when it comes to the chorus… she would know, wouldn’t she? It’s always dangerous to read too much real life directly into pop music, but with a story like Twain’s it’s pretty hard not to, and the music and delivery sells both the hurt and the healing with such crackling alacrity that it almost seems insulting not to assume she knows exactly from what she speaks. It’s exactly what fans would’ve asked for from a Shania comeback single, and it makes its title one of the year’s most gleeful self-fulfilling prophecies.

Best of CES 2017: The 6 Most Interesting Things We Saw at CES

HIGHLIGHTS

  • CES 2017 saw 3,800 exhibitors and nearly 200,000 visitors
  • Amazon, Qualcomm, and Nvidia had the biggest impacts
  • Multinational corporates and tiny startups shared space on the show floor

To say that CES is enormous would be an understatement. Officially, there are 3,800 exhibitors spread out over 2.6 million square feet of hotel and convention centre floorspace, but there are peripheral gatherings and an untold number of companies who park themselves nearby and compete for attention as well. In amongst the millions of products and ideas there are to be seen, finding something that could be called the ‘Best of CES 2017’ was difficult but not impossible. And indeed, we found a few products at CES 2017 that stood out for a variety of reasons – good, and not-so-good.

At CES 2017, there were fridges that take photos of their contents that you can check remotely, TVs so thin that they can stick to your walls with magnets, smartphones which let you see how clothes look on virtual models that appear right in front of you, and gaming laptops with three screens – all from some of the world’s biggest technology companies. There were also hundreds of startups and first-time exhibitors from different corners of the worlds at CES 2017, showing off ideas that could one day become just as mainstream.

Best of CES 2017: The 6 Most Interesting Things We Saw at CES

1. Amazon Alexa
Amazon itself wasn’t showing off products at CES 2017, but its work was evident thanks to partnerships with a variety of companies. LG kicked off the first press conference of the show with an Alexa-powered refrigerator and a pair of home robots which can order groceries, control smart appliances, and stream music from Amazon. Lenovo showed off its Smart Assistant, essentially a third-party Amazon Echo, Hyundai is demonstrating cars that use Alexa, and various startups are building products such as headphones using its framework. Natural-language voice assistants are the current big thing in tech, and Alexa is the only viable alternative to Google, giving companies every reason to tie it into their products and services.

2. Honda Riding Assist
A huge part of CES 2017 was dedicated to cars and bikes, which isn’t surprising considering the amount of tech that goes into automobiles these days. Even with the world’s top luxury brands in attendance, Honda stole the show with its Riding Assist concept, a bike that can stay upright without any support, compensate for manoeuvers that would topple ordinary bikes, and even drive itself when commanded to do so. This CES 2017 tech could one day make transportation safer and more accessible to a wide range of people.

ALSO SEECES 2017: Our Picks So Far From the World’s Biggest Tech Show

3. Nvidia GeForce Now
While Nvidia isn’t going to stop selling graphics processors anytime soon, the company has diversified into massive-scale number-crunching in a huge way. At a huge CES 2017 pre-show press conference, founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced that Nvidia has finally achieved a goal it has been working on for years: the ability to host games on its own powerful servers so that PC users without an expensive gaming machine can offload all the hard work and stream just the video output like they would a movie. Input lag and bandwidth requirements are the biggest hurdles, but pricing scales with the amount of power you need, so a lot of people who can’t afford a high-end PC could end up being very happy.

nvidia geforce now pc

4. Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Each year, Qualcomm announces a new flagship processor for smartphones and connected devices. The Snapdragon 835 was first announced over a month ago, but CES 2017 was the first time its capabilities were on display to the public. While no actual phones using the Snapdragon 835 were being displayed, reference units were running demos including extreme vibration reduction in video recording, positional audio detection and filtering, and live 3D video stitching with directional audio. This new chip will be built on a 10nm process, and is smaller and more efficient than the Snapdragon 820/821. Phones that use it will support advanced machine learning and VR/AR experiences, plus of course huge screens, high-resolution video capture, biometric security, and improved battery life.

5. HP Sprout Pro
The original HP Sprout and Sprout Pro started out as experiments in 2D and 3D interaction, and was aimed mainly at children. Now, HP is going after a different market altogether with the second-generation Sprout Pro, a slicker and more capable version of the same idea that was unveiled at CES 2017. The projected horizontal surface is now full-HD, and can be a full-fledged secondary display. You can draw directly into software using a stylus, which feels just like writing on paper. 3D scanning is simple and quick – all you have to do is hold objects beneath the scanner and turn them around till you see the resulting model on screen fill out. There’s a kiosk mode that will allow users to customise things they want to buy and see how they look before pulling the trigger.

vinci smart headphones ces ndtv vinci

6. Inspero Vinci Smart Headphones with AI
Finally, we have the Vinci Smart Headphones with AI, a product that snagged our attention at CES 2017 for all the right and wrong reasons and brought us immense joy. We are truly inspired by the sheer absurdity and audacity of it – we have no idea who would ever want to wear or use one of these things, but we love the fact that somebody not only thought of it, but went ahead and made it. Basically, you have the equivalent of an iPod touch physically jammed onto one side of a comically oversized headset. It can store music, work as a Bluetooth headset, or stream Web content over Wi-Fi or 3G with its own SIM card. Swipe gestures let you control playback with the device on your ear, and AI lets you generate playlists as well as interact with devices using – you guessed it – Alexa. Inspero set out to raise $50,000 on Kickstarter and ended up with nearly twenty times as much, so we’ll probably see these out in the wild, even if only as the ultimate self-referential hipster gag.

Overall, CES 2017 was fairly underwhelming, with no emerging product category like drones or wearables to get excited about, and no banner feature like 4K and 3D in years past. There was no sign of progress towards making IoT devices practical and desirable, which means that no company has found its footing even a year after CES 2016’s high-volume proclamations of it being the next billion-dollar industry. What this year’s edition did show us is that technology is making its way into even more aspects of our daily lives, and there are still a few companies bold enough to try new things.

 

Twitter Co-Founder: I'm Sorry if We Made Trump's Presidency Possible

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Twitter’s Evan Williams told NYT that he wants to repair Internet damage
  • It includes cyberbullies, fake news, live-streamed violence, etc.
  • He also apologised for the victory of Donald Trump as US President

If anyone knows how important Twitter is to Donald Trump, it’s the president.

“Without the tweets, I wouldn’t be here,” he told the Financial Times last month.

To which Twitter’s co-founder says: Sorry about that, world.

Evan Williams, who still sits on the company’s board of directors, recently told The New York Times that he wants to repair the damage he thinks Twitter and the broader Internet have wrought on society in the form of trolls, cyberbullies, live-streamed violence, fake news and – yes – Trump.

Twitter Co-Founder: I'm Sorry if We Made Trump's Presidency Possible

“I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place,” Williams told the Times. “I was wrong about that.”

“If it’s true that he wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Twitter, then yeah, I’m sorry,” he said.

Is it true? Hard to say.

Since Trump became president, his incessant, aggressive and sometimes inaccurate tweets have seemed as much a liability as a political boon. His aides held a social media “intervention” a few weeks ago, according to The Wall Street Journal, trying to convince Trump that unfounded accusations like “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ ” could endanger him politically and legally.

On the campaign trail, Trump once described his rapidly growing Twitter following not only as a means to get the truth out, but also as a way to get even with his enemies.

“Someone said I’m the Ernest Hemingway of 140 characters,” he told a crowd in South Carolina, air-typing into a pretend phone. “If someone says something badly about you: Bing, bing, bing! I say something really bad.”

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.