Bytes: What’s new in tech
Samsung’s smartphone mulligan
“Samsung is ready to try again,” said Mike Murphy in Qz.com. The South Korean electronics giant last week unveiled its first new smartphones since last year’s recall of the explosion- prone Galaxy Note 7. The new Galaxy S8 and S8+ “have just about everything you’d expect” in a premium smartphone, including “powerful processors, 4GBs of memory, 64 GB of storage, large batteries, and beautiful high-definition screens.” The S8 and S8+ displays are 5.8 and 6.2 inches, respectively, making them both bigger than the 5.5- inch iPhone 7 Plus. The added screen real estate comes from the lack of a physical “home” button. The two phones are also the first to feature Bixby, Samsung’s new virtual assistant.
Elon Musk’s cyborg future
“Building a mass-market electric vehicle and colonizing Mars aren’t ambitious enough for Elon Musk,” said Rolfe Winkler in The Wall Street Journal. The billionaire tech mogul’s newest company hopes “to merge computers with human brains to help people keep up with machines.” Neuralink, which registered in California as a “medical research” company last July, is working on “neural lace” technology that involves implanting tiny electrodes in the brain to enhance cognitive function. Some day, the technology may even be used to “upload and download thoughts,” enabling humans to compete with artificial intelligence. The operational details are sketchy so far, but the company is said to be focusing its early efforts on treating brain disorders like epilepsy and depression. Simpler electrodes are already used in some Parkinson’s treatment.
Need cash? Try Facebook
Facebook is getting into personal fundraising, said Sarah Perez in TechCrunch.com. The social network has given users the ability to raise money for “personal crises and other campaigns,” taking a page from crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe. Users can launch personal fundraisers in six categories: education, medical, pet medical, crisis relief, personal emergencies, and funeral costs; more categories are in the works. To cut down on fraud, campaigns are subject to a 24-hour review process. Facebook will charge a 6.9 percent fee on every gift, which comes out of the recipient’s cut, plus a 30-cent fee to cover security and payment processing. “GoFundMe, by comparison, takes 7.9 percent, plus $0.30.” Facebook is also adding Donate buttons to live video broadcasts.