Happy holidays everyone! What a year 2019 has been. It seems as though there wasn’t a single day this year without major tech news (both positive and negative). We hope you’ve enjoyed following #TechAways as we’ve attempted to keep up with the changing currents.  

With the new European Commission (finally) in place, we’re curious to see what 2020 has in store for the EU, and especially the tech sector. And with the UK elections behind us, we’ll start taking your bets on if/when Brexit does actually happen. 

We’ll be back in January to bring you more interesting tech news for the new decade! 

-Cambre’s Tech Team 

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Tech Team

Generation Cyborg [Wired] 

If you could choose the next step in human evolution, what would you opt for? Forget about superhuman strength, that is so last season. Spanish teenager, Kai Landre’s idea of evolution is being able to sense our surrounding cosmic rays. Landre is planning on having a device implanted into his arm that converts rays into musical notes that are conveyed through the vibration of metal rods, adding a sixth sense. For him and other transhumanists, technology is perceived as a natural part of their evolution that will help them escape the constraints of humanity. If you’re excited about the idea of being the next Iron (Wo)Man, head over to the Cyborg bunker in Barcelona and it might just become a reality. 

When visiting Mars, don’t forget to bring your shovel. [Endgadget] 

NASA researchers have now created a specific map which shows potential ice locations on Mars. In some places, the ice is so close to the surface that someone could access it with a simple shovel. Scientists assume that there may even be water in liquid form beneath the polar caps. For future missions to Mars, the pre-located water spots will help humans survive as water is heavy to transport on space rockets – so it will be very convenient for Mars astronauts to already have some sources of water on their destination planet. What are we waiting for? Let’s go to Mars! 

White Island Volcano, sensors, & the unpredictability of nature [Wired]  

White Island is one of several volcanos in New Zealand that can produce sporadic steam-driven eruptions at any given time. However, precisely monitoring these types of eruptions can prove quite difficult. Even with warnings of increasing restlessness, the days and weeks leading up to the Monday eruption showed no indication of exactly what was to come. Scientists have tried to build models to predict this volatile type of eruption, but New Zealand’s government-owned company focused on geology and geophysics notes that an eruption of its size can occur with no immediate precursor signals.  Even in the age of high-tech sensors, we must realise that some forces of nature can still avoid prediction. 

Bert, Ernie, and AI [The Verge] 

AI breakthroughs depend on previous innovations. But there’s a trend in machine learning models that was recently discovered. Not only does the tech rely on prior breakthroughs, but so does the name of the new model. It all started with ELMo, created by the Allen Institute in 2017. Since then there have been new machine learning models named BERT, Grover, Big BIRD, Rosita, RoBERTa, KERMIT, and (two) ERNIEs. AI researchers tend to pay homage to the work and innovations created by other labs, and now they’re highlighting it through their choice of Muppet names. A fun reminder that new tech is reliant on the innovations that came before it.  

Lego sorting, just in time for Christmas [The Verge] 

So you got your friend’s kids Lego for Christmas. And then you start to feel guilty. All those tiny Lego pieces that will have to be picked up every night…probably by your friend (and not their kids). Don’t worry, there’s a robot for that! Daniel West has created the Universal Lego Sorting Machine which uses trained neural networks to sort Legos based on 3D images. So fear not parents – hopefully someday soon there will be robots in our homes sorting our toys for us.  

In case you haven’t had enough… 

Health Apps On Prescription [LinkedIn] 

AI R&D is booming, but general intelligence is still out of reach [The Verge] 

Facebook tells US, UK and Australia it won’t weaken chat encryption [Engadget] 

Watch this machine made out of Lego sort other Lego using AI [The Verge] 

Why the ‘Queen of Shitty Robots’ Renounced Her Crown [Wired] 

A decentralized Twitter would bring the company back to its past [The Verge]