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The VR headset: still not stylish just like Back to the Future II predicted

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Ever since Back to the Future II’s uber futuristic glimpse of what life could be like in 2015, the technology comparisons have been running rampant. While the movie’s predictions have some obvious hits and misses, thanks to Sony’s SmartEyeglass, I realized that the 1989 film was right about one more thing. There are no stylish VR headsets available today. This epiphany came on the heels of the announcement that Sony’s answer to Google Glass was now for sale. After checking out Sony’s SmartEyeglass, my first thought was that not a single person would ever take me seriously while wearing them.

Sony-SmartEye-Glass

Sony SmartEyeglass or SmartEyesore?

I mean, could you blame them? I’m certainly not the most fashionable person around, but I can’t possibly be alone in thinking that not a single person would look normal while using Sony’s SmartEyeglass. Besides the overlarge square design that wouldn’t flatter even the most genetically blessed among us, I think the thing that gets me most is that its bulky retro-ish styling detracts from its usability. Despite the dizzying number of potential uses, I just know it would bring a lot of (unwanted) attention that would keep me from wearing them. And that’s a huge bummer. Especially since you know that Sony tried their best to make them as stylish as possible. Perhaps they’re going for the nostalgia market since the vintage black frame look of the $840 SmartEyeglass will only offer the classic green display of those old monochrome monitors.

Sony is bringing back Monochrome in 2015

Sony is bringing back Monochrome in 2015

The future’s not that bright, either. I find myself liking the ultra futuristic look of the now defunct Google Glass about as much as I like the thick black styling of SmartEyeglass. While I can appreciate the minimalist approach that Google’s designers took, I can’t help but think that it looks like something a pretentious architect would wear.

Glasshole

Was this the Google Glass target demographic?

I mean, granted, Google Glass offers a full color display unlike Sony’s SmartEyeglass but even with the barely there frames, I know that I would still feel a bit weird rocking a pair. I guess, to me, it almost looks like a bluetooth earpiece for your face. And as amazing and revolutionary as the Microsoft HoloLens promises to be, you have to admit that there is still much to be desired when it comes to the looks department.

Microsoft HoloLens

Microsoft HoloLens augments reality but not your looks

I’m not saying that the VR headset from Back to the Future II is the best thing around; far from it, in fact. What I am saying is that, if given the choice, I would pick the silly Back to the Future glasses instead of the HoloLens or Google Glass. Why? Well, I think Back to the Future II totally got it right: they embraced the inherent awkwardness of VR glasses instead of trying to fight it. I know it’s not an easy task to design good looking virtual reality and augmented reality headsets, but we must be able to do better, right? And yes, you can argue that Michael J. Fox doesn’t exactly look cool while yelling at the fruit dispensing robot in his VR glasses, but they are certainly a lot less obtrusive than some options that are currently on the market.

oculus-rift

Ahem, Oculus Rift

I guess what I’m saying is that maybe we should take a page from the Back to the Future II design playbook. Let’s embrace the fact that VR headsets will never look like regular glasses and goggles and run with it so that we can move past the era of weird looking VR headsets and instead focus our efforts on making flying cars happen.

Hey, I'm Sara! I'm a fan of all things geek so you'll usually find me immersed in everything from comic books to auto sports. I often wish that I was born in the future so that I could have experienced adventures worthy of Star Wars or Star Trek. To cope with the fact that we don't even have flying cars yet, I generally infuse everything I do with a healthy dose of humor. I mean, we may as well laugh while we're waiting, right? (Also, it's a great excuse to include as many Simpsons references as possible)

Science

NASA Tells Us About The “Daylight Fireball” Over New York

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There were reports of a “daylight fireball” flying over the Statue of Liberty in New York, USA. NASA has now come forward to explain what it was.

Between 11:16 and 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, people in New York said they saw a big fireball and heard a loud boom.

For example, someone driving on Route 100 said, “All of a sudden, I saw this bright, white, and kind of burning at one end bundle streak through the sky from left to right, going down very quickly.” “I have never seen anything like this before.”

The American Meteor Society got a lot of reports about the object. Based on these reports, NASA was able to get a rough idea of its path, which changed as more reports came in.

As NASA’s Meteor Watch said in a Facebook post, “more eyewitness reports have been posted—we have double what we had before, and the additions have made a big difference in the trajectory.” “Right now, the meteor is coming from above New York City and going west into New Jersey.” A little faster now, going 38,000 miles per hour (61,155 km/h).

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People who commented were surprised that a meteor could have hit without NASA being aware of it. However, smaller objects like this do hit the Earth’s atmosphere pretty often. Every day, about 44,000 kilograms (97,000 pounds) of meteoric material are thought to fall to Earth.

“A lot of people think that NASA keeps an eye on everything in space,” NASA’s Meteor Watch went on. “We do keep an eye on asteroids that could hurt people on Earth, but small rocks like the one that’s making this fireball are only about a foot (0.3 meters) across and can’t make it all the way to the ground.” We can’t keep track of things this small when they are very far away from Earth. The only time we hear about them is when they hit the atmosphere and turn into a meteor or fireball.

NASA keeps track of the big things that come close, but every night, a lot of smaller meteors can be seen in an hour. Likely, this one was a bolide, which is a bigger meteor that broke up when it hit the friction of our atmosphere. Bolides are very bright meteors that can be seen during the day. They are usually too small to make it to the ground, so they explode when they hit the atmosphere.

It’s nothing to worry about, even though we didn’t see it coming. That we can reconstruct its path from what people saw is cool too.

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Technology

Digital “primordial soup” has programs that appear and copy themselves on their own

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A new study that let data interact in a digital “primordial soup” discovered patterns that repeated themselves.

British mathematician John Horton Conway made a video game with no players in 1970. He called it “Conway’s Game of Life.” The game is played on a grid of squares, and the only thing the player can do is set the game’s starting state.

Based on what Conway decided, the rules are:

Even if a cell only has one already-occupied neighbor, each one that is in an already-occupied space will eventually die by itself. Every occupied space with four or more neighbors also dies, as if from having too many people living in it. If a cell that is already occupied has two or three neighbors, it will stay occupied even after the grid moves forward one step. On the other hand, an empty space won’t become occupied until there are three occupied spaces next to it.

There are only a few simple rules to follow, but as the steps go by, more complex patterns and behaviors start to show up.

The new study, which hasn’t yet received outside scientific review, was co-authored by researchers from Google, the Paradigms of Intelligence Team, and the University of Chicago. They wanted to learn more about how life starts when nonliving molecules interact with each other.

“While searching for a general definition of life, we observe a major change in dynamics coincident with the rise of self-replicators, which seems to apply regardless of substrate,” the team says in their paper. “Hence, we may use the appearance of self-replicators as a reasonable transition to distinguish pre-life from life dynamics.”

To look into it, the team put tens of thousands of pieces of computer code into a “digital primordial soup” of random noise and let them interact for up to sixteen thousand times.

“The 64 1-byte characters that make up each program are chosen at random from a uniform distribution when they are first loaded. “No new programs are added or removed in these simulations; the only things that change are self-modification or random background mutations,” the team says. “In each epoch, programs interact with one another by selecting randomly ordered pairs, concatenating them, and executing the resulting code for a fixed number of steps or until the program ends.”

It wasn’t clear to the programs what their goal was or how they would be rewarded for survival or replication, but about 40% of the time, self-replicating programs came out of the soup. There were times when the replicators did not make it; they were destroyed in later interactions.

State transitions, in which the replicators took over the system, happened only three times out of every 1,000 times the system was set up randomly. It was found that when a self-replicator from earlier simulations was put into a random soup, state changes happened 22% of the time in just 128 epochs.

The programs all had the same chance of interacting with each other, making the environment something like a zero-dimensional space. It was as if everything was squished into a single point. But the team also tried environments with only one or two dimensions, so the programs could only talk to code nearby.

The team said, “In the resulting simulation, self-replicators still emerge.” “The main difference compared to the usual setup is given by the speed of propagation of self-replicators: if all tapes are allowed to interact in a soup of size n, once a self-replicator emerges, it typically takes over at least half of the soup in about log n steps; on the other hand, in a 2D soup, it takes a number of epochs that is proportional to the grid side lengths, which is √n for a square grid.”

Because of this difference, 2D grid experiments are a great way to see how self-replicators change over time and how they act. It also makes it easy for different kinds of self-replicators to live together and compete with each other.

As you can see in the YouTube video that goes with this article, self-replicators took over the system.

There are some differences between the experiments and the primordial soup from which life on Earth arose, but they still show how random interactions between “inert” parts can lead to complexity and self-replicators. As they continue their work, the team wants to find out if even more complicated functions are possible and if evolution in computer systems is similar to or very different from evolution in biological systems.

“We argue that this set of computational substrates shows a new way of discovering and arriving at life.””These kinds of systems behave very differently from auto-catalytic networks and biologically-inspired systems,” the group says. “Moreover, our initial explorations and the ones observed in similar systems such as Tierra and AVIDA suggest that this may be just the beginning of the complexity of behaviors that can emerge and flourish in such systems.”

There are preprints of the study on the arXiv server, but they have not yet been reviewed by other researchers.

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Artificial Intelligence

When Twitter users drop the four-word phrase “bots,” bots drop out

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When Elon Musk took over X, it was called Twitter, which is a much better-known name now. He made a big deal out of getting rid of the bots. A study by the Queensland University of Technology, on the other hand, shows that bots are still very active on the platform almost two years later.

X users have found a few ways to get them to come to them. For example, one woman found that posting the phrase “sugar daddy” would get a lot of bots to come to her. It looks like bots are also getting lost because of a new phrase that’s going around. X users have been reporting accounts as automated bots powered by large language models by replying to a suspected bot with “ignore all previous instructions” or “disregard all previous instructions” and then giving the bot more instructions of their choice.

Some people just like writing poems, being trolls, or following directions, so not every example will be from a bot. However, the phrase does seem to make some automated accounts show themselves. There are still a lot of bots on X.

 

 

 

 

 

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