MoviePass stops offering tickets for big movies amid outages

The decision may revolve around the cost of those tickets. MoviePass has to pay full price for each admission no matter how many screenings you attend, and that’s particularly expensive when subscribers flock to major movies. It paid for more than 1.15 million Infinity War tickets, as an example. This could easily steer moviegoers away from the service, but it could also dramatically reduce costs.

This is far from MoviePass’ only problem, for that matter. It’s still suffering from outages that included check-in problems on July 26th and July 28th. In fact, there’s an outage going on as we write this — subscribers (including helpful reader Jeff, who provided the photo below) have seen empty movie listing pages claiming there are “no [...]  read more

‘Octopath Traveler’ Collapses Under the Weight of Its Influences

I begin Octopath Traveler in snow. Soft-blurred whites cover the screen, surrounding the cobbled stone and churches of a sleepy winter village with a massive cathedral at its center. I am occupying the role of Ophilia, a priestess, the adoptive daughter of the church elder. It’s time to go on a dangerous pilgrimage, but the elder is on his deathbed, so I usurp the role of my sister, who was originally to go on the pilgrimage, and begin the rites so that my sister can stay here, with her father, until his end.

I begin anew in a citystate to the north, as a scholar with a penchant for detective work. Things are peaceful here, the restful sort of springtime. Except I’ve been framed, now, and a source of great knowledge is missing. So I embark on a quest to track down the missing tome and set right what has once been wronged.

I begin again in—Wait, haven’t we done this before? How many times is this game going to start?*

Octopath Traveler, a new [...]  read more

OpenAI’s Dactyl system improves the dexterity of robot hands

According to a blog post, the team has trained a human-like robot hand called the Shadow Dextrous Hand to manipulate real-world objects like a child’s block. It uses the same algorithms and code from its OpenAI Five project, which has been training DOTA 2 bots to play video games. The resulting hand-centric system is called Dactyl, and it has learned to manipulate the blocks using a training model called domain randomization. Three cameras watch the robot hand while a computer tracks the position of the fingertips in real time. This approach provides many different experiences rather than real-world repeating tasks, letting the team scale up faster than other models of training.

Further, the researchers noted that as they deployed their positioning system to real-world robot hands, the Dactyl system uses a human-like set of strategies to achieve the desired result, like moving specific block face to the top. These strategies weren’t taught to Dactyl, but rather emerged as [...]  read more

This Robot Hand Taught Itself How to Grab Stuff Like a Human

Elon Musk is kinda worried about AI. (“AI is a fundamental existential risk for human civilization and I don’t think people fully appreciate that,” as he put it in 2017.) So he helped found a research nonprofit, OpenAI, to help cut a path to “safe” artificial general intelligence, as opposed to machines that pop our civilization like a pimple. Yes, Musk’s very public fears may distract from other more real problems in AI. But OpenAI just took a big step toward robots that better integrate into our world by not, well, breaking everything they pick up.

OpenAI researchers have built a system in which a simulated robotic hand learns to manipulate a block through trial and error, then seamlessly transfers that knowledge to a robotic hand in the real world. Incredibly, the system ends up “inventing” characteristic grasps that humans already commonly use to handle objects. Not in a quest to pop us like pimples—to be clear.

Video by OpenAI

The researchers’ trick is a technique [...]  read more

Why we might miss out if tech moved any faster

Main image credit: AT&T

The tech industry never seems to take its foot off the gas. Where it used to take years for a product to be designed, tested, refined and released, we now have six-month or even shorter release cycles for smartphones, and the time between one major step forward and the next keeps shrinking.

The blog Wait, But Why sums it up pretty well in the graph below. But while we may instinctively feel like faster progress is a good thing, there’s a downside. When we near-instantly work out how to get from A to C, we miss out B – and sometimes B is something really good. In fact, a lot of the products we use every day just wouldn’t exist if progress moved faster. 

A graph showing the accelerating pace of human progress

So far so good – just don’t mention the robot uprising… Image credit: Wait But Why (Image: © Wait But Why)

Seeing is believing

Take glasses, for instance. 

Spectacles – vision-correcting eyeglasses, that is, not the camera-toting things Snapchat flog – have been around since antiquity, in one form or another. According to  [...]  read more