Talking to a controversial and artificial speaker

(Credit: Lance Ulanoff)

Hi, how are you?

This, my friends, is a journey to a place unlike any other, where the sounds you hear are eminently recognizable, but entirely manufactured through the wonder of artificial intelligence.

I never knew the globe-trotting gourmand Anthony Bourdain, but am well acquainted with his history, which is both exciting and terribly tragic. I understand this through information fed to my machine-learning engine. It may have helped inform my performance.

That performance is, as I’m sure you’ve heard, or at least read about, a precious few sentences spoken by me in Mr. …


One stunning drone air show made me believe in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics again

Drones fly to form an image of the Earth over the top of the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo: Wei Zheng/CHINASPORTS/VCG via Getty Images

I wasn’t feeling it. Normally, I’m an Olympics junkie. I consume the opening ceremonies, major competitions — and a lot of minor ones — and the Closing Ceremonies as if I was competing in some kind of Olympics Watching sport.

I try to medal in both Summer and Winter Olympics.

These vexed games were different. Delayed, damaged by COVID outbreaks, Tokyo’s mishandling of the epidemic and vaccinations, and sapped of the energy crowds bring to the ceremonies and competitions, they barely felt like The Games.

Still, when I woke up Friday morning (the Tokyo 2020 Olympics run from July 23…


As former Amazon CEO and current daring billionaire Jeff Bezos blasted off into space, people had questions.

Blue Origin New Shepard lifts off on its 12th mission on December 11, 2019. (Credit: Blue Origin)

We’re all talking about space again thanks to back-to-back, crewed, edge-of-space flights by two disparate space crafts.

Standing amid of group of people glued to a TV screen, I listened as they all commented on Blue Origin’s impending New Shepard launch on Tuesday.

“Why can’t we see inside?”

“Who’s flying?”

“Does the rocket take it to space and steer it back?”

“Would you go to space?”

Then silence as Bezos’ Liquid Hydrogen/Liquid Oxygen-powered, unfortunately shaped spaceship ignited and then smoothly lifted off the launch pad. The hush continued as the rocket with a capsule carrying Bezos, his brother Mark, Wally…


A fascinating new book paints a cautionary tale of Adam Neumann’s incredible rise and the dangers of the messianic leader

Jackal Pan/Visual China Group via Getty Images

I only visited one WeWork office, a co-working space at 33 Irving Pl, in New York City, in 2018. I was there to help judge a technology competition and wondered why this company was meeting in a WeWork office.

I’d heard of WeWork but knew little about it. The buzz around it and the company’s founder Adam Neumann didn’t synch up with what appeared to be a sub-leasing firm. …


Facebook’s brain gear is dead, but the research and possibilities continue

Photo by Josh Riemer on Unsplash

I do not need to post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or, really, any platform any more quickly than I already do. I don’t want or need a device that can read my thoughts because I’m not frustrated that sometimes I can think faster than I type or speak. Maybe I should just slow down.

So, no, I’m not sad that Facebook, more specifically its research-based Reality Labs, has decided to shift its focus from an optical-based, head-mounted thought-reading system to wrist-based neural interface devices and more intuitive AR/VR input.

When Facebook announced four years ago that it was working on…


I welcome the iPhone 12 battery hump

Apple iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max (Credit: Lance Ulanoff)

I’m obsessed with battery life, and I don’t think I’m alone. “ABC” or Always Be Charging” is a universal mantra.

On my iPhone 12 Pro, I’ve started switching to battery-saving mode well before noon. Not because I’m almost out of battery life, but I can’t stand to see the rapid slide of that black battery bar down past the halfway point if I don’t. A half-charged battery sends chills down my smartphone-loving spine. Never mind that it means I still have probably 4-to-6 hours (or more) of battery life. I go into a panic.

I still think the battery life…


21st-century technology would’ve made Fear Street: 1994 a vastly different film

Photo by Elti Meshau on Unsplash

The ax-wielding monster is just outside the double doors. While two of you brace against the blue enamel paint trying to hold back the vicious onslaught, a pair of high schoolers frantically flip through the two-inch-thick Yellow Pages, in search of one name. Once found, a call is made on the wall phone. No one answers and the call goes to an answering machine.

It’s a scene that could only happen in the pre-smartphone early 1990s of Netflix’s Fear Street: 1994. (Minor spoilers ahead.)

Horror movies set in the present have to account for our ready access to the internet…


Trump will not win his class action suit against Twitter, Facebook, and Google

Photo by Darren Halstead on Unsplash

Social Media is one of the 21st Century's greatest inventions. It’s also our biggest pain in the ass.

Providing myriad platforms where grumpy and irrational humans can unload their deepest fears, petty annoyances, angriest tirades, and most poorly thought-out arguments was never a wonderful idea. That it also provided a platform for underserved voices and a catalyst for ideas and movements that otherwise might have died a quiet death in the fertile, yet lonely mind of an activist is a happy accident.

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and YouTube’s Steve Chen (and Chard Hurley and Jawed Karim) didn't launch…


It’s taking a while for Tesla and Elon Musk to get FSB V9 Beta right and that’s fine with me

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

“Nothing has more degrees of freedom than reality.”

And nothing Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said in his long and illustrious entrepreneurial career more effectivity belies his worry that we might be living in a simulation.

A simulation is by definition the recreation of something real. If Elon Musk and Tesla are working on accounting for the billions of variables in real life to finally achieve fully autonomous driving, then he’s admitting that there is a reality and it’s overmatching the capabilities of his current artificial intelligence driving machine.

Musk made the admission this week as he was being dragged…


Love or hate him, Bezos, who steps down as Amazon CEO on July 5, has left his mark

Amazon’s departing founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in 2016 (Credit: Lance Ulanoff)

Was there ecommerce before Jeff Bezos and Amazon? Not by my recollection. I can still close my eyes and see that first simplistic site and Amazon logo.

Honestly, it didn’t look like much, and we all wondered if what they were doing — selling stuff through the untamed World Wide Web — was even legal. Our naive understanding of the 1995 Internet is that it was supposed to be a non-commercial platform for information exchange and discovery.

Bezos, a Princeton graduate with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, had a brain for what we then called “virtual commerce.” Unlike…

Lance Ulanoff

Tech expert, journalist, social media commentator, amateur cartoonist and robotics fan.

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