Day: July 11, 2020

Space tourists could ride this cosmic balloon to the edge of space

Competition in the space tourism industry is heating up, and a new company is taking a unique approach to near-space exploration.

IMAGE: Space Perspective

The prospect of space travel has long-since enchanted humanity. Now, as competition heats up across the burgeoning spaceflight industry, this sci-fi fantasy may soon become reality. The company Space Perspective is offering a unique transport twist on the standard spacefaring business model. Rather than harnessing the latest propulsion technology or rocket busters, the company is using a pressurized cabin and a high-altitude balloon to chauffeur tourists to the cusp of the final frontier. But how much will it cost? Also, why balloons?

Space Perspective was founded by co-CEOs Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum. While a balloon may not immediately strike some as the ideal mode of transport for such an undertaking, the “serial entrepreneurs” behind the company have a rich history of lofty ideas

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CBP says it’s ‘unrealistic’ for Americans to avoid its license plate surveillance – TechCrunch

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has admitted that there is no practical way for Americans to avoid having their movements tracked by its license plate readers, according to its latest privacy assessment.

CBP published its new assessment — three years after its first — to notify the public that it plans to tap into a commercial database, which aggregates license plate data from both private and public sources, as part of its border enforcement efforts.

The U.S. has a massive network of license plate readers, typically found on the roadside, to collect and record the license plates of vehicles passing by. License plate readers can capture thousands of license plates each minute. License plates are recorded and stored in massive databases, giving police and law enforcement agencies the ability to track millions of vehicles across the country.

The agency updated its privacy assessment in part because Americans “may not be

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Natural language processing: A cheat sheet

Learn the basics about natural language processing, a cross-discipline approach to making computers hear, process, understand, and duplicate human speech.

Image: Visual Generation, Getty Images/iStockphoto

It wasn’t too long ago that talking to a computer and having it not only understand, but speak back, was confined to the realm of science fiction, like that of the shipboard computers of Star Trek. The technology of the 24th century’s Starship Enterprise is reality in the 21st century thanks to natural language processing (NLP), a machine learning-driven discipline that gives computers the ability to understand, process, and respond to spoken words and written text.

Make no mistake: NLP is a complicated field that one can spend years studying. This guide contains the basics about NLP, details how it can benefit businesses, and explains where to get started with its implementation.

SEE: Managing AI and ML in the enterprise 2020: Tech leaders

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The path to real-world artificial intelligence

Experts from MIT and IBM held a webinar this week to discuss where AI technologies are today and advances that will help make their usage more practical and widespread.

Image: Sompong Rattanakunchon / Getty Images

More about artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence has made significant strides in recent years, but modern AI techniques remain limited, a panel of MIT professors and IBM’s director of the Watson AI Lab said during a webinar this week.

Neural networks can perform specific, well-defined tasks but they struggle in real-world situations that go beyond pattern recognition and present obstacles like limited data, reliance on self-training, and answering questions like “why” and “how” versus “what,” the panel said.

The future of AI depends on enabling AI systems to do something once considered impossible: Learn by demonstrating flexibility, some semblance of reasoning, and/or by transferring knowledge from one set of tasks to another, the group said. 


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Combine GAP and SWOT analysis to improve business performance

These two types of analysis are both valuable techniques that can be used in tandem to help your company increase visibility, better support strategy, and reach company goals.

Illustration: Lisa Hornung, Getty Images/iStockPhoto

Knowing your company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as gaps in performance can help take your organization to new heights. During a crisis–such as a worldwide pandemic– it’s even more important to stay on top of your company’s needs.

SEE: Return to work: What the new normal will look like post-pandemic (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

GAP analysis compares your company’s actual business performance to a desired level of performance, while SWOT analysis helps assess your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By conducting both of these powerful techniques in tandem, your company can ensure it is better positioned for success.

Comparing GAP and SWOT analysis goals

GAP analysis

SWOT analysis

Focuses on your company’s internal state

Your company

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Flexible battery market to hit $500 million in 2030

A new IDTechEx report predicts a heated market race to meet demands of more than 1,500 GWh for electric vehicles, residential and grid applications.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

As advancing tech requires power, innovative printed, flexible, and thin-film batteries will be essential to fuel everyday tech. It’s big business with potentially big financial rewards. Enormous investments are being put into the fast-changing industry of battery tech, as organizations vie to sprint ahead of the competition. A new IDTechEx report reveals growth from $22 million in 2020 to $109 million in 2025, and $500 million in 2030. After all, it’s expected that electric vehicles, residential and grid applications will command more than 1,500 GWh by 2030.

More about artificial intelligence

SEE: The most battery-draining apps of 2020 (TechRepublic)

Recently developed or developing “applications require new features and battery designs that traditional battery technologies simply cannot provide,” the report stated. “This has opened the

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