Brian Banmiller's blog

Artificial Intelligence

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Right now humans are a step ahead because we can think for ourselves, but machines might not be far behind.

“Artificial intelligence is exactly what the name implies. Developing computer systems that exhibit behaviors that we would call cognition if exhibited by human beings. In other words building machines that think.”

Paul Saffo is a technology forecaster and adjunct professor at Stanford University. He says there are two types of artificial intelligence; artificial general intelligence which might not even be possible and narrow intelligence.  read more »

Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia is working to bring in tourists and their vacation money by relaxing some rules.

The country of Saudi Arabia is planning to open a visa free travel destination along its northwestern red sea coast. Officials say to help people unfamiliar with the country's customs feel more comfortable it will waive conservative ideas such as the women's dress code and gender segregation.

Plans for the red sea project will include diving attractions, a nature reserve, luxury hotels, islands and lagoons. The country's public investment fund is providing the majority of the funds to develop the area with officials hoping to attract some big names in the hotel industry.  read more »

Evading Capture

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Trying to avoid paying back your debt? Become a different person.

Last month representatives from more than 300 Chinese cities promised to make more credit available to consumers. This is part of the country's effort to find more sources of economic growth and reduce dependence on industry and infrastructure heavy investments. Unfortunately the idea comes with a few setbacks.  read more »

The American Dream

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Here at home health care, retirement and vacation time are offered up as perks to lure in qualified people; but in other parts of the world they're a guaranteed benefit.

In the U.S. our typical work week is 40 hours Monday through Friday. In the Netherlands its four days and around 29 hours and in Denmark employees are clocking in about 33 hours a week. When it comes to starting a family America is one of just nine countries in the world that require no paid maternity leave.  read more »

Personal Cell Phone Use

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Can't seem to put down your smartphone? You might be wasting more than just time.

According to the staffing company OfficeTeam, the average employee spends about five hours a week on their phone doing non-work related things. This includes checking your personal email, online shopping and social media. For the study about 600 employees and senior office managers were questioned at companies with 20 or more employees.

Besides using their phones for email or social media employees say they spend about 42 minutes a day on other personal tasks. The study's authors say if these numbers were true for every full-time worker in the U.S. that would add up to more than $15 billion in lost productivity every week.  read more »

A Boost From Twitter

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Twitter is trying to boost its business, by boosting yours.

For Twitter users who were invited and who pay $99 a month, Twitter will automatically promote your tweets to the top of people's timelines that do not already follow you. The company says this will boost business for small companies and help them tap into a larger pool of potential advertisers. Right now it's being aimed at people and companies that may not have a strong advertising base or campaign and would prefer a service that does it automatically. Here's how it works.  read more »

Microchipped Employees

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A Wisconsin company is hoping to make day to day life simpler for its employers, by microchipping them.

Three square market says more than 50 employees are volunteering for a program that inserts a small chip underneath the skin between the thumb and forefinger. That chip allows them to open doors, log onto computers and buy snacks with a wave of their hand. This type of technology is already available in Europe but this is the first time it's being used here in the U.S.  read more »

The Clown Motel

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Looking for a good scare? How about a motel full of clowns with a couple of ghosts mixed in?

Twenty years ago Bob Perchetti opened the clown motel in a small Nevada town halfway between Las Vegas and Reno. Now it's on the market for $900,000 and available for anyone who doesn't mind being surrounded day and night by clowns. Bob says he has always been fond of clowns and began decorating the motel with them from his own family's collection. Over the years that collection grew and now everything from the sign outside to the lobby to each and every room is covered with clowns.

And here's the catch. They aren't coming down. Bob says as part of the deal whoever buys the property must keep the clowns intact. And that isn't the only selling point.  read more »

Fast Food Fashion

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Can't get enough of your favorite fast food? Try wearing it.

Thanks to a new partnership with Uber Eats, McDonald’s is now offering a delivery service at more than 3,500 locations around the country. Now along with your burger and fries customers can also get items that include an adult size big mac onesie and hamburger pillowcases.

Called the McDelivery Collections it's described as a selection of fun, fashion forward items you can use or wear whenever and wherever you order. Other items of attire up for grabs include french fry themed sweat suits and sandals and picnic blankets dotted with popular menu items. The fast food giant kicked off the new line by offering the items free to whoever ordered food from the delivery service for one day only and while supplies last.  read more »

Facial Expressions

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Disney wants to know if you like its movies; and it’s using your facial expressions to figure it out.

Earlier this week Disney announced that is experimenting with an artificial intelligence that tracks a person's emotional response to a movie. The company's research branch developed neural networks that can tell a person's reaction based on how their face moves. The tests were conducted in screenings of movies such as “Big Hero 6,” “The Jungle Book” and “Star Wars.”  read more »