Brian Banmiller's blog

Artificial Education


It can be hard to pay attention in class, especially if your face gives you away.

A business school in Paris is about to start using artificial intelligence and facial recognition software to determine whether students are paying attention in two online classes. The software, called Nestor uses a student’s webcam to analyze eye movements and facial expressions to find out how closely they are watching the lecture. It then formulates quizzes based on the content covered during any perceived moment of inattentiveness.  read more »

Uncle Fat


Tourists in Thailand are getting a little too generous with the wildlife and it's affecting their waistlines.

Last month pictures started circulating on social media of a morbidly obese monkey posing with tourists and scooping up the food and soda they leave behind. Now the monkey, who has been nicknamed Uncle Fat, has been caught and is being placed on a strict diet of lean protein, fruits and vegetables.  read more »

Memorial Day Travel


It's Memorial Day weekend and if you're on the road, chances are you have a lot of company.

According to AAA almost 40% of Americans are planning to hit the roads, rails and skies this weekend as part of the official kickoff to summer. This year is the third in a row that more people have decided to take a vacation and the highest travel volume since 2005. AAA’s senior vice president for travel says higher confidence has led to more consumer spending and many people are choosing to use any extra money they have on travel for the three day weekend.  read more »

Artificial Service


The future is going high tech, so where might you find a little artificial intelligence?

Recently the International Business Times took a look at the hotel management industry and envisioned the jobs that could one day be taken over by robots. For example the check in area and reception desk.

Experts say there will be a time when you will drive through the gate of a hotel and AI will automatically know it’s you by connecting with your cell phone or facial recognition. From there you will be assigned to a room based on your preferences that you can check into using your phone as a key. The AI will also remember exactly how you like your room and have it all set up for you when you arrive.  read more »

Route Based Pricing


Uber is testing out a new way to pay; and it's all about the destination.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg Uber detailed a new pricing plan it has been testing in certain cities for the past few months. It’s called route based pricing and it charges passengers based on what Uber thinks they're willing to pay. And the details of your trip are what helps the company come up with the number to charge. For example, someone traveling from a wealthy neighborhood to another high end area will be charged more than someone heading to a poorer part of town even if demand, traffic and distance are the same.  read more »



Everyone needs a little help, even if they can't ask for it.

Tony La Russa is chief baseball analyst for the Arizona Diamondbacks and co-founder of the Animal Rescue Foundation.

“The story begins when I married Elaine and we had been married for a while and we had this incredible love and concern and compassion for animals. There were thousands upon thousands to millions being euthanized because you couldn't find a home and all the public facilities were overwrought and could only do so much.”

In 1990 La Russa was managing the Oakland A's when a stray cat ran out onto the field and hid in the dugout. The next day animal control said they would have to put the cat down because there was no money to shelter it.  read more »



Planning your summer trip? There are a few destinations that won't be rolling out the welcome mat.

While you might be excited for your next destination, the people that call that place home might not be happy to see you. Because despite the money you filter into the local economy, some tourist hot spots are happier staying off the map. So to help figure out where you won't be feeling very welcome MSN Lifestyle has a list of the eight places around the world that hate tourists the most.  read more »

Avocados and Home Sales


Young people are struggling to find a home, and a taste for avocado might be partly to blame.

It's no secret that the price of homes all over the country have skyrocketed. What you could have bought for $600,000 twenty years ago will get you a condo the size of a large walk in closet today. And the struggle is especially real for first time home buyers who last year made up only 32% of purchases; the lowest number since 1987.  read more »

Post College Paychecks


Graduation season is here and after years of hitting the books, it might be time to hit the road.

It's time to put your degree to work and for a lot of graduates that's going to mean packing up and moving away from your college town or the city your grew up. Experts say unless you have a great opportunity already lined up in your dream spot you need to go where the jobs are. And to help you find your way, the employment website Monster has compiled a list of the best and worst cities for job seekers based on the number of positions currently available.  read more »



Police officers might get a new tool to help investigate a crash scene; your cell phone.

Lawmakers in New York are considering legislation that would allow police officers to begin using a device that is being dubbed the breathalyzer for phones. It works by allowing police officers to determine whether any of the drivers involved in a crash had been texting, swiping or clicking anything on their phone at the time of impact.

Critics say this is a privacy issue because every fender bender will allow police officers to access your private information. They say this could be dangerous because a lot of people contain their whole lives on their phones. But the people behind the device say it's designed only to access usage and that a person's data will be safe and remain private.  read more »