Thursday, March 23, 2017

Save Money with Honey

       Honey is an extension to Chrome browsers that automatically applies coupons while shopping online. I actually came across this technology through a travel blogger who titled her article "This is how I afford luxury travel on a super low budget.” The blogger mentions that she uses Honey on clothing websites and Groupon. On a 14-day trip, originally costing $1,499, to Italy the price dropped $200. Some of the discounts are great and some are not as drastic, maybe a few dollars here or there, but if you are already buying the product it never hurts to save a dollar. 

    Honey is built on the idea of convenience. Finding the coupons and actually using coupons creates more annoyance than purchasing without the discount. Also, unless you happen to be on their email chain or follow their social media it is hard to come across the discounts. Receiving an email from the company or finding a deal on social media also creates a coincidence of wants. Meaning just because you found the coupon does not necessarily mean you are interested in the product. With Honey the work is done for you and if you are checking out, you were going to buy the product regardless of the discount. Saving money is just an added bonus. 
    The actual technology behind Honey is through analytics and coding software. With patterns and statistics Honey uses a model to search and find these discounts. The browser starts to work when you add things into a cart while you online shop. While it searches, it adds each code it finds, and when you checkout it adds the discount that saves you the most. Honey has a partnership with Amazon to help customers find the best deal. Not only will they find discounts but they will try to find the same product offered by a different vendor for less. 
    George Ruan is an engineer and one of the developers of Honey. During an interview he states, “Developing Chrome extensions is very easy. We wrote the frontend in JavaScript and CSS and published it to the Chrome store with a Google Developer account.” Ruan also mentions the browser extension only took three weeks to build.
    I also messaged Honey on Twitter to find out more about how they find these codes. “We get codes from our merchant partners as well as our regular users. We have relationships with some merchants that allow us to offer Honey-exclusive codes, but on stores where we don't have those exclusives, our user base and our own team of coupon sleuthers find those deals for ya.”
    Some are skeptical of using Honey because they think it is spyware. One article, published by TechRepublic, claims Honey is only activated when you add something into your cart during an e-commerce checkout; otherwise the program does not run. I downloaded the browser a little less than a month ago and no weird messages or pop-ups have occurred.  

Pick up hoops anyone?

Just when you thought technology has reached it’s peak and everything that idea has already been thought of, you are rudely mistaken. Two Sacramento grads, who happen to be twin brothers, have created a revolutionizing app that is pure genius; changing the world of pickup basketball forever. The app is called Hoop Maps, which can be found on the App Store. The app is a worldwide database for pickup basketball lovers. If you are ever looking for a pickup basketball game all you do is sign in to the app, and with location services the database will track nearby games for you, posted by other pickup basketball lovers. As a basketball player myself I feel this is pure genius, but at the same time so simple. It’s one of those things when you kick yourself and say “why didn’t I think of this”
As we are in the heat of March Madness, the app has gotten a fair amount of attention. I feel the app will do great; for the simple fact that there’s is great demand for something of it’s sort, while basketball and technology are certainly not showing signs of slowing down. Along with both brothers being rounded, having degrees in business and marketing respectively, with some technology education as well.
There isn’t much competition, in terms of a direct identifiable competitor, as no one has created an app as such before. However, there is a ton of indirect competition that takes a bit of insight to see. I feel this is detrimental to things such as organized men’s leagues, that do exactly what the app do, but a lot less conveniently and more expensively. They basically exist for to connect basketball lovers in respected areas to other players. With this app, it’s all done for you electronically, so I feel this has the potential to completely shut down organizers of this sort.
Is technology growing to be our best and biggest asset? I mean it literally has it’s hand in everything. From the way we shop, the way we eat, the way we travel, the way we meet people, and now even the way we play a pickup basketball game? Is technology becoming too big? Is it overtaking us? Is something like this helpful or hurtful in the long run? Yes, on the first layer this app is great because it’s convenient, it’s quick, it’s easy. I think this is great, it will be able to connect people who would else never be connected before this app, and they get to do something which is very personal and active, play basketball. This app will create great relationships.
Many argue against the overpowering role of technology as of late, but I will continue to be an advocate. All inadequate things will get push to the side, the diminishing role of humans in these trivial activities will shift our focus, to bigger and better and propel civilization even further. Cheers to the technology age!

The Emerging End to Moore’s Law

Back in 1965, Gordon Moore’s “10-year prediction that chip makers would squeeze roughly twice as many transistors into the same area of silicon every year” became one of the most well-known laws regarding the speed of microprocessors and transistor counts per circuit (Clark). Now, the law has transitioned into a two to two-and-a-half-year period, in which chips are likely to hold twice as many transistors as it did in the previous two or so years. The persistence of technological innovation has allowed for microprocessors to become more efficient, but this recent piece of news has declared otherwise. Christopher Mims’ recently wrote an article about “the transforming of specific software tasks into physical silicon chips,” which is taking over the “specialized computing” world (Mims). This new use of computing has an effect on Moore’s Law because as this new software is becoming more relevant, central computing units are reaching their physical limits and are struggling to keep the pace that Moore’s Law states.
This article, How Chip Designers Are Breaking Moore’s Law, connects well with our class, mostly because we are witnessing an integration of a new form of computing. Specialized computing is taking over all sorts of important applications, which is taking away from CPUs and the pace of Moore’s Law. Applications such as “Artificial intelligence, image recognition, self-driving cars, virtual reality, bitcoin,” and many more are all designed through software that CPU’s can’t process at the same speed (Mims). The ending to Moore’s Law was always inevitable because a computer has to have a limit to its’ speed, and considering the high speed of computers today, the end is near. As Daniel Reed, chair of computational science and bioinformatics at the University of Iowa, stated, “It’s not like Moore’s Law is going to hit a brick wall-it’s going to kind of sputter to an end” (Mims).
I think that this article speaks wonders to how far civilization has come in regards to technological advancement. The development of the central processing units has inspired many to create sequenced processors that are so quick, while diminishing in size of the hardware. However, a new era of graphic and specialized computing is here and I believe it is our future.
Overall, this law was never based off a scientific specific hypothesis, but more of a prediction as to the relative price per transistor, was well as the increasing of components per chip. Personally, now that “specialized computing” software is incorporated into almost all technology, the price and components of a CPU don’t matter because microprocessors have become as small and fast as they can get. I think it’s silly that silicon-circuit designers (CPU designers) are trying to change the architecture to maintain the pace of Moore’s Law. As AI switched from CPUs to graphics processors the speed increased up to 100 times. (Mims) The circuit designers can continue changing the dimensions of silicon, but the demand for the new specialized computing is here.

Artificial Intelligence and the Legal System

The advancement of artificial intelligence is constantly impacting the jobs of Americans. The cause of this is usually because it is cheaper in the long run, more efficient and one robot or computer can do more than one human can. Now artificial intelligence is taking steps further into the legal system and the work force involved. In the past they have been used to help organize and identify legal documents. But now with artificial intelligence getting smarter and smarter it is making its way into all aspects of work. The advancement of this intelligence is also allowing data analytics to grow and that will now have a major impact as well once incorporated in the work place.

 This advancement has allowed companies like IBM to introduce robots who can answer legal questions and give analytic answers and other companies, like Premonition and Lex Machina who have used data analytics to create artificial intelligence capable of predicting the outcome of a court case before it’s even fought in the court room. The technology doesn’t end there. Companies have also developed artificial intelligence that can replace lawyers instead of aiding them. Chatbot lawyers are on the rise and they are just getting started. A chatbot called DoNotPay, developed by a British teenager, has helped to fight parking and traffic tickets in major cities like Seattle, London and New York. This type of intelligence is a plus because it saves people the trouble of representing themselves and losing while trying to fight parking tickets and it also isn’t limited to just one country. This type of artificial intelligence is good for smaller level legal activities that do not demand much time, research and educational background like parking tickets. These type of chatbots are beneficial in fighting more court cases and giving quick and affordable access to those who are at disadvantage which can help represent the underrepresented in the future.

            Overall I think that artificial intelligence and the legal system can have an exciting relationship, but it should be regulated, due to the importance of the legal system. Being able to predict the outcomes of court cases opens up a new betting pool which the article begins to hint at. If betting makes its way into the legal system, it can change the fairness and treatment of those involved which is why regulations are needed. I personally feel that if artificial intelligence wants to make an impact in the legal system, the focus should be on developing software that can find loopholes using historical data and ways to organize data to help lawyers and law firms. Being able to find loopholes will help lawyers in the court room and the organization of data will allow for cases to be fought in a timelier manner. A big reason artificial intelligence won’t make it into the court room is because human to human connection is vital in swaying the jury.  Artificial intelligence isn’t smart enough to connect with humans on an emotional connection yet.