3 things direct from the future

Edition 95

Once every 2 weeks I will deliver “3 things direct from the future”. A 2 minute read that will always give you:

  • one thing that can help,
  • one thing to be wary of, and
  • one thing to amaze.

If this sounds interesting to you then please subscribe.


1. One thing that helps

Project Green Light

Long-time readers will know my gripes about things technology should have improved by now.  Traffic lights are at the top of that list. They have been the same, inefficient, annoying things for the last 50 years. Well, finally, we have progress!

Google has launched Project Green Light to reduce the need to stop and go at intersections. Pollution at intersections can be up to 29 times higher than on open roads because of the speed changes. To help reduce emissions, and get us moving quicker, Google allows city engineers to optimise the use of intersections and implement changes easily. They start by creating a model of the intersection’s structure which includes data on traffic lights’ cycle length, coordination, and sensor operation. This is combined with data on traffic trends for that intersection. An AI-based optimisation is then used to adjust traffic light timing to create waves of green lights.

Project Green Light has seen up to 30% reduction in stops and 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and it uses existing infrastructure with no additional hardware required. It seems an obvious improvement to make your commute more bearable and help the environment.


2. One to be wary of

AI Movies

The recent Hollywood actor/writer strike highlighted concerns about the use of AI in the creation of film and television. But what makes it an issue? Let’s take a look at Meta’s EMU video generator. EMU Video allows users to generate a short video clip using text prompts and the results are fascinating. The technology is amazing for sure but there are a lot of people in the creative arts who are rightly concerned about their jobs.

Putting the genie back in the AI-generated bottle is probably not going to happen. But we do need to protect the human-ness in the performing arts space. Key questions around licensing an actor’s likeness, and the use of AI to generate screenplays need to be answered.

Hopefully this new technology can be used to augment and advance the performing arts and not to replace humans entirely.


3. One to amaze

Haggle with AI

AI Garage Sale is a super fun way to get good deals. Go over to the site and you will be directed to a chatbot that will offer you an item that is actually for sale. Then the fun begins. It offers miscellaneous items from Tamagotchis to PS5s. It’s allowed to offer items at any price so if there’s a place to use your persuasive powers to secure a bargain, this is it! Here’s my transcript of me successfully haggling for some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle weapons.

Screenshot 7

Screenshot 8

Give it a go! It’s a blast.

PS – I didn’t buy the weapons 🙂

Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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