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Code/red: Artificial Intelligence Freaks Stephen Hawking Out, Too

Plus, a Huawei exec slags Windows Phone, North Korea's bizarre comment on the Sony hack, and the best way to fry shrimp -- ever.


Stephen Hawking: Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

Elon Musk’s fear that reckless artificial intelligence research might someday turn humanity into a “biological boot loader for digital superintelligence” isn’t entirely unfounded. Just ask theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, another scary-smart guy who views AI as more existential threat than Kubrickian plot point. “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” Hawking told the BBC. “It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”

Wonder If This Additional Uber Raise Is for Opposition Research?

Uber’s brand awareness far exceeds the recent controversies that have befouled it. The ride-hailing company, which is looking to raise $1 billion in funding at a $40 billion valuation, has hired Goldman Sachs to raise additional money from the bank’s fattest of fat-cat clients. Evidently, the company’s aggressive business practices, consumer data issues, and talk of doing opposition research on reporters gets easier to ignore as its valuation increases.

Huawei Executive Happy to Say What Everyone’s Thinking About Windows Phone

Two Windows Phone handsets was all it took for Huawei to realize that Microsoft’s mobile OS wasn’t worth further time or effort. The company tabled plans for further Windows Phone devices back in August, saying it was having a hard time persuading consumers to buy them. And Windows Phone’s flagging performance in the smartphone market in the ensuing months clearly hasn’t done much to temper the company’s distaste for the OS. In an interview with the Seattle Times, Huawei head of international media affairs Joe Kelly said the company is unlikely to attempt another Windows Phone handset because there’s simply no good reason to do so. “We didn’t make any money in Windows Phone,” he said. “Nobody made any money in Windows Phone.”

North Korea Puts Pinky Finger Near Corner of Mouth in Sinister Fashion

North Korea may or may not be behind the devastating cyber attack last week at Sony Pictures Entertainment. This according to North Korea, which isn’t denying its involvement in the incident. Asked by the BBC if the North Korean government played a role in the attack, a senior North Korean diplomat said simply, “I kindly advise you to just wait and see.” A cryptic reply to a pointed question — hardly an indignant denial.

Echo Destined for Amazon’s Museum of Failed Devices

CNET’s David Carnoy on the Amazon Echo: “The bigger problem, though, is that the Echo is delivering on two basic missions — it’s a wireless music speaker and a virtual assistant — but it’s not differentiating itself on either one. You can buy better wireless speakers at this price, and the virtual assistant on your Apple, Google or Microsoft phone or tablet can probably ‘do’ just as much as Alexa can — for now, anyway.”

Tonight on Real Police Officers of Missouri …

Welcome news for those who support putting body cameras on cops, and for the companies that manufacture them. The Obama administration wants to set aside $263 million to fund the purchase of 50,000 on-body cameras for the nation’s police officers and the training needed to make good use of them. The proposal, which follows a grand jury’s decision last week not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, is intended to provide the sort of monitoring and oversight that would put police officers — and citizens in the communities they patrol — on their best behavior. Pro-Vision, Vievu and Taser, some of the largest players in the body-cam space, have their fingers crossed for this one.

Son of Quantum of Solace

Professor Stephen Hawking: “My ideal role would be a baddie in a James Bond film. I think the wheelchair and the computer voice would fit the part.”

Off Topic

Cooking detonation-velocity fried shrimp.

Thanks for reading. Send tips, comments, Off Topics and Cthukens to, @johnpaczkowski. Subscribe to the Code/red newsletter here.

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