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The Morning After: Wednesday, May 17th 2017

What to expect from Google this week.
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Welcome to Wednesday. We're in peak developer conference season. Microsoft wrapped up last week, Apple is coming soon, and Google is, well, today! We'll be reporting live from the I/O keynote, which starts this afternoon. We also take a look at the origins of the sex robot.


Nexus Q 2?
Google I/O 2017 preview

This year's Google developer event kicks off today. We're expecting to learn more about the future of Android, Chrome and other projects. Follow along with our live blog of the keynote speech starting at 1 PM ET, and if you can't wait that long, get an early preview of what we're anticipating right here. Android O and Google Assistant are sure bets, while a "Fuschia" preview or the return of Google Glass (with a skydiving entrance) appear to be less likely.


Customers can get a Powerwall for $15 a month or a flat fee of $1,500.
US utility offers clients cheap Tesla batteries for grid backup

Vermont's Green Mountain Power (GMP) is not only installing Tesla's industrial Powerpacks on utility land, it's also subsidizing home Powerwall 2s for up to 2,000 customers. Rather than firing up polluting diesel generators, the utility can use them to provide electricity around the state. At night, when power usage is low, they're charged back up again. This is the first time a power utility has teamed up with Tesla to use its battery packs for extra grid power during peak usage times. GMP believes the Tesla batteries are not only less polluting than regular generators, but more economical too.


Even the aging MacBook Air could get a much-needed speed bump.
Apple reportedly announcing a slew of MacBook updates next month

Apple's annual developer conference hasn't had a big product reveal in a few years, but this year might be different. Bloomberg sources hear that Apple is planning to upgrade at least the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro line when WWDC kicks off in June. The Pros would get updated 7th-generation Core processors with little to no external changes, while the 12-inch system is only said to be getting a "faster Intel chip" The biggest news may be an update to the left-for-dead MacBook Air. There's no mention of a Retina Display or other more dramatic upgrades, however. The rumors point to a maintenance update, not an overhaul.


It integrates live TV channels and multiple input devices.
The first television with Amazon Fire TV built in is just fine

Sure, you can get a Fire TV stick with an Alexa remote and plug it into your existing television set to make it smart. But that setup can't pull in streams from all the devices you have connected, like your PlayStation, antenna and whatever else you have stuck in your HDMI ports. Nor can it integrate all those inputs seamlessly. If a central hub for all of your streaming content is important to you, and you have money just laying around, consider the new Element Fire TV Edition. It's the first television with Fire TV OS built in, and prices start at $449 for a 43-inch version.


Designed for people who want a TV that doesn't look like one.
Samsung's The Frame TV blends in with the art on your wall

In 2015, Samsung took a minimalist approach with its Serif TV, a 4K television designed to blend in with your furniture at home or office.It was all part of the company's efforts to make TVs look and feel less obtrusive, all without losing their main functionality: the whole "being a TV" part. Revealed in March, the Frame TV takes that subtlety to the extreme, looking like nothing more than a picture frame. The statement set will be available in 55- and 65-inch models when it starts shipping in early June, though Samsung hasn't said just how much it'll cost yet.


Think outside the box.
Computer Love: Blow-up dolls, vibrators and the sex robot's uninspired origins

Our latest episode of Computer Love covers the history of the vibrator and the inevitable march towards sex robots.


Humans need only virtually perform a task once for the 'bot to fully learn it.OpenAI's new system lets you train robots entirely in VR

OpenAI's "one-shot imitation learning", requires humans to demonstrate a task just once in VR for a robot to learn it. This training model is only a prototype, but teaching robots entirely in simulation could allow researchers to train them for complex tasks without needing physical elements at all. Researchers could safely and easily approximate extreme environments like arctic waters, areas soaked in nuclear radiation or even other planets.

But wait, there's more...

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