Category Archives: Technology and Society

The Webb Telescope

We had dinner with Leonard and Barbara David when we were in Colorado over the holidays. He told me that he’d been working on this piece about whether it’s too big to fail.

I’ve been concerned about the risk for years. I hope it works, but it’s not the approach I’d have taken. The next big telescope will be assembled in space, not launch origami.

Virtual Assistants

Why you’ll fire Siri and do the job yourself:

I spoke to ObEN co-founder and CEO Nikhil Jain this week. He told me ObEN’s technology generates a 3D, computer-generated representation of the user’s face with a single selfie.

ObEN also learns to copy your voice. Once it’s got your voice down, it can do things with your voice that you cannot — speak Chinese, for example, or sing.

That “personality” is based not only on how you speak, but on what you know as well. It’s even possible to add knowledge manually.

Hard to imagine anything going wrong with that.

America In Space

Keith Cowing is pessimistic.

I’m not. NASA isn’t able to lead, but America will continue to.

[Update a few minutes later]

Speaking of which…

Falcon Heavy On The Pad

Launch now NET Jnuary 15th, with static engine test on Saturday. That will be impressive by itself, even without a lift off. If it’s successful, chances of a successful launch go way up. I suspect the biggest uncertainty is plume interaction between the cores, and that will resolve it.