This is it, Our Tech Team’s first entry in what will hopefully be a long running blog on what’s going on in tech. And already, a question is raised, what’s actually going on? Everyone’s got a computer, a keyboard, a screen. Everyone restarts their PC once a week (!!), and everyone has a smartphone so they can manage their life on the go. Is any of this going to change in the next year or so? Almost definitely not. And yet, no good tech (like a bottle of wine) hits the big time without a few years under the belt. The original 2007 iPhone was a revolution, but as each year passed, the limits of what a smartphone can do have been constantly heightened, and Apple established themselves as a global giant as they refined their original design.
So, what does that mean for us? It means that although a revolution might not be around the corner, we’re never far away from something interesting, something promising, something inspiring. The Samsung Fold is the latest (and probably most expensive) gadget to hit the headlines recently, but the jury will be out for a little while on whether a folding phone is either inspired or idiotic. So, let’s take a little look at some of the other recent developments you may not have heard about…
AMD taking strides, taking a bite out of Intel’s apple
Chances are, you have an Intel processor in your computer, and for good reason. Intel’s range of i3, i5 and i7 processors have had close to zero competition in the marketspace, so regardless of whether you’re a graphics designer, a gamer or Instagram addict, an Intel processor was best for you. This monopoly extends even further, as companies such as Google and Amazon use Intel Xeon processors in their data centers. These silicon chips are powering your online and your working life in a very real way.
Well, maybe not for much longer. Enter AMD. In 2017, AMD announced Ryzen, a new brand of processors based on a new architecture. They had lost ground to Intel since 2011, so after an incredibly long Rocky montage, AMD were looking to take back what was theirs. Since that original announcement, Ryzen (alongside AMD’s Epyc server chips) has managed to pack power and affordability in a way that has left Intel’s new powerful but pricy i9 range in a tricky spot. In the tech world, second best isn’t good enough, and AMD stocks have surged as Google, Amazon and Twitter announce potential plans to switch their data centers over to AMD’s offering.
So, what does this mean for regular users? A few years ago, a quad core processor was the standard for a good computer. If you wanted to invest in a PC for work or play, 4 cores was the best you could get without breaking the bank. Post AMD, that number has now doubled, and for anyone willing to splash the cash, they will soon quadruple that before the end of the year. Your next computer will most likely be cheaper and more powerful thanks to AMD bringing competition back to a stale market.
Cryptocurrency? What’s up with that?
The Bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets are currently in a shock meltdown. Right now, 1 bitcoin is only worth £6792.23! I think a little context is needed here. On September 6th, a bitcoin was valued at £8392.55. There doesn’t appear to be a specific cause for the crash, however the market took a drop after something called Bakkt went live. Bakkt is an Intercontinental Exchange-backed bitcoin and crypto platform, and it has massive backers in the form of Microsoft and Starbucks, among others.
The platform was of massive interest to cryptocurrency traders and investors, in the hope that new heights could be achieved. Bitcoin hit a high of $20,000 towards the end of 2017, and although it has dropped since, there are many that would like to have a piece of the crypto pie should it explode again. When Bakkt went live, the response was fairly muted, which (in theory) is why the market crashed; everyone that invested with the goal of riding the boom realized it wasn’t happening, so the value plummeted.
For those of us that prefer to invest in something a little more tangible (a chicken & chips on occasion) this won’t mean that much. But before you tune out completely, consider this; cryptocurrency may one day take over the world. Forget the Pound Sterling, in 100 years we may be making transactions in Dogecoin.
The idea of cryptocurrency is something so massive that it could revolutionize the economy on a global scale. In 1976, Ronald Wayne sold his stake in Apple for $800. If he had stuck with Apple as its 3rd co-founder alongside Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, he would have been a literal billionaire. With cryptocurrency, it’s the exact same principle. Crypto traders and investors are looking to make the ultimate investment into the cryptocurrency that could end up replacing the coins in our pockets.
And by Skynet, I mean Artificial Intelligence. I dare you to suggest that if someone asked what AI meant to you, one of your first thoughts wouldn’t be Arnold Schwarzenegger. And to be honest, it’s not hard to see why. Every now and then a new story will hit the headlines that show how superior AI is to us petty mortals. “Computer beats chess champion of the world at his own game”. “AI beats professionals at six-player Texas Hold ‘Em poker”. “AI develops android assassins and sends them back in time”. Now I’m getting confused.
It’s difficult to pinpoint what AI is going to do for us, because when you think about it, the idea of AI is that it can be “taught” to do just about anything. Theoretically the sky is the limit (uh oh). But when you start asking what AI can do, you start asking incredibly difficult questions. Let’s say a programmer is teaching an AI to respond to certain situations (like parents to a child that doesn’t know better), how does that programmer know what reactions are “correct”? Can an imperfect group of humans create a “perfect” AI? And what does perfection even look like? These are the sorts of questions that can make your head hurt, so let’s look at something a little closer to earth.
Microsoft have invested a lot in AI and machine learning, and you may have already benefited from it. Windows 10 has changed massively since its release thanks to countless updates, however depending on your luck there can definitely be some side effects, ranging from small bugs to a catastrophic destruction of your OS if you’re especially unlucky. To counteract this, Microsoft is using it’s AI to identify exactly which systems will play nicely with updates, so the happy machines get more updates more frequently, and the unhappy ones wait a little longer until MS fixes the potential problems. A win win for everyone. Despite its infancy, it’s obvious that AI has unlimited potential. To learn more about Microsoft’s AI, news and events, please click here.
Technology is an always evolving field, consistently changing and developing. Only one thing appears to be certain, and that it’s only going to get bigger! I hope you enjoyed the read. We’ll be back with more in due course.
Signed, Connor B from OTT