Sure, why not: China built a chatbot based on Xi Jinping

Chatting it up with a fake ScarJo not doing it for you? Why not try a conversation with the leader of China? There’s a new chatbot in town and it's based on Xi Jinping. As a matter of fact, it was trained using the ‘thoughts’ of the Chinese leader. I put thoughts in quotes because researchers didn’t use some kind of new mind-reading technology. Chinese officials just used a bunch of his books and papers for training purposes, according to a report by The Financial Times.

His political philosophy is collectively known as “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” or, simply, “Xi Jinping Thought.” This ideological doctrine has been created during his tenure as leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). With that in mind, the chatbot was trained on official literature that falls under that umbrella, including more than 12 books allegedly written by Xi Jinping himself. The training set also includes government regulations, policy documents, state media reports and other official publications.

A single document examined by The Financial Times used to train the chatbot contained over 86,000 mentions of Xi Jinping, with language that urges citizens to “ensure that in thought, politics, and action, we are always in high alignment with the Party Central Committee with General Secretary Xi Jinping at its core.” This chatbot must be really fun at parties.

The technology hasn’t rolled out to the general public yet. It’s being used at a research center under the purview of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), though it may eventually be released for wider use. The model can answer questions, create reports, summarize information and translate between Chinese and English. It’s a basic chatbot, though one that’s likely to disseminate Xi’s ideas on politics, economics and culture.

This move comes amid extensive efforts by Chinese officials to promote the philosophies of Xi and his authoritarian state. As previously mentioned, more than a dozen books are attributed to the leader and they typically take center stage at the country’s book fairs. Popular news apps from companies like Tencent and Netease reserve slots at the top of feeds for articles from official state media, and most of these posts feature Xi. Children as young as ten are required to study his political philosophy, so the chatbot could find a use there.

The major Western AI models aren't available in China, as the CAC mandates that generative AI providers “embody core socialist values” and that the output from any chatbot must not “contain any content that subverts state power.” So there’s no ChatGPT, Google Gemini or anything like that. Chinese companies like Baidu and Alibaba must ensure that their models strictly control generated content related to Xi or any sensitive issue.

This is a huge challenge for these companies, as most groups train their models with some English language data. This introduces the potential for responses that run afoul of the country’s speech regulations. To get around this, Chinese chatbots will typically restart the chat when asked about sensitive topics. The country is, however, leading the way in the “chatbots based on deceased relatives” department. With that in mind, Xi Jinping could very well espouse his philosophy from now until the end of time.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/sure-why-not-china-built-a-chatbot-based-on-xi-jinping-155828456.html?src=rss

Anker power banks are up to half off ahead of Memorial Day weekend

Many people will be traveling this Memorial Day weekend as the summer unofficially gets underway. It’s important to keep smartphone, tablet and laptop batteries topped up, but you can’t always rely on finding an outlet as you're on the move. So it’s always useful to have a power bank on hand. As luck would have it, Anker’s power banks are on sale for up to 50 percent off. The Anker MagGo Power Bank 10K, for instance, has dropped to $70. That's $20 off the usual price.

This is our pick for the best MagSafe power bank so if you have an iPhone 12 or later, it’s definitely worth considering. It's Qi2 certified, so it can wirelessly charge other supported devices as well, albeit at a slower rate than the 15W speed you'll get on a MagSafe-ready iPhone.

Anker claims the MagGo Power Bank can wirelessly charge an iPhone 15 from zero to 50 percent capacity in 44 minutes. With a 10,000mAh capacity, it can charge an iPhone 15 Pro up to 1.8 times over. It has a built-in stand, so you can prop up your phone to watch videos on a train or plane as it charges. There's also a smart display that'll show you the battery level and remaining usage time of the power bank.

Elsewhere, you can snap up the Anker Prime Power Bank for a record low of $125. That’s $55 less than the usual price. This model has a far larger capacity than the MagSafe offering at 27,650mAh — that's enough to charge a 13-inch, M2-powered MacBook Air 1.28 times or an iPhone 14 around 4.67 times, Anker says.

The power bank has fast charging support for multiple devices at the same time via its dual USB-C and single USB-A port array. Anker claims it can charge a 16-inch M2 Pro MacBook Pro to 50 percent in 28 minutes.

In addition, the Anker Magnetic Power Bank 5K is 50 percent off in this sale, having tumbled to $35. This has a smaller capacity of 5,000mAh (which is good for 0.8 full charges of an iPhone 13) and it doesn't have a screen like the other two models mentioned above. But it's a handy way to keep your phone's battery topped up while you're on the move. It has a built-in kickstand and you can recharge while using it via a USB-C cable.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/anker-power-banks-are-up-to-half-off-ahead-of-memorial-day-weekend-152054276.html?src=rss

Foldable game controller concept solves portability in a different way

Gaming on the go is quite popular these days, whether it’s on a mobile phone, a handheld device, or even a laptop temporarily parked at a cafe. While video games have traditionally been divided into PC and console camps, this latest trend has made many gamers reach for controllers or devices with built-in controllers, regardless of their platform of choice. Wireless game controllers have become quite numerous because of this, ranging from typical designs to telescopic mechanisms that stretch to grip smartphones or even tablets. Of course, these two aren’t the only designs possible for portable gamepads, and this concept tries to approach the problem from a different angle, one that takes a page out of one of the trendiest smartphone designs of late: foldable phones.

Designer: Przemysław Wolnicki

The basic problem with game controllers is their innate bulk. You can’t really shrink them without sacrificing comfort and ergonomics. This makes them less appealing to quickly stow in bags, much less pockets, as you dash out the door in the hopes of being able to play later on. Even those who prefer to game at home might find the permanent presence of a large chunk of plastic to be visually distracting and might look for ways to minimize their footprint when not in use.

Swift is a game controller design concept that adopts a folding mechanism to make the device more compact in transit. Despite the fact that foldables aren’t new, it’s curious that this design hasn’t been adapted for game controllers at all. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to such a design, but those can hardly be verified unless tested in the real world.

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This controller concept adopts the more symmetrical button arrangement of a PlayStation controller, which would make the folded form also more balanced when folded. One curious detail about the design is the ribbed surface covering the middle and back of the controller. It’s not clear whether the choice of material is simply aesthetic, but it will definitely have an effect on the texture of the controller, which in turn affects comfort and ergonomics.

While a foldable controller design is definitely interesting and curious, it also raises a few questions as well. While the design does halve the width of the device, it doubles its thickness in turn. There might also be some concerns about the wear and tear this mechanism will incur over time, especially given the wires that have to run through the middle to connect the two halves. Perhaps that is the reason why a foldable design hasn’t been adopted for controllers, but this concept at least tries to encourage pushing the boundaries instead of just adopting the status quo.

The post Foldable game controller concept solves portability in a different way first appeared on Yanko Design.

Marvel’s What If…? for Apple Vision Pro gets a trailer and release date

Earlier this month, Marvel and ILM Immersive announced that What If...? would be coming to the Apple Vision Pro in the form of an "immersive story" based on the Disney+ original. The original announcement didn't offer much in the way of detail but now we've got an official trailer and release date, with the title arriving on May 30.

The mixed reality game's trailer features the Watcher who needs help fighting "dangerous variants from across the Multiverse." Can you guess whose been chosen for this mission? That's right, you. Soon Wong appears and the Watcher tasks them with teaching you to cast spells and harness the Infinity Stones' power — which Wong reluctantly agrees to do. You will also meet game versions of Thanos, Hela, Red Guardian and more characters. 

Overall, What If...? should take you on quite a journey. "As they step into breathtaking environments, they will cross between mixed and virtual reality as they enter new and iconic MCU locations," ILM Immersive stated in a release. "Fans will use their hands and eyes to interact with the world around them, becoming immersed with stunning visuals and spatial audio, and work to save the fate of reality as they live out their narrative journey. Together, these groundbreaking features and more will remind them that time, space, and reality are more than a linear path."

What If...? will be available on Apple Vision Pro starting May 30 and you'll be able to grab it as a free app for a limited time. However, you will need to have dropped $3,500 for the device so it's still going to cross you a pretty penny to play. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/marvels-what-if-for-apple-vision-pro-gets-a-trailer-and-release-date-150008952.html?src=rss

Realme GT 6T Smartphone Unveiled

Realme GT 6T

The Realme GT 6T has arrived, bringing an impressive array of features designed to cater to both tech enthusiasts and everyday users. With a sleek design, powerful performance, and advanced camera capabilities, this smartphone is set to make a mark in the competitive mobile market. Let’s dive into the specifics that make the Realme GT […]

The post Realme GT 6T Smartphone Unveiled appeared first on Geeky Gadgets.

Tea maker lets you smell your tea while steeping and relaxing

Making and drinking tea is highly relaxing for a lot of people, even more than making coffee (at least, for some people). When you need to relax or destress, people tell you to drink tea rather than another kind of drink like caffeine and alcohol. Another way to destress is to light up your diffuser or scented candles. If you could combine the two plus add some other relaxing techniques, then you can come up with a pretty great nighttime relaxing routine.

Designers: 빈 허 (Heo Been), Jaewoo Jang, 이 지호 (Jiho Lee), 최 예은 (Choi Yea eun)

U Soo is a concept for a tea maker that can help you “relax and chill”. The difference with this compared to other tea makers is that you can also smell the tea as it steeps so you also get an aroma diffuser with the machine. The machine itself looks like a coffee maker or something that belongs in a laboratory. You see the whole process from the boiling of the water to the steeping of the tea to when it pours out to your cup. The transparency actually adds to the therapeutic feels of the machine.

The tea to be used in U Soo are dried leaves that are compressed into balls. They will “unfurl” once in the machine being steeped into the water. There is a cylinder like part in the machine with a tube inside where you put the water in and then it goes to the other side where the tea ball is dropped, unfurled, and steeped. The water then goes back onto the other side through a small tube and then dispensed to the cup that is in the middle.

There are of course controls on the machine to help you through all those processes. On paper, it’s a pretty interesting product. And for someone who is incorporating tea drinking into her routine, this is something that can definitely help me with that.

The post Tea maker lets you smell your tea while steeping and relaxing first appeared on Yanko Design.

Panasonic S9 hands-on: A powerful creator camera with a patented LUT simulation button

Panasonic’s mirrorless cameras have always been popular with pro video shooters, but to date the company hasn’t directly tackled a key segment: influencers. Today, it’s finally jumping in with the S9, a small and stylish full-frame camera with similar capabilities to Sony’s ZV-E1. The S9’s key feature is a dedicated LUT button and app that let you quickly select custom and preset video looks, much like you can with Fujifilm’s simulations.

With the same 24-megapixel sensor as Panasonic’s S5 II, the S9 supports up to 6.2K 30p video and comes with Panasonic’s latest phase-detect and AI-tracking autofocus. It also has advanced in-body stabilization that promises gimbal-like smoothness.

There are a few things missing, though, like a viewfinder and mechanical shutter. Finally, there’s the $1,500 price, which isn’t much less than the more-capable S5 II. So does Panasonic’s first camera for influencers deliver? I tested a pre-production version of the S9 in Japan to find out.

At 486 grams (17.1 ounces), the S9 is light for a full-frame camera and just three grams heavier than the ZV-E1. I’ll discuss Panasonic’s new 26mm f/8 lens soon, but with that, the whole system is small enough to slip into a bag and is actually a bit lighter than Fujifilm’s X100 VI.

The S9’s design is cute, but the polycarbonate body doesn’t feel nearly as premium as, say, Fuji’s X100 VI. It comes in a choice of red, blue, green and black in a faux leather covering. It’s not as pretty as Fujifilm’s offerings, but is more stylish than most Lumix cameras.

With that smooth design and no handle, though, it’s a bit hard to grip. This isn’t a problem when using lightweight lenses, but with larger ones like the Lumix 24-70mm f/2.8, the S9 could slip right out of your hand. Panasonic did give us a dedicated SmallRig grip that helps a lot, but that’s not included in the price.

The S9 has stripped-down controls compared to most Panasonic cameras. With no top rear dial or joystick, it's trickier to change settings than on larger models like the S5 II.

What it does have that we’ve never seen is a LUT button that Panasonic actually patented. Those letters stand for look-up table, and pressing the button brings up a choice of built-in or custom simulations.

Panasonic S9 mirrorless camera hands-on
Steve Dent for Engadget

The flip-around screen is great for vlogging, but the S9 lacks an electronic viewfinder, much like Sony’s ZV-E1. It has just a cold shoe on top, so it can't power flashes, microphones, a viewfinder or other accessories.

It’s also missing a headphone port, which is unfortunate for a camera dedicated to video. And while the Fujifilm X-T30 supports a headphone via the USB-C port, the S9 doesn’t have that option, nor does it support wireless sound. As for storage, the single SD card slot enables UHS-II speeds, but is located inconveniently next to the battery compartment

For a hybrid camera aimed at videographers, the S9 isn’t bad for stills. You can shoot at 9 RAW frames per second, and the buffer will hold up to 55 shots. The S9 doesn’t have a mechanical shutter, though, and distortion can be problematic with fast-moving subjects.

Continuous autofocus for photos works well, though it’s still behind Canon and Sony. The AI is good at locking onto human faces, bodies and eyes, and also works with animals, cars and motorcycles. It’s not a sports or wildlife camera by any means, but the majority of my photos were in focus.

Like the S5 II, the S9 shoots 14-bit RAW images in single-shot mode but drops to 12-bit RAW for burst shooting. As this was a pre-production camera without the final firmware, I was unable to test RAW quality, but I’d expect it to be in line with the Panasonic S5 II.

Photo quality otherwise is good from what I've seen so far, with realistic colors and skin tones. In low light, I wouldn’t go past about ISO 6400 as noise can get bad compared to cameras with similar sensors, like Nikon’s Z6 II.

Panasonic S9 mirrorless camera sample images
Steve Dent for Engadget

I liked the S9 as a street photography camera, as it’s discreet, silent and lightweight. However, the new $200 pancake lens that helps make it so light is manual focus only and has just one f/8 aperture setting which may turn off buyers. On top of that, with no electronics in the lens, the zoom window doesn’t pop up to aid focus. As such, you need to rely on the focus peaking assist.

As a video camera, the S9 is generally excellent, but has some pluses and minuses compared to the ZV-E1. On the positive side, the higher-resolution sensor allows for up to 6.2K 30p or supersampled 4K 30p video using the entire sensor width. It also supports full readout 3:2 capture that makes vertical video easier to shoot.

4K 60p requires an APS-C crop, and to get 120 fps video you need to drop down to 1080p. Like the S5 II, it supports a number of anamorphic formats with supported lenses.

Panasonic S9 mirrorless camera hands-on
Steve Dent for Engadget

The ZV-E1 has half the resolution, so video isn’t quite as sharp, but Sony’s camera can shoot 4K at up to 120 fps and rolling shutter isn’t nearly as bad.

One potential issue with this camera for creators is the limited continuous recording time, which is capped at just 10 minutes at 6.2K and 15 minutes at 4K. That’s due to the small size and lack of a fan, but you can start recording again immediately after it stops — so this would mainly affect event shooters needing to do long takes. We'll see if these recording times remain in the final firmware.

The S9 has excellent in-body stabilization, with up to 6.5 stops using supported lenses. Like the S5 II, it offers a boost mode that’s best for handheld shooting with limited movement, and an electronic mode with a 1.4x crop in the “high” setting.

Panasonic S9 hands-on: A powerful creator camera with a patented LUT simulation button
Steve Dent for Engadget

The latter can smooth out footsteps and other jolts well enough to replace a gimbal in a pinch. It does a better job than the ZV-E1 with abrupt movements, but the latter crops in slightly less at 1.3x.

Autofocus mostly keeps subjects sharp, but it can occasionally lag. The AI-powered face-tracking stays locked on a subject’s eyes and face, though sometimes the autofocus itself doesn’t keep up. However, these could be pre-production issues. 

With the same sensor as the S5 II, quality is very similar. Video is sharp and colors are realistic, with pleasing skin tones. It’s not quite as good in low light as other 24MP cameras like the Canon R6 II, with noise starting to become noticeable at ISO 6400. The ZV-E1, in comparison, can shoot clean video at ISO 12800 and even beyond.

Panasonic S9 mirrorless camera hands-on
Steve Dent for Engadget

I enjoy shooting Panasonic V-log video as it’s easy to adjust in post and offers excellent dynamic range. It’s one big reason Panasonic cameras are so popular with professional videographers, so it’s nice to see this on a less expensive model.

So what about the new LUT feature? To get the most out of it, you have to go into the new Lumix Lab app. Panasonic has a handful of presets to get you started, or you can load custom LUTs from a variety of creators. You can also make your own in an editing program like DaVinci Resolve.

Panasonic S9 mirrorless camera hands-on
Steve Dent for Engadget

Applying the LUT bakes the look into the video, which makes it hard to adjust it later on. However, you can shoot standard or V-Log footage and use the LUT as a preview, then apply that same look in post without being locked in.

The LUT button is a clever idea, as it allows creators to create cool shots without the need to futz around in post. However, many may not even be familiar with the term “LUT,” so Panasonic has an uphill battle selling the benefits. By comparison, many influencers understand the advantages of Fujifilm’s simulations.

Panasonic S9 mirrorless camera hands-on
Steve Dent for Engadget

With the S9, Panasonic is trying to attract influencers with a small, stylish camera that makes it easy to create interesting video looks quickly. At the same time, it has nearly all the capabilities of higher-end models like the S5 II.

It does have some flaws that make it a hard sell for photographers. And I’m concerned about the $1,500 price tag, as that’s just a bit less than the S5 II, which has an EVF, mechanical shutter, extra card slot, better ergonomics and more.

So far, it comes out well against the ZV-E1, though. I like the extra resolution and sharpness, and it has superior stabilization. It’s also cheaper, but only by about $300 at the moment. It looks like a good first try and I have a few quibbles, but I’ll know more once I’m able to test the production version.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/panasonic-s9-hands-on-a-powerful-creator-camera-with-a-patented-lut-simulation-button-140046910.html?src=rss

More Details on the iPhone 16 and 16 Pro Design

iPhone 16

The iPhone 16 and 16 Pro models are set to introduce several design changes and new features. These updates aim to enhance user experience, camera capabilities, and overall device performance. The video below from ZONEofTECH gives us some more details on the new iPhone 16 and 16 Pro smartphones. Key Design Changes The iPhone 16 […]

The post More Details on the iPhone 16 and 16 Pro Design appeared first on Geeky Gadgets.

Diet-friendly electric spoon enhances saltiness in food without actual salt

It’s almost too easy to take salt for granted these days given how common it is, but there was a time long ago when it was as valuable as gold. The role that salt and salty flavors play in our lives becomes all too apparent the moment we taste bland food, resulting in requesting for seasoning or, well, salt. Too much salt, however, put people’s health at risk, especially in cultures that lean towards very salty dishes. Replacing salt with healthier alternatives might just be a stopgap solution, so this innovative electric spoon simply tries to trick our tongues into tasting saltiness where there is barely any salt, allowing people to consume less salt without actual giving up their favorite flavor.

Designer: Kirin

Simple as it may look, our tongues are really complex systems of taste buds that may react different depending on their location and sensitivity to certain flavors. We’ve all been through science experiments related to the different areas of the tongue as well as how weak electrical currents, like those from a lemon, can affect our sense of taste. The latter is the principle behind this simple-looking electric salt spoon that aims to promote a healthier diet by reducing the amount of salt you need to use or consume just to get that salty flavor you love.

In a nutshell, the plastic and metal spoon passes a very weak electrical current on your tongue that tries to draw sodium ions that are normally dispersed and wasted, enhancing the salty flavor that would have otherwise been lost normally. This does mean that the salty flavor doesn’t just magically appear and there needs to still be some amount of salt in the dish for the magic to work. That said, the technology promises 1.5 times more saltiness, which mean you can use 1.5 times less salt to taste the same flavor. For a food culture like Japan that consumes 10g of salt daily, much higher than what the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends, that’s still a significant reduction.

The design of the spoon itself is pretty basic, and its large handle almost makes it look and feel like a child’s spoon. Operating the electric spoon is a simple matter of pressing a single button to turn it on and cycling through different electrical intensities. Amusingly, they recommend a proper way of holding the spoon and positioning your arm in order to maximize the effect of the weak current provided by a rechargeable lithium battery.

It might be a weird idea to be giving your tongue a tiny electrical shock to make food taste saltier, and the company behind the innovation promises it’s all within safe ranges. While it’s not going to make food magically taste better, the electric salt spoon offers a simpler, and somewhat more affordable way to enjoy low-salt diets without resorting to expensive salt alternatives.

The post Diet-friendly electric spoon enhances saltiness in food without actual salt first appeared on Yanko Design.

First Things to Do with Your new M2 iPad Air

M2 iPad Air

If you have bought the new M2 iPad Air, there are a number of things that you an do to get the most out of your new iPad. This powerful device is packed with features that can enhance your productivity, creativity, and entertainment. To ensure you get the most out of your iPad, it’s essential […]

The post First Things to Do with Your new M2 iPad Air appeared first on Geeky Gadgets.