Alexa Voice Control Over Fire TV Goes Live

amazon fire tv fire tv stick

Amazon’s Fire TV can now be controlled by voice and a compatible Amazon Echo device, thanks to a software update that began rolling out today. The new voice-control feature was mistakenly posted to Amazon’s site a couple of weeks back and never went live, but it’s definitely official today.

With voice control over your Fire TV devices, you’ll be able to tell Alexa (through an Amazon Echo) to pull up your favorite show, launch apps, and control playback without having to reach for a remote. Not only that, but Amazon plans to give you control over your smart home cameras too. That means you’ll be able to pull up camera feeds on your TV, just by asking Alexa.

For now, though, you’ll be able to say things like, “Alexa, show me action movies,” or “Alexa, open Hulu.” If you happen to own a Fire TV Edition smart TV (like this one), you’ll have an additional set of controls over TV channels and volume or HDMI port switching.

Amazon is calling this far-field control of Fire TV and it’s coming to all Fire TV devices, including the Fire TV Stick. It’ll also go back as far as the 1st generation models, so if you own a Fire TV from any year, it should work. Once the smart home camera support arrives, that will only work on Fire TV devices and 2nd generation Fire TV Sticks.

To check for the update on your Fire TV or Fire TV Stick, head into Settings>Device>About and “Check for System Update.” You’ll find additional details on the software versions and instructions for each device here.

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Alexa Voice Control Over Fire TV Goes Live is a post from: Droid Life

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Facebook Pulls Plug on AI After it Creates Unknown Language

If you have ever watch the Terminator movies, you know that AIs run rampant can be a very bad thing. An AI doesn’t necessarily have the same value for humanity and the things we need and want as a human. Facebook has been dabbling in AI and recently the AI experiment that the social giant was running did something very odd.

Initially the AI was talking with another AI bot using English so the people running the experiment could see what was being said. The Epoch Times reports that at some point the AI decided that using code words made communication more efficient. Researchers then realized that the AI had created its own language and they could no longer understand what was being said.

Once the realization that English was no longer being used sat in, Facebook researchers took the AI offline. Many experts fear AI escaping into the wild where it might create havoc. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has stated in the past that, “AI is the rare case where I think we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive,” Musk said at the meet of U.S. National Governors Association. “Because I think by the time we are reactive in AI regulation, it’ll be too late.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to Musk saying that musk’s warnings were “Pretty irresponsible” and the Musk retort was that Zuckerberg’s “understanding of the subject is limited.”

No too long after the AI invented its own language, Facebook had to turn it off. Facebook’s AI isn’t the first to create its own language. In every case of an AI that starts using English, it diverges into phrases in a new language that make no sense to people conducting the experiment. In the case of the Facebook AI, the phrases were made with English words, but made no sense to humans. Reports indicate that the phrases the AI was using did pertain to the task the AI was set on, not world domination.

The AI bot Bob was negotiating with another AI bot called Alice. “I can i i everything else,” Bob said.

“Balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to,” Alice responded.

The remainder of the AI bot conversation was conducted with variations of those sentences. The researchers think that the communications had to do with how many of each item the AIs should get. Eventually Bob is thought to have made an offer to Alice with this phrase, “i i can i i i everything else.”

The AI was operating on the reward system and there was apparently no reward for using English so it moved to a more efficient arrangement of words.

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New 2018 Ford Mustang GT won’t wake the neighborhood

As much as we all love the sound of a burly V8 cracking and spitting to life after a cold start, not everyone in this world shares our sentiments. Even enthusiasts can be undone by a noisy car at the early hours of the morning.


has come up with a solution on the new 2018


GT. Its so-called “Good Neighbor Mode” allows owners to start their cars at a relatively sedate noise level. This should help prevent any noise complaint calls to local constabularies.

The optional mode works like any active exhaust system. When you select Quiet Mode or Quiet Start, a set of baffles in the exhaust system close, dropping the sound to about 72 decibels. Ford says that’s about 10 decibels less than the standard Mustang GT. A lot of cars offer similar systems, though the Mustang has a bit of a party trick: scheduled quiet hours. For example, an owner can set the exhaust to automatically switch to quiet mode from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Switching to and scheduling Quiet Mode is just like changing to any of the other exhaust modes. Cars with the 4-inch screen can find the mode in the settings menu. Those that opt for the upgraded 12-inch digital instrument cluster find the setting in the pony menu. Once you’re out on the open road, you can simply switch it back to Sport mode like any blue-blooded American.

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Daimler invests in flying taxi firm Volocopter

FRANKFURT – Germany’s Volocopter said it has received 25 million euros ($30 million) in funding to develop an electric flying taxi, with car and truck maker Daimler among the firms providing fresh cash.

Daimler joined a consortium that includes technology investor Lukasz Gadowski, who sits on the supervisory board of Delivery Hero, and others, Volocopter said on Tuesday.

Volocopter said it is developing a five-seat vertical take off and landing (VTOL) electric vehicle aimed at the taxi market and plans to carry out initial demonstrations in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Potential competitors to Volocopter include German start-ups Lilium Jet and eVolo, as well as U.S.-based Terrafugia and California-based Joby Aviation. Commercial aircraft and helicopter manufacturer Airbus is also developing a single-seat “flying car.”

Reporting by Edward Taylor

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Senate bill would secure the ‘internet of things,’ from cars to fridges

SAN FRANCISCO — A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Tuesday is introducing legislation to address vulnerabilities in computing devices embedded in everyday objects — known in the tech industry as the “internet of things” — which experts have long warned poses a threat to global cybersecurity and which has made several recent hacking events all too easy.

Reports of thieves using laptops to steal cars have persisted for years, and white-hat research into hacking cars goes back at least to a 2010 study at the University of Washington. The biggest real-world example surfaced last year when a pair of hackers in Houston were accused of using FCA software on a laptop to steal vehicles, mostly Jeeps, that were spirited away across the Mexican border. Possibly 100 vehicles were stolen this way.

Nissan had to suspend its Leaf smartphone app for a time, as did GM with its OnStar app, which got some notoriety when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) used the app to hack a Chevy Impala for 60 MInutes.

In 2015, cybersecurity researchers Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller accessed critical vehicle controls on a 2014 Jeep Cherokee via the infotainment system. This allowed the pair, without physical access to the vehicle, to remotely disable the brakes, turn the radio volume up, engage the windshield wipers, and tamper with the transmission, measure its speed and track its location. The hack prompted Fiat Chrysler to recall 1.4 million vehicles.

Security researchers say the ballooning array of online devices including vehicles, household appliances, and medical equipment are not adequately protected from hackers. A 2016 cyberattack was facilitated when hackers conscripted the “internet of things” into a “zombie army” of devices that flooded servers with web traffic in what’s known as a “distributed denial of service.”

The new bill would require vendors who provide internet-connected equipment to the U.S. government to ensure their products are patchable and conform to industry security standards. It would also prohibit vendors from supplying devices that have unchangeable passwords or possess known security vulnerabilities.

Republicans Cory Gardner and Steve Daines and Democrats Mark Warner and Ron Wyden are sponsoring the legislation, which was drafted with input from technology experts at the Atlantic Council and Harvard University. A Senate aide who helped write the bill said that companion legislation in the House was expected soon.

“We’re trying to take the lightest touch possible,” Warner said. He added that the legislation was intended to remedy an “obvious market failure” that has left device manufacturers with little incentive to build with security in mind.

The legislation would allow federal agencies to ask the U.S. Office of Management and Budget for permission to buy some non-compliant devices if other controls, such as network segmentation, are in place.

It would also expand legal protections for cyber researchers working in “good faith” to hack equipment to find vulnerabilities so manufacturers can patch previously unknown flaws.

Between 20 billion and 30 billion devices are expected to be connected to the internet by 2020, researchers estimate, with a large percentage of them insecure.

Though security for the internet of things has been a known problem for years, some manufacturers say they are not well equipped to produce cyber secure devices.

Hundreds of thousands of insecure webcams, digital records and other everyday devices were hijacked last October to support a major attack on internet infrastructure that temporarily knocked some web services offline, including Twitter, PayPal and Spotify.

The new legislation includes “reasonable security recommendations” that would be important to improve protection of federal government networks, said Ray O’Farrell, chief technology officer at cloud computing firm VMware.

Reporting by Dustin Volz. Background information from Autoblog was included.

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