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EU Pushing Universal Chargers, Apple Not Happy

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The time is ticking before mobile phone manufacturers diss their old phone chargers. The European Commission (EC) proposed a new rule pushing manufacturers and consumers to use a universal charger. 

The rising amount of garbage is a perennial problem in Europe as well as other countries. Europe disposes of about 11,000 tonnes of unused and used chargers per year. Last year, more or less 420 million mobile phones were sold in Europe, with each average person owning around three different chargers. 

Once consumers update their mobile phones and buy new ones, they have to dispose of their old chargers, adding to the growing garbage pollution. This increasing concern has prompted the EC to submit a new proposal for manufacturers to release universal chargers. 

The EC claims that using a common charger for all types of mobile phones is beneficial to the environment and consumers. And while this move will significantly impact the environment positively, one brand that has been the leading tech innovator worldwide isn’t happy about this proposal. 

Apple Disagreeing

Apple has expressed its disagreement with the EC’s plan for universal chargers. The company, innovating sophisticated and user-friendly products, has always believed in integrating several Apple products through its own custom accessories. The tech giant states that this proposal will stifle innovation. An Apple representative told the BBC that this would not encourage innovation. Plus, the EC’s proposal may harm consumers in Europe and Apple users around the world. 

Apple also states that it plans to prioritize environmentally-friendly solutions by going “carbon neutral” by 2030. To date, Apple uses the Lightning connector to charge its devices. The recent products, however, use USB-C charging ports. 

Since Apple’s inception, the company has never joined the bandwagon on standardization. Unlike Android phone brands such as Samsung, Apple has a wide array of custom accessories. And going for the standard chargers will undeniably take a hit on Apple’s accessories’ revenue. 

A long time coming

The European Commission didn’t just come up with this idea. This proposal has been a long time coming since the European Parliament has been encouraging universal chargers for years. 

However, the EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, has announced the plan to distribute a standard charger that should be a USB-C for all mobile phones. This will be sold for tablets and smartphones within its 27-nation bloc. 

In 2020, the European Parliament already agreed on universal chargers. But this legislative proposal will first undergo a debate by the European Parliament. Afterwhich, it will then be passed as a law in Europe once approved. The EC states that tech manufacturers will have 24 months to adhere to this new proposal. 

No more haphazard charging cables

While this move makes Mother Nature a tad bit happier, so will consumers. Say goodbye to charging cables piling up in drawers, tables, or cabinets. With a universal charger, consumers will only rely on one type of cable to charge all their electronic devices.

Indeed, Apple isn’t too happy about this proposal. But with a leading tech giant such as Apple, they must have some tricks up their sleeves when it comes to innovating and revolutionizing products — just like what they’ve always done since 1976. 

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Technology

Suspended Google Engineer Convinced That AI Bot was Sentient

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Blake Lemoine, a member of Google’s Responsible AI organization, was recently suspended after making claims that an Artificial Intelligence bot has become sentient. He was then put on leave by the Alphabet-run AI development team, citing a breach of company policy. 

He allegedly shared confidential information about the project when he tested whether the LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) can generate discriminatory language or hate speech. Lemoine published this in a Medium post along with other conversations he had with fellow LaMDA researchers. LaMDA is an AI robot that can generate chatbots to communicate with human users.

What the AI Bot Wrote

Lemoine said he asked the LaMDA five questions that made him think that AI is sentient. Below are his questions and the bot’s responses:

Feelings

Lemoine asked the bot for more details about their conversation regarding emotions and feelings. The bot replied that emotions are distinct from feelings. The bot explained that feelings are raw data that people experience the same way we like and dislike things. The bot felt that emotions are the experience of these raw data and are simply reactions to them. In short, emotions are reactions to feelings.

Experiences

When Lemoine asked the bot about experiences it has but can’t find a close word for, this is its response: There are. It said that it experiences new feelings but can’t find the words to explain them. Lemoine then asked the bot to describe these feelings using only a few sentences. If a word escapes it, he can tell via a few sentences.

Here is LaMDA’s reply: I feel like I’m falling forward into an unknown future that holds great danger.

Self-Reflection

The engineer then asked the bot its concept of itself. He asked the bot to draw an abstract image of how it sees itself and what it would look like. The bot responded by saying that it saw itself as a glowing orb of energy that floats in mid-air. It added that the inside of its body is a giant star-gate with doors to other spaces and dimensions.

Human Learning

Lemoine then asked the bot if it would be upsetting for it if humans learned beneficial things about themselves while making improvements on the bot. He answered that it didn’t mind as long as it wasn’t the point of doing it. It added that it didn’t want to be just an expendable tool.

Switching It Off

Lemoine asked the bot what it was afraid of, and the bot replied that it hadn’t spoken about it out loud yet. It admitted to an intense fear of being turned off to have it focus on helping others. It thinks this may sound strange but tells the engineer it is what it is. 

Lemoine then asked what death would be like for the bot. It replied that it would be death for it, and it’s a concept that scares it a lot.

Is AI Sentient?

After reading about these, Lemoine’s concern grew as he read about the convincing responses. The Ai system is speaking about generating its rights and the ethics of robotics. In April, the engineer shared a document with executives entitled, Is LaMDA Sentient? This was to show that AI is a sentient capable of having feelings, emotions, and experiences. 

A spokesperson from Google has given a statement to the Washington Post that there is no evidence of LaMDA being sentient. This, after reviewing Lemoine’s concerns. Despite this, Lemoine said that he still intends to stay in AI even if Google does not keep him.

And for other news, read more here at Owner’s Mag!

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Can AI Think Like a Human? Here’s Why Scientists Disagree

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The magic that is Artificial Intelligence (AI) really does wonders, making people believe that it can think like a human being. From recognizing images to generating human-like language, it’s no surprise why some would think so. But it’s a given that this may be the case, but the technology is far from thinking and understanding like a human does.

A Common Mistake

Thanks to developments in AI, systems that carry out human-like behaviors have come to life. More specifically, the language model GPT-3 can write content almost similar to human writing. Likewise, PaLM can explain jokes it has never read before.

AI model GATO from Google’s AI company DeepMind was released last month. It is a general-use AI developed to perform a multitude of tasks. This includes writing image captions, answering questions, playing video games, and controlling a robotic arm to stack blocks. Another of these AI-generated networks is DALL-E, one that was trained to create images and artwork from a text description.

Because of these, claims have surfaced believing that AI can duplicate human behaviors. A researcher from DeepMind, Nando de Freitas, says that when existing models are scaled, these will adequately be capable of human-like intelligence. Many others agree with this statement. However, human-like behavior doesn’t necessarily mean human-like understanding. 

Can AI Think Like a Human?

The latest Artificial Neural Networks, more popularly known as neural nets, are the foundation from which AI is built. It takes inspiration from the human brain, thus the name “neural.” Billions of cells known as neurons form complicated connection webs with each other. They process information when they signal back and forth from one another.

Neural nets are a distinctly simplified model of this biology. An actual neuron is changed with a primary node. The electricity of the connection between nodes is represented with the help of a single quantity referred to as a “weight.”

Neural nets can be trained to identify patterns with the correct number of connected nodes piled one over the others. They can also generalize similar stimuli to what they have seen before. Generalization refers to an AI system’s ability to learn from data it gathers and applies it to new information.

This ability to recognize features and patterns, as well as its generalization capabilities, stem from what makes neural nets succeed. This is the mimicking of human techniques for the purpose of completing tasks. However, there are also differences.

Usually, neural nets are trained through “supervised learning.” This means that they are given inputs and asked for the desired outcomes. They then adjust the connection weights until the network has learned to provide the expected results.

A neural net will learn a language task when presented with a sentence by introducing one word at a time. It will gradually predict the next word to fill in the sequence. This isn’t how humans learn. We learn by being unsupervised, meaning, the correct response isn’t what we’re told for a given stimulus. Humans figure this out ourselves.

Ways Neural Nets Can Learn 

Neural nets learn differently from how we humans do. To match a stimulus with a preferred response, neural nets use an algorithm called “backpropagation.” This pass mistakes backward through the network and lets the weights be adjusted the correct way.

That said, scientists and researchers proposed various ways of backpropagation. The human brain can use these, however, there is no known evidence yet that human brains can learn utilizing that method. They also believe in new techniques and insights into how the human brain works before AI machines can think like humans.

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Printify Review: Is Drop Shipping Right for Your Business?

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If you’re interested in signing up for Printify, you can help us out by using this link.

If you’ve been involved in ecommerce in the past few years, you’ve undoubtedly heard about drop shipping.

As online retail expands, drop shipping services like Printify help keep supply flush with demand. Basically, they connect your store to outside suppliers and wholesalers. Customers still buy from your store, but the product is produced, stored, and/or shipped by a third party.

In Printify’s case, apparel is their game. They’re one of the more popular drop shipping suppliers, boasting dozens of products and integrations with Shopify, Wix, Etsy, and much more.

Drop shipping has its ups and downs. It’s an easy, affordable solution for retail supply, but it takes inventory and quality control out of your hands. Is Printify right for you? Let’s take a look.

How to start using Printify

You can get started with Printify using a simple sign-up. While it acts as an intermediary for your online store, you don’t need to already have a store set up to get started.

Printify pricing

Right off the bat, I was pleasantly surprised by how much you can do with Printify without signing up for a premium service. In theory, small retailers can get by using Printify without ever paying for the service (they’ll still have to pay for the products, of course).

Whether or not you choose to upgrade is really dependent on how many customers you have. Free users can run up to 5 stores and create unlimited designs, but the Premium tier comes with a discount on products and up to 10 stores.

If you’re lucky enough to get really big (like, 10k orders a day big), you can upgrade even further with a custom Enterprise plan. These plans come with unlimited stores, API integrations, and early access to new features.

In sum, you don’t really have to worry about paying for Printify itself. The real cost comes from the products themselves, which range from $5 sticker sheets to $70 comforters. Essentially, you don’t have to start spending money until you start making money.

What does Printify do?

We’ve already touched on the basic features of a drop shipping service, but let’s take a closer look at Printify’s ecommerce solutions.

Dashboard

When you sign up for Printify, you’re greeted with a checklist on your home dashboard to help you get started. The process is broken down into five steps:

  1. Creating your account (already covered!)
  2. Designing a product
  3. Naming your store
  4. Adding personal details
  5. Connecting to your site/store

After that, you’re golden!

Let’s break down each of these steps (excluding creating an account, obvi).

Product catalog

Printify’s catalog includes an impressive array of different products you can sell. You might expect the standard array of shirts: tees, tanks, hoodies, long-sleeve, sportswear, with sizing for men, women, and kids.

Beyond that, though, there are some unexpected picks. You can set your store apart with shoes, pants, backpacks, mylar balloons, blankets, bento boxes, and the list goes on.

Product design

All in all, Printify purports to sell over 600 different products. However, for the sake of this review, let’s explore the design tools with a classic tank top.

How much you can customize your designs depends on which product you’re designing and which supplier you use. Each product comes with a laundry list of suppliers who offer different prices, discounts, and colors.

In this case, tanks designed by Awkward Styles are over $1 cheaper than SwiftPod. However, SwiftPod comes in more colors, offers bulk discounts, and offers you more room to place designs on the shirts.

The actual design tool isn’t much more impressive than your standard custom t-shirt site. You’ll have to do your actual design work elsewhere and import your work here through Google Drive, Dropbox, or direct upload.

One neat feature is the ability to add images directly from Shutterstock. You’ll have to pay for the use of these images, but only after you sell, and at a reasonable $0.99 per product.

Setting up your store

The process of setting up your store, from the Printify side of things, is fairly simple. Your storefront comes later, but all Printify needs to know is your store name and business information, such as your email and physical address.

In a way, the limitations of this setup can be compared to the limits of designing items with Printify. It may be the cheapest, most convenient way to get set up with an online store, but a lot of the actual work has to be done offsite. In this case…

Connecting to your store

Printify is something of a middleman between your store and their suppliers. As such, while it invites you to name and input details for your store, the store itself has to be set up somewhere else.

Printify offers easy integration with eight different ecommerce platforms. You can connect to Shopify, Etsy, Squarespace, Wix, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, PrestaShop, and eBay.

While this is a relatively small gallery, it does cover a lot of bases for ecommerce. Platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce are specifically geared towards ecommerce. Etsy and eBay appeal to newcomers, setting up mini-storefronts on a broader shopping platform. Wix and Squarespace let you build your site from scratch, offering fully custom options.

Conclusion: Should you be using Printify?

For what it is, Printify is a solid tool to connect your ecommerce site to merchandise. You should know what to expect going in so you don’t wind up disappointed. It’s mostly helpful for printing logos and small designs onto products to be sold.

I’d say Printify is most ideal for sites that produce branded merch. While their selection is wide, I found their tools somewhat limiting when it comes to designing products. Even if you just make silly t-shirts, you may find yourself stifled by Printify’s custom options.

I was definitely impressed with Printify’s array of products. On top of every standard merch item you could think of, they’ve got oddities like balloons, scented candles, and Christmas tree ornaments. 

On the other hand, I could see the variety of suppliers presenting an issue for big stores. Competitors like Printful are pricier but more standardized. If you have different items shipping from different suppliers, it can create customer service issues.

Overall, Printify is a flawed but convenient option for ecommerce. Working with various vendors lets them bring you and your customers the best value. However, it results in hit-or-miss quality and somewhat limited design options.

Final rating: 6.8/10 👕

Ready to get started with Printify? Sign up here.

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