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LanceList - Issue #138

AI Beats StarCraft II Players; iPhone XR Selling; Whither Twitter Followers; The Shutdown


January 25 · Issue #138 · View online
Tech stories that matter, Gadget Quests, nerd pursuits, and other things you ought to know.

AI Beats StarCraft II Players; iPhone XR Selling; Whither Twitter Followers; The Shutdown

The Computer Wins. I’ve never played the sci-fi strategy game StarCraft II, and now, after artificial intelligence beat the best humans in the game a total of 10 times, I’m thinking I never will. After all, what’s the point of playing and mastering a computer game if you know AI can already beat you and everyone else in the universe? It was, by the way, Google’s DeepMind company that built the game-beating AI, Alpha Star. Previously, they built AlphaGo to beat the best human Go players in the world. This time, they fed the neural network replays of the best StarCraft II games and then the neural nets played against each other to learn some more. I just hope they never train these AIs on Monopoly, because then there’ll be nothing left for me to play.
Google's StarCraft-playing AI is crushing pro gamers - CNN
Apple’s Bright Spot. When I reviewed more affordable, yet remarkably feature-rich Apple iPhone XR, I told people Apple had a best-seller on its hands. Turns out, at least according to one study, I was right. Consumer Intelligence Research Partners says the iPhone XR was Apple’s best-selling phone last quarter, while the iPhone XS, its worst-selling model. Apple has already warned us that iPhone sales are not as strong as they expected, but they won’t be breaking out unit sales during the next earnings report. So, I guess we’ll be stuck relying on studies like these for the full story.
iPhone XR US sales beat iPhone XS, XS Max combined: the reasons behind it - SlashGear
Follow Me. I’ve spent more than a decade on Twitter and while I’ll concede the social media platform has its problems, it remains my favorite. So, when I noticed that Twitter was actively moving toward diminishing or removing Follower counts, I began a little investigation into why they’re there in the first place and what removing them would mean to Twitter and its millions of users
Should Twitter Get Rid of Follower Counts? – The Upgrade – Medium
See the show. MoviePass, the company that promised to let you watch as many movies in theaters as you wanted for $9.99 a month, then couldn’t actually deliver on that promise, and then imploded, is ready to try again. It’s back with a break-even, see-all-you-want model. Will it work? Personally, I wouldn’t count on it.
MoviePass Explores New Pricing as It Tries to Win Back Customers – Variety
The Shut Down. It’s now month two of the partial government shutdown and the effects are being felt everywhere, including the tech sector. The FCC isn’t certifying new phones, startups are stalled in their quests to go public, and government websites are now insecure. This is a full-scale mess and, even after it ends, the impact will be felt, in the tech sector at least, for months to come.
7 ways the U.S. government shutdown is impacting the tech sector
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