Mark Pesce

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A Chinese laundry on the back streets of Shanghai

In the Pearl River Delta's electronics souks, AI lets the haggling happen

The electronics markets of Shenzhen are bewildering. These football-field-sized buildings seemingly sell almost anything, any bit of electronics – chip, component, connector – if you know where to look among the myriad stores in the ten-storey towers. To find find what you need in that riot of abundance you have to ask someone …
Mark Pesce, 25 Jul 2017
Money for nothing by dire straits

Good luck building a VR PC: Ethereum miners are buying all the GPUs

Last month, one of my friends noted he’d been having enormous trouble trying to buy the components to assemble a virtual-reality-ready PC. Motherboards, memory, CPUs and solid state drives were easy to find, but the one absolutely essential component - a beefy GPU to drive a head-mounted display at a vomit-preventing 90 Hz - he …
Mark Pesce, 10 Jul 2017
Tesla model S

Robots will enable a sustainable grey economy

My uncle Amadeo turns 79 this week and bought himself a luxe Model S Tesla as a present. Amadeo is an eminent scientist and avid student of the future, so the Tesla was an obvious choice because I suspect he recognises that he won’t always feel comfortable behind the wheel. So he opted for a vehicle that can already do some …
Mark Pesce, 29 Jun 2017
touched by the hand of electrical gods

Connectivity's value is almost erased by the costs it can impose

I spent the first half of my career coding and while I don't miss the day-in-day-out grind of coding, but do still enjoy the computer-as-infinite-toy. So from time to time I try to spend a few days with my head in the machine, playing, exploring and learning. Lately I've done that with Glitch, a browser-based programming …
Mark Pesce, 13 Jun 2017
Princess Leia hologram

PAH! Four decades of Star Wars: No lightsabers, no palm-sized video calls

Star Wars New Hope @ 40 When Lucasfilm recently unveiled its tribute reel to the late Carrie Fisher, one of the most memorable monologues in cinema sat right in its center. “General Kenobi. Years ago, you served my father in the Clone Wars... Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire...” Reading those words, we can see the …
Mark Pesce, 24 May 2017

Go ahead, stage a hackathon. But pray it doesn't work too well

OPINION Fidget spinners may be the biggest thing since the yo-yo, but they can’t hold a candle to the latest fad to sweep the business world: hackathons. As is the case with any fad, lots of people jump in overnight and some end up looking a bit ridiculous. Hackathons have their uses because they give people permission to solve …
Mark Pesce, 23 May 2017

Facebook is abusive. It's time to divorce it

Every relationship has its rough edges, places where actions scrape, and through constant repetition, rub raw. Those tender spots can heal if left alone and if the parties are wiling to listen. But where the irritation continues, this raw spot becomes a wound that never closes, forcing a choice between continuing pain and a …
Mark Pesce, 08 May 2017

TVs are now tablet computers without a touchscreen

A few weeks back I turned on my television to find out it had stopped receiving two of the free-to-air channels I watched most often. All of the other channels still resolved with perfect, digital clarity, so I couldn’t work out why these two channels - out of four in packaged in a multichannel broadcast signal - failed to …
Mark Pesce, 26 Apr 2017

Machine vs. machine battle has begun to de-fraud the internet of lies

A long-ago cartoon in The New Yorker put it plainly: "On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog." If that cartoon had been written today, the caption might have read, "On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a fraud." Scam artists, snake oil salesmen, sock puppets, bot armies and bullies - every time we look up, it seems as …
Mark Pesce, 10 Apr 2017
Laurent Allard OVH Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors

OVH-VMware deal skips Australia, will snuff vCloud Air's public bits

French cloud computing giant OVH will operate recently inhaled vCloud Air solely as a private and hybrid cloud, a change from VMware's practice of offering a roll-up-roll-up-bring-your-credit-card cloud. So said OVH vice-chair Laurent Allard today on a conference call shared with VMware's Hervé Basso, head of cloud and service …
Mark Pesce, 05 Apr 2017
Koala on a rocket

Trump's America looks like a lousy launchpad, so can you dig Darwin?

At some point over the last fortnight, watching the second launch countdown in as many weeks via YouTube livestream, it became clear the Second Space Age - as promised by Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson - had become entirely real. The promised land of cheap(er) commercial payload launches has come to pass. Even if …
Mark Pesce, 27 Mar 2017
Oracle New Gen Developers

Can you ethically suggest a woman pursue a career in tech?

Over the last few years we’ve watched parents, educators and mentors everywhere working hard to get women into science, technology engineering and maths careers. Those efforts are succeeding: the number of women going studying engineering at the tertiary level has begun to arc upward. This is a good thing. But we also know …
Mark Pesce, 13 Mar 2017

Autonomous cars are about to do to transport what the internet did to information

If a time machine could slingshot us back a quarter of a century to 1992, we’d visit a world in which print and broadcast media chugged along in rude health. Everyone read newspapers, and watched television because, well, what else could you do to stay informed? In 1992, only a few hundred people knew about the World Wide Web …
Mark Pesce, 27 Feb 2017
Money cloud

Kids these days will never understand the value of money

Where’s all the money gone? I don’t mean why it’s flowing out of your bank account in ever greater volumes. Actually, I do mean that, but in the most immediate, tangible way. Not very long ago, you knew what you spent because you could count the banknotes as you handed them over. Money was physical, tangible, and real. That’s …
Mark Pesce, 13 Feb 2017
Old man's hands typing on laptop

'Grey technology' should be the new black

My dad seems to have a propensity for breaking the all of the kit we’ve given him to allow us to have a trans-oceanic video chat pretty much any time either of us wants. Apple’s Facetime came along just around the time I moved to Australia. Skype had already been around for years. Between these two we’ve been able to keep our …
Mark Pesce, 31 Jan 2017
Sick bag from Intel's VR event

Too much landfill, too little purpose: CES 2017

In the nearly 25 years since last walking the showfloor at the Consumer Electronics Show, the video game industry spun off its own show - E3 - while once-dominant television manufacturers now find themselves consigned to an ever-shrinking footprint with the Las Vegas Convention Centre. The world has changed substantially over …
Mark Pesce, 10 Jan 2017
Homer Simpson wearing a Glass headset to bed

The future often starts as a toy, so don't shun toy VR this Christmas

An acquaintance recently asked if he should buy his child an expensive virtual reality system for Christmas, worried that it would be used for little more than gaming. I put his fears to rest, informing him that simply having an amazing device like that at hand - regardless of how it gets used - changes the way you think. We …
Mark Pesce, 28 Nov 2016
shark

The sharks of AI will attack expensive and scarce workers faster than they eat drivers

Although sixty years old, artificial intelligence remained mostly a curiosity until half a decade ago, when IBM’s Watson trounced the world’s best Jeopardy! players in a televised match. At the time, you might have thought nothing of that - what does a game show matter in the scheme of things? It didn’t stop there. IBM sent …
Mark Pesce, 14 Nov 2016
Burglar sits in kitchen with stolen tablet. Photo by Shutterstock

Good luck securing 'things' when users assume 'stuff just works'

At the end of April my home was broken into by a professional who silently and systematically looted my residence of all my portable wealth while I slept. In the morning, as I looked around for a phone to call the cops (there wasn’t one, so I had to Skype them from a desktop machine), I saw he’d used an entrance that offered …
Mark Pesce, 27 Oct 2016
Sony Morpheus prototype VR headset

Virtual reality is actually made of smartphones

The world didn’t pay much attention to the fifth anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death, back on the 5th of October. Perhaps that’s because we believe we’ve all moved on. But that’s less true than we believe, in both some very obvious and very non-obvious ways. First, the obvious: the smartphone is now undeniably the most …
Mark Pesce, 13 Oct 2016

Zombie Moore's Law shows hardware is eating software

After being pronounced dead this past February - in Nature, no less - Moore’s Law seems to be having a very weird afterlife. Within the space of the last thirty days we've seen: Intel announce some next-generation CPUs that aren’t very much faster than the last generation of CPUs; Intel delay, again, the release of some of …
Mark Pesce, 22 Sep 2016
Arduino-powered VIVA vest

Vale, LOGO creator Seymour Papert, who taught us that code can be creative play

Back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and I was a kid, I received the gift of a "100-in-1 Electronics Kit" that taught me the basics of electrical circuit design as I strung pre-cut wires between springy posts. At the very centre of this kit - its beating heart - a single transistor could be wired to work in an amplifier, or AM …
Mark Pesce, 25 Aug 2016

Star Trek Beyond: An unwatchable steaming pile of tribble dung

Review The original Star Trek series and subsequent sequels stubbornly and persistently refused to frame their dramas in black-and-whites. Balance of Terror, for example, transformed heretofore-unseen Romulans from villains into tragic heroes over the course of an hour. As happened in so many episodes, the writers avoided the cheap …
Mark Pesce, 20 Jul 2016
A woman texting

Smartphones aren't tiny PCs, but that's how we use them in the West

On a recent trip to Shanghai, I saw a person in front of me in a supermarket queue present their mobile phone when asked for payment. The clerk quickly pointed the laser scanner at the phone - blip!- the sale completed. But not thanks to NFC. I’d just seen AliPay, a mobile payments system backed by Alibaba (the world’s largest …
Mark Pesce, 13 Jul 2016
Logs and an axe

Hackathons aren't just for hipsters

Glancing up from our smartphones, we catch sight of a world that has suddenly become almost entirely different. Surface appearances haven’t changed very much - buildings and cars and all that infrastructure - but behind the scenes nearly everything has been transformed. Everything … except for business practices. Those haven’t …
Mark Pesce, 16 Jun 2016

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