As the year draws to an end, we look back at the major tech news of 2017.
As we entered the new year, we saw a lot of changes. President Donald Trump was officially inaugurated, and we saw the social media platform Vine take its final breaths. But there was some good news. We got one step closer to flying cars when Airbus announced it’s tests for a fleet of flying vehicles for hire like Uber. So you can live those Back to the Future II dreams any minute now!
One of the year’s most elaborate recruitment drives took place in February when Dyson built a crystal maze style pop up challenge and live streamed the days when 115 engineers were put through the paces to win a job at Dyson. But the month’s most important tech news has to be Japan’s latest invention – robotic bees. Well, they’re not exactly little robotic bees, but Eijiro Miyako and his colleagues have developed drones that are capable of pollinating flowers which will help crop yields in the face of declining bee populations.
This was a pretty big month for everyone’s favourite tech gazzillionaire Elon Musk. Not only did his company, SpaceX, make history by sending a used rocket into space and landing it again, but he also officially launched Neuralink – the project that aims to link the human brain to AI. Musk is a vocal detractor of artificial intelligence, speculating that humanity may become “house cats” to the technology, so his aim for the neuralink project is to find a way that AI and humanity can work in tandem. The implications of this project are huge, find out more here.
Musk dominated the news yet again when he announced on Twitter that Tesla’s solar powered roof tiles would be on sale. Google’s smart assistant Google Home hit UK shelves, but the most historic news was Twitter’s announcement that it would be scrapping the anonymous egg avatar in favour of a nondescript grey figure. Big news.
My favourite tech news from May was news that Hannah Joshua had created a pair of red shoes that ordered an uber for you when you clicked the heels together – there’s no place like home! In more serious news, Google AI programme AlphaGo defeated the world’s best Go player, which showed the huge advancements in AI technology, and it’s amazing potential!
North Korea took on Apple this month when it launched its own version of the iPad, which they originally called ‘iPad’. Plus, if you’ve ever wanted a dog without the responsibility, then your dreams came true in June, with the launch of MiRo, the robotic dog from Consequential Robotics. It has been invented as a companion for the elderly, with features such as medication reminders, weather information and the ability to contact assistance if its owner takes a fall.
Gloves, developed by the University of California, were launched that can translate American Sign Language into text on a smartphone or computer screen. But, this wasn’t the only tech good news story of the month. July was also the month that saw the whole country fall in love with Eddie Smith, the boy who took over Southern Rail’s twitter while he was on work experience. Eddie’s social media antics spawned the first piece of positive publicity that Southern Rail saw in years (probably.)
From the good news fluff pieces of July to the beginning of the end. August saw the start of Judgement Day when Facebook’s AI department announced that it had terminated a project after the AI had developed its own language. Start stocking up on canned foods now! September IOXP announced revolutionary technology that can take any ‘how-to’ video and turn it into an AR tutorial meaning that we’ll all be DIY experts any day now. But, whilst this is revolutionary technology, the tech story that dominated the news was Twitter’s decision to double its character limit to 280 characters. This move spawned articles like: “Twitter’s 280-character limit is a disaster waiting to happen” and “Why Twitter’s new 280-character limit is the end of the world“ but in actual fact, there was no apocalypse, and it turns out that we all quite like it.
More AI news, but this time from Google, who announced that its DeepMind software started to learn by itself. Also, an apartment in Kiev became the world’s first property sold using blockchain, prompting everyone who heard about it to google “what’s a blockchain?”
Applemania gripped the world during the launch of the iPhone X – their most expensive phone yet, and a lesson in the dangers of live demonstrations when the facial recognition software failed to work and Apple’s share price dropped dramatically in response. Awkward! Plus, chatbot technology was used for social good with the invention of Re:scam, the most useless and inefficient chatbot ever created which is used to target online scammers and waste their time.
This month, everyone’s talking Bitcoin. It seems that everyone’s got a friend of a friend of a friend who invested years ago and now fancies themselves as a millionaire. But what does the future hold for cryptocurrencies? Well, I’m sure if you read this next year, you’ll find out…