Tech Unveiled: 35 Intriguing Facts You Didn’t Know About Modern Technologies

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1E-Bike Goal

E-Bike Goal

In 1991, the Chinese government made developing e-bikes an official technology goal. Electric bike sales went from 150,000 in 1999 to 21 million in 2007, a growth in sales that is unmatched by any other mode of transportation in China


2. Earth Simulator is one of the most powerful supercomputers on the planet with nearly 35 trillion operations per second and it's used to model Earth's Climate.


3. Reading books makes AI smarter than reading tweets. “OpenAI Transformer”, an artificial intelligence language model, is trained with 7000 books since it allows the model to associate related information better than as it would be the case if it would be trained with tweets.


4. Joseph Weizenbaum, one of the founding fathers of Artificial Intelligence, later became one of its leading critics when he found his secretary getting very emotionally involved with ELIZA, a chatbot that he himself programmed.


5. The Xbox Underground was a group of teenage hackers who hacked into Epic Games, stole Gears of War 3 source code, and then hacked into Microsoft to steal project Durango (Xbox one) and make their own Xbox One.


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6Virtual Reality History

Virtual Reality History

Virtual reality has been in use since 1994 to help individuals struggling with PTSD and depression. These early systems combined VR technology and exposure therapy to treat various behavioral and psychological issues.


7. The term GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) was popularized by Nvidia in 1999 after it marketed the GeForce 256 as “the world's first GPU.”


8. Due to the increase of wireless devices such as smartphones, tablets, and other wifi-capable devices, we're actually running out of airwaves to transmit bandwidth.


9. A 2019 study revealed some plants emit unique ultrasonic sounds when stressed. Measuring between 20-150 kHz, tomato and tobacco plant sounds were fed into a machine learning model and researchers were able to use their intensity and frequency to distinguish between dryness or physical harm.


10. The first documented IoT (Internet of things) cyber-attack which happened between Dec 2013 to Jan 2014 involved over 100,000 smart appliances such as home-networking routers, connected multi-media centers, televisions, and at least one refrigerator.


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11AlphaGo

AlphaGo

AlphaGo, the AI that beat the world’s best (human) Go player in 2016, consumed one megawatt of power while playing the game, enough to power about 100 homes for a day.


12. A single gram of synthetic DNA contains 250 PERABYTES of storage capacity and can be copied endlessly for free. This is enough storage to theoretically store every bit of datum ever recorded by humans in a container about the size and weight of a couple of pickup trucks (this information is as of 2017).


13. Tay was an artificial intelligence bot that was released by Microsoft via Twitter on March 23, 2016. It caused controversy when the bot began to post inflammatory and offensive tweets through its Twitter account, causing Microsoft to shut down the service only 16 hours after its launch.


14. Israeli researchers have been successful in creating a 3D-printed heart by converting fatty tissue from human patients to form “bio ink” which built the heart layer by layer. Around the size of a rabbit heart, it contains cells, blood vessels, chambers, and other structures a heart needs to function normally.


15. The computer chips that are put into spacecraft are not state of the art but are so old as to be obsolete. Their known reliability makes up for it.


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16Government's Hacking Tools

Government's Hacking Tools

In a 2017 criminal case, the US government put the secrecy of its hacking tools above all else. Prosecutors chose to drop all charges in a case of child exploitation on the dark web rather than reveal the technological means they used to locate the anonymous Tor user.


17. A fundamental limit exists on the amount of information that can be stored in a given space, which is about 10^69 bits per square meter. Regardless of technological advancement, any attempt to condense information further will cause the storage medium to collapse into a black hole.


18. A new kind of scavenger technology allows robots to ‘eat’ metal for energy. Right now when electronics need their own power sources, there are two basic options: batteries and harvesters (like solar panels). This kind of technology can harvest its energy from metals around it.


19. Breeder reactors are a type of nuclear reactor that produce more fissile materials than they consume. They are designed to extend the nuclear fuel supply for the generation of electricity. If you use breeder reactors, there is enough nuclear fuel on earth to power all of humanity (electricity + heat + transportation + industry) for ~4 billion years, thereby making it literally as renewable as the sun-derived renewables (wind/solar/hydro). In other words, the sun will run out of its finite but huge nuclear fusion fuel around the same time. The concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation have been one large impediment to creating breeders.


20. Modern Polaroid film is less technologically advanced than traditional Polaroid film, and that Polaroid photos are now worse than they used to be.


21Brain Simulation

Brain Simulation

As of 2014, the most accurate simulation of the human brain ever was carried out, but a single second’s worth of brain activity took one of the world’s largest supercomputers 40 minutes to calculate.


22. An AI-generated portrait titled “Edmond de Belamy” was sold at an auction for $432,500 in 2018. The AI used 15,000 portraits from the 14th to the 19th century, and the artwork is signed with a part of the algorithm code that produced it.


23. Smartwatches measure blood pressure by emitting light to the skin and reading how much light is reflected back. As the heart pumps blood, it causes a variation in blood volume on the skin and can be detected by a change in light absorption, a not-so-new technology called photoplethysmogram.


24. The “Nasal Ranger” is a device that is described as “binoculars for your nose” and not unlike the “Smell-O-Scope” in Futurama. American cities with odor control ordinances are buying the $2000 olfactometer for monitoring odors and also fine cannabis smokers or growers if their scents are too strong.


25. After crashing, a driver in Germany was fined for using Tesla touchscreen wiper controls, under the same rules as using a phone while driving. The German court decided touchscreen car controls should be treated as a distracting electronic device

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