Interesting Finds: Issue #20

Robot Overlords, Fried Chicken Gaming, Opting Out of Visa's advertising and The Fastest Bite in the Animal Kingdom

Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021!

Each week, I curate and spotlight the most curious content I find. This week is about our new robot overlords, opting out of Visa’s advertising, fried chicken and the fastest bite in the animal kingdom.

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Our New Overlords

Boston Dynamics is a robotics company that was founded in 1992 as a spinout from MIT, and in 2013 was acquired by Google. It changed hands a few times since then, and as of 2020 is now owned by Hyundai.

They first made waves 7 years ago with the release of this video of WildCat, their 4-legged robot, which was designed to traverse varied terrain.

4 years ago, there was a huge leap in progress with Atlas, a bipedal (2 leg) robot.

1 year ago, another video of Atlas was released, this time showing their progress in all sorts of complex movement and balance.

Needless to say, their progress has been incredible over the last decade.

Over the holidays, the Boston Dynamics team released a dance video showing several of their robots dancing. The fluidity and coordination of their movements is staggering, and when I reflect on it, quite scary as all sorts of bad scifi robot world domination plots enter my head. Are we in that part of the movie where the protagonist are getting an early glimpse into their new overlords without fully realizing what’s happening?

Note: At the 55 second mark, notice the people in the observation area above. One guy is definitely thinking “WTF” and the 2 others walk by casually like it’s NBD.

Visa Advertising Opt-Out

Visa has a site where you can enter your credit card number so cardholders “may opt out of Visa using their card transaction data for VAS [Visa Advertising Solutions], a suite of aggregated data products in the United States”. If you’re like me, you’ll want to opt-out ASAP.

One interesting observation is there is no validation at all on that site. Since Visa credit card numbers are easily validated (using the Luhn Algorithm), I’m not sure what’s happening behind the scenes to prevent someone from just scripted this to spam it with millions of technically valid card numbers. Oh well. Visa, just stop selling my info please.

Fried Chicken and Gaming

I love me some fried chicken like the best of em, but this is a tad ridiculous. The rumored KFC Console looks like it’s actually real:

After weeks of promises (and the occasional delay, which was a not-so-subtle dig at CD Projekt Red and Cyberpunk 2077), Kentucky Fried Chicken has made good by delivering the first look at their KFConsole. Fans of the slightly skewed fast-food marketing content over at @KFCGaming thought that this was all a well-crafted joke right up until last night when the gaming rig / chicken-warmer itself was revealed. Some might still be skeptical and rightfully so. However, the fact that Cooler Master is in on the design (or at least in on the joke) lends lots of credibility to the new console.

Cooler Master, a well known PC case maker, also has a marketing site up for it, complete with information on the “Chicken Chamber” that “Utilising the systems natural heat and airflow system you can now focus on your gameplay and enjoy hot, crispy chicken between rounds.”

Clean Up that Digital Life

It’s a brand new year, and I know you’re making your resolutions which probably includes tidying up your home and purging the clutter in your digital life. WireCutter has a great guide to tidying up your digital life, including some great tips on validating the security of your online accounts.

What are you focusing on this week on tidying up?

Hairy Frog Fish

An issue of Interesting Finds would not be complete without a wildlife video. This time it’s the Hairy Frog Fish! According to the Smithsonian, it has the “fastest bite in the animal kingdom” at 1/6000th of a second!