March 22, 2019: Friday News Roundup

Today’s roundup looks to the past and the future, including a nearly obsolete office staple of yesteryear and one provocative example of a human-computer mindmeld.

The World’s First Genderless AI Voice is Here. Listen Now.
Voice assistants developed by tech giants like Google and Apple default to a female speaker. As this article suggests, it reinforces certain stereotypes to have a woman be “our always-on-demand, personal assistant.” Now, a design exploration has produced a gender-neutral solution based on a sampling of real nonbinary voices.

Who Still Buys Wite-Out, and Why?
Back in ancient times, we used typewriters. If you made a mistake, the only way to correct it was to paint over the error with “correction fluid” and retype. Those were dark days, indeed. And yet, as this article tells us, Wite-Out sales actually increased 10% in 2017.

Karen Uhlenbeck Is First Woman to Win Abel Prize for Mathematics
Anyone who reads the roundup knows we love problem-solving trailblazers and pioneers, and Dr. Karen Uhlenbeck certainly qualifies on both fronts. Geometric analysis, a now-common field of mathematics, was her brainchild. We won’t try to explain it here, but congrats to her on being the first woman to win this so-called Nobel Prize of math.

I Moved A Drone With My Mind. Soon Your Students Will Too.
The author describes his experience as similar to Jedi training, and, like Luke Skywalker, he was “a flop” at first but gradually got the hang of things. This is just one example of products in development that seek to let humans control everyday objects with their minds (including cars!), an emerging area of technology that could be applied to anything from “workplace effectiveness to understanding exactly what consumers want.”