Seven years after its initial release the MacBook Air finally gets an overhaul. Apple announced a brand new MacBook Air that would be lighter than the original, the original had set some pretty high standards when it was released. While maintaining the same overall design there are some notable updates. While at a hardware in Brooklyn today Tim Cook announced the new laptop to a sea of fans. You can see the announcement here.
Too Little, Too Late?
Seven years is a long time to go without any redesign or upgrades especially in the competitive laptop space. There are already plenty of slim and powerful laptops on the market as well as convertible machines that give you both the tablet and laptop experience. Let’s see what it has to offer.
As was said the new MacBook Air has the same overall design but now you have a 13.3 inch retina display that is supposed to be four times more powerful than its predecessor which could be pretty sweet. It has smaller bezels and the laptop managed to be 17% thinner than the old MacBook. It only weighs just under 3 pounds, anyone can carry it around. To further sweeten the deal and encourage sales the company has made the new MacBook from 100% recycled aluminum.
The new laptop comes with TouchID so you can unlock with your fingerprint and you can use the same authentication for Apple Pay and a bunch of other apps. The sensor is on the keyboard and the new MacBook is armed with Apple’s new T2 security chip. It will keep your storage encrypted and ensure that you have a secure boot. This means you don’t need to use your cheap windows VPS for security anymore. While this may be new to Mac this tech in one form or another has been built into Windows laptops for years.
The Price Tag
Nothing manufactured by Apple ever comes cheaply and the new MacBook Air is no exception. While the original was priced at $999 the new one starts off at a higher $1199. You only get a 128GB hard drive so that’s not much of a bargain. You’re probably still going to have to add external memory to that price tag.
Yes it is sleek and pretty to look at and the display is amazing. However nothing else is exactly revolutionary and you can find it all on a Windows laptop with a much better price tag. If you absolutely must have Apple then it’s a good deal.
If you’re a follower of tech blogs like this one then you have seen the terms “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence” thrown around a lot lately. The two are used synonymously but there are real differences between them despite experts not really agreeing about what those differences are. So let’s look at the two and see what the distinction is.
AI versus Machine Learning
There are a lot of ways to define AI but for arguments sake the following definition will work “the field of computer science dedicated to solving cognitive problems commonly associated with human intelligence, such as learning, problem solving, and pattern recognition”. The idea is that machines can be programmed to think the way people do and have intelligence.
The term “machine learning” isn’t new, it has been around since the 50’s and it is defined as the “ability to learn without being explicitly programmed”. Machine learning was first used in a checkers program that could recognize mistake and improve for the next game. Both terms were largely used in science fiction until now where both have become part of the tech industry.
How They Are Used
There are a couple of applications that you already use that make use of machine learning or AI. The first is in advertising. After recognizing patterns of the things you search for or spend time looking at Amazon will feed you ads of things that you might be likely to purchase based on that. Facebook uses machine learning when it decides what to show you in your newsfeed and the same goes for Netflix when it recommends a movie or TV show to you. All of these recommendations are prediction based on your pattern of behavior. It can be more than a little spooky with how accurate they can be.
We have only really scratched the surface as far as what is possible. Big corporations like Google are pouring huge amounts of money into research. Right now we have neural nets providing deep learning, there are algorithms running in multiple layers with GPUs processing a ton of data at the same time. These neural nets mimic the way the human brain process information.
Whether you refer to it as machine learning or artificial intelligence the potential for it to change our world is incredible. As the technology continues to evolve it won’t be any less confusing for us to understand.