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No (global) Child Left Behind

The MIT Tech Review is reporting that the $100 laptop project already has over 4 million orders from around the world! For those of you who haven't been watching closely, the initiative hopes to deliver one laptop per child in an effort to help kids in developing communities learn online, communicate across the globe, and express themselves creatively through computer media. (The computer actually comes all decked out with a Linux system, word processing, multimedia playback, and web browsing).

What's amazing about the project isn't just the idealism behind it, but also the innovation: early versions of the computer used a hand crank to generate the power, so kids in villages could use the laptops without electrical plugs. Since then, the group (headed up by former MIT Media Lab honcho Nicholas Negroponte) has figured out an even better way to generate electricity: a pull-string crank that you can tug with other body parts (like your leg if you're sitting at a desk) so that it doesn't interrupt your typing!

Another exciting factor is that other companies are going to try and compete: word on the street is that Microsoft is trying to build an even cheaper laptop. Well, whatever else happens, one thing's for sure: the next generation is going to be a whole lot better at Solitaire.

Link via MIT Technology Review

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New AI-Driven Music System Analyzes Tracks for Perfect Playlists
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Whether you're planning a bachelorette party or recovering from a breakup, a well-curated playlist makes all the difference. If you don't have time to pick the perfect songs manually, services that use the AI-driven system Sonic Style may be able to figure out exactly what you have in mind based on your request.

According to Fast Company, Sonic Style is the new music-categorizing service from the media and entertainment data provider Gracenote. There are plenty of music algorithms out there already, but Sonic Style works a little differently. Rather than listing the entire discography of a certain artist under a single genre, the AI analyzes individual tracks. It considers factors like the artist's typical genre and the era the song was recorded in, as well as qualities it can only learn through listening, like tempo and mood. Based on nearly 450 descriptors, it creates a super-accurate "style profile" of the track that makes it easier for listeners to find it when searching for the perfect song to fit an occasion.

Playlists that use data from Sonic Style feel like they were made by a person with a deep knowledge of music rather than a machine. That's thanks to the system's advanced neural network. It also recognizes artists that don't fit neatly into one genre, or that have evolved into a completely different music style over their careers. Any service—including music-streaming platforms and voice-activated assistants—that uses Gracenote's data will be able to take advantage of the new technology.

With AI at your disposal, all you have to do as the listener is decide on a style of music. Here are some ideas to get you started if you want a playlist for productivity.

[h/t Fast Company]

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