5 Crazy/Cool Things That Happened This Week (June 16th, 2017)

by Srikar Kalvakolanu

Amazon Acquires Whole Foods, A Weed-Wacking Roomba, and More

It’s time to take a look at some of the weird things that happened in the world of technology this week. As always, you can check out previous week’s editions in my This Week In Tech column. Let’s get started!

  1. Amazon just purchased Whole Foods for a cool $13.7 billion USD.

Amazon stole the headlines this morning, after some small murmurs about potentially acquiring Slack, with a big acquisition of Whole Foods. This deal makes sense for a lot of reasons, with Amazon launching Go and other new physical retail ambitions. It also coincides with Amazon’s growing Prime Now and online grocery business that has been very successful. The really interesting part of this deal was that the investors of Whole Foods were pushing for a merger or acquisition to another large chain, until Amazon showed up.

2. Solar-Powered Roomba-Style Robot Drives Around Your Garden Pulling Weeds

The makers of Roomba, Franklin Robotics, are back at it with Tertill, a robot that can sense different kinds of weeds around your garden and then if its a weed, can take them out. The machine is meant to make gardening less of a chore and make it easier for everyone to garden. The Tertill has a solar panel on its head so it doesn’t need to dock and charge like most Roombas. The robot is coming out in March 2018 and costs $225.

3. An Artificial Intelligence Developed Its Own Non-Human Language

Facebook has been experimenting with chat bots for a while now, and a report recently published gives some interesting insight into how they work. Apparently the chatbots were able to create a new language to communicate with one another when initiating a negotiation between each other. That’s a pretty incredible finding and has a ton of implications for the future of chat bots. Researchers are trying to figure out the root of why the bots created this new lexicon, but for now it’s something to think about when we consider bots and AI in general.

4. NASA will try again to make fake clouds on the East Coast.

NASA will launch a rocket around Virginia in an attempt to create clouds using small vapor tracers that will look like colorful clouds. NASA has attempted this project 5 times before (and had to postpone each time), so hopefully the 6th time works. The clouds will be large enough to see from New York to North Carolina.

5. The hamburger-making robots are upon us.

Momentum Machines recently raised $18 M in capital from GV and Khosla Ventures to develop a hamburger-making robot. The machine can make up to 400 burgers per hour which is pretty incredible to think about. At the same time, it has significant implications on the around 513,000 fast food cooks in the US (one of the largest job sources). So while it’s a cool technological machine, it begs the questions of if technology should have a limit and what we do when automation happens.