Hashtag Trending Mar.1- HP debacle; Humanoid robots closer to hitting our workplaces; Apple blew $10 billion on the electric car before pulling the plug

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Can HP make you love them again? Humanoid robots with AI might be closer than we think. Researchers find that talking like a character from Star Trek can improve your AI results. And how many iPhones would it take to make up the money Apple blew before it killed its self-driving electric car?

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All this and more on the “you can’t make this stuff up” edition of Hashtag Trending. I’m your host, Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and TechNewsDay in the US.

HP is trying to make you love them again. 

We love the price of these printers, but who among you has not gone to buy ink for that new purchase then asked yourself if it wouldn’t just be cheaper to buy a new printer again?

We always knew that the ink jet printers were a lot like shaving razors. They’ll give you the printer to get you hooked, and then you have to buy the ink.

Which generated a whole industry of refilling cartridges and then third party or no-name ink. 

So printer manufacturers, HP being the most well-known, started making their printers so they wouldn’t allow cheaper third party ink. They said it was for our own good – because these knock off cartridges could harm our printer. 

That didn’t go over well. People felt they bought the printer, and then they had the right to do whatever they wanted.

So HP tried – ink on subscription. But people who didn’t use up their limit on printers were complaining that they shouldn’t have to pay for more ink than they used.

So HP is trying another tactic. 

Their All-In-One plan lets you rent the printer, starting at a low price of $6.99 US per month.

You get the printer. You get the ink. You get a guarantee that subscribers to the HP All-In Plan will receive a new printer and all the ink they need, along with access to HP’s “24/7 Pro Live support.” If a subscriber encounters a problem that HP cannot fix remotely, the company promises to replace the faulty printer the next business day for free.

They eliminate the “never-ending struggle” of printer ownership by providing a hassle-free printing solution.

Will this make you love HP again? Will this stop the criticism and class action suits?

It might – until you read the fine print. Yes, it’s $6.99 per month but you can only print 20 pages each month. After that, you pay more, depending on the number of pages. You can pay between $8.99 up to $60.99

I predict that the next Reddit post will be about someone who bought this All In One package and got a much bigger bill than they thought. 

Sources include:  [PCMag](https://www.pcmag.com/news/hp-targets-the-haters-with-printer-rental-subscription-plan).

How long do you think it’s going to be before humanoid robots hit the workforce.

And will they be able to fix the printer?

Hint: There’s some of them working now in companies ranging from BMW to even Canadian Tire.

And don’t be surprised if they can do some incredibly intricate things.

A new humanoid robot startup Figure has attracted significant attention and investment, with a “who’s who” of Silicon Valley ponying up enough to give the company a valuation of $2.6 billion. 

Figure is at the forefront of integrating bipedal robots with dexterous hands into the labour force, and there’s a lot of other companies trying to get in on the action.

So guess who is working with this robot manufacturer Figure? You don’t need an AI to figure out that OpenAI’s is working to bring capabilities in processing and reasoning from language to humanoid robots

But do not worry. We have assurances from robotics companies that these robots are not here to take our jobs. They will at first undertake tasks that are too dangerous or repetitive for humans. And they emphasize “upskilling” as a strategy to retrain displaced workers for more fulfilling roles within the same field.

Then they’ll replace us. 

But that’s a long way off. Right? Nope. Silicon Valley’s Brett Adcock, the “flying taxi” pioneer, thinks we’ll see robots move into the workforce in about 2 years. 

And I put some links to videos in the show notes. It’ll make you wonder.

As the late Jimmy Buffet said, “my occupational hazard is being…my occupation’s just not around.” 

Sources include: Axios

Robot  moving a crate to a conveyor belt

Robot making coffee

Tesla’s Robot Optimus taking a stroll 

Sanctuary’s Phoenix taking your blood pressure.

Forget all those prompt management course on YouTube. 

A new study has revealed that AI chatbots perform better at solving grade-school-level math problems when prompted to respond as if they are a Star Trek character. 

Two researchers from VMware in California conducted a study, which was initially reported by New Scientist and published on arXiv on February 9, 2024. 

Their investigation aimed to explore the impact of “positive thinking” prompts on AI performance, a concept that has gained attention among those working to optimize chatbot outputs. 

I’ve read stuff like this before where emotional prompts appear to work better. One study said that if you put emotion into your prompt, it would work. I started saying that I would be fired if the answers were wrong. 

I don’t know if it worked, but it’s like chicken soup. “Can’t hoit.”  

It just points out how little we really know about how these incredible algorithms can display behaviours that we don’t understand.

These researchers thought “positive thinking” should not influence a computer system’s performance, but they may have found evidence suggesting otherwise.

The study involved feeding three Large Language Models (LLM) — Mistral-7B5, Llama2-13B6, and Llama2-70B7 — with 60 human-written prompts designed to encourage the AIs. These prompts varied from motivational statements like “This will be fun!” to affirmations of the AI’s capabilities. The models were then tasked with solving the GSM8K, a dataset of grade-school-level math problems, to determine the effectiveness of each prompt.

So what were the best-performing prompts for the Llama2-70B model?  

Talk like Star Trek. 

Their prompt specifically requested the AI to navigate through turbulence and locate the source of an anomaly, using phrases reminiscent of a Starfleet commander’s log. This Star Trek-themed prompt significantly improved the model’s math-solving abilities, a result that both surprised and puzzled the researchers.

The study underscores the unpredictable nature of AI systems and the intricate factors that can influence their performance. While the exact reasons behind the Star Trek prompt’s effectiveness remain unclear, it suggests that the way questions are framed can dramatically impact AI output quality. 

Catherine Flick, a researcher at Staffordshire University, UK, commented on the findings, emphasizing that AI models do not truly understand the context of the prompts but rather access different sets of weights and probabilities based on the input.

This research shows how little we know about AI behaviour. So add that to your list of ways to optimize AI performance through carefully crafted inputs. 

Is this guy really telling me my prompts will be better if I talk like a Star Trek character. I know what you are thinking. 

Captain, I can’t believe my ears.  

I canno believe your ears either, Mr. Spock.

Sources include: Business Insider

And speaking of costing more than you thought possible….

We covered the story about the demise of Apple’s self driving electric vehicle called “Project Titan.”  

Apparently, Apple blew a cool $10 billion on that project before they pulled the plug. (I will never tire of that pun – tire – get it?) 

And it turns out that this might have been Dodgy from the beginning (Dodgy?) 

Some employees called the project “the Titanic disaster,” reflecting doubts about its feasibility. Okay, I can’t outdo that one. Titan – Titanic. They were asking for that.

It seems the only smart move Apple made was not buying Tesla.  They were in discussions with Elon Musk but Apple ultimately decided it would be too hard to integrate Tesla into its “ecosystem.”

Yeah. But they put the brakes on that deal (gotta love it) and missed the bonus of having Elon associated in some way with the Apple brand. 

But you know something? Apple still has hundreds of millions in cash and plans to leverage the knowledge and innovations gained from working on the car, including AI-powered AirPods with cameras, robot assistants, and augmented reality technologies.

So all of that IP will have a new lease on life. 

Couldn’t resist.

Sources include: Mac Rumors

And that’s our show for today. And what a strange day it was. 

Hashtag Trending goes to air five days a week with daily newscast and a weekend interview show that we creatively called – the weekend edition. 

Love your comments. 

Send us a note at [email protected] or drop us a comment under the show notes at itworldcanada.com/podcasts – look for Hashtag Trending. 

Thanks for listening and have a Fantastic Friday.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Jim Love
Jim Lovehttp://www.itworldcanada.com/
I've been in IT and business for over 30 years. I worked my way up, literally from the mail room and I've done every job from mail clerk to CEO. Today I'm CIO of a great company - IT World Canada - Canada's leading ICT publisher.

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