Meet Maxwell’s gambling demon—smart enough to quit while it’s ahead

Enlarge / In a new version of the classic 19th century thought experiment, Maxwell’s demon plays the role of a gambler who knows when to quit while it's ahead. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images) Entropy (aka the second law of thermodynamics) is a harsh mistress. If you think of the universe as a cosmic casino, the laws of thermodynamics amount to the house edge: you can't win, you can't break even, and—barring opening a portal to an … [Read more...]

US roads got more dangerous in 2020 even though we stayed at home

Enlarge / Close-up of a red stop sign after a traffic accident. The sign is heavily scratched and dented. Many vehicle accidents are attributed to drunk driving in Hawaii. Unfortunately many end up as fatalities. (credit: Kjell Linder/Getty Images) Thanks to the pandemic, Americans drove 13 percent fewer miles in 2020 than they did the year before. But the move to telework and lockdowns has not made our roads any safer. In fact, they got a lot … [Read more...]

Valve scraps revamped Artifact, dumps free, unfinished “2.0” version on Steam

Enlarge / Two posters, two free end-of-life games. (credit: Valve) The weird, woeful, and nearly redemptive development of Valve's digital card game Artifact has ended. Effective today, Valve has launched the 2018 game's total-overhaul "2.0" version as a completely free—and "unfinished"—card-battling game dubbed Artifact Foundry, and while it's playable, it's effectively dead on arrival. That means the game (formerly known as Artifact 2.0) no … [Read more...]

Self-driving startups are becoming an endangered species

Enlarge / A Voyage vehicle at the Villages in Florida. (credit: Voyage) Bloomberg reports that Cruise, a self-driving company jointly owned by GM and Honda, is in talks to acquire the startup Voyage. Founded four years ago, Voyage is working to launch a self-driving taxi service at the Villages, a massive retirement community in Florida. Bloomberg says that "no deal is imminent," and I don't have any inside information. But such a deal would be … [Read more...]

Apple clarifies iOS default music app feature, and it’s not what people thought

Enlarge / Siri in iOS 14. (credit: Samuel Axon) Over the past few weeks, there have been several reports (including one of our own) on a feature found in recent beta releases of iOS 14.5 that appeared to allow users to change the default music app on their iPhones. However, Apple just clarified to TechCrunch that the feature is not as it first seemed. In the initial reports, users claimed that they were prompted to select a preferred music app, … [Read more...]

Arizona House advances bill targeting Apple, Google mobile app stores

Enlarge / The Arizona State Capitol museum, flanked by the House of Representatives building (R) and a cactus (L). (credit: mixmotive | Getty Images) The Arizona state House of Representatives this week passed a landmark bill that, if adopted, would require Google and Apple to allow Arizona-based app developers to choose their own alternate payment systems. The House voted 31-29 in favor of the bill (PDF). The bill does not directly mention … [Read more...]