Cities Crave Hyperloop Because It’s Shiny—and Talk Is Cheap

For a thing that doesn’t exist, hyperloop is pretty popular. Representatives from 11 US regions trekked to Washington this week to pitch by themselves since the perfect proving grounds for the much-hyped “fifth mode of transport.”

They’re among the 35 semi-finalists in a competition hosted by Hyperloop One, the company leading the competition to create Elon Musk’s concept for a tube-based transportation community to life.

On Wednesday, each American contender went before a panel of judges, bidding for the chance to host Hyperloop One’s first commercial task. Ultimately, somewhere between three and seven will “win”—meaning they’ll get to try to push this thing through neighborhood legislatures, contractor bidding processes, and ecological review panels.

What’s wild is that those finalists represent simply .01 per cent associated with 2,600 teams that entered the battle. Hailing from all around the globe, representing local and state governments, local teams, universities, and personal companies, each is desperate to welcome a new kind of technology—one which includesn’t even been publicly demonstrated.

Hyperloop in Brief


They’re perhaps not the actual only real ones interested. President Donald Trump has expected towards idea, according to The Wall Street Journal. His leading economic consultant title examined Musk and his fantastical transport some ideas while talking about the administration’s forthcoming $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

Hyperloop One international operations chief Nick Earle also intimated the Department of Transportation help its plans, though he declined to talk about details.

You can see why people are excited. United states transport infrastructure is really a mess. The United states Society of Civil Engineers estimates you will be charged a great deal getting every thing up to an adequate grade, Trump’s $1 trillion will barely obtain the ball rolling. Commuters in towns and cities like la, ny, San Francisco, and Atlanta spend upwards of 70 hours a year in traffic. Exactly what funds the nation spends on roadways are poured into brand new highways, instead of the pockmarked stretches of asphalt that provide motorists (literal) headaches.

The range and intractability for the issue makes the siren track of hyperloop additional alluring. “Hyperloop is faster, greener, safer, and cheaper than some other mode of transportation,” Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd told WIRED this past year. Who would like to shore up bridges and fill potholes when you are able jump straight to the Silicon Valley-born future?

“We have 5.5 million individuals in Colorado, and we’re going to be 8 million people next two decades. I can’t build my way to avoid it of the present congestion, aside from the congestion that may come,” states Shailen Bhatt, Colorado Department of Transportation’s executive manager. “We see this being a transformative possibility to enter very early which help prove the style.”

One issue: Lloyd’s company hasn’t proven some of his claims, and there’s valid reason to concern them. First, there’s the fee. Land is expensive—California projected more than $770 million in land purchase prices for simply 130 kilometers of its (over spending plan) high-speed train system. Then, you will find the folks whom have that land—and may want to keep it. Putting everything together might be additional expensive, considering that the hyperloop will probably run underground (greetings from Washington State’s $2 billion tunneling task) or set on elevated songs. Oh, and the ones tracks will need to run perfectly straight, unless you’re ready to run the pods gradually and so the people inside don’t barf every time they hit a curve. That complicates preparation and construction.

Obviously, all which comes after ecological approval, governmental approval, budgeting approval, regulatory approval—each that would probably go additional gradually because this actually novel technology. (Hyperloop One acknowledges the red tape, and states it’s a large factor in where it’ll land. “A key component could be the extent to which we’re able to use regulators to collaboratively produce the world’s very first laws for the hyperloop,” claims Earle.)

Town officials understand all of this (or they should), but they’re wooing Hyperloop One anyway. Because, inspite of the doubts, speaking hyperloop signals We have it, we’re hip, you might say no coach route can.

“There can be an entrepreneurial technology nature in Colorado,” claims Bhatt, whom went along to DC to represent Team Rocky Mountain’s proposed hyperloop, from Denver International Airport towards the town of Greeley, 40 miles to the north. “Between most of the millennials that have moved here and all the tech startups that are out there, [the state] wants to embrace new technical solutions.”

For these players, Hyperloop may not be an actual way to dilemmas like congestion, but alternatively a sign that they’re eager to innovate. “You can appear forward-thinking dealing with some futuristic mode of transportation without placing money behind it,” states Paul Lewis, the vice president of policy and finance on Eno Center for Transportation. “Notice that no [American] town or regional federal government has placed money into the device. But discussing it really is free.”

“Thinking instead about transport is a good thing,” claims Lewis. But don’t be prepared to begin to see the hyperloop anywhere close to you until someone in fact cuts a check—and begins filling out kinds.

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How to Add Ebook Downloads in WordPress

Do you want to add ebook downloads to your WordPress site? WordPress makes it easy for you to upload your ebook files in PDF format and make them available for download. You can also sell ebooks or use them to get more email subscribers. In this article, we will show you how to add ebook downloads in WordPress as well as how to make the most out of your ebooks.

How to add ebook downloads in WordPress

Method 1: Direct Ebook Downloads in WordPress Posts

The direct Ebook download method allows you to upload your ebooks and add a link to your WordPress site allowing all users to download them.

First you need to edit the post or page where you want to add the ebook download. On the post edit screen, click on the ‘Add Media’ button.

Add media button

This will bring up the WordPress media uploader popup. You need to click on the ‘Select files’ button to upload the ebook file from your computer.

Select and upload your ebook file

Once uploaded, you will be able to see your ebook file selected. If your eBook file is in PDF format, then you will also be able to see a thumbnail preview of the first page of your ebook.

On the right hand column, you can provide the title, caption, and description for your ebook.

Insert your ebook download into WordPress

You can also select how you want your ebook to be linked. By default, it will link to the ebook file itself and that’s the option you want.

Click on the ‘Insert into post’ button to add ebook download into your post.

That’s all, you have successfully added your ebook download into a WordPress post. You can now visit your website to see it in action. Your download link will look like this:

Ebook download link in a WordPress blog post

Method 2. Use Ebook Downloads to Get More Subscribers

Directly adding an ebook download to your WordPress posts is easier and will work for most users.

However, if you want to use your ebook download to grow your email list, boost conversions, and get more traffic, then try this method instead.

For this method, you’ll need OptinMonster. It is a lead generation software created by our founder Syed Balkhi which helps you get more email subscribers.

OptinMonster comes with tools to create beautiful forms asking users to perform an action before sending them to the ebook download.

Offering ebook download as content upgrade

This marketing technique is sometimes referred to as content upgrades.

Basically you offer free bonus content to your users in return of a small action like signing up for your email list.

It’s a win win for both parties. You get a new subscriber, and your users get free ebook download.

For detailed instructions, see our step by step guide on how to add content upgrades in WordPress.

Method 3. Sell Ebook Downloads in WordPress

Sell ebook downloads on your WordPress site

Want to sell ebook downloads on your WordPress site? Selling things online was never this easier. WordPress allows you to create your own online store using WooCommerce.

WooCommerce is a powerful and extremely easy to use WordPress eCommerce plugin. You can install it on your existing WordPress site, or create a new online store to sell your ebooks.

It can be used to sell both physical goods (things that need shipping) and digital downloads (ebooks, musics, software, etc). It supports most popular payment gateways and requires no technical or programming skills to setup.

For complete step by step instructions see our guide on how to start an online store.

We hope this article helped you learn how to add ebook downloads in WordPress. You may also want to see our list of 9 best PDF plugins for WordPress.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

5 Best WordPress Membership Plugins (Compared) – 2017

Are you looking to build a membership site in WordPress? Want to know which is the best WordPress membership plugin? Choosing the right membership plugin is crucial for your business because a better platform means more opportunity for growth. In this article, we will compare 5 best WordPress membership plugins to easily create paid membership websites.

Best WordPress membership plugins compared

What to Look in a WordPress Membership Plugin?

There are plenty of WordPress membership plugins, but not all of them have specific features that you may need for creating your membership site.

Some of them are good for selling subscriptions on a single level while others offer more diverse membership levels and subscription management features.

Some plugins offer drip content feature which allows you to slowly release new content to a user. While others are restricted to only offering hidden content.

You will also need to figure out which payment gateways you will use. Do you want to accept credit cards only, PayPal, or both? Your membership plugin should have support for your preferred payment gateways either built-in or through an addon.

Having said that, let’s see what you will need to start a WordPress membership site.

What Do You Need to Run a WordPress Membership Site?

Membership websites are resource intensive, and choosing the wrong host can be detrimental to your overall performance. That’s why the first thing you need to do is choose the best WordPress hosting that you can afford.

If you’re on a budget, then you can start with Bluehost. Their Business Pro plan comes with a SSL Certificate which you need to securely collect payments, dedicated IP, and a dedicated support line.

If budget is not an issue, and you want the best performance, then we recommend using a managed WordPress hosting provider like WPEngine.

If you don’t already have one, then you will need to choose a domain name for your website. Here is our guide on how to pick the right domain name for your membership site.

Lastly, you will need to choose essential business plugins such as OptinMonster which helps you capture leads and boost subscriptions.

Now that we have covered what you need to start a membership site in WordPress, let’s take a look at our top WordPress membership plugins.

1. MemberPress

MemberPress

MemberPress is one of the most popular WordPress membership plugins. It is also the easiest to use and the most robust when it comes to features.

Pros of MemberPress WordPress Membership Plugin

Easy to Setup – MemberPress makes it simple to setup a membership website with WordPress. It can automatically setup pricing, login, account, and thank you pages for your users. Adding membership plans is also very straight forward.

Content Access Control – MemberPress comes with powerful access control, which allows you to restrict access to any content including posts, pages, categories, tags, files, etc.

Content Dripping – Content dripping allows you to show restricted content to members after a certain time. This is a very useful feature for selling online courses or learning materials.

Integrations – MemberPress integrates with AWeber, MailChimp, GetResponse, and MadMimi email services. It also integrates with Amazon Web Services and BluBrry for podcast hosting.

Payment Gateways – MemberPress comes with built-in support for PayPal and Stripe payment gateways. Developer plan also adds Authorize.net support.

Cons of Using MemberPress Pro

Limited Payment Options – MemberPress only supports the three most popular payment gateways. This would be a deal breaker for site owners who live in countries not supported by these payment gateways.

Limited Integrations – While the plugin has enough support for popular services to run a membership site efficiently, it still lacks integrations with some other popular services. The plugin is easily extensible, and you can pay someone to integrate a third-party service you would like to use.

Pricing: Business Edition $99/Year, Developer Edition $199/Year

We think MemberPress is the most easy to use WordPress membership plugin for beginners. It is quick to setup with tons of powerful options.

2. Paid Memberships Pro

PaidMemberships Pro

Next contender in our list of best WordPress membership plugins is Paid Memberships Pro. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of choosing it as your membership plugin.

Pros of Using Paid Memberships Pro

Basic Free Version – Paid Memberships Pro has a basic free version available for download. It has very limited features, but it gives you an idea of the software and can help you make your choice.

More Payment Gateways – It supports many popular gateways like PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Braintree, 2Checkout, and Cyber Source.

More Integrations – There are free and paid integration addons available for Paid Memberships Pro, which help you connect to third-party tools like email marketing services, CRM, other WordPress plugins, etc.

Extension Addons – A good range of extensions are available as addons for Paid Memberships Pro. These addons bring support for many advanced features that you may want to add to your membership website such as drip content, link tracking, affiliate program, variable pricing, etc.

Cons of Using Paid Memberships Pro

Ease of Use – Paid Memberships Pro is a powerful plugin, but it is not very beginner friendly. Setting it up will take some time for most users.

Pro Plan with no Plus Addons – If you need to use any of the Plus addons, then you need to buy their PMPro Plus plan. The PMPro plan only gives you support and some extra features, but the PMPro Plus plan gives you access to 42+ other addons.

Pricing: PMPro $97. PMPro Plus $197.

We think Paid Memberships Pro is a great choice for a WordPress membership plugin. It has a comprehensive set of integrations, addons, and features which make it a complete solution for a premium membership website.

3. Restrict Content Pro

Restrict Content Pro

Restrict Content Pro is a powerful contender for the title of the best membership plugin for WordPress. It is created by same team that’s behind the popular Easy Digital Downloads and AffiliateWP plugins.

Pros of Using Restrict Content Pro

Easy to Use – Restrict Content Pro beautifully integrates with the WordPress user interface. This allows you to easily figure out how to use it.

Built-in Integrations – Unlike other membership plugins, Restrict Content Pro comes with built-in integrations that other plugins ship as paid addons. It has Stripe, PayPal, MailChimp, MailPoet, email manager, CSV export, and many more features.

Payment Gateways – Stripe, PayPal, and Braintree come as free addons. Other supported payment gateways include 2Checkout, PayPal Website Payments Pro, PayPal Express, and Stripe Checkout.

Works with Easy Digital Downloads – If you are running Easy Digital Downloads to sell digital products, then Restrict Content Pro is the perfect companion for that.

Excellent Support – There is extensive free documentation available for all users. You also get professional support by email with very fast response times.

Cons of Using Restrict Content Pro

Fewer Integrations – It has fewer integrations with third party services such as email service providers than some other plugins on this list.

Pricing: $99 with 12 addons and single site license, $149 for 5 sites, and $249 for all addons and unlimited sites. There is also a $499 lifetime plan.

We found Restrict Content Pro to be one of the most easy to use membership plugin. It is also developer friendly, and comes with a great set of features that are perfect for all kind of membership websites.

4. LearnDash

LearnDash

LearnDash is a super flexible and extremely easy to use WordPress LMS plugin. It comes with advanced membership modules and tons of integrations.

Pros of Using LearnDash

Easy to Setup LearnDash is quite easy to setup and adding content to it much more simpler. It also comes with advanced tools to easily organize your membership content into levels, groups, etc.

Easy Content Restrictions LearnDash allows you to easily hide any content and restrict it to different membership groups.

Sell Courses – LearnDash allows you to easily create and sell online courses. It has advanced modules that allow you to better manage learning material than other WordPress membership plugins.

Drip Content – It comes with powerful drip content feature allowing you to roll out content to users on regular intervals or upon completion of levels.

Built-in Community Features It comes with tools to create highly engaging membership sites with quizzes, user badges, course specific forums, certificates, user profiles, etc.

Integrations & Payments LearnDash offers an amazing set of integrations and payment gateways. You can even connect it to MemberPress, WooCommerce, bbPress, Slack, etc.

Cons of Using LearnDash

Lacks some membership features – If you are trying to build a membership website without selling courses, then some of LearnDash features may not be useful to you.

Pricing: Starting from $159 for a single site license with 1 year of support and updates.

LearnDash is the perfect solution if you want to sell online courses on a paid membership website. It’s extensive set of addons and integrations allow you to build a highly-engaging platform.

5. S2Member

S2Member

S2Member is a popular free WordPress membership plugin with pro version available as well. It has been around for quite a while and has a devoted userbase.

Pros of Using S2Member WordPress Membership Plugin

Free Base Plugin – The s2Member base plugin is free. Anyone can download and give it a try. It is limited in terms of features and support but gives you a good starting point.

Content Dripping – S2Member Pro comes with content drip feature.

Payment Gateways – The free version supports PayPal. Pro version of the plugin supports Stripe and Authorize.net as well.

Integrations – Works with MailChimp, bbPress and BuddyPress.

Documentation & Support – S2Member has an extensive knowledgebase available to all. Pro users also get email based support.

Cons of Using S2Member WordPress Membership Plugin

Not very user-friendly – We found s2Member to be a little more difficult to use than other membership plugins.

Free Version Limitations – Free version only supports PayPal, limits to only 4 membership levels, and does not have drip content feature.

Pricing: The base plugin is free, then Pro version for a single site license costs $89 USD. For unlimited sites pro version costs $189 USD.

Conclusion:

We believe that MemberPress is the best option for WordPress membership plugin. It has all the features that you would need with great documentation and support.

If you want something simple and flexible, then Restrict Content Pro is a great option. The team behind has a proven track record for producing excellent products.

If you want to sell courses on your membership website, then we recommend using LearnDash, it comes with powerful features to create and sell courses online.

We hope this article helped you find the best WordPress membership plugin for your site. You may also want to see our step by step WordPress SEO guide for beginners.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The Eternal visit a Gun That Doesn’t Kill

this informative article ended up being posted in partnership with The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the US unlawful justice system. Join their newsletter, or proceed with the Marshall Project on facebook.

Within the brand new cop drama APB, an Elon Musk-type billionaire engineer purchases a beleaguered Chicago police precinct to avenge his buddy’s murder. He re-outfits the station with wizardry including drones, a biometric interrogation seat and guns that immediately (and nonlethally) stop crooks aided by the range and precision of the old-fashioned pistol. We’ll leave it to your solicitors to argue if a civilian could obtain a precinct. When it comes to technology material, especially the pimped-out stun weapon, issue is prompt: Given the present high-profile fatal police shootings of civilians—roughly 1,000 a year—it is reasonable that law enforcement officials and victim advocates alike take an ongoing search for a unit that can neutralize a risk without causing permanent harm. “It’s shout or shoot. There aren’t some intermediate choices,” says Sid Heal, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department commander whom consults internationally on the utilization of force. And since most police division protocols allow officers to respond to threats by using a more impressive range of force than they’re confronting, an officer whom faces off against a foe holding a lethal weapon—which could be a hammer or baseball bat—is almost certainly going to react with all the solution revolver. For 800 years, the only effective way to stop an adversary is weapon, set to kill. However the pursuit of a nonlethal alternative hasn’t been more urgent.

Tom Swift’s Electrical Rifle

Exactly what, then, in regards to the Taser? is not your solution—a tool that can surprise a subject into distribution, leaving no lasting damage? That’s the idea the theory is that, and since first introduced by Taser International in 1993, the product has become a mainstay in nearly every police department. But concept and training are two different things. Tasers are both less efficient than guns at stopping some body charging you at you with no guarantee of making them unscathed.

It’s not just a quick fix, but it stops a danger. Steve Tuttle, Taser Overseas

Named the 1911 youth guide Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle (it’s an initialism), Tasers work by shooting two electrically charged probes—one negative, one positive—delivering a 5 to 30 2nd surprise of 50,000 volts, although the voltage drops significantly upon effect. Both probes need to make close contact with your skin working. Yet often they don’t: Heavy clothing can repel them, therefore the further the length that they’re shot, the wider the space, or spread, between your two probes. “The spread is one base for every single seven legs they travel. Basically deploy it at you at 14 feet, the spread is going to be two legs,” states Taser Global spokesperson Steve Tuttle. “It’s not a magic pill.” But, he adds confidently, “It prevents a hazard,” and much more effortlessly than many other less-lethal options such as batons, pepper spray or disorienting blinking products. (Taser Global virtually has industry, though a small number of competitors have actually introduced comparable stun devices. The business won a patent infringement lawsuit against one, Karbon Arms, in 2014. Karbon Arms web site has since shut down as well as its Facebook web page says “closed for company.”) While Tasers are clearly less deadly than mainstream firearms, arguments carry on over whether they can surprise someone to death. A Washington Post investigation of police killings in 2015 found around one death per week associated with authorities utilization of Tasers, but no-one could definitively attribute those deaths to electric surprise. Some topics might have dropped and hit their heads after being shocked. In terms of range, in 2009 Taser introduced the XREP stretched range shotgun, which may reach up to 100 foot. However with only limited circumstances of practical usefulness and rounds costing $125 each, Tuttle claims, “It had been too costly. We pulled it.” Tuttle notes FBI data show that many officers fire their guns from seven to 10 feet away, well inside a Taser’s reach. Nevertheless, some officers won’t trust a Taser except up close. On TV, the number problem is solved simply by writing it into the script. In APB’s pilot episode, a detective is directed by the precinct’s brand new owner to shoot at a lady being held hostage by a perp having a weapon to the woman mind. “The Taser won’t kill the girl, but he can,” the rich employer whispers. The detective takes the shot additionally the woman falls, stunned but unharmed. Then your detective shoots once again and immobilizes the theif.

State i simply had an encounter with somebody threatening committing suicide in which you’ve got the less-lethal option. Now I go on the next task and I also have someone shooting at me personally. Am I going to make sure to switch the mode? John Folino, Chicago Police Department

Exactly how that scenario would play away into the real world, who knows? Sergeant Detective John Folino, the show’s technical adviser plus 19-year veteran for the Chicago Police Department, discusses practical issues over ethics. “Right now, you’ve got officers having a weapon plus Taser. It is possible to only have a great deal on your own duty belt,” impeding flexibility and causing straight back discomfort, he claims. Like Star Trek’s phasers, the fictional weapons on Fox’s APB have stun and destroy settings—which could also cause issues. “Say i recently had an encounter with somebody threatening committing suicide in which you’ve got the less-lethal choice,” Folino states. “Now we go on another work and I also have actually someone shooting at me personally. Am I going to be sure you switch the mode?” That’s a real-world concern tragically responded a year ago whenever Tulsa reserve deputy Robert Bates drew their gun as opposed to his Taser and killed Eric Harris, the unarmed topic of the sting procedure. Bates stated he’d gotten confused, and ended up being sentenced to four years for manslaughter. “That’s the reason why once we train, we put the Taser in the opposing part,” Folino claims. “It’s called your help part. Your actual gun is on your own strong part.”

Directed Energy: Feeling the Burn

Just what exactly else is offered? The next closest thing on evasive phaser on stun may be a directed energy system developed by Raytheon that fires waves of power that penetrate a paper-thin layer regarding the epidermis, creating an intolerable burning sensation. But it’s scarcely handheld and contains become mounted on a flatbed trailer. Initially created for the armed forces, it was implemented in Afghanistan this year before being recalled by the Air Force, apparently as a result of concerns about Geneva Convention violations. Raytheon couldn’t return requires comment. Jail guards tested a model for law enforcement use—mostly for crowd control—at la’ North County Correctional Facility this season. Heal, the retired LA sheriff’s commander, had been a consultant on that contract. “We wear it the top the prison where we simply had two murders. And also the ACLU objected,” he complains, by having a tone of exasperation.“Why don’t we simply use the material we’ve been utilizing since 1820, like billy groups and night sticks?”

There isn’t any such thing as perfect tool, and tools made to be non-lethal can find yourself having deadly effects or infringe on people’s liberties to talk out and construct. Rohini Haar, Physicians for Human Rights

The ACLU referred me personally to Physicians for Human Rights. “Our prevailing issues about weapons—either genuine or hypothetical—is both the risk they pose and their possibility of being used to break people’s legal rights,” writes Rohini Haar, a crisis medication physician utilizing the team, in a email. He states the beam’s results haven’t been completely studied. “Certainly an alternative solution to reside ammunition is warranted, but the problem let me reveal that [less-lethal weapons] are often deployed with no complete comprehension of their possible health impacts. … there’s absolutely no such thing as a perfect weapon, and weapons made to be non-lethal can find yourself having life-threatening impacts or infringe on people’s legal rights to talk out and assemble.” And so the search continues. Robert Afzal of Aculight Corp., a subsidiary of Lockheed in Bothell, Washington, is developing high-powered lasers to shoot straight down missiles. A bit of a Trekkie, he poses having a movie prop in a Smithsonian documentary that likens their laser up to a phaser. Both are beam tools, all things considered. But like Raytheon’s ray weapon, Afzal’s must be installed on a big automobile. Additionally utilizes intense heat to shoot straight down missiles, maybe not repel humans. “The phaser as stun weapon or Taser continues to be in realm of good technology fiction,” Afzal says. “We would want significant improvements in technology, including batteries, to make a useful handheld laser gun.” Size, then, still matters. The technology to pack all that energy in a holster-ready device merely is not right here yet. Additionally, the various shocking as well as heat tools currently available or in development follow a fundamental paradigm: Those that submit impulses instantaneously with a beam burn their topics rather than surprise them; those who surprise, like the tethered Taser probes, don’t usage beams. APB‘s only doing so-so into the ranks, therefore it’s not likely to spark the imagination of weapons designers. Nevertheless the most useful device was conceived above 300 years ago. In “The Tempest,” Shakespeare’s Prospero declares:

I’m able to right here disarm thee using this stick. While making thy gun fall.

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I Took the AI Class Facebookers Are Literally Sprinting to Get Into

Chia-Chiunn Ho was eating lunch inside Facebook headquarters, at the Full Circle Cafe, when he saw the notice on his phone: Larry Zitnick, one of the leading figures at the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research lab, was teaching another class on deep learning.

Ho is a 34-year-old Facebook digital graphics engineer known to everyone as “Solti,” after his favorite conductor. He couldn’t see a way of signing up for the class right there in the app. So he stood up from his half-eaten lunch and sprinted across MPK 20, the Facebook building that’s longer than a football field but feels like a single room. “My desk is all the way at the other end,” he says. Sliding into his desk chair, he opened his laptop and surfed back to the page. But the class was already full.

Internet giants have vacuumed up most of the available AI talent—and they need more.

He’d been shut out the first time Zitnick taught the class, too. This time, when the lectures started in the middle of January, he showed up anyway. He also wormed his way into the workshops, joining the rest of the class as they competed to build the best AI models from company data. Over the next few weeks, he climbed to the top of the leaderboard. “I didn’t get in, so I wanted to do well,” he says. The Facebook powers-that-be are more than happy he did. As anxious as Solti was to take the class—a private set of lectures and workshops open only to company employees—Facebook stands to benefit the most.

Deep learning is the technology that identifies faces in the photos you post to Facebook. It also recognizes commands spoken into Google phones, translates foreign languages on Microsoft’s Skype app, and wrangles porn on Twitter, not to mention the way it’s changing everything from internet search and advertising to cybersecurity. Over the last five years, this technology has radically shifted the course of all the internet’s biggest operations.

With help from Geoff Hinton, one of the founding fathers of the deep learning movement, Google built a central AI lab that feeds the rest of the company. Then it paid more than $650 million for DeepMind, a second lab based in London. Another founding father, Yann LeCun, built a similar operation at Facebook. And so many other deep learning startups and academics have flooded into so many other companies, drawn by enormous paydays.

The problem: These companies have now vacuumed up most of the available talent—and they need more. Until recently, deep learning was a fringe pursuit even in the academic world. Relatively few people are formally trained in these techniques, which require a very different kind of thinking than traditional software engineering. So, Facebook is now organizing formal classes and longterm research internships in an effort to build new deep learning talent and spread it across the company. “We have incredibly smart people here,” Zitnick says. “They just need the tools.”

Meanwhile, just down the road from Facebook’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters, Google is doing much the same, apparently on an even larger scale, as so many other companies struggle to deal with the AI talent vacuum. David Elkington, CEO of Insidesales, a company that applies AI techniques to online sales services, says he’s now opening an outpost in Ireland because he can’t find the AI and data science talent he needs here in the States. “It’s more of an art than a science,” he says. And the best practitioners of that art are very expensive.

In the years to come, universities will catch up with the deep learning revolution, producing far more talent than they do today. Online courses from the likes of Udacity and Coursera are also spreading the gospel. But the biggest internet companies need a more immediate fix.

Seeing the Future

Larry Zitnick, 42, is a walking, talking, teaching symbol of how quickly these AI techniques have ascended—and how valuable deep learning talent has become. At Microsoft, he spent a decade working to build systems that could see like humans. Then, in 2012, deep learning techniques eclipsed his ten years of research in a matter of months.

In essence, researchers like Zitnick were building machine vision one tiny piece at time, applying very particular techniques to very particular parts of the problem. But then academics like Geoff Hinton showed that a single piece—a deep neural network—could achieve far more. Rather than code a system by hand, Hinton and company built neural networks that could learn tasks largely on their own by analyzing vast amounts of data. “We saw this huge step change with deep learning,” Zitnick says. “Things started to work.”

For Zitnick, the personal turning point came one afternoon in the fall of 2013. He was sitting in a lecture hall at the University of California, Berkeley, listening to a PhD student named Ross Girshick describe a deep learning system that could learn to identify objects in photos. Feed it millions of cat photos, for instance, and it could learn to identify a cat—actually pinpoint it in the photo. As Girshick described the math behind his method, Zitnick could see where the grad student was headed. All he wanted to hear was how well the system performed. He kept whispering: “Just tell us the numbers.” Finally, Girshick gave the numbers. “It was super-clear that this was going to be the way of the future,” Zitnick says.

Within weeks, he hired Girshick at Microsoft Research, as he and the rest of the company’s computer vision team reorganized their work around deep learning. This required a sizable shift in thinking. As a top researcher once told me, creating these deep learning systems is more like being a coach than a player. Rather than building a piece of software on your own, one line of code at a time, you’re coaxing a result from a sea of information.

But Girshick wasn’t long for Microsoft. And neither was Zitnick. Soon, Facebook poached them both—and almost everyone else on the team.

This demand for talent is the reason Zitnick is now teaching a deep learning class at Facebook. And like so many other engineers and data scientists across Silicon Valley, the Facebook rank and file are well aware of the trend. When Zitnick announced the first class in the fall, the 60 spots filled up in ten minutes. He announced a bigger class this winter, and it filled up nearly as quickly. There’s demand for these ideas on both sides of the equation.

There’s also demand among tech reporters. I took the latest class myself, though Facebook wouldn’t let me participate in the workshops on my own. That would require access to the Facebook network. The company believes in education, but only up to a point. Ultimately, all this is about business.

Going Deep

The class begins with the fundamental idea: the neural network, a notion that researchers like Frank Rosenblatt explored with as far back as the late 1950s. The conceit is that a neural net mimics the web of neuron in the brain. And in a way, it does. It operates by sending information between processing units, or nodes, that stand in for neurons. But these nodes are really just linear algebra and calculus that can identify patterns in data.

Even in the `50s, it worked. Rosenblatt, a professor of psychology at Cornell, demonstrated his system for the New Yorker and the New York Times, showing that it could learn to identify changes in punchcards fed into an IBM 704 mainframe. But the idea was fundamentally limited—it could only solve very small problems—and in the late ’60s, when MIT’s Marvin Minsky published a book that proved these limitations, the AI community all but dropped the idea. It returned to the fore only after academics like Hinton and LeCun expanded these system so they could operate across multiple layers of nodes. That’s the “deep” in deep learning.

As Zitnick explains, each layer makes a calculation and passes it to the next. Then, using a technique called “back propagation,” the layers send information back down the chain as a means of error correction. As the years went by and technology advanced, neural networks could train on much larger amounts of data using much larger amounts of computing power. And they proved enormously useful. “For the first time ever, we could take raw input data like audio and images and make sense of them,” Zitnick told his class, standing at a lectern inside MPK 20, the south end of San Francisco Bay framed in the window beside him.

‘We have incredibly smart people here. They just need the tools.’ Larry Zitnick

As the class progresses and the pace picks up, Zitnick also explains how these techniques evolved into more complex systems. He explores convolutional neural networks, a method inspired by the brain’s visual cortex that groups neurons into “receptive fields” arranged almost like overlapping tiles. His boss, Yann LeCun, used these to recognize handwriting way back in the early ’90s. Then the class progresses to LSTMs—neural networks that include their own short-term memory, a way of retaining one piece of information while examining what comes next. This is what helps identify the commands you speak into Android phones.

In the end, all these methods are still just math. But to understand how they work, students must visualize how they operate across time (as data passes through the neural network) and space (as those tile-like receptive fields examine each section of a photo). Applying these methods to real problems, as Zitnick’s students do during the workshops, is a process of trial, error, and intuition—kind of like manning the mixing console in a recording studio. You’re not at a physical console. You’re at a laptop, sending commands to machines in Facebook data centers across the internet, where the neural networks do their training. But you spend your time adjusting all sorts of virtual knobs—the size of the dataset, the speed of the training, the relative influence of each node—until you get the right mix. “A lot of it is built by experience,” says Angela Fan, 22, who took Zitnick’s class in the fall.

A New Army

Fan studied statistics and computer science as an undergraduate at Harvard, finishing just last spring. She took some AI courses, but many of the latest techniques are still new even to her, particularly when it comes to actually putting them into practice. “I can learn just from interacting with the codebase,” she says, referring to the software tools Facebook has built for this kind of work.

For her, the class was part of a much larger education. At the behest of her college professor, she applied for Facebook’s “AI immersion program.” She won a spot working alongside Zitnick and other researchers as a kind of intern for the next year or two. Earlier this month, her team published new research describing a system that takes the convolutional neural networks that typically analyze photos and uses them to build better AI models for understanding natural language—that is, how humans talk to each other.

This kind of language research is the next frontier for deep learning. After reinventing image recognition, speech recognition, and machine translation, researchers are pushing toward machines that can truly understand what humans say and respond in kind. In the near-term, the techniques described in Fan’s paper could help improve that service on your smartphone that guesses what you’ll type next. She envisions a tiny neural network sitting on your phone, learning how you—and just you in particular—talk to other people.

For Facebook, the goal is to create an army of Angela Fans, researchers steeped not just in neural networks but a range of related technologies, including reinforcement learning—the method that drove DeepMind’s AlphaGo system when it cracked the ancient game of Go—and other techniques that Zitnick explores as the course comes to a close. To this end, when Zitnick reprised the course this winter, Fan and other AI lab interns served as class TAs, running the workshops and answering any questions that came up over the six weeks of lectures.

Facebook isn’t just trying to beef its central AI lab. It’s hoping to spread these skills across the company. Deep learning isn’t a niche pursuit. It’s a general technology that can potentially change any part of Facebook, from Messenger to the company’s central advertising engine. Solti could even apply it to the creation of videos, considering that neural networks also have a talent for art. Any Facebook engineer or data scientist could benefit from understanding this AI. That’s why Larry Zitnick is teaching the class. And it’s why Solti abandoned his lunch.

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