Apple, take some notes from this half a MacBook concept for a future Mac mini

If you browse forums and news sites, you'll most likely come across concept ideas from users who want to give their vision of how a product from Apple or Microsoft could be.

Back when owning an iPhone was a wish for many in the early noughties, you would see concept images of iPod Videos with a 'Phone' menu, but in the same iPod body, or a design that would look similar to the bondi-blue iMac from 1997.

However, one user has gone beyond this concept idea, and removed the display to a MacBook Pro, but left the keyboard part intact.

This not only harks back to the days of the Amiga with its 2-in-1 design, but gives me the idea that this could be perfect as a replacement to the Mac mini.


An Amiga and Apple hybrid?

The Mac mini has been around since 2006, and Apple mentioned at the time that they could only do this thanks to the PowerPC to Intel CPU transition.

But with another transition in progress, Apple has repeated the same mantra, which is why we've seen a redesigned iMac and MacBook Pro so far.

While there's been efforts by others to prove that a smaller Mac mini could work for the Apple Silicon chips, you still need to have a keyboard and trackpad in order to use it.

This is why the below makes sense in the long run, instead of being an effort to go viral for a day.

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This would reshape how a Mac mini could work, especially if this concept could also run on a battery if needed.

You could take this hybrid on a commute to work, and plug in the HDMI or Thunderbolt cable to start your day. This would cut down the setup you would normally have to do for a Mac mini, as the keyboard and trackpad are already there.

But this also harks back to the days of the Amiga, a PC from the eighties that allowed you to do this in a similar design.

Amiga 600 computer

(Image credit: Future)

It's one thing to look at an image, but to see someone use a snapped MacBook as if it's an Amiga 600 in 2022, makes a lot of sense.

The design can work in an age where you can easily find a spare monitor in the office and get going on some work, without also having to find a keyboard and mouse.

If this was to replace how we see the Mac mini in the near future with an M2 chip, it could be the best recommendation from me for family and friends, especially if they're looking for a new device for their bedroom or office.

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Meta Builder Bot concept happily builds virtual worlds based on voice description

The Metaverse, that immersive virtual world where Meta (née Facebook) imagines we'll work, play, and interact with friends and family is also where we may someday build entire worlds with nothing but our voice.

During an online AI development update delivered, in part, by Meta/Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday (February 23), the company offered a glimpse of Builder Bot, an AI concept that allows the user to build entire virtual experiences using their voice.

Standing in what looked like a stripped-down version of Facebook's Horizon Worlds' Metaverse, Zuckerberg's and a co-worker's avatars asked a virtual bot to add an island, some furniture, clouds, a catamaran, and even a boombox that could pay real music to the environment. In the demonstration, the command phrasing was natural and the 3D virtual imagery appeared instantly, though it did look a bit like the graphics you'd find in Nintendo's Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

The development of Builder Bot is part of a larger AI initiative called Project CAIRaeoke, which is an end-to-end neural model for building on-device assistance. 

Meta's Builder Bot concept

Mark Zuckerberg’s legless avatar and Builder Bot. (Image credit: Future)

Zuckerberg explained that current technology is not yet equipped to help us explore an immersive version of the internet that will ultimately live in the Metaverse. While that will require updates across a whole range of hardware and software, Meta believes AI is the key to unlocking advancement that will lead to, as Zukerberg put it, “a new generation of assistants that will help us explore new worlds”.

“When we’re wearing [smart] Glasses, it will be the first time an AI system will be able to see the world from our perspective,” he added. A key goal here is for the AI they're developing to see as we do and, more importantly, learn about the world as we do, as well.

It's unclear if Builder Bot will ever become a true part of the burgeoning Metaverse, but its skill with real-time language processing and understanding how parts of the environment should go together is clearly informed by the work Meta is doing.

Mark Zuckerberg talks AI translation

Mark Zuckerberg talks AI translation (Image credit: Future)

Zuckerberg outlined a handful of other related AI projects, all of which will eventually feed into a Metaverse that can be accessed and used by anyone in the world.

These include “No Language Left Behind,” which, unlike traditional translation that often uses English as a mid-translation point, can translate languages directly from the source to the translation language. There's also the very Star Trek-like “Universal Speech Translator”, which would provide instantaneous speech-to-speech translation across all languages, including spoken languages.

“AI is going to deliver that in our lifetimes,” said Zuckerberg.

Mark Zuckerberg talks image abstraction

Mark Zuckerberg talks image abstraction (Image credit: Future)

Meta is also investing heavily in self-supervised learning (SSL) to build human-like cognition into AI systems. Instead of training with tons of images to help the AI identify patterns, the system is fed raw data and then asked to predict the missing parts. Eventually, the AI learns how to build abstract representations.

An AI that can understand abstraction could complete an image just from a few pieces of visual information, or generate the next frame of a video it's never seen. It could also build a visually pleasing virtual world with only your words to guide it.

For those full-on freaked out by Meta's Metaverse ambitions, Zuckerberg said that the company is building the Metaverse for everyone and they are “committed to build openly and responsibly” while protecting privacy and preventing harm.

It's unlikely anyone will take his word for it, but we look forward to watching the Metaverse's development.

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