My jaw hit the floor when I watched an AI master one of the world’s toughest physical games in just six hours

An AI just mastered Labyrinth in six hours, and I am questioning my own existence.

I started playing Labyrinth in the 1970s. While it may look deceptively simple and is fully analog, Labyrinth is an incredibly difficult, nearly 60-year-old physical board game that challenges you to navigate a metal ball through a hole-riddled maze by changing the orientation of the game platform using only the twistable nobs on two adjacent sides of the game's box frame.

I still remember my father bringing Labyrinth home to our Queens apartment, and my near-total obsession with mastering it. If you've never played, then you have no idea how hard it is to keep a metal ball on a narrow path between two holes just waiting to devour it.

It's not like you get past a few holes and you're home free; there are 60 along the whole meandering path. One false move and the ball is swallowed, and you have to start again. It takes fine motor control, dexterity, and a lot of real-time problem-solving to make it through unscathed. I may have successfully navigated the treacherous route a few times.

It sometimes ignored the path and took shortcuts. That’s called cheating.

In the intervening years, I played sporadically (once memorably with a giant labyrinth at Google I/O), but mostly I forgot about the game, though I guess I never really forgot the challenge.

Perhaps that's why my mouth dropped open as I watched CyberRunner learn and beat the game in just six hours.

In a recently released video, programmers from the public research university ETH Zurich showed off their bare-bones AI robot, which uses a pair of actuators that act as the 'hands' to twist the Labyrinth nobs, an overhead camera to watch the action, and a computer running an AI algorithm to learn and, eventually, beat the game.

In the video, developers explain that “CyberRunner exploits recent advances in model-based reinforcement learning and its ability to make informed decisions about potentially successful behaviors by planning into the future.”

Initially, CyberRunner was no better than me or any other average human player. It dumped the metal ball into holes less than a tenth of the way through the path, and then less than a fifth of the way through. But with each attempt, CyberRunner got better – and not just a little better, but exponentially so.

In just six hours, according to the video, “CyberRunner's able to complete the maze faster than any previously recorded time.” 

The video is stunning. The two motors wiggle the board at a super-human rate, and manage to keep the ball so perfectly on track that it's never in danger of falling into any of the holes. CyberRunner's eventual fasted time was a jaw-dropping 14.8 seconds. I think my best time was… well, it could often take many minutes.

I vividly recall playing, and how I would sometimes park the ball in the maze, taking a break mid-challenge to prepare myself for the remainder of the still-arduous journey ahead. No so with CyberRunner. Its confidence is the kind that's only possible with an AI. It has no worries about dropping its metal ball into a hole; no fear of failure.

It also, initially, had no fear of getting caught cheating.

As CyberRunner was learning, it did what computers do and looked for the best and fastest path through the maze, which meant it sometimes ignored the path and took shortcuts. That's called cheating. Thankfully, the researchers caught CyberRunner, and reprogrammed it so it was forced to follow the full maze.

Of course, CyberRunner's accomplishment is not just about beating humans at a really difficult game. This is a demonstration of how an AI can solve physical-world problems based on vision, physical interaction, and machine learning. The only question is, what real-world problems will this open-source project solve next?

As for me, I need to go dig my Labyrinth out of my parent's closet.

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New Samsung Food app can help you master the art of cooking right at home

Samsung is stepping into the kitchen as it launches its new “AI-powered food and recipe platform” – the aptly named Samsung Food. 

The app isn’t completely new as it draws much of its information from the “extensive database of Whisk, a smart food [company]” bought by Samsung NEXT back in 2019. Utilizing Whisk’s Food AI tech, however, Samsung Food acts as a personal assistant of sorts by helping people find interesting recipes. 

According to the official announcement, the software adapts to users in order to “create tailored meal plans” that meet an individual's dietary and nutritional needs. It will also provide step-by-step guides on how to cook a dish if you're new to cooking. 

As you can see in the trailer above, there is more to the app than simply being a cookbook on a smartphone. Once you save a dish to your personal “recipe box”, Samsung Food will analyze the entry then provide a shopping list of the ingredients that you need make it. The company claims that it's possible to adjust dishes via the Personalize Recipe tool. 

As an example, you can replace meat ingredients with vegetable substitutes if you’re a vegan or tweak a few things to make something more “nutritionally balanced”. 

However, it appears there is a discrepancy between the trailer and the actual app. While using it, we were unable to personalize any of recipes like it shows in the trailer – though it is possible we just weren't using one of the adjustable dishes available.


Samsung Food is currently available for download from both the App Store and Google Play Store. It’s being released across 104 countries around the world in eight different languages, including English, German, Spanish, French and Korean. In total, you will have over 160,000 recipes at your fingertips. 

Upon installation, the app will ask you a series of questions like whether or not you follow a specific diet or if you’re allergic to anything. It will avoid recommending recipes that will trigger an allergic reaction. For those who want more specific suggestions, you can enter personal details like age, height, weight, and overall activity level.

Samsung Food sign-up pages

(Image credit: Future)

The majority of recipes on the platform will take to you a third-party website when you select the Instructions tab while others will on the app itself. You can tell which ones will take you outside Samsung Food by looking underneath the main image. 

If it's a URL, it will be a third-party website. If it's a person's name, it will be in-app. The name belongs to one of the many cooking influencers on the platform.

Future updates

It appears that Samsung has some big plans for its Food app. The tech giant states it will be “adding new features and services to the app for an even more… comprehensive” experience. By the end of this year, it aims to fully integrate Samsung Health in order to offer advice to users on how to properly manage their personal nutrition.

Next year in 2024, Samsung will upgrade the platform with Vision AI tech, giving the app the ability to recognize food “photographed through the [on-device] camera”. Doing so will provide important nutrition information as well “recommend the best [dishes] to use them with”.

If you’re thinking of trying your hand at cooking but don’t know where to start, we recommend getting an air fryer. They’re pretty cheap and easy to use. Be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best air fryers for 2023


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OneDrive update offers a peek into Microsoft’s master plan

Microsoft is preparing an update for OneDrive that will embed the cloud storage service more deeply into its ecosystem of productivity and collaboration apps.

According to a new entry in the company’s product roadmap, Microsoft 365 users will soon benefit from a new synergy between OneDrive and Teams.

“In OneDrive, we are adding a ‘Your Teams’ section to the ‘More Places’ page to allow you to easily find and work with your files in Teams,” Microsoft explained.

The new feature is still under development for now, but is scheduled to roll out to all relevant customers in April.

Microsoft Teams, meet OneDrive

Although Microsoft remains the dominant brand in the office software space, Google stole the march when it came to bringing productivity tools into the cloud. In addition to the flexibility this afforded customers, the move also gave Google more freedom to build interactions between its apps.

While Microsoft has long offered web-based versions of its famous software, the company is now focusing more closely on tightening up the relationship between each of its services, extending all the way out to the Windows OS on which most business computers run.

The idea is to use this heightened level of interoperability to make it as inconvenient as possible to break away from the Microsoft ecosystem, even if a company or individual has adopted just a small selection of services.

The upcoming Microsoft 365 update is a reflection of this strategy, improving the fluidity with which users can utilize the file-sharing and management functionalities available with both OneDrive and Teams.

Other recent examples include the integration of Microsoft Teams and LinkedIn, the professional social network owned by Microsoft, and trade-in initiative designed to increase the volume of Microsoft hardware in office meeting rooms.

In addition to improving the interoperability of its apps, Microsoft is also working to ensure it is able to reach as wide an audience as possible. For example, the company recently announced a host of features aimed at frontline workers, a previously underserved demographic, as well as new accessibility functionality.

Although the latest Microsoft 365 announcement will have a comparatively small effect on the overall user experience, it’s one piece of a much larger puzzle Microsoft is attempting to assemble.

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Major WordPress update will make amateurs look like master web developers has announced the release of WordPress 5.9, a new version of the famous CMS that will change the way many people build their websites.

The new iteration of WordPress delivers a series of fundamental changes. Perhaps most notable is the introduction of new themes made entirely of blocks, which give users far broader control over the site experience.

To help users make the most of the changes, WordPress 5.9 comes bundled with a new default theme called Twenty Twenty-Two. The theme is designed to be highly flexible and can be moulded and tweaked from the Site Editor, where users can make global changes to color scheme, font combinations, page templates and more.

Beyond block-based themes, WordPress 5.9 also features new typography tools, layout options and detailing controls (for borders, spacing etc.), which WordPress says will give sites an additional feeling of polish.

WordPress 5.9

(Image credit: WordPress)

WordPress 5.9 update

The new release marks the halfway point of the Gutenberg project, a multi-year initiative that will eventually see the entire WordPress publishing experience reimagined. The overall idea is to streamline the building process such that non-technical users are incentivized to get creative with their sites.

“This release is a major milestone on the journey toward being able to manage all areas of your WordPress site using the same basic block concepts,” said Josepha Haden Chomphosy, Executive Director at WordPress.

“It puts a focus on how people can and should be able to build their space on the web without necessarily requiring that they be a brilliant developer. Because publishing should belong to artists and creators just as much as it belongs to designers and developers.”

WordPress 5.9 is the first build to feature this new set of foundational tools, which will continue to be refined and improved over time with the help of the WordPress community.

To access the new full-site editing facilities, users need to either download WordPress 5.9 directly or update from their site dashboard, then activate Twenty Twenty-Two or another of the block-based themes available.

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