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Submission + - Here's the Robot That Elon Musk's OpenAI is Training to do Household Chores (technologyreview.com)

moon_unit2 writes: Technology Review has the scoop about the robot that OpenAI is reprogramming to be a home helper. OpenAI, ceated to do basic and open AI research, is reprogramming robots developed by Fetch Robotics, a company that supplies warehouse automation hardware. Researchers at having the robots learn for themselves how to do useful tasks through reinforcement learning.

Submission + - How Assassin's Creed or Fallout 4 Might Help Make AI Smarter (technologyreview.com)

moon_unit2 writes: Apparently, playing computer games might provide a shortcut to greater intelligence. MIT Technology Review has a story about researchers using virtual game environments to train deep neural networks to recognize real-world objects. It's an important idea because deep learning usually requires huge quantities of annotated data, which isn't always available. So researchers from Xerox Europe, led by Adrien Gaidon, showed that training a deep learning system on a photo-realistic street scene could enable it to identify cars on real roads. “The nice thing about virtual worlds is you can create any kind of scenario,” Gaidon says. Perhaps video games could play a bigger role in the future of AI than anyone realized.

Submission + - Skydio Is Developing a Consumer Drone that Actually Flies Itself (technologyreview.com)

moon_unit2 writes: DJI's new Phantom 4 drone may be able to stop if there's an obstacles directly in front of it, but MIT Technology Review has a story about a much more sophisticated self-flying drone, from a startup called Skydio (basically using high-speed visual SLAM, which is no mean feat in such a tiny package). The company's prototype uses several video cameras to navigate around obstacles at high speeds through busy airspace. The technology could make consumer drones much harder to crash, and it could let drones do more complex surveillance tasks. Skydio, founded last year, has so far raised $25 million in funding in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz and Accel Partners.

Submission + - Home Robots Don't Yet Live Up the Hype (technologyreview.com)

moon_unit2 writes: You may have heard of "personal robots" such as Jibo, Buddy, and Pepper. One journalist recently met one of these home bots and found the reality less dazzling than the promotional videos. Whereas the Indiegogo clips of Buddy show the robot waking people up and helping with cooking, the current prototype can only perform a few canned tasks, and it struggles with natural language processing and vision. As the writer notes, the final version may be a lot more sophisticated, but it's hard to believe that real home helpers are just around the corner.

Submission + - Amazon is Working to Replace Some Warehouse Workers (technologyreview.com)

moon_unit2 writes: Amazon is organizing the event to spur the development of more nimble-fingered product-packing robots. Participating teams will earn points by locating products sitting somewhere on a stack of shelves, retrieving them safely, and then packing them into cardboard shipping boxes. Robots that accidentally crush a cookie or drop a toy will have points deducted. The contest is already driving new research on robot vision and manipulation, and it may offer a way to judge progress made in the past few years in machine intelligence and dexterity. Robots capable of advanced manipulation could eventually take on many simple jobs that are still done by hand.

Submission + - Make Virtually Any Paywall Disappear with A Handy Chrome Extension (google.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Tired of bumping into paywalls while browsing big news sites? A new chrome extension, called Wrecking Ball, makes just about any paywall disappear by exploiting the way those companies give a free pass to anyone arriving from a search engine or through social media. So go enjoy NYT , WSJ, FT, Economist, and more, while they last.

Submission + - Robot Overlord Watch: Robots Join the Final Assembly Line at U.S. Auto Plant (technologyreview.com) 1

moon_unit2 writes: MIT Technology Review has a story about BMW's new collaborative final-assembly-line robots. The move could prove a significant in the ongoing automation of work, as robots have previously been incapable of doing such jobs, and too dangerous to work in close proximity to humans. Robots like the ones at BMW’s South Carolina plant are also to cooperate with human workers, by handing them a wrench when they need it. So perhaps the next big shift in labor could be robot-human collaboration.

Submission + - How MOOCs Could Watch Students' Faces for Signs Of Confusion Or Frustration (technologyreview.com)

moon_unit2 writes: Tech Review has a story on research showing that facial recognition software can accurately spot signs that programming students are struggling. NC State researchers tracked students learning java and used an open source facial-expression recognition engine to identify emotions such as frustration or confusion. The technique could be especially useful for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)--where many thousands of students are working remotely--but it could also help teachers identify students who need help in an ordinary classroom, experts say. That is, as long as those students don't object to being watched constantly by a camera.

Submission + - Why Self-Driving Cars Are Still a Long Way Down the Road (technologyreview.com)

moon_unit2 writes: Technology Review has a piece on the reality behind all the hype surrounding self-driving, or driverless, cars. From the article: "Vehicle automation is being developed at a blistering pace, and it should make driving safer, more fuel-efficient, and less tiring. But despite such progress and the attention surrounding Google’s “self-driving” cars, full autonomy remains a distant destination. A truly autonomous car, one capable of dealing with any real-world situation, would require much smarter artificial intelligence than Google or anyone else has developed. The problem is that until the moment our cars can completely take over, we will need automotive technologies to strike a tricky balance: they will have to extend our abilities without doing too much for the driver."
AI

Submission + - A German Parking Garage Parks Your Car for You (technologyreview.com)

moon_unit2 writes: Tech Review has a story about a garage in Ingolstadt, Germany, where the cars park themselves. The garage is an experiment set up by Audi to explore ways that autonomous technology might practically be introduced; most of the sensor technology is built into the garage and relayed to the cars rather than inside the cars themselves. It seems that carmakers see the technology progressing in a slightly different way to Google, with its fleet of self-driving Prius. From the piece: “It’s actually going to take a while before you get a really, fully autonomous car,” says Annie Lien, a senior engineer at the Electronics Research Lab, a shared facility for Audi, Volkswagen, and other Volkswagen Group brands in Belmont, California, near Silicon Valley. “People are surprised when I tell them that you’re not going to get a car that drives you from A to B, or door to door, in the next 10 years.”
China

Submission + - Bruce Schneier: A Cyber Cold War" Could Destabilize the Internet (technologyreview.com)

moon_unit2 writes: In an op-ed piece over at Technology Review, Bruce Schneier says that the cyber espionage between the US, China, and other nations, has been rampant for the past decade. But he also worries that the media frenzy over recent attacks is fostering a new kind of Internet-nationalism and spurring a cyber arms race that has plenty of negative side-effects for the Internet and it's users. From the piece: "We don’t know the capabilities of the other side, and we fear that they are more capable than we are. So we spend more, just in case. The other side, of course, does the same. That spending will result in more cyber weapons for attack and more cyber-surveillance for defense. It will result in move government control over the protocols of the Internet, and less free-market innovation over the same. At its worst, we might be about to enter an information-age Cold War: one with more than two “superpowers.” Aside from this being a bad future for the Internet, this is inherently destabilizing."
Open Source

Submission + - Ubuntu for Smartphones Will Be Released in a Few Weeks (technologyreview.com)

moon_unit2 writes: Canonical says it will release a version of its OS for smartphones, along with a tool for installing it on Galaxy Nexus handsets in the next few weeks. Pat McGowan, director of engineering at Canonical, demonstrated the software at MIT last week, and said that carriers and hardware makers have shown a “very strong, good reaction” because they are so concerned about the amount of power Google has in mobile computing.
AI

Submission + - Why Ray Kurzweil's Google Project May be Doomed to Fail (technologyreview.com)

moon_unit2 writes: An AI researcher at MIT suggests that Ray Kurzweil's ambitious plan to build a super-smart personal assistant at Google may be fundamentally flawed. Kurzweil's idea, as put forward in his book How to Build a Mind, is to combine a simple model of the brain with enormous computing power and vast amounts of data, to construct a much more sophisticated AI. Boris Katz, who works oh machines designed to understand language, says this misses a key facet of human intelligence: that it is built on a lifetime of experiencing the world rather than simply processing raw information.
Advertising

Submission + - Advertising May Soon Follow You from One Device to the Next (technologyreview.com)

moon_unit2 writes: We're all familiar with ads that seem to follow you around as you go from one website to another. A startup called Drawbridge has developed technology that could let those ads follow you even when you pic up a smartphone or tablet. The company, founded by an ex-Google scientist employs statistical methods to try and match identify users on different devices. The idea is that this will preserve privacy while making mobile ads more lucrative, although some experts aren't convinced that the data will be truly anonymous.

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