An anonymous reader writes: David Mindell, an MIT professor, says self-driving cars should never be fully autonomous. "There's an idea that progress in robotics leads to full autonomy. That may be a valuable idea to guide research but when automated and autonomous systems get into the real world, that's not the direction they head. We need to rethink the notion of progress, not as progress toward full autonomy, but as progress toward trusted, transparent, reliable, safe autonomy that is fully interactive: The car does what I want it to do, and only when I want it to do it." Mindell writes, "Google's utopian autonomy is a more brittle, less functional solution than a rich, human-centered automation."
An anonymous reader writes: Japanese firms NTT Communications and SoftBank are working to develop new artificial intelligence (AI) platforms, offering cyber-attack protection services to their customers. Up until recently, AI-based security systems were only used for certain scenarios, in online fraud detection for example. The new offerings will be the first commercially-available platforms of their type for use in a wide range of applications.
MojoKid writes: Part of Microsoft's strategy to unite different devices to a single ecosystem means offering the same services and features across the board. One of those features is Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant, which is available on Windows 10. It will also be available for the Xbox One, though not until sometime next year, at least officially. Don't feel like waiting? You might not have to. Here's a quick and dirty guide on how to unlock Cortana on the Xbox One, provided you're running the latest Xbox One Experience Preview.
dcblogs writes: Gartner's near-future predictions include: Writers will be replaced. By 2018, 20% of all business content, one in five of the documents you read, will be authored by a machine. By 2018, 2 million employees will be required to wear health and fitness tracking devices as a condition of employment. This may seem Orwellian, but certain jobs require people to be fit, such as public safety workers. By 2020, smart agents will facilitate 40% of mobile interactions. This is based on the belief that the world is moving to a post-app era, where assistants such as Apple's Siri act as a type of universal interface.
Engadget reports that Daimler has tested an autonomous truck in one environment guaranteed to put stress on any car: the German Autobahn. While the Mercedes Actros truck was guided with a mix of "radar, a stereo camera array and off-the-shelf systems like adaptive cruise control," there was a human crew on hand, too, just in case. From the article: This doesn't mean you'll see fleets of robotic trucks in the near future. Daimler had to get permission for this run, and the law (whether European or otherwise) still isn't equipped to permit regular autonomous driving of any sort, let alone for giant cargo haulers. Still, this could make a better case for approving some form of self-driving transportation.
jfruh writes: IBM's Jeopardy-winning supercomputer Watson is now suite of cloud-based services that developers can use to add cognitive capabilities to applications, and one of its powers is visual analysis. Visual Insights analyzes images and videos posted to services like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, then looks for patterns and trends in what people have been posting. Watson turns what it gleans into structured data, making it easier to load into a database and act upon — which is clearly appealing to marketers and just as clearly carries disturbing privacy implications.
the_newsbeagle writes: Outbreaks of infectious diseases like Ebola follow a depressing pattern: People start to get sick, public health authorities get wind of the situation, and an all-out scramble begins to determine where the disease started and how it's spreading. Barbara Han, a code-writing ecologist, hopes her algorithms will put an end to that reactive model. She wants to predict outbreaks and enable authorities to prevent the next pandemic. Han takes a big-data approach, using a machine-learning AI to identify the wild animal species that carry zoonotic diseases and transmit them to humans.
An anonymous reader writes: Google DeepMind's learning algorithm has trumped human performance in an even greater range of games from the Atari 2600. The system's performance in classic games for the 80's games console has improved steadily since it was revealed in April last year (video) and a paper released yesterday shows it besting people in 31 titles.
The Next Web reports that developer Bruce Wilcox created the most convincing bot entered in this year's annual Loebner Competition. His latest entry, a chatbot named Rose, passed itself (herself?) off as a 30-year-old security consultant well enough to fool judges for a few minutes. But Wilcox's first-place entry was still not good enough to win the $100,000 Loebner Prize, to be given only for a more convincing impersonation. The article notes: "This isn't Wilcox’s first entry – or win. In 2010, he took first place with a bot named 'Suzette,' and followed that up in 2011 with another win using a new bot called 'Rosette.'"
minstrelmike writes: Mattel is coming out with a Talking Barbie designed by a huge team and pre-scripted with thousands of responses controlled by an AI, with designs to be your best friend. The design team remembers the "Math is hard" debacle of the 1990s and if a girl asks if she's pretty, Barbie will respond, "Yes. And you're smart, too." If she asks if Barbie believes in God, she says a person's beliefs are personal. And suggests talking to grownups about some problems. The linked New York Times' article ("Barbie Wants to Get to Know Your Child") even discusses trying to avoid edited vids on YouTube by scripting out words such as "cockroach."
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was a little embarrassed at a Salesforce conference today when he tested the company's personal virtual assistant during a presentation. Slightly fluffing the question 'Show me my most at-risk opportunities', Nadella was dismayed to find Cortana offering him a Bing page with the search term 'Show me to buy milk at this opportunity'. Two further efforts to discover the exposure of his shares failed to achieve their aim, and eventually the CEO of Microsoft gave up. The fact that he stumbled over his first attempt at the question seemed to floor Cortana, which uses the 'Einstein' AI engine, and which has been more praised for its accurate speech recognition than its ability to understand what an array of interpreted words actually mean.
jfruh writes: Harm de Vries, a post-doctoral researcher at the Université de Montréal, is trying to build an algorithm that will sort through pictures on Tinder and OKCupid and pick out women he'll find attractive. "Tinder kept giving me pictures of girls I wasn't attracted to," he said in a phone interview. "So I wondered if I could use deep learning." His program, built using deep learning techniques, has about a 68 percent success rate, which isn't that bad. (A human friend to whom de Vries described his preferences managed 76 percent.)
An anonymous reader writes: A new chess AI utilizes a neural network to approach the millions of possible moves in the game without just throwing compute cycles at the problem the way that most chess engines have done since Von Neumann. 'Giraffe' returns to the practical problems which defeated chess researchers who tried to create less 'systematic' opponents in the mid-1990s, and came up against the (still present) issues of latency and branch resolution in search. Invented by an MSc student at Imperial College London, Giraffe taught itself chess and reached FIDE International Master level on a modern mainstream PC within three days.
merbs writes: Two NYU AI researchers have created a surveillance camera that, when hooked up to a crude artificial intelligence, speaks aloud what it 'sees'. "Our idea was to raise awareness regarding the omnipresence of surveillance equipment, and the current state of technological advancement with artificial intelligence," Ross Goodwin said. "We wanted to create an entity with its own sense of social awareness, its own eyes, and an ability to communicate with humans, albeit with some glitchiness that underscores the limitations of the current technology."
holy_calamity writes: Making software take school tests designed for human kids can help the quest for machines with common sense, says researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. They've made software called Aristo that scores 75 percent on the multiple choice questions that make up most of New York State's 4th grade science exam. The researchers are urging other researchers to pit their best software against school tests, too, to provide a way to benchmark progress and spur competition.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at Facebook AI Research (FAIR) have published a paper contending that image recognition research is now advanced enough to consider the problem of occlusion, wherein the objects AI must identify are either partially cropped or partially hidden. Their solution is the predictably labor-expensive route of human annotation of existing image-set databases, in this case 'finishing off' occluded objects with vector outlines and assigning them a z-order. This article looks at the practical and even philosophical problems of getting IR algorithms to 'guess' objects usefully, and asks whether practical IR research might not be currently limited both by the use of over-specific image datasets and — in the field of neural networks — by problems of theory and limited 'local' processing power in critical real-time situations.
An anonymous reader writes: Gizmodo's Annalee Newitz looked through the source code contained in the recent Ashley Madison data dump and found evidence that the company created tens of thousands of bot accounts designed to spur their male users into action by sending them messages. "The code tells the story of a company trying to weave the illusion that women on the site were plentiful and eager." The evidence suggests bots sent over 20 million messages on the website, and chatted with people over 11 million times. The vast majority of fake accounts — 70,529 to 43 — pretended to be female, and the users targeted were almost entirely men. Comments left in the code indicate some of the issues Ashley Madison's engineers had to solve: "randomizing start time so engagers don't all pop up at the same time" and "for every single state that has guest males, we want to have a chat engager." The AI was unsophisticated, though one type of bot would try to convince men to pay and then pass them to a real person.
An anonymous reader writes: IBM is testing a new way to help fix Beijing's air pollution problem with artificial intelligence. Like many other cities across the country, the capital is surrounded by many coal burning factories. However, the air quality on a day-to-day basis can vary because of a number of reasons like industrial activity, traffic congestion, and the weather. IBM is testing a computer system capable of learning to predict the severity of air pollution several days in advance using large quantities of data from several different models. "We have built a prototype system which is able to generate high-resolution air quality forecasts, 72 hours ahead of time," says Xiaowei Shen, director of IBM Research China. "Our researchers are currently expanding the capability of the system to provide medium- and long-term (up to 10 days ahead) as well as pollutant source tracking, 'what-if' scenario analysis, and decision support on emission reduction actions."