The way you experience YouTube may be dramatically different before the end of the year. According to multiple sources, the world’s largest video-sharing site is preparing to launch its two separate subscription services before the end of 2015 — Music Key, which has been in beta since last November, and another unnamed service targeting YouTube’s premium content creators, which will come with a paywall. Taken together, YouTube will be a mix of free, ad-supported content and premium videos that sit behind a paywall.
With the exception of a few video rentals, YouTube has always been a free, ad-supported service. But the company is about to get serious about subscription services, offering new ways for the users that create videos to make money. While two subscription offerings for the same service might seem odd to some — with one music industry source calling it "strange on top of strange" — YouTube’s thinking was likened to that of a cable company offering different packages for sports and movies.
At the Dusseldorf airport, robotic valet parking is now reality. You step out of your car. You press a button on a touch screen. And then a machine lifts your car off the ground, moving all three tons of it into a kind of aerial parking bay. Built by a German company called Serva Transport, the system saves you time. It saves garage space, thanks to those carefully arranged parking spots. And it’s a sign of so many things to come.
But the one thing it doesn’t do, says J.P. Gownder, an analyst with the Boston-based tech research firm Forrester, is steal jobs. In fact, it creates them. Before installing the robotic system, the airport already used automatic ticket machines, so the system didn’t replace human cashiers. And now, humans are needed to maintain and repair all those robotic forklifts. “These are not white-collar jobs,” Gownder tells WIRED. “This is the evolution of the repair person. It’s harder to fix a robot than it is to fix a vending machine.”
Automation can unnerve some people, and the automation of art has a special power to offend humanity’s view of itself as soulful: How could a thing without psychological or emotional states express itself with the spirit and feeling seemingly necessary for making music?
“Before I encountered any of this stuff, I probably would have had a similar reaction,” says Donya Quick, a graduate student at Yale University who developed a computer program that composes original music that sounds like it was created by a human. “It’s an adverse reaction to novelty, the same way people first reacted to synthesizers.”
In two separate tests, each involving more than 100 human subjects of varied musical experience, participants listened to 40 short musical phrases, some written by humans, others by computer programs, including Quick’s, which she calls Kulitta.
The subjects were asked to rate the musical phrases on a seven-point scale ranging from “absolutely human” to “absolutely computer.” In both tests, Kulitta’s compositions rated, on average, on the human side of the scale. ‘It really does work’
The late Paul Hudak, Quick’s dissertation adviser at Yale, organized a separate series of informal public demonstrations where he juxtaposed a musical phrase composed by Kulitta with a phrase by J.S. Bach, the 17th-century German musical genius famous for his cello suites, fugues and chorales. Hudak then challenged audience members to identify which was which; invariably, even some music sophisticates confused Kulitta’s phrase for work by Bach.
Researchers used simulations to create short videos that mimic what vision would be like after two different types of sight recovery therapies. The results may be very different from what scientists and patients had previously assumed.
“This is the first visual simulation of restored sight in any realistic form,” says Ione Fine, associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington. “Now we can actually say, ‘This is what the world might look like if you had a retinal implant.'”
Fine says the goal of the project is to provide information about the quality of vision people can expect if they undergo sight restoration surgery, an invasive and costly procedure.
“This is a really difficult decision to make,” she says. “These devices involve long surgeries, and they don’t restore anything close to normal vision. The more information patients have, the better.”
For many of people who have vision problems, the vision loss occurs after light enters the eye and lands on the retina, a thin layer at the back of the eye that contains millions of nerve cells. Among those are cells called rods and cones, which convert light into electrical impulses that are transmitted to vision centers in the brain.
Loss of rods and cones is the primary cause of vision loss in diseases such as macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa.
But those diseases leave most remaining neurons within the retina relatively intact, and various technologies under development aim to restore vision by targeting the surviving cells. Two promising technologies
This is a pivotal time for the industry, Fine says, with one company that has a device on the market and several others set to enter the market in the next five to 10 years.
Two of the most promising devices, she says, are electric prostheses, which enable vision by stimulating surviving cells with an array of electrodes placed on the retina, and optogenetics, which insert proteins into the surviving retinal cells to make them light-sensitive.
Three years ago, I began taking August off social media. I wasn’t alone. That was the year everyone started writing about digital detoxes, smartphone-free summer camps, and Facebook cleanses. One writer at the Verge took a year’s vacation from the Internet.
I don’t seem to see those stories as much anymore. To figure out why, I decided to ask my 1,868 Facebook friends. I pulled up the site, but before I could properly articulate the question, I noticed a guy I met briefly five years ago had posted hiking photos from the same place I went hiking last week. We had both been in Oregon!! What a coincidence! I clicked on the photo and saw he’d been there with a woman I knew from high school. Well, how do they know each other? I clicked on her photo and up came a profile pic of three tiny children, all adorable. The youngest had a Brown University shirt on. A little bit of digging revealed that, in fact, her husband had gotten a job at my alma mater and they’d all moved to Providence. I’d learned so much in just five minutes, but what was it I’d wanted to know from Facebook?
Before we jump in, keep in mind that, though we cover plenty of science at Gizmag, Thync is a consumer product. And that's exactly how we're reviewing it – much like we would a new iPhone or laptop. We share our experience and make our recommendations, but we aren't writing any research papers or conducting any double-blind studies on it (though the company does link to some of those on its website).
After using Thync every day for the last week and a half, I'm convinced that it's one of the most exciting new tech products of 2015. Like taking a hit of Mary Jane, it can push me from an anxious, over-thinking mood to one where I'm cool, collected and laid-back like a THC-infused Rastafarian. And if I'm feeling sluggish or unmotivated, Thync can also peel that layer away, like the sun burning a morning fog off of my consciousness.
The Thync module itself is a curved white gizmo that connects wirelessly to a smartphone via Bluetooth low-energy. You start by snapping one of two different strips to the device. Each strip has two adhesive pads on it; they each attach to different points on your head (it sounds complicated, but the Thync app has a setup video that makes all of this easy and clear).
Apple’s early-adopting, outspoken co-founder Steve Wozniak thinks humans will be fine if robots take over the world because we’ll just become their pets.
After previously stating that a robotic future powered by artificial intelligence (AI) would be “scary and very bad for people” and that robots would “get rid of the slow humans”, Wozniak has staged a U-turn and says he now thinks robots taking over would be good for the human race.
“They’re going to be smarter than us and if they’re smarter than us then they’ll realise they need us,” Wozniak said at the Freescale technology forum in Austin. “We want to be the family pet and be taken care of all the time.”
“I got this idea a few years ago and so I started feeding my dog filet steak and chicken every night because ‘do unto others’,” he said.
Science fiction has been a surprisingly good predictor of technological development, from Star Trek’s tablet computers to the Demolition Man’s self-driving cars. Whether Terminator’s prediction of an advanced AI wiping out the human race is likely to stay fiction is open for debate.
Some of the most high-profile technology pioneers and the greatest minds of science including Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking have warned of the dangers of AI.
Doing a web search for an item that you remember seeing can be difficult, if you don't know what that thing is called and you don't have a picture of it. If only you could just draw a rough sketch of what you saw on a touchscreen, and use that as your search criteria. Well, you soon may be able to, thanks to the new Sketch-a-Net computer program.
Developed by a team at Queen Mary University of London, Sketch-a-Net is an example of a deep neural network. This means that it mimics the human brain, utilizing machine learning algorithms to build upon what it already knows every time it performs a new task.
So far, the program has been able to correctly identify the subject of peoples' touchscreen sketches with an accuracy rate of 74.9 percent – by contrast, human test subjects haven't done quite as well, managing 73.1 percent. Interestingly, part of its success comes from keeping track of the order in which the lines of each sketch are drawn.
The difference becomes more apparent when it comes to picking up on defining details in sketches. When it came to differentiating between drawings depicting the similar subjects "seagull," "flying bird", "standing bird" and "pigeon," for example, Sketch-a-Net was correct 42.5 percent of the time, compared to the 24.8 scored by humans.
One can’t help be positive about the future. Even obstacles have a bright side. For example - humans at some point will be limited by space and time; we can’t expect to go far in space exploration without the development of strong artificial intelligence and robots.
Experts say it takes light 100,000 years to travel from one end of the Milky Way galaxy to the other. Note that the speed of light is 3.0 x 10^8 m/s. This means that even if humans travel at the speed of light, which is 3.0 x 10^8 m/s, it will take us about 100000 years to traverse the milky way galaxy.
This limitation of humans can be eliminated once humans decide to merge with robots.
We can’t face the future with fear and trepidation; we must face it with caution and wisdom. The trade-offs between fear and improvement need to be considered if humans are to make meaningful progress in the next 80 years.
One meaningful reason that humans need to merge with machines is because the rate of improvement in our biology is linear, whereas, computing power doubles every two years. It follows an exponential curve.
About a decade ago, spam brought email to near-ruin. The contest to save your inbox was on, with two of the world’s biggest tech companies vying for the title of top spam-killer.
By February 2012, Microsoft boasted that its spam filters were removing all but 3 percent of the junk messages from Hotmail, the company’s online email service at the time. Google responded by claiming that its service, Gmail, removed all but about one percent of spam messages, adding that its false positives rate—legitimate mail misidentified as spam—was also about one percent.
It was a point of pride for the two companies, particularly Microsoft, whose Hotmail service once carried such a poor reputation for spam. And the relative success of both showed that heuristic technologies—which identify spam based on a pre-defined rules—were working.
But they still weren’t working well enough. One percent spam is still pretty annoying. And a one percent false-positive rate is, well, quite a bit more than annoying, if crucial messages go unread. Naturally, these companies continue to hone their spam-battling techniques, and now, Google has upped the ante with a new breed of artificial intelligence tools.
Three years after it last released Gmail’s spam stats, Google says that its spam rate is down to 0.1 percent, and its false positive rate has dipped to 0.05 percent. The company credits the significant drop in large part to the introduction of brain-like “neural networks” into its spam filters that can learn to recognize junk mail and phishing messages by analyzing scads off the stuff across an enormous collection of computers.
“One of the great things about machine learning is that it adapts to changing situations.” says John Rae-Grant, a senior product manager for Gmail, which Google says is now used by 900 million people across the globe. In other words, Gmail’s spam filters don’t just curb junk by applying pre-existing rules. They create new rules themselves as they go along.
High street shops are well-established online these days and provide new opportunities for interaction between shop and shopper. Consumers have become accustomed to shopping using a range of devices and the immense popularity of smartphones and mobile devices has led to the rise of mobile or m-retailing, with new communication and distribution channels created with these in mind. Perhaps this mix of the real and online worlds are helpful precursors for what may be the “next big thing”: virtual reality shopping.
Virtual reality (VR) experiences are typically provided through wearable headgear or goggles that block out the real world and immerse the user in a virtual one. This is distinguished from augmented reality (AR), where layers of digital content can be overlayed on the real world, providing access to both. For example, the digital information displayed on the visor of Google Glass.
Google’s big bet on technology for cities is finally starting to make sense.
Earlier this month, when Larry Page announced that Google was launching a new startup called Sidewalk Labs to develop and incubate technology for cities, many wondered what the company wanted with an industry that is so much less sexy than any of its other so-called “moonshot” projects, like developing the self-driving car or, you know, curing death.
Now, that fuzzy logic is coming into focus. Today, Sidewalk Labs announced it would be leading the acquisition of two companies behind New York City’s LinkNYC initiative, an ongoing plan to convert old pay phones into free public Wi-Fi hubs. Through the acquisition, Sidewalk Labs is merging the two companies—Control Group, which provides the interface for the new hubs, and Titan, which is overseeing the advertising that will pay for the project. The new venture, aptly named Intersection, will seek to bring free public Wi-Fi to cities around the world using different pieces of urban infrastructure, from pay phones to bus stops.
Jaguar has made a real effort to push the envelope recently, dropping its stuffy old English tweed jacket for a sharply-cut suit to compete with Germany's finest offerings. A big part this transformation has been a focus on innovative safety technologies, like windscreen map overlays and talking potholes. This time, Jaguar has turned to mind-reading tech to detect distracted or sleepy drivers.
While your smartphone is an easy conduit for all-emoji conversation, things get a little tough when you find yourself at a regular old laptop. Sure, keyboard shortcuts can get you there, but PC-made discussion is still dominated by… you know, words. Until now! Emoji Key is a set of stickers you can throw on top of your lettered keyboard. Then you just have to install the emoji keyboard on your laptop (the site includes instructions), and boom: You are typing in nothing but emoji. And yes, this would probably get confusing eventually.
A prototype 3D-printed robotic hand that can be made faster and more cheaply than current alternatives is this year's UK winner of the James Dyson Award.
The Bristol-raised creator of the Open Bionics project says he can 3D-scan an amputee and build them a custom-fitted socket and hand in less than two days.
It typically takes weeks or months to obtain existing products.
Joel Gibbard says he aims to start selling the prosthetics next year.
"We have a device at the lower-end of the pricing scale and the upper end of functionality," he told the BBC.
"At the same time it is very lightweight and it can be customised for each person.
"The hand is basically a skeleton with a 'skin' on top. So, we can do different things to the skin - we can put patterns on it, we can change the styling and design. There's quite a lot of flexibility there."
The 25-year-old inventor intends to charge customers £2,000 for the device, including the cost of a fitting.
Although prosthetic arms fitted with hooks typically can be bought for similar prices, ones with controllable fingers are usually sold for between £20,000 and £60,000.
Besides building luxury cars and motorcycles, BMW has made some pretty impressive sports gear, including an Olympic bobsled that drove Team USA to men's bronze and women's silver and bronze medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. BMW of North America announced today that it is now focusing attention on the upcoming 2016 Paralympic Games. It's reaching into its deep well of mechanical know-how to develop a racing wheelchair for the US track and field team.
The new racing chair represents BMW's fourth project in a six-year agreement with Team USA, following the bobsled and performance-tracking systems for both swimming and track and field. As in those past designs, the new project will involve adapting BMW vehicle technologies to the world of sports, and BMW will rely on its global creative consultancy Designworks in creating the new design. The California-based team will work directly with US track and field team athletes and coaches in identifying needs and solutions.
The project is still evolving, but BMW says that it will involve a complete overhaul of current racing wheelchair chassis design. The automaker will use its expertise in areas like aerodynamics, steering and braking, occupant restraint and carbon fiber construction in developing the new chair.
An interdisciplinary team led by Stanford electrical engineer Krishna Shenoy has developed a technique to improve brain-controlled prostheses. These brain-computer-interface (BCI) devices, for people with neurological disease or spinal cord injury, deliver thought commands to devices such as virtual keypads, bypassing the damaged area.
The new technique addresses a problem with these brain-controlled prostheses: they currently access a sample of only a few hundred neurons, so tiny errors in the sample — neurons that fire too fast or too slow — reduce the precision and speed of thought-controlled keypads.
Understanding brain dynamics for arm movements
In essence the new prostheses analyze the neuron sample and quickly make dozens of corrective adjustments to the estimate of the brain’s electrical pattern.
Shenoy’s team tested a brain-controlled cursor meant to operate a virtual keyboard. The system is intended for people with paralysis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, a condition that Stephen Hawking has. ALS degrades one’s ability to move.
The new corrective technique is based on a recently discovered understanding of how monkeys naturally perform arm movements. The researchers studied animals that were normal in every way. The monkeys used their arms, hands and fingers to reach for targets presented on a video screen. The researchers sought to learn, through hundreds of experiments, what the electrical patterns from the 100- to 200-neuron sample looked like during a normal reach — to understand the “brain dynamics” underlying reaching arm movements.
“These brain dynamics are analogous to rules that characterize the interactions of the millions of neurons that control motions,” said Jonathan Kao, a doctoral student in electrical engineering and first author of the open-access Nature Communications paper on the research. “They enable us to use a tiny sample more precisely.”
The Future of Life Institute has presented an open letter signed by over 1,000 robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) researchers urging the United Nations to impose a ban on the development of weaponized AI with the capability to target and kill without meaningful human intervention. The letter was presented at the 2015 International Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI), and is backed with the endorsements of a number of prominent scientists and industry leaders, including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and Noam Chomsky.
To some, armed and autonomous AI could seem a fanciful concept confined to the realm of video games and sci-fi. However, the chilling warning contained within the newly released open letter insists that the technology will be readily available within years, not decades, and that action must be taken now if we are to prevent the birth of a new paradigm of modern warfare.
Consider now the implications of this. According to the open letter, many now consider weaponized AI to be the third revolution in modern warfare, after gunpower and nuclear arms. However, for the previous two there have always been powerful disincentives to utilize the technology. For rifles to be used in the field, you need a soldier to wield the weapon, and this in turn meant putting a soldiers life at risk.
Over 1,000 high-profile artificial intelligence experts and leading researchers have signed an open letter warning of a “military artificial intelligence arms race” and calling for a ban on “offensive autonomous weapons”.
The letter, presented at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was signed by Tesla’s Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Google DeepMind chief executive Demis Hassabis and professor Stephen Hawking along with 1,000 AI and robotics researchers.
The letter states: “AI technology has reached a point where the deployment of [autonomous weapons] is – practically if not legally – feasible within years, not decades, and the stakes are high: autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms.”
The authors argue that AI can be used to make the battlefield a safer place for military personnel, but that offensive weapons that operate on their own would lower the threshold of going to battle and result in greater loss of human life.
Should one military power start developing systems capable of selecting targets and operating autonomously without direct human control, it would start an arms race similar to the one for the atom bomb, the authors argue.Unlike nuclear weapons, however, AI requires no specific hard-to-create materials and will be difficult to monitor.
Playing computer games can help make the world a safer place. Yes, really.
Maybe not blockbusters like Grand Theft Auto, but a new type of game designed to perform another function while you're playing it.
Take Binary Fission, for example. It challenges you to sort coloured atomic particles in as few steps as possible. It may seem like just another brain-teasing puzzle game, but you're actually helping to foil hackers and cyber-criminals while playing it.
Well, as you solve the puzzles you're actually helping to "verify formally" that an underlying software program is free from bugs and vulnerabilities that could leave it open to attack.
And as software is critical in the running of almost everything these days, from national energy networks to police drones, air traffic control systems to emergency services, formal verification is an essential process.
Brains work better than computers. They’re faster, more creative, and (almost) always make sweeter party playlists. But if for some reason you really wanted a computer that could out-think a brain, maybe you could build one…from…brains. Multiple brains. Today, researchers at Duke University announced they have done nearly that, wiring animal brains together so they could collaborate on simple tasks. Network monkeys displayed motor skills, and networked rats performed computations.
By the age of two most toddlers are able to use a tablet with only a little help from an adult.
Other research has explored the prevalence of tablet use by young children, but the new study, in which researchers watched more than 200 YouTube videos, is the first to investigate how infants and toddlers actually use iPads and other electronic devices.
“By age two, 90 percent of the children in the videos had a moderate ability to use a tablet,” says Juan Pablo Hourcade, associate professor of computer science at the University of Iowa. “Just over 50 percent of 12-to-17-month-old children in the videos had a moderate ability.”
Three-year clinical trial results of the Argus II retinal implant (“bionic eye”) have found that the device restored some visual function and quality of life for 30 people blinded by retinitis pigmentosa, a rare degenerative eye disease. The findings, published in an open-access paper in the journal Ophthalmology, also showed long-term efficacy, safety and reliability for the device.
Retinitis pigmentosa is an incurable disease that affects about 1 in 4,000 Americans and causes slow vision loss that eventually leads to blindness.
Using the Argus II, patients are able to see patterns of light that the brain learns to interpret as an image. The system uses a miniature video camera connected to the glasses to send visual information to a small computerized video processing unit and battery that can be stored in a pocket. This computer turns the image to electronic signals that are sent wirelessly to an electronic device surgically implanted on the retina in the eye.
The Argus II received FDA approval as a Humanitarian Use Device (HUD) in 2013 and in Europe Argus II received the CE Mark in 2011 and was launched commercially in Italy, Germany, France, Spain, The Netherlands, Switzerland and England.
A micro-device lined with living human cells able to mimic the function of living organs has been declared the overall winner of the Design Museum's Design of the Year Award for 2015.
Something of a departure from last year's winner, the Heydar Aliyev Center, by Zaha Hadid, Human Organs-on-Chips is the competition's first winner from the field of medicine in its eight-year history. Designed by Donald Ingber and Dan Dongeun Huh at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute, the Human Organs-on-Chips project comprises a series of chips that mimic real human organs, including a lung-on-a-chip, and gut-on-a-chip.
As we previously reported, the research could prove beneficial in evaluating the safety and efficacy of potential medical treatments, in addition to lessening demands on animal testing, accelerating drug discovery, and decreasing development and treatment costs.
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