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.
After coordinating scientific research for the United States during World War II, including initiating the Manhattan Project, the engineer Vannevar Bush set his sights on a pacifist instrument for world knowledge.
In the July 1945 issue of The Atlantic, Bush outlined his vision for a head-mounted camera attached to “a pair of ordinary glasses” that would record comments, photographs, and data from scientific experiments: “One can now picture a future investigator in his laboratory. His hands are free, and he is not anchored.” His “camera … of the future,” no “larger than a walnut,” worn on “a pair of ordinary glasses … where it is out of the way of ordinary visions” was in many ways a forerunner of today’s augmented-reality devices.
For decades we’ve been inching closer to popular augmented-reality technologies to enhance the physical world—each new iteration promising to turn the entire world into a computing interface—but only in the past couple of years have headsets no longer needed to be enormous, bulky, and expensive, and superimposed images advanced beyond thin lines.
Scientists have created a synchronous computer that operates using the unique physics of moving water droplets.
The computer is nearly a decade in the making, incubated from an idea that struck Manu Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, when he was a graduate student. The work combines his expertise in manipulating droplet fluid dynamics with a fundamental element of computer science—an operating clock.
“In this work, we finally demonstrate a synchronous, universal droplet logic and control,” Prakash says.
Neuroscientists still do not understand how the activities of individual brain cells translate to higher cognitive powers such as perception and emotion. The problem has spurred a hunt for technologies that will allow scientists to study thousands, or ideally millions, of neurons at once, but the use of brain implants is currently limited by several disadvantages. So far, even the best technologies have been composed of relatively rigid electronics that act like sandpaper on delicate neurons. They also struggle to track the same neuron over a long period, because individual cells move when an animal breathes or its heart beats.
The need to mend broken hearts has never been greater. In the USA alone, around 610,000 people die of heart disease each year. A significant number of those deaths could potentially have been prevented with a heart transplant but, unfortunately, there are simply too few hearts available.
In 1967 the South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first human heart transplant in Cape Town. It seemed like a starting gun had gone off; soon doctors all around the world were transplanting hearts.
The problem was that every single recipient died within a year of the operation. The patients’ immune systems were rejecting the foreign tissue. To overcome this, patients were given drugs to suppress their immune system. But, in a way, these early immunosuppressants were too effective: they weakened the immune system so much that the patients would eventually die of an infection. It seemed like medicine was back to square one.
The way your brain responds to certain words could be used to replace passwords, according to a study by researchers from Binghamton University, published in academic journal Neurocomputing.
The psychologists recorded volunteers’ EEG signals from volunteers reading a list of acronyms, focusing on the part of the brain associated with reading and recognizing words.
Participants’ “event-related potential” signals reacted differently to each acronym, enough that a computer system was able to identify each volunteer with 94 percent accuracy, using only three electrodes.
The results suggest that brainwaves could be used by security systems to verify a person’s identity.
Better than fingerprints or retinal patterns in the eye
According to Sarah Laszlo, assistant professor of psychology and linguistics at Binghamton University and co-author of the “Brainprint” paper, brain biometrics are appealing because they are cancellable (can be reset) and cannot be stolen by malicious means, such as copying a fingerprint.
“If someone’s fingerprint is stolen, that person can’t just grow a new finger to replace the compromised fingerprint — the fingerprint for that person is compromised forever. Fingerprints are ‘non-cancellable.’ Brainprints, on the other hand, are potentially cancellable.
So, in the unlikely event that attackers were actually able to steal a brainprint from an authorized user, the authorized user could then ‘reset’ their brainprint,” Laszlo said, meaning the user could simply record the EEG pattern associated with another word or phrase.
What if your handheld tools knew what needs to be done and were even able to guide and help you complete jobs that require skills? University of Bristol researchers are finding out by building and testing intelligent handheld robots.
Think of them as smart power tools that “know” what they’re doing — and could even help you use them.
The robot tools would have three levels of autonomy, said Walterio Mayol-Cuevas, Reader in Robotics Computer Vision and Mobile Systems: “No autonomy, semi-autonomous — the robot advises the user but does not act, and fully autonomous — the robot advises and acts even by correcting or refusing to perform incorrect user actions.”
The Bristol team has experimented with tasks such as picking and dropping different objects to form tile patterns and aiming in 3D for simulated painting.
The robot designs are open source and available on the university’s HandheldRobotics page.
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.
University of Cincinnati and university and industry partners have developed a technology for tunable window tinting that dynamically adapts for brightness, color temperatures (such as blueish or yellowish light), and opacity (to provide for privacy while allowing 90 percent or more of the light in), adjustable by the user.
According to the researchers, these “smart windows” are would be simple to manufacture, making them affordable for business and home use. The materials can also be applied to already existing windows, using a roll-on coating consisting of a honeycomb of electrodes. The tinting can be adjusted simultaneously for brightness/opacity and light color and allows for blocking infrared radiation to reduce incoming heat in the summer.
Science fiction has a long tradition of pitting artificial intelligence against humanity in a struggle for dominance. Ray Kurzweil, a noted futurist and inventor, envisions a more co-operative future. He says the human brain will soon merge with computer networks to form a hybrid artificial intelligence.
MakerBot's 3-D printers will soon be able to produce items that look like bronze, limestone, and wood, thanks to a new line of plastic-based composite materials shipping later this year. But the launch may be too little, too late: Entrepreneurs and artists interested in working with metal and wood are already embracing desktop milling machines that can handle the real deal.
The calculation is simple: Buy a MakerBot Replicator, the leading desktop 3-D printer, for $2,889, and you can produce plastic prototypes or the kind of trinkets that you might find in a Happy Meal. Buy a small-scale milling machine like the Othermill, which retails for $2,199, and you can make jewelry and mechanical parts out of everything from aluminum to walnut.
"Once you can cut metal, you can make things that last," says Danielle Applestone, chief executive of Other Machine Co. "For the first couple of months that I was working here, I was scared of cutting with metal. It was louder, I was worried I was going to break the tool. But as soon as I jumped in, it quickly became like wax to me."
"Metal is power, it really is," she says. "You don’t go back."
Nothing kills the experience of a five-star dinner like the shrieks of a crying baby at a nearby table. But imagine if, rather than wincing with frustration, you could simply turn down the baby’s volume?
That’s the promise behind Doppler Labs’ latest invention: earbuds that serve as your personal audio mixer to control real-time sounds in your environment. Adjust the bass levels at a live concert. Turn your coworker’s voice up — or down. Add reverb in a small room to get a concert hall effect. Doppler’s Here buds, unveiled on Kickstarter this week, promise to allow you to choose what you hear, and how. Filtering Sound
Here buds rely on signal processing algorithms that target certain sound frequencies as they enter the headphones. An internal microphone processes the sound waves, then a miniature speaker blasts additional waves to add, delete or alter the sound based on the chosen algorithm. Finally, a second microphone picks up the remixed sound wave and sends it into your ears.
This entire process happens in less than 30 microseconds.
Her name is Amelia, and she is the complete package: smart, sophisticated, industrious and loyal. No wonder her boss, Chetan Dube, can’t get her out of his head.
“My wife is convinced I’m having an affair with Amelia,” Dube says, leaning forward conspiratorially. “I have a great deal of passion and infatuation with her.”
He’s not alone. Amelia beguiles everyone she meets, and those in the know can’t stop buzzing about her. The blue-eyed blonde’s star is rising so fast that if she were a Hollywood ingénue or fashion model, the tabloids would proclaim her an “It” girl, but the tag doesn’t really apply. Amelia is more of an IT girl, you see. In fact, she’s all IT.
Amelia is an artificial intelligence platform created by Dube’s managed IT services firm IPsoft, a virtual agent avatar poised to redefine how enterprises operate by automating and enhancing a wide range of business processes. The product of an obsessive and still-ongoing 16-year developmental cycle, she—yes, everyone at IPsoft speaks about Amelia using feminine pronouns—leverages cognitive technologies to interface with consumers and colleagues in astoundingly human terms, parsing questions, analyzing intent and even sensing emotions to resolve issues more efficiently and effectively than flesh-and-blood customer service representatives.
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