Stepping out in public used to make a person largely anonymous. Unless you met someone you knew, nobody would know your identity. Cheap and widely available face recognition software means that's no longer true in some parts of the world. Police in China run face algorithms on public security cameras in real time, providing notifications whenever a person of interest walks by. China provides an extreme example of the possibilities stemming from recent improvements in face recognition technology.
Tesla offers a $10,000 feature called Full Self-Driving Capability. It includes futuristic goodies like the ability to summon the car via app in a parking lot, and it can detect and react to traffic lights and stop signs. FSD, as Tesla enthusiasts call it, includes Autopilot, a feature that "automatically" drives on highways, changing lanes, keeping a car within its lane and at a consistent distance from other vehicles. But even people who shell out for Full Self-Driving don't own a self-driving car, and vehicles with Autopilot can't automatically pilot themselves. Lengthy blocks of text in Tesla owners' manuals describe when, where, and how the features should be used: by a fully attentive driver who is holding the steering wheel and is "mindful of road conditions and surrounding traffic."
Pigs, rats, and locusts have it easy these days--they can bother whoever they want. But back in the Middle Ages, such behavior could have landed them in court. If a pig bit a child, town officials would hold a trial like they would for a person, even providing the offender with a lawyer. Getting insects to show up in court en masse was a bit more difficult, but the authorities tried anyway: They'd send someone out to yell the summons into the countryside. That's hilarious, yes, but also a hint at how humans might navigate a new, even more complicated relationship.
Four of the newfound quadruply imaged quasars are shown here: From top left and moving clockwise, the objects are: GraL J1537-3010 or "Wolf's Paw;" GraL J0659 1629 or "Gemini's Crossbow;" GraL J1651-0417 or "Dragon's Kite;" GraL J2038-4008 or "Microscope Lens." The fuzzy dot in the middle of the images is the lensing galaxy, the gravity of which is splitting the light from the quasar behind it in such a way to produce four quasar images. By modeling these systems and monitoring how the different images vary in brightness over time, astronomers can determine the expansion rate of the universe and help solve cosmological problems. With the help of machine-learning techniques, a team of astronomers has discovered a dozen quasars that have been warped by a naturally occurring cosmic "lens" and split into four similar images. Quasars are extremely luminous cores of distant galaxies that are powered by supermassive black holes.
Declaring "it's no longer a question of if...but when" autonomous vehicles are used in retail, President and CEO of Walmart (NYSE:WMT) U.S. John Furner announced the retail titan's intention to invest in General Motors' (NYSE:GM) Cruise self-driving car company in a press release today. Furner said the move will "aid our work toward developing a last mile delivery ecosystem that's fast, low-cost and scalable." The Walmart investment brings the total of Cruise's most recent funding round to $2.75 billion, though neither GM nor Cruise provides specifics on how much each individual company contributes to the whole, CNBC reports. Other investors in the subsidiary include GM itself, Microsoft, Honda Motor, and institutional investors. Among other projects, Cruise intends to roll out self-driving taxis in Dubai within the next two years.
Back in November, the computer scientist and cognitive psychologist Geoffrey Hinton had a hunch. After a half-century's worth of attempts--some wildly successful--he'd arrived at another promising insight into how the brain works and how to replicate its circuitry in a computer. "It's my current best bet about how things fit together," Hinton says from his home office in Toronto, where he's been sequestered during the pandemic. If his bet pays off, it might spark the next generation of artificial neural networks--mathematical computing systems, loosely inspired by the brain's neurons and synapses, that are at the core of today's artificial intelligence. His "honest motivation," as he puts it, is curiosity. But the practical motivation--and, ideally, the consequence--is more reliable and more trustworthy AI.
A robotic elephant trunk that uses artificial intelligence to mimic some aspects of brains could lead to snake-like machines that can roam and adapt to new tasks. Sebastian Otte at the University of Tubingen in Germany and his colleagues created a 3D-printed robot trunk from segments that each include several motors driving gears that tilt up to 40 degrees in two axes. The trunk can bend, but also elongate or shorten. The team created a trunk with 10 segments, but they say the length could be doubled with more powerful motors.
Google has worked for years to position itself as a responsible steward of AI. Its research lab hires respected academics, publishes groundbreaking papers, and steers the agenda at the field's biggest conferences. But now its reputation has been badly, perhaps irreversibly damaged, just as the company is struggling to put a politically palatable face on its empire of data. The company's decision to fire Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell -- two of its top AI ethics researchers, who happened to be examining the downsides of technology integral to Google's search products -- has triggered waves of protest. Academics have registered their discontent in various ways.
The Detroit department is also among hundreds of police agencies that have used Clearview AI, a facial recognition tool that searches through a large database of photos taken from across the Internet, according to a BuzzFeed News report earlier this month based on data from a confidential source. Neither the Detroit police nor Clearview have confirmed the report, and it does not appear Clearview was used in Williams's case.