Don't believe the hype: the media are unwittingly selling us an AI fantasy John Naughton


Artificial intelligence (AI) is a term that is now widely used (and abused), loosely defined and mostly misunderstood. Much the same might be said of, say, quantum physics. But there is one important difference, for whereas quantum phenomena are not likely to have much of a direct impact on the lives of most people, one particular manifestation of AI – machine-learning – is already having a measurable impact on most of us. The tech giants that own and control the technology have plans to exponentially increase that impact and to that end have crafted a distinctive narrative. Crudely summarised, it goes like this: "While there may be odd glitches and the occasional regrettable downside on the way to a glorious future, on balance AI will be good for humanity. Oh – and by the way – its progress is unstoppable, so don't worry your silly little heads fretting about it because we take ethics very seriously."

Machine learning leads mathematicians to unsolvable problem


Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel is known for his'incompleteness' theorems.Credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt/ LIFE Picture Coll./Getty A team of researchers has stumbled on a question that is mathematically unanswerable because it is linked to logical paradoxes discovered by Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel in the 1930s that can't be solved using standard mathematics. The mathematicians, who were working on a machine-learning problem, show that the question of'learnability' -- whether an algorithm can extract a pattern from limited data -- is linked to a paradox known as the continuum hypothesis. Gödel showed that the statement cannot be proved either true or false using standard mathematical language. The latest result appeared on 7 January in Nature Machine Intelligence1.

A Neural Network Can Learn to Organize the World It Sees Into Concepts, Just Like We Do


GANs, or generative adversarial networks, are the social-media starlet of AI algorithms. They are responsible for creating the first AI painting ever sold at an art auction and for superimposing celebrity faces on the bodies of porn stars.

Americans want to regulate AI but don't trust anyone to do it


In 2018, several high-profile controversies involving AI served as a wake-up call for technologists, policymakers, and the public. The technology may have brought us welcome advances in many fields, but it can also fail catastrophically when built shoddily or applied carelessly. It's hardly a surprise, then, that Americans have mixed support for the continued development of AI and overwhelmingly agree that it should be regulated, according to a new study from the Center for the Governance of AI and Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute. These are important lessons for policymakers and technologists to consider in the discussion on how best to advance and regulate AI, says Allan Dafoe, director of the center and coauthor of the report. "There isn't currently a consensus in favor of developing advanced AI, or that it's going to be good for humanity," he says.

Airport drone disruption: All major UK airports to have 'military-grade' protection

BBC News

All major UK airports now have or will soon have military grade anti-drone equipment, the government says. It comes after the military were called in to help when drone sightings caused delays for around an hour at Heathrow on Tuesday. And drone sightings at Gatwick caused major disruption affecting 140,000 passengers before Christmas. Earlier, the defence secretary said it would "not be right" to ask the RAF to respond to similar incidents in future. Gavin Williamson said all commercial airports needed to invest in anti-drone technology.

CES 2019: Toyota Lifts the Veil on Its Guardian Driver-Assist System

IEEE Spectrum

Toyota today revealed some of the inner workings of an automation package meant to help drivers rather than replace them. The company also said that if that package had been in operation, it could have prevented or mitigated a recent three-car accident in California. The announcement came at CES 2019, which takes place this week in Las Vegas. Toyota has often spoken of its two-stage research project for self-driving cars. In the long run, it plans to offer a truly driverless technology called Chauffeur.

UBTECH Shows Off Massive Upgrades to Walker Humanoid Robot

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

This week at CES 2019, UBTECH Robotics (which was valued at $5 billion as of mid-2018) is announcing a major update to a walking robot first demonstrated at CES 2018. UBTECH's Walker has gained a torso, arms, hands, and a head, and is now as humanoid as bipedal robots get. UBTECH has posted a couple of new videos, and answered some questions about Walker's capabilities and where our expectations should be. "Walker is your agile smart companion--an intelligent, bipedal humanoid robot that aims to one day be an indispensable part of your family. Standing 4.75 feet (1.45 m) tall and weighing 170 lbs (77 kg), the new version of Walker is more advanced than ever, including arms and hands with the ability to grasp and manipulate objects, a refined torso with improved self-balancing, smooth and stable walking in difficult environments, and multi-modal interaction including voice, vision, and touch. Walker has 36 high-performance actuators and a full range of sensing systems that work together to insure smooth and fast walking."

CES 2019: All the Coolest Stuff We've Seen So Far


Usually, CES robots are a little sad, but Temi is different. Instead of pretending their robot can do a bunch of things it can't, like hold a conversation, the team at Temi focused on the things it can. The Temi Robot has 16 sensors (including LiDAR) that help it recognize people and map out your home. With the tap of a button it can follow you, or go anywhere you ask it. When it gets there, it can play music or media, wirelessly charge devices, act as an Alexa device, and work as a video chat or telepresence bot, among other things.

Police handed new anti-drone powers after Gatwick disruption

The Guardian

Police will be handed extra powers to combat drones after the mass disruption at Gatwick airport in the run-up to Christmas. Gatwick was repeatedly forced to close between 19 and 21 December due to reported drone sightings, affecting about 1,000 flights. In response the government has announced a package of measures which include plans to give police the power to land, seize and search drones. The Home Office will also begin to test and evaluate the use of counter-drone technology at airports and prisons. The exclusion zone around airports will be extended to approximately a 5km-radius (3.1 miles), with additional extensions from runway ends.

A new fleet of autonomous robots is now making one of the world's oldest foods

Washington Post

In the beginning, archaeologists believe, the first breads were created using some of the most rudimentary technologies in human history: fire and stone. In the region that now encompasses Jordan, one of the world's most ancient examples -- a flatbread vaguely resembling pita and made from wild cereal grains and water -- was cooked in large fireplaces using flat basalt stones, according to Reuters. The taste is "gritty and salty," Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, a University of Copenhagen postdoctoral researcher in archaeobotany, told the news service. "But it is a bit sweet, as well." More than 10,000 years later, bread has clearly evolved but, perhaps, not as dramatically as the technology being used to bake it.