2018-03


First self-driving train launches on London Thameslink route

The Guardian - Business

Passengers have been carried across London by the first self-driving train on a mainline railway in the UK. Govia Thameslink Railway promised that it would not spell the beginning of the end for drivers, who remain responsible for safety and can take control of the train at any time. Automated operation using a new digital signalling system will allow many more trains to pass through the congested tracks between St Pancras and Blackfriars in central London, giving space for an additional 60,000 passengers to commute at peak hours daily. After almost 18 months of testing, the first commuter train in automatic operation was Monday's 9.46am Thameslink service from Peterborough to Horsham. Shortly after 11.08am, the driver, Howard Weir, pressed the yellow button in the cab that allowed the train's computer to do the driving between St Pancras and Blackfriars.



Google lends its machine-learning tool to fight deforestation

#artificialintelligence

Google's machine-learning tool is being used to detect and combat illegal deforestation The news: Rainforest Connection, a San Francisco nonprofit, has developed a cheap, rigorous acoustic monitoring system made from modified cell phones and solar panels. An app on the so-called Guardian devices, which can be hidden in trees throughout forests, continuously listens for the telltale signs of illegal logging and animal poaching. On March 21, the organization announced that it will be using Google's TensorFlow, a free tool that makes it simpler for other companies and groups to develop machine-learning software (see "Google stakes its future on a piece of software"). Rainforest Connection says it will enable the organization to more accurately detect troubling sounds in the uploaded audio, such as chainsaws, vehicles, and gunshots. Deforestation reduces biodiversity, increases erosion, and promotes desertification.


Siri, Alexa and That Google Gal Will Get You Only So Far

NYT > Technology

Mike Chen was working on a health care start-up, he and his colleagues had one of those light bulb moments regarding digital assistance. "There should be something where you can just text it, and it just, like, does it for you," he said. Three years later, his remote personal-assistant company, Magic, has employees in the United States and the Philippines. Its promise is bold: to do "anything" for customers who send requests over text or email, Mr. Chen said, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Fin, another new virtual personal-assistant company, is the brainchild of Sam Lessin and Andrew Kortina, a founder of the popular mobile payment service Venmo.


Analysis The Driverless Car is Already Here. What Comes Next?: QuickTake

#artificialintelligence

Cars that can drive themselves have already logged millions of miles, but with a driver poised to take over if needed. Waymo, a branch of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is offering commuters in Phoenix the ability to hail a Chrysler minivan without anyone behind the wheel. Audi expects to begin selling a version of its A8 sedan that can take over completely in traffic jams and similar situations. And next year, General Motors Co. has promised to put robot taxis into service. Decades in the making, the driverless dream holds the promise of drastically reducing deaths on the highway.


Facebook data: What the social media giant knows about you

BBC News

Newsbeat's De'Graft Mensah took the plunge and let an online security expert comb through his easily-downloadable Facebook data.


Drone Company Wants to Launch at Casselton Airport

US News and World Report US and World News

Elbit wants to lease hanger space for the large drone it flies, and install equipment it needs to fly it. The FAA requires a chase plane to provide visual supervision when the drone flies. Lease costs are still being negotiated.


IBM Launches Watson Assistant To Help Developers Build Conversational User Experiences

Forbes Europe

At the THINK 2018 conference, IBM announced Watson Assistant, a new addition to its cognitive computing platform. This service enables developers to build digital assistants that can interact through conversational user experience. Watson Assistant is not entirely new to developers familiar with IBM Cloud. It's an enhancement to an existing service called Conversation. In its improved version, the API supports newer conversational flow combined with natural language understanding.


Self-driving Uber death should halt tech's race to the bottom

New Scientist

Around the world, vehicles kill more people than HIV/AIDS – about 1.3 million each year. In the vast majority of cases, it is the inattentive and error-prone humans operating those cars and lorries who are at fault. Pedestrian Elaine Herzberg died after being struck by an autonomous Uber car on Sunday as she crossed a road – the first time that a self-driving vehicle has claimed the life of another road user.


Machine learning spots treasure trove of elusive viruses

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Many viruses are difficult to study because they cannot be grown in the lab.Credit: Sebastian Kaulitzki/SPL/Getty Researchers have used artificial intelligence (AI) to discover nearly 6,000 previously unknown species of virus. The work, presented on 15 March at a meeting organized by the US Department of Energy (DOE), illustrates an emerging tool for exploring the enormous, largely unknown diversity of viruses on Earth. Although viruses influence everything from human health to the degradation of trash, they are hard to study. Scientists cannot grow most viruses in the lab, and attempts to identify their genetic sequences are often thwarted because their genomes are tiny and evolve fast. In recent years, researchers have hunted for unknown viruses by sequencing DNA in samples taken from various environments.