Artificial intelligence promises an even bigger revolution than the internet yet could be stifled in the UK by a fear-driven public backlash, according to a leading scientist and broadcaster. Prof Jim Al-Khalili, a physicist and the incoming president of the British Science Association, warns that without greater transparency and public engagement the full potential of AI may not be realised. In the absence of concerted action by academics, the government and industry, the rapidly advancing technology could end up "uncontrolled and unregulated" in the hands of a few supremely powerful companies, he says. Previewing his presidential address at this year's British Science festival in Hull, which begins next week, Khalili spoke of the dream and dangers of AI. He said the UK was at the forefront of the technology, which is predicted to contribute up to $15tn (£11.7tn) to the global economy by 2030.
Of the many acronyms engineers spend their lives internalizing, few are more valuable than KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Constrain the problem, reduce the variables, and make life as easy as possible when designing novel systems--like, say, a self-driving car. The world is a messy, complicated place. The less of it you need to solve, the closer you are to having a working product. That's why Waymo tests and plans to deploy its vehicles in Chandler, Arizona, with its reliably sunny weather, calm traffic, and meticulously mapped roads.
Will it soon feel normal to say, "Alexa, microwave one bag of popcorn"? Like a rebooted Sharper Image catalogue, Amazon is adding its talking artificial intelligence to a microwave, a wall clock, a wall plug, cars and more. The new gadgets all hook into the Internet, take voice commands -- and make the online retail giant even more central to home life. The question is: Will families see these connected devices as conveniences, new complications -- or spies? Amazon's goal is to assert leadership over Google and Apple in the still-nascent market for smart-home tech, with everyday appliances connecting to the Internet to automate operations -- and gather all sorts of data on our lives.
How much safer, smoother, and more efficient could driving be if cars could communicate with traffic lights while approaching an intersection, get alerted to jaywalking pedestrians, or talk to each other while roaring down the highway at 65 miles per hour? A peer-to-peer wireless technology called C-V2X can warn vehicles about obstacles that cameras and radars might not catch, connecting them to their surroundings in a way that could eventually help them drive themselves. Most of the demos involve people driving cars and trucks outfitted with special C-V2X chipsets and modems. The vehicles send and receive wireless signals 10 times per second and display certain types of information--such as warnings about oncoming pedestrians, storms, and accidents--as pop-up alerts on drivers' windshields or dashboards. The most recent C-V2X demonstration, which took place in Colorado on August 14, also connected participating vehicles to traffic lights, so drivers knew exactly when the lights would change colors.
Have you ever used your credit card at a new store or location only to have it declined? Has a sale ever been blocked because you charged a higher amount than usual? Consumers' credit cards are declined surprisingly often in legitimate transactions. One cause is that fraud-detecting technologies used by a consumer's bank have incorrectly flagged the sale as suspicious. Now MIT researchers have employed a new machine-learning technique to drastically reduce these false positives, saving banks money and easing customer frustration.
A fleet of robotic jellyfish has been designed to monitor delicate ecosystems, including coral reefs. The underwater drones were invented by engineers at Florida Atlantic University and are driven by rings of hydraulic tentacles. The robots can squeeze through tight holes without causing damage. One expert praised the design but warned that the man-made jellyfish might be eaten by turtles. The flexible, 20cm-wide bots are modelled on the appearance of the moon jellyfish during its larval stage.
The work of an etiquette expert is never-ending. No sooner have you adjusted to a world in which the households you advise may have few or – whisper it – no staff, than the technology giants develop personal assistants using artificial intelligence. It is a whole new minefield and, as the Times reports, one already developing new expertise. One BBC tech executive told a conference audience on Tuesday that her solution to children developing poor manners due to Alexa, Siri and their rivals (the AI will respond whether you say "please" or not) was for adults in the house to say "please" and "thank you" to the AIs at all times. With that first step in mind, here is our extensive and scientific list of etiquette do's and don'ts when dealing with your AI assistant: Do: say please and thank you.
Any system where humans interact with technology involves a tradeoff: security versus accessibility. The more secure the system, the more difficult it is to access. This poses a dilemma for any organization facing pressure to embrace anytime, anywhere accessibility, the mobile workplace and real-time interaction with customers and employees--and that describes almost every organization today. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI)--and the millions of data points created by the Internet of Things--are starting to change the nature of this tradeoff, particularly where trust is part of the product or service. As AI systems learn more, they can be trained to suggest next best actions, automate some repetitive tasks and minimize the greatest risk: human error.
Earlier this year, Diligent Robotics introduced a mobile manipulator called Poli, designed to take over non-care related, boring logistical tasks from overworked healthcare professionals who really should be doing better things with their time. Specifically, Diligent wants to automate things like bringing supplies from a central storage area to patient rooms, which sounds like it should be easy, but is actually very difficult. Autonomous mobile manipulation in semi-structured environments is hard at the best of times, and things get even harder in places like hospitals that are full of busy humans rushing around trying to save the lives of other humans. Over the past few months, Diligent has been busy iterating on the design of their robot, and they've made enough changes that it's no longer called Poli. It's a completely new robot, called Moxi.
While digitization has strained the marketing department's traditional methods and measures in recent years, the function is regaining its energy by plugging into a rich and abundant power source: data. Existing enterprise data, as well as information gathered from engaging with consumers, has become a valuable business asset. With the advent of machine learning--a type of algorithm that identifies patterns in data and improves with experience--companies can use data to predict and "learn" to identify consumers who appear likely to become high-value customers. The business restructuring taking place today mirrors the transformation that's underway throughout entire industries, from media to manufacturing, as companies rewire to compete in a digitally drenched environment. "For a long time, none of us would have thought that selling food and beverage over e-commerce would have been such a large business," says Shyam Venugopal, vice president for global media and consumer data strategy at PepsiCo.