2019-05


Robocrop: world's first raspberry-picking robot set to work

The Guardian

Quivering and hesitant, like a spoon-wielding toddler trying to eat soup without spilling it, the world's first raspberry-picking robot is attempting to harvest one of the fruits. After sizing it up for an age, the robot plucks the fruit with its gripping arm and gingerly deposits it into a waiting punnet. The whole process takes about a minute for a single berry. It seems like heavy going for a robot that cost £700,000 to develop but, if all goes to plan, this is the future of fruit-picking. Each robot will be able to pick more than 25,000 raspberries a day, outpacing human workers who manage about 15,000 in an eight-hour shift, according to Fieldwork Robotics, a spinout from the University of Plymouth.


All the buzz about NASA's new fleet of space bees

#artificialintelligence

Robot bees are no replacement for our vital pollinators here on Earth. Up on the International Space Station, however, robots bearing the bee name could help spacefaring humans save precious time. On Friday, NASA astronaut Anne McClain took one of the trio of Astrobees out for a spin. Bumble and its companion Honey both arrived on the ISS a month ago, and are currently going through a series of checks. Bumble passed the first hurdle when McClain manually flew it around the Japanese Experiment Module.


Minecraft competition will challenge AIs to become expert engineers

New Scientist

Can you work out how to mine a diamond in just 4 days? That is the task artificial intelligence will be set in a new competition. The MineRL competition will kick off on 1 June and will take place inside the video game Minecraft. Entrants will have to build an AI that can successfully navigate and survive in the online game and ultimately learn the complex task of how to mine a diamond.


Drones flown straight at aircraft to test collision avoidance tech

New Scientist

A start-up is deliberately trying to crash aircraft into drones to test a new collision-avoidance system. US-based Iris Automation's technology can detect, identify and react to airborne objects. The start-up says it can spot light aircraft 500 metres away, respond in a fifth of a second, and it works with the drone travelling at up to 210 kilometres per hour. Traditionally, collision avoidance systems for drones are similar to those used for other aircraft, which rely on radar, but are large and expensive.


Amazon heads off facial ID rebellion

#artificialintelligence

Shareholders seeking to halt Amazon's sale of its facial recognition technology to US police forces have been defeated in two votes that sought to pressure the company into a rethink. Civil rights campaigners had said it was "perhaps the most dangerous surveillance technology ever developed". But investors rejected the proposals at the company's annual general meeting. That meant less than 50% voted for either of the measures. A breakdown of the results has yet to be disclosed.


Digital assistants like Siri and Alexa entrench gender biases, says UN

The Guardian

Assigning female genders to digital assistants such as Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa is helping entrench harmful gender biases, according to a UN agency. Research released by Unesco claims that the often submissive and flirty responses offered by the systems to many queries – including outright abusive ones – reinforce ideas of women as subservient. "Because the speech of most voice assistants is female, it sends a signal that women are obliging, docile and eager-to-please helpers, available at the touch of a button or with a blunt voice command like'hey' or'OK'," the report said. "The assistant holds no power of agency beyond what the commander asks of it. It honours commands and responds to queries regardless of their tone or hostility. In many communities, this reinforces commonly held gender biases that women are subservient and tolerant of poor treatment."


Lifelong Learning in Artificial Neural Networks

Communications of the ACM

Columbia University is learning how to build and train self-aware neural networks, systems that can adapt and improve by using internal simulations and knowledge of their own structures. The University of California, Irvine, is studying the dual memory architecture of the hippocampus and cortex to replay relevant memories in the background, allowing the systems to become more adaptable and predictive while retaining previous learning. Tufts University is examining an intercellular regeneration mechanism observed in lower animals such as salamanders to create flexible robots capable of adapting to changes in their environment by altering their structures and functions on the fly. SRI International is developing methods to use environmental signals and their relevant context to represent goals in a fluid way rather than as discrete tasks, enabling AI agents to adapt their behavior on the go.


Reaching New Heights with Artificial Neural Networks

Communications of the ACM

Once treated by the field with skepticism (if not outright derision), the artificial neural networks that 2018 ACM A.M. Turing Award recipients Geoffrey Hinton, Yann LeCun, and Yoshua Bengio spent their careers developing are today an integral component of everything from search to content filtering. Here, the three researchers share what they find exciting, and which challenges remain. There's so much more noise now about artificial intelligence than there was when you began your careers--some of it well-informed, some not. What do you wish people would stop asking you? GEOFFREY HINTON: "Is this just a bubble?"


U.S. Postal Service Is Testing Self-Driving Trucks

NPR Technology

A mail carrier for the United States Postal Service makes deliveries at a Florida apartment complex in June 2018. The USPS has partnered with TuSimple to launch a multi-state driverless semi-truck test program on Tuesday. It doesn't involve home deliveries. A mail carrier for the United States Postal Service makes deliveries at a Florida apartment complex in June 2018. The USPS has partnered with TuSimple to launch a multi-state driverless semi-truck test program on Tuesday.


Hey Siri, turn on 'The Voice' for my Vizio TV

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Sure, Siri can open Netflix for you and search for a George Clooney movie, but only if you spring $179 to $199 for the Apple TV accessory streamer. Now, Apple's personal assistant can turn on the TV, change the channel and find a specific TV show, on certain newer TVs from Vizio, Samsung, Sony and LG. It's part of a radical rethink on Apple's part to bring Apple outside of the ecosystem, and onto mainstream television sets. Samsung pushed out Apple's AirPlay features on new smart TVs that began shipping May 13. AirPlay lets you mirror what's on your device.