Paul Tang was with his wife in the hospital just after her knee replacement surgery, a procedure performed on about 700,000 people in the U.S. every year. The surgeon came by, and Tang, who is himself a primary-care physician, asked when he expected her to be back at her normal routines, given his experience with patients like her. The surgeon kept giving vague non-answers. "Finally it hit me," says Tang. "He didn't know." Tang would soon learn that most physicians don't know how their patients do in the ordinary measures of life back at home and at work--the measures that most matter to patients.
Volvo's self-driving car is unable to detect kangaroos because hopping confounds its systems, the Swedish carmaker says. The company's "Large Animal Detection system" can identify and avoid deer, elk and caribou, but early testing in Australia shows it cannot adjust to the kangaroo's unique method of movement. The managing director of Volvo Australia, Kevin McCann, said the discovery was part of the development and testing of driverless technology, and wouldn't pose problems by the time Volvo's driverless cars would be available in 2020. "Any company that would be working on the autonomous car concept would be having to do the same developmental work," he said. "We brought our engineers into Australia to begin the exercise of gathering the data of how the animals can move and behave so the computers can understand it more."
If you're wondering why you don't have a self-driving car yet, you should know that you're part of the problem. When it comes to semi-autonomous systems--cars that do some of the driving, but leave the tricky stuff to humans--the biggest hurdle isn't the technical challenge of making a car safely drive itself. It's ensuring that you're alert and ready to grab the wheel if a sensor craps out, someone cuts you off, or any number of other sudden and random things happens. Engineers call this the handoff problem, and it's so tricky that companies like Ford and Google's Waymo have given up on partial autonomy because they figure it's easier to go straight to full autonomy and cut you out of the equation entirely. Tesla has done it pretty well with its Autopilot system, for example.
When Jason Nichols joined GE Global Research in 2011, soon after completing postdoctoral work in organic chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, he anticipated a long career in chemical research. But after four years creating materials and systems to treat industrial wastewater, Nichols moved to the company's machine-learning lab. This year he began working with augmented reality. Part chemist, part data scientist, Nichols is now exactly the type of hybrid employee crucial to the future of a company working to inject artificial intelligence into its machines and industrial processes. Fifteen years ago, GE's machine operators and technicians monitored its aircraft engines, locomotives, and gas turbines by listening to their clanks and whirs and checking their gauges.
Every day, financial markets and global economies produce a flood of data. As a result, stock traders now have more information about more industries and sectors than ever before. That deluge, combined with the rise of cloud technology, has inspired hedge funds to develop new quantitative strategies that they hope can generate greater returns than the experience and judgement of their own staff. At the Future of Fintech conference hosted by research company CB Insights in New York City, three hedge fund insiders discussed the latest developments in quantitative trading. A session on Tuesday featured Christina Qi, the co-founder of a high-frequency trading firm called Domeyard LP; Jonathan Larkin, an executive from Quantopian, a hedge fund taking a data-driven systematic approach; and Andy Weissman of Union Square Ventures, a venture capital firm that has invested in an autonomous hedge fund.
DRONE warfare, once the sole pursuit of the US military, is being democratised. Islamic State (ISIS) has deployed consumer drones carrying grenades in the battle for the Iraqi city of Mosul, creating the most daunting problem US Special Operations Command troops faced in Iraq during 2016, according to their commander Raymond Thomas. Groups around the world are taking advantage of the increasing accessibility of drone technology to build and deploy them as weapons (see "Home-grown drones"). And it's not hard to imagine them being used in an attack in the West; the bomber responsible for the May attack on a concert Leader: "Drone blowback: High-tech weapons come home to roost"
Apple's Siri virtual assistant can be used for a variety of tasks on the iPhone and iPad. And soon, the program will be getting some help from its own editor. The company is hiring a Siri "event maven" to join the virtual assistant's team. Apple's job listing says the event maven will help to "provide strategic awareness of cultural happenings in the collective zeitgeist." As an example, Apple mentions themed pop culture holidays like Star Wars Day or Pi Day as events it wants the event maven to bring to Siri's attention.
Apple has acquired German eye tracking company SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI), MacRumors reported Monday. SMI has been working on eye-tracking and vision related technology since its inception in 1991. It became active in the virtual reality segment in 2016 when it announced an eye-tracking development kit for the HTC Vive VR headset. In the report, MacRumors cited the power of attorney signed by German law firm Hiking Kühn Lüer Wojtek giving power to Delaware-based shell company Vineyard Capital Corporation to represent it in all business related to the acquisition. Curiously, the agreement has been signed by Gene Levoff, Apple's vice president of corporate law, which indicates Vineyard Capital Corporation might be one of the shell companies owned by Apple that it uses to hide its acquisitions.
If Amazon has its way, cities around the US will have vertical drone centers shaped like giant beehives in the middle of downtown districts, allowing the online retailer to coordinate speedy deliveries by unmanned aircrafts. The company has filed for a patent for "multi-level fulfillment centers" that would accommodate the landing and takeoff of drones in dense urban settings, the latest example of Amazon's futuristic vision of reshaping the way people receive packages. The application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, which was written in 2015 and published last week, included a number of drawings of drones flying in and out of tall cylinder-shaped buildings that Amazon wants to locate in central metropolitan areas. The centers would allow Amazon to shift away from the traditional model of large single-story warehouses that temporarily store packages before they are shipped to customers. Those buildings are typically located on the outskirts of urban areas and are not convenient for deliveries into cities where populations continue to swell, the company noted.