Honors


Afghanistan president says U.S. drone killed Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah, wanted over 2012 Malala Yousafzai shooting attack

The Japan Times

KABUL – President Ashraf Ghani confirmed Friday that Pakistani Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah has been killed in a U.S. drone strike. Fazlullah is believed to have ordered the failed 2012 assassination of Malala Yousafzai, who became a global symbol of the fight for girls' rights to schooling, and who later won the Nobel Peace Prize. U.S. forces targeted Fazlullah in a counterterrorism strike Thursday in eastern Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. officials said, without confirming his death. "I spoke with Prime Minister of #Pakistan Nasir ul Mulk and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and confirmed the death of Mullah Fazlullah," Ghani tweeted, adding: "His death is the result of tireless human intel led by #Afghan security agencies." Ghani added the Pakistani leaders had assured him the strike was "a great step toward building trust between the two nations," while urging them to "bring (the) Afghan Taliban residing in Pakistan to the negotiation table."


Four Reasons Why Machines Will Always Need A Human

#artificialintelligence

Elizabeth Holm, a professor of materials science and engineering at the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and a computational materials scientist at Sandia National Laboratories says we're in the midst of an artificial intelligence (AI) culture shift. She also says that machines won't replace human experts. "Machines are great at handling things, like large amounts of data, but machines still need an expert, a human, to analyze the data, set parameters and guide decisions," said Holm. "Engineering and science decisions are based on understanding how things work. How does a bridge support its load? How does an engine convert fuel into motion?


On AI and Jobs, We Are All Augmentarians Now

Forbes Technology

For a couple of days this week, I attended the EmTech NEXT conference at MIT, which is organized by MIT Technology Review. The focus of the event was that fabled idea "The Future of Work," and if you are on the side of the humans, the future seems pretty bright. Virtually every speaker (MIT folks, AI and robotics leaders) came out in favor of augmentation over automation. They say that AI and robots won't take our jobs, but rather augment them by doing the things we humans don't do so well. I must say that I was a bit surprised that augmentation has become the consensus view among experts.


Michel Goemans named head of the Department of Mathematics

MIT News

Michel Goemans, professor of mathematics, has been named head of the Department of Mathematics, effective July 1. He has been serving as interim department head for the past year. "I am delighted that Michel Goemans will lead the mathematics department," said Michael Sipser, dean of the School of Science. "He has already been doing a superb job as interim department head, and I look forward to continue working with him to maintain and enhance the extraordinary strength of mathematics at MIT." Before his appointment as interim department head, he served from 2004 to 2008 as chair of the department's committee of advisors and subsequently as chair of the applied mathematics committee through 2015. Among other innovations, Goemans created a convenient electronic system for tracking the progress of mathematics majors, and he is now turning his attention to enhancing other departmental processes.


Self-navigating AI learns to take shortcuts: study

#artificialintelligence

A computer programme modelled on the human brain learnt to navigate a virtual maze and take shortcuts, outperforming a flesh-and-blood expert, its developers said Wednesday. While artificial intelligence (AI) programmes have recently made great strides in imitating human brain processing--everything from recognising objects to playing complicated board games--spatial navigation has remained a challenge. It requires the recalculation of one's position, after each step taken, in relation to the starting point and destination--even when travelling a never-before-taken route. Navigation is considered a complex behavioural task, and in animals is partly controlled by a sort of onboard GPS driven by "grid cells" in the brain's hippocampus region. These cells have been observed firing in a regular pattern as mammals explore a new environment.


Two winners announced for "Nobel Prize" of robotics

ZDNet

Two winners have been announced for the 2018 Joseph F. Engelberger Robotics Awards, considered the most prestigious honor in robotics. The Award for Technology will go to Universal Robots CTO Esben H. Østergaard, who is one of the inventors driving collaborative robotics technology. The Award for Leadership will go to Gudrun Litzenberger, General Secretary of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), an international consortium that provides surveys, studies, and data on automation and its impacts to industry, governments, and organizations such as the United Nations. Joseph F. Engelberger, for whom the awards are named, is often called the "Father of Industrial Robotics." An engineer and entrepreneur, he teamed up with inventor George Devol in the mid-1950s to found Unimation, the company behind Unimate, the first industrial robot.


This DeepMind AI Spontaneously Developed Digital Navigation 'Neurons' Like Ours

#artificialintelligence

When Google DeepMind researchers trained a neural network to tackle a virtual maze, it spontaneously developed digital equivalents to the specialized neurons called grid cells that mammals use to navigate. Not only did the resulting AI system have superhuman navigation capabilities, the research could provide insight into how our brains work. Grid cells were the subject of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, alongside other navigation-related neurons. These cells are arranged in a lattice of hexagons, and the brain effectively overlays this pattern onto its environment. Whenever the animal crosses a point in space represented by one of the corners these hexagons, a neuron fires, allowing the animal to track its movement.


Self-navigating AI learns to take shortcuts, outperforms human expert: study

The Japan Times

PARIS – A computer program modeled on the human brain has learned to navigate a virtual maze and take shortcuts, outperforming a flesh-and-blood expert, its developers said Wednesday. While artificial intelligence programs have recently made great strides in imitating human brain processing -- in everything from recognizing objects to playing complicated board games -- spatial navigation has remained a challenge. It requires the recalculation of one's position, after each step taken, in relation to the starting point and destination -- even when traveling a never-before-taken route. Navigation is considered a complex behavioral task, and in animals is partly controlled by a sort of onboard GPS driven by "grid cells" in the brain's hippocampus region. These cells have been observed firing in a regular pattern as mammals explore a new environment.


DeepMind: Get a load of our rat-like AI. 'Ere, look. It solves mazes and stuff

#artificialintelligence

DeepMind researchers have developed a neural network loosely modeled on mammalian brains to craft an artificially intelligent program capable of navigating through mazes. The results were published in a paper in the journal Nature on Wednesday. The grid-cell neural network is made up of three layers: a recurrent layer, a linear layer, and and an output layer. It's trained by following the paths of simulated rats shuffling about in a small 2D enclosure. The virtual rats trace the shape of the square-shaped or circular enclosure without ever touching the walls.


McGovern Institute awards 2018 Scolnick Prize to David Anderson

MIT News

The McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT announced today that David J. Anderson of Caltech is the winner of the 2018 Edward M. Scolnick Prize in Neuroscience. He was awarded the prize for his contributions to the isolation and characterization of neural stem cells and for his research on neural circuits that control emotional behaviors in animal models. The Scolnick Prize is awarded annually by the McGovern Institute to recognize outstanding advances in any field of neuroscience. "We congratulate David Anderson on being selected for this award," says Robert Desimone, director of the McGovern Institute and chair of the selection committee. "His work has provided fundamental insights into neural development and the structure and function of neural circuits."