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Opinion Donald Trump, Our A.I. President

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If conventional psychology isn't up to the task, perhaps we should step back and consider a tantalizing sci-fi alternative -- that Trump doesn't operate within conventional human cognitive constraints, but rather is a new life form, a rudimentary artificial intelligence-based learning machine. When we strip away all moral, ethical and ideological considerations from his decisions and see them strictly in the light of machine learning, his behavior makes perfect sense. Consider how deep learning occurs in neural networks such as Google's Deep Mind or IBM's Deep Blue and Watson. The goal of DNA is self-reproduction; the sole intent of Deep Mind or Watson is to win.


Identifying optimal product prices

MIT News

How can online businesses leverage vast historical data, computational power, and sophisticated machine-learning techniques to quickly analyze and forecast demand, and to optimize pricing and increase revenue? A research highlight article in the Fall 2017 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review by MIT Professor David Simchi-Levi describes new insights into demand forecasting and price optimization. Simchi-Levi developed a machine-learning algorithm, which won the INFORMS Revenue Management and Pricing Section Practice Award, and first implemented it at online retailer Rue La La. The initial research goal was to reduce inventory, but what the company ended up with was "a cutting-edge, demand-shaping application that has a tremendous impact on the retailer's bottom line," Simchi-Levi says. Rue La La's big challenge was pricing on items that have never been sold before and therefore required a pricing algorithm that could set higher prices for some first-time items and lower prices for others.


World's first talking sex robot is ready for her close-up

#artificialintelligence

Come January, the "Westworld" concept of lifelike sex robots will get one step closer. That's when a San Marcos company will unveil Harmony, an anatomically correct sex doll with a patented animatronic talking head with programmable personality and memory. News of creator Matt McMullen's latest invention -- he's been making lifelike silicone sex dolls for 20 years -- has created international media interest and a firestorm of criticism from ethicists and futurists who see a dark side to a sex doll that becomes more "human" with each technological innovation. One critic worries that the doll's artificial intelligence app could be hacked to make it kill its owner (like the vengeance meted out by sex robots in the film "Ex Machina" and TV show "Westworld"). And women's advocates say owners could realistically rehearse plans for violent sexual acts with the interactive dolls.


Tesla's Autopilot Trouble, the Mercedes-Benz Hypercar, NHTSA Guidelines, and More Car News From This Week

WIRED

After years of hearings, investigations, and states doing whatever they like in the absence of federal decision-making, self-driving car decrees flowed out of Washington, DC, this week like your data from Equifax. The Department of Transportation updated its policy on automated vehicles. The National Transportation Safety Board released the results of a yearlong investigation into a deadly Tesla Autopilot crash. The Senate took on self-driving trucks, with a hearing that pitted the industry against the truckers who ply the nation's highways. Transportation change is happening, and this country's policymakers finally seem ready to tackle it.


Drone Strike Kills 3 Militants in NW Pakistan, Say Officials

U.S. News

ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Two Pakistani officials say a suspected U.S. drone strike has targeted a compound in a northwestern tribal region along the Afghan border, killing three suspected militants. The officials said two suspects were also wounded in Friday's strike on a border village in the Kurram tribal region. If confirmed, it would be the first U.S. drone strike on Pakistan since President Donald Trump announced his new strategy for Afghanistan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief media. The officials said apparently Afghan Taliban, including member Abdul Salam, were targeted but it was unclear whether they were present at the time.


Artificial skin lets robot hand feel hot or cold

USATODAY

A robot hand with artificial skin reaches for a glass of ice water. Researchers at the University of Houston have created an artificial skin that allows a robotic hand to sense the difference between heat and cold. The research is the first to create a semiconductor with a rubber composite, which would allow it to still work when stretched by as much as 50%. The discovery of stretchable electronics could have a significant impact in the wearables market, with devices such as health monitors or biomedical devices, says Cunjiang Yu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Houston and the lead author for the paper. When the stretchable electronic skin was applied to a robotic hand, it could tell the difference between hot and cold water.


Why 500 Million People in China Are Talking to This AI

MIT Technology Review

When Gang Xu, a 46-year-old Beijing resident, needs to communicate with his Canadian tenant about rent payments or electricity bills, he opens an app called iFlytek Input in his smartphone and taps an icon that looks like a microphone, and then begins talking. The software turns his Chinese verbal messages into English text messages, and sends them to the Canadian tenant. In China, over 500 million people use iFlytek Input to overcome obstacles in communication such as the one Xu faces. Some also use it to send text messages through voice commands while driving, or to communicate with a speaker of another Chinese dialect. The app was developed by iFlytek, a Chinese AI company that applies deep learning in a range of fields such as speech recognition, natural-language processing, machine translation, and data mining (see "50 Smartest Companies 2017").


Amazon has developed an AI fashion designer

#artificialintelligence

The effort points to ways in which Amazon and other companies could try to improve the tracking of trends in other areas of retail--making recommendations based on products popping up in social-media posts, for instance. For instance, one group of Amazon researchers based in Israel developed machine learning that, by analyzing just a few labels attached to images, can deduce whether a particular look can be considered stylish. An Amazon team at Lab126, a research center based in San Francisco, has developed an algorithm that learns about a particular style of fashion from images, and can then generate new items in similar styles from scratch--essentially, a simple AI fashion designer. The event included mostly academic researchers who are exploring ways for machines to understand fashion trends.


Face-reading AI will be able to detect your politics and IQ, professor says

#artificialintelligence

Michal Kosinski – the Stanford University professor who went viral last week for research suggesting that artificial intelligence (AI) can detect whether people are gay or straight based on photos – said sexual orientation was just one of many characteristics that algorithms would be able to predict through facial recognition. Kosinski, an assistant professor of organizational behavior, said he was studying links between facial features and political preferences, with preliminary results showing that AI is effective at guessing people's ideologies based on their faces. That means political leanings are possibly linked to genetics or developmental factors, which could result in detectable facial differences. Facial recognition may also be used to make inferences about IQ, said Kosinski, suggesting a future in which schools could use the results of facial scans when considering prospective students.