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AI-Driven Robots Are Here For Good


Artificial intelligence (AI) is just a supporting player in the wider world of robotics. Unlike sensationalist sci-fi flicks, robots have had an important role since the earliest days of industrialization. From manufacturing line efficiencies to support in surgery, robots are integral to many core social constructs. The never-actualized dynamic of robots with intuition could finally be on the horizon. AI, algorithms and technological applications are accelerating into new realms.

This $2,700 robot dog will carry a single bottle of water for you


Boston Dynamics isn't the only company that makes futuristic quadrupedal robots. Chinese firm Unitree Robotics has also been at it for years, and this week revealed its latest creation: the Unitree Go1, a robust-looking four-legged bot that's remarkably cheap, with prices starting at just $2,700. What is the Go1 for, though? Well, a demo video shows it being put to such useful tasks as "following someone on a run" and "carrying a single bottle of water." Sure it's not practical to have a robot butler for your phone and wallet, but it makes a statement on a night out. More realistically, the robotics industry is still exploring the best applications for these sorts of machines.

Snag a whopping 15TB of cloud storage for just $130


TL;DR: Need more cloud storage? Opt for a lifetime subscription to the Degoo Premium mega backup plan, which is on sale for $129.99 as of May 30. From work to taxes to streaming to writing personal emails, your computer goes through a lot -- and sometimes things go wrong. But with the Degoo Premium mega backup plan, you'll have a backup of your most important files and videos. Degoo is an artificial intelligence-based cloud storage system that keeps your files organized and safe.

Google plans to build a commercial quantum computer by 2029


Google developers are confident they can build a commercial-grade quantum computer by 2029. Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the plan during today's I/O stream, and in a blog post, quantum AI lead engineer Erik Lucero further outlined the company's goal to "build a useful, error-corrected quantum computer" within the decade. Executives also revealed Google's new campus in Santa Barbara, California, which is dedicated to quantum AI. The campus has Google's first quantum data center, hardware research laboratories, and the company's very own quantum processor chip fabrication facilities. The main benefits of quantum computing come in terms of processing power, scale and accuracy, allowing researchers to run complex computations incredibly quickly.

Watch a Snake Robot Go for a Swim


When sea snakes swim, they wind their way through the water by flicking their flattened tails, which is super graceful but requires a whole lot of coordination. So when roboticists at Carnegie Mellon University decided that it was time for their landlubbing robot snake to take to the water, they took a shortcut. They approximated the wildly complex biomechanics of a serpent--and then loaded the machine with propellers. The result is a sort of wiggling torpedo, sans warhead: the Hardened Underwater Modular Robot Snake. As you can see in the video below, it manages some impressive swimming by combining an aft thruster to produce forward movement with lateral thrusters along its body for stability control, plus it uses some bending joints (actuators, in the parlance) to position the lateral thrusters.

Why robots just can't grow good weed


Cannabis farm production is at an all-time high, but it's unlikely that robots will take over the process anytime soon. The stereotypical weed farm is either a sprawling expanse of crop tended to by free-spirited stoners, or a clandestine basement operation built on information gleaned from online forums. Modern cannabis farm facilities, with their climate controlled grow rooms and automatic irrigation techniques, are a stark departure from pop culture's preconceived notions of what a weed farm looks like. Though far more clinical than its cliché predecessor, the modern cannabis farm still does the bulk of cultivation by hand. Few, if any, other agricultural spaces use human labor over that of a machine's to the degree that cannabis farms do, but the quality-driven nature of weed requires fine motor skills and age-old intuition that technology hasn't adapted to yet. While the agricultural industry has relied on machinery for centuries, automation falls short in the cannabis sphere. The rise in states legalizing marijuana and the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp ushered in a "green rush" of farmers who could grow cannabis, and consumers who could finally buy it.

Are quantum computers good at picking stocks? This project tried to find out


The researchers ran a model for portfolio optimization on Canadian company D-Wave's 2,000-qubit quantum annealing processor. Consultancy firm KPMG, together with a team of researchers from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and a yet-to-be-named European bank, has been piloting the use of quantum computing to determine which stocks to buy and sell for maximum return, an age-old banking operation known as portfolio optimization. The researchers ran a model for portfolio optimization on Canadian company D-Wave's 2,000-qubit quantum annealing processor, comparing the results to those obtained with classical means. They found that the quantum annealer performed better and faster than other methods, while being capable of resolving larger problems – although the study also indicated that D-Wave's technology still comes with some issues to do with ease of programming and scalability. The smart distribution of portfolio assets is a problem that stands at the very heart of banking.

Japan's Fugaku supercomputer goes fully live to aid COVID-19 research

The Japan Times

Kobe – Japan's Fugaku supercomputer, the world's fastest in terms of computing speed, went into full operation Tuesday, earlier than initially scheduled, in the hope that it can be used for research related to the novel coronavirus. The supercomputer, named after an alternative word for Mount Fuji, became partially operational in April last year to visualize how droplets that could carry the virus spread from the mouth and to help explore possible treatments for COVID-19. "I hope Fugaku will be cherished by the people as it can do what its predecessor K couldn't, including artificial intelligence (applications) and big data analytics," said Hiroshi Matsumoto, president of the Riken research institute that developed the machine, in a ceremony held at the Riken Center for Computational Science in Kobe, where it is installed. Fugaku, which can perform over 442 quadrillion computations per second, was originally scheduled to start operating fully in the fiscal year from April. It will eventually be used in fields such as climate and artificial intelligence applications, and will be used in more than 100 projects, according to state-sponsored Riken. The supercomputer, which was developed jointly with Fujitsu Ltd., was ranked the world's fastest for computing speed in the twice-yearly U.S.-European TOP500 project for the first time in June, and retained the top spot in November.

Here's why robots are actually going to increase human employment


In both of these cases, the work that accountants and bank tellers are performing is higher-skilled than the work they were doing before. Sometimes something entirely different happens, and the new jobs rely on fundamentally different skills than the old ones, even though, superficially, they seem similar. The invention of the washing machine greatly cut down on the arduous task of scrubbing clothes by hand. Not only were factory jobs created to make the washing machines, but laundromats became a new convenience, and they created jobs, too. Running a successful laundromat requires someone to be able to run a small business.

Will You Survive the AI Apocalypse?


"Just to rub it in, a version of AlphaGO, called AlphaZero recently learned to trounce AlphaGo at Go, and also to trounce Stockfish (the world's best chess program, far better than any human) and Elmo (the world's best shongi program, also better than any human). AlphaZero did all this in one day." I was reading "Human Compatible" this week and the above anecdote got me thinking. A computer crushing Chess and Go Grandmasters is impressive and feels ominous, but what does it mean for our everyday jobs? Every year computer chips get smaller and faster (Moore's Law) and experts predict Machine Learning, AI and automation will eviscerate our jobs.