The future of robots: singing lullabies, testing motorcycles

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At the two-day RoboBusiness Conference, about 2,000 people were serenaded with lullabies and Disney tunes, including "Let It Go" from the hit film "Frozen," by a human-like robot designed to comfort senior citizens and autistic children. And next to a man-size robot that can drive a motorcycle 190 mph around a race track, a half-dozen ant-size robots quickly scurried about a miniature factory floor. "In five years, could you imagine what this conference is going to look like?" "There are going to be 8-foot robots walking all around us, talking to us, some of them maybe being smarter than us." The 12th annual conference, which wrapped up Thursday, illustrated how the focus of robotics is shifting from industrial uses to consumer products. That's especially true at a time when drones, self-driving cars and police robots that carry bombs are making news.


Facial Recognition Can Steal Our Privacy -- But Not if One Project Succeeds

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University of Toronto graduate student Avishek "Joey" Bose, under the supervision of associate professor Parham Aarabi in the school's department of electrical and computer engineering, has created an algorithm that dynamically disrupts facial recognition systems. The project has privacy-related and even safety-related implications for systems that use so-called machine learning -- and for all of us whose data may be used in ways we don't realize. Major companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and Netflix are today leveraging machine learning. Financial trading firms and health care companies are using it, too -- as are smart car manufacturers. What is machine learning, anyway?


A burger from the sky? Uber's hoping to deliver food by drone in 2021, report

USATODAY

A new report says Uber plans to roll out a fleet of food-delivery drones by 2021. A drone flies over a city. Uber's flight ambitions expand beyond just shuttling people. It also includes delivering food. According to a job posting spotted by The Wall Street Journal, Uber is looking to hire an executive to help launch its drone food delivery program known internally as UberExpress.


Amazon: Automation doesn't have to kill jobs

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A front cover of the New York Post in December offered an unflattering view of Amazon Go, a test convenience store that does away with cashiers. The cover included Robby the Robot modified with Amazon branding and standing beside the giant headline: "THE END OF JOBS." Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president of global innovation, sees things a little differently. "We've not seen a slowdown in our hiring at all because of increased automation," Misener, an Amazon veteran of over 15 years, said in a phone interview Monday while he was visiting SXSW. We continue to deploy automation and we continue to hire people.