Tesla bursts into flames, prompting investigation by electric car firm

The Independent

Tesla has sent a team of investigators to China after a video emerged appearing to show one of its electric cars bursting into flames. Smoke billows from beneath a parked Model S in Shanghai, before flames appear and the vehicle appears to explode. CCTV footage of the incident was posted on Chinese social media. "After learning about the incident in Shanghai, we immediately sent the team to the scene last night," Tesla said in a statement shared on the social media platform Weibo. "From what we know now, no one was harmed."


Elon Musk says Neuralink machine that connects human brain to computers 'coming soon'

The Independent

Elon Musk has revealed his Neuralink startup is close to announcing the first brain-machine interface to connect humans and computers. The entrepreneur took to Twitter to tell followers the technology would be "coming soon" – though he failed to provide details. Neuralink was set up in 2016 with the ambitious goal of developing hardware to enhance the human brain, however, little about how this will work has been made public. We'll tell you what's true. You can form your own view.


UK offers government info through Alexa and Google Assistant

Engadget

You now have access to a treasure trove of government info through your smart speaker if you live in the UK. The British government has made over 12,000 pieces of Gov.uk information available through Alexa and Google Assistant, saving you the trouble of wading through official pages. Some of them are simple questions like the next bank holiday, while others are more involved questions such as obtaining a passport. Not everything is available, so you can't completely depend on a voice assistant just yet. However, there are promises of expansion.


Google Walkout leaders accuse company of retaliation culture

Engadget

Two of the seven Google employees who organized a massive walkout last November say they've since faced retaliation. After leading the protest, which sought to change Google's handling of sexual misconduct, Meredith Whittaker says she was told her role would be "changed dramatically." Claire Stapleton was told she would be demoted. The two claim they're not alone, and they plan to gather more stories and strategize with colleagues. As Wired reports, Stapleton got news of her demotion just months after the protest.


Tesla promises 'one million robo-taxis' in 2020

Engadget

Two days ahead of its first-quarter earnings disclosure, the company had an event to explain its autonomous technology to investors. The talks were probably denser than the average shareholder was expecting but it was an opportunity to see how Tesla will deliver a self-driving car and it announced that Tesla robo-taxis will be available next year. To kick things off, the company shared that it had built its very own computer for self-driving cars. The neural network chip was built from the ground up; the project started back in 2016. Each computer (which is stored behind the glove box) has redundancy so that if one chip fails, the second chip can take over.


Neuroscientists reverse some behavioral symptoms of Williams Syndrome

MIT News

Williams Syndrome, a rare neurodevelopmental disorder that affects about 1 in 10,000 babies born in the United States, produces a range of symptoms including cognitive impairments, cardiovascular problems, and extreme friendliness, or hypersociability. In a study of mice, MIT neuroscientists have garnered new insight into the molecular mechanisms that underlie this hypersociability. They found that loss of one of the genes linked to Williams Syndrome leads to a thinning of the fatty layer that insulates neurons and helps them conduct electrical signals in the brain. The researchers also showed that they could reverse the symptoms by boosting production of this coating, known as myelin. This is significant, because while Williams Syndrome is rare, many other neurodevelopmental disorders and neurological conditions have been linked to myelination deficits, says Guoping Feng, the James W. and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience and a member of MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research.


Google Searches For Ways To Put Artificial Intelligence To Use In Health Care

NPR

Google is looking to artificial intelligence as a way to make a mark in health care. Google is looking to artificial intelligence as a way to make a mark in health care. One of the biggest corporations on the planet is taking a serious interest in the intersection of artificial intelligence and health. Google and its sister companies, parts of the holding company Alphabet, are making a huge investment in the field, with potentially big implications for everyone who interacts with Google -- which is more than a billion of us. The push into AI and health is a natural evolution for a company that has developed algorithms that reach deep into our lives through the Web.


Googlers Claim Retaliation, Samsung Delays Fold, and More News

WIRED

Remember last week when Samsung unveiled its "foldable" phone? Well, it appears there are still a few wrinkles to iron out. Meanwhile, Google walkout organizers say they're facing retaliation from the company, a new Game of Thrones episode has come, and John Legend is putting Siri to shame. Here's the news you need to know in two minutes or less. Two Google employees who worked to organize a walkout of thousands of employees last November say the company is now retaliating against them.


Untold History of AI: How Amazon's Mechanical Turkers Got Squeezed Inside the Machine

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

The history of AI is often told as the story of machines getting smarter over time. What's lost is the human element in the narrative, how intelligent machines are designed, trained, and powered by human minds and bodies. In this six-part series, we explore that human history of AI--how innovators, thinkers, workers, and sometimes hucksters have created algorithms that can replicate human thought and behavior (or at least appear to). While it can be exciting to be swept up by the idea of super-intelligent computers that have no need for human input, the true history of smart machines shows that our AI is only as good as we are. At the turn of millennium, Amazon began expanding its services beyond book selling.


Paris Firefighters Used This Remote-Controlled Robot to Extinguish the Notre Dame Blaze

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

The Paris Fire Brigade has seen its share of logistical challenges, but the massive conflagration that consumed parts of the Notre Dame cathedral on the night of 15 April required a fight of epic proportions. The cathedral is 856 years old and built in a style that makes it almost structurally impossible to contain a fire. The site doubles as both a wildly popular tourist attraction and a holy site for Christians. Defending this symbol of French heritage would require all the tactical and physical power the Brigade had at its disposal--human and otherwise. Soon after firefighters arrived at the scene, the cathedral's giant spire began to show signs of collapsing into the building.