If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
Fighting fires was always dangerous. But with climate change, there have been more wildfires, which means even more risky rescue missions for local firefighting squads. That's why multiple different companies and teams of scientists are working to develop robots that can scope out burning buildings before human firefighters have to enter. The latest entrant is FireBot, a remote-controlled robot that can withstand temperatures as high as 650 degrees Celsius. At that scalding temperature, a firefighter wearing a protective suit can only withstand about 15 minutes of exposure.
On the same day Elon Musk announced that his brain implant device company Neuralink is preparing for its first human trials, a damning new report featuring insight from a former Neuralink employee shed new light on the brutal conditions that Neuralink's test monkey's underwent before being euthanized. Inquiries and investigations have previously been launched regarding potential animal welfare violations at the company. However, the issue was once again thrust into the spotlight last week after Musk claimed that no monkeys had died as a result of the Neuralink implant. "No monkey has died as a result of a Neuralink implant," Musk said in a post on X. Regarding early implants, Musk made the claim that, "to minimize risk to healthy monkeys, we chose terminal [monkeys] (close to death already)." Ten days later, Musk would share a Neuralink post about how the company would soon roll-out human trials.
At Microsoft's annual fall event, the company unveiled major AI products such as Copilot, an updated Windows 11, and Microsoft 365 Chat that are all capable of doing many different tasks, almost too many to keep track of. New AI productivity assistants enter the space nearly every day with promises to do various tasks to improve your workflow. Yet, sometimes, the tasks they can do are not that helpful or require the same amount of human supervision, making them not worth using. From my hands-on experience at the event, I am happy to report that five of Microsoft's new AI offerings are actually helpful in solving real-world problems. I rounded up the new Microsoft AI features that will likely make it into my own workflows.
Microsoft 365 Copilot is the Clippy we always wanted back when we were typing away on Word, but digital assistants were too primitive and underdeveloped. It's been over 25 years since Clippy debuted in Microsoft Office 97, and now we have a brand spankin' new, far more sophisticated assistant in town. Copilot, highlighted at the Microsoft Surface event on Thursday, is being integrated across Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and Teams. More specifically, you can take advantage of a new feature called Microsoft 365 Chat (formerly called Business Chat), which digs its fingers into your entire work world – documents, meetings, emails, chats, and more – to intelligently answer your pressing questions. Now, we have an official date for its launch in Windows 11: Nov. 1.
In a way, open source and artificial intelligence were born together. Back in 1971, if you'd mentioned AI to most people, they might have thought of Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. However, AI was already a real subject that year at MIT, where Richard M. Stallman (RMS) joined MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab. Years later, as proprietary software sprang up, RMS developed the radical idea of Free Software. Decades later, this concept, transformed into open source, would become the birthplace of modern AI.
YouTube has new AI features for creators on the way. AI-powered features the company announced at its Made on YouTube event on Thursday include a green screen feature, insights to stimulate ideas, automatic dubbing to other languages and a soundtrack search. Dream Screen gives YouTube Shorts creators an AI-powered green screen, similar to a popular feature on TikTok. YouTube's tool will automatically remove backgrounds from your videos, replacing them with AI-generated images or videos based on your prompts. Although it's yet to be seen how professional and convincing the generated content appears in practice, the idea is for Dream Screen to make it easier to illustrate fantasy scenarios or simply liven up otherwise ho-hum backdrops.
Cisco has announced plans to acquire data analytics vendor, Splunk, as it looks to offer enterprises deeper visibility and threat detection capabilities amid the growing adoption of artificial intelligence (AI). Estimated to be worth $28 billion in equity value, at $157 per share in cash, the acquisition will form one of the world's largest software companies, Cisco said in a statement Thursday. The networking equipment vendor added that the deal also will boost its recurring revenue. Also: Executives need better tech skills. The union will fuel "the next generation of AI-enabled security and observability," pushing companies from threat detection and response to threat prediction and prevention, said Cisco's CEO and chair Chuck Robbins said in a post.
The Microsoft Surface event on Thursday featured a bevy of artificial intelligence announcements. The company promised AI advancements that would change how people user their products. Chief among the announcements: a new AI tool called Copilot. Microsoft has dubbed Copilot "your everyday AI companion." "It will be a simple and seamless experience, available in Windows 11, Microsoft 365, and in our web browser with Edge and Bing," the company said in a statement. "It will work as an app or reveal itself when you need it with a right click.
On Thursday at its Made on YouTube event in New York, YouTube introduced a slew of AI tools for content creators that are coming to the platform. These AI tools run the gamut of content creator needs, from AI video generators to AI-powered insights. The tools are being introduced in order to make creation easier for everyone, according to the company. "Generative AI will make that possible" explained YouTube CEO Neal Mohan at the event. YouTube's first announcement, and seemingly its biggest, is Dream Screen, which the company says is coming next year.
It's not only Microsoft that had a notable hardware event on Thursday. Razercon took place on the same day. As ever, Razer took the opportunity to reveal its latest gaming gear, accessories and software updates. Among the announcements was a new line of smart light bulbs, lamps and light strips called Aether to help you kit out your home in delicious RGB. The range includes the $80 Aether Lamp, $130 Lamp Pro (which offers multi-zone lighting), $50 Light Bulb, $130 Light Strip and $30 Light Strip Extender.