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) …
These are exciting times for computational sciences with the digital revolution permeating a variety of areas and radically transforming business, science, and our daily lives. The Internet and the World Wide Web, GPS, satellite communications, remote sensing, and smartphones are dramatically accelerating the pace of discovery, engendering globally connected networks of people and devices. The rise of practically relevant artificial intelligence (AI) is also playing an increasing part in this revolution, fostering e-commerce, social networks, personalized medicine, IBM Watson and AlphaGo, self-driving cars, and other groundbreaking transformations. Unfortunately, humanity is also facing tremendous challenges. Nearly a billion people still live below the international poverty line and human activities and climate change are threatening our planet and the livelihood of current and future generations. Moreover, the impact of computing and information technology has been uneven, mainly benefiting profitable sectors, with fewer societal and environmental benefits, further exacerbating inequalities and the destruction of our planet. Our vision is that computer scientists can and should play a key role in helping address societal and environmental challenges in pursuit of a sustainable future, while also advancing computer science as a discipline. For over a decade, we have been deeply engaged in computational research to address societal and environmental challenges, while nurturing the new field of Computational Sustainability.
In 1960, physicist Eugene Wigner pondered "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences," wondering why it was that mathematics provided the "miracle" of accurately modeling the physical world. Wigner remarked, "it is not at all natural that'laws of nature' exist, much less that man is able to discover them." Fifty years later, artificial intelligence researchers Alon Halevy, Peter Norvig, and Fernando Pereira paid homage to Wigner in their 2009 paper "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Data," an essay describing Google's ability to achieve higher quality search results and ad relevancy not primarily through algorithmic innovation but by amassing and analyzing orders of magnitude more data than anyone had previously. The article both summarized Google's successes to that date and presaged the jumps in "deep learning" in this decade. With sufficient data and computing power, computer-constructed models obtained through machine learning raise the possibility of performing as well if not better than human-crafted models of human behavior.
Science has always hinged on the idea that researchers must be able to prove and reproduce the results of their research. Simply put, that is what makes science...science. Yet in recent years, as computing power has increased, the cloud has taken shape, and data sets have grown, a problem has appeared: it has becoming increasingly difficult to generate the same results consistently--even when researchers include the same dataset. "One basic requirement of scientific results is reproducibility: shake an apple tree, and apples will fall downwards each and every time," observes Kai Zhang, an associate professor in the department of statistics and operations research at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "The problem today is that in many cases, researchers cannot replicate existing findings in the literature and they cannot produce the same conclusions. This is undermining the credibility of scientists and science. It is producing a crisis."
The concept of randomness is easy to grasp on an intuitive level but challenging to characterize in rigorous mathematical terms. In "Algorithmic Randomness" (May 2019), Rod Downey and Denis R. Hirschfeldt present a comprehensive discussion of this issue, incorporating the distinct perspectives of "statisticians, coders, and gamblers." Randomness is also a concern to "modelers" who depend on simulation models driven by random number generators or analytic models built using probabilistic assumptions. In such cases, the underlying mathematical model is often an ergodic stochastic process, and the issue is whether the output of the simulator's random number generator or the observed behavior of the real-world system being modeled is "random enough" to establish confidence in the model's predictions. In a sense, this highly pragmatic perspective represents a less restrictive approach to the issue of randomness: if any of the strong criteria described by the authors are satisfied, the output of the simulator's random number generator or the observed behavior of the system being modeled should be sufficiently random to establish confidence in a model's predictions.
The Institute for the Future (IFTF) in Palo Alto, CA, is a U.S.-based think tank. It was established in 1968 as a spin-off from the RAND Corporation to help organizations plan for the long-term future. Roy Amara, who passed away in 2007, was IFTF's president from 1971 until 1990. Amara is best known for coining Amara's Law on the effect of technology: "We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run." This law is best illustrated by the Gartner Hype Cycle,a characterized by the "peak of inflated expectations," followed by the "trough of disillusionment," then the "slope of enlightenment," and, finally, the "plateau of productivity."
Google speaks 106 languages--or at least can understand queries in written form if not also oral form. When I watch someone interacting verbally with Google Assistant in languages other than English (my native tongue), I realize Google's language ability vastly exceeds my own. I have a modest ability to speak and understand German. I know a few phrases in Russian and French. But it suddenly strikes me that Google is usefully dealing with over 100 languages in written and oral form.
Microsoft's listening program continues to grow in scope after a new report reveals that contractors harvested unintentional audio from Xbox users through Cortana and the Kinect. Motherboard reports that Xbox users were recorded by Microsoft as part of a program to analyze users' voice-commands for accuracy and that those recordings were assessed by human contractors. While the program was designed to only scrape audio uttered after a wake-word, contractors hired by Microsoft report that some recordings were taken accidentally without provocation. The practice, reports Motherboard, has been ongoing for several years since the early days of Xbox One and predates Xbox's integration with its voice assistant, Cortana. Xbox users were being recorded by Microsoft in a listening program that scraped audio from Cortana and its augmented reality hardware, Kinect.
The consequences of fabricated news stories may have lingering effects on your perception. According to a new study, voters may develop false memories after reading a fake news report. And, they're more likely to do so if the narrative lines up with their own beliefs. Researchers presented over 3,000 eligible voters in Ireland with legitimate and made-up stories ahead of the 2018 referendum on legalizing abortion. In subsequent questioning – and after being told that some of the reports were fake – nearly half of participants reported a memory for at least one of the fabricated events, and many tended to be steadfast in these beliefs.
WASHINGTON – Amazon, Microsoft and Intel are among leading tech companies putting the world at risk through killer robot development, according to a report that surveyed major players from the sector about their stance on lethal autonomous weapons. Dutch NGO Pax ranked 50 companies by three criteria: whether they were developing technology that could be relevant to deadly AI, whether they were working on related military projects, and if they had committed to abstaining from contributing in the future. "Why are companies like Microsoft and Amazon not denying that they're currently developing these highly controversial weapons, which could decide to kill people without direct human involvement?" The use of AI to allow weapon systems to autonomously select and attack targets has sparked ethical debates in recent years, with critics warning they would jeopardize international security and herald a third revolution in warfare after gunpowder and the atomic bomb. A panel of government experts debated policy options regarding lethal autonomous weapons at a meeting of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva on Wednesday.
MOSCOW – Russia on Thursday launched an unmanned rocket carrying a life-size humanoid robot that will spend 10 days learning to assist astronauts on the International Space Station. Named Fedor, for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research with identification number Skybot F850, the robot is the first ever sent up by Russia. Fedor blasted off in a Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft at 6:38 a.m. The Soyuz is set to dock with the space station on Saturday and stay till Sept. 7. Soyuz ships are normally manned on such trips, but on Thursday no humans are traveling in order to test a new emergency rescue system. Instead of cosmonauts, Fedor was strapped into a specially adapted pilot's seat, with a small Russian flag in his hand.