US Government

Can You Teach a Self-Driving Car That a Snowman Won't Cross the Road?


You go around a curve, and suddenly see something in the middle of the road ahead. Of course, the answer depends on what that'something' is. A torn paper bag, a lost shoe, or a tumbleweed? You can drive right over it without a second thought, but you'll definitely swerve around a pile of broken glass. You'll probably stop for a dog standing in the road but move straight into a flock of pigeons, knowing that the birds will fly out of the way.

Iran Says It Shot Down a U.S. Drone

NYT > Middle East

Hossein Salami, the commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, addressing the issue at a military ceremony in Sanandaj, Iran, said the drone had been shot down in Iranian airspace. "We are not going to get engaged in a war with any country, but we are fully prepared for war," Mr. Salami said, according to a translation from Press TV. "Today's incident was a clear sign of this precise message so we are continuing our resistance." The Revolutionary Guards said in a separate statement that the aircraft was an American-made Global Hawk surveillance drone, according to Press TV. American officials said last week that Iran had fired a surface-to-air missile at a drone over the Gulf of Oman, on the same day that two oil tankers were attacked.

Iran says Revolutionary Guard shot down U.S. drone

The Japan Times

TEHRAN - Iran's Revolutionary Guard said Thursday it shot down a U.S. drone amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over its collapsing nuclear deal. The U.S. military declined to immediately comment. The reported shootdown of the RQ-4 Global Hawk comes after the U.S. military previously alleged Iran fired a missile at another drone last week that responded to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. blames Iran for the attack on the ships, which Tehran denies. The attacks come against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran following President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers a year ago.

Majority worry about 2020 foreign meddling in U.S. election: AP-NORC poll

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON - A majority of Americans are concerned that a foreign government might interfere in some way in the 2020 presidential election, whether by tampering with election results, stealing information or by influencing candidates or voter opinion, a new poll shows. The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds Democrats far more likely to express the highest level of concern, but Democrats and Republicans alike have at least some concerns about interference. Overall, half of Americans say they're extremely or very concerned about foreign interference in the form of altered election results or voting systems, even though hackers bent on causing widespread havoc at polling places face challenges in doing so. An additional quarter is somewhat concerned. Similarly, about half are very concerned by the prospect of foreign governments influencing political candidates or affecting voters' perceptions of the candidates, along with hacking candidate computer systems to steal information.

The Threat Of 'Deepfakes'

NPR Technology

Look at this video of comedian Bill Hader impersonating former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This video is a "deepfake." This is significant, not only because it reflects the fact that deepfakes are new, but that they're also easy. A big part of the danger of the technology is that, unlike older photo and video editing techniques, it will be more widely accessible to people without great technical skill. Now, the stakes are fairly low for the Hader video.

The fourth Industrial revolution emerges from AI and the Internet of Things


Big data, analytics, and machine learning are starting to feel like anonymous business words, but they're not just overused abstract concepts--those buzzwords represent huge changes in much of the technology we deal with in our daily lives. Some of those changes have been for the better, making our interaction with machines and information more natural and more powerful. Others have helped companies tap into consumers' relationships, behaviors, locations and innermost thoughts in powerful and often disturbing ways. And the technologies have left a mark on everything from our highways to our homes. It's no surprise that the concept of "information about everything" is being aggressively applied to manufacturing contexts.

Democratic rep warns artificial intelligence is being used to 'target vulnerable populations'


"One thing that was brought to my attention was how new artificial intelligence has been used quite frankly to target vulnerable populations," she …

Florida Eases Self-Driving Car Rules: Are States And Cities On The Hook For Mishaps?


Jurisdictions might be on-the-hook for their self-driving car laws that allow autonomous cars and for which might get into mishaps or crashes. Florida just passed a law that widens the door for self-driving driverless cars to roam their public roadways and do so without any human back-up driver involved. Some see dangers afoot, others see progress and excitement. Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, declared that by approving the new bill it showed that "Florida officially has an open-door policy to autonomous vehicle companies." There are now 29 states that have various driverless laws on their books, per the National Conference of State Legislatures: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, plus Washington, D.C. Here's a question that some politicians and regulators are silently grappling with, albeit some think that they have the unarguably "right" answer and thusly have no need to lose sleep over the matter: Should states, counties, cities and townships be eagerly courting self-driving autonomous cars onto their public roadways, or should those jurisdictions be neutral about inviting them into their locales, or should they be highly questioning and require "proof until proven safe" before letting even one such autonomous car onto their turf?

Oxford to receive biggest single donation 'since the Renaissance'


The University of Oxford has said it is to receive its biggest single direct donation "since the Renaissance", after it unveiled a £150m gift from the US billionaire Stephen Schwarzman to fund humanities research and tackle looming social issues linked to artificial intelligence. The money will be used to create the Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities, bringing together disciplines including English, philosophy, music and history in a single hub with performing spaces and a library, alongside a new Institute for Ethics in AI to collaborate. Unlike previous mega-donors, Schwarzman, the founder and chief executive of the Blackstone financial group, is not a former student. He says he was attracted to make the donation after being approached by Louise Richardson, Oxford's vice-chancellor, and by his memories of visiting as a teenager in 1963. "I visited Oxford as a 15-year-old on what we used to call'teen tours' in the US, where you travelled around Europe and hopefully became more civilised. I vividly remember going to Oxford because I'd never seen anything like it," Schwarzman said.

No longer fiction: Flying car startups aim to begin test flights as early as next year

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

After the recent New York helicopter crash, many are starting to question the safety of choppers. With Uber Air debuting its helicopter ride-sharing service next month, are helicopters a safe mode for transportation? As Uber forges ahead with plans for a flying taxi service in 2023, other startups are unveiling futuristic air mobility vehicles, suggesting that a Jetsons-like transportation system may be closer than you think. Massachusetts-based Alaka'i Technologies showed an electric human-carrying drone last month that it claims can carry five passengers, and the American-Israeli startup NFT --short for Next Future Transportation -- hopes its new folding-wing vehicle will halve travel times by both driving on the street and flying through the air during commutes. This comes as Uber sets its sights on phase one of Uber Air, releasing a fleet of Uber Copters in NYC over the summer.