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Computer chess: how the ancient game revolutionised AI

The Guardian

Tue 19 May 2020 06.14 EDT Last modified on Tue 19 May 2020 06.16 EDT When legendary chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov found himself beaten by IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer, it was seen as a seminal moment in the evolution of artificial intelligence. A road trodden by war heroes and student researchers alike, whose singular desire to create a program that could beat the very best in the world would shape an entire science. Early origins Chess lends itself well to computer programming. Where other games can depend more on gut instinct or physical skill, chess is a game of strict binary rules – a move is either correct or it isn't. It's a game where multiple permutations, strategies and responses to moves and gambits could all be pre-programmed.


Explore otherworldly realms in these 13 fantastical tales

National Geographic

Superfans love to argue about the difference between sci-fi and fantasy. Purists say sci-fi must rely on, well, science, and extrapolate from elements of real life; fantasy veers toward supernatural beings and surreal settings. But the line can be hard to draw, and both genres are often grouped under the umbrella of speculative fiction. Whatever the label, these stories allow us to imagine other places, other times, and take trips that go beyond our wildest dreams. As the late, great sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury said: "Science fiction is the most important literature in the history of the world, because it's the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself."


Japan enacts high-tech 'super city' bill

The Japan Times

The Diet enacted a bill Wednesday to create "super cities" where artificial intelligence, big data and other technologies are utilized to resolve social problems. The bill revising the national strategic special zone law passed the House of Councilors by a majority vote with support mainly from the ruling coalition. The revision stipulates procedures to speed up the changing of regulations in various fields to facilitate the creating of such smart cities. The government hopes to utilize cutting-edge technologies to address issues such as depopulation and the aging of society. In such cities, data-linking platforms to collect and organize various kinds of data from administrative organizations and companies will be established for autonomous driving, cashless payments, telemedicine and other services.


Gamemakers Inject AI to Develop More Lifelike Characters

WIRED

A truly kick-ass videogame combines clever code, gorgeous graphics, and artful animation--plus thousands of hours of hard work. Researchers at Electronic Arts--the company behind FIFA, Madden, and other popular games--are testing recent advances in artificial intelligence as a way to speed the development process and make games more lifelike. And in a neat twist, the researchers are harnessing an AI technique that proved itself by playing some of the earliest console videogames. A team from EA and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver is using a technique called reinforcement learning, which is loosely inspired by the way animals learn in response to positive and negative feedback, to automatically animate humanoid characters. "The results are very, very promising," says Fabio Zinno, a senior software engineer at Electronic Arts.


The End of Handshakes--for Humans and for Robots

WIRED

Elenoide the android was made to shake your hand. She looks like a Madame Tussad's rendition of a prim fifth-grade teacher. She's dressed in a salmon cardigan with scalloped edges, a knee-length striped skirt, and a wig made of ashy blonde human hair. Her hands are warmed by heating pads hidden beneath the palms. During experiments, she wears white butler gloves.


Disney , Hulu, Prime Video on Echo and Google displays

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Upgrading from a smart speaker (like the Echo Dot) to a smart display (like the Echo Show) can be a game-changer. With a display, you can have recipes at your fingertips in the kitchen, a multi-functional digital photo frame in your living room, and easily enjoy a hands-free video chat from anywhere in the house. You can also quickly see information like the outside temperature and control your smart light switches and door locks from the touch screen. But smart displays are also great for watching your favorite shows while you work, whether you're cooking in the kitchen or putting away laundry in the bedroom. There's just one caveat: Different devices support different streaming platforms.


Miss Your Office? Some Companies Are Building Virtual Replicas

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

File-transfer service WeTransfer BV opened its virtual space on May 1, almost seven weeks after closing its physical offices in New York, Los Angeles and Amsterdam as part of the global effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Graphics reminiscent of early "Tomb Raider" videogames depict a version of the company's Dutch headquarters, adapted to include pool tables, techno music and in-jokes such as a "memorial" library named for the very- much-alive chief creative officer. Staff roam around in the form of avatars such as robots and panda bears. Gordon Willoughby, the chief executive of WeTransfer, said the platform helps provide the social experience of office life in the way that Zoom calls and Slack have replaced business meetings and desk-side chats. That is particularly valuable for recent hires, he said.


Tech Workers Fear Their Jobs Will Be Automated in Wake of Coronavirus

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

The results are based on a survey of 1,000 full-time and part-time workers across a range of industries, including 223 employed in the tech sector, the firm said. The survey was conducted in April. Technology workers' fears could be a harbinger for the broader labor market in the aftermath of the pandemic, as tech company trends often spread across the corporate world over time, said KPMG tech-industry practice leader Tim Zanni. "Workers in the tech industry are closer to the technology and thus have a unique understanding, more so than other industries, of technology and its capabilities," said Mr. Zanni. He said workers at technology firms see emerging digital capabilities in early stages of development and are more likely to be thinking of the impact of these tools on their jobs.



How speech recognition techniques are helping to predict volcanoes' behaviour

AIHub

Dr Luciano Zuccarello grew up in the shadow of Mount Etna, an active volcano on the Italian island of Sicily. Farms and orchards ring the lower slopes of the volcano, where the fertile soil is ideal for agriculture. But the volcano looms large in the life of locals because it is also one of the most active volcanoes in the world. More than 29 million people globally live within 10km of a volcano, and understanding volcanoes' behaviour – and being able to predict when they are going to erupt or spew ash into the air – is vital for safeguarding people's wellbeing. However, predicting volcano behaviour is difficult, especially if they have been dormant, and monitoring them can be challenging since taking samples or deploying equipment poses physical dangers.