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) …
You need just two eyes and two ears to drive. Those remarkable sensors provide all the info you need to, say, know that a fire engine is coming up fast behind you, so get out of the way. Autonomous vehicles need a whole lot more than that. They use half a dozen cameras to see everything around them, radars to know how far away it all is, and at least one lidar laser scanner to map the world. Yet even that may not be enough.
Certain kinds of autonomous vehicles may not be safe, especially in an emergency situation, according to a new study published by the Lords Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday. With driverless technology, drivers may become over-reliant and complacent. However, with the development in the automotive technology over time, accidents by human error may be significantly reduced -- but they just might increase before they do. The committee also reported people may use driverless cars for shorter distances, as well, causing laziness and may prevent them from "getting exercise by walking." The UK Economic Opportunity split vehicles into levels from 0 to 5. Zero was fully controlled by an individual, and five was completely automated.
It has been dubbed the Robo-Olympics, and will see the world's most advanced robots go head to series in a series of ever more challenging events. Twenty five of the top robotics organizations in the world are competing for $3.5 million in prizes, and will take on a gruelling simulated disaster-response course during the two day contest. Robots will try to complete a series of challenge tasks selected by DARPA for their relevance to disaster response. The robots will start in a vehicle, drive to a simulated disaster building, and then they'll have to open doors, walk on rubble, and use tools. There will be a surprise task waiting for the robots at the end - which turned out to be turning a valve.
This year, before the doors of the the Los Angeles Auto Show open to the public, the show held Automobility, an automotive tech showcase. As our cars become more like two-ton devices that we drive, auto shows are having to adjust their focus to include apps, AI, connected cars, and more. Here are a few of the most innovative tech stories from LA. Hyundai offered Blue Link, an app that allowed owners to unlock and start their cars via smartphone, in 2011. The second generation of Blue Link rolled out in 2014, adding smart watches to the app's repertoire. Now the service works with Amazon's Alexa in-home AI device.
Hurricane Matthew's record rains were but the first of many obstacles faced by millions of evacuees in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas this past week. Roads were blocked by chest-high floodwaters and downed trees. Gas stations ran out of fuel. And traffic sat backed up for miles along interstate highways as floodwaters overtook what appeared to be tens of thousands of households. Most did make it to safety, thanks to evacuation orders, well-planned emergency procedures, and traffic managers switching up lanes to move a glut of vehicles (contraflow for the win).
The U.S. government has issued its first rules for automated vehicles. They include a 15-point set of "safety assessment" guidelines for self-driving systems. These cover issues such as cybersecurity, black box recordings to aid crash investigations, and how a car would deal with potential ethical conundrums on the road. The new policy will play a central role in shaping how autonomous vehicles proceed toward commercial use. Many automotive and technology companies are testing self-driving vehicles, and ride-hailing company Uber even lets customers in Pittsburgh order rides in prototypes (see "My Self Driving Uber Needed Human Help").
Many city governments are under pressure to optimize the utilization of their resources to respond to fire, rescue and medical emergencies. In this paper we describe a simulation-based optimization software called SOFER that learns from a history of emergency requests to optimize the placement of resources and response policies. We describe a two-level random-restart hill climbing approach that yields policies which perform better than the current practice, satisfy the usability constraints, and are sensitive to optimization metrics and population changes. Some of the policies learned by the system give insight into response practices that would otherwise be counterintuitive.