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) …
Giving robots the ability to operate in the real world has been, and continues to be, one of the most difficult tasks in AI research. Since 1987, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have been investigating one such task. Their research has been focused on using adaptive, vision-based systems to increase the driving performance of the Navlab line of on-road mobile robots. This research has led to the development of a neural network system that can learn to drive on many road types simply by watching a human teacher. This article describes the evolution of this system from a research project in machine learning to a robust driving system capable of executing tactical driving maneuvers such as lane changing and intersection navigation.
The automobile is being dismantled, reimagined, and rebuilt in Silicon Valley. Intel's proposed $15.3 billion acquisition of Mobileye, an Israeli company that supplies carmakers with a computer-vision technology and advanced driver assistance systems, offers a chance to measure the scale of this rebuild. In particular, it shows how valuable on-the-road data is likely to be in the evolution of automated driving. While the price tag might seem steep, especially with so many players in automated driving today, Mobileye has some key technological strengths and strategic advantages. It's also developing new technologies that could help solidify this position.
Two recent accidents involving Tesla's Autopilot system may raise questions about how computer systems based on learning should be validated and investigated when something goes wrong. A fatal Tesla accident in Florida last month occurred when a Model S controlled by Autopilot crashed into a truck that the automated system failed to spot. Tesla tells drivers to pay attention to the road while using Autopilot, and explains in a disclaimer that the system may struggle in bright sunlight. Today the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was investigating another accident in Pennsylvania last week where a Model X hit the barriers on both sides of a highway and overturned. The driver said his car was operating in Autopilot mode at the time.
In 2015, Navistar was considering new lighter duty Class 8 truck designs for its International Truck brand. Specifically, it saw an opportunity in regional applications. On average, Class 8 trucks in this market have less usage -- in terms of miles and hours driven -- than long-haul applications. In concept, a truck with lighter weight components would cost less and deliver greater fuel efficiency for regional freight haulers without trade offs in durability. In 2013 or 2014, Navistar would likely have conducted an expensive market study to test the concept.
For those of us who haven't been hermits stuck in a remote section of Middle Earth, The Lord of the Rings book and movie series brought to our awareness the mythical powers of The One Ring: An object with a sinister inscription that reads "One Ring to Rule Them All." The ring bearers' powers will allow s/he to rule all lands and all people -- yet this piece of jewelry will enslave the poor ring bearer (life's full of trade-offs, right?). It's too good to be true -- "slip the ring on your finger and you'll rule the world!" Now that's convenience (for those whose ego is beyond measure). Products or devices bringing convenience and ease to us offer huge value.
A few days before Thanksgiving, George Hotz, a 26-year-old hacker, invites me to his house in San Francisco to check out a project he's been working on. He says it's a self-driving car that he had built in about a month. But when I turn up that morning, in his garage there's a white 2016 Acura ILX outfitted with a laser-based radar (lidar) system on the roof and a camera mounted near the rearview mirror. A tangle of electronics is attached to a wooden board where the glove compartment used to be, a joystick protrudes where you'd usually find a gearshift, and a 21.5-inch screen is attached to the center of the dash. "Tesla only has a 17-inch screen," Hotz says. He's been keeping the project to himself and is dying to show it off. Hotz fires up the vehicle's computer, which runs a version of the Linux operating system, and strings of numbers fill the screen. When he turns the wheel or puts the blinker on, a few numbers change, demonstrating that he's tapped into the Acura's internal controls. After about 20 minutes of this, and sensing my skepticism, Hotz decides there's really only one way to show what his creation can do. "Screw it," he says, turning on the engine. As a scrawny 17-year-old known online as "geohot," Hotz was the first person to hack Apple's iPhone, allowing anyone--well, anyone with a soldering iron and some software smarts--to use the phone on networks other than AT&T's.