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) …
Uber plans to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo, marking the transition of the U.S. firm from an app used to summon a taxi to the owner and operator of a fleet of cars. The non-binding framework deal could offer San Francisco-based Uber a way to overcome setbacks at its autonomous driving division in Silicon Valley's race to perfect self-driving systems. Combining Volvo's cars with Uber's self-driving system builds on their nearly three-year relationship and comes as Uber's autonomous driving unit has been hit by a lawsuit over trade secrets and the departure of top talent. Uber plans to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo, marking the transition of the U.S. firm from an app used to summon a taxi to the owner and operator of a fleet of cars. Automakers, ride-hailing firms and tech startups have been forging loose alliances in an effort to advance self-driving technology and claim a piece of what is expected to be a multi-billion-dollar business.
But if you were being very precise--if you were a team of Massachusetts of Technology researchers who study human-machine interactions--you wouldn't say that all those Americans are "driving," exactly. The new driver assistance systems on the market--like Tesla's's Autopilot, Volvo's's Pilot Assist, and Jaguar Land Rover's InControl Driver Assistance--mean that some of those travelers are doing an entirely new thing, participating in a novel, fluid dance. The human handles the wheel in some situations, and the machine handles it in others: changing lanes, parking, monitoring blind spots, warning when the car is about to crash. We might need a new word. Fully autonomous cars won't swarm the roads en masse for decades, and in the meantime, we'll have these semiautonomous systems.
Police in the US state of Delaware are poised to deploy'smart' cameras in cruisers to help authorities detect a vehicle carrying a fugitive, missing child or straying senior. The video feeds will be analyzed using artificial intelligence to identify vehicles by license plate or other features and'give an extra set of eyes' to officers on patrol, says David Hinojosa of Coban Technologies, the company providing the equipment. 'We are helping officers keep their focus on their jobs,' said Hinojosa, who touts the new technology as a'dashcam on steroids.' The program is part of a growing trend to use vision-based AI to thwart crime and improve public safety, a trend which has stirred concerns among privacy and civil liberties activists who fear the technology could lead to secret'profiling' and misuse of data. US-based startup Deep Science is using the same technology to help retail stores detect in real time if an armed robbery is in progress, by identifying guns or masked assailants.
Paint-on-the-floor pedestrian crossings don't cut it anymore. They are outdated, and the cause of 20 incidents a day in the UK. Architectural firm Umbrellium reckons it's got a solution: a sensor-packed digital crossing that responds to your movements. "We've been designing a pedestrian crossing for the 21st century," says Usman Haque, Umbrellium's founding partner. "Crossings that you know were designed in the 1950s, when there was a different type of city and interaction."
Next month in San Francisco, Uber will stand trial in federal court for allegedly cheating in the race to commercialize self-driving cars. Google parent Alphabet accuses Uber of stealing designs for sensors called lidars that give a vehicle a 3-D view of its surroundings, an "unjust enrichment" it says will take $1.8 billion to heal. Meanwhile in Toronto, Uber has a growing artificial-intelligence lab led by a woman who's spent years trying to make lidar technology less important. Raquel Urtasun joined Uber to set up a new autonomous-vehicle research lab in May--almost three months after Alphabet filed suit. She still works one day a week in her old job as an associate professor at the University of Toronto.
You're lying on your stomach, with your arms draped forwards, almost like you're going to get a shoulder massage. Except this is not a moment for relaxation. Through a VR headset, you see flashes of color, an unfamiliar view of the world, a group of red lines that looks something like a person. And now you have to make a decision, because you're rolling forward, head first, and your right hand is wrapped around the joystick that determines which way you're going. Do you continue forward, and risk hitting that blob that might be a human being?
Autonomous cars often proudly claim to be fitted with a long list of sensors--cameras, ultrasound, radar, lidar, you name it. But if you've ever wondered why so many sensors are required, look no further than this picture. You're looking at what's known in the autonomous-car industry as an "edge case"--a situation where a vehicle might have behaved unpredictably because its software processed an unusual scenario differently from the way a human would. In this example, image-recognition software applied to data from a regular camera has been fooled into thinking that images of cyclists on the back of a van are genuine human cyclists. This particular blind spot was identified by researchers at Cognata, a firm that builds software simulators--essentially, highly detailed and programmable computer games--in which automakers can test autonomous-driving algorithms.
The automotive industry is experiencing a paradigm shift. Today's vehicles are no longer just for transport. Instead, they are moving data centres with the potential to offer consumers access to in-car services like on-the-go toll and parking payments, weather data, automatic route calculation and much more. In the week that Frankfurt hosts its well-renowned international motor show, IAA 2017, the automotive industry is buzzing with talk of self-driving cars, in-vehicle concierge services and ever-increasing personalization for drivers. To understand how ready the automotive industry is to accept cognitive technology like this, the IBM Institute for Business Value surveyed 500 automotive executives, original equipment manufacturers and suppliers for their perspectives.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is super keen on futuristic electric cars, but doesn't yet trust Tesla's autonomous driving technology. "The Woz," who drives a Tesla Model S, is concerned some people are mistaking Tesla's current Autopilot system as a completely capable self-driving program. In reality, Tesla's Autopilot feature is classified by the federal government as a "level two" autonomous driving system, which means the car is only partially automated, meaning it will steer itself, accelerate, and decelerate -- but the driver must always be prepared to take control of the vehicle. "Tesla has in people's mind that they have cars that will just drive themselves totally, and it is so far from the truth, so they have deceived us," Wozniak told CNBC at this week's 20/20 Money conference in Las Vegas. To Wozniak, the word "autopilot" is deceiving and potentially dangerous.
I'm never sure what to expect when I walk up the steps of Comma AIs office (which is actually a house in a San Francisco neighborhood). Its founder and all-around rabble-rouser George Hotz (the iPhone and Playstation hacker more commonly known as geohot) has strong opinions about the automotive industry and how he can fix it. The company's "ghost riding for the masses" tagline won't win over regulators, but Comma AI's longterm goal of running your car's operating system seems doable. But first, it's concentrating on dash cams that tap into your car's data. Comma AI's latest piece of hardware is the EON dash cam developer kit.