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Siri, Alexa and That Google Gal Will Get You Only So Far

NYT > Technology

Mike Chen was working on a health care start-up, he and his colleagues had one of those light bulb moments regarding digital assistance. "There should be something where you can just text it, and it just, like, does it for you," he said. Three years later, his remote personal-assistant company, Magic, has employees in the United States and the Philippines. Its promise is bold: to do "anything" for customers who send requests over text or email, Mr. Chen said, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Fin, another new virtual personal-assistant company, is the brainchild of Sam Lessin and Andrew Kortina, a founder of the popular mobile payment service Venmo.



Second annual Women in Data Science conference showcases research, explores challenges

MIT News

Two hundred students, industry professionals, and academic leaders convened at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the second annual Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference on March 5. The conference grew from 150 participants last year, and highlighted local strength in academics and health care. "The WiDS conference highlighted female leadership in data science in the Boston area," said Caroline Uhler, a member of the WiDS steering committee who is an IDSS core faculty member and assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) at MIT. "This event is particularly important to encourage more female scientists in related areas to join this emerging area that has such broad societal impact." Regina Barzilay, Delta Electronics Professor of EECS, gave the first presentation on how data science and machine learning approaches are improving cancer research. Barzilay said her experiences as a breast cancer survivor motivates her work.


Uber Suspends Self-Driving Tests After Pedestrian Is Killed In Arizona

NPR Technology

Uber on Monday suspended its self-driving tests after a pedestrian was killed by an autonomous Uber in Tempe, Ariz. Uber on Monday suspended its self-driving tests after a pedestrian was killed by an autonomous Uber in Tempe, Ariz. A self-driving car operated by Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz., Sunday night. The incident could be the first pedestrian death involving a self-driving vehicle. The car was in autonomous mode but had a human riding along to take control of the vehicle if necessary, according to the Tempe Police Department.


Russia calls poisoning accusations by Britain 'nonsense'

Los Angeles Times

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Russia's involvement is "highly likely," and she gave the country a deadline of midnight Tuesday to explain its actions in the case. She is reviewing a range of economic and diplomatic measures in retaliation for the assault with what she identified as the military-grade nerve agent Novichok.


Owners Flip The Off Switch On The Burger-Flipping Robot

NPR Technology

At CaliBurger in Pasadena, Calif., the plug has been temporarily pulled on Flippy, a robot that can grill as many as 2,000 burgers a day.


Rollerskating robot to the rescue

BBC News

Researchers in Zurich are teaching a robot how to balance on wheels attached to its four legs.



Can the U.S. Military Combat the Coming Swarm of Weaponized Drones?

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

To counter the threats posed by small drones, the U.S. military may have to rapidly step up its R&D timeframes, according to a new report commissioned by the U.S. Army. Small unmanned aircraft systems (sUASs) have become increasingly affordable and sophisticated. With millions of these drones now available worldwide, "It's become very easy for an adversary to use them in nefarious ways," says Albert Sciarretta, chair of the committee behind the new study and president of CNS Technologies in Springfield, Virginia. The U.S. Army asked for a detailed report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that analyzes potential risks from these devices, especially to dismounted infantry (that is, foot soldiers) and lightly armored vehicles. For example, hobby drones could be fitted with lethal weapons such as explosive, chemical, biological, or radiological payloads--or modified to jam military radio signals, Sciarretta says.


Annihilation Is the Latest Example of How Women Are Taking Over Science-Fiction Movies

Slate - Articles

Annihilation deals in bountiful hallucinogenic imagery, but the image from Alex Garland's sci-fi horror that may prove most remarkable to audiences is one that really ought to be mundane: a poster featuring the film's five female leads. It's an uncommon setup, and not just for a generously budgeted studio picture.