MIT Technology Review


We Need Computers with Empathy

MIT Technology Review

I was rehearsing a speech for an AI conference recently when I happened to mention Amazon Alexa. At which point Alexa woke up and announced: "Playing Selena Gomez." I had to yell "Alexa, stop!" a few times before she even heard me. But Alexa was oblivious to my annoyance. Like the majority of virtual assistants and other technology out there, she's clueless about what we're feeling.


AI Algorithms Are Starting to Teach AI Algorithms

MIT Technology Review

At first blush, Scot Barton might not seem like an AI pioneer. He isn't building self-driving cars or teaching computers to thrash humans at computer games. But within his role at Farmers Insurance, he is blazing a trail for the technology. Barton leads a team that analyzes data to answer questions about customer behavior and the design of different policies. His group is now using all sorts of cutting-edge machine-learning techniques, from deep neural networks to decision trees.


Inside the Moonshot Effort to Finally Figure Out the Brain

MIT Technology Review

"To build a dog detector, you need to show the program thousands of things that are dogs and thousands that aren't dogs," he says. The MICrONS teams--one led by Cox, one based at Rice University and the Baylor College of Medicine, and a third at Carnegie Mellon--are each pursuing something that is remarkably comprehensive: a reconstruction of all the cells in a cubic millimeter of a rat's brain, plus a wiring diagram--a "connectome"--showing how every cell is connected to every other cell, and data showing exactly which situations make neurons fire and influence other neurons. Once a team in Cox's lab has mapped a rat's neural activity, the animal is killed and its brain is infused with the heavy metal osmium. Even as the scans come pouring out of the microscope--"You're sort of making a movie where each slice is deeper," says Lichtman--they are forwarded to a team led by Harvard computer scientist Hanspeter Pfister.


Scientists Can Read a Bird's Brain and Predict Its Next Song

MIT Technology Review

In April, Elon Musk announced a secretive new brain-interface company called Neuralink. "We decode realistic synthetic birdsong directly from neural activity," the scientists announced in a new report published on the website bioRxiv. The final result, say the authors: "We decode realistic synthetic birdsong directly from neural activity." At Elon Musk's Neuralink, bird scientists were among the first key hires.


China's AI Awakening br / 中国 人工智能 的崛起

MIT Technology Review

In recent decades, a booming manufacturing sector--and market reforms encouraging foreign trade and investment--have helped bring hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, creating business empires and transforming Chinese society. The plan calls for homegrown AI to match that developed in the West within three years, for China's researchers to be making "major breakthroughs" by 2025, and for Chinese AI to be the envy of the world by 2030. "When the Chinese government announces a plan like this, it has significant implications for the country and the economy," says Andrew Ng, a prominent AI expert who previously oversaw AI technology and strategy at China's biggest online search company, Baidu. The country's tech companies, led by the Internet giants Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, are hiring scores of AI experts, building new research centers, and investing in data centers that rival anything operated by Amazon, Google, or Microsoft.


Put Humans at the Center of AI

MIT Technology Review

We also want to make technology that makes humans' lives better, our world safer, our lives more productive and better. Vision is a cornerstone of intelligence, and language understanding is a cornerstone of intelligence. What makes humans unique is that evolution gave us the most incredible and sophisticated vision system, motor system, and language system, and they all work together. Visual Genome is exactly the kind of project that's pushing the boundaries of language understanding and visual understanding.


The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions

MIT Technology Review

He is best known for his adage now referred to as Amara's Law: We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run. This is a problem I regularly encounter when trying to debate with people about whether we should fear artificial general intelligence, or AGI--the idea that we will build autonomous agents that operate much like beings in the world. Now suppose a person tells us that a particular photo shows people playing Frisbee in the park. Computers that can label images like "people playing Frisbee in a park" have no chance of answering those questions.


Colleges Are Marketing Drone Pilot Courses, but the Career Opportunities are Murky

MIT Technology Review

Some four-year colleges and private companies are also training people to be drone pilots, but the community-college programs are particularly interesting because they attract diverse types of students, including adults looking to change careers. In fact, many community colleges offer drone classes through their "workforce development" and "workforce solutions" departments, which are designed to impart practical skills that people can apply immediately to their jobs or use to get new jobs, rather than conferring credits toward a college degree. For example, a September course at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, Massachusetts, attracted nine students: Varney, the hot-air balloon pilot; some other people interested in using drones for photography and videography; two police officers; and one firefighter. In the absence of hard data, community colleges that have offered drone training for several years may provide the clearest measure of these programs.


How AI Will Keep You Healthy

MIT Technology Review

The devices will help gather, analyze, and display a crush of health data he wants to collect about himself--and, he hopes, from millions of others. It starts with your DNA sequence and includes data from Fitbit-style wearables that measure your steps, heart rate, and sleep patterns. Now Imagu's engineers are working with counterparts at ICX to create what they call a "virtual health brain" that will interpret the thousands of data points ICX wants to collect on each customer. During his stint as BGI's CEO, Wang helped build the company into one of the largest sequencing operations in the world.


Constant Monitoring AI Rx for Personal Health

MIT Technology Review

The devices will help gather, analyze, and display a crush of health data he wants to collect about himself--and, he hopes, from millions of others. Schadt has launched his own health data company, called Sema4, which is scanning genomes and molecular biomarkers, mainly of people being treated for diseases. Now Imagu's engineers are working with counterparts at ICX to create what they call a "virtual health brain" that will interpret the thousands of data points ICX wants to collect on each customer. During his stint as BGI's CEO, Wang helped build the company into one of the largest sequencing operations in the world.