A self-driving car is like a regular car, but with sensors on the outside and a few powerful laptops hidden inside. The sensors, which are GPS, LIDAR, and cameras, transmit information back to the car's computer system. The best way to imagine the perspective of a self-driving car is to imagine you are driving in a 1980s-style first-person driving video game. The world is a 3-D grid with x, y, and z coordinates. The car moves through the grid from point A to point B, using highly precise GPS measurements gathered from nearby satellites.
On Sunday night, a self-driving car operated by Uber struck and killed a pedestrian, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, on North Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona. It appears to be the first time an automobile driven by a computer has killed a human being by force of impact. The car was traveling at 38 miles per hour. An initial investigation by Tempe police indicated that the pedestrian might have been at fault. According to that report, Herzberg appears to have come "from the shadows," stepping off the median into the roadway, and ending up in the path of the car while jaywalking across the street.
"More than a dozen armed drones descended from an unknown location onto Russia's vast Hmeimim air base in northwestern Latakia province, the headquarters of Russia's military operations in Syria, and on the nearby Russian naval base at Tartus," The Washington Post reported. "Russia said that it shot down seven of the 13 drones and used electronic countermeasures to safely bring down the other six." And these drones appeared substantially less sophisticated and maneuverable than a DJI Phantom 4, the leading consumer drone. The National Academy notes that most of the counterstrategies that the Army has developed are "based on jamming radio frequency and GPS signals." The thinking was: Drones needed those information flows to navigate effectively.
Janelle Shane is a humorist who creates and mines her material from neural networks, the form of machine learning that has come to dominate the field of artificial intelligence over the last half-decade. Perhaps you've seen the candy-heart slogans she generated for Valentine's Day: DEAR ME, MY MY, LOVE BOT, CUTE KISS, MY BEAR, and LOVE BUN. Her latest project, still ongoing, pushes the joke into a new, physical realm. Prodded by a knitter on the knitting forum Ravelry, Shane trained a type of neural network on a series of over 500 sets of knitting instructions. Then, she generated new instructions, which members of the Ravelry community have actually attempted to knit.
Then one day I had my wisdom teeth pulled and my cheeks became grapefruits. Figuring this was not a great first-date look, I made no weekend plans. Lonely and alone on a Saturday night, I started scrolling through OkCupid and, out of boredom and curiosity, expanded my search options to include users anywhere in the world. I was drawn in by the profiles of some of these new, distant matches and messaged a few asking if they'd like to chat on the phone. That weekend I talked to a neuropsychologist from Milwaukee; a software developer from Austin, Texas; an improv instructor from Seattle; and an economics masters student from London.
So reads a New York Times headline on the biggest spectacle of the week. Elon Musk's latest rocket blasted into the atmosphere with David Bowie's iconic "Space Oddity" playing on auto-repeat, listened to by no one. Crowds cheered as the rocket roared upon takeoff--carrying a Tesla Roadster as payload, no less--and roared again as the boosters delivered themselves safely back to Earth.
The technology world's most hotly anticipated trial in years has ended in a settlement: This morning, Uber and Waymo announced that the dispute over an alleged theft of trade secrets would be settled for 0.34 percent of Uber's equity, valued at about $245 million. Waymo had been seeking about $1 billion in damages.
One would expect that the vast majority of Waymo's autonomous miles will come in Phoenix in 2018, where the company is launching a commercial pilot of its self-driving taxi service. Soon, however, Waymo will be expanding that trial to more cities. Chrysler recently reported that they are set to deliver "thousands" of the customized minivans that Waymo uses over the next year "to support Waymo as it expands its service to more cities across the United States."