The Guardian


Chatterbox: Monday

The Guardian

Monday 21 August 2017 02.00 EDT Last modified on Monday 21 August 2017 02.02 EDT


Two-year-olds should learn to code, says computing pioneer

The Guardian

Dame Stephanie Shirley, whose company was one of the first to sell software in the 1960s, said that engaging very young children – in particular girls – could ignite a passion for puzzles and problem-solving long before the "male geek" stereotype took hold. "I don't think you can start too early," she said, adding that evidence suggested that the best time to introduce children to simple coding activities was between the ages of two and seven years. "Companies run by women still have extraordinary difficulty in getting venture capital," she said. Such technology is already being tested at Priors Court in Berkshire, a residential school for autistic children that Shirley founded.


Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban on killer robots

The Guardian

In their letter, the founders warn the review conference of the convention on conventional weapons that this arms race threatens to usher in the "third revolution in warfare" after gunpowder and nuclear arms. This is not the first time the IJCAI, one of the world's leading AI conferences, has been used as a platform to discuss lethal autonomous weapons systems. It said that the UK was not developing lethal autonomous weapons and that all weapons employed by UK armed forces would be "under human oversight and control". The unmanned combat aerial vehicle, about the size of a BAE Hawk, the plane used by the Red Arrows, saw its first test flight in 2013 and is expected to be operational sometime after 2030 as part of the Royal Air Force's Future Offensive Air System, destined to replace the human-piloted Tornado GR4 warplanes.


Chatterbox: Friday

The Guardian

Friday 18 August 2017 02.00 EDT Last modified on Friday 18 August 2017 02.32 EDT


Robot shelf-stack fail suggests they won't take our jobs just yet

The Guardian

But judging from the progress made by arguably the most advanced humanoid robots, if Terminator does show up, it won't even be able to stack shelves without falling over. The hilarious outtake was part of a video demonstrating the advances made by former Google-owned Boston Dynamics, featuring a series of robots including the Atlas humanoid automaton, which while impressive in many respects is far from a highly capable robotic killing machine – or job taker. While robotics have certainly come a long way, now able to stand, or even roll on skates in a video that can only be described as the stuff of nightmares, Boston Dynamics has shown that an i, Robot-style future is currently very, very far from reality. So for the time being, the now Soft Bank-owned Boston Dynamics may not have achieved the goal of a house robot, but at least it has provided the world with amusement at a robot that tries so hard, but ultimately fails.


Meet Eva, the workplace robot that won't necessarily steal your job

The Guardian

London startup Automata Technologies is one of those hoping to reverse the trend. The company makes a tabletop robotic arm, which it hopes will democratise access to automation for every industry by costing a fraction of the tens of thousands of dollars a typical industrial robot costs today – under £5,000 up front, or under £500 a month for a "robotics as a service" package. "So if you're a robot company today operating commercially, you're buying gearboxes from one of these two pairs. Chandra hopes that Eva's eventual launch will hit hard, comparing the potential of robots with the smartphone or PC.


Who wants to live in an artificially intelligent future? Michele Hanson

The Guardian

Grim news – Silicon Valley is coming to the UK. It plans to "bring our London Googlers together" with a 25-metre swimming pool, massage rooms, a basketball court, nap pods and a 200-metre "trim trail", which loops around a rooftop meadow, to encourage "the Google culture of walking meetings", as the Guardian's architecture and design critic, Oliver Wainwright, put it. The horrid secrets of Silicon Valley are coming out. Some of its creators are running scared: the former Facebook executive now living in an island hidey-hole for fear of societal breakdown; the "tech-connected" people in Silicon Valley who are restricting their children's screen time.


Elon Musk: AI 'vastly more risky than North Korea'

The Guardian

The Tesla and SpaceX chief executive took to Twitter to once again reiterate the need for concern around the development of AI, following the victory of Musk-led AI development over professional players of the Dota 2 online multiplayer battle game. This is not the first time Musk has stated that AI could potentially be one of the most dangerous international developments. Musk's tweets coincide with the testing of an AI designed by OpenAI to play the multiplayer online battle arena (Moba) game Dota 2, which successfully managed to win all its 1-v-1 games at the International Dota 2 championships against many of the world's best players competing for a $24.8m (£19m) prize fund. Musk's latest comments come after a public spat with Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg over the dangers of AI, with Musk dismissing Zuckerberg as having "limited" understanding of the subject after the social network's head called out Musk for scaremongering over AI.


Chatterbox: Monday

The Guardian

Monday 14 August 2017 04.14 EDT Last modified on Monday 14 August 2017 04.17 EDT


Rise of the robocar: are connected cars safer, or a target for hackers?

The Guardian

A bill that would speed up development of self-driving cars and establish a federal framework for their regulation, the Highly Automated Vehicle Testing and Deployment Act of 2017, is now working its way through Congress. But they're also willing to expose vehicles via online software updates because the logistical challenges posed by physical downloads (car drives to shop, shop downloads new software) would make the frequent improvements required to millions and millions of lines of code virtually impossible to effect. Geater explained that some of the measures being taken to improve security include separating functions – the sound system can communicate with the vehicle speed system (to modulate sound volume according to vehicle speed), but neither can communicate with the transmission, for example. "People prove time and time again to be absolutely terrible, dangerous drivers," Geater said, adding that the risks posed by an actual human behind the wheel of a car far outweigh those posed by a potential hacker.