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) …
Google has admitted it is having trouble working out what's true and what's false. People are managing to confuse the company's search algorithm, says Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Alphabet. As a result, it's struggling to rank search results correctly, in order of accuracy. "Let's say that this group believes Fact A and this group believes Fact B, and you passionately disagree with each other and you are all publishing and writing about it and so forth and so on," Mr Schmidt said at the Halifax International Security Forum last weekend, reports CNBC. "It is very difficult for us to understand truth.
The Government is to spend hundreds of millions of pounds encouraging people to make electric cars that drive themselves. It will spend huge amounts of money to try and incentivise electric vehicles. Then eventually those cars will start driving themselves around the country – with Chancellor Philip Hammond backing a plan to have them making their own way by 2021. Jeremy Corbyn used the news about driverless vehicles to joke about having tested "backseat driving" in the Government, which has been bitterly divided before the Budget. Mr Hammond said the technology was being introduced because the Government saw it as the future.
Airbus is looking to develop autonomous aircraft and technologies that will allow a single pilot to operate commercial jetliners, helping cut costs for carriers, chief technology officer Paul Eremenko said. "The more disruptive approach is to say maybe we can reduce the crew needs for our future aircraft," Mr Eremenko told Bloomberg Television's Yvonne Man in an interview broadcast on Wednesday. "We're pursuing single-pilot operation as a potential option and a lot of the technologies needed to make that happen has also put us on the path towards unpiloted operation." The aerospace industry has begun seeing a similar trend as the car market, where carmakers are investing in or acquiring autonomous driving startups. Plane manufacturers including Airbus and Boeing are racing to develop artificial intelligence that will one day enable computers to fly planes without human beings at the controls.
Research by Apple computer scientists on how self-driving cars can better spot cyclists and pedestrians while using fewer sensors has been posted online, in what appears to be the company's first publicly disclosed paper on autonomous vehicles. The paper by Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel, submitted on 17 November to independent online journal arXiv, is significant because Apple's famed corporate secrecy around future products has been seen as a drawback among artificial intelligence and machine learning researchers. The scientists proposed a new software approach called "VoxelNet" for helping computers detect three-dimensional objects. Academics are used to freely sharing their work with peers at other organisations. Yielding to that dynamic, Apple in July established the Apple Machine Learning Journal for its researchers.
An artificial intelligence expert has called for countries to ban so-called "killer robots" before activists' warnings against them become a reality. The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots recently released a short film, in which autonomous weapons are used to carry out mass killings with frightening efficiency, while people struggle to work out how to combat them. A United Nations panel discussed the issue last week, but next plans to meet next year. Toby Walsh, Scientia Professor of AI at UNSW Sydney, says he's "confident" that killer robots will be banned, but is worried that the decision could take a long time to make. "[The] arms race has happened [and] is happening today," he said at the UN, reports AFP.
But there's no need to worry. The speaker is coming into a market full of competitors – plenty of which do the same thing. So if you now have a rounded, bin-shaped hole under your Christmas tree, you can replace it with another voice-enabled speaker. The HomePod boasts of a huge range of features: beautiful sound, a small, beautiful build, and the ability to control it all with your voice. Not all of those features can be replaced – but some of them can be.
Jeremy Clarkson has warned that he could have been killed by a driverless car as Chancellor Philip Hammond is about to allow the new technology to be tested on UK roads. The former Top Gear presenter said he tested out a driverless car which made two mistakes within 50 miles, and as a result he feared for his life. He wrote in the Sunday Times magazine: "I drove a car the other day which has a claim of autonomous capability and twice in the space of 50 miles on the M4 it made a mistake, a huge mistake, which could have resulted in death. "We have to be very careful legally, so I'm not going to say which one." Writing about the technology being developed and safe enough for British roads, he said: "For now, we're miles away from it."
That's the warning of a whole range of experts who warn that the connected home – the idea that appliances and gadgets throughout the home – might be turned on their users. The technology is intended to make life easier for the people who use it, but like many new developments comes with terrifying warnings for their users. That's because the same things required to use the smart home – internet connections, microphones and cameras – also make them perfect targets for hackers. And because they occupy such an intimate place in people's homes, once they're spying on you they can learn some of the most intimate data there is. Those problems primarily hit cheap devices, many of which are made with little interest in how private they are.
Boston Dynamics' humanoid robot can execute a perfect backflip. Atlas, which can also keep its balance when it's pushed and get back up if it falls over, can now perform impressive gymnastic moves. Boston Dynamics has just released footage of the machine's latest trick, and viewers are both impressed and concerned. As well as being able to jump from block to block and turn 180-degrees in mid-air, Atlas can do a backflip and land securely on its feet. Like a human, it even lifts its arms in the air as if to celebrate, though this may also help it balance.
Apple has delayed the HomePod, its next big new release. The Siri-enabled speaker is intended to be Apple's response to the increasing popularity of gadgets like the Amazon Echo, Google Home and the Sonos One. But it will have to wait a while before taking them on, since it has been delayed until "early 2018". "We can't wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple's breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it's ready for our customers," a statement from Apple said. "We'll start shipping in the US, UK, and Australia in early 2018."