One of the poorest kept secrets in Silicon Valley has been the huge salaries and bonuses that experts in artificial intelligence can command. Now, a little-noticed tax filing by a research lab called OpenAI has made some of those eye-popping figures public. OpenAI paid its top researcher, Ilya Sutskever, more than $1.9m (£1.35m) in 2016. It paid another leading researcher, Ian Goodfellow, more than $800,000 (£570,000) – even though he was not hired until March of that year. Both were recruited from Google.
Apple has created a new robot – not for building products, but for ripping iPhones apart. The robot, named Daisy, can take nine different iPhones models apart and extract the important parts of them, in ways traditional recyclers cannot. They can then be used all over again, helping to cut wastage out of the process of making phones. The new announcement is part of Apple's broad plans for Earth Day, the event held on 22 April each year to mark green efforts. It also said that it would encourage people to recycle more of their phones, so that they can be broken up by Daisy: for every iPhone handed in until 30 April through its GiveBack recycling scheme, it will make a donation to Conservation International.
Nintendo Labo – the new, strange, cardboard accessory for the Switch – is finally about to arrive. The accessory allows you to make a car, a piano, a robot or a motorbike. And it does all that with just the use of some very well put together cardboard. US and Japan will get hold of Labo this week, on 20 April. In Europe and the UK, they will come out a week later, on 27 April.
It is the task that tests many of the most skilled, patient humans. But the robots appear to be catching up. A new robot has been taught to successfully put together a piece of Ikea furniture. It could one day leave the tough job of finding the right screws and putting them in the right place to the past – leaving humans never to have to struggle to put together their new chair again. Doing so takes even longer than the time required to put together flat-pack furniture: the scientists spent three years programming the robot to make sure that its arms, grippers, sensors and 3D cameras could put together the chair.
Games have long been used as testbeds and benchmarks for artificial intelligence, and there has been no shortage of achievements in recent months. Google DeepMind's AlphaGo and poker bot Libratus from Carnegie Mellon University have both beaten human experts at games that have traditionally been hard for AI – some 20 years after IBM's DeepBlue achieved the same feat in chess. Games like these have the attraction of clearly defined rules; they are relatively simple and cheap for AI researchers to work with, and they provide a variety of cognitive challenges at any desired level of difficulty. By inventing algorithms that play them well, researchers hope to gain insights into the mechanisms needed to function autonomously. With the arrival of the latest techniques in AI and machine learning, attention is now shifting to visually detailed computer games – including the 3D shooter Doom, various 2D Atari games such as Pong and Space Invaders, and the real-time strategy game StarCraft.
A robot enters a bar. A new stunt shows pub goers being stunned to be joined by a uncannily human-looking android, before it breaks a glass. And the team behind it say it offers a hint at the future of exactly the kind of robots that could surround is in the future. The robot, created by Now TV ahead of the beginning of the second season of Westworld, did not engage in any of the vintage hijinks or intense action that the androids in the films get involved with. But it does have something in common with it: going in the pub, and freaking out people who engage with it.
Users across the world were briefly shown an unhappy robot and a message that the site has broken, rather than the expected posts. "Something is technically wrong," the site's error message read. "Thanks for noticing--we're going to fix it up and have things back to normal soon." The website DownDetector reported a sharp spike in the number of problems with the site around 3pm UK time. The problems were visible across the world, with particular hotspots in the UK, US and Japan – though that might simply be a result of who is online and reporting issues at that time.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has endured a gruelling five-hour hearing before the US House of Representatives, facing tough questions about how the site protects user data, whether it is biased against certain users – and what, exactly, it is. The second day of questioning before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce proved more taxing for the 33-year-old than his testimony before two Senate committees on Tuesday. Representatives shot rapid-fire questions at the entrepreneur, and even interrupted his answers at several points. "While Facebook has certainly grown, I worry it has not matured," Representative Greg Walden said at the opening of the hearing on Wednesday. "I think it is time to ask whether Facebook may have moved too fast and broken too many things."
The Amazon Alexa of the future could be listening to you all the time – and building up a detailed picture of what you want to buy. That's the suggestion of a patent filed by the company that details the idea of'voice-sniffing' technology. Such software would allow the device to eavesdrop on conversations and analyse them, feeding that into a database for ads. At the moment, Amazon's Echo products are hardwired so they will only listen to users when they say the "Alexa" wake word. Amazon has denied that it uses voice recordings for advertising at the moment, and said that the patent might never actually come to the market.
Nasa has found an entire solar system with as many planets as our own. The discovery of a new planet around the Kepler-90 star, which looks like our own sun, means the distant solar system has a total of eight known planets. And those planets look like those in our own neighbourhood: rocky planets orbit close to the star, with gas giants further away. The star and its family of planets were already known about, having been detected by the Kepler space telescope. But the breakthrough came when astronomers found the new world, which was done using Google's artificial intelligence technology.