Wall Street Journal


Norway Takes Lead in Race to Build Autonomous Cargo Ships

Wall Street Journal

Petter Ostbo, Yara's head of production who leads the project, said the company would look to invest in bigger ships and use them for longer routes once international regulations are in place for crewless vessels. The International Maritime Organization, which regulates maritime travel, doesn't expect legislation governing crewless ships to be in place before 2020. Shipping executives say autonomous vessels will be popular for short sea routes, but doubt they will replace oceangoing ships that move thousands of containers across continents with an average crew size of around 25. "When the bridge goes on land, it will be something like flying a drone from a command center," said Kongsberg's chief executive, Geir Haoy.


Next Leap for Robots: Picking Out and Boxing Your Online Order

Wall Street Journal

Automation companies such as Kuka AG KU2 -0.04%, Dematic Corp. and Honeywell International Inc. unit Intelligrated, as well as startups like RightHand Robotics Inc. and IAM Robotics LLC are working on automating picking. Hudson's Bay is testing RightHand's robots in a distribution center in Scarborough, Ontario. Swisslog, a subsidiary of Kuka, sells picking robots that can be integrated into the company's other warehouse automation systems or purchased separately.


Apple Expands Bet on Cutting Edge Privacy Tech

Wall Street Journal

Privacy experts worry these tools could be used to identify people in otherwise anonymous data sets. Differential privacy is key to Apple's artificial intelligence efforts, said Abhradeep Guha Thakurta, an assistant professor at University of California, Santa Cruz. While companies such as Google have access to massive volumes of data required to improve artificial intelligence, Apple's privacy policies have been a hindrance, blamed by some for turning the company into a laggard when it comes to AI-driven products such as Siri. The U.S. Census Bureau confronted the problem of links between data sets a decade ago.


Career of the Future: Robot Psychologist

Wall Street Journal

One subset that has taken off is neural networks, systems that "learn" as humans do through training, turning experience into networks of simulated neurons. "A big problem is people treat AI or machine learning as being very neutral," said Tracy Chou, a software engineer who worked with machine learning at Pinterest Inc. "And a lot of that is people not understanding that it's humans who design these models and humans who choose the data they are trained on." It is a difficult enough problem to crack that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as Darpa, is funding researchers working on "explainable artificial intelligence." Here's why we're in this pickle: A good way to solve problems in computer science is for engineers to code a neural network--essentially a primitive brain--and train it by feeding it enormous piles of data.


Saving Face: Investment in Recognition Tech Heats Up in China

Wall Street Journal

SHANGHAI--A Chinese startup that sells facial recognition systems to police forces secured venture-capital funding that values it at more than $1.5 billion, underscoring the sector's emergence as one of technology's hottest areas of interest. Beijing-based SenseTime Co., which provides surveillance systems using facial recognition to Chinese law enforcement agencies, said Tuesday it raised $410 million in new funding from investors, lifting it to so-called unicorn status with a value of more than $1 billion. Using artificial intelligence, facial recognition systems from SenseTime and others can identify people in a crowd by matching their faces against those on file in image databases. SenseTime investors include Chinese private-equity fund CDH Investments and Sailing Capital, a VC fund linked to the Shanghai government.


Off the Map: The Rough Road Ahead for Self-Driving Cars in China

Wall Street Journal

China is creating roadblocks for U.S. auto makers and tech companies to bringing self-driving cars to the world's largest auto market. Citing national security concerns, China is limiting the amount of mapping that can be done by foreign companies, as General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Alphabet Inc. and Apple Inc. rush to develop self-driving cars or the software behind them. To secure turn-by-turn navigation maps, foreign car makers currently work with Chinese mapping companies. German mapping provider HERE, owned by auto makers Audi, BMW AG BMW -2.61% and Daimler AG, will bring its maps to China after receiving investment and forming a 50-50 joint venture with Navinfo last December.


Testing Bixby, Samsung's Ambitious Plan to Make You Talk Like Iron Man

Wall Street Journal

But Bixby can't control all my most important apps, can't reliably comprehend me and can't find some answers readily available from rival AI assistants. You summon Bixby like other voice assistants, by calling a wake phrase: "Hi Bixby." Do you know where to find your mobile data usage? But with Bixby, I say, "check my mobile data usage" and there it is.


Lyft Shifts Gears With New Driverless-Car Division

Wall Street Journal

The new division marks a shift for Lyft, which had favored partnerships with self-driving vehicle developers including Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo, NuTonomy Inc., General Motors Co. GM -0.93% and Tata Motors Ltd.'s Jaguar Land Rover. Later this year, NuTonomy and GM plan to test their cars on Lyft's network. "This isn't about bringing one car or two cars or a hundred cars onto the streets of San Francisco--this is about bringing hundreds of thousands of cars" to Lyft's network," Mr. Kapoor said. Uber, which denies the allegations, has sought to be a leader in self-driving cars, rolling out tests in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Tempe, Ariz. Lyft is opening a new office in Palo Alto, Calif., in a building once used by video-calling company Skype, and hopes that base will help it attract engineering talent, said Director of Product Taggart Matthiesen.



The End of Car Ownership

Wall Street Journal

And startups will spring up to develop services that this new ownership model demands--perhaps even create whole new industries around self-driving cars and ride sharing. A study by Deloitte Consulting, for example, estimates that the cost of personal car ownership is on average 97 cents a mile today but could drop by two-thirds in a world of shared, self-driving vehicles--a tipping point that could usher the technology into daily life for many people. As a result of both driverless cars and fleets of robot taxis, sales of conventionally purchased automobiles may likely drop. Zoox, a startup valued at more than $1.5 billion, is working on designing a robot taxi that takes the entire riding experience into consideratio