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NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission will leave asteroid Bennu TODAY

Daily Mail - Science & tech

NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission will leave asteroid Bennu today and begin its 1.4 billion mile, two year long journey back to the Earth, the space agency confirmed. OSIRIS-REx (the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) was the first NASA mission to visit a near-Earth asteroid, survey the surface, and collect a sample to deliver to Earth. The spaceship was sent to study Bennu, an asteroid around the size of the Empire State Building and 200 million miles away, between the orbit of Earth and Mars. OSIRIS-REx gathered 2.1 ounces (60 grams) of rock and dust during its land and grab mission to the surface of the giant space rock, filling its storage compartment. It will begin its long journey home at 21:00 BST (16:00 EDT), with a live broadcast from NASA sharing the moment it fires its thrusters to push away from Bennu's orbit. If all goes to plan, OSIRIS-REx will orbit the sun twice, travelling 1.4 billion miles as it lines up with Earth, returning its samples in Utah on September 24, 2023.


The Pentagon Inches Toward Letting AI Control Weapons

WIRED

Last August, several dozen military drones and tank-like robots took to the skies and roads 40 miles south of Seattle. Their mission: Find terrorists suspected of hiding among several buildings. So many robots were involved in the operation that no human operator could keep a close eye on all of them. So they were given instructions to find--and eliminate--enemy combatants when necessary. The mission was just an exercise, organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a blue-sky research division of the Pentagon; the robots were armed with nothing more lethal than radio transmitters designed to simulate interactions with both friendly and enemy robots.


NASA Releases Hi-Res Video, Audio Of Mars Helicopter Flying Across Red Planet

International Business Times

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has achieved yet another first after capturing the sounds of another spacecraft hovering on the red planet. Using the microphone on its rock-zapping SuperCam instrument, the six-wheeled robot listened to the sounds of the Ingenuity helicopter on April 30 and recorded the whirring of its fast-spinning rotors. This marked the first time a spacecraft has recorded audio of another probe on a world beyond Earth. This was the chopper's fourth flight since Perseverance and Ingenuity landed together on Feb. 18 on the floor of Mars' Jezero Crater, NASA said in a statement. A video recently released by NASA combined the footage from Perseverance's Mastcam-Z imager of the solar-powered helicopter with the recorded audio, allowing scientists to know how the robot is performing just by tuning in to the sound it makes.


Briefly Noted Book Reviews

The New Yorker

This incisive, warm-blooded collection of stories is populated by outsiders: expatriates and repatriates, Vikings, travelling ventriloquists. Nearly half the stories are linked, tracing a romance between Jack and Sadie, whom we first meet in Ireland, attending Jack's sister's wedding to a Dutchman. Whether it's over the course of a honeymoon in Amsterdam or a day at a Texas water park, McCracken illuminates qualities of human nature through fragments of her characters' lives, much like the boy in the title story, examining ancient shards of pottery at a museum: "Looking at a piece of a thing, he might think, deduce, discover something nobody ever had, which was all he wanted in the world." An eccentric Italian bibliophile, Giordano Vietri, is the driving force of this assured début novel. The narrator, Gabriele, working in a Berkeley bookstore, receives hundreds of Vietri's requests for obscure titles, and, as she ships them off to him, at an address in Rome, she wonders if he is an academic or someone on a more personal quest for knowledge.


Plus's SPAC Merger Marks Autonomous Trucking Shift to Public Markets

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

Plus plans to merge with Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V in a transaction that would bring the company, which is based in California and China, about $500 million in gross proceeds and a market capitalization of roughly $3.3 billion. The agreement is expected to close in the third quarter, the companies said Monday. The deal would provide "a significant cash infusion for us to expand our commercialization efforts," Plus Chief Executive and co-founder David Liu said, as the company steps up production and aims to fill thousands of contracted orders and vehicle reservations from Chinese and U.S. fleets. The transaction would include a $150 million private placement of shares with BlackRock Inc., D.E. Top news and in-depth analysis on the world of logistics, from supply chain to transport and technology.


No AI until the data is fixed

#artificialintelligence

The last few years have been auspicious for artificial intelligence. Once the preserve of Silicon Valley's tech giants, AI has emerged as a tool that businesses small and large have become keen to harness for disparate use-cases in domains ranging from cybersecurity to customer service and analytics. Data scientists, tasked with creating machine learning-driven tools, are now ubiquitous in most industries. As AI's presence and influence grows across the business world, one key potential pitfall should not be overlooked: data. AI systems are generally powered by machine learning, a technique that creates smart systems through the recursive training of algorithms on vast troves of data – in the case at hand, we are talking about data that companies create and gather throughout their daily businesses.


New machine-learning approach brings digital photos back to life

#artificialintelligence

Every day, billions of photos and videos are posted to various social media applications. The problem with standard images taken by a smartphone or digital camera is that they only capture a scene from a specific point of view. But looking at it in reality, we can move around and observe it from different viewpoints. Computer scientists are working to provide an immersive experience for the users that would allow them to observe a scene from different viewpoints, but it requires specialized camera equipment that is not readily accessible to the average person. To make the process easier, Dr. Nima Kalantari, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, and graduate student Qinbo Li have developed a machine-learning-based approach that would allow users to take a single photo and use it to generate novel views of the scene.


Bright Machines Named Winner in 2021 Artificial Intelligence Excellence Awards

#artificialintelligence

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Business Intelligence Group today announced that Bright Machines was named a winner in its Artificial Intelligence Excellence Awards program. Bright Machines is a full-stack technology company offering a new approach to AI-enabled manufacturing. The company's flagship solution, Bright Machines Microfactories, combines intelligent software and adaptive robotics to automate repetitive assembly and inspection tasks, enabling manufacturers to quickly deploy autonomous assembly lines that can scale based on market demand. In less than three years, they have achieved strong momentum across multiple industry verticals, particularly with customers seeking to re-shore manufacturing and accelerate product innovation. "Our mission from day one has been to enable our customers to increase the speed, scalability, and flexibility of their manufacturing process. By applying advanced machine learning, computer vision, 3D simulation, and cloud computing to the factory floor, we can bring new levels of innovation and productivity to their operations," said Amar Hanspal, Bright Machines CEO and co-founder.


Artificial Intelligence Develops an Ear for Birdsong

#artificialintelligence

We can learn a lot from nature if we listen to it more--and scientists around the world are trying to do just that. From mountain peaks to ocean depths, biologists are increasingly planting audio recorders to unobtrusively eavesdrop on the groans, shrieks, whistles and songs of whales, elephants, bats and especially birds. This summer, for example, more than 2,000 electronic ears will record the soundscape of California's Sierra Nevada mountain range, generating nearly a million hours of audio. To avoid spending multiple human lifetimes decoding it, researchers are relying on artificial intelligence. Such recordings can create valuable snapshots of animal communities and help conservationists understand, in vivid detail, how policies and management practices affect an entire population.


AI is turning us into de facto cyborgs

#artificialintelligence

Progress in technology and increased levels of private investment in startup AI companies is accelerating, according to the 2021 AI Index, an annual study of AI impact and progress developed by an interdisciplinary team at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. Indeed, AI is showing up just about everywhere. In recent weeks, there have been stories of how AI is used to monitor the emotional state of cows and pigs, dodge space junk in orbit, teach American Sign Language, speed up assembly lines, win elite crossword puzzle tournaments, assist fry cooks with hamburgers, and enable "hyperautomation." Soon there will be little left for humans to do beyond writing long-form journalism -- until that, too, is replaced by AI. The text generation engine GPT-3 from OpenAI is potentially revolutionary in this regard, leading a New Yorker essay to claim: "Whatever field you are in, if it uses language, it is about to be transformed." AI is marching forward, and its wonders are increasingly evident and applied.