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This AI Could Go From 'Art' to Steering a Self-Driving Car

WIRED

You've probably never wondered what a knight made of spaghetti would look like, but here's the answer anyway--courtesy of a clever new artificial intelligence program from OpenAI, a company in San Francisco. The program, DALL-E, released earlier this month, can concoct images of all sorts of weird things that don't exist, like avocado armchairs, robot giraffes, or radishes wearing tutus. OpenAI generated several images, including the spaghetti knight, at WIRED's request. DALL-E is a version of GPT-3, an AI model trained on text scraped from the web that's capable of producing surprisingly coherent text. DALL-E was fed images and accompanying descriptions; in response, it can generate a decent mashup image.


Uber cuts 15 percent of Postmates' workforce

Engadget

Now that Uber owns Postmates, it's apparently ready to cut workers it believes are superfluous. Uber has confirmed to the New York Times that it's laying off about 185 people at Postmates, or about 15 percent of the delivery company's staff. Most of the executives are leaving, including founder and CEO Bastian Lehmann. There may be more departures in the months ahead as contracts expire and others are asked to leave. The layoffs come as Uber melds its Eats platform with Postmates.


Trump made a mess of tech policy. Here's what Biden is inheriting.

Mashable

It's hard to focus on the nitty gritty of tech policy when the world is on fire. Take, for example, his fight against Big Tech in the name of "anti-conservative bias" (no, it doesn't exist), which resulted in an assault on Section 230. Experts say the true aim of those efforts was to undermine content moderation, and normalize the white supremacist attitudes that helped put people like Trump in power. Unfortunately, those allegations will have life for years to come as a form of "zombie Trumpism," as Berin Szoka, a senior fellow at the technology policy organization TechFreedom, put it. Trump may be gone from office and Twitter.


Ex-Google engineer among those pardoned by Donald Trump

BBC News - Technology

As an employee, he downloaded more than 14,000 files containing the intellectual property of Google's former self-driving car division, Waymo, before leaving to found Otto, which was soon acquired by Uber.


The Morning After: LG might get out of the smartphone business

Engadget

In the US, today is Inauguration Day, and as Joe Biden prepares to take the oath as our 46th president, it's worth taking a look back at the discussions four years ago. Back then, the "most tech-savvy" president exited as all eyes turned to Donald Trump trading in his Android Twitter machine for a secure device. We know how things went after that. Donald Trump isn't tweeting anymore (at least not from his main accounts), and the country is struggling through a pandemic. The outgoing president just saw his temporary YouTube ban extended and, in one of his last official acts, pardoned Anthony Levandowski for stealing self-driving car secrets from Google's subsidiary Waymo.


Trump pardons Anthony Levandowski, who stole trade secrets from Google

Mashable

Donald Trump is on his way out of the White House, but that didn't stop him from pardoning 73 people and commuting the sentences of another 70 people on the last day of his presidency. One name on that list is Anthony Levandowski, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets from the Google-owned, self-driving car company Waymo. Levandowski was a co-founder of Google's self-driving car division before leaving the tech giant in 2016 to start a self-driving truck company called Otto. That company was subsequently acquired by Uber, and Waymo filed a lawsuit alleging that their confidential information ended up in the hands of Uber. Levandowski was looking at a 10-year sentence, but he eventually pleaded guilty to trade secret theft, thus reducing his prison sentence.


Honda to collaborate with GM over self-driving service in Japan

The Japan Times

Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday it will collaborate with General Motors Co. and its unit Cruise LLC on launching a service using self-driving vehicles in Japan and start feasibility tests later this year. Automakers are scrambling to develop next-generation autonomous vehicles, with IT firms also joining the race. Honda and major U.S. carmaker GM agreed in 2018 to join hands in developing self-driving vehicles. Honda said it plans to start a mobility business using the Cruise Origin, a self-driving vehicle being developed by the three companies, with an eye to offering new transportation solutions in potential collaboration with local governments in Japan. "Through active collaboration with partners who share the same interests and aspirations, Honda will continue to accelerate the realization of our autonomous vehicle MaaS business in Japan," Honda President Takahiro Hachigo said in a statement, referring to its mobility service.


How Volkswagen's $50 Billion Plan to Beat Tesla Short-Circuited

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

The car, however, didn't work as advertised. It could drive, turn corners and stop on a dime. But the fancy technology features VW had promised were either absent or broken. The company's programmers hadn't yet figured out how to update the car's software remotely. Its futuristic head-up display that was supposed to flash speed, directions and other data onto the windshield didn't function.


Microsoft invests in General Motors' self-driving subsidiary Cruise

ZDNet

Microsoft is investing in General Motors' self-driving subsidiary Cruise. In return, Cruise and GM are touting Azure as their "preferred" (though not exclusive) cloud vendor. According to the January 19 press release about the deal, Cruise will use Azure for its autonomous vehicle solutions. GM will work with Microsoft on collaboration, storage, AI and machine learning, as well as on digital-supply chain, productivity and mobility services. And Microsoft will join GM, Honda and institutional investors in a combined, new equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise.


Self-supervised learning of visual appearance solves fundamental problems of optical flow

Robohub

How do honeybees land on flowers or avoid obstacles? One would expect such questions to be mostly of interest to biologists. However, the rise of small electronics and robotic systems has also made them relevant to robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). For example, small flying robots are extremely restricted in terms of the sensors and processing that they can carry onboard. If these robots are to be as autonomous as the much larger self-driving cars, they will have to use an extremely efficient type of artificial intelligence – similar to the highly developed intelligence possessed by flying insects.