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Robot delivers the dough on college campuses

ZDNet

Back in May of last year I wrote that the pandemic would set the tone for a new autonomous food and grocery delivery paradigm. With a funding announcement and news of expansion from one of the dominant players in the space, that's very much coming to pass. Starship Technologies, which makes a six-wheel delivery robot and has innovated a novel adoption strategy targeting college campuses and other controlled environments, just announced $17M in new funding (bringing the company's total funding to over $100M). Starship is also expanding its delivery services to two new campuses: UCLA and Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. "Completing one million deliveries is a milestone that everyone at Starship is celebrating," says Ahti Heinla, Co-founder and CEO of Starship Technologies.


Walmart will use robots to turn stores into automated fulfillment centers

Engadget

Back in 2019, Walmart started piloting its first local fulfillment center in Salem, which uses robots called the Alphabot to pick items from shelves. Now, the retail giant is turning more locations into automated fulfillment centers by converting a portion of the stores into warehouses or adding a new section. Walmart stocks automated fulfillment centers with frequently purchased goods, including consumables (such as fresh and frozen items) and electronics. They're meant to make order delivery and pickup a lot faster, and the Alphabot is a key element in making that possible. The wheeled robot can quickly go anywhere inside a warehouse to retrieve items from shelves and then take them to a workstation for assembly.


Heaven's Vault: A Linguist's Buried Treasure

WIRED

I climb the stairs, my faithful robot Six warning me not to proceed. Do I heed their warning and take a step back? I can see a tall pillar-like statue up ahead, peering at me over a flight of stairs--the prospect of deciphering another fragment of glyphs is motivating me to proceed through the thinning air. As a linguist and writer, Heaven's Vault is the game that I've been waiting a very long time for. It brings together the craft of compelling narrative games and a BAFTA-nominated interactive story presented in a rich, visual novel interface, taking players on a journey of imagination and exploration within an entrancing game environment.


2020 in Review With Brian Tse

#artificialintelligence

In 2020, Synced has covered a lot of memorable moments in the AI community. Such as the current situation of women in AI, the born of GPT-3, AI fight against covid-19, hot debates around AI bias, MT-DNN surpasses human baselines on GLUE, AlphaFold Cracked a 50-Year-Old Biology Challenge and so on. To close the chapter of 2020 and look forward to 2021, we are introducing a year-end special issue following Synced's tradition to look back at current AI achievements and explore the possible trend of future AI with leading AI experts. Here, we invite Mr. Brian Tse to share his insights about the current development and future trends of artificial intelligence. Brian Tse focuses on researching and improving cooperation over AI safety, governance, and stability between great powers. He is a Policy Affiliate at the University of Oxford's Center for the Governance of AI, Coordinator at the Beijing AI Academy's AI4SDGs Cooperation Network, and Senior Advisor at the Partnership on AI.


Ticker: Amazon adds jobs in Boston; Lottery sales, profits rising during pandemic

Boston Herald

Amazon's 2020 hiring spree does not appear to be slowing in the new year with the company announcing 3,000 new jobs in the city in coming years. The hires announced Tuesday will double the workforce in Amazon's Boston tech hub, with new jobs spread across Alexa, Amazon Web Services, Amazon Robotics and Amazon Pharmacy. In its most recent quarter which ended in September, Amazon hired more than 250,000 permanent full-time and part-time workers, Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said during a conference call with industry analysts. In October, the start of this quarter, it hired another 100,000. The jobs announced Tuesday in Boston include technology positions in software development, artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as new jobs in product management, human relations, finance and other areas.


US has 'moral imperative' to develop AI weapons, says panel

The Guardian

The US should not agree to ban the use or development of autonomous weapons powered by artificial intelligence (AI) software, a government-appointed panel has said in a draft report for Congress. The panel, led by former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, on Tuesday concluded two days of public discussion about how the world's biggest military power should consider AI for national security and technological advancement. Its vice-chairman, Robert Work, a former deputy secretary of defense, said autonomous weapons are expected to make fewer mistakes than humans do in battle, leading to reduced casualties or skirmishes caused by target misidentification. "It is a moral imperative to at least pursue this hypothesis," he said. For about eight years, a coalition of non-governmental organisations has pushed for a treaty banning "killer robots", saying human control is necessary to judge attacks' proportionality and assign blame for war crimes.


Tesla's dominant autonomous EV leadership, ride-hailing services, and the Boring Company

ZDNet

ARK Invest focuses solely on offering investment solutions to capture disruptive innovation in the public equity markets. ARK believes that the world is rapidly changing and passive investment strategies are counterproductive. ARK also believes that innovation is causing disruption and the risks associated with the traditional world order are rising. Therefore ARK invests at the pace of innovation. ARK's analysts are organized by a cross-sector innovation theme to capitalize on technological convergence across markets and industries.


Qualcomm aims to consolidate auto systems, expands GM, Amazon Alexa partnerships

ZDNet

Qualcomm on Tuesday outlined a broad strategy to advance its Snapdragon platform in the auto industry as it aims to expand in the cockpit as well as a bevy of subsystems. The Qualcomm playbook for the automotive industry rhymes with its plans for IoT, artificial intelligence and compute. That strategy revolves around using 5G and the Internet of everything to consolidate compute platforms. In an event dubbed Automotive Redefined, Qualcomm outlined a new software defined architecture called E/E (electronic/electrical) that aims to put its platforms in everything from the cockpit to autonomous driving to sensors to electric charging infrastructure. As automobiles become more connected via 5G enabled C-V2X technology, Qualcomm ultimately sees cars as the "ultimate mobility platform" with new experiences updated over the air.


Technological Responses to COVID-19

Communications of the ACM

Pratt Miller demonstrated its LAAD disinfecting robot at Gerald R Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, MI, in July 2020. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to be felt for years to come, regardless of the presence and availability of a vaccine. Physical measures adopted by humans, such as social distancing or wearing masks, are likely to be utilized for years to come, along with technological developments deployed in both public and private spaces that are focused on enforcing social distancing, enabling more efficient cleaning and disinfecting of spaces, and driving more automation and intelligence to reduce humans' direct physical interaction with each other. Some companies and individuals feel the best way to avoid COVID-19 or other viruses is to simply avoid all unnecessary human contact. As such, many companies have introduced or fast-tracked the use of automation to lessen their reliance on human workers, as well as to enhance their responsiveness to customer queries.


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.