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NASA Mars helicopter makes history as first vehicle to fly on another planet

National Geographic

A small helicopter opened a new chapter of space exploration this morning when it lifted off the surface of Mars, marking humankind's first powered flight on another planet. The 19-inch-tall chopper called Ingenuity kicked up a little rusty red dust as it lifted about 10 feet off the ground, hovered in place, turned slightly, and slowly touched back down. The flight lasted only about 40 seconds, but it represents one of history's most audacious engineering feats. "A lot of people thought it was not possible to fly at Mars," says MiMi Aung, the project manager of Ingenuity at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). "There is so little air."


New AI Tool Tracks Evolution of COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories on Social Media - ELE Times

#artificialintelligence

A new machine-learning program accurately identifies COVID-19-related conspiracy theories on social media and models how they evolved over time--a tool that could someday help public health officials combat misinformation online. A lot of machine-learning studies related to misinformation on social media focus on identifying different kinds of conspiracy theories. Instead, we wanted to create a more cohesive understanding of how misinformation changes as it spreads. Because people tend to believe the first message they encounter, public health officials could someday monitor which conspiracy theories are gaining traction on social media and craft factual public information campaigns to preempt widespread acceptance of falsehoods. The study, anonymized Twitter data to characterize four COVID-19 conspiracy theory themes and provide context for each through the first five months of the pandemic.


Artificial intelligence: Commission must think small first

#artificialintelligence

The European Commission will this week present its proposal on Artificial Intelligence (AI), seen as a step toward a new regulatory framework, promised by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the Union, writes Marie-Françoise Gondard-Argenti. Marie-Françoise Gondard-Argenti is a member of the Employers' Group at the European Economic and Social Committee. It is clear that there is no country or company manager in Europe at the moment that does not support the development of a trustworthy and innovative AI ecosystem, which promotes a human-centric approach and that primarily services people, increasing their well-being. There is no company in Europe that does not understand the need to leverage the EU market to spread the EU's approach to AI regulation globally. However, at the moment, the EU lags behind.


Army Researchers Create Pioneering Approach to Real-Time Conversational AI - ELE Times

#artificialintelligence

Spoken dialogue is the most natural way for people to interact with complex autonomous agents such as robots. Future Army operational environments will require technology that allows artificial intelligent agents to understand and carry out commands and interact with them as teammates. Researchers from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory and the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies, a Department of Defense-sponsored University Affiliated Research Center, created an approach to flexibly interpret and respond to Soldier intent derived from spoken dialogue with autonomous systems. This technology is currently the primary component for dialogue processing for the lab's Joint Understanding and Dialogue Interface, or JUDI, system, a prototype that enables bi-directional conversational interactions between Soldiers and autonomous systems. "We employed a statistical classification technique for enabling conversational AI using state-of-the-art natural language understanding and dialogue management technologies," said Army researcher Dr. Felix Gervits. "The statistical language classifier enables autonomous systems to interpret the intent of a Soldier by recognizing the purpose of the communication and performing actions to realize the underlying intent."


How Face Recognition Can Destroy Anonymity

WIRED

Stepping out in public used to make a person largely anonymous. Unless you met someone you knew, nobody would know your identity. Cheap and widely available face recognition software means that's no longer true in some parts of the world. Police in China run face algorithms on public security cameras in real time, providing notifications whenever a person of interest walks by. China provides an extreme example of the possibilities stemming from recent improvements in face recognition technology.


NFTs and AI Are Unsettling the Very Concept of History

WIRED

As an archivist, I'm excited about what disruptive innovations like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and artificial intelligence may mean for archives. These developments pose existential threats to our field, and by extension, to the survival of human history and culture. I give old films away for free. It started in 1999 when I was seduced by the promise, excitement, and just-felt-rightness of the gift economy. Not 30 seconds after we first met, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle asked me, "Want to put your film archives online for free?"


Sony is giving away 'Horizon Zero Dawn' for free on PS4 and PS5

Mashable

Everyone loves a freebie, right? Especially when it comes to video games, and particularly in this time when we're still spending a bunch of time at home. Well, you can now download Guerrilla Games' epic 2017 open-world RPG Horizon Zero Dawn for nothing, the latest released in Sony's batch of free games for its Play at Home initiative. First announced in April 2020, Play at Home is the company's strategy to encourage people to stay indoors and play games amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic -- Sony has previously given away such classics as stunning indie Journey and adventure series Uncharted for free. If you're keen to join young hunter Aloy and track down mechanical T-rexes across the land in this critically lauded but definitely not perfect open-world adventure, Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition is available to download free from now up until 11 p.m ET / 8 p.m. PT on May 14 (4 a.m.


AI reveals how Bill Gates Covid conspiracy and other theories evolved online

The Independent - Tech

Scientists have developed a new machine learning tool that can identify Covid-19-related conspiracy theories on social media and predict how they evolved over time, an advance which may lead to better ways for public health officials to fight misinformation online. The study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, analysed anonymised Twitter data to characterise four Covid-19 conspiracy theory themes – such as one that erroneously claims the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation engineered or has malicious intent related to the pandemic. Using the AI tool's analysis of more than 1.8 million tweets that contained Covid-19 keywords, the scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US categorised the posts as misinformation or not, and provided context for each of these conspiracy theories through the first five months of the pandemic. "From this body of data, we identified subsets that matched the four conspiracy theories using pattern filtering, and hand labeled several hundred tweets in each conspiracy theory category to construct training sets," explained Dax Gerts, a computer scientist and co-author of the study from the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The four major themes examined in the study were that 5G cell towers spread the virus; that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation engineered or have "malicious intent" related to Covid-19; that the novel coronavirus was bioengineered or was developed in a laboratory; and that vaccines for Covid-19, which were still in development during the study period, would be dangerous.


Famed "snakebot" can now swim

ZDNet

A robot that's developed something of a mythology over the years now has a new trick. Snakebot, named ground rescue robot of the year in 2017 and helping its creator win the "Oscars of automation" in 2019, can now swim. The robot consists of several actuated joints that work together to produce a range of motions. Snakebot can stand slither, roll, stand up to pull itself over obstacles, and climb a variety of objects and surfaces. CMU robotics professor Howie Choset and systems scientist Matt Travers are the brains behind Snakebot.


A Fatal Crash Renews Concerns Over Tesla's 'Autopilot' Claim

WIRED

Tesla offers a $10,000 feature called Full Self-Driving Capability. It includes futuristic goodies like the ability to summon the car via app in a parking lot, and it can detect and react to traffic lights and stop signs. FSD, as Tesla enthusiasts call it, includes Autopilot, a feature that "automatically" drives on highways, changing lanes, keeping a car within its lane and at a consistent distance from other vehicles. But even people who shell out for Full Self-Driving don't own a self-driving car, and vehicles with Autopilot can't automatically pilot themselves. Lengthy blocks of text in Tesla owners' manuals describe when, where, and how the features should be used: by a fully attentive driver who is holding the steering wheel and is "mindful of road conditions and surrounding traffic."