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Microsoft Bets on Driverless-Car Space With Investment inGM's Cruise

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

Microsoft Corp. is investing in General Motors Co. 's driverless-car startup Cruise as part of a strategic tie-up, another sign of renewed interest in the autonomous-technology space after a relatively quiet period. Microsoft is among a group of companies that will invest more than $2 billion in San Francisco-based Cruise, which has been majority-owned by GM since early 2016. The financing brings Cruise's valuation to $30 billion, Cruise said Tuesday, up from an estimated $19 billion in spring 2019. GM is adding to its Cruise investment as part of the funding round and will retain a majority stake, a Cruise spokesman said. The investment also includes current stakeholder Honda Motor Co. and other institutional investors that Cruise declined to name.


Eyesight tests could predict which people with Parkinson's will develop dementia 18 months on

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Eyesight tests could be used to identify which people with Parkinson's disease are likely to suffer from cognitive impairment and possible dementia 18 months later. UK researchers have found that people with Parkinson's who perform less well in eye tests show worse cognitive performance a year and a half later. The study is one of two by University College London (UCL) published this month looking at people with Parkinson's – the progressive nervous system disorder that causes shakiness and stiffness. The second study found structural and functional connections of brain regions become'decoupled' throughout the entire brain in people with Parkinson's disease, particularly among people with vision problems. The findings support previous evidence that vision changes precede the cognitive decline that occurs in many, but not all, people with Parkinson's.


At CES 2021, laptops go beyond the 2-in-1

ZDNet

When compared to the Vegas spectacle, virtual CES had its advantages, including reprieves from sensory overload, cigarette smoke, endless walks through disorienting casinos and narrow exhibit hall aisles, and bombardments of me-too offerings in saturated categories. And keynotes and panels made the transition well. But it also fell short in a few key ways, including the serendipity of meeting an old colleague, someone with common interests, and a product or service that inspired new possibilities. That last point was particularly true for products in smaller or emerging categories, especially from startups. Today's CES is as much a showcase for the latest business technology as it is for consumer electronics.


Buying groceries online with food stamps?

ZDNet

Grocery shopping has fundamentally, likely irrevocably, changed during the pandemic as more consumers have opted for online grocery shopping out of convenience or necessity. But what about people who rely on food stamps? According to a recent Pew survey, a full quarter of adults have had trouble paying bills during the economic melee attributable to the pandemic. As of July 2020, over 40 million Americans were on food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Food stamps exist to help low income individuals, including those enduring a temporary hardship, bridge a crucial financial gap to access food.


'Hitman 3' is the grandest stage for your own stories, even as it tries to end its own

Washington Post - Technology News

I've already talked at length about how the brilliant second mission alone, based on "Knives out" or Agatha Christie's "Poirot" murder mysteries, already justifies this game's existence. Chongqing is another highlight, a deliberate throwback to the old Hong Kong levels of the original PC release. It's a rain-drenched district that once again illustrates the kind of grand interconnectivity and neon sheen that "Cyberpunk" tried to achieve, and "Hitman" does effortlessly. Rain slithers off his leather-coated back as he waits outside his mark's building, assessing the place. In the meantime, he can open an umbrella and make small talk with a woman waiting for her girlfriend, just one of the series' many small but important storytelling flourishes to make each level feel more alive than you've seen in any action adventure.


Radical AI podcast: featuring Moses Namara

AIHub

Hosted by Dylan Doyle-Burke and Jessie J Smith, Radical AI is a podcast featuring the voices of the future in the field of artificial intelligence ethics. In this episode Jess and Dylan chat to Moses Namara about the new Black in AI academic program. In this episode, we interview Moses Namara of Black in AI about the new Black in AI academic program, a program that serves as a resource to support black junior researchers as they apply to graduate programs, navigate graduate school, and enter the postgraduate job market. Moses Namara is a Facebook Research Fellow and Ph.D. candidate in Human-Centered Computing (HCC) at Clemson University. He uses interdisciplinary research methods from computer science, psychology, and the social sciences to understand the principles behind users' adoption and use of technology, decision-making, and privacy attitudes and behaviors.


A 3D camera that sees in pitch black

ZDNet

Of the many technologies that have helped drive the robotics sector in the last few years, there's a good case to be made that machine vision has had one of the greatest impacts. It's also almost certainly true that new imaging technologies, and in particular 3D cameras, are on the cusp of unlocking heretofore unseen capabilities in robots. That fact is made clear in a host of new 3D sensing offerings from a company called Orbbec, a leading global 3D camera provider that recently launched four new products that typify how the technology class will soon extend robotics capabilities to a wide range of environment requirements, such as temperature and lighting conditions from sunlight to total darkness. "Innovations in 3D imaging, combined with broader advances like 5G, artificial intelligence and ultra-fast processors, are transforming the application landscape for designers and engineers," says David Chen, Co-Founder and CEO at Orbbec. One of these sensors utilizes time-of-flight technology, which utilizes an artificial light signal to resolve distance between the sensor and the subject for each point of the image, thus sensing in three dimensions with extreme accuracy.


NASA Is Training an AI to Detect Fresh Craters on Mars

WIRED

For the past 15 years, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been doing laps around the Red Planet studying its climate and geology. Each day, the orbiter sends back a treasure trove of images and other sensor data that NASA scientists have used to scout for safe landing sites for rovers and to understand the distribution of water ice on the planet. Of particular interest to scientists are the orbiter's crater photos, which can provide a window into the planet's deep history. NASA engineers are still working on a mission to return samples from Mars; without the rocks that will help them calibrate remote satellite data with conditions on the surface, they must do a lot of educated guesswork when it comes to determining each crater's age and composition. For now, they need other ways to tease out that information.


The Legend of Zelda, 'Dinky,' and a Bridge to My Daughter

WIRED

When winter made its second pandemic appearance here in Montana, I found myself pining to relive my first experience with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. To my dismay, the sequel, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, the bash-fest Nintendo released in November, didn't scratch my itch for sweeping, soothing landscapes and low-stakes puzzle solving during a year of high-stakes reality. I've been home with toddlers for 11 months straight, my every lockdown minute a battle against darkness and chaos, replete with my own two tiny red Bokoblins perpetually swinging their Boko Clubs at my weakened defenses. I wondered daily: Are there even enough stamella shrooms in the entire gaming universe to get us through this year? When we first hunkered down last spring, my kids were 18 months and 4 years old.


YouTuber challenges scientist to create an AI version of him for $100

Mashable

We already know deepfakes are all over the place these days, and the technology associated with them is advancing rapidly. But how easy is it to create a digital replica of somebody? And could it be done on a budget? That's the question YouTuber Tom Scott set out to find the answer to in his latest video, for which he challenged AI in neuroscience researcher Jordan Harrod to create a fake version of him for $100. "This isn't a face replacement or a body double," Scott explains at the start of the video.