If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
Quantum computing is all the rage lately, with companies large and small looking for ways to create the technology and then use it to solve a range of issues. Microsoft has a new coding language for quantum computers, Intel has created a test chip for the new tech and scientists are looking for ways to use corkscrew light beams for future practical quantum computing applications. Now Volkswagon and Google are teaming up for comprehensive research in the field, looking to use quantum computers and AI to create better EV batteries, something that Toyota is also pursuing. The two companies also want to work on traffic optimization (a key development for an autonomous-automobile future) and new machine learning processes. The announcement was made at a 2017 Web Summit in Lisbon, and said that Volkswagen specialists in San Francisco and Munich will work with Google's universal quantum computers.
Toyota is teaming up with Intel, and an assortment of tech and automotive firms, to develop an ecosystem for connected cars. By sharing self-driving vehicle data, the companies aim to develop maps and improved driver assistance systems based on cloud computing. Rounding out the alliance (dubbed the "Automotive Edge Computing Consortium") will be Ericsson, Japanese auto parts-maker Denso Corp, and telecoms firm NTT DoCoMo. All those connected car tests are already racking up big data, which will ramp up exponentially over time.
Electrek has learned that Tesla is quietly equipping new Model 3, S and X production units with upgraded Autopilot hardware (HW 2.5). Every HW 2.0 or later car should still have the foundations for self-driving functionality, in other words. And while it's "highly unlikely" that these vehicles will need an upgrade when fully autonomy is an option, Tesla will upgrade them to 2.5 for free. Tesla likely has more headroom for vehicle upgrades than this, but it can't do anything that would limit driverless tech to post-2.0 vehicles.
Microsoft just announced a new initiative called AI for Earth. Headed by Microsoft Research's computational ecologist Lucas Joppa, the program will help researchers and organizations use AI to solve the major environmental issues we face today. Leaders of projects focusing on water, agriculture, biodiversity and climate change can apply for access to Microsoft's cloud and AI computing resources and it's putting down $2 million towards the initiative this year. The first is with a sustainability group working to protect the Chesapeake Bay area and with Microsoft's tools, it was able to update and create far more detailed land cover maps to aid conservation.
Through its subsidiary The Weather Company, the computing titan has partnered with the University Corporation for Academic Research (UCAR) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to move beyond today's regional-scale forecasting to anticipate weather at the local level...and aspire to introduce the first model that covers the whole globe. The model this IBM collaboration wants to build would account for the influence smaller events (like thunderstorms) have on local weather. IBM will join with UCAR to co-design a computational solution that runs on the former's POWER9-based systems, which are set to launch at the end of the year. The Weather Company will use this computing powerhouse to adapt NCAR's community-weather model to a global scale and refine the longer-term predictions to make more accurate forecasts weeks or months out.
Lens, similarly, uses computer vision and AI to make sense of your photos, videos and the real world. Now, with the advantage of improved computer vision algorithms, better cameras and more capable devices and networks, Google is in a much better place to make AR an essential computing tool. With Lens's more advanced capabilities, we're seeing just how far Google's AR technology has come. We're already seeing Amazon invest in that with Alexa and its Echo devices; you can think of its upcoming camera-equipped Echo Look as a big step towards refining its computer vision capabilities.
"That was anticlimactic," Jason Les said with a smirk, getting up from his seat. Unlike nearly everyone else in Pittsburgh's Rivers Casino, Les had just played his last few hands against an artificially intelligent opponent on a computer screen. After his fellow players -- Daniel McAulay next to him and Jimmy Chou and Dong Kim in an office upstairs -- eventually did the same, they started to commiserate. The consensus: That AI was one hell of a player. The four of them had spent the last 20 days playing 120,000 hands of heads-up, no-limit Texas Hold'em against an artificial intelligence called Libratus created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.
The Internet of Things still mostly feels like the Internet of Crap, but there's one ray of hope in the connected home on which plenty of companies are jumping aboard: Amazon's Alexa. In particular, I'm talking about the voice-powered ecosystem that's quickly grown around the company's virtual assistant. At CES, we saw Alexa integration in Dish's upcoming Hopper, washing machines and, much to our delight, a dancing robot. It's even heading outside the home: Both Ford and Volkswagen are bringing Alexa to their cars for hands-free commands. In a little over two years, Alexa has gone from being a baffling product (a connected speaker from Amazon, really?!) to an essential feature for any connected device.
Our self-driving future will initially be extremely expensive. That's why GM and Ford are working on autonomous systems for ride-hailing ahead of selling cars to individuals. Meanwhile, Korean automaker Hyundai is researching another approach: a system that uses less computing power and therefore is cheaper. Of course this vehicle, like all autonomous cars, won't be available for a very long time, but what Hyundai showed off in Las Vegas looks promising. The two test Ioniqs (one hybrid and one pure electric) were fitted with cameras in the windshield, radar behind the automaker's logo and lidar sensors in the front and sides of the bumper.