artificial intelligence


"Particle robot" works as a cluster of simple units

MIT News

Taking a cue from biological cells, researchers from MIT, Columbia University, and elsewhere have developed computationally simple robots that connect in large groups to move around, transport objects, and complete other tasks. This so-called "particle robotics" system -- based on a project by MIT, Columbia Engineering, Cornell University, and Harvard University researchers -- comprises many individual disc-shaped units, which the researchers call "particles." The particles are loosely connected by magnets around their perimeters, and each unit can only do two things: expand and contract. That motion, when carefully timed, allows the individual particles to push and pull one another in coordinated movement. On-board sensors enable the cluster to gravitate toward light sources.


Pilot, lawyer, medic: meet the people who turned video game careers into real ones

The Guardian

Back in 2016, the current Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed that his interest in the managerial aspect of the beautiful game came from a video game. Having led an illustrious career as a United striker, famously the super-sub who scored the winning goal in the 1999 Champion's League final, it was Solksjaer's experience with team sim Football Manager that encouraged him to continue a football career after he hung up his boots. He's not the only gamer who ever discovered a real-world passion through playing. Games can often offer a window on to other careers as well as other worlds, and sometimes inspire people to explore options they'd never considered before. Here, three video-game fans explain how their favourite games guided their real-life careers.


Microsoft Teams taps AI to boost new background, whiteboarding features

PCWorld

Microsoft Teams is moving ahead in its gradual replacement of Skype for Business, which was once Microsoft's go-to solution for collaborating via video or text. On Tuesday Microsoft announced several new collaborative features that lean toward business use, especially for those who work in collaborative environments at an office. One of the flagship features--background blurring for remote or home workers--has been beefed up with the ability to select a custom background. Other improvements include better whiteboarding, in both virtual spaces and the real world. When Microsoft Teams launched two years ago this week, Microsoft pitched it as a collaborative messaging environment that would compete with Slack.


Microsoft Word reads to you: How to use the Speak and Read Aloud commands

PCWorld

Can Microsoft Word read to me? Yes, it can. The Speak feature was incorporated into Microsoft Office (Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, etc.) back in version 2003. It was called Text to Speech (TTS) then, and it functioned much the same as it does now. Fortunately, it's a very simple procedure to set up and use, so you can get started immediately. Press Ctrl A to select the entire document.


Apple's launch week continues as new AirPods arrive with wireless charging case, 'Hey Siri' support

PCWorld

If Apple's strategy this week is to build excitement for next week's "Show time" event, then it's doing a bang-up job. Following Monday's iPads and Tuesday's iMacs, Apple updated another popular product today with the launch of the second-generation AirPods that bring a new chip, new features, a new case, and more convenience. The new AirPods look exactly like the first-generation model, but include several key enhancements. The biggest is the addition of a new H1 chip, which Apple says was "developed specifically for headphones, delivers performance efficiencies, faster connect times, more talk time and the convenience of hands-free'Hey Siri.'" That means you no longer need to tap your ear to get Siri's attention.


Google to start offering alternative browsers and search engines to Android users in the EU

Mashable

Android users in the EU will soon be offered a choice of browsers and alternative search engines on their devices, Google announced on Tuesday. The announcement is unsurprising, given the European Commission (EC) slapped Google with a record $5 billion fine in July 2018 for stifling browser and search engine competition in the EU. SEE ALSO: Google's Emma Haruka Iwao breaks Pi world record In a blog post, Google's SVP of Global Affairs Kent Walker said the company will "do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download to their phones." Specifically, owners of both existing and new Android devices will be asked which browser and search apps they want to use. Walker points out that Android users have "always been able to install any search engine or browser," but there's a difference between having Google's search engine and Chrome browser pre-installed as default and just letting users find alternatives on their own, and actively providing customers with a choice.


Please stop listing tech products as 'men's accessories'

Mashable

We search for great deals on tech gear all day, so we were excited to find an awesome sale price on Google WiFi mesh routers at Nordstrom -- that is until we noticed that it was listed as a "men's accessory." Google WiFi's breadcrumbs read: Home / Men / Accessories / All Men's Accessories After scouring the list of women's accessories, Google WiFi was nowhere to be found. What we did find were watches, jewelry, bags, and a handful of headphones. In addition to Google WiFi, Nordstrom includes a Google Home base, Nest security camera, and the Ring video doorbell in the men's accessories category. Again, from what we can tell, none of these appear in the women's section.


Apple announces new AirPods with longer talk time, hands-free Siri, and wireless charging case

Mashable

New AirPods are here at last. On Wednesday, Apple announced its second-generation AirPods. The new wireless earbuds look identical to the old model, but come with a new H1 chip to achieve up to 50 percent longer talk time on a given charge, and enable hands-free "Hey Siri" voice controls. With the H1 chip, the new AirPods get up to 5 hours of listening time and up to 3 hours of talk time (up from 2 hours on the first-gen AirPods). The new chip also enables 2x faster audio connection when switching between Apple devices (i.e.


New York City will have a self-driving shuttle — but there's a catch

Mashable

The Brooklyn Navy Yard is getting an autonomous boost. On private roads, a loop shuttle service for ferry passengers will bring riders to the industrial center where 400 businesses operate. Workers can ride in MIT-based company Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttle cars starting later this year. The driverless trips will be part of the first commercial self-driving program in the state. New York and New York City in particular have been hesitant in embracing autonomous technology.


This AI predicts online trolling before it happens

Mashable

How do you keep online trolls in check? Dr. Srijan Kumar, a post-doctoral research fellow in computer science at Stanford University, is developing an AI that predicts online conflict. His research uses data science and machine learning to promote healthy online interactions and curb deception, misbehavior, and disinformation. His work is currently deployed inside Indian e-commerce platform Flipkart, which uses it to spot fake reviewers. We spoke to Dr. Kumar ahead of a lecture on healthy online interactions at USC.