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) …
NASA and Boeing Co. agreed to turn the initial test flight of the company's commercial crewed capsule into an operational mission, one of several recent signs officials are hedging their bets on when U.S. spacecraft will start regularly ferrying astronauts to the international space station. Thursday's disclosure by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration suggests a previously planned two-person flight, slated for November 2018, is now likely to occur in 2019 or 2020 and would likely carry one additional crew member along with extra supplies. Instead of staying for two weeks as originally envisioned, NASA said the expanded crew could stay at the station for as long as six months conducting experiments and carrying out maintenance tasks. The agency's agreement to use Russian rockets and capsules to carry astronauts to and from the international laboratory ends in late 2019. That is prompting NASA leaders to seek contingency plans to carry American astronauts into orbit--and keep them there for extended periods--in the event U.S. providers aren't ready to assume routine transportation responsibilities by the deadline.
By now, the plot of 2001: A Space Odyssey -- which was released 50 years ago this week -- seems etched in stone. Or, if you prefer, laser-cut into a giant black monolith. Everyone who's seen it can recall the basic outline of its four vast, atmospheric, mostly silent acts. This is the legendary Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, written with the equally legendary Arthur C. Clarke. It is frequently voted by directors one of the top 10 movies of all time; it has blown millions of minds.
"I get invited to everything, and everywhere I go, everyone wishes they had my job. But that's not true here," said Pablos Holman, a self-described futurist and inventor who has worked on lasers that kill mosquitoes and machines that suppress hurricanes. "There's geniuses everywhere," he said, motioning to the pair talking next to him, the theoretical physicist Lisa Randall and the computer scientist Stephen Wolfram. "I don't even register on this scale." We're at Mars, an exclusive three-day conference at a midcentury-modern hotel here in the California desert run by Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos, for some of the world's most successful geeks. For its first two years, Mars was largely secret; the most prominent image that leaked was a photo of Mr. Bezos piloting a 13-foot robot last year.
NASA's Valkyrie robot holds a little "Star Wars" BB-8. The "Star Wars" robots R2-D2 and BB-8 are the droids that NASA is looking for -- "astromechs" that can help repair spaceships on the fly, a NASA robotics engineer says. Future NASA robots might resemble humanoid droids such as C-3PO and K-2SO from the waist up, but have giant mechanical spidery legs from the waist down, the engineer added in a new piece for the journal Science Robotics. For more than 20 years, NASA has sought to develop robot assistants for astronauts. So far, they have developed three droids.
Whether or not virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa actually make our lives better is debatable to say the least. Is navigating the myriad of voice cues really faster or more convenient than just tapping on your smartphone screen a few times? Whichever side of the issue you fall on, it's clear that AI is here to stay, so the European Space Agency is planning to embrace it with a fancy virtual assistant of its own and it's headed to the International Space Station this year. The new AI is the product of a partnership between Airbus and IBM and it's called the Crew Interactive Mobile Companion. That's not a terribly catchy name, so they just call it CIMON (pronounced "Simon," I assume) for short and it'll be put through its paces by astronaut Alexander Gerst.
In June, German astronaut Alexander Gerst will embark on his second six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS), serving as station commander in the second half of his stay. On this mission, Gerst and his team will receive some unusual support: CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion) will be on board – a medicine ball-sized device, weighing about 11-pounds. CIMON is currently being developed by Airbus on behalf of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) as an intelligent, mobile and interactive astronaut assistance system. This new technology will be tested on the ISS as part of the Horizons mission of the European Space Agency. CIMON, using IBM's Watson technology, will help astronaut Gerst to perform three tasks: Together they will experiment with crystals, solve the Rubik magic cube based on videos and conduct a complex medical experiment using CIMON as an'intelligent' flying camera.
In the iconic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, astronaut Dave Bowman must deal with HAL 9000, a sentient artificial intelligence computer that operates his spaceship. The computer is all-knowing and all-controlling, saying at one point, "Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. It portends a dark future for automated AI and space travel. No one wants that outcome for real-world spacecraft and computers, but Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is starting to think about how to automate many spacecraft systems and outsource critical decisions to an on-board computer. Presently, with the International Space Station, flight controllers on Earth monitor the spacecraft's overall health continually, and flight directors relay information to astronauts on board when problems occur.
The operator orbits Earth at an altitude of 400 kilometres, while the assistant works on the ground. During the'SUPVIS Justin' experiment, those who send and receive commands conduct a long-distance relationship. Aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on 2 March 2018, United States astronaut Scott Tingle selected the required commands on a tablet, while the robot Justin of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) performed the necessary work on a solar panel in a terrestrial laboratory in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, as instructed. "The robot is clever, but the astronaut is always in control," says Neal Lii, the DLR project manager. In August 2017, the experiment was successfully carried out for the first time as part of the METERON Project (Multi-Purpose End-to-End Robotic Operation Network), together with the European Space Agency (ESA).
Whether or not virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa actually make our lives better is debatable to say the least. Is navigating the myriad of voice cues really faster or more convenient than just tapping on your smartphone screen a few times? Whichever side of the issue you fall on, it's clear that AI is here to stay, so the European Space Agency is planning to embrace it with a fancy virtual assistant of its own, and it's headed to the International Space Station this year.