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) …
And it wasn't just the weekly political dramas, sexual harassment scandals or a massive security breach that affected nearly half the population that had us down. There was also a slew of terrible consumer devices that sullied our mood this year. Before we say goodbye to them, though, let's relive the horror one last time. Here's hoping that 2018 brings us better gadgets than this sorry lot.
Mike Toscano, the former president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, emphatically declared at the September RobotLab forum that "anyone who claims to know the future of the [robotics] industry is lying, I mean no one could've predicted the computing mobile revolution." These words acted as a guiding principle when walking around RoboBusiness in Silicon Valley last week. The many keynotes, pitches and exhibits in the Santa Clara Convention Center had the buzz of an industry racing towards mass adoption, similar to the early days of personal computing. The inflection point in the invention that changed the world, the PC, was 1995. During that year, Sun Microsystems released Java to developers with promise of "write once, publish anywhere," followed weeks later by Microsoft's consumer software package, Windows '95.
On Wednesday a story about two ex-Google employees receiving an obscene amount of money for a bad idea hit social media and was met with a level of outrage you could feel through the screen. If you're online in any way whatsoever, you likely know I'm talking about Bodega. The excellent article, Two Ex-Googlers Want To Make Bodegas And Mom-And-Pop Corner Stores Obsolete, hit several raw nerves with a wide range of people. This fury is so crystallized because "Bodega" -- an overfunded, probably doomed, glorified vending machine startup positioned as a bodega killer -- stands for everything Silicon Valley represents to us. Whereas in reality, the very concept of a bodega stands for the absolute opposite of Silicon Valley.
A tech startup called Bodega that hopes to replace mom-and-pop shops with unmanned boxes that rely on an app and artificial intelligence is facing a massive backlash from immigrant business owners and skeptics across Silicon Valley. The company, founded by two former Google employees and launched on Wednesday, is marketing five-foot-wide pantries that users can unlock with their smartphones to pick up non-perishable items. There are no humans at the "stores" – which are already stationed in spots like apartment buildings, offices and gyms – and a computer program automatically charges customers' credit cards, according to Fast Company, which first reported on the startup. Although the boxes appear to be little more than glorified vending machines, the company's executives have been widely mocked, and criticized for explicitly stating that their mission is to displace neighborhood corner stores and put family-owned shops out of business. "The vision here is much bigger than the box itself," co-founder Paul McDonald, a former Google product manager, told Fast Company.