PlaceTech Why architects must embrace automation


Automation is often a dirty word in the parlance of economists and governments, writes Lauren Poon of CallisonRTKL. Once associated solely with manufacturing, today automation, alongside robotics and artificial intelligence, are more often linked to potential job loss and inequality. Focusing solely on the negatives of automation misses the enormous opportunity it affords to design. For architects and planners, automation enables us to address the challenge of envisioning the places of tomorrow in a constantly changing environment. In the technology world, constant change is a hot – and positive – topic.

How Apple Makes the AI Chip Powering the iPhone's Fancy Tricks


A few years ago--the company won't say exactly when--some engineers at Apple began to think the iPhone's camera could be made smarter using newly powerful machine learning algorithms known as neural networks. Before long, they were talking with a lean vice president named Tim Millet. Millet leads a team of chip architects, who got to work. When the iPhone X was unveiled last fall, Apple's camera team had added a slick new portrait mode that can digitally adjust the lighting on subjects' faces, and artfully blur the background. It took advantage of a new module added to the iPhone's main chip called the neural engine, customized to run machine learning code.

Disruptive Interfaces & The Emerging Battle To Be The Default


A new battle is brewing to be the default of every choice we make. As modern interfaces like voice remove options, augmented reality overlays our physical world, and artificial intelligence gains our trust by transcending our own reasoning, DEFAULTS WILL RULE THE WORLD. I've come to call them disruptive interfaces -- drastically simpler and more accessible interfaces that ultimately commoditize everything underneath. Once powerful companies that have invested millions or billions in their brands, achieved dominance through network effects, or compete with sophisticated supply chains are vulnerable to losing their pricing power, differentiation, and being all-together excluded from the moment where customers make decisions. In 2014, I shared some thoughts on how "the interface layer" would commoditize much of the technology underneath.

The Economics and Benefits of Artificial Intelligence


We see news about AI everywhere; sometimes, we see the excitement around AI and sometimes we see articles that talk about how AI will replace or destroy our jobs. We also see the occasional article talking about how AI will destroy humanity. In this article, I will not discuss an artificial general intelligence or an evil AI that wants to destroy humanity. I will focus on current AI, which is mostly based on the algorithms that can do predictions, and discuss how the economics of AI works and how it may affect business. I also want to mention that the content of this article is highly affected by (and this author highly recommends for further reading) Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence and Human Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI.

Mercedes-Benz's futuristic vision: A driverless van with 'interchangeable bodies'

Washington Post

Automotive prognosticators tend to agree that vehicles in the future will be autonomous and electric, with highly connected cabins that allow riders to watch films, shop or get ahead on work. It's a big and exciting vision, but car companies are still figuring out what those vehicles might look like and how exactly they'd function. Mercedes-Benz attempted to fill in some of the blanks this week by unveiling a concept vehicle that reimagines how people will interact with autonomous vehicles. The true novelty of the vehicle -- a pill-bug-like van known as the Vision Urbanetic -- is that it's designed for interchangeable bodies that can be swapped out in minutes, depending on the circumstance. The idea, the company said, is to create vehicles that can adapt to urban settings in the future, when there may be fewer vehicles on the road but when those vehicles are expected to do more than merely ferry passengers from one place to another.

5 ways artificial intelligence is upgrading software engineering


It is estimated that AI-enabled tools alone will generate $2.9 trillion in business value by 2021. The stats speak for themselves. AI clearly follows the motto "go big or go home". This explosive growth of AI in different sectors of technology is also beginning to show its colors in software development. Shawn Drost, co-founder and lead instructor of coding boot camp'Hack Reactor' says that AI still has a long way to go and is only impacting the workflow of a small portion of software engineers on a minority of projects right now.

Active Inverse Reward Design Machine Learning

Reward design, the problem of selecting an appropriate reward function for an AI system, is both critically important, as it encodes the task the system should perform, and challenging, as it requires reasoning about and understanding the agent's environment in detail. AI practitioners often iterate on the reward function for their systems in a trial-and-error process to get their desired behavior. Inverse reward design (IRD) is a preference inference method that infers a true reward function from an observed, possibly misspecified, proxy reward function. This allows the system to determine when it should trust its observed reward function and respond appropriately. This has been shown to avoid problems in reward design such as negative side-effects (omitting a seemingly irrelevant but important aspect of the task) and reward hacking (learning to exploit unanticipated loopholes). In this paper, we actively select the $\textit{set of proxy reward functions}$ available to the designer. This improves the quality of inference and simplifies the associated reward design problem. We present two types of queries: discrete queries, where the system designer chooses from a discrete set of reward functions, and feature queries, where the system queries the designer for weights on a small set of features. We evaluate this approach with experiments in a personal shopping assistant domain and a 2D navigation domain. We find that our approach leads to reduced regret at test time compared with vanilla IRD. Our results indicate that actively selecting the set of available reward functions is a promising direction to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of reward design.

Microsoft's AI-powered Sketch2Code builds websites and apps from drawings


Microsoft has developed an AI-powered web design tool capable of turning sketches of websites into functional HTML code. Called Sketch2Code, Microsoft AI's senior product manager Tara Shankar Jana explained that the tool aims to "empower every developer and every organisation to do more with AI". It was born out of the "intrinsic" problem of sending a picture of a wireframe or app designs from whiteboard or paper to a designer to create HTML prototypes. To break this process Microsoft developed a web-based application which cuts out the extra human element (in this case the designer). Instead, images taken of sketches are sent to AI servers based on Microsoft's Azure cloud infrastructure.

Heart of Darkness Behind the AI and Storytelling of Spec Ops: The Line


Artificial intelligence is heavily employed in video games for the purposes of non-player characters that can either assist or oppose the player in a number of ways. Combat-driven video games such as first or third-person shooters provide an ample backdrop for innovation in both technology and design. So what happens when you come to make a shooting game aiming at defying modern conventions? Not just deviating from expectation, but making us question the very games we play and the choices we make as players. In this instance I'm going to look at a game that did just that, Yager Development's critically acclaimed 2012 third-person shooter: Spec Ops: The Line.

Robots on runway: Designer to phone it in with telepresence bot during London Fashion Week


In February, designer Philipp Plein got some ink by including a person wearing a robot costume in his New York Fashion Week runway show. Honee's tech partner on the robotic catwalk will be OhmniLabs, which makes telepresence robots for remote applications, as well as Kambria, a related organization founded by the OhmniLabs core team. Kambria is using blockchain technology to drive open development of frontier technologies like AI, which benefit OhmniLabs' commercial play. Fashion has long been obsessed with technology, although it hasn't always been a two-way street where Silicon Valley founders are concerned. In an article last year, journalist Edgar Alvarez argued that fashion and technology will ultimately meld into one thing.