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) …
A certain type of artificial intelligence agent can learn the cause-and-effect basis of a navigation task during training. Neural networks can learn to solve all sorts of problems, from identifying cats in photographs to steering a self-driving car. But whether these powerful, pattern-recognizing algorithms actually understand the tasks they are performing remains an open question. For example, a neural network tasked with keeping a self-driving car in its lane might learn to do so by watching the bushes at the side of the road, rather than learning to detect the lanes and focus on the road's horizon. Researchers at MIT have now shown that a certain type of neural network is able to learn the true cause-and-effect structure of the navigation task it is being trained to perform.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the military alliance of 30 countries that border the North Atlantic Ocean, this week announced that it would adopt its first AI strategy and launch a "future-proofing" fund with the goal of investing around $1 billion. Speaking at a news conference, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the effort was in response to "authoritarian regimes racing to develop new technologies." NATO's AI strategy will cover areas including data analysis, imagery, cyberdefense, he added. NATO said in a July press release that it was "currently finalizing" its strategy on AI" and that principles of responsible use of AI in defense will be "at the core" of the strategy. Speaking to Politico in March, NATO assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges David van Weel said that the strategy would identify ways to operate AI systems ethically, pinpoint military applications for the technology, and provide a "platform for allies to test their AI to see whether it's up to NATO standards."
Matt Rutherford was just a few days into his planned unaided, non-stop solo-sailing trip around North and South America when he realized he'd left all his extra pants on the dock. The days of preparation before setting off had been frantic and a few things got left behind. He was facing 309 days at sea with little human contact and his small 27-foot sailboat, which he got for free and outfitted himself, was designed for bay sailing and not the notoriously unrelenting weather and towering seas of Cape Horn or the perilous ice of the Northwest Passage. To cap it off, he had just spilled diesel fuel all over himself, the result of a leaking fuel bladder, and he really wanted a change of clothes. Most people would have turned back.
In the dark of night, a drone takes off from a Toronto hospital rooftop, the hum of its rotors barely audible over the bustling sounds of the cars and pedestrians below in Canada's largest metropolis. On its maiden flight, with a bird's-eye view of the city's glistening skyline as it glides over apartments, shops and office towers, the drone is carrying a precious cargo -- human lungs for transplant. The 15.5-kilogram (34-pound) carbon fibre unmanned electric drone purpose-built by Quebec-based Unither Bioelectronics flew just 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) from Toronto Western Hospital on the city's west side to the roof of the downtown Toronto General Hospital. This handout photo released by Unither Bioelectronique and taken in September 2021 shows Unither Bioelectronique's drone transporting a pair of donor lungs, high above Toronto traffic at night Photo: Unither Bioelectronique / Jason van Bruggen The trip at the end of September took less than 10 minutes. It was automated but kept under the watchful eye of engineers and doctors.
At the outbreak of World War I, the French army was mobilised in the fashion of Napoleonic times. On horseback and equipped with swords, the cuirassiers wore bright tricolour uniforms topped with feathers--the same get-up as when they swept through Europe a hundred years earlier. Vast fields were filled with trenches, barbed wire, poison gas and machine gun fire--plunging the ill-equipped soldiers into a violent hellscape of industrial-scale slaughter. Only three decades after the first World War I bayonet charge across no man's land, the US was able to incinerate entire cities with a single (nuclear) bomb blast. And since the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, our rulers' methods of war have been made yet more deadly and "efficient".
The deployment of new drones, cells on wheels, and vehicles with built-in Wi-Fi will form part of the New South Wales government's AU$57.4 million investment into arming firefights with new equipment. Under what the state government is calling the connected firefighter package, firefighters will have access to drones that can provide images and data from incidents in real-time that can be used to assist in incident planning, and for chemical and gas detection; cells on wheels equipped with communication technology to provide power, especially in remote parts of the state without coverage; vehicles with built-in Wi-Fi that can provide mobile 4G network in remote locations where satellite connection is limited. Fire and Rescue NSW mobile command centres will also receive upgrades to ensure there is communication between incident management teams and firefighters during incidents. "What is apparent is that our emergency services are entering a tech boom, one which rightly puts NSW ahead of the pack this bushfire season," Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliot said in a statement on Friday. "These assets will ensure our first responders are safe as they enter dangerous and volatile fire grounds to protect their communities."
For residents of Kosuge, an idyllic village nestled in a valley deep in the mountains of Yamanashi Prefecture, fast food is a luxury. There aren't any convenience stores or supermarkets in the tiny community, let alone a McDonald's. So when Aeronext Inc. celebrated its 100th on-demand drone delivery in Kosuge in July, the startup treated villagers to fast food chain Yoshinoya Co.'s signature gyūdon beef bowls -- steamed rice topped with thinly sliced beef and simmered onions. Amid a small crowd of curious onlookers, hot meals prepared in a Yoshinoya kitchen car were hauled onto spider-like drones that took off in regular intervals to several drop-off stations dotted around the village. For those who got to savor the dish, it was a taste of the city delivered by air, and a glimpse of a future in which these flying devices could become an essential part of rural life.
If you follow autonomous drone racing, you likely remember the crashes as much as the wins. In drone racing, teams compete to see which vehicle is better trained to fly fastest through an obstacle course. But the faster drones fly, the more unstable they become, and at high speeds their aerodynamics can be too complicated to predict. Crashes, therefore, are a common and often spectacular occurrence. But if they can be pushed to be faster and more nimble, drones could be put to use in time-critical operations beyond the race course, for instance to search for survivors in a natural disaster.
The world's first recorded case of an autonomous drone attacking humans took place in March 2020, according to a United Nations (UN) security report detailing the ongoing Second Libyan Civil War. Libyan forces used the Turkish-made drones to "hunt down" and jam retreating enemy forces, preventing them from using their own drones. The field report (via New Scientist) describes how the Haftar Affiliated Forces (HAF), loyal to Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, came under attack by drones from the rival Government of National Accord (GNA) forces. After a successful drive against HAF forces, the GNA launched drone attacks to press its advantage. The report says Turkey supplied the drones to Libyan forces, which is a violation of a UN arms embargo slapped on combatants in the conflict.
If you're ever lost in the woods (or on the lam), watch out for high-speed quadcopters following you through the trees. The drones can now fly through complex and unknown environments at up to 40kmph, thanks to a new AI approach developed at the University of Zurich. The quadcopter's flight lessons took place in a simulation. An algorithm first piloted a computer-generated drone through a simulated environment that contained complex obstacles. This data was used to train the drone's neural network to predict a flight path based on information from onboard sensors.