Thinking beyond bots: How AI can drive social impact


Check out "AI: A Force for Good" at the Artificial Intelligence Conference in New York City, April 29-May 2, 2018. What do artificial intelligence (AI), invention, and social good have in common? While on the surface they serve very different purposes, at their core, they all require you to do one thing in order to be successful at them: think differently. Take the act of inventing--in order to develop a great patent, trade secret, or other intellectual property, you need to think outside of the box. Similarly, at the heart of AI is the act of unlocking new capabilities, whether that's making virtual personal assistants like Alexa more useful, or creating a chatbot that provides a personalized experience to customers.

How Google Plans To Use AI To Reinvent The $3 Trillion US Healthcare Industry


Google is betting that the future of healthcare is going to be structured data and AI. The company is applying AI to disease detection, new data infrastructure, and potentially insurance. In this report we explore Google's many healthcare initiatives and areas of potential future expansion. Google has always seen itself as more than a search and advertising company. Now it's turning its focus to healthcare, betting that its AI prowess can create a powerful new paradigm for the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. "So tomorrow, if AI can shape healthcare, it has to work through the regulations of healthcare … In fact, I see that as one of the biggest areas is where the benefits will play out for the next 10 – 20 years." In short, Google seems to be going after the healthcare space from every possible angle. For example, did you know that Google has a project to release sterilized mosquitoes to control the spread of infectious disease? Or that the company has started a limited commercial rollout of its diabetes management program? Or that it appears to be exploring insurance? Note: For simplicity we use "Google" as shorthand for the larger Alphabet company, under which many of these healthcare initiatives fall. We explain the Alphabet structure below. As Google enters healthcare, it's leaning heavily on its expertise in AI. Health data is getting digitized and structured, from a new electronic record standard to imaging to DNA sequencing.

PTO's Iancu: AI Algorithms Generally Patentable


Andrei Iancu, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), says that the courts have strayed on the issue of patent eligibility, including signaling he thought algorithms using artificial intelligence were patentable as a general proposition. That came in a USPTO oversight hearing Wednesday (April 18) before a generally supportive Senate Judiciary Committee panel. Both Iancu and the legislators were in agreement that more clarity was needed in the area of computer-related patents, and that PTO needed to provide more precedential opinions when issuing patents so it was not trying to reinvent the wheel each time and to better guide courts. At issue are Supreme Court decisions that Iancu said had injected "a degree of uncertainty" into that area of law. He said PTO would come up with guidelines to help better define what is patent-eligible, but that it was a challenge that needed to be addressed by Congress and stakeholders as well.

Ministry of Infrastructure Development launches first robot engineer that operates on AI


DUBAI, 28th February, 2018 (WAM) -- Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development, has launched the first robot engineer in the world that operates on artificial intelligence, AI, while noting that the ministry will acquire an international patent, to benefit from the robot and support its organisational work. He stated that the robot engineer specialises in supporting the decision-making process and decreasing risks, and its areas of work include procedures, operations and project planning, as well as designing and supervising the implementation of projects. Such initiatives are part of the Ministry's efforts to achieve international pioneering and support the country's related goals, he added. As part of the ministry's celebration of UAE Month of Innovation, Al Nuaimi made this statement while reviewing the ministry's key projects, which aim to support its work and make its customers happy. The projects include the 3-D printing of bridges to save time, and the use of drones in two infrastructure projects, titled, "cadastral surveying" and "traffic census," as well as designing intersections in an innovative way and using a robot to clean buildings.

Lawmakers want you to be able to sue robots


If a robot, acting autonomously, injures or otherwise wrongs a human, who will be held responsible? Some European lawmakers think that the best way to resolve this question will be to give robots "electronic personalities," a form of legal personhood. Proposed in a 2017 report from the European Union, this form of robot rights wouldn't give them status like that of human beings -- they're not going to get married, or buy a house, or adopt a child. But it would make it possible for self-learning robots to sue and be sued, with legal status like a corporation. Proponents say that the idea is a common-sense move, one that will be necessary to create a workable legal structure as these entities become smarter and more integrated into everyday human life.

Amazon files for Alexa patent to let it listen to people all the time and work out what they want

The Independent

The Amazon Alexa of the future could be listening to you all the time – and building up a detailed picture of what you want to buy. That's the suggestion of a patent filed by the company that details the idea of'voice-sniffing' technology. Such software would allow the device to eavesdrop on conversations and analyse them, feeding that into a database for ads. At the moment, Amazon's Echo products are hardwired so they will only listen to users when they say the "Alexa" wake word. Amazon has denied that it uses voice recordings for advertising at the moment, and said that the patent might never actually come to the market.

Shhh … Alexa might be listening

The Guardian

That's the future suggested by a patent recently filed by the company, which examined the possibility of eavesdropping on conversations held around its voice-activated devices in order to better suggest products or services to users. The idea seems to be to turn Alexa, the company's virtual assistant, from a dutiful aide under the user's command to one with a more proactive attitude. For instance, the patent suggests: "If the user mentions how much the user would like to go to a restaurant while on the phone, a recommendation might be sent while the user is still engaged in the conversation that enables the user to make a reservation at the restaurant." Other proposals include making a note if you mention you like skiing, for instance, or hate to draw, and using those to update the company's profile of you as a customer. In a statement, Amazon said the patent was a proposal for the future, rather than a feature it is preparing to roll out.

Can Machine Learning Algorithms Be Patented? And Should They Be?


Patents are intangible assets, that is they are products of ideas and thinking, and fall under Intellectual Property (IP). Now, IP is subject to the region/country of the applicant and is regulated by the respective government of those countries and regions. For example, in the United States, ML related work are appreciated and the ease of filing patents is considerably less rigorous compared to the European Union, where the emphasis is more on the method or working model which incorporates the related field of work rather than the actual work itself. This again does not hold good all the time with the United States scrutinising software patents. When it comes to India, the patent filing process is again stringent and requires consent from the government authorities even though it promotes filing patents for startups.

Video Friday: Robot Barber, Untethered iCub, and Aibo's Best Friend

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We'll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!): Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos. Only try this at home on April 1. You might remember the Flowbee hair cutting vacuum device from commercials back in the late 1980s.

Project Titan Update: Apple Developing AR Displays For Autonomous Car

International Business Times

Apple could be working on AR displays for its upcoming autonomous cars. A patent application by the Cupertino giant reveals details about an AR system that's designed to present 3D models of the road ahead on the windshield. Apple Insider reported Thursday that it has spotted a new patent application by Apple, entitled "Adaptive Vehicle Augmented Reality Display Using Stereographic Imagery." In the documentation that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published late last week, it is stated there that Apple is thinking of an AR system that generates imagery of sceneries based on a pre-generated 3D model of the world. According to the Apple-centric news site, the patent could be hinting at an AR display for the upcoming Project Titan car.