Collaborating Authors


Why explainable AI is indispensable to Zillow's business


Zillow, an online marketplace that facilitates the buying, selling, renting, financing, and remodeling of homes, employs lots of AI technologies to do things like estimate home prices. But the output of AI systems like these can be opaque, creating a "black box" problem where practitioners and customers can't audit the systems properly. Without transparency, serious problems like algorithmic bias can persist undetected, and trust in the models becomes impossible. For obvious ethical reasons, this is why explainable AI (XAI) is so crucial to the creation and deployment of AI systems, but pragmatically, it's also key to the success of AI-powered products and services from companies like Zillow. David Fagnan, director of applied science on the Zillow Offers team, discussed with VentureBeat how and why XAI is indispensable for the company.

Port Tampa Bay will test new security scanners. No stopping to empty pockets.


Cruise passengers traveling out of Port Tampa Bay next spring could play a role in the testing of a new weapons detection system designed to improve safety in public places. Liberty Defense Holdings created HEXWAVE, which uses low-power, radar imaging and artificial intelligence to detect and identify weapons. The company has been developing the technology since 2018 and is ready to test it in 11 locations nationwide, CEO Bill Riker said. Similar to a metal detector, the system requires people to walk through portals one at a time as they are scanned. But unlike their more common counterpart, these scanners can detect both metal and non-metal items and use artificial intelligence to identify almost instantly what the item is and where it's located.

China's first AI theme park opens in Beijing - Xinhua


China's first artificial intelligence (AI) theme park opened to public in early November, after 10 months renovation of a municipal park in northern Beijing. Driverless shuttle buses, smart lamp posts that can record exercise data, and intelligent speakers that can respond to human instructions have been installed in Haidian Park, which covers about 34 hectares near the 4th Ring Road. The district government of Haidian and Internet company Baidu signed an agreement in January to jointly explore "smart city" building. Haidian Park, which received about 1.2 million tourists last year, was chosen to run the pilot program. A total of 10 government departments and companies participated in the renovation of the park over the past 10 months, said Che Jianguo from the district's park administration office.

Work for Elon in SV? Or Bill Ford in Downtown Detroit? Decaying Train Station Might Decide It

Forbes - Tech

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 13: A general view of the abandoned Michigan Central train station on August 13, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Ford Motor Company's purchase and proposed renovation of Detroit's leading eyesore โ€“ the abandoned Michigan Central Train Station โ€“ promises to lend momentum to a city on the comeback trail, as well as to a vehicle company at an existential crossroads. Bill Ford Jr. says the real estate venture is about "inventing the future," creating an urban home for the automaker's mobility services business and the electrification of its vehicles, two prominent trends that promise to transform the way ordinary citizens think about their cars and their daily travel. The four-year project promises to be costly, according to initial reports, while attracting talent (read: young talent otherwise headed for Silicon Valley) to Ford and to Detroit, suddenly a cool place to live, work and play for many. Many young software engineers and artificial intelligence jocks dream of working for Elon Musk and Tesla: Ford wants to make a bid for them.

AP FACT CHECK: Parsing an Unfettered Trump on Border Wall

U.S. News

THE FACTS: It's not clear what he means by renovations. His administration has not outlined sweeping renovations to be done in that time. Its request to Congress for $1.6 billion in wall financing for the budget year that begins Oct. 1 incudes money for 14 miles of replacement barrier in San Diego and it's not certain Congress will approve even that. Money has been approved for three miles of border protection in Calexico, California. Such projects do not add up to the massive construction that would be required to fulfill his promise of a wall sealing off the two countries along the length of their border.

President Trump's Disney Hall of Presidents installation delayed, big time


You'll have to wait a little longer for your robot Donald Trump. New reports coming out of the most magical place on earth claim that Disney World's Hall of Presidents won't be showing off its 45th robot President any time soon. The venerable hall, which has been closed for renovations since shortly before Trump took office in January, was originally scheduled to reopen on June 30th. SEE ALSO: GOP staffer compares Trumpcare to Star Wars and we can't even Originally opened in 1971 as part of Disney World's Liberty Square, The Hall of Presidents features animatronic robots built by Disney Imagineers for each of the previous 44 presidents. Its last major renovation came in 2009 when it unveiled its President Barack Obama animatronic.

At Last, a Possible Solution to Office Thermostat Wars WSJD - Technology

Wars over office temperature may be coming to a thaw. Thanks to advances in workplace architecture and new sensor and app technologies, individual workers are getting more control over the climate around them, which has long been a battleground for office workers. Some of the new technologies seem straight out of science fiction. One building under renovation in Italy is going to provide workers with their own "thermal bubbles" that can follow them around the building, so workers will each have their own climate-controlled zone. Elsewhere, smartphone apps such as Comfy let workers order a 10-minute blast of hot or cold air.

Understanding machine learning


Microsoft principal software development engineer Jennifer Marsman talked about the applications of machine learning at Microsoft's Ignite NZ conference. From teaching computers to make predictions to helping blind people "see", machine learning technology has already made incredible advancements in a short timeframe. Microsoft's Jennifer Marsman's interest is machine learning and helping to make the technology understandable to the average person. The Detroit-based principal software development engineer was in New Zealand last week for Microsoft's Ignite New Zealand conference, where she gave talks about applications of machine learning. It can be easy to let our imaginations run too wild when it comes to the future of technology, so Marsman to gave examples of machine learning's relevance in real life.

Ancient, hidden layers under marble slabs found at site of Jesus tomb

The Japan Times

JERUSALEM โ€“ In the innermost chamber of the site said to be the tomb of Jesus, a restoration team has peeled away a marble layer for the first time in centuries in an effort to reach what it believes is the original rock surface where Jesus' body was laid. Many historians have long believed that the original cave, identified a few centuries after Jesus' death as his tomb, was obliterated ages ago. But an archaeologist accompanying the restoration team said ground penetrating radar tests determined that cave walls are in fact standing -- at a height of 6 feet and connected to bedrock -- behind the marbled panels of the chamber at the center of Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre. "What was found," said National Geographic archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert, "is astonishing." The work is part of a historic renovation project to reinforce and preserve the Edicule, the chamber housing the cave where Jesus is said to have been entombed and resurrected.

Fully autonomous cars are unlikely, says America's top transportation safety official


Auto accidents kill more than 33,000 Americans each year, more than homicide or prescription drug overdoses. Companies working on self-driving cars, such as Alphabet and Ford, say their technology can slash that number by removing human liabilities such as texting, drunkenness, and fatigue. But Christopher Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, says his agency's experience investigating accidents involving autopilot systems used in trains and planes suggests that humans can't be fully removed from control. He told MIT Technology Review that future autos will be much safer, but that they will still need humans as copilots. What follows is a condensed transcript.