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) …
Chinese internet company LeEco Holdings Ltd unveils its internet electric battery driverless concept car'LeSEE' during a launch event in Beijing. Chinese manufacturers and internet giants are in hot pursuit of their US counterparts in the race to design driverless cars, but the route to market is still littered with potholes. China has begun preparing programs and cities for an autonomous driving revolution expected to generate $1 trillion in revenue globally, the South China Morning Post reported. Nearly 300 Chinese cities and regions, including Xinjiang and Nanjing, and have already introduced "smart-city" projects controlled by artificial intelligence technology to enhance daily life, SCMP said. Smart cities use cloud-based technology to integrate across several industries, including transportation, health care and public security, according to government-owned China Daily.
As self-driving cars come closer to being common on American roads, much of the rhetoric promoting them has to do with safety. About 40,000 people die on U.S. roads every year, and driver errors are linked to more than 90 percent of crashes. But many of the biggest advocates of autonomous vehicles aren't car companies looking to improve the safety of their existing products. Huge backing for self-driving technologies is coming from Silicon Valley giants like Google and Apple. Those of us who have studied the relationship between technology and society tend to look more carefully at the motivations behind any technological push.
The media loves to frame matters of technology in quite dystopian terms, so it's perhaps not surprising that coverage of autonomous vehicles has tended to focus on both the safety implications of the technology and the number of driving jobs that might be lost. It's a narrative that seems to demand perfection from the technology before it can be rolled out en-masse on public roads. Such thinking has distinct dangers of its own, with a recent from the RAND Corporation highlighting how delaying the launch of autonomous technology until perfection is achieved will cost many thousands of lives per year. The report argues that even a 10% improvement on human drivers could save thousands of deaths on our roads, thus rendering it morally questionable whether it's wise to demand technology that is 90% and above better than human drivers. The figures were arrived at by examining hundreds of possible futures and the changing safety requirements for autonomous vehicle introduction, with estimated road fatalities extrapolated for each potential scenario.
Texas, like Finland, never had a law blocking self-driving cars from public roads, until Thursday when Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that set out the rules of the road. The re-legalization makes a few things clear for automakers and tech companies testing their autonomous vehicles in The Lone Star State. First, self-driving cars without a driver remain legal, as long as the car has a specific amount of insurance and is able to record video, according to a report by The Texas Tribune. The manufacturer must accept liability for all accidents on the road, an agreement that both Waymo and Uber have both fought against in other states. Removing the need for a driver could push self-driving tests in Texas to Level 4 autonomy, which means fully autonomous except in certain environments, like heavy snows.
You know, that thing where the flow suddenly slows to a halt and you inch forward for a half hour and then things pick up again and you look around for an accident or construction or anything at all for Pete's sake that might justify the time you just wasted. It's as if the fates chose this particular time and place to screw with you. But a new study in IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems mathematically models the implications of the larger problem: You're not keeping the right distance from the car behind you. That may seem counterintuitive, since you don't have much control over how far you are from the car behind you--especially when that person is a tailgater. But the math says that if everyone kept an equal distance between the cars ahead and behind, all spaced out in a more orderly fashion, traffic would move almost twice as quickly.
There's no reason why your refrigerator shouldn't be connected to the Internet, but it's hardly the most exciting example of the Internet of Things. The connected fridge has become something of a cliché in recent years: a faintly patronising way of explaining a revolutionary new technology by putting it in a context that consumers can understand. It's a little like that with self-driving cars. No-one underestimates the intelligence and industry that has gone into creating autonomous vehicles; it's just that there are so many more exciting uses of artificial intelligence (AI) that will change our lives more fundamentally – and sooner – than smart vehicles. Too many of the headlines surrounding AI are around esoteric applications, such as chess or Go-playing computers.
Before autonomous trucks and taxis hit the road, manufacturers will need to solve problems far more complex than collision avoidance and navigation (see "10 Breakthrough Technologies 2017: Self-Driving Trucks"). These vehicles will have to anticipate and defend against a full spectrum of malicious attackers wielding both traditional cyberattacks and a new generation of attacks based on so-called adversarial machine learning (see "AI Fight Club Could Help Save Us from a Future of Super-Smart Cyberattacks"). As consensus grows that autonomous vehicles are just a few years away from being deployed in cities as robotic taxis, and on highways to ease the mind-numbing boredom of long-haul trucking, this risk of attack has been largely missing from the breathless coverage. It reminds me of numerous articles promoting e-mail in the early 1990s, before the newfound world of electronic communications was awash in unwanted spam. Back then, the promise of machine learning was seen as a solution to the world's spam problems.
Artificial intelligence can accurately identify objects in an image or recognize words uttered by a human, but its algorithms don't work the same way as the human brain--and that means that they can be spoofed in ways that humans can't. New Scientist reports that researchers from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and Facebook's AI team have shown that it's possible to subtly tweak audio clips so that a human understands them as normal but a voice-recognition AI hears something totally different. The approach works by adding a quiet layer of noise to a sound clip that contains distinctive patterns a neural network will associate with other words. The team applied its new algorithm, called Houdini, to a series of sound clips, which it then ran through Google Voice to have them transcribed. Her bearing was graceful and animated she led her son by the hand and before her walked two maids with wax lights and silver candlesticks.
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) will likely change the way we get around forever, but the AI that controls them might not be able to tell other cars on the road when they're driving like assholes. Case in point: The City of Las Vegas and AAA's self-driving shuttle, one of the most advanced public autonomous trials in the U.S., was hit by a semi-truck within hours of its maiden trip last month. The Navya Arma bus was stuck between a car behind it and the slowly advancing truck, which backed its way into the the shuttle. The shuttle behaved exactly as it was designed to in the situation, according to a AAA rep -- but it didn't move or, more importantly for the truck driver who might not have seen the vehicle behind it, honk a horn to make its presence known. One of the most essential tools for interpersonal communication between drivers wasn't even in the AI's protocol, which made us wonder: Can self-driving cars even beep?