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) …
Your next Starbucks latte might be delivered by an adorable roving robot. Postmates, the food and grocery delivery company, has debuted its new autonomous delivery robot, named'Serve.' The four-wheeled rover closely resembles a brightly colored cooler, except it has huge, saucer-shaped eyes and an array of cameras meant to help it navigate the streets. Your next latte might be delivered by an adorable roving robot. Postmates, the food and grocery delivery company, has debuted its new autonomous delivery robot, named'Serve' Postmates is a food and grocery delivery service that brings items to your doorstep.
Quadrotors are fast, cheap, and capable, and they're getting smarter all the time. Where they struggle a little bit is with adaptation. Many other kinds of robots can change their structure to better perform different tasks: Humanoids do it all the time, with all those conveniently placed limbs. Hey, wouldn't it be cool if drones had movable limbs too? Someone should figure out how to do that.
In recent years, an entirely new class of robot -- inspired by natural forms and built using soft, flexible elastomers -- has taken the field by storm, with designs capable of gripping objects, walking, and even jumping. Yet despite those innovations, so-called "soft" robots still carried some "hard" parts. In particular, said Philipp Rothemund, a doctoral student working in the lab of Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor George Whitesides, the inflation and deflation of the robots was typically controlled by off-the-shelf pneumatic valves -- until now. Rothemund and postdoctoral fellow Daniel Preston have created a soft valve that could replace such hard components, and could lead to the creation of entirely soft robots. The valve's structure can also be used to produce unique, oscillatory behavior and could even be used to build soft logic circuits.
Science fiction has promised us a whole lot of technology that it's rudely failed to deliver--jetpacks, flying cars, teleportation. The most useful one might be the robot companion, à la Rosie from The Jetsons, a machine that watches over the home. It seemed like 2018 was going to be the year when robots made a big leap in that direction. Two machines in particular surfaced to much fanfare: Kuri, an adorable R2D2 analog that can follow you around and take pictures of your dinner parties, and Jibo, a desktop robot with a screen for a face that works a bit like Alexa, only it can dance. But then, as quickly as the home robots came, they disappeared.
Vector, Anki's tiny Wall-E look-alike, is getting Alexa integration by way of a software update rolling out on December 17th. Company chief Boris Sofman first announced Anki's efforts to add Alexa support to the cute assistant robot's repertoire back in October, since it was apparently one of the most requested features on the product's Kickstarter campaign. Now, the robotics and AI startup has released a video teaser showing how the integration would work. Instead, Alexa takes over the robot when you talk to it -- just say "Alexa" and then follow that up with a command. If you want the voice assistant to adjust the temperature or to switch off the lights, for instance, just talk to it via Vector.
A "high-tech robot" praised on Russian TV was actually a man in wearing a costume. No one said the "most modern robot" at a Russian technology event was a real robot, but it appears no one said it wasn't either. So, some journalists covering the state-sponsored event for children had a lot of questions when Robot Boris appeared on stage talking and dancing. He also could answer math equations. Coverage on Russian state TV praised the "hi-tech robot" at the annual Proyektoria technology forum, The Guardian reports, even praising its intelligent dance moves.
Donald Trump's $1.5 trillion tax cut has increased incentives to replace workers with robots, contradicting his campaign promise to restore well-paying manufacturing jobs in the nation's heartland. The Trump tax bill permits "U.S. corporations to expense their capital investment, through 2022. So, if a U.S. corporation buys a robot for $100 thousand, it can deduct the $100 thousand immediately to calculate its U.S. taxable income, rather than recover the $100 thousand over the life of the robot, as under prior law," Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and a specialist in tax policy, wrote me by email. I have addressed the impact of robotics on Trump voters in previous columns, but today I want to explore these developments in greater detail as tools to gather and analyze information have improved. One of the most striking developments in recent decades is the ongoing decline in work force participation among men, from 88.7 percent in July, 1947 to 68.7 percent in September, 2010, according to the Federal Reserve.
Ronald Arkin has played key leadership roles in making technology more human--and humane. He has helped develop innovations such as multi-robot teams, human-robot interaction, hybrid robot software architectures, and more recently, robot ethics. His research incorporates ethical reasoning into the context of military and healthcare applications for autonomous robots. Arkin's goal: To keep top-of-mind and to mentor others about the care and thoughtfulness needed in discussing law, policies, and regulation governing and managing artificial intelligence. Toward that end, he works to ensure that his graduate students and the junior faculty understand not only the technical issues but also the socio-political landscape involved in the increasingly pervasive ways that advanced technology affects people's lives.
Robots are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout society. Surprisingly perhaps, humans can feel a sense of altruism and empathy with robots that have human or animal traits. Such responses raise questions about how robots might affect social interactions. Quinn et al. show that rats, a highly social species that displays several types of reciprocity and empathy, will help small robots "escape" from a cage. Help is even more prompt for those robots that show rat-like social and helping behaviors.