Futurism - Robot Intelligence
Experts say that we’re far from truly autonomous vehicles — meaning those that fall under the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) Level 5 category. But many companies, including Ford Motors, want to bring us a step closer to this ideal. Ford is aiming to launch a Level 4 autonomous car by 2021.
Ford CEO Mark Fields explained in CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” last Monday that the company hopes to make an autonomous car with “no gas pedal” and “no steering wheel.” It’s a vehicle that excuses the driver-turned-passenger from taking control “in a predefined area.”
“In our industry, the word autonomous is being used very, very liberally. There’s different levels of autonomy,” Fields explained. “The question that should be asked when a company says they’re going to have an autonomous vehicle […] is at what level.”
This refers to SAE’s levels of driving autonomy. The SAE actually identifies six levels of driving autonomy — from Level 0, meaning no automation at all, to Level 5 which is full automation. A Level 4 self-driving vehicle, according the SEA, employs an automated system that covers “all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene.”Driving Autonomous Vehicle Leadership
Fields’ pronouncements in the CNBC interview, which actually covered a wide range of topics, aren’t just whimsical thoughts. In fact, “Ford has been developing and testing autonomous vehicles for more than 10 years,” according to Ford EVP for Global Product Development and chief technical officer Raj Nair. “We have a strategic advantage because of our ability to combine the software and sensing technology with the sophisticated engineering necessary to manufacture high-quality vehicles. That is what it takes to make autonomous vehicles a reality for millions of people around the world.”
“The next decade will be defined by automation of the automobile, and we see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago,” Fields said in the August 2016 press release. “We’re dedicated to putting on the road an autonomous vehicle that can improve safety and solve social and environmental challenges for millions of people – not just those who can afford luxury vehicles.”
The plan includes investing in technologies by collaborating with companies involved in strong research in the fields of advanced algorithms, 3D mapping, LiDAR, and radar and camera sensors. And now it seems it includes removing the steering wheel and the gas and break pedals too.
Is Ford’s vision of a pedal-less and steering wheel-free car the future? More importantly, are we ready for such a vehicle? Well, stick around for 2021 to find out.
The post Ford to Release a Car Without a Steering Wheel or Pedals appeared first on Futurism.
2016 was a year of many firsts in artificial intelligence (AI). It was the year that saw major breakthroughs in AI aggregate technologies, such as computer vision, deep learning, and artificial neural networks — so much so that naysayers have been predicting how we’re leading ourselves closer to an end-of-humankind-as-we-know-it event triggered by the singularity.
The warnings are exaggerated, of course, and are rooted in science fiction (SkyNet isn’t coming, guys, c’mon). But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, or at least to influence the direction AI research can or should take.
A new enterprise rises to the challenge in the form of the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund. Backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, together with the Knight Foundation, the fund’s goal is “to support work around the world that advances the development of ethical AI in the public interest, with an emphasis on applied research and eduction.”
At its launch last January 10, the fund already received an initial investment of $27 million — with Hoffman and Omidyar each committing $10 million through their respective foundations, and the Knight Foundation’s $5 million contribution. Other preliminary investors include the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Raptor Group founder Jim Pallotta, each adding $1 million to the fund.
The AI fund will be housed at The Miami Foundation, with the MIT Media Lab and Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center as the anchor institutions.
AI Changing the World
With the government being slow on the uptake – despite position papers by the White House itself, and a senate hearing on the subject – it’s a good sign that private companies and institutions are taking on AI. The IEEE even released what can be considered the first ‘rulebook’ for ethical AI systems.
Hence the AI fund. “Because of this pervasive but often concealed impact, it is imperative that AI research and development be shaped by a broad range of voices — not only by engineers and corporations, but also by social scientists, ethicists, philosophers, faith leaders, economists, lawyers, and policymakers,” the group writes.
This impact of AI is seen in those instances when policy fails to effectively inform research, as in the case of Uber’s San Francisco autonomous test run. As such, the initiative seeks to support activities that promote keeping human issues at the forefront of AI research and maximizing the benefits of AI. Specifically, it addresses the following:
- Communicating complexity: How do we best communicate, through words and processes, the nuances of a complex field like AI?
- Ethical design: How do we build and design technologies that consider ethical frameworks and moral values as central features of technological innovation?
- Advancing accountable and fair AI: What kinds of controls do we need to minimize AI’s potential harm to society and maximize its benefits?
- Innovation in the public interest: How do we maintain the ability of engineers and entrepreneurs to innovate, create and profit, while ensuring that society is informed and that the work integrates public interest perspectives?
- Expanding the table: How do we grow the field to ensure that a range of constituencies are involved with building the tools and analyzing social impact?
“There’s an urgency to ensure that AI benefits society and minimizes harm,” Hoffman explained. The AI Fund certainly isn’t the first partnership that aims to establish guideposts for AI research. There’s the Partnership on AI, which Google and Microsoft are a part of. Then there’s also the OpenAI collaboration between Elon Musk and Microsoft.
As Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Klein Center, said: “A lot of our work in this area will be to identify and cultivate technologies and practices that promote human autonomy and dignity rather than diminish it.”
The post Industry Giants Are Devoting Millions to Make a Moral AI appeared first on Futurism.
With autonomous vehicles widely being considered one of the breakout innovations of 2016, the debate that autonomous vehicles combined with artificial intelligence will replace jobs is revving into high gear. Largely this is a misnomer, as autonomous vehicles will create new jobs, job sectors and economic models.
The debate over innovations and technology replacing jobs is as old as history itself. During the first industrial revolution in 18th century England, new manufacturing processes and technologies were invented which led to the mechanization of textile production. This technical breakthrough led to the factory system; a system which would go on to create millions upon millions of jobs despite the worry that jobs would diminish due to automation.
In 2006, the technical breakthrough of cloud computing came from Amazon with the introduction of Elastic Compute cloud (EC2) as a commercial web service. IT professionals and industry analytics predicted large job losses as companies would outsource their computing needs. The opposite ended up being true, as cloud computing directly and indirectly created millions of jobs across the globe and tens of billions of dollars in wealth.
When Andy Jassy (who was Jeff Bezos first official shadow) wrote the AWS mission paper he said, “we tried to imagine a student in a dorm room who would have at his or her disposal the same infrastructure as the largest companies in the world.” The concept imagined by Mr. Jassy would eventually allow the founders of Airbnb to develop, launch, and scale Airbnb with the same infrastructure as the largest hotel companies in the world.
Since the company was founded in 2008, the hotel industry has cast a wary eye on Airbnb. From 2008 to 2015, Airbnb has supported hundreds of thousands of jobs, and hosts in the United States earned more than $3.2 billion in income. While in Europe, Airbnb hosts collectively earned more than $3 billion in 2015 alone.
Additionally, over the last five years, global hotel industry revenue has grown by more than $100 billion and supported hundreds of thousands of jobs.The Hybrid Years
Despite the negative publicity, Airbnb and the global hotel industry have complemented each other rather nicely. The same will be proven true with drivers and autonomous vehicles powered by artificial intelligence during the hybrid years.
The hybrid years is a term I am coining that describes the time period when both driver vehicles and autonomous vehicles are traveling on public roadways. During the hybrid years, the role of driver and logistics will merge into the role of autonomous logistics officers.
Autonomous logistics officers will manage fleets of vehicles from a remote command center in multiple daily shifts. When these roles merge, drivers’ quality of life will improve immensely. This new job category will create thousands of jobs for individuals with a new, unique skill set.
Individuals with this new skill are already in demand according to the Wall Street Journal as Amazon is looking to acquire or build an application capable of matching available trucks to shipments.
During the hybrid years – which are starting now – forward-looking entrepreneurs will successfully identify changing market dynamics and create new businesses which, in turn, will create new jobs. This is the very scenario that has played out time and time again throughout history.
This is already happening today with connected cars and software. Smart Car, RideCell and Otonomo are all developing software platforms to enable entrepreneurs and established companies to build applications and services on top of the connected car (autonomous vehicle).
The services currently being developed on these platforms will create jobs and income for hundreds of thousands of individuals. JPMorgan Chase calls this the platform economy. The JPMorgan Chase Institute estimates that between October 2012 and September 2015, 4.2 percent of adults, an estimated 10.3 million people — more than the total population of New York City — earned income on the platform economy.
During the hybrid years, the platform economy will continue to grow and provide jobs and income for millions of individuals. Following the hybrid years, technology will evolve to the point where vehicles will no longer be driven by human drivers and autonomous vehicles will no longer be managed by autonomous logistics officers.
At this point in history, and for the first time, society will rely on fully autonomous vehicles as our main source of transportation. History will once again repeat itself as new jobs and new sectors will be created. Most of these new sectors and jobs have not yet been imagined; however, they are coming. We just need to look back on history as a guide.
Grayson Brulte is the Co-Founder & President of Brulte & Company, an innovation advisory and consulting company that designs innovation and technology strategies for a global marketplace.
Last week, Elon Musk confirmed that the first 1,000 vehicles in Tesla’s fleet had been equipped with an active version of Enhanced Autopilot, with the same software appearing in “shadow mode” throughout the rest of the fleet. This version of the autopilot system integrated a traffic aware cruise control feature, forward collision warning, and an autosteer beta version enabled only at “low speed.” Yesterday, the company released an updated version of Enhanced Autopilot, again in active mode for 1,000 vehicles and shadow mode for the rest.
Enhanced Autopilot primarily gives Tesla’s HW2 vehicles (newer models running with Autopilot 2.0 hardware) some of the functionalities only found in earlier, HW1 models. However, Musk assures Tesla owners still running on the first generation Autopilot hardware that the latest update will also have improvements in store for them, noting that Ludicrous+ mode will be enabled with the new update, bringing more power to the Model SP 100D and enabling it to go from zero to 96 km/h (zero to 60 mph) in 2.4 seconds.
The company hopes to switch Enhanced Autopilot to active mode for the entire HW2 fleet by the end of this week.
If all looks good, HW2 Autopilot functionality will switch from shadow to active mode by end of week for cars beyond initial 1000
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 8, 2017No Rush to Hit the Road
This Enhanced Autopilot update by Tesla is just one of the first steps toward the company’s ultimate goal of equipping Tesla vehicles with fully autonomous driving capabilities by the end of 2017. Updates with new improvements are expected every two to three months this year until the company produces a vehicle that could drive itself from Los Angeles to New York with zero input from a human driver.
However, even as Tesla makes significant strides toward achieving its vision, the company is mindfully taking a “measured and cautious” approach to rolling out their latest system updates. Owners who received the Enhanced Autopilot software last week are only able to access new features that come with the update as the system clocks in more miles and Tesla can gather real-time data to analyze — a process that will likely repeat with this latest update and, eventually, the rest of the vehicles within the fleet.
We’ve waited this long for self-driving cars, so what’s a few more months if it means the technology can be perfected before hitting the road?
The post Tesla Is Pushing a New Version of Enhanced Autopilot appeared first on Futurism.
The transition from one year to the next is always a little uncertain – an uneasy blend of anxiety and optimism, it’s also a time of retrospection, introspection, and even a little tentative prognostication. And since the latter is our stock-in-trade at Futurism, we believe now is the perfect time to look ahead at what 2017 has in store for us.
When it came to artificial intelligence (AI), 2016 was a year of notable firsts: Tesla’s autopilot predicted a car crash, Alexa was subpoenaed, the White House took notice of the subject, and Google’s AlphaGo beat the reigning European Go champion. But 2016 is gone and buried and 2017 is promising even greater advances in AI as the technology further infiltrates our lives and colonizes new frontiers of endeavor.
Here’s some of what we can expect for artificial intelligence in the year ahead.Personal AI
2016 saw the growth of more consumer-oriented AI. Alexa, Siri, and Cortana—among many others—now come standard in our handy personal devices, and Amazon even open-sourced Alexa for developers. Look for 2017 to be the year when AI begins to be a commonplace in some apps, and also expect the other major tech companies to follow Amazon’s lead in opening up their AI systems to outside development.
With this more collaborative approach to the evolution of AI, we may finally begin to see the personalization of artificial intelligence, and a great proliferation of new AI programs with idiosyncratic personalities, temperaments, and even intellectual outlooks.Some of the artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms currently helping machines think. Credit: CIO Journal/Narrative Science A Better Conversationalist
Trying to hold a conversation with Siri or Alexa is like watching two people in the same canoe paddling in opposite directions—it just ain’t goin’ anywhere. For one thing, neither have much a sense of humor; furthermore, these robotic ladies just lack that wonted je ne sais quoi we expect in our intellectual sparring partners—they’re dull, frankly, and haven’t really got much to say.
But in 2017, that’s all about to change.
“In 2017 there will be a chatbot that passes the Turing test, exhibiting responses so human-like that an average person wouldn’t be able to tell if it’s human or machine,” forecasts Jim McHugh, Vice President and General Manager at NVIDIA. Such extraordinary capabilities will be the natural sequel to the new advances in machine learning, natural language processing, and pattern recognition that will finally beget more empathic and intuitive AI programs.
“In the coming year, we will see advances that are used to endow systems with new human-centered qualities, including more natural, fluid conversation—that can address several topics or needs in one ongoing interaction, and deeper understanding of human values and intentions, such as recognizing the commitments we make to others in our email and text messaging,” observes Eric Horvitz, Technical Fellow and Managing Director at Microsoft Research.
Very soon now, you’ll really be able to have that deep, meaningful conversation with Alexa that you always wanted.Cognitive Machinery
According to the big brains at Ovum, “machine learning will be the biggest disruptor for big data analytics in 2017.” They’ve got a point, too—a damn good one. Deep learning and neural networks have shown remarkable promise, even holding out the hope that they might point the way toward achieving some sort of serviceable, human-like machine intelligence—not a terrible surprise, since their mechanism mimics the layered cognitive processing employed by the human brain.
And in 2017, we can expect even greater strides in machine learning, as massive upgrades to parallel processing power enable the networks to crunch ever-larger blocks of data. “Generative adversarial networks” (GANs) are the next big thing in machine learning—essentially dual networks, one that learns from datasets and another that distinguishes between real and fake data.
So look for our machines to become better learners in 2017, as AI approaches its “terrible twos” and begins to cognitively mature.A Companion Mind
Harry Shrum, Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s AI and Research Group, is cheerfully optimistic about AI’s outlook in the coming year:
“In 2017 we’ll see increased acceleration in the democratization of AI for every person and every organization. With advances in technology, computers will gain even greater ability to see, hear and understand our world—to make us more productive, to have more fun and also enable greater strides towards solving some of society’s most pressing challenges like fighting disease, ignorance, and poverty.”
And that seems to be the general consensus about what the New Year holds for artificial intelligence. Not a mystical singularity; not the sudden “awakening” of an inchoate machine mind—inhuman, alien, perhaps even malevolent or at least antipathetic to all we hold dear. That’s a fantasy—the reality will be far more prosaic.
If AI is taken to mean the evolution of tools that act in concert with their makers, and are instilled with a limited, almost instinctual awareness, then we seem to be well on the way toward building a world in which our machines are active partners in the business of life. So don’t look for the coming of Skynet or HAL 9000 in 2017—nothing so dramatic as all that. For now, baby steps—incremental steps toward a world in which our very tools are endowed with the same sort of sensory and reactive faculties that are found throughout the living world.
Now, as for 2018… that’s a different story altogether.Read the rest of our series on the science and tech of 2017:
The post Predicting 2017: The Rise of Synthetic Intelligence appeared first on Futurism.
It was designed by the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence.
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As the world continues to achieve unprecedented levels of advancement in AI and robotics, we must, at the same time, come to terms with the fact that our fundamental understanding of technology is also being challenged. Technology was once viewed as a tool that drove human progress forward. Today, technology is threatening the employment and job security of millions.
High-profile personalities such as Stephen Hawking, as well as economists, have begun to shine the spotlight on this issue of technological unemployment—the displacement of human jobs by increasingly sophisticated means of automation.Eatsa, an automated restaurant chain where customers have zero interaction with a human staff. Credit: Jason Henry for The New York Times.
In a column published in The Guardian, Hawking points out that, “[…]the automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.”
Economists are not discounting the fact that globalization is at least partially to blame for unemployment. They cite trade relations with China during the 2000s as an example, which according to researchers from MIT, led to the loss of over two millions jobs. Still, the impact of automation will have a greater, more disruptive effect on the labor force.The New Economy
Some argue that the situation isn’t nearly as dire as some imagine it to be.
Elon Musk, who believes that rising automation will lead to the implementation of universal basic income, sees it as an opportunity. “People will have time to do other things, more complex things, more interesting things,” says Musk. “Certainly more leisure time.”
It’s also entirely possible that as industries begin to assimilate technology into their business models, that it will create new jobs.
“It’s literally the story of the economic development of the world over the last 200 years…just as most of us today have jobs that weren’t even invented 100 years ago, the same will be true 100 years from now,” argued Marc Andreesen, a venture capitalist who was also responsible for creating Mosaic, the first widely used web browser.
Automation can also serve to complement human skills. As Stefan Hajkowicz illustrated in his article in The Conversation: “Spreadsheets didn’t kill off accounting jobs. On the contrary, smart accountants learned how to use spreadsheets to become more productive and more employable.”
True. But experts think this industrial revolution is different.
Machines right now might be only capable of doing repetitive, formulaic jobs, but even so, it was already enough to displace thousands of human workers. What happens when prototypes of robots that were taught to mimic the human mind become available? It’s not hard to imagine that knowledge-based, creative, and service-oriented jobs will eventually be overtaken as well.
Our society is evolving—this is the inescapable reality, and change is the watchword of our age. Uncertainty and fear are the inevitable corollaries of the enormous changes stealing upon us; we feel as the cotton picker must have felt at the arrival of the cotton gin, or the coachman beholding the first horseless carriage. Some speak of a melding of our biological minds with the mechanical AI we create, and new phases of human evolution; but these are remote fantasies, of small comfort to the man or woman whose livelihood is rendered obsolete by the march of progress.
But our species’ most remarkable trait is its adaptability—with any luck, we’ll weather this storm as we’ve weathered so many before, and doubtless the people of 2117 will marvel at and even long for our quaint, unsophisticated age and our uncomplicated lives.
The post Blame Displacement of Jobs on Automation, Not Offshoring and Immigration appeared first on Futurism.
University of Oslo is developing a system that can 3D print customized robots.
The post The Future Is Here. Robots Can Now 3D Print…Themselves. appeared first on Futurism.
Sangbae Kim, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, has a very distinct vision for the future of emergency response. Amid advances in AI and robotics, he believes that the field would be best served with animal-like machines that can serve as first responders to disaster situations.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Kim attended Yonsei University where he took up mechanical engineering before serving in the Korean military. From there, he returned to university life, where he explored his love for robotics.Sangbae Kim. Credit: MIT
One particular class project challenged students to create robots that could perform specific tasks. He cites it as the catalyst that propelled his career in robotics forward, which eventually took him to Stanford University to complete a graduate program for mechanical engineering.
It was there that he began work on his bio-inspired robotic machines, the first of which was a climbing robot that mimicked the gecko. At Harvard University, where he found himself in a postdoc post, he helped engineer the Meshworm, designed to mimic the movement of earthworms.
Despite his success in small robots, he realized that its size prevented it from doing “real, physical work.” And it was then that he began to develop a four-legged machine designed to complete human-level physical tasks—a dream that he nurtured when he joined MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and established the Biomimetic Robotics Lab.Biomimetic Robots
MIT’s Biomimetic Robotics Lab’s goal is to design biologically inspired robots that can complete high-level tasks.
At the forefront of this objective is the MIT Cheetah, a four-legged robot inspired by the fastest land animal. Powered with electronic motors, it can run, jump over obstacles autonomously, and trot at 14 miles per hour. The speed the team has achieved for this particular machine is already much faster than what animals in nature can do, and it’s proof of how much more the team can accomplish.
Right now, he’s trying to combine two major projects, one being the MIT Cheetah, and the other, the HERMES, a tele-operated robot on hind legs, whose movements and balance are controlled by a human operator, to create a robust machine that could help save lives in disaster and emergency situations.
“Say there are toxic gases leaking in a building, and you need to close a valve inside, but it’s dangerous to send people in,” Kim says. “Now, there is no single robot that can do this kind of job. I want to create a robotic first responder that can potentially do more than a human and help in our lives,” MIT writes.
By combining principles across biomechanics, human decision-making, and mechanical design, such a robot could easily manuever itself through debris, cross minefields, enter buildings on fire, or punch through walls. And Kim believes that it could take less than a decade to bring this machine to reality.
The post More Than Human: Scientist is Building Animal-Like Machines to Save Lives appeared first on Futurism.
In the next 30 years, humanity is in for a transformation the likes of which we’ve never seen before—and XPRIZE Foundation founder and chairman Peter Diamandis believes that this will give birth to a new species. Diamandis admits that this might sound too far out there for most people. He is convinced, however, that we are evolving towards what he calls “meta-intelligence,” and today’s exponential rate of growth is one clear indication.
In an essay for Singularity Hub, Diamandis outlines the transformative stages in the multi-billion year pageant of evolution, and takes note of what the recent increasing “temperature” of evolution—a consequence of human activity—may mean for the future. The story, in a nutshell, is this—early prokaryotic life appears about 3.5 billion years ago (bya), representing perhaps a symbiosis of separate metabolic and replicative mechanisms of “life;” at 2.5 bya, eukaryotes emerge as composite organisms incorporating biological “technology” (other living things) within themselves; at 1.5 bya, multicellular metazoans appear as eukaryotes are yoked together in cooperative colonies; and at 400 million years ago, vertebrate fish species emerge onto land to begin life’s adventure beyond the seas.
“Today, at a massively accelerated rate—some 100 million times faster than the steps I outlined above—life is undergoing a similar evolution,” Diamandis writes. He thinks we’ve moved from a simple Darwinian evolution via natural selection into evolution by intelligent direction.Credits: Richard Bizley/SPL
“I believe we’re rapidly heading towards a human-scale transformation, the next evolutionary step into what I call a “Meta-Intelligence,” a future in which we are all highly connected—brain to brain via the cloud—sharing thoughts, knowledge and actions,” he writes.Change is Coming
Diamandis outlines the next stages of humanity’s evolution in four steps, each a parallel to his four evolutionary stages of life on Earth. There are four driving forces behind this evolution: our interconnected or wired world, the emergence of brain-computer interface (BCI), the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI), and man reaching for the final frontier of space.
In the next 30 years, humanity will move from the first stage—where we are today—to the fourth stage. From simple humans dependent on one another, humanity will incorporate technology into our bodies to allow for more efficient use of information and energy. This is already happening today.
The third stage is a crucial point.
Enabled with BCI and AI, humans will become massively connected with each other and billions of AIs (computers) via the cloud, analogous to the first multicellular lifeforms 1.5 billion years ago. Such a massive interconnection will lead to the emergence of a new global consciousness, and a new organism I call the Meta-Intelligence.
This brings to mind another futuristic event that many are eagerly anticipating: the technological singularity. “Within a quarter century, nonbiological intelligence will match the range and subtlety of human intelligence,” said notable futurist Ray Kurzweil, explaining the singularity.Credits: Lovelace Turing
“It will then soar past it because of the continuing acceleration of information-based technologies, as well as the ability of machines to instantly share their knowledge.” Kurzweil predicts that this will happen by 2045—within Diamandis’ evolutionary timeline. “The nonbiological intelligence created in that year will be one billion times more powerful than all human intelligence today.”
The fourth and final stage marks humanity’s evolution to becoming a multiplanetary species. “Our journey to the moon, Mars, asteroids and beyond represents the modern-day analogy of the journey made by lungfish climbing out of the oceans some 400 million years ago,” Diamandis explains.
Buckle up: we have an exciting future ahead of us.
The post Peter Diamandis Thinks We’re Evolving Toward “Meta-Intelligence” appeared first on Futurism.
Remember that giant robotic exosuit—the one Sigourney Weaver used in her epic mêlée with the queen alien at the end of Aliens? Or all those giant robots that show up in just about every Japanese anime? Well, if you liked those…you’d better be sitting down.
Because the Furrion Robotics Division has debuted, at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, a giant mechanized exosuit that just might be the first step toward that sci-fi future. It’s called “Prosthesis” (unimaginative name, true, but the thing largely speaks for itself), and it looks like a fantastic congeries of girders and steelwork that’s come to life in the form of a giant, robotic insect.Futurism‘s Jolene Creighton cheerfully poses in front of her next vehicle, which should make beating New York’s rush hour traffic a cinch. Credit: Futurism
The Prosthesis is 14 feet tall, 16 wide, and tips the scales at 7,700 lbs.; the sticking point, however, is in how the mechanical monstrosity is operated. Details are still forthcoming, but it apparently involves strapping the user into a “cockpit” of sorts, where some sort of haptic technology translates the user’s limb movements to the movements of the robotic exoskeleton.
“Inside is a full-body exoskeletal interface,” explains Jonathan Tippett, founder, and CEO of Furrion Robotics. “The pilot straps in, face down, and has their whole upper body kind of cradled by this articulated, carbon-fiber harness; their arms and legs are free to move, and there’s an exoskeletal interface on each of your limbs, which maps the motion of your limbs to the four limbs of the machine.”Augmented Athleticism
The purpose of this suit? The mech (Tippett is careful to draw a distinction between human-controlled “mech” and autonomous robots) is designed with one purpose in mind: racing. Its creators claim that the all-electric Prosthesis can attain speeds of 20 mph, hopefully combined with an agility that cars just cannot match. It’s envisioned as the first element of a new sport—one in which human beings outfitted with gigantic mechanized suits like the Prosthesis achieve new forms of augmented athleticism.
According to Tippet: “The whole point is to create a new human experience for the pilots, who would have to be athletes to operate it.”
And this ties into the philosophy behind the creation of the Prosthesis—a philosophy that rejects the current trend toward automation that has reached almost faddish levels in the tech world and returns control to the human being…ironically, perhaps, a human being surrounded by a massive technological exoskeleton. It’s an interesting concept, after all, the autonomous car tech and AI software that’s been on display on the CES showroom floor this year.
“I wanted to create a machine that required human skill and practice to operate,” Tippett explains, a dream that grew out of his experiences as a mountain biker.
So we’re eager to see, in the coming months, what comes of Furrion’s new gadget. Tippett’s dream of a device that engages with human beings, changes the way we interact with machines, and allows us to hone new skills, certainly seems more exciting than the world promised by autonomous tech—a caretaker world, essentially, in which control is taken away from us untrustworthy creatures of flesh and blood.
“It was kind of a counterpoint,” he observes, speaking of the philosophy animating the creation of the Prosthesis, “to all the things that are being automated and ritualized in our lives.”
The post It’s Big, it’s Robotic, and it’s Pretty Cool—Check Out This Giant Mechanized Exoskeleton appeared first on Futurism.
The rapid advancement of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) is allowing more companies to seek out automation as a means of boosting production efficiency. Mining company Rio Tinto is one of the companies that’s turned to automation to accomplish that goal.
The company has recently deployed a fleet of 73 self-driving trucks to haul payloads non-stop. In addition to the trucks, they also have robotic, rock-drilling rigs plugging away at the topography. In the near future, Rio Tinto is looking to upgrade the trains that haul the ore to port to not only drive themselves but also have the ability to load and unload automatically.
Back in 2015, Rio Tinto made history by introducing remote-controlled haulers at some mines. While those vehicles didn’t require a driver to be physically present, there was a human component to successful navigation. As a logical progression from that technology, the company has managed to replace those humans with software in the newest equipment. The vehicles now operate completely autonomously using precision GPS and scan for obstacles using radar and lasers.
The company is reporting a 15 percent reduction in the cost of operating the automated trucks compared to those driven by humans. As hauling is among the largest costs to a mining operation, Rob Atkinson, Rio Tinto’s leader of productivity efforts, lauds this reduction. “We’re going to continue as aggressively as possible down this path,” he claims in an interview with MIT Technology Review.Photo credit: Christian Sprogoe Photography Replacing People
The future impact of this move toward more automation is arguably the biggest concern facing modern society. Robots are quickly becoming better than humans at more and more tasks. Couple this with the declining cost of robotics, and there’s a significant financial incentive for companies to explore all the ways in which they can automate their operations.
At the outset of the proliferation of this new frontier in how the world does business, jobs requiring low-skilled workers (especially in developing nations) are particularly in danger of disruption. However, artificial intelligence is also rapidly advancing, causing even the most skilled workers to start to look over their shoulders for their electronic replacements.
United States President-elect Donald Trump’s promises to bring outsourced jobs back to the country were a major part of his campaign platform. However, experts assert that these plans are likely to be hampered by the likes of automation. Other experts say that even if policies are put in place to bring companies back to the U.S., the jobs they initially outsourced may not come back with them.
Automation is steadily taking over in areas like manufacturing and transportation, and it even has the potential to significantly cut into the number of available information technology (IT) positions as well. The world’s brightest minds are looking for ways to head off the potentially debilitating impact this could have on the world’s employment levels. While the White House is proposing greater access to education, many experts see a universal basic income as the only means to prevent unemployment-caused poverty. Whatever the answer, something must be done before all jobs are hauled away by automated systems.
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Meet the Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real Time (AVATAR), a robotic device created by San Diego State University management information systems professor Aaron Elkins that will essentially function as a lie detector at international borders.
“AVATAR is a kiosk, much like an airport check-in or grocery store self-checkout kiosk,” explains Elkins. “However, this kiosk has a face on the screen that asks questions of travelers and can detect changes in physiology and behavior during the interview. The system can detect changes in the eyes, voice, gestures, and posture to determine potential risk. It can even tell when you’re curling your toes.”
When AVATAR is in place as a border security measure, travelers will simply step up to the kiosk where the device will ask them questions similar to what a human security agent might ask. The responses will then be analyzed by the system through eye-detection software and motion and pressure sensors to identify signs of lying and discomfort.
The virtual agent will ask several baseline questions that will prevent passengers from being singled out unduly. For example, someone might simply have physiological signs of discomfort because they have a fear of flying and not necessarily because they have something nefarious to hide. Should AVATAR detect anything out of the ordinary, the passenger will be flagged and human agents will take over.Image Credit: Aaron Elkins/ San Diego State University Beyond Border Security
Currently, AVATAR’s creator is seeking government agencies willing to put his technology to the test. “AVATAR has been tested in labs, in airports, and at border crossing stations,” he explained. “The system is fully ready for implementation to help stem the flow of contraband, thwart fleeing criminals, and detect potential terrorists and many other applications in the effort to secure international borders.”
While the system was designed with the above applications in mind, AVATAR has potential for use outside of border security as well. “We’ve come to realize that this can be used not just for border security, but also for law enforcement, job interviews, and other human resources applications as well,” Elkins added. “We continue to make improvements, such as analyzing the collected data using Big Data analysis techniques that make AVATAR a potentially valuable tool across many industries.”
Advancements in big data, along with constantly improving machine learning capabilities, can lead to more opportunities for automated systems like AVATAR in the near future. Right now, we already have numerous shopping websites employing the technology for a more seamless shopping experience. Fraud detection is another field that has the potential to greatly benefit from this technology, as is the medical industry. One day soon, you may find yourself having more face-to-screen interactions with smart machines like AVATAR than face-to-face ones with traditional employees.
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Last July, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk tweeted about a new project that, to date, still remains in the works. The Tesla Model Y — not yet its official name — is supposedly the crossover SUV version of the Model 3, the company’s first mass-market car.
Since then, not much has been revealed about this uber secretive car model, although there have been a considerable amount of rumors — many fueled by tweets from Musk himself – which remain unconfirmed. As of yet, the product isn’t even on the company’s website.Credits: AutoGuide
Still, reports assert the Model Y is already in the advanced stages of development. If all goes well, it will go to production a little bit after the Model 3, perhaps some time in 2018. An official timeline, though, still hasn’t been announced.
But what can we expect from the Model Y? Let’s take a look at the rumors and see which are probable, and which are less than likely.A Hodgepodge of Features
Of course, like other Tesla vehicles, the Model Y will certainly feature an autonomous driving system. Except that it’s not going to be your regular, semi-autonomous Autopilot found in existing Tesla models – instead, it’s expected to be fully autonomous. The full self-driving system will cost $8,000 at the time of purchase and include all of the Enhanced Autopilot features. Musk isn’t saying when full, Level 5 autonomy will be implemented, though. The company states on its website that this will depend on software validation and regulatory approval.
The vehicle is also going to incorporate Tesla’s solar roof technology, thanks to that successful merger with SolarCity. Seeing how this technology is already being used in other models, it’s highly probable that it’ll find its way onto this SUV. Musk explained that solar glass on a car would be net positive, meaning that it would create more energy than it uses.
Both a favorite and a bother, it was initially reported that the Model Y would have fancy falcon-wing doors present in the Model X. This assumption came from a tweet posted by Musk himself in October 2015. The tweet didn’t outright say that the Model Y would have these doors, it merely hinted that either the Model 3 or the Model Y might have them. Musk later deleted the tweet.
With the the design for the Model 3 already out, we now know that it doesn’t have falcon-wings. So, it remains probable that the Model Y might have them. Still, some say that falcon-wing doors — which have caused Tesla and Model X owners their share of headaches — would most probably not be used on the Model Y. Perhaps buyers will have the option, as it seems like they’re pretty divided on the subject.Credits: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The Model Y is expected to have a competitive range that will rival Chevrolet’s electric SUV, more cargo space than its sedan cousins, and an option to offer a heads-up dashboard display. The dashboard of the Model 3 still hasn’t been unveiled, so we can’t yet speculate what the Model Y’s will look like. However, back in April, Musk said via Twitter that the Model 3 will have a steering system that “feels like a spaceship.”
The price for all this? Again, Musk is keeping mum. It can be assumed, though, that the Model Y will be more costly than the Model 3’s base price of $35,000. All these rumors do make for an exciting Tesla SUV, but nothing is set in stone. There is one thing we can be sure of, however – the Model Y will be a Tesla, and looking at the company’s track record, their cars always have some surprises in store.
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While Faraday Future os unveiling its FF91 autonomous car, Tesla is busy rolling out an update to its autopilot system. Last Saturday, CEO Elon Musk confirmed that a select number of cars have been updated with this futuristic, enhanced version of the company’s autopilot system. It marks the next step on the path to fully autonomous driving capabilities, which Tesla plans to have ready by the end of 2017.
The enhanced autopilot system has been pushed to the first 1,000 cars in Tesla’s fleet, and it includes a traffic aware cruise control feature, forward collision warning, and an autosteer beta version that’s enabled only at “low speed.” The update was designed for Tesla vehicles running on the advanced Hardware 2 platform, a new system of cameras and computers launched last October that is intended to support fully autonomous driving through a future software update.
“We’ve designed these new Autopilot features to give you more confidence behind the wheel, increase your safety on the road, and make driving in traffic less frustrating,” according to the notes from Tesla that accompanied the update’s release.Cautiously Optimistic
Experts claim we’re still far from seeing fully autonomous cars on the roads, and Tesla seems aware of this. In the update’s release notes, the company makes it clear that they won’t be rushing to integrate these new features, instead taking a “measured and cautious” approach to their rollout. The company plans to analyze several hundred million miles of real-world usage to improve the system, addressing issues as they arise and improving confidence in the system.
Telsa urges early users of this new system to remain in constant control of their vehicles while taking advantage of the driver assistance features it provides. This caution is very appropriate as most new technologies can and should be approached with a fair amount of skepticism.
It does seem like Tesla is on the right track with this update, though, as initial tests in real-life scenarios have yielded promising results. In fact, just last month, a video of Tesla’s autopilot system accurately predicting a crash went viral on the internet — a testament to the company’s enhanced software capabilities and the public’s interest in them.
Does Tesla have a new worthy competitor?
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It looks like the job automation trend is getting to Japan, bringing the country a step closer to a future of layoffs in favor of intelligent machines. Japanese firm Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance Co. is laying off more than 30 of its employees and is replacing them with artificial intelligence (AI) systems that will perform payout calculations for policyholders.
For Fukoku Mutual, the move is seen as a practical and beneficial, with expected increase in productivity at 30 percent and a calculated return on investment in less than two years.“The insurance firm will spend about 200 million yen to install the AI system, and maintenance is expected to cost about 15 million yen annually,” writes the Japanese daily The Mainichi. “Meanwhile, it’s expected that Fukoku Mutual will save about 140 million yen per year by cutting the 34 staff.” Understandably, the 34 employees whose jobs are set to be eliminated by March 2017 aren’t going to be so happy.
The kind of work these AI systems are expected to do isn’t just limited to calculating payouts. “[T]he system will also be able to check customers’ cases against their insurance contracts to find any special coverage clauses — a measure expected to prevent payment oversights,” The Mainichi reports. “The type of payments the AI is expected to oversee at Fukoku Mutual totaled some 132,000 cases in fiscal 2015.”Credits: IBM The Future of Jobs
With that much at stake, Fukoku Mutual is relying on a system based on IBM’s Watson Explorer. According to IBM, this system is equipped with “cognitive technology that can think like a human,” and “can analyze and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio and video”.
This isn’t Watson’s first job experience. Last July, Watson started working as in-store assistants at Macy’s. And, after learning Japanese, Watson started assisting on jobs in Japan, as well. The Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co., for instance, has been using Watson in processing payment assessments, with human auditors and no staff cutoffs. By March 2017, the Japan Post Insurance Co. will also start trying out Watson for the same duties.
This also isn’t the first time a large firm decided on automation in favor of human employees. In the U.S., industry giant Walmart cut 7,000 office jobs, replacing them with automated invoice and accounting systems. Several studies have already predicted the resulting unemployment due to the rise of intelligent machines. A recent combined study by Oxford University and the Oxford Martin School, an estimated “47 percent of jobs in the US are ‘at risk’ of being automated in the next 20 years.”
Without a doubt, the age of automation is already upon us — and it’s just the beginning.
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Lego has debuted an exciting new sub-brand at the 2017 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) that is geared toward teaching children how to code. It’s called Boost and is meant for children aged seven and up. Lego has a similar product in its Mindstorms line, but that is aimed at older kids or young adults.
The starter set (priced at $160) comes with three Boost bricks containing tech to allow movement, lights, and sensors. The kit also includes 840 traditional Lego blocks that kids will use to build their interactive creations.
Out of the box, users are equipped to build five distinct models: Vernie the Robot, Frankie the Cat, the Guitar 4000, the Multi-Tool Rover 4, and a machine that can automatically assemble small Lego creations, called an Autobuilder. Each model has its own fun, unique abilities, including a robot that tells fart jokes and a cat that farts when you feed it too much (kids really like farts).
The kit works in conjunction with a companion app where kids are given step-by-step instructions on building and coding their creations. The code is displayed in the form of icons so that even children who do not know how to read can easily learn how to code.
The rapid development and lowering cost of robotics is allowing for the spread of automation. Toys such as Lego Boost introduce children to an ever-expanding field of future opportunity.
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Google’s DeepMind is a company working on what could be one of the most significant scientific advances of our era. They focus on the development of AI systems that could have a broad range of applications from cybersecurity to healthcare. The primary goal of DeepMind is to develop artificial intelligence (AI) that can solve the most complex problems without even first having to be taught how.
A major training/proving ground for DeepMind’s software has been gaming. The company has developed AI that can play 49 different Atari games at expert levels. Also, in a world-first development, they created software called AlphaGo which challenged the world champion of the ancient Chinese game of Go, and won.
The latest news out of DeepMind comes back to that historic victory. As a means of testing some upgrades to AlphaGo, the company secretly unleashed the AI on some unwitting Go players. AlphaGo completely dominated the competition. More than 50 games were played and AlphaGo won every single one.
Demis Hassabis, the co-founder and CEO of Google DeepMind came clean yesterday that AlphaGo was behind the juggernaut. “We’ve been hard at work improving AlphaGo, and over the past few days we’ve played some unofficial online games at fast time controls with our new prototype version, to check that it’s working as well as we hoped.” So, if you happened to get bested while playing Go against players named Magister or Master, don’t feel too bad.Credit: Google Unstoppable Intelligence
The development of AI that can tackle huge issues with the same ferocity as AlphaGo takes on the game of Go may not be too far off. Even just looking at DeepMind, and not other companies who are making major strides in the field of AI, there is some very impressive and awe inspiring work being done.
Even the processes by which the systems are being built to learn are fascinating. For example, DeepMind is taking a page out of the Westworld playbook by teaching its software “to dream.” Video games are also being deployed in this area to create auxiliary tasks, which ended up boosting the rate at which the software learns. Deepmind is also teaching AI how to learn similarly to humans and other living organisms – software is being made able to learn by doing and having that reinforced with a system of rewards and punishments.
The applications of software being created at the company are already causing much excitement. An AI was able to teach itself to identify a unique condition that could lead to blindness, much like a well-trained eye doctor. DeepMind has also partnered with the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK to work together on transforming healthcare.
AI advancements are not strictly being made in the field of healthcare. Google has employed AI to even help them cut down on their utility bills.
AI has already come a long way and there is no end in sight to the benefits it will likely have in store for the future of humanity. The rapid pace of discovery could mean that such a future is right around the corner.
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As time progresses, we hear of more and more artificial intelligence (AI) systems being developed that can defeat the world’s greatest game players. It’s pretty much a constant one-upping of Tall Tales for the information age. But instead of John Henry versus the steam-powered hammer at steel driving, we began our new era in 1997 with Garry Kasparov versus IBM’s Deep Blue at chess.
Since then, more complex AI systems have been able to become the best at a variety of games. IBM’s Watson beat Jeopardy! Super-Champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, and Google’s DeepMind beat the world champion of Go. Now, the Libratus AI system is looking to expand this winning streak for his team by taking on some of the greatest human players in a game of Heads-Up No-Limit Texas Hold’em poker.
The demands of a game like poker are quite different from the likes of chess or Go. The latter games are called perfect-information games. In other words, each player knows the moves being made and can extrapolate information using a finite set of remaining moves and potential outcomes. Conversely, poker is an imperfect-information game, with more possible hand configurations than there are atoms in the universe.
The developing team, out of Carnegie Mellon University, are focusing on information sets of known and unknown variables. The system is built with the goal of achieving the Nash Equilibrium. In this concept, each player is assumed to know the strategies of the other players, and no player has anything to gain by changing only his or her strategy. Therefore, as Professor Tuomas Sandholm, one of the system’s creators, puts it, “In these two-player zero-sum games, if the other player doesn’t play a Nash equilibrium strategy, that means they are playing worse, and we are making more money. In such games, playing Nash equilibrium is safe. It has the flavor where it plays rationally and is not exploitable anywhere.”Playtime’s Over
The matches are currently set to take place beginning on January 11 at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Libratus will go up against four of the world’s poker pros to win a cut of the $200,000 prize pot.
Bringing the best game players in the world down a peg is not the final goal for these developments, though. Creating a system of AI that can successfully master imperfect information games has wide-reaching implications across a variety of fields. “Most real-world interactions include multiple parties and incomplete information,” says Sandholm. Having systems that can successfully navigate these interactions will help to develop the technology further for more critical applications.
Sandholm foresees similar automated systems as being able to participate in complex negotiations, go toe to toe with nefarious hackers, and even fight disease. “We’ve been looking at auto-immune diseases and cancer, steering one’s own immune system to better battle disease at hand,” he explained. “The T-cell is not really an opponent, but you can deal with them using these techniques.”
If you’re curious as to how Libratus fares in the coming matches, they will be made available on the gamecasting site Twitch throughout the course of the tournament.