Tim Beyers of The Motley Fool recently wrote, “For years, International Business Machines has been dabbling with what it calls ‘cognitive computing.’ Now the company that brought you the Watson supercomputer believes it has a chip that can think like the human brain. Called TrueNorth, the chip draws on some 5.4 billion interconnected transistors to form a vast network not unlike the neural networks found in the human brain. That’s a potentially massive breakthrough, especially for Internet-connected mobile devices that encounter new data every second. We’re likely to be years away from mass production of the TrueNorth chip. And even then, experts quoted in this article in The New York Times seem to be split on its potential impact.” Read more
Steve Ranger of Tech Republic reports, “Qwerty [the standard keyboard layout] was a compromise from the start. And as such you’d expect it to be swept away as the technology changed. And yet this odd layout became the standard, used since on billions of devices from typewriters to tablets and PCs. Even as the cold steel of the typewriter was replaced by the cool glass of a touchscreen smartphone, Qwerty has continued to dominate. That is, until now. A number of companies are rethinking the keyboard for the digital age, led by a small UK startup called SwiftKey, so that a mere 150 years after it was first created, the keyboard could finally be made to behave just how the user wants it to.” Read more
Katherine Noyes of Tech News World reports, “The inventors of Apple’s Siri personal assistant have launched an independent effort that could make their first offspring look kind of dumb. Billed by its creators as ‘the global brain,’ Viv aims to radically simplify the world by providing an intelligent interface to everything. ‘They are trying to abstract Siri’s [natural-language processing] interface so you could apply it into other applications and domains,’ Raj Singh, CEO and founder of Tempo AI, told TechNewsWorld. ‘For example, what if I wanted to integrate a Siri-like interface into the Yelp app or the Expedia app?’ Currently, ‘there isn’t a good facility to do this,’ he said. Read more
Will a robot take your job in the future? Given their increasing sophistication, it’s not surprising if the topic is of growing concerns to more people. The Semantic Web Blog has reported, for example, on robots that are learning to do tasks in response to humans’ natural language, and a talking robot on a space journey, covering the gamut from personal assistant to astronaut.
The Pew Research Center released a report last week entitled AI, Robotics and the Future of Jobs. It raises the question of whether advances in robotics and artificial intelligence will displace more jobs than they create by 2025, but the experts the report draws upon for their opinions haven’t reached a consensus on that point yet. Forty-eight percent believe both blue- and white-collar worker jobs are at risk, and that the future will see greater income inequality, more permanent unemployment and greater social disruption as a result. The other 52 percent see a lot of jobs that currently require real people will be taken over by robots or digital agents, as well – but with the happier prospect that humans will figure out new jobs and industries to replace the livings they can no longer make with their own brains or hands.
Aviva Rutkin of New Scientist recently wrote, “Rumours have been circulating that the Chinese search engine is developing a bike that could drive itself through packed city streets. The project isn’t ready to be launched yet but Baidu confirmed it is exploring the idea.The news is intriguing, and not just because self-navigating bikes would be cool. Research into autonomous vehicles is yet another way that Baidu is following Google’s model of pushing at the boundaries of artificial intelligence.” Read more
Peter Rothman of h+ Magazine writes, “I recently got together with Ron Kaplan who is a well known artificial intelligence researcher in the area of natural language processing. Ron is a Distinguished Scientist at Nuance Communications. The conversation is about 1 hour long and the main theme was the recent comments about dangers from artificial intelligence made by Professor Stephen Hawking and also Elon Musk, Eugene Goostman the chatbot that supposedly passed the Turing Test. Beyond this, the conversation ranges near and far covering and whether it is ridiculous to suggest that Siri is a conscious being, reflective computing, NL interfaces and access to knowledge, communicating with wives, the effects of my diet, and the future of human languages when universal translation becomes widely available.” Read more
Daniela Hernandez of Wired reports, “Drawing on the work of a clever cadre of academic researchers, the biggest names in tech—including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple—are embracing a more powerful form of AI known as ‘deep learning,’ using it to improve everything from speech recognition and language translation to computer vision, the ability to identify images without human help. In this new AI order, the general assumption is that Google is out in front… But now, Microsoft’s research arm says it has achieved new records with a deep learning system it calls Adam, which will be publicly discussed for the first time during an academic summit this morning at the company’s Redmond, Washington headquarters.” Read more
Michael C. Daconta of GCN recently wrote, “Over the last year, several developments on the artificial intelligence (AI) front have occurred that reflect our wildest fantasies and worst fears for this technology. Here are a few examples: A battle continues to rage between MIT linguist Noam Chomsky and Google Director of Research Peter Norvig over the increased use of statistics and probability in AI. Chomsky argued that the ‘new AI’ is merely mimicking behavior instead of unraveling the rules and processes of cognition. On the other hand, Norvig takes a more practical, probabilistic approach, believing in AI’s suitability for natural language processing, for instance. Last month, CNBC reported that inventor Elon Musk and physicist Stephen Hawking expressed concerns about the future of AI, suggesting that there are dangers in the fledging AI market. They made it easy to surmise they fear a Robopocalypse caused by AI run amok!” Read more
A recent press release revealed that, “There are signs indicating that Chinese Internet users might be the very first group of people to truly reap the benefits of artificial intelligence. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, written by Ray Kurzweil, painted us a picture of artificial intelligence. Kurzweil describes his law of accelerating returns which predicts an exponential increase in technologies; in the book he says this will lead to a technological singularity in the year 2045, a point where progress is so rapid it outstrips humans’ ability to comprehend it. Baidu, the leading Chinese search service provider, recently announced their ground-breaking Light App (a modified kind of web app), the Baidu Exam-Info Master. Using the artificial intelligence of their search engine, Baidu seeks to offer some practical help to high school seniors when it comes to applying for their dream college after the National College Entrance Examination. This service has soon become wildly popular among users, and may grow into a key motivation for Baidu to duplicate this kind of method into a far broader area.”
Wired’s Robert McMillan recently wrote, “…neural network algorithms are hitting the mainstream, making computers smarter in new and exciting ways. Google has used them to beef up Android’s voice recognition. IBM uses them. And, most remarkably, Microsoft uses neural networks as part of the Star-Trek-like Skype Translate, which translates what you say into another language almost instantly. People “were very skeptical at first,” Hinton says, “but our approach has now taken over.” One big-name company, however, hasn’t made the jump: Apple, whose Siri software is due for an upgrade. Though Apple is famously secretive about its internal operations–and did not provide comment for this article–it seems that the company previously licensed voice recognition technology from Nuance—perhaps the best known speech recognition vendor. But those in the tight-knit community of artificial intelligence researchers believe this is about to change. It’s clear, they say, that Apple has formed its own speech recognition team and that a neural-net-boosted Siri is on the way.”
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