Daniela Hernandez of Wired recently wrote, “If you walk into the computer science building at Stanford University, Mobi is standing in the lobby, encased in glass. He looks a bit like a garbage can, with a rod for a neck and a camera for eyes. He was one of several robots developed at Stanford in the 1980s to study how machines might learn to navigate their environment—a stepping stone toward intelligent robots that could live and work alongside humans. He worked, but not especially well. The best he could do was follow a path along a wall. Like so many other robots, his ‘brain’ was on the small side. Now, just down the hall from Mobi, scientists led by roboticist Ashutosh Saxena are taking this mission several steps further. They’re working to build machines that can see, hear, comprehend natural language (both written and spoken), and develop an understanding of the world around them, in much the same way that people do. Read more
Posts Tagged ‘robotics’
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.
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
Naomi Eterman of McGill Daily recently discussed a technology developed in 2012 by scientists at the University of Waterloo: “Spaun, short for Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network, is the largest computer simulation of a functioning brain to date. It is the brainchild of Chris Eliasmith, a professor in philosophy and systems design engineering at the University of Waterloo, who developed the system as a proof-of-principle supplement to his recent book: How to Build a Brain. The model is composed of 2.5 million simulated neurons and four different neurotransmitters that allow it to ‘think’ using the same kind of neural connections as the mammalian brain. Read more
The holiday shopping window is starting to close. How far along have you gotten?
To help out, we’ve compiled a list of some gift-giving ideas with a little bit of smarts to them.
Anki DRIVE: Artificial intelligence comes to the video game world. This one’s getting a lot of buzz – some are even heralding it as the season’s hottest toy. TIME Magazine has put it on its Top 25 innovations list, too. Each car, the company says, thinks for itself. The recipient of your gift can control it with an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or iPad Mini to go up against friends or AI-enabled opponents, but the car can drive itself and make its own decisions as it does so, becoming more sophisticated the more you drive and even deciding to take out players. The game comes with a physical track, two intelligent cars and the downloadable Anki DRIVE app. Check out the video here.
Mark Honigsbaum of The Guardian recently wrote, “In a darkened robotics laboratory in Lyon, Peter Dominey and Stéphane Lallée are playing a game with a cute-looking humanoid called iCub. The game is Toybox and the object is to uncover a toy trumpet that Lallée has just moved from a box to iCub’s right. For a human three-year-old such a game is child’s play, but until now it has been beyond the scope of most machined intelligences. Not for iCub however. ‘I will put box on the right,’ says iCub, making sure it has understood Lallée’s instructions. ‘You will put the toy on the left. I will put the box on the middle’. ‘Game over,’ says Lallée abruptly. iCub tilts its head towards Lallée, fixing him with its large black eyes. If you did not know better you would think iCub was disappointed. ‘Check on my internal state. That was pretty fun. We keep playing this game’.” Read more
Now you can get a master’s degree in Computer Science from a prestigious university online. The New York Times has reported that the Georgia Institute of Technology is planning to offer the CS degree via the MOOC (massive open online course) model.
According to the Georgia Tech MS Computer Science program of study website, students can choose specializations in topics such as computational perception and robotics, which includes courses in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomous multi-robot systems among student choices; interactive intelligence, which include courses in knowledge-based AI and natural language; or machine learning, which offers electives in the topic for theory, trading and finance, among other options.
Dan Farber of Cnet recently wrote, “Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering, calls Glass a ‘solid first step’ along the road to computers that rival and then exceed human intelligence. Kurzweil, who is also an accomplished inventor and futurist, predicts that by 2029 computers will match human intelligence, and nanobots inhabiting our brains will create immersive virtual reality environments from within our nervous systems: ‘If you want to go into virtual reality the nanobots shut down the signals coming from your real senses and replace them with the signals that your brain would be receiving if you were actually in the virtual environment. So this will provide full-immersion virtual reality incorporating all of the senses. You will have a body in these virtual-reality environments that you can control just like your real body, but it does not need to be the same body that you have in real reality’.” Read more
Want to participate in building a world of intelligent personal assistants? The opportunity awaits at SparkingTogether, where researchers, programmers, and companies can contribute features, behavior and knowledge to an online platform, dubbed FIONA, for creating next-gen virtual avatars. FIONA stands for Framework for Interactive Services Over Natural-conversational Agents.
“People sparking together” is how Patricia Lopez, marketing manager at Adele Robots, the robotics startup behind the platform, describes the system. Contributors create code or design that gets wrapped in the FIONA API so that it can be converted into a Spark – which is an application that can become part of the avatar, whether that be its voice, language or a function (NLP, text-to-speech, computer vision, or 3D design, for instance). The company will host a Sparkstore where developers can sell, or freely share, their Sparks with the world, and those interested in using avatars can then combine different Sparks together in the Sparklink environment. Sparkrender is a capability it’s developed for users to post their avatars – which run on Adele Robots’ servers in the cloud – on their websites or mobile apps.
Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to build up your knowledge, skills and talents for the new digital world? If so, there are plenty of online options to help you achieve your goals, and at no cost to you, from the crop of MOOCs (massive open online courses) that’s sprung up.
The Semantic Web Blog scoured some of them to present you with some possible courses of study to consider in pursuit of your goals:
- Data scientists-in-training, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health assistant professor of biostatistics Jeff Leek wants to help you get a leg up on Big Data – and the job doors that understanding how to work with it opens up – with this applied statistics course focusing on data analysis. The course notes that there’s a shortage of individuals with the skills to find the right data to answer a question, understand the processes underlying the data, discover the important patterns in the data, and communicate results to have the biggest possible impact, so why not work to become one of them and land what Google chief economist Hal Varian reportedly calls the sexy job for the next ten years – statistician (really). The course starts Jan. 22.
- We’ve seen a lot about robots in the news over the last month, from the crowd-funded humanoid service robot Roboy, the brainchild of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich, to Vomiting Larry, a projectile vomiter developed to help scientists to better understand the spread of noroviruses. If you’d like to learn about what’s behind robots that can act intelligently (sorry, Larry, but you might not qualify here), you want to learn more about AI. And you can, with a course starting Jan. 28 taught by Dr. Gerhard Wickler and Prof. Ausin Tate, both of the University of Edinburgh.
- Siri, where can I go to find out more about natural language processing? One option: Spend ten weeks starting February 11 learning about NLP with Michael Collins, the Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University. Students will have a chance to study mathematical and computational models of language, and the application of these models to key problems in natural language processing, with a focus on machine learning methods.
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