Issue #116

This week – a call to ban killer robots; a song made by AI; how AI can enhance us; some perspective on OpenAI’s Dota2 bot; and more!

Artificial Intelligence

A song made by an AI

An AI named Amper generated the lyrics, music and the video art for this song. It hasn’t sung it. You still need human for that. For now. It’s also a is the first track from an upcoming album, I AM AI, composed entirely with artificial intelligence.

Hype or Not? Some Perspective on OpenAI’s DotA 2 Bot

Last week, OpenAI announced that their bot defeated a human champion in Dota 2. In the sea of hype generated by this news, it’s always good to step back and look at the algorithm with some perspective. And this article does this job very well.

Disney Is Developing an AI That Can Judge What Makes For a Truly Great Story

Can a neural network learn how to recognize a good story? Researchers from Disney decided to try to crack this problem.

How AI can enhance our memory, work and social lives | Tom Gruber

How smart can our machines make us? Tom Gruber, co-creator of Siri, wants to make “humanistic AI” that augments and collaborates with us instead of competing with (or replacing) us. He shares his vision for a future where AI helps us achieve superhuman performance in perception, creativity and cognitive function – from turbocharging our design skills to helping us remember everything we’ve ever read and the name of everyone we’ve ever met. “We are in the middle of a renaissance in AI,” Gruber says. “Every time a machine gets smarter, we get smarter.”

We don’t want AI that can understand us – we’d only end up arguing

The point of this article is that we don’t need AIs able to understand and then argue with us. Instead, we just need AIs that can understand what we want from them and do it. “We need the assistant’s software to have accurate voice-recognition and be as sensitive to the context of our words as possible. But we hardly want it to be capable of understanding – and so also misunderstanding – us in the everyday ways that could produce mutual resentment, blame, gratitude, guilt, indignation, or pride.”

Head of IBM Watson Says AI Will Augment Human Beings

Rob High, IBM Watson’s Vice President and CTO, said in a recent interview that AI is not replacing the human mind, but augmenting human intelligence and amplifying its reach, just as any other tool we have made in the past.


Tech leaders warn against ‘Pandora’s box’ of robotic weapons

Elon Musk is leading demands for a global ban on killer robots, warning technological advances could revolutionise warfare and create new “weapons of terror” that target innocent people.

Sorry, Banning ‘Killer Robots’ Just Isn’t Practical

The argument here is that banning killer robots would be extremely hard, if not possible, because of the advantage their give on the battlefield. Right now some militaries use semi-autonomous robots and the line between weapons controlled by humans and those that fire autonomously is blurry, and many nations have begun the process of crossing it.

Pepper the robot can perform funerary rites

There is a company in Japan (obviously) which will offer Pepper robot to chant Buddhist sutras at funerals, providing a cheaper alternative to human priests.

3D Printed Robotic Arms For Sign Language

Project Aslan, made by a group of students from Antwerp, Belgium, is a 3D printed robotic arm which can translate text into a sign language. The idea came from the fact that sign language translators are few and far between, and it’s a task that robots may be able to help with. In addition to translation, robots may be able to assist with teaching sign language as well.

Africa Leads the World on Drone Delivery: Flights to Begin in Tanzania in 2018

Zipline, a pioneering drone startup that began delivering blood packs to Rwanda’s remote hospitals in October 2016, announced a major expansion into Tanzania. In early 2018 the company will begin flying its delivery drones to more than 1000 health care facilities around Tanzania, bringing urgently needed medicines and supplies to big hospitals and tiny rural clinics alike.

Blossom: A Handmade Approach to Social Robotics from Cornell and Google

That’s one of the cutest robots I’ve ever seen.

Researchers Used Tiny Autonomous Vehicles to Deliver Medicine to the Stomach of Mice

If you can call a microscopic gold rods as vehicles. Researchers used micromotors to provide mice suffering from a bacterial infection with a dose of antibiotics every day for five days. This regimen was found to be more effective than the standard method of administering the medicine.

A Highly Flexible Robot Can Reach the Unreachable

LaserSnake2 is a highly flexible robot that’s ideal for working in confined and hazardous spaces like aircraft assembly, nuclear power stations or the inspection of sewage systems.

The Robots Will Be Soft And Cuddly And Heal Their Own Wounds

Researchers at Belgium’s Vrije Universiteit Brussel report in Science Robotics that they’ve developed a squishy, self-healing robot. Cut it open, apply heat, let it cool down again, and the wound heals itself. Soft robots FTW!


Cyborg bacteria outperform plants when turning sunlight into useful compounds

To enable humans to capture more of the sun’s energy than natural photosynthesis can, scientists have taught bacteria to cover themselves in tiny, highly efficient solar panels to produce useful compounds.


Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2017

Gartner released an updated Hype Cycle graph for 2017. Useful to see where different technologies are on their path from research to hype to actually being useful.

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