15th February 2019

Issue #193

This week - US launches American AI Initiative; a guy builds himself a prosthetic arm from Legos; Google and Microsoft warn about AI doing stupid things; UK plans to deploy drone swarm squadrons; and more!


More Than A Human

David Aguilar goes from playing with Lego to building limbs out of it

Meet David Aguilar - a 21-years old bioengineering student from Spain who was born without his right arm. He just made himself a fourth prosthetic arm made from Legos.

21 Neurotech Startups to Watch: Brain-Machine Interfaces, Implantables, and Neuroprosthetics

Here's a list of 21 startups which want to get into your head (literally) and made something better out of you. 

Doctors Wired a Prosthetic Hand Directly Into a Woman’s Nerves

Researchers from Sweden have wired a prosthetic hand directly into a woman’s nerves using an array of 16 electrodes, allowing her to move its fingers with her mind and even feel tactile sensations.

Artificial Intelligence

Trump’s Plan to Keep America First in AI

Many countries, like China, France, Canada, and South Korea, have announced their AI strategies. On Monday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order creating a program called the American AI Initiative. The new program does not include new funding or specific AI projects. But it orders the federal government to direct existing funds, programs, and data in support of AI research and commercialization.

4 Experts Respond to Trump's Executive Order on AI

IEEE Spectrum asked four experts for their take on the American AI Initiative announcement. Several saw it as a response to China’s AI policy, which calls for major investment in order to make China the world leader in AI by 2030. Some said there’s not enough focus on the ethical and responsible deployment of AI, while others see it as a step in the right direction.

Let’s not accidentally build depressed robots

Here's an interesting question - can an AI develop something similar to depression? It might sound ridiculous ("how can an algorithm get depressed?") but since we are modelling AI systems on our brains and we can suffer from mental illnesses, then maybe machines can too. The article is mostly referencing a talk titled "Serotonin and the regulation of neural inference and learning" which goes deeper into this topic.

Google and Microsoft Warn That AI May Do Dumb Things

In its annual report, Alphabet included for the first time a warning that AI can cause ethical or legal issues "which may negatively affect [Alphabet's] brands and demand for [Alphabet's] products and services and adversely affect [Alphabet's] revenues and operating results". Microsoft is already adding a similar warning about bias in AI to its annual reports. Amazon, on the other hand, is more concern about the government regulating AI.

Robotics

Drone 'swarm squadrons' to be deployed by military

Amongst many things, this article mentions that the British armed forces will have specially-adapted drone swarm squadrons ready by the end of 2019. It does not say anything if they'll be autonomous or not.

Robot Melts Its Bones to Change How It Walks

Roboticists at Colorado State University have developed a small walking robot that can melt and solidify its bones on the fly to optimize its legs for different motions. By applying electric current to the joint, the robot can melt it and reshape itself to overcome obstacles it encounters.

Watch an Ice Skating Robot Play Hockey

Skaterbot is a Swiss robot that learned how to ice skate and it looks a little bit adorable trying to skate.

Japan turns to tech to cut long working hours

Imagine you are in the office, working longer than usual and a "silent" drone flies to tell you to go home. Someone in Japan is testing this idea right now.

What is the value of a robot life?

According to this interesting research, people are prepared to save a robot at the cost of human lives under certain conditions. One of these situations is when we believe the robot can experience pain. The research indicated that the more the robot was seen as human, the more difficult was the choice to sacrifice it.

Remotely Operated Home Robot Can Do Your Laundry

Ugo, made by a Japanese robotics company Mira Robotics, is an interesting machine. It is your robotic helper. However, it is not autonomous. It is remotely controlled by a human. You request that the robot complete a task, and a “professional operator” will connect to the robot and get to work, disconnecting when they’re finished. 

Someone Is Terrorizing People By Peering In Windows With A Drone

Someone in Australia found it amusing to peek into someone's window using a drone. Please don't do that.

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