Issue #206

This week - San Francisco bans facial recognition; a very insightful interview with Geoffrey Hilton; Amazon gets one step closer to fully automated warehouses; and more!

More Than A Human

Brain-Machine Interfaces Could Give Us All Superpowers

There is a new documentary coming out about three people who are already cyborgs. I Am Human follows Bill, Anne and Stephen, real-life cyborgs that can control computers with their brains. This article summarises the movie. I don't think the movie is available to watch on the internet but as soon as I find it out I'll share the link here.

An Anthropologist’s Study of Transhumanist Ideas

Here is a story of a Swedish anthropologist who wanted to explore the transhumanism movement from anthropologist's point of view. What she has found out is that the community has a "strong sense of refreshing optimism and hope for the future of the human body". It looks like this is the first post in a series so it might be worth keeping eye on her writing.

While Bioethics Fiddles

The main point of this article is that law is behind bioengineers who experiment with the human genome. Left unchecked, this can lead to a new form of eugenics with no oversight.

Artificial Intelligence

San Francisco is first US city to ban facial recognition

San Francisco, of all the places in the US, is the first city to ban facial recognition. The technology will not be allowed to be used by local agencies, such as the city’s transport authority, or law enforcement. Additionally, any plans to buy any kind of new surveillance technology must now be approved by city administrators. Opponents of the measure said it will put people’s safety at risk and hinder efforts to fight crime while privacy advocates cheer.

► A Fireside Chat with Turing Award Winner Geoffrey Hinton, Pioneer of Deep Learning (Google I/O'19) (39:01)

In this interesting interview, Geoffrey Hinton, the pioneer of deep learning, tells the story of neural networks and breakthroughs they went through to be where they are now. He also talks about the comparison between neural networks and the human brain ("we are neural networks") and how research on deep learning can impact learning. He also spends some time discussing two out of four of his theory of dreams.

Moral Wisdom in the Age of Artificial Intelligence: Cybernetics Pioneer Norbert Wiener’s Prophetic Admonition About Technology and Ethics

"The future offers very little hope for those who expect that our new mechanical slaves will offer us a world in which we may rest from thinking. Help us they may, but at the cost of supreme demands upon our honesty and our intelligence. The world of the future will be an ever more demanding struggle against the limitations of our intelligence, not a comfortable hammock in which we can lie down to be waited upon by our robot slaves", writes Norbert Wiener, the cybernetics pioneer, in the book God & Golem, Inc.

Careful how you treat today’s AI: it might take revenge in the future

If AI ever gains sentience, will it look back at how we treated non-sentience AIs (I'm looking at you, Boston Dynamics) and take revenge? How should we treat a machine that can feel? Should we treat it as a machine or as an equal to humans?


Amazon rolls out machines that pack orders and replace jobs

Amazon is relentlessly pushing towards fully automated warehouses. The company took another step towards this goal by introducing robots that can pack orders to a handful of warehouses in recent years, which scans goods coming down a conveyor belt and envelops them seconds later in boxes custom-built for each item.

“Biobots” Will Serve Alongside South Korean Soldiers by 2024

Military robots inspired by birds, snakes, and insects will soon support South Korea’s human soldiers.  South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Programme Administration published a document announcing plans to incorporate “biomimetics” equipment into military operations by 2024 — another sign robots will play an integral role in future military operations.

Microsoft launches a new platform for building autonomous robots

Microsoft has launched a cloud-based platform designed to help build autonomous robots. The platform will offer tools for machine teaching and machine learning with simulation tools like Microsoft’s own AirSim or third-party simulators for training the models in a realistic but safe environment, and open-source Robot Operating System.

► 360 Video: Go on a Mission With Zipline’s Delivery Drones (6:05)

Zipline, one of the world’s first drone-delivery companies, lets us go behind the scenes and see how the company launches its delivery drones in this 360 degrees video. It's a cool video but I wish they put a camera on the drone while it flies across Rwanda delivering blood and other medical supplies.

Robots Have an Increasingly Important Role in Construction

Who do you call when you need to build 400 000 new homes every day? Robots, of course! This article describes how robots can be used to streamline the manufacturing process and move the bulk of the work from on-site to off-site.

And to finish this week's issue, here is an image I've found somewhere on the internet.

A CAPTCHA to prove you are not a robot

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