Issue #260

This week - Japan plans to have cyborgs and robotic avatars by 2050; China's latest new anchor is an AI; NVIDIA teaches AI to make Pac-Man; US Air Force to bring AI-powered jet drones in 2023; and more!


More Than A Human

Japanese government proposes cyborgs and robotic avatars for all by 2050

the Cabinet Office of Japan announced their initiatives for a future society in Japan under the Moonshot Research & Development Program. The program has the prime directive of creating a society which frees people from physical, mental, temporal, and spatial constraints by 2050. In other words, Japan is moving towards the future it is meant to be in with robotic avatars by 2030 and one person controlling thousands of such avatars by 2050.

A new artificial eye mimics and may outperform human eyes

Researchers created a bionic eye that is as sensitive to light like a real human eye sensitive to light but has a faster reaction time. Although its 100-degree field of view isn’t as broad as the 150 degrees a human eye can take in, it’s better than the 70 degrees visible to ordinary flat imaging sensors.

Artificial Intelligence

China’s latest AI news anchor mimics human voices and gestures in 3D

Chinese state news agency Xinhua has added an AI 3D news anchor to its lineup of virtual presenters. Named Xin Xiaowei, the publicity stunt avatar was jointly developed by Xinhua and search engine Sogou. The 3D anchor is modelled on Zhao Wanwei, a real-life reporter for the news agency. Sogou claims that this allows it to imitate human voices, facial expressions, lip movements, and mannerisms using only text inputs.

40 Years on, PAC-MAN Recreated with AI by NVIDIA Researchers

AI researchers from NVIDIA fed a neural network with videos of people playing Pac-Man and then trained it to generate the game from scratch that can be actually played by a human (but the demo will be publically available later this year).

Symbolic Mathematics Finally Yields to Neural Networks

Two AI researchers have found a way to build a neural network that can solve difficult symbolic math problems - something that was a massive challenge for neural networks. Some see this result as a potential step toward teaching neural nets to reason and to actually understand the questions they’re answering.

Robotics

Zipline begins US medical delivery with drone program honed in Africa

Zipline, a drone delivery startup that perfected its technology in Africa, has launched the distribution of personal protective gear and medical equipment in North Carolina.

Inspired by cheetahs, researchers build fastest soft robots yet

Inspired by the biomechanics of cheetahs, researchers have developed a new type of soft robot that is capable of moving more quickly on solid surfaces or in the water than previous generations of soft robots.

A robot sheepdog? ‘No one wants this,’ says one shepherd

Boston Dynamics' Spot is applying for multiple jobs. A company from New Zealand proposes to use Spot as a robot sheepdog. But some farmers object the idea and say a robot cannot replace a real dog.

► Kate Darling: Social Robotics | Lex Fridman AI Podcast (1:12:35)

Another interesting interview from Lex Fridman. Kate Darling is a robotics researcher interested in social robotics, robot ethics and how human-robot interactions. The conversation revolves around how we interact with robots, what those interactions can teach us about ourselves and what kind of emotional connection can we build with robots. As always, Lex's interview is filled with interesting and intriguing ideas to think about. 

The Air Force's AI-Powered 'Skyborg' Drones Could Fly as Early as 2023

US Air Force is pushing to deploy Skyborgs - AI-powered jet drones - into service in 2023. The idea is to have a fleet of drones capable of flying alongside fighter jets and carrying out dangerous missions. Skyborg drones will be much cheaper than piloted aircraft, allowing the Air Force to grow its fleet at a lower cost.

Closing Notes

London Futurists are hosting another interesting remote event tomorrow from 4pm UK time. Topic - Regulating the Rise of Artificial General Intelligence. You can reserve your spot here.

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