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Week of June 24, 2019

The U.S. is getting a drone army, MIT makes robots ‘feel’ with their eyes, and more emerging tech news

Parody video features robots fighting back against developer abuse

By now, everyone interested in future tech has seen the parody video of Boston Dynamic’s robot Atlas suffering abusive trials at the hands of its developers, followed by the robot finally snapping and fighting back. The video has raised some interesting questions from viewers: Can robots be abused? What happens when our robot overlords decide enough is enough? How do viewers know when something is real or just clever CGI? [Read more]

U.S. Army buys 9,000 mini-drones to help troops on the front line

Some soldiers deploying to Afghanistan will get an FLIR Black Hornet mini drone as part of their kit. The drones, which weigh just over an ounce, will aid specialists in scouting ahead during missions. The Army hopes to develop new long-range drones after this program to help put eyes on places that ground drones can’t go, and increase the time flight-enabled drones can spend in the air. [Read more]

Neural networks can reduce time spent data crunching

What if I told you that scientists have figured out a way to predict the future? Just kidding. They have figured out a way to combine convultional and recurrent neural networks to extract the absorption spectra of plasmonic structures. Crazy, right? For those of us who don’t speak “engineer,” scientists constructed a deep neural network to predict the way things like gold and silver will absorb light, and therefore decreased the amount of time it takes to analyze objects (and the amount of number-crunching required.) [Read more]

New MIT-developed AI allows robots to predict how things feel with sight

When you’re a child, you learn the hard way that sharp objects like knives can hurt you: You touch it, even though you were told not to. Ouch. The next time you encounter something sharp, you know how to handle it. That’s essentially what this new AI developed by MIT’s CSAIL allows robots to accomplish. Robots can predict the feeling of interacting with an obstacle by looking at a scene and processing prior learning in similar situations. Ideally, this will allow the quantity of data required for robots to make decisions to decrease over time. [Read more]

AI learns how to watch movies … kind of

A Stanford graduate, now Netflix senior data scientist, advanced object recognition AI by teaching it how to identify kissing scenes in a subset of 100 movies. Why does this matter? In the past, object recognition has been kind of hit-or-miss in video, especially when there are multiple subjects on screen. This could be used to rapidly identify unusual behavior for those using security cameras, help suss out deep fakes, and more. [Read more]

Week of June 17, 2019

Package delivery via Amazon drone closer to being a reality, two data giants fuse clouds, and more emerging tech news

​I can buy a Spot robot? Take. My. Money.

Boston Dynamic’s Spot robot will go on sale to the public later this year. We’ve seen failed launches of robots for consumers in the past (Anki, anyone?) but Spot promises to be more useful for buyers and easier to control. For example, Spot can be used for surveillance by using a D-pad and a preprogrammed route. And though we don’t yet know the price, the company already has an order from a Japanese construction company that needs help surveying workers in hostile environments. [Read more]

Microsoft and Oracle’s clouds are going to work together

The two data behemoths announced that they will leverage their collective cloud power via a direct network connection to compete with the likes of Google and AWS. Initially, the integrated cloud will exist only between Oracle’s Virginia location and Azure’s U.S. East location. The company representatives are mum on any further expansion details, other than it’s going to happen. [Read more]

Amazon drones are going to be delivered soon(ish)

Though the company hasn’t disclosed the exact release date, sources say we could have 5-lb packages delivered by drone as early as Black Friday. What remains unclear is how Amazon plans to deal with the current FAA regulations prohibiting drones from carrying packages or being flown out of sight of the operator. Another potential snag in drone delivery? They are loud enough that Amazon reps compare the sound to a mix of classical music and a dentist’s drill. Yikes. [Read more]

It’s a lean, mean, cheese- (and wallet-) grating machine

Apple released its newest desktop computer, the Mac Pro, and the joke among techies is that it looks like a cheese grater. The machine is designed around workflow management. It’s able to handle giant workloads including 8K video editing, dozens of simultaneously-playing audio tracks (why?), and probably the most interesting: massive logic sets. One small thing: Its under-powered base model starts at a sob-inducing $5,999; even the stand retails at nearly $1,000. What is Apple playing at here? [Read more]

Experts say not even two-factor can save your data

Security experts presented a way to get around two-factor authentication using a bank-robbing-esque duo of tools called Muraena and NecroBrowser. Muraena presents the user with a false login screen and once the cookie is verified, NecroBrowser takes over and keeps tracks of the user’s information while browsing. Two-factor authentication is still safer than the traditional username and password, but experts say it’s good to change your passwords often and be diligent about digital security. [Read more]

Week of June 10, 2019

Volvo is using AR to design cars, the U.S. Army might be getting mini-Imperial walkers, and more news about emerging technology trends

​Sony develops IoT chip with 60-mile range

Did you know that Sony has a LPWAN? That’s a low-power wide-area network, which they call ELTRES. They’ve created a chip that can very quickly send data to Sony’s ELTRES network, which is itself extremely fast at transferring data. In other words, they’ve created a module that if attached to an IoT device, can transmit information so fast and efficiently, they’d be able to track pretty much anything moving at high speeds. [Read more]

Volvo set to test car designs with augmented reality

Volvo isn’t the first automaker to use AR in the design and testing process, but they are the first to let their engineers test cars using AR in real-life situations. Volvo, partnering with Finnish AR-maker Varjo, is planning to reduce the time it takes to get a car off the design board and into the hands of consumers by using AR to fast-track safety and usability tests. [Read more]

Should we have global rules for AI?

The World Economic Forum says yes. As a matter of fact, they believe we should have six different councils to provide policy guidance and address governance gaps in areas such as autonomous driving, precision medicine, blockchain, and AI. They have some pretty heavy-hitters on the councils, ranging from organizations such as IEEE and IBM to Microsoft president Brad Smith. Should we have rules that construct boundaries around the use of these emerging technologies, or not? [Read more]

Tiny military scouting robots, a la ‘Star Wars?’ Yes, please.

The U.S. Army has invested in a robotics development project led by UC Berkeley researchers. The robots’ mission? To aid in scouting and search and rescue operations. The robots’ appearance? Star Wars AT-ATs in miniature (they’re only about a foot tall.) The lead researcher has managed to get the robot to climb up walls by ricocheting off objects and bouncing. He’s partnered with a biomimicry lab leader to see if they can apply movement mechanics from the insect world to help the robot navigate tough terrains. [Read more]

Salesforce is getting into blockchain

Salesforce announced that it’s going to offer a new blockchain service, available in 2020, in order to remain competitive in its markets. The platform is built on an open-source product called Hyperledger, which was developed in 2016 by blockchain pioneers like IBM. Salesforce has some serious catching up to do if they want to compete with larger companies that have already adopted or developed a blockchain solution. [Read more]

Week of June 3, 2019

Samsung makes machine learning more artsy, Chick-fil-A is using AI for food safety, and more news about emerging technology trends

Machine learning gets artsy and a little more creepy

Samsung showcased its latest foray into machine learning development in an interesting format—they made the Mona Lisa smile … literally. What’s amazing (and creepy) is that they were able to improve the often-laborious task of building synthetic imagery by only using one picture to generate the result. They also used a Generative Adversarial Network to check if the ML-generated imagery could fool others into thinking the result was a real human speaking. [Read more]

Let’s address the robot in the room

Yes, a quadruped robot pulled a small passenger plane down a flat runway. Is it awesome? Sure, in the way that all robots are awesome. But, this metallic doggo has a long way to go before he catches up to Boston Dynamic’s Spot Mini. Skepticism aside, we’re all waiting to see what the Italian-developed HyQReal will be able to do next. [Read more]

Facebook plans to get into cryptocurrency

GlobalCoin, as it’s referred to internally at Facebook, is set to launch in 2020. The
purpose of the project is to break down financial barriers for individuals without traditional bank accounts. Economists are saying the Facebook launch may be one of the biggest things to hit cryptocurrency in its short history. Skeptics postulate that the average consumer doesn’t want to deal in currency with a rapidly fluctuating value. [Read more]

Chick-fil-A’s AI can identify potential foodborne illness

The AI system can identify which restaurants have the highest probability of spreading foodborne illness. The system collects social media data from individuals who have visited a Chick-fil-A, passes the data through a Python routine set to identify illness keywords, and then through an AWS-developed NLP system to ascertain sentiment. Restaurant managers are notified of the sick customer so they can up their customer service game (and clean up their restaurant.) [Read more]

NASA starts traffic-testing drones in Reno

NASA has been working on a drone traffic management project for a while and just kicked off their final leg: real-life testing. The autonomous drones are sent into the skies with pizzas, packages, and medical equipment. Their goal? In short, don’t run into each other, lose what you’re carrying, or hurt pedestrians. This is just the first step in bringing a fleet of drone deliveries to our airspace. [Read more]

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