Check back every Monday to see news about the latest emerging tech trends, curated by Analyst Tirena Dingeldein.

Can big data save Netflix?, Trump Administration quietly dismisses the Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation, and more emerging technology news

Did you know that the Trump Administration quietly disbanded the ACAT in April?

No? According to the Department of Transportation and members of the Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation board, neither did they. Is this the silent touch of death to this emerging technology? Probably not, but it’s worth noting that last year, a poll found that 73% of Americans wouldn’t ride in a fully autonomous vehicle. [Read more]

AI to create $2.9 trillion in added business value

Nearly 70% of cities worldwide and their residents expect to benefit from AI in the next 20 years, but AI’s benefits might be closer than most expect. By 2021, AI augmentation will create an estimated $2.9 trillion in business value through increased worker productivity. Are you ready to reap the benefits of emerging technology? It’s coming, whether you’re ready or not. [Read more]

Netflix stock prices bombed earlier this year, but everything is OK

Or is it? Netflix uses big data and AI to predict whether a show concept is going to be successful before it airs. That’s a sure bet for increasing viewership and revenue, right? Maybe not. The problem here isn’t the data analytics, it’s others who are crowding in on their market. Just more proof that big data can’t predict everything. [Read more]

The new tech behind the Impossible Whopper is a whoppin’ good deal for the environment

This new meatless technology developed by a Stanford scientist was made for meat eaters to take commercial agriculture—a huge environmental burden—out of our food chain. So eat your not-really meat, carnivorous readers; your Whopper now comes with a side of less environmental impact. [Read more]

DeepMind is sinking in its own debt ocean

Sure, DeepMind, the AI company owned by Alphabet, doubled its revenue last year, but it also took on over a billion dollars in debt. The company says it will be financially supported for at least one more year, and its spokeswoman said that the company will continue investing in research and its team. Let’s hope that this artificial intelligence behemoth isn’t crushed under the weight of its own debts. [Read more]

Week of Aug. 12, 2019

Facebook aims to read your mind, AI is battling wildfires in Brazil, and more emerging technology trends news

Death to the spreadsheet. Long live the spreadsheet.

Business analytics have been around for a long time, and the number of advanced analytics tools are increasing every year. Everyone should be moving towards big data-powered dashboards and business intelligence tools then, right? Nope. Evidently the spreadsheet pundits are still stuck on Excel like it’s 1985. When will executives embrace emerging technology if they can’t even let go of spreadsheets? [Read more]

Raytheon and DARPA are making hypersonic weapons together

The US Department of Defense’s research arm, DARPA, is working with Raytheon on a rocket that can go five times the speed of sound. Regardless of how you feel about it, the technology behind it is interesting. It allows heavy objects to “glide” hypersonically to a target, allowing for long distances and precision targeting. [Read more]

AI eyes are watching you… and battling wildfires

What if there were people who spotted wildfires that never slept, never got sick, and never blinked? That’s exactly what Compta Emerging Business Solution’s bionic eyes can do when looking for fires in the Brazilian rain forest. These drone-like sentinels are manufactured to not only spot a new fire, but also use AI to predict hazardous weather conditions, like hail storms. [Read more]

Facebook wants to read your mind

But, they say it’s for a good cause. By creating technology that serves as a computer and human brain interface, people with disabilities (i.e., full body paralysis) might be able to control AI-driven objects with just a thought. In order to make this a reality, Facebook says they need brain data. They have three people signed up so far, but will more people give the company responsible for the Cambridge Analytica scandal access to their innermost thoughts? Let’s watch how this plays out. [Read more]

Aug. 5, 2019

AI battles fake news, psychologists use VR to turn people into animals, and more emerging tech trends news

Robots are coming for this dirty and dangerous job in India

We live in a world in which humans dive through sewers with no protective gear to help remove drain blockages. This highly toxic job has resulted in the deaths of 600+ individuals in India since 1933. Now, a team of engineers has created a robot to eliminate this task and save lives. The Seboy septic tank cleaner—which looks like a giant, clear PVC tube with internal electronics—is being tested right now. [Read more]

The cow says moo, and, with VR, you can too

Psychologists are testing a new virtual reality (VR) technique that allows humans to be animal avatars instead of the standard humanoid avatars. You’d think that people would have a hard time believing they were a scorpion or a spider, but users rated spiders above being human in the VR environment. In the immediate future, psychologists are hoping that this new VR has gaming implications. We’ll have to wait and see if people decide to live their private lives as rhinos or birds. [Read more]

AI helps fights fake news generated by other AI

Really, this is ingenious. What better way to combat inaccurate information created by AI than by using another AI? Harvard and MIT teamed up to create new artificial intelligence that determines the predictability of certain words in sentences that are uploaded. This method allows people to see which words are likely AI-generated and which are original. [Read more]

The Enigma Code won’t have anything on this new cryptography method (we hope)

The U.S. Department of Defense’s research arm, DARPA, is looking into blockchain again. This time, the focus is on leveraging the relatively new technology to generate unbreakable codes for the military. Individuals at the DoD postulate that using quantum key distribution will allow monitors to “trap” eavesdroppers in coded messages. [Read more]

Week of July 29, 2019

Turn your selfie into a classic portrait, Mercedes Benz is fixing valet parking, and more emerging tech news

Bosch and Daimler get approval for an automated parking garage

Parking garages are about to get more interesting for semi-autonomous vehicle owners. Mercedes Benz and Bosch will supply intelligent infrastructure to allow an autonomous valet to summon cars at will. Anyone who has used a parking garage should rejoice that automated parking technology is starting to be realized by autonomous driving powerhouses. No more dents or pedestrian “nudges”! [Read more]

Now you can have a personalized classic portrait thanks to AI Widget

This isn’t FaceApp, the potentially privacy-abusing photo app that took over the internet last week by offering to turn picture subjects from young to old with AI. (Who would even want that anyway?) This widget is artificially intelligent and transforms your selfies into completely new classic-style portraits, creepy paint texture and all. Should we be worried about deep fake pictures of great-grandma yet? Probably. [Read more]

National Security Commission is looking for AI expertise

What should we do about artificial intelligence as it advances? That’s the exact question (among others) the NSC is trying to answer by forming a community of AI and technology experts. Other items on the list for discussion by AI experts are potential military capabilities (like warfare AI) and national emerging technology adoption guidelines. They’re also examining the extent that the private sector should be involved with the NSC’s AI decisions. [Read more]

Week of July 22, 2019

Elon Musk’s Neuralink makes a shocking announcement, the U.S. Senate moves Blockchain Promotion Act forward, and more emerging tech news.

Google’s DeepMind is the noob in Starcraft II

Do you like playing Starcraft II? Well, soon you might be playing a Google bot developed by some of DeepMind’s greatest AI researchers. In 2017, DeepMind crushed some reputable Go players, so the expectation is that AlphaStar (what Google is calling their AI Starcraft player) will crush opposing human players. The caveat? Players won’t know if they’re playing the AI or not, but AlphaStar won’t be able to “see” the whole playing field at once either. That’s a semi-even playing field I guess. [Read more]

MIT Robot nails (or spins) the bottle cap challenge

There’s a robotic arm somewhere at CSAIL (MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab) that can flick and spin a bottle cap off of a bottle top. So what? Well, it can do so by mimicking the human in front of it who did the same thing. Still not impressed? It watches the biceps of the human and recreates/mirrors)the exact motion, all in record speed. That’s pretty impressive. [Read more]

U.S. Senate is getting down with blockchain (finally)

In a bipartisan effort, the Senate approved the Blockchain Promotion Act on Tuesday, which means that the Department of Commerce will come up with a standard definition of “blockchain.” What does that mean for blockchainers? Federal regulations are in your future. What does that mean for investors? The use of blockchain will increase in the next few years in several government-regulated markets, such as energy and healthcare. How do you think this will affect the value of bitcoin? [Read more]

Fake models are going to sell you stuff

A company called DataGrid has developed an AI that is capable of creating people. Or at least, photo-realistic fake models. It can create false hair, faces, and bodies of several ethnicities and plans to sell the software to retailers who specialize in clothing to use for marketing campaigns. Will you be able to tell if those pants you’re eyeing are being modeled by a real human or a fake one? We shall see. [Read more]

Elon Musk announces Neuralink will link humans and AI

Neuralink, Musk’s brain-computer linkup startup, sent its first tweet seen ’round the world the other day. What’s in our future? “Ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers.” It’s actually not that wild of a thought; analysts have predicted the disintermediation of cellphones and other wearable devices for a while. Now, it looks like someone with a track record of innovation is tackling things. Would you want to be a human AI symbiote? [Read more]

Week of July 15, 2019

IBM buys Red Hat, autonomous vehicles lose to earthquakes, and more emerging tech trends news

Lettuce pick that for you

Cambridge introduced its first iteration of Vegebot, a robot that uses machine learning to identify and harvest healthy lettuce. The first of its kind, the system still has a few kinks to weed out. Vegebot takes about 32 seconds to pick each head of lettuce and damages about 38% of the plants it picks. It might be a while before we have robot-harvested salads, but we’re getting closer. [Read more]

Walk this way, talk this way

One of this year’s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) challenges involved getting bipedal robots to navigate uneven terrain, a historically difficult task for robots. In the challenge, the IHMC (Institute for Human and Machine Cognition) developed a system where the Atlas and Valkyrie robots could calculate the best place to step before taking the step. The robots were able to calculate this faster than a manual operator could do it for them. IHMC’s new system allowed for an impressive 50% success rate, with the robot eating it the other 50% of the time. [Read more]

Evidently, self-driving cars can’t handle earthquakes

Really, if you put things into perspective, a lot of technology can’t find its balance when an earthquake happens. Autonomous vehicles currently have no way of responding to emergency conditions in their environment and can barely respond to other drivers who are reacting to emergencies. It doesn’t have to be an earthquake, though; self-driving cars can’t navigate through hurricanes or tornadoes, either. [Read more]

Can Red Hat remain neutral after IBM acquisition?

Red Hat—a multinational software company that provides open source software products to enterprise-sized businesses—was just acquired by IBM. What does the acquisition mean for users? Representatives from both companies attest that Red Hat will remain independent and neutral, but time will tell. [Read more]

California, the land of movies and dreams, might ban deep fakes

Deep fakes are videos that have been manipulated to appear different than the original video. A California lawmaker wants to ban altered videos featuring politicians to battle misinformation in the 2020 presidential election. The law would only cover deep fakes released 60 days before an election, however, which begs the question: What would we do about the ones published before then? [Read more]

Week of July 8, 2019

SpaceX lost some satellites, VR training helps save indigenous languages, and more emerging tech news.

“I can read Linear A,” said no one since 1800 B.C.E.

But soon, with AI and ML, linguists might be able to decipher this ancient script. The accompanying script, Linear B, was deciphered in the 1950s by Michael Ventris. However, Linear A has remained undecipherable since then. Researchers have managed to create machine learning algorithms that can decipher Linear B correctly. Unfortunately, without a progenitor language for Linear A, that puzzle’s solution remains elusive. [Read more]

It’s in the way you walk, dear

Researchers at University of Chapel Hill and University of Maryland recently released findings that machine learning can decipher a person’s perceived emotions from the way they walk—with 80% accuracy. This improves on previous methods of emotion identification by nearly 14%. [Read more]

New VR adaptation teaches users Blackfoot language

We’ve seen VR used for training before, but a new application of the technology is helping keep Indigenous language alive. Chaz Prairie Chicken stated that languages like Crete, Ojibwe, and Blackfoot aren’t available on Google Translate, and VR is a technology that can help save these languages. A popular graphic novel-turned VR game provides Blackfoot translations throughout as an educational tool and space for a new generation to learn the language. [Read more]

Is it a bird? A plane? No! It’s a SpaceX satellite falling back to Earth

No big deal; the Earth has survived assaults from space garbage before. But what does this mean for SpaceX? The company lost contact with three of its satellites, which were part of the Starlink program, in June. The satellites will exit orbit and burn up as they reenter the atmosphere. The program’s goal is to provide high-speed internet to the world over the next few years. “It’s possible that some of these satellites may not work,” Elon Musk said in May. Evidently, he was right. [Read more]

Do we even need humans anymore?

Globalization has reduced the cost of resources required to build robots, so more robots are being produced. What’s the obvious next step? RaaS, of course; robots-as-a-service. Robot manufacturers are entering a world where they can rent out robots for a subscription fee that is less than the cost of a human doing the same job (usually in manufacturing) and often less than buying the robot outright. Now, if only I could rent a robot to clean my house for me. [Read more]

Week of July 1, 2019

Microsoft looks to big data to help employee morale, Blockchain helps share cancer data, and more emerging tech news.

Microbots, transform and roll out!

First: Mad respect to the other nerds reading this that get the title reference. Second: Researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Intelligence Systems figured out how to make small robots spontaneously assemble themselves into preprogrammed structures, including a tiny car. Developers have plans to create more sophisticated versions of these 40 to 50 micrometer-sized modular machines for use in larger scale projects in the future. [Read more]

U.S. National Cancer Institute bets on blockchain

The NCI has approved a blockchain-based system to share clinical data. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will use IBM’s Hyperledger blockchain to effectively share data between doctors, patients, and researchers. The hope is that secure and efficient movement of healthcare data will allow for more insights into cancer research, as well as positive outcomes for patients. [Read more]

Beam me up, Scotty!

Or, more accurately, transport my qubits, Scotty! Researchers have figured out how to apply a type of machine-learning algorithm called deep reinforcement learning to quantum computing. To put it simply: The researchers leading this project set up a type of adversarial machine learning network to control the action of a qubit as it was transported on an electron from one place to another. Quantum computers and AI working together? Mind blowing. [Read more]

Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler …

“Office Space” jokes aside, Microsoft just used data analytics to figure out why their employees are miserable. Using a large sample of metadata from employee emails and calendar appointments, a Microsoft Analytics team found out that overwork, aggressive bosses, and after-hour tasks were not the problem. An overabundance of meetings—almost 27 hours per week for one team—was the root cause. I wonder what else they found out from their emails, though? [Read more]

Mom? Is that You?

You know how parents always make sure their children are eating their vegetables and staying active? Now your boss can do that for you … sort of. Employers can now use dedicated wearables and smartphone apps to make sure you’re performing at your best by tracking things such as phone activity, physical activity, and location. They can even track ambient lighting in your location. Does this give anyone else the privacy-attack willies? [Read more]

For an archive of older news items, click here.

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