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Are you ready for computers as comedians?

January 7, 2013

As verbal interaction between humans and computers becomes more prominent in daily life — from Siri, Apple’s voice-activated assistant technology, to speech-based search engines to fully automated call centers — demand has grown for “social computers” that can communicate with humans in a natural way.

Teaching computers to grapple with humor is a key part of this equation, author Alex Stone writes in The New York Times Sunday Review.… read more

The top A.I. breakthroughs of 2015

December 29, 2015

(credit: iStock)

By Richard Mallah
Courtesy of Future of Life Institute

Progress in artificial intelligence and machine learning has been impressive this year. Those in the field acknowledge progress is accelerating year by year, though it is still a manageable pace for us. The vast majority of work in the field these days actually builds on previous work done by other teams earlier the same year, in contrast… read more

Tesla plans ‘mostly autonomous’ car within three years

September 20, 2013

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Elon Musk has decided that the next step for Tesla Motors cars is to go (mostly) autonomous, IEEE Spectrum reports.

From the Financial Times:
“We should be able to do 90 percent of miles driven within three years,” [Musk] said. Mr Musk would not reveal further details of Tesla’s autonomy project, but said it was “internal development” rather than technology being supplied by another company.read more

Quantum physics just got less complicated

Is "wave-particle duality" simply the quantum "uncertainty principle" in disguise?
December 23, 2014

Quantum physics says that particles can behave like waves, and vice versa. Researchers have now shown that this 'wave-particle duality' is simply the quantum uncertainty principle in disguise. (Credit:<br />
Timothy Yeo / CQT, National University of Singapore)

An international team of researchers has proved that two peculiar features of the quantum world previously considered distinct are different manifestations of the same thing. They found that “wave-particle duality” is simply the quantum “uncertainty principle” in disguise, reducing two mysteries to one.

The result was published December 19 in Nature Communications and in arXiv (open access).

Patrick Coles, Jedrzej Kaniewski, and Stephanie Wehner made the breakthrough while at… read more

Makerbot Replicator 2 review

September 20, 2012

make_replicator_2

The Makerbot Replicator 2, a second generation of MakerBot’s wildly popular Replicator 3D printer, is now faster, quieter, and more rigid than the original, Make reports.

The Replicator now sports a sleek modern look with an all-black sheet metal frame and PVC side panels that are removable, customizable, and allow for easy cleaning of any excess material.

A larger, more responsive LCD panel on the front… read more

Earth-sized planets in habitable zones are more common than previously thought

March 14, 2013

(Credit: Chester Harman)

The number of potentially habitable planets in our galaxy is greater than previously thought, according to a  new analysis by a Penn State researcher, and some of those planets are likely lurking around nearby stars.

“We now estimate that if we were to look at 10 of the nearest small stars we would find about four potentially habitable planets,” said Ravi Kopparapu, an Evan… read more

Rooftop solar, other renewables make 9GW of baseload fossil fuels no longer needed in Australia

August 1, 2013

800px-Panneaux_photovoltaïques

AGL Energy, one of the big three power utilities in Australia, says that 9,000MW of fossil-fuel baseload capacity needs to be taken out of the national electricity market (NEM) to bring it back into balance, RenewEconomy reports.

That assessment of 9,000MW equates to nearly one-third of the country’s baseload generation — a sure sign that renewables, and in particularly rooftop solar, are changing the dynamics of the… read more

A boost for quantum reality

May 9, 2012

joint_measurement_n_qubits

In a controversial paper in Nature Physics, theorists claim they can prove that wavefunctions — the entity that determines the probability of different outcomes of measurements on quantum-mechanical particles — are real states.

The paper is thought by some to be one of the most important in quantum foundations in decades. The authors say that the mathematics leaves no doubt that the wavefunction is not just a statistical tool, but rather, a… read more

Volvo’s first self-driving cars now being tested live on public roads in Swedish city

100 cars, involving a vehicle manufacturer, real customers, legislators, transport authorities, and a major city
May 5, 2014

volvo-drive-me

Volvo Car Group’s “Drive Me” project — featuring 100 self-driving Volvos on public roads in everyday driving conditions — is moving forward rapidly, with the first test cars now driving around the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

“The test cars are now able to handle lane following, speed adaption, and merging traffic all by themselves,” says Erik Coelingh, Technical Specialist at Volvo Car Group.

“This is an important step… read more

Delivery by drone: will it work?

MIT has two computational tricks to help
August 22, 2014

(Credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT - photograph of quadrotor courtesy of the researchers)

MIT researchers have devised computational solutions to reduce the chances that Amazon’s planned delivery drones will crash and burn — along with your stuff.

It’s complicated. Drones have to deal with iffy factors like high winds, low fuel/power level, component failures, and even possible shooters in some locations.

So with Boeing support, the researchers developed two fixes.

  • An algorithm enables a drone to monitor aspects of

read more

A Japan-developed robot for disaster response

November 23, 2012

toshiba_robot

Toshiba has developed a remote-controlled tetrapod inspection robot with camera and dosimeter, designed to investigate risky areas, such as Fukushima nuclear power plants.

The multiple joints of its legs are controlled by a movement algorithm that enables the robot to walk on uneven surfaces (like Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog), avoid obstacles, and climb stairs to get access into areas can’t be reached by wheeled robots (such as some iRobot… read more

Digital global intelligence on the future of the world in the palm of your hand

December 11, 2013

(Credit: The Millennium Project)

The Millennium Project’s Global Futures Intelligence System is now available and accessible online, including auto-detected mobile phone data access.

“Overviews, situation charts, references, and latest relevant news on the most important challenges facing humanity are now all immediately available,” explains Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project.

“The system presents distillations of the present situation, prospects, and strategies to address issues ranging from climate change to… read more

The self-driving car logs more miles on new wheels

August 8, 2012

google_car

Members of the Google self-driving car team will soon start using the cars solo (rather than in pairs) for things like commuting to work, says Google Official Blog.

Our vehicles, of which about a dozen are on the road at any given time, have now completed more than 300,000 miles of testing. They’ve covered a wide range of traffic conditions, and there hasn’t been a single accident… read more

Solar at grid parity in most of the world within 2 years

January 13, 2015

solar capacity adds ft

In their 2015 solar outlook, investment bank Deutsche Bank is predicting that solar systems will be at grid parity (when an alternative energy source cost is lower or equal to that of electricity from the electrical grid) in up to 80 per cent of the global market within 2 years, Renew Economy notes.

That’s because grid-based electricity prices are rising across the world… read more

A fatigue detection device to help keep your eyes on the road

July 17, 2013

opened_closed_eye

An EPFL student, Peugeot Citroën, has developed a video analysis algorithm able to estimate the level of a driver’s fatigue based on the degree of eyelid closure and has built a prototype to test it in real driving conditions.

Nearly a third of highway accidents are caused by fatigue. Nowadays, there exist several attention detection systems for drivers, such as detection of loss of vehicle… read more

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