A Choice of Grippers Helps Dual-Arm Robot Pick Up Objects Faster Than Ever

Dex-Net 4.0 enables “ambidextrous” robots to choose the best gripper for the job We’ve been following Dex-Net’s progress towards universal grasping for several years now, and today in a paper in Science Robotics, UC Berkeley is presenting Dex-Net 4.0. The new and exciting bit about this latest version of Dex-Net is that it’s able to successfully grasp 95 percent of unseen objects at a rate of 300 per hour, thanks to some added ambidexterity that lets the robot dynamically choose between two different kinds of grippers.

Video Friday: China’s Jueying Quadruped Robot, and More

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us your events!): Robotic Arena – January 12, 2019 – Wrocław, Poland RoboDEX – January 16-18, 2019 – Tokyo, Japan Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

In the Quest for General Intelligence, AIs Are Chasing Chickens in Minecraft

Microsoft’s challenge requires AI agents to cooperate in a virtual universe Image: Microsoft Playtime: Microsoft researchers hope that after collaborating with other AIs in a virtual game, it will be easier for AIs to learn to work with humans in the real world. If artificial intelligence (AI) agents are to become real players in society, using their machine abilities to complement our human strengths, they must first become players in the video game of Minecraft. And to prove themselves in Minecraft, they must work together to capture animals in a maze, build towers of blocks, and hunt for treasure while fighting off skeletons. That, anyway, is the premise of a competition organized by Microsoft, Queen Mary University of London, and crowdAI (a platform for data-science challenges). Next month, the organizers will announce the winner—the team that created an AI that could best observe its Minecraft environment, determine which of three Continue reading In the Quest for General Intelligence, AIs Are Chasing Chickens in Minecraft

DeepMind Achieves Holy Grail: An AI That Can Master Games Like Chess and Go Without Human Help

AlphaZero, a general-purpose game-playing system, quickly taught itself to be the best player ever in Go, chess and Shogi DeepMind, the London-based subsidiary of Alphabet, has created a system that can quickly master any game in the class that includes chess, Go, and Shogi, and do so without human guidance. The system, called AlphaZero, began its life last year by beating a DeepMind system that had been specialized just for Go. That earlier system had itself made history by beating one of the world’s best Go players, but it needed human help to get through a months-long course of improvement. AlphaZero trained itself—in just 3 days. Illustration: Science AlphaZero, playing White against Stockfish, began by identifying four candidate moves. After 1,000 simulations, it rejected the moves marked in red; after another 100,000 simulations, it chose the move marked in green over the one marked in orange. AlphaZero went on to win, thanks in large part to having opened the diagonal for its bishop. The research, published today Continue reading DeepMind Achieves Holy Grail: An AI That Can Master Games Like Chess and Go Without Human Help

In the Coming Automated Economy, People Will Work for AI

A new role for humans: prepping data so AI can learn to do our jobs In Texas, a company called Alegion is helping disabled veterans take part in the new digital economy. The vets’ job: preparing data so that an artificial intelligence (AI) system can learn from it.  “There’s a whole new industry sprouting on the shoulders of AI,” says Alegion CEO Nathaniel Gates in an interview with IEEE Spectrum. “We are employing people.” When people talk about AI, they’re often referring to software that gets very good at a particular task via a technique called deep learning. With this method, AI systems are given vast amounts of labeled data, and as they run through it, they learn to draw conclusions. For example, an AI tasked with classifying photos of animals would look at millions of images labeled cat, dog, hedgehog, and so forth, and would learn on its own which Continue reading In the Coming Automated Economy, People Will Work for AI

MoonBot Kit Does Sophisticated Vision That’s Both Easy and Cheap

This robotics kit comes with a vision sensor that promises to be simple to program with autonomous behaviors For those of us who aren’t already robotics experts, it’s been encouraging to see the recent variety of educational robotics kits that offer interesting and extendable capabilities at an affordable cost. One such kit on Kickstarter this week comes from Morpx, a company founded by Tianli Yu, who spent several years at Google working on machine learning and image recognition. The kit is called MoonBot, and it manages to pack some nice hardware and impressive AI and autonomy into a cute (and affordable) customizable robot.

Schools Enlist AI to Detect Vaping and Bullies in Bathrooms

Schools in 23 U.S. states have installed bathroom sensors to trigger alerts about vaping or bullying Schools have been removing bathroom doors, posting bathroom monitors, and even closing bathrooms in their struggles to handle the surging popularity of vaping among middle school and high school students. That has translated into steady business for a U.S. company offering AI-assisted school surveillance capable of alerting teachers and administrators to suspected vaping or bullying in bathrooms.

Baidu’s AI Can Do Simultaneous Translation Between Any Two Languages

Baidu Research reveals a translation tool that keeps up by predicting the future Would-be travelers of the galaxy, rejoice: The Chinese tech giant Baidu has invented a translation system that brings us one step closer to a software Babel fish. For those unfamiliar with the Douglas Adams masterworks of science fiction, let me explain. The Babel fish is a slithery fictional creature that takes up residence in the ear canal of humans, tapping into their neural systems to provide instant translation of any language they hear. In the real world, until now, we’ve had to make do with human and software interpreters that do their best to keep up. But the new AI-powered tool from Baidu Research, called STACL, could speed things up considerably. It uses a sophisticated type of natural language processing that lags only a few words behind, and keeps up by predicting the future. “What’s remarkable is Continue reading Baidu’s AI Can Do Simultaneous Translation Between Any Two Languages

AI on a MEMS Device Brings Neuromorphic Computing to the Edge

For first time artificial intelligence has been integrated into a MEMS device In order to achieve the edge computing that people talk about in a host of applications including 5G networks and the Internet of Things (IoT), you need to pack a lot of processing power into comparatively small devices. The way forward for that idea will be to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) computing techniques—for so-called AI at the edge. While some are concerned about how technologists will tackle AI for applications beyond traditional computing—and some are wringing their hands over which country will have the upper hand in this new frontier—the technology is still pretty early in its development cycle. But it appears that still-too-early-yet status is about to change a bit. Researchers at the Université de Sherbrooke in Québec, Canada, have managed to equip a micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) device with a form of artificial intelligence, marking the first time that any type of Continue reading AI on a MEMS Device Brings Neuromorphic Computing to the Edge

Former Head of Google China Foresees an AI Crisis—and Proposes a Solution

Q&A: Kai-Fu Lee talks about AI, jobs, and the human heart When the former president of Google China talks about artificial intelligence and its potential to cause global upheaval, people listen. His hope is that enough people will listen to avert catastrophic disruption on three different scales: to the global balance of power, to national economies, and to human beings’ delicate souls. Kai-Fu Lee has been fascinated by AI since he was an eager computer science student applying to Carnegie Mellon University’s Ph.D. program; his admission essay extolled the promise of AI, which he called “the quantification of the human thinking process.” His studies led him to executive positions in Apple, Microsoft, and Google China, before his 2009 founding of Sinovation Ventures, a venture-capital firm focusing on high-tech companies in China.   His new book, AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), is something of a bait Continue reading Former Head of Google China Foresees an AI Crisis—and Proposes a Solution