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

Intel Execs Address the AI Talent Shortage, AI Education, and the “Cool” Factor

Intel’s VP of AI Architecture and head of AI talent acquisition discuss getting, retaining, and training engineers in an era of high and growing demand Last week, I sat down with Intel’s Gadi Singer, vice president and general manager of artificial intelligence architecture, and Chris Rice, head of AI talent acquisition, to talk about AI workforce issues. Here’s what they had to say. On reports about huge and growing shortages of AI engineers forcing some companies to pay million-dollar salaries: “What you see in the articles is relatively the truth,” said Rice. “One of the interesting things in AI is that it’s no longer just the technology companies that play in this space, you’ve got the finance industry, medical, retail, mobility, manufacturing—they are all starting to recruit AI engineers, whether they are developing a technology or applying a technology. Because of that, there is an increased global demand, and that Continue reading Intel Execs Address the AI Talent Shortage, AI Education, and the “Cool” Factor

U.S. Senator Bans Funding for Beerbots That Don’t Exist

Jeff Flake’s “beerbot” budget amendment cuts funding for robotics research Last Thursday, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona introduced the following amendment to the U.S. Department of Defense appropriations bill currently in Congress: None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be obligated or expended for the development of a beerbot or other robot bartender. This sounds like a joke, but it’s not: Legislation prohibiting Department of Defense funding of robot bartenders is on its way to becoming law. The reason why Senator Flake wants this to become law is based, at best, on a misunderstanding of how basic robotics research works. At worst, it’s a deliberate decision to misrepresent the research for political gain.

Video Tuesday: Robot Film Festival Highlights

Enjoy these selections from the 2018 Robot Film Festival Even though we do our best to bring you a solid 52 Video Fridays every year (which works out to over 1,000 robot videos annually), we can’t manage to post everything, and sometimes, we miss out on some awesome stuff. That’s just one of the reasons why we always look forward to the Robot Film Festival, and the 2018 event took place in July in Portland, Ore. I showed up and gave a talk (most of which you can see in this article), and then found a seat and watched the film selections. As always, there was an impressive amount of really, really good robot videos that I’d never seen before. The videos have all been posted online, and we’ve picked out a few of the happiest, saddest, scariest, and cleverest to share.

Learn to Program Self-Driving Cars (and Help Duckies Commute) With Duckietown

Robotics researchers expand their Duckietown autonomous car course to Kickstarter There is a strong and natural relationship between robots and rubber duckies. Seriously. Being small, cheap, colorful, and pleasingly compliant, duckies became a sort of physical Stanford Bunny—when you want to show the scale of a robot, or give a robot something to visually locate or grasp or something, just toss a duckie in there. This relationship was formalized through the 2016 ICRA conference, where duckies inspired a bunch of videos and some poetry that is surprisingly not terrible.  Since then, duckies have been taking over in robotics—at this point, I’m fairly certain that Andrea Censi at ETH Zurich is held hostage by (and doing the bidding of) a small army of little yellow duckies. This would explain why an entire duckie village full of duckie-sized autonomous cars that you can learn how to program is now on Kickstarter, with Continue reading Learn to Program Self-Driving Cars (and Help Duckies Commute) With Duckietown

Video Friday: Teaching a Robot to Pick Up a Knife, 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!): ISR 2018 – August 24-27, 2018 – Shenyang, China BioRob 2018 – August 26-29, 2018 – University of Twente, Netherlands RO-MAN 2018 – August 27-30, 2018 – Nanjing, China ELROB 2018 – September 24-28, 2018 – Mons, Belgium ARSO 2018 – September 27-29, 2018 – Genoa, Italy ROSCon 2018 – September 29-30, 2018 – Madrid, Spain IROS 2018 – October 1-5, 2018 – Madrid, Spain Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

OpenAI Demonstrates Complex Manipulation Transfer from Simulation to Real World

By adding randomness to a relatively simple simulation, OpenAI’s robot hand learned to perform complex in-hand manipulation In-hand manipulation is one of those things that’s fairly high on the list of “skills that are effortless for humans but extraordinarily difficult for robots.” Without even really thinking about it, we’re able to adaptively coordinate four fingers and a thumb with our palm and friction and gravity to move things around in one hand without using our other hand—you’ve probably done this a handful (heh) of times today already, just with your cellphone. It takes us humans years of practice to figure out how to do in-hand manipulation robustly, but robots don’t have that kind of time. Learning through practice and experience is still the way to go for complex tasks like this, and the challenge is finding a way to learn faster and more efficiently than just giving a robot hand Continue reading OpenAI Demonstrates Complex Manipulation Transfer from Simulation to Real World