Soft robot fingers gently grasp deep-sea jellyfish

Marine biologists have adopted ”soft robotic linguine fingers” as tools to conduct their undersea research. Scientists found that jellyfish held by ultra-soft robotic fingers expressed significantly fewer stress-related genes than when braced by traditional submersible grippers. Shaped like the famous noodles, this new robotic technology allows for the collection of ecological data in a gentler, less invasive manner. More details

Video Friday: Africa’s Lake Kivu Drone Challenge

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!): DARPA SubT Urban Circuit – February 18-27, 2020 – Olympia, Wash., USA HRI 2020 – March 23-26, 2020 – Cambridge, U.K. ICARSC 2020 – April 15-17, 2020 – Ponta Delgada, Azores ICRA 2020 – May 31-4, 2020 – Paris, France ICUAS 2020 – June 9-12, 2020 – Athens, Greece CLAWAR 2020 – August 24-26, 2020 – Moscow, Russia Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today’s videos.

A human-machine collaboration to defend against cyberattacks

Being a cybersecurity analyst at a large company today is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack — if that haystack were hurtling toward you at fiber optic speed. Every day, employees and customers generate loads of data that establish a normal set of behaviors. An attacker will also generate data while using any number of techniques to infiltrate the system; the goal is to find that “needle” and stop it before it does any damage. The data-heavy nature of that task lends itself well to the number-crunching prowess of machine learning, and an influx of AI-powered systems have indeed flooded the cybersecurity market over the years. But such systems can come with their own problems, namely a never-ending stream of false positives that can make them more of a time suck than a time saver for security analysts. MIT startup PatternEx starts with the assumption that Continue reading A human-machine collaboration to defend against cyberattacks

A road map for artificial intelligence policy

The rapid development of artificial intelligence technologies around the globe has led to increasing calls for robust AI policy: laws that let innovation flourish while protecting people from privacy violations, exploitive surveillance, biased algorithms, and more. But the drafting and passing of such laws has been anything but easy. “This is a very complex problem,” Luis Videgaray PhD ’98, director of MIT’s AI Policy for the World Project, said in a lecture on Wednesday afternoon. “This is not something that will be solved in a single report. This has got to be a collective conversation, and it will take a while. It will be years in the making.” Throughout his talk, Videgaray outlined an ambitious vision of AI policy around the globe, one that is sensitive to economic and political dynamics, and grounded in material fairness and democratic deliberation.    “Trust is probably the most important problem we have,” Videgaray said. Continue reading A road map for artificial intelligence policy

Autonomous Vehicles Should Start Small, Go Slow

Illustration: Chris Philpot Many young urbanites don’t want to own a car, and unlike earlier generations, they don’t have to rely on mass transit. Instead they treat mobility as a service: When they need to travel significant distances, say, more than 5 miles (8 kilometers), they use their phones to summon an Uber (or a car from a similar ride-sharing company). If they have less than a mile or so to go, they either walk or use various “micromobility” services, such as the increasingly ubiquitous Lime and Bird scooters or, in some cities, bike sharing. The problem is that today’s mobility-as-a-service ecosystem often doesn’t do a good job covering intermediate distances, say a few miles. Hiring an Uber or Lyft for such short trips proves frustratingly expensive, and riding a scooter or bike more than a mile or so can be taxing to many people. So getting yourself to a destination that Continue reading Autonomous Vehicles Should Start Small, Go Slow

Artificial intelligence yields new antibiotic

Using a machine-learning algorithm, MIT researchers have identified a powerful new antibiotic compound. In laboratory tests, the drug killed many of the world’s most problematic disease-causing bacteria, including some strains that are resistant to all known antibiotics. It also cleared infections in two different mouse models. The computer model, which can screen more than a hundred million chemical compounds in a matter of days, is designed to pick out potential antibiotics that kill bacteria using different mechanisms than those of existing drugs. “We wanted to develop a platform that would allow us to harness the power of artificial intelligence to usher in a new age of antibiotic drug discovery,” says James Collins, the Termeer Professor of Medical Engineering and Science in MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) and Department of Biological Engineering. “Our approach revealed this amazing molecule which is arguably one of the more powerful antibiotics that Continue reading Artificial intelligence yields new antibiotic