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February 2017 — March 2017

IBM Quantum Computers Will Unleash Weird Science on Business (Mar 17, 2017)
In a few years, the same quantum computing concepts that gave Albert Einstein the heebie-jeebies could help Amazon deliver your toothpaste faster. That's because IBM, the company that surprised the world in 1989 by spelling its name with 35 xenon atoms, is launching a business built on the weird science of quantum computing. Thirty-five years of research into the physics of the freakishly tiny is about to start paying its first dividends with real-world customers.

Nvidia’s Jetson TX2 Makes AI Computing Possible Within Cameras, Sensors and More (Mar 16, 2017)
Nvidia has a new generation of its Jetson embedded computing platform for devices at the edge of a network, including things like traffic cameras, manufacturing robotics, smart sensors and more. The Jetson TX2 has twice the performance of its predecessor, the TX1, or it can also redirect efficiency to power savings, using less than half the power consumption of the original to achieve the same processing abilities.The TX2 uses a Pascal-based GPU, as well as two 64-bit Nvidia quad-core ARM chips,...
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Poker-playing AI program First to Beat Pros at No-limit Texas Hold 'em (Mar 16, 2017)
A team of computing scientists is once again capturing the world's collective fascination with artificial intelligence. In a historic result for the flourishing AI research community, the team has developed an AI system called DeepStack that defeated professional poker players in December 2016.

Burger-Flipping Robot Could Spell the End of Teen Employment (Mar 15, 2017)
A burger-flipping robot could mean the end of the summer job that all of us loved to hate. The AI-driven robot ‘Flippy,’ by Miso Robotics, is marketed as a kitchen assistant, rather than a replacement for professionally-trained teens that ponder the meaning of life — or what their crush looks like naked — while awaiting a kitchen timer’s signal that it’s time to flip the meat.

These Magical (Robotic) Socks Teach You to Dance (Robotically) (Mar 15, 2017)
As humans find themselves forced to mate with our robotic overlords I suspect there will be some dancing. And what better way to teach us how to dance than with motors tucked into our socks? Designer Pascal Ziegler built these wild wearables to teach “dancing pairs choreography.” They’re basically vibrating socks. There is an Instructable here so you can make a pair of your own but basically you need some vibrating motors, some sensors, and an Arduino. An app tells the motors to buzz, allo...
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Students Create Revolutionary Device That Could Transform the Lives of the Blind Community (Mar 14, 2017)
With just a few hours left to build a groundbreaking gadget, things weren't going as smoothly as planned. Six young women, all undergrad engineering students at MIT, had established a lofty goal: to create the first-ever affordable device that immediately translates printed text into Braille. The idea could prove revolutionary for the blind community, transforming how they read while also creating sorely needed opportunities for children with low or no vision.

Explore the International Space Station in VR Right Now (Mar 14, 2017)
Mission: ISS — a virtual reality collaboration between Oculus and three space agencies — is now available for free to Oculus Rift and Touch owners. The experience is a detailed recreation of the International Space Station where participants can do things like dock cargo capsules, conduct spacewalks, and “perform mission-critical tasks” just like real astronauts. It was designed by visual effects studio Magnopus in partnership with NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space ...
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81-year-old Woman Makes iPhone App After Only Starting to Use Computers at 60 (Mar 13, 2017)
If you laugh at how older people use computers, this 81-year-old from Japan is going to set you straight. Masako Wakamiya is making the news for an app she created to show people the correct way to place their traditional doll displays ahead of Hinamatsuri, or Girl's Day, in Japan. Wakamiya is a former banker who clocked 43 years of service at a major Japanese bank, and only learned how to use computers when she was 60. In the app, named Hinadan — a combination of the words hina, a type of dol...
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Cognitiv+ is Using AI for Contract Analysis and Tracking (Mar 13, 2017)
Another legal tech startup coming out of the UK: Cognitiv+ is applying artificial intelligence to automate contract analysis and management, offering businesses a way to automate staying on top of legal risks, obligations and changing regulatory landscapes. Co-founder Vasilis Tsolis might therefore be forgiven for viewing Brexit as a sizable opportunity for his startup — though he more tactfully describes it as a “legislative challenge that we can help out with”. “There’s going to be a...
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Robotics, AI, And Cognitive Computing Are Changing Organizations Even Faster Than We Thought (Mar 12, 2017)
The world of AI, robotics and cognitive computing are changing business even faster than we thought. JPMorgan Chase & Co now uses software to perform the mind-numbing job of interpreting commercial loans, reducing 360,000 hours of lawyer time each year. AI software can now identify leukemia in photos and X-rays, learning faster than technicians. reduced new hire training to only two days because of its newest robotics used in shipping. And the stories go on and on. Is this real and ...
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Teaching Robots How to Trust (Mar 12, 2017)
The word “trust” pops up a lot in conversations about human-robot interactions. In recent years, it’s crossed an important threshold from the philosophical fodder of sci-fi novels into real-world concern. Robots have begun to play an increasing role in life and death scenarios, from rescue missions to complex surgical procedures. But the question of trust has largely been a one-way street. Should we trust robots with our lives? A Tufts University lab is working to turn the notion on its he...
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Science Remains Male-Dominated (Mar 11, 2017)
MARCH 8th was International Women’s Day. That seemed to Elsevier, an academic publisher, a good occasion to publish a report looking at the numbers and performance of female scientists around the world. The report, “Gender in the Global Research Landscape”, analysed the authorship of more than 62m peer-reviewed papers published in 27 subject areas over the past 20 years, in 11 mostly rich countries and in the European Union as a whole. The papers and their citations are indexed in Scopus, ...
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Are Robotics a Key to the Next Phase of Recycling? (Mar 11, 2017)
About 10 years ago, computer scientist Matanya Horowitz became intrigued at how far robotics had come within some industries and he started thinking about its potential in recycling, particularly for recognizing and sorting materials. Horowitz postulated that intelligent systems could have a huge impact if they could be designed to identify any material in a waste stream and pull it out.

Baidu’s Artificial Intelligence Lab Unveils Synthetic Speech System (Mar 10, 2017)
In the battle to apply deep-learning techniques to the real world, one company stands head and shoulders above the competition. Google’s DeepMind subsidiary has used the technique to create machines that can beat humans at video games and the ancient game of Go. And last year, Google Translate services significantly improved thanks to the behind-the-scenes introduction of deep-learning techniques.

Scientists Want to Borrow Power From Your Phone to Cure Cancer (Mar 10, 2017)
Japanese scientists want your help to cure cancer. No, they don't want your money -- they want the processing power of your phone.The Smash Childhood Cancer project utilises people's phones and computers to run drug simulations, which would take thousands of years to run on a single computer. Akira Nakagawara and his team at the Saga-ken Medical Centre Koseikan developed the system, which they call the World Community Grid, in 2004 alongside IBM. "Computing processing that would require 55,000 y...
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Salesforce Einstein AI Can Generate Models Automatically (Mar 7, 2017)
When Salesforce announced its spring release this week, it revealed that its artificial intelligence platform, dubbed Einstein, can build data models automatically, even when customers have customized their products to meet the company’s unique requirements. They called this “using artificial intelligence to generate artificial intelligence,” and it’s not something they have talked about before when describing the platform’s capabilities.

Now You Can Finally Embarrass a Robot For its Mistakes (Mar 7, 2017)
Baxter the robot is blushing. It made yet another embarrassing mistake by placing a spray paint can in the wrong bin. A moment later, the big, red bot makes the right choice, placing a bundle of wire in the wire bin. Baxter smiles at the researcher in front of it, a young woman who’s wearing a rather unattractive electroencephalography (EEG) cap. We’re witnessing a visibly symbiotic relationship between metal and flesh. That’s because Baxter, from Rethink Robotics, and the researcher are c...
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Hell on Wheels: It's Google's Latest Mad Robot (Mar 2, 2017)
We're girding ourselves for our robot overlords, but we're not entirely sure what they're going to look like. Fortunately, there's Boston Dynamics. This fine Google-owned company creates robots that do the sorts of things we wish we could. Who could forget its marvelous robo-dogs? They carried so much for the US Marines. The only slight drawback is that they made so much noise that the enemy could hear them coming from far away. On Monday, the company officially unveiled its latest creation. It'...
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Women in STEM Fields Get Boost from President Trump (Mar 2, 2017)
President Donald Trump signed into law two bills that aim to encourage women to pursue careers in science and technology. The bills — "Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act" and "Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act" — were both introduced by women in Congress.

IBM Built a Voice Assistant for Cybersecurity (Mar 1, 2017)
In this week's This Feels A Little Like Skynet: IBM built a new voice assistant using artificial intelligence called Hayvn, focused on cybersecurity. Think of it as Amazon Alexa, but instead of ordering soap, it's helping you manage threats. Sure, this might sound like it's ripped straight out of the plot for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, in which the military unleashes a new AI called Skynet to fight a virus that's been disrupting worldwide networks.

Scientists Use Robots, Drones to Accelerate Plant Genetic Research, Improve Crop Yield (Mar 1, 2017)
It may be a while before robots and drones are as common as tractors and combine harvesters on farms, but the high-tech tools may soon play a major role in helping feed the world's rapidly growing population. At the University of Georgia, a team of researchers is developing a robotic system of all-terrain rovers and unmanned aerial drones that can more quickly and accurately gather and analyze data on the physical characteristics of crops, including their growth patterns, stress tolerance and ge...
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Conversational AI and the Road Ahead (Feb 28, 2017)
In recent years, we’ve seen an increasing number of so-called “intelligent” digital assistants being introduced on various devices. At the recent CES, both Hyundai and Toyota announced new in-car assistants. Although the technology behind these applications keeps getting better, there’s still a tendency for people to be disappointed by their capabilities — the expectation of “intelligence” is not being met.

This Creepy Robot Walks Like a Chicken and Could Someday Deliver Your Groceries (Feb 28, 2017)
This could be the future of robotics — and it kind of looks like a chicken. Agility Robotics unveiled a bipedal robot called Cassie this week. The company, which spun out of the ATRIAS project at Oregon State University, is focused on "legged locomotion" and hopes to someday engineer robots that can walk just like people. That should be incredibly useful in a wide range of applications — but it needs some more work before then. Cassie was built using a 16-month, $1-million grant from the U.S...
Read More is Drastically Increasing the Number of Underrepresented Minorities Taking AP Computer Science (Feb 27, 2017), which started offering an advanced placement computer science principles this school year in partnership with The College Board, could more than double the number of underrepresented minorities enrolled in AP computer science classes across the nation. During the last school year, 8,442 underrepresented minorities (black, Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander) took the AP Computer science test in the U.S., according to The College Board. For the ...
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Robotics Researchers Discovered a Better Way For Insects to Walk (Feb 27, 2017)
A popular approach to designing robots that can navigate a world built for living creatures is to simply copy Mother Nature’s designs. But while trying to improve how a six-legged robot walks, researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne actually found a faster way for six-legged creatures to get around. While many vertebrates are able to run quickly and with minimal ground contact, six-legged insects take a different approach to speed. They use what’s called a tripod gait,...
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