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From The Chinese University of Hong Kong: A New Algorithm That Recognizes Faces Better Than People Can

faces in the wild
Faces from the Dataset Used to Test the Algorithm Described Below

It’s already a little eerie when Facebook suggests tags for who it recognizes in your photo, especially for faces that are small, blurry, or otherwise difficult to distinguish. What if Facebook were even better–better at recognizing people in pictures than you are?

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Two computer scientists are announcing they’ve made a program that is better at matching photos than people are, the Physics arXiv Blog reports. This is the first time a program has performed better than people at recognizing people.

ROBOTS_B_400

To be sure, the new algorithm, developed at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, outperforms people in a very specific task with a very specific set of photos. The Hong Kong researchers asked the algorithm to tell whether two faces are the same, drawing from a set of 13,000 photos of 600 public figures. Humans get the right answer 97.53 percent of the time, on this test. The Chinese University of Hong Kong algorithm is right 98.52 percent of the time. (You can try some sample matches at the Physics arXiv Blog!)

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Superpowered Autopilot: Pentagon Plans to Replace Flight Crews with Full-Time Robots

For The Washington TimesDouglas Ernst reports: The Pentagon’s research agency tasked with developing breakthrough technologies for national security has come up with a plan for dealing with shrinking budgets: robotic flight crews..

ALIAS envisions a tailorable, drop‐in, removable kit that would enable the addition of high levels of automation into existing aircraft to enable operation with reduced onboard crew. (Image: DARPA)

ALIAS envisions a tailorable, drop‐in, removable kit that would enable the addition of high levels of automation into existing aircraft to enable operation with reduced onboard crew. (Image: DARPA)

[See WIRED: Pentagon’s Superpowered Autopilot Will Do the Work of 5 Crew Members]

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently working on technology that will be able to replace up to five crew members on military aircraft, in effect making the lone human operator a “mission supervisor,” tech magazine Wired reported.

The Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) would offer the military a “tailorable, drop-in, removable kit that would enable the addition of high levels of automation into existing aircraft to enable operation with reduced onboard crew,” DARPA said….(read more)

Washington Times

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Vintage Photo: Superman & Robot

superman+robot

Adventures of Superman (1952–1958) George Reeves

Note: Some good stuff can be found in IMDB’s Trivia page


Vintage Japanese Sci Fi Robot Toy Image of the Day: Battery Operated ‘Thunder Robot’

Thunder-Robots

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thunder-robotFortune Cookie

Thunder Robot 
Asakusa (Japan) 
1950s


Sci-Fi Image of the Day: ‘Robot Space Trooper’

Space-Trooper

Robot Space Trooper
Yoshiya/Cragstan (Japan)
1950s


“Black” Aircraft Sighting — The Real Deal?

Bill Sweetman at Aviation Week covers the recent sighting — and photographs — of an unidentified aircraft over north Texas.  You can see the pics here and here.

I’ve been a black aircraft enthusiast all my life (and that goes back to the days when the SR-71 was still “secret”).  Sweetman is one of the best aerospace/defense/mil-tech journalists around, although he’s been accused of being willing to run with a story a little too soon.  I personally feel like he does sometimes report on rumors and informed speculation, but is careful to identify them as such.

At least as far as the available information on this one goes, I feel like this is a solid lead.  The photos do not look photoshopped at all (there is a history of shopped pics among back plane chasers), and the aircraft does fit into a niche that many have wondered about — the US lacks a large, high-altitude, stealthy ISR platform and, as Sweetman points out, sat photos of Groom Lake (Area 51) show way more capability than can be accounted for with known programs.

So I put this one in the “definitely possible, maybe even probable” category.


[VIDEO] The Future of Cookies, Now: Oreo-Customizing Machine

What if you could design and print your own Oreo cream filling, with a selection of possible flavors? At SXSW, people can do just that at Oreo’s Trending Vending machines.

Peek Inside a Pi-Powered CNC Oreo-Customizing Machine

Users pick a trending topic on Twitter and get a cream-filled cookie inspired by that topic. The entire process happens right before their eyes as a turret of flavored fillings pumps cream onto the cookie, which is held by an inverted delta robot. And what’s cooler than a machine that creates custom Oreo cookies on-demand?

MAKE


Japan: Robot to Take Top University Exam

Japanese Tokyo University robot creator Tomotaka Takahashi chats with a humanoid robot

Japanese Tokyo University robot creator Tomotaka Takahashi chats with a humanoid robot

Scientists in Japan are trying to create a computer program smart enough to pass the University of Tokyo‘s entrance exam, it appears.

rayThe project, led by Noriko Arai at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics, is trying to see how fast artificial intelligence might replace the human brain so that people can start training in completely new areas. “If society as a whole can see a possible change coming in the future, we can get prepared now,” she tells the Kyodo news agency.

But there’s also another purpose behind the Can A Robot Get Into The University of Tokyo? project, which began in 2011. If machines cannot replace human beings, then “we need to clarify what is missing and move to develop the technology,” says Noriko Arai.

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The Singularity is Coming and it’s Going To Be Awesome: ‘Robots Will Be Smarter Than Us All by 2029′

World’s leading futurologist predicts computers will soon be able to flirt, learn from experience and even make jokes

World’s leading futurologist predicts computers will soon be able to flirt, learn from experience and even make jokes

Adam Withnall writes:  By 2029, computers will be able to understand our language, learn from experience and outsmart even the most intelligent humans, according to Google’s director of engineering Ray Kurzweil.

“Today, I’m pretty much at the median of what AI experts think and the public is kind of with them…”

One of the world’s leading futurologists and artificial intelligence (AI) developers, 66-year-old Kurzweil has previous form in making accurate predictions about the way technology is heading.

[Ray Kurzweil's pioneering book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology is available at Amazon]

In 1990 he said a computer would be capable of beating a chess champion by 1998 – a feat managed by IBM’s Deep Blue, against Garry Kasparov, in 1997.

When the internet was still a tiny network used by a small collection of academics, Kurzweil anticipated it would soon make it possible to link up the whole world.

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Rise of Robot Laborers in China Could Change Global Trade Game

Chinese-Robot-Serves-Rice-AFP

contributor-80x100-fmartelFrances Martel reports:  2013 was a banner year for uncalled for expansion of China’s borders, from the Senkaku Islands Air Identification Defense Zone to a state TV show claiming the entirety of the Philippines for China. But on the economic front, China plans an expansion of a completely different kind: the use of robots to make manufacturing even cheaper.

Canada’s Globe and Mail has a feature out this week on China’s increased push to replace human labor with automated work. While China boasts some of the cheapest labor in the world–hence their domination of the manufacture of many simple to make items–salaries are, by necessity, increasing. This, argues author Scott Barlow, is pressuring the Chinese government to stay competitive economically with other nations by suppressing the growing wages. And to do that, he continues, businesses need to hire fewer people.

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Netflix Is Building an Artificial Brain Using Amazon’s Cloud

Illustration: Hong Li/Getty

Illustration: Hong Li/Getty

Klint Finley writes:  Nothing beats a movie recommendation from a friend who knows your tastes. At least not yet. Netflix wants to change that, aiming to build an online recommendation engine that outperforms even your closest friends.

The online movie and TV outfit once sponsored what it called the Netflix Prize, asking the world’s data scientists to build new algorithms that could better predict what movies and shows you want to see. And though this certainly advanced the state of the art, Netflix is now exploring yet another leap forward. In an effort to further hone its recommendation engine, the company is delving into “deep learning,” a branch of artificial intelligence that seeks to solve particularly hard problems using computer systems that mimic the structure and behavior of the human brain. The company details these efforts in a recent blog post.

Netflix is following in the footsteps of web giants like Google and Facebook, who have hired top deep-learning researchers in an effort to improve everything from voice recognition to image tagging.

With the project, Netflix is following in the footsteps of web giants like Google and Facebook, who have hired top deep-learning researchers in an effort to improve everything from voice recognition to image tagging. But Netflix is taking a slightly different tack. The company plans to run its deep learning algorithms on Amazon’s cloud service, rather than building their own hardware infrastructure a la Google and Facebook. This shows that, thanks to rise of the cloud, smaller web companies can now compete with the big boys — at least in some ways.

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Most Valuable Real Estate in the Solar System?

I came across this last night:

In mid-2015, the asteroid probe Dawn is scheduled to establish orbit around Ceres, the only dwarf planet in the inner Solar System, as well as the largest asteroid, to begin roughly six months of close-up observation. The level of interest in this mission has significantly increased with the detection by the ESA’s Herschel space observatory of plumes of water vapor being exuded from Ceres’ surface from a pair of local sources.

It turns out that Ceres may have more water than all the fresh water on Earth.  If that’s true, it may well be the the best place to actually create a robust human presence off Earth (after a real foothold is established on Earth’s moon).  Some people might think that water would be useful on Mars, but why put it at the bottom of a gravity well one-third as deep as Earth’s?

Now the only question is: Who’s going to grab this uniquely valuable spot?


How Technology Is Destroying Jobs

tech-job-killDavid Rotman writes:  Given his calm and reasoned academic demeanor, it is easy to miss just how provocative Erik Brynjolfsson’s contention really is. ­Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his collaborator and coauthor Andrew McAfee have been arguing for the last year and a half that impressive advances in computer technology—from improved industrial robotics to automated translation services—are largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years. Even more ominous for workers, the MIT academics foresee dismal prospects for many types of jobs as these powerful new technologies are increasingly adopted not only in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work but in professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.

Economic theory and government policy will have to be rethought if technology is indeed destroying jobs faster than it is creating new ones.

That robots, automation, and software can replace people might seem obvious to anyone who’s worked in automotive manufacturing or as a travel agent. But Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s claim is more troubling and controversial. They believe that rapid technological change has been destroying jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the stagnation of median income and the growth of inequality in the United States. And, they suspect, something similar is happening in other technologically advanced countries.

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Sacré Bleu! A French concept Car with its Own ‘Flying Companion’ Drone

renault-kwid

Renault says,

“…perfectly suited for ‘the needs of young customers in new markets’”

The Kwid’s drone can operate on an automated setting or manual mode, which lets the driver or passenger control it from a tablet inside the vehicle, Business Insider reported.

Launched from its dock at the rear of the Kwid’s roof, the Flying Companion can be operated in two modes: automated, where it uses a pre-programmed flying sequence and GPS satellites to locate and perform its functions; or manual mode, which lets the driver or passenger control the drone from a tablet in the Kwid.

The Flying Companion can also be used for more than finding open parking spaces, including scouting traffic, taking photos of the landscape, and examining road obstacles.

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Why Robot Sex Could Be the Future of Life on Earth

An artist’s impression of a self-replicating nano robot – it has been proposed that similar machines could be used to colonise Mars  Photo: science photo library

An artist’s impression of a self-replicating nano robot – it has been proposed that similar machines could be used to colonise Mars  Photo: science photo library

If self-replicating machines are the next stage of human evolution, should we start worrying?

George Zarkadakis  writes:  When René Descartes went to work as tutor of young Queen Christina of Sweden, his formidable student allegedly asked him what could be said of the human body. Descartes answered that it could be regarded as a machine; whereby the queen pointed to a clock on the wall, ordering him to “see to it that it produces offspring”. A joke, perhaps, in the 17th century, but now many computer scientists think the age of the self-replicating, evolving machine may be upon us.

ROBOTS_B_400

It is an idea that has been around for a while – in fiction. Stanislaw Lem in his 1964 novel The Invincible told the story of a spaceship landing on a distant planet to find a mechanical life form, the product of millions of years of mechanical evolution. It was an idea that would resurface many decades later in the Matrix trilogy of movies, as well as in software labs.

In fact, self-replicating machines have a much longer, and more nuanced, past. They were indirectly proposed in 1802, when William Paley formulated the first teleological argument of machines producing other machines.

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