It was, as the local public radio station said, the day “Seattle Nice” died. On May 2, the residents of Seattle were hit with a one-two punch. For months, the city council had been debating a new tax on large employers to raise $75 million for new affordable housing and services for the homeless, whose growing population had burst out of shelters and into tents around the city.
In the late morning, just before a council hearing, a columnist for the Seattle Times broke the news that Amazon.com Inc., the city’s largest employer, was playing hardball. The typically hermetic company said it paused expansion plans for buildings that would house about 7,000 employees pending the outcome of the upcoming tax vote.
“I open the app on my phone and scan the camera across the busy London street. Like in Pokémon Go, I’m looking at the scene in front of me through my phone, and bubbles are popping up in real-time.
But these aren’t Pikachu or Poké Balls – they’re single, attractive strangers who are using the same augmented reality app as I am. Their faces are circled on my screen as I pass them physically in the street.”
Google recently announced Google Duplex, a new technology for conducting natural conversations to carry out “real world” tasks over the phone. The technology is directed towards completing specific tasks, such as scheduling certain types of appointments. For such tasks, the system makes the conversational experience as natural as possible, allowing people to speak normally, like they would to another person, without having to adapt to a machine.
One of the key research insights was to constrain Duplex to closed domains, which are narrow enough to explore extensively. Duplex can only carry out natural conversations after being deeply trained in such domains. It cannot carry out general conversations.
1) Listen to both of the Google AI calls right at the top of this post. Discuss how amazing it is that you really can’t tell this is a computer making the call.
2) Google is clear to make sure that people know that this is a “closed domain”. What does that mean? How “closed” is the call to the restaurant where the person at the restaurant does not follow what the call is about almost at all.
Cycling around cities may have been pioneered by the Dutch, but a new high-tech way of hiring bicycles is bidding to bring a pedal power revolution to cities around the world.
The key innovation is the dockless hire bike. Found and unlocked with a few taps on a smartphone, they can be hired for an hour, day, or week – then locked up and left wherever the journey ends, rather than a special docking area.
These now make up the majority of the 18 million self-serve, public-use bikes around the world, in 1,608 cities.
Microsoft is launching a $25 million initiative to use artificial intelligence to build better technology for people with disabilities.
CEO Satya Nadella announced the new “AI for Accessibility” effort as he kicked off Microsoft’s annual conference for software developers. The Build conference in Seattle is meant to foster enthusiasm for the company’s latest ventures in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, internet-connected devices and virtual reality.
A who’s who of technology and aviation companies won U.S. approval to push the edge of the envelope in drone flights, from testing people’s tolerance for delivery devices hovering over their rooftops to ensuring farmers’ drones won’t hit crop dusters.
The data available online is staggering. More than 20% of Americans were using Twitter at the time of the study – and each Tweet is timestamped and geocoded, offering precise information on the time and place that particular terms entered conversations.
The researcher behind the study, Jack Grieve at the University of Birmingham, UK, analysed more than 980 million Tweets in total – consisting of 8.9 billion words – posted between October 2013 and November 2014, and spanning 3,075 of the 3,108 US counties.
We are all familiar with physical, industrial robots, but what about robots that work in offices? In fact, they are already taking up posts around the world alongside their human counterparts. What opportunities does the Virtual Workforce present, and why are organisations choosing them to facilitate better service, faster growth and to react more quickly to market opportunities? This talk examines the art of the possible and how a Virtual Workforce can increase both the job satisfaction of human workers and transform the way that enterprises and global service providers deliver value. David Moss is CTO and Co-founder of Blue Prism Limited, a UK tech company formed in 2001 to pursue the dream of delivering the vision of robotics into the oce environment. David is a technologist and thought leader in the Robotic Process Automation movement and a pioneer in the creation of the Virtual Workforce concept.
1) Robotic Process Automation is the next step in productivity enhancement brought about by technology. What is the key issue here about robots replacing humans?
2) Why has it taken (and continues to take) so long to get robots (automation) into the service industry whereas it has been around for decades (arguably since the late 1800s) in the industrial setting?