Posted by & filed under Automation, Robotics.

spot mini updated

SpotMini, the robotic dog and social media sensation, is looking for a job.

Boston Dynamics, the company behind the cybernetic canine, excels at two things: designing cool robots, and making viral videos of them in action. SpotMini has racked up an impressive 30 million YouTube views in just a few years, and a photo of the robot strolling along side Jeff Bezosblew up on Twitter in March.

But Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert thinks its time for his social media star to earn a real living. Goodbye, relaxing walks with tech titans. Hello, windowless warehouses. Raibert sees the 66-pound robot thriving in construction, delivery jobs, security, and, eventually, homecare, and says the company plans to begin producing 1,000 of them annually by the middle of next year.

Source: CNN Technology News

Date: August 28th, 2018

Link (includes video): https://money.cnn.com/2018/08/22/technology/spotmini-robot-dog/index.html

Discussion

1) “It’s up to all of you to think of the application”.  So, what sorts of applications can you think of for this robot dog?

2) Do you agree with the assessment that the immense complexity here has made this robot dog, with its attendant price tag, beyond the reach of businesses and consumers?

Posted by & filed under Emerging Economies.

in the surrounding area, more than 400,000 others inhabit mud huts, one-room cinder block bungalows, or ramshackle brick structures at citrus plantations and informal farms along roads that wind through the bush. Nikki Stuart-Thompson serves these people with a nonprofit that provides health care to the poor.

But before she can help them, she needs to find them, which isn’t always easy. There are villages with thousands of residents but no street addresses and places with houses strung out every few hundred yards on dirt paths.

So last year, when Stuart-Thompson heard about a system that could help her workers navigate directly to any location in the region with a margin of error of only a few feet, she quickly embraced the idea. It didn’t matter that the addresses were nonsensical three-word phrases such as lakefront.boundless.vitals (that’s her office), orchestra.grapeseed.sergeants (a local clinic), or file.trod.explicable (the hospital).

Source: Bloomberg Technology

Date: August 28th, 2018

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-08-28/mapping-startup-aims-to-disrupt-addresses-using-three-word-system

Discussion

1) How might you use this sort of service for a business idea?

2) Why does it matter a lot that information systems are being used to solve issues for the poorest people on earth?

Posted by & filed under Self-driving vehicles.

Uber cars

Japanese carmaker Toyota is to invest $500m (£387m) in Uber and expand a partnership to jointly develop self-driving cars.

The firm said this would involve the “mass-production” of autonomous vehicles that would be deployed on Uber’s ride sharing network.

It is being viewed as a way for both firms to catch up with rivals in the competitive driverless car market.

The fleet will be based on Toyota’s Sienna Minivan model with pilot trials beginning in 2021.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: August 28th, 2018

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-45324753

Discussion

1) “This agreement and investment marks an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company ” said the head of Toyota.  What does he mean by “mobility company”?

2) “Shares in Toyota spiked at reports of the deal. Not surprising. Many analysts think personal car ownership will drop dramatically when the self-driving, ride-sharing future is fully upon us.”  Do you agree with this analysis?

Posted by & filed under Data Analytics, Emerging Economies, IT Projects.

Cholera Map

Cholera cases in Yemen have been slashed by a new system that predicts where outbreaks will occur.

Last year, there were more than 50,000 new cases in just one week – this year, the numbers plummeted to about 2,500.

The system has enabled aid workers to focus efforts on prevention several weeks in advance of an outbreak – by monitoring rainfall.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: August 28th, 2018

Link (includes video): https://www.bbc.com/news/health-45259922

Discussion

1) The solution to the problem here involved combining different sets of data in order to provide useful information.  Which different sets of data were used?

2) What other sorts of problems could be solved by combining different sets of data?

Posted by & filed under crypto-currency.

The image above is of a cryptomining rig

For almost a year, cryptocurrency miners have snapped up all the graphics cards they could get their hands on. That was a financial windfall for Nvidia and AMD, the leading makers of consumer graphics cards. Both reported soaring profits their last two quarters.

But on Thursday, Nvidia reported its financial results for its second fiscal quarter, which ended on July 29. The results were pretty good overall, with strong demands for Nvidia products for AI and data center applications. However, cryptocurrency-related demand has cratered.

Source: Ars Technica

Date: August 20th, 2018

Link: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/08/the-blockchain-bonanza-is-over-for-graphics-card-makers/

Discussion

1) Why does cryptomining need video cards?

2) The article does not discuss much why the price of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum have been falling.  Why have they been falling?

Posted by & filed under IT and the law.

Friday marked a major milestone for the more than $15 billion adult toy industry, with the expiration of a longstanding patent. The basic idea behind the expiring patent is almost as old as the internet – that two users might sexually stimulate each other using devices controlled over the internet.

This week marked a major milestone for the more than $15 billion adult toy industry, with the expiration of a longstanding patent on sex toys controlled over the internet. The patent has been held in recent years by a company widely regarded as a ‘patent troll,’ focused not on developing usable technology, but instead on seeking monetary damages from anyone who infringed on their claim to the idea.

Source: Ars Technica

Date: August 20th, 2018

Link: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/08/cybersex-toy-industry-heats-up-as-infamous-teledildonics-patent-climaxes/

Discussion

1) What is a patent troll?

2) It has been said that music and the sex industry are the first to feel the impact of technology developments.  Why is this, and why is it important for every other industry?

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence – a rapidly advancing technology promising to transform whole industries in the next five years with profound implications for how we live and work.

Or, as we hear on this week’s Tech Tent, a massively overhyped buzzword for quite a mundane field of computer science which has not made any great leap forward in the last decade.

That is the view we hear from Zia Chishti, who is deeply sceptical about the claims that AI is disrupting every industry on earth at breakneck speed.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: August 20th, 2018

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-45219902

Discussion

1) It is common in many instances that companies that want to sell things will say that their thing is part of whatever is new and exciting.  This is what is being claimed here – much of what is being called AI is not actually AI.  Q: what are the differences between “Machine learning, predictive analytics, AI”?

2) Is it “fake news” that companies are selling what they have as AI when it is not?

Posted by & filed under History of IT and IS.

A recent study has revealed which kinds of tech have stood the test of time – in terms of recognition, if not use.

Source: BBC Future

Date: August 20th, 2018

Link (to a gallery of 10 items): http://www.bbc.com/future/gallery/20180816-do-you-recognise-these-obsolete-technologies

Discussion

1) “More than five billion floppy disks were sold per year worldwide at their peak in the mid-1990s” – why is it important, or is it not important, to know the history of things?

2) Some of these items have been simply replaced by digital versions.  Why is this an important development?

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence, Entertainment, Ethical issues, Fake News.

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been moving recently to deal with the threats posed by misinformation and meddling that they didn’t see coming, but now they face an emerging form of disinformation they know is on the horizon: Deepfakes — doctored videos that will eventually fool even the sharpest eyes. As the technology to create deepfakes advances, experts say, it won’t be long before it’s used to foment discord or even affect an election.

“The opportunity for malicious liars is going to grow by leaps and bounds,” said Bobby Chesney, professor and associate dean of the University of Texas School of Law who has been closely researching deepfakes.

Source: CNN Technology

Date: August 14th, 2018

Link: https://money.cnn.com/2018/08/08/technology/deepfakes-countermeasures-facebook-twitter-youtube/index.html

Discussion

1) There are almost no details how you Facebook, Google or CNN, say, might detect a deepfake video.  How might you go about doing this?

2) Why do Facebook, Google or CNN, say, have a responsibility to root out fakeness?

Posted by & filed under AI/Artificial Intelligence.

 

Artificial intelligence promises to make hiring an unbiased utopia.

There’s certainly plenty of room for improvement. Employee referrals, a process that tends to leave underrepresented groups out, still make up a bulk of companies’ hires. Recruiters and hiring managers also bring their own biases to the process, studies have found, often choosing people with the “right-sounding” names and educational background.

Source: Bloomberg Technology

Date: August 14th, 2018

Link (allows 9 free downloads per month): https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-08/artificial-intelligence-is-coming-for-hiring-and-it-might-not-be-that-bad

Discussion

1) How might artificial intelligence still bring bias to the hiring process?

2) How might you train artificial intelligence to make sensible hiring decisions?