New robot from Boston Dynamics, Deepfake Amazon workers, and more!

Last Week in AI #110

Mini Briefs

Boston Dynamics unveils Stretch: a new robot designed to move boxes in warehouses

Boston Dynamics recently released a demo for its newest robot Stretch, a mobile robot with a large arm that can move boxes around in a warehouse. The company reports that Stretch's cleverly designed counterweight system hidden in its base allows it to quickly swing its arms around, moving up to 800 boxes per hour. The mobile base also allows users to deploy the robot without installing permenant robot mounts or additional hardware. Stretch has a battery life of up to 8 hours, and Boston Dynamics is aiming to release it commercially in 2022.

Deepfake "Amazon workers" are sowing confusion on Twitter. That's not the problem.

A group of new Twitter accounts, purportedly belonging to Amazon warehouse workers, published many obviously humorous tweet to defend Amazon ahead of a vote on forming labor unions in US-based Amazon warehouses. These accounts all used deepfake profile photos, and they were later revealed to have been created as parody accounts, not by Amazon as a part of a PR campaign. While this particular application of deepfakse seem harmless enough, it highlights the potential uses of deepfakes in misinformation campaigns, especially as the technology improves and deepfakes become harder and harder to spot. Intead of trying to tell whether a photo is real or not, experts suggest looking beyond the profile picture itself for verifying the authenticity of social media accounts:

The giveaway is not that you’ve somehow interrogated the image. It’s that you look at the account and it was created a week ago, or it’s a journalist who claims to be a journalist, but they’ve never written anything else that you could find on a Google search.

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