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Skynet Today Last Week in AI News #22
As summarized in our AI job automation editorial, the number of healthcare jobs like nursing will grow the fastest in advanced economies. There are not enough nurses however, and startups like Diligent Robotics are hoping to fill this job shortage by making indoor delivery robots, like Moxi.
It’s important to note that Moxi will not replace nurses or interact with patients directly. Its use cases are currently limited to delivering supplies such as medicine and water in preprogrammed routes and schedules. Still, robots like Moxi can reduce the amount of manual, repetitive tasks nurses do, and in the process allowing nurses to “do work they care most about.”
Researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory applied word2vec, a common technique in Natural Language Processing to learn the relative associatiations of words from large bodies of text, to a corpus of material science papers. The learned word2vec model was able to propose new material names from parsing historical papers before they were discovered by researchers, prompting many news articles to report “AI has learned to make scientific discoveries.”
Word2vec is a relatively simple technique, and in essence it computes how similar two words are by how similar their surrounding words tend to be. Just because the model knows that similar elements are referred to in similar fashions however, doesn’t mean it can “understand concepts such as the periodic table and the chemical structure of molecules.” The reporting around this Nature paper has grossly overestimated the capabilities of this language model, which cannot make scientific discoveries as doing so requires more than proposing candidate materials to study.
Advances & Business
Robots Have a Hard Time Grasping These “Adversarial Objects” - There’s been a bunch of research recently into adversarial images, which are images of things that have been modified to be particularly difficult for computer vision algorithms to accurately identify.
Runway ML puts AI tools in the hands of creators everywhere - Machine learning can be a fantastic tool for creators, but integrating AI into your workflow is a challenge for those who can’t code.
Robot uses machine learning to harvest lettuce - The ‘Vegebot’, developed by a team at the University of Cambridge, was initially trained to recognise and harvest iceberg lettuce in a lab setting. It has now been successfully tested in a variety of field conditions in cooperation with G’s Growers, a local fruit and vegetable co-operative.
Instagram and Facebook Outage Revealed Just How Good the Companies Are Getting at Artificial Intelligence - If you ever wondered what the world looked like without Facebook and Instagram, now you know. Or, at the least, what the world looks like without photos of “cat,” or “people standing by a tree,” or “food.
No limit: AI poker bot is first to beat professionals at multiplayer game - Triumph over five human opponents at Texas Hold ‘em brings bots closer to solving complicated real-world problems. Douglas Heaven is a science writer based in London.
The AI technique that could imbue machines with the ability to reason - At six months old, a baby won’t bat an eye if a toy truck drives off a platform and seems to hover in the air. But perform the same experiment a mere two to three months later, and she will instantly recognize that something is wrong. She has already learned the concept of gravity.
AI can teach doctors to spot signs of cancer-causing viruses - Signs of viruses that can lead to cancer, like the human papillomavirus (HPV) or Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), can be found in tissue samples with costly tests that aren’t always accurate.
Alibaba has claimed a new record in AI language understanding - An AI program developed by Alibaba has notched up a record-high score on a reading comprehension test. The result shows how machines are steadily improving at handling text and speech.
Concerns & Hype
The Racist History Behind Facial Recognition - Researchers recently learned that Immigration and Customs Enforcement used facial recognition on millions of driver’s license photographs without the license-holders’ knowledge, the latest revelation about governments employing the technology in ways that threaten civil liberties.
Amazon to Retrain a Third of Its U.S. Workers as Automation Advances - Amazon has increasingly turned to robots and automation technology to fetch products from the shelves of its warehouses to ship to customers. Now the company says it needs to help its workers adapt to the rapid change.
Are Commercial Labs Stealing Academia’s AI Thunder? - Commercial research labs run by Google Research, DeepMind, and OpenAI are taking central stage in the artificial intelligence era. The eye-popping achievements of these massively-funded AI labs are constantly producing headlines in tech journals and even mainstream media.
Shopping Centers Exploring Facial Recognition in Brave New World of Retail - As their struggle with store closings persists, some U.S. mall owners and retailers are stepping up their use of technology that recognizes people’s faces but stops short of identifying and recording them.
Predictive policing AI is a bigger scam than psychic detectives - Law enforcement agencies around the world have recently begun extricating themselves from expensive, ineffective predictive policing systems. The machine learning equivalent of psychic detectives, it turns out, simply doesn’t work.
70% of US employees no longer fear AI - Despite previous concerns of AI stealing jobs, US workers hold positive outlooks on the new tech, according to a Genesys report. The report surveyed more than 1,000 US workers to determine current sentiments around integrating AI in companies.
Americans Surveyed See Artificial Intelligence as Jobs Killer - While more Americans see businesses moving jobs abroad as a greater economic threat than artificial intelligence, the majority of workers expect that AI will also be a jobs killer. As companies ramp up hiring to develop AI, workers agree they need retraining for today’s in-demand skills.
FBI, ICE find state driver’s license photos are a gold mine for facial-recognition searches - Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have turned state driver’s license databases into a facial-recognition gold mine, scanning through millions of Americans’ photos without their knowledge or consent, newly released documents show.
As Cameras Track Detroit’s Residents, a Debate Ensues Over Racial Bias - Twenty-four hours a day, video from thousands of cameras stationed around Detroit, at gas stations, restaurants, mini-marts, apartment buildings, churches and schools, streams into the Police Department’s downtown headquarters.
Expert Opinions & Discussion within the field
Robotics technology needs to go beyond automation - Robots are good at performing repetitive tasks on factory floors today, but next-generation robotics will go beyond automation use cases, according to a leading robotics expert.
Microsoft reaffirms AI will augment the human experience rather than replace it - Microsoft Australia’s national technology officer Lee Hickin has reaffirmed that artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are not replacing humans in the workforce, but are placing humans into positions where they can provide more value in their work.