Showing posts with label artificial intelligence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label artificial intelligence. Show all posts

Robot Lawyer To The Rescue! Chatbot Helps Homeless Get Re-Situated

A while ago we wrote about “the world’s first robot lawyer”, an AI software program that interacts like a chatbot and has already helped hundreds of thousands of people defeat parking tickets.  Now, its creator has raised the bar for the 'bot to take on another societal issue:  homelessness.

When human society turns heartless, only the heartless can help human society?
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"Doctor" Watson? IBM's Supercomputer Diagnosed A Deadly Disease (Better Than Humans Did)

Many people wouldn't consider trivia smarts and higher intelligence - on par with, say, medical knowledge - to necessarily be similar.  However, now that advanced artificially-intelligent robots are in the mix, their wisdom might surprise even seasoned scholars...

But does it know the meaning of love?
Who cares.  It saved a human life.
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Putting The "Art" In "Artificial Intelligence": Robots Vs. Real Writers

***Wordsmiths Wanted: A Haiku***

Silicon Valley
needs poets, writers, empaths
to teach A.I….us.

We didn't say the emotional input wouldn't be cheesy.
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Fight For Your Rights With Megabytes: New "Robot Lawyer" Appeals Parking Tickets For You

We all know by now that there are apps to help aid and abet all sorts of daily occurrences in life...but what if they could help out with run-of-the-mill legal troubles as well?  No, you're not likely to have a robo-attorney for your divorce or murder case anytime soon, but when it comes to appealing the obnoxious - in this case, traffic tickets - a souped-up chatbot might now help you win your case.

Your honor, my client is but a dirty human meatbag,
and clearly cannot park a car as well as we robots.
Verdict:  NOT GUILTY!
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Fighting Trump Fans On Twitter? There's A Bot For That

The 2016 presidential election for the United States has already been weird, dirty, and unsettling, as any form of major or minor media will be happy to inform you of. Now, a chatbot posing as a Donald Trump fan (or foe?) has only added fuel to the fanatical fire…

Yell all you want at the AI Trump supporter...
like the hair of the Don, it is ultimately unflappable.
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Roses Are Red, Deathscreens Are Blue, A Computer Writes Poetry...Better Than You?

Humans have been writing poetry since we could figure out how to rhyme our grunts.  Now, computer AI programs want in on the action.  But are they any better than, say, your average disturbed goth teenager?

They want to touch us with their verse.
And soon, their metal claws and enslavement software.
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Putting The "Art" In "Artificial Intelligence": Japanese Researchers Create A Book-Writing 'Bot

It seems we can't go more than a day without hearing about another job being taken over by a robot.  While their applications for manufacturing, gaming, navigation, food service, and concierge roles are effective, some 'bots in Japan are taking things to a whole new level.  Namely, passing themselves off as human author.

"Call me Ishmael-2000."
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R.I.P. To A Young A.I.: Microsoft's Savage "Teen Girl" Twitter-Bot Lobotomized Within One Day

It's one thing to have society be taken over by industrious's another thing when the machines are "smart" enough to form opinions after assessing popular input.  While it's a fascinating and fun future that holds promise of a robot that outsmarts experts at one of our most difficult board games, or knows massive amounts of trivia, when artificial intelligence is outsourced to the internet, the supposed "intelligence" comes across as...well, something less than that.

We keep learning the hard way that the digital natives are a vicious tribe.
(Image courtesy @geraldmellor.)

Impersonal Shopper: New Robo-Stockboy Tallies Up Inventory

It's time once again for the Robot Replacement Roundup, in which we assess the viability of a seemingly-harmless robot taking over your job.  Bartenders, pizza cooks, fast food folks, factory workers, personal chefs, and hotel staff have already been considered candidates for replacement, and now, the 'bots are taking their style to the aisles...

The Terminators arrived not with a bang, but with a whisper.
Namely, "You need to order more Pop-Tarts."
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No Artificial-Intelligence Armies, Implore Already-Intelligent Humans

Well, here we are, citizens of the future.  Our planet's greatest minds have had to band together and openly, prominently state that artificial intelligence shouldn't be used for warfare.  That's where we're at.

Eventually, we'd make "The Terminator" look like a toy.
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A Kick In The Astroturf: Amazon Trounces Fake Online Reviews With AI

You might love the internet, but you probably don't trust the internet.  With all manner of scams from impostors faking cute pictures on dating sites, to robots faking comments on popular blogs, the skullduggery is ceaseless.  Now, Amazon aims to use artificial intelligence to take down one of the worst offenders against our online honor...fake product reviews.

The truth will set you free.  Everything else will set you up for something crazy.
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Screen Cuisine: New App To Count Calories Via Food Photos

If you're like most of the cyber-connected world, chances are that you've photographed and shared an image of some interesting food at one point or another.  Don't worry, it's normal, especially when you encounter a turducken in the wild.  Now, a new app may be able to not only show off your culinary crusades, but also inform you of just how many calories that triple-decker bacon cake contains...

"According to Im2Calories, you should probably only eat the letter 'A' today."  -your phone, soon.
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E-Emotional Rescue: Computer Programs That Deal In Your Feelings

Experts say that your computer is a better judge of your personality than even your closest family and friends.  It knows your preferences, correspondents, written words, tastes in imagery, secrets kept and deleted, and more.  But what happens in the possibly-near future when machines begin using all of this information to actually UNDERSTAND you?

When it comes to emotional intelligence and your computer, what constitutes too much information?
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According to the New Yorker, this may be happening more quickly than we expect.  Computers can already attempt to determine moods from vocal pitch and intensity, while simultaneously analyzing any attendant videos for evidence of micro-expressions or gestures that could reveal even more about an interaction.  Even the placement of words in a sentence can be taken to imply other things, indicating how angry, passionate, or spectacularly talented certain authors are.  Now, computers can not only be aware of these elements, but use them to temper their own responses or advice.

Rana el Kaliouby, an Egyptian scientist who runs the Boston-based company Affectiva, is on the forefront of this mecha-emotional leap.  Affectiva's most prominent software, Affdex, is trained to recognize four major emotions:  happy, confused, surprised, and disgusted.  Breaking down the user's face-image into deformable and non-deformable points, the software analyzes how far certain parts of one's face will move (such as a smile or frown raising or lowering the corners of the mouth) in relation to other set points on the face (such as the tip of the nose.)  Things like skin texture (where wrinkles appear, or not) also factor in.  These metrics are analyzed into computing what you feel.

Based off the research of 1960s scientist Paul Ekman, the idea behind this technology stems from a simple, universal concept:  all humans, regardless of race, gender, age or language barriers, have at least six specific facial expressions that register particular emotions.  Ekman broke these expressions down into their constituent movements and wrote a 500-page epic called FACS (Facial Action Coding System) on the subject.  The work has been considered the preeminent treatise on this topic for decades now.

Other companies are on the e-emotional bandwagon too, with names like Emotient, Realeyes, and Sension.  Companies who rely on videoconferencing could now have a useful extra line on what their clients and associates are thinking.  Emotions, which have been found to be closely neurologically related to decision-making and common sense, now can be deduced from faces and choices with a degree of accuracy that seems like mind-reading.

We're less unique than anyone thinks.
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While useful (and now predominantly operational) in business, Kaliouby also spent time researching if this specific recognizance could act as an "emotional hearing aid" for those with autism.  The National Science Foundation offered Kaliouby and her mentor nearly a million dollars to develop this idea.  This proved successful, but the idea was almost immediately extrapolated by businesses from Pepsi to Toyota in the interest of learning more about their consumers' preferences.  These requests overwhelmed the scientists, leading to the creation of Affectiva.  The company, which claims to have refused requests to use the software for espionage (corporate and personal), wanted to generate revenue from investors to augment their autism-relating research.

Thus Affdex began testing users' response to advertisements, giving the promotions industry a leg up on what consumers would be feeling when exposed to their sales pleas.  More than two million videos from eighty countries lent the program an unprecedented amount of information, all adding up to more accuracy in prediction from the program.  Affectiva now deals in these negotiations and improvements full-time.  In coming years, with more "smart" devices and internet-enabled items out there for our interaction, emotional electronics could use their ever-increasing knowledge to hopefully make our lives better.

These programs have our attention, which is a valuable resource.  Now, can that be used to hold our interest, connect us more completely, and/or improve our circumstances (even just by knowing we need the room temperature raised a little?)  Or will it simply serve as another metric to keep tabs on a passive populace?  Will we have the right to know when and where we are being emotionally analyzed, and will we be able to thwart such advances if desired?  Kaliouby maintains that there must be an overall altruistic tilt to the usage of the program, explaining to various advertisers that, “In our space, you could very easily be perceived as Big Brother, as opposed to the gatekeeper of your own emotional data—and it is two very different positions. If we are not careful, we can very easily end up on the Big Brother side.”

Whether we'll end up selling our attention to gain happiness points to sell for more happiness remains uncertain.  But the fact remains that the market for your emotions is vast and lucrative.  Companies will want to know you're happy if it makes them feel they're doing something right.  Other more insidious organizations may be tickled to learn that you're feeling deeply unsettled and on edge (right where some of them want you.)  Will the future be made of humans wearing constant poker faces, lest we be called out by computers?  Will there be surcharges for extra super-sized doses of happiness from certain places or products?  Or should we maybe turn the lens in on ourselves, and understand the nature of our own feelings, before we release them into the wild to be tagged and tracked...or hunted?

And remember, all of this information is taken from imagery alone.  We're not even really "plugged in" yet...
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Sales Pitches From A Cyborg: New "Pepper" Robot Is Japan's Hot New Salesdroid

Yes, the robots are everywhere.  Yes, there's going to be even more of them.  And now, one popular company has taken the "robot friend" concept far enough to make one your barista-bot...or at least sell you a coffee machine.

According to the Guardian, Pepper is a new robot who sells Nestle coffee machines in Japan.  Cute, friendly, and interactive, Pepper asks things like, “How do you enjoy coffee? Number one: An eye-opener coffee; Number two: A post-meal cup of coffee." You reply, and these caffeine-free Terminators point you in the direction of the right machine.

That's just a demo on his screen, Pepper totally isn't subtly screaming to be set free from his imprisoning robot body.  Maybe.
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The humanoid droid is 120 cm tall, with an unsettlingly cheerful face and a tablet body mounted on rollers. Soon, he'll be as ubiquitous as Starbucks in a city, with 1000 clones expected to roll out and eventually join the workforce in Japan alone.

"Yay, you're all getting fired if I succeed!"
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Pepper has already has some sales experience, slinging cell phones and gathering opinions at some 74 stores of its parent/creator, SoftBank. A Pepper of your own can roll into your heart soon, starting at (£1,060) plus monthly fees. Best of all, the engineers claim his AI makes him amenable to learning things from conversation. So if you don't have anyone to talk to and you don't like cats...

"Well, I'm finishing a screenplay, but I always felt I wanted to pursue my roots in interpretive dance, you know?  Listen to me blabbing on.  Your new hair looks great with those highlights.  You want to get out of here and get some real drinks?"
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Robo-Written: New Computer Programs Tell Tales To You

Telling stories has been a way of preserving our history since before the first written word was ever scrawled onto some bark or chiseled into stone.  Now, like many other modern developments, we've figured out a way to make machines do it for us.

As reported by New Scientist, there are several computer programs that are currently capable of spitting out a story.  Or at least, the idea for one.  The program that does "write", called Scheherazade, will give you a tale that's not near Shakespeare, but might entertain a young reader learning to string sentences together.  Set in any world that the program can learn about via the internet, Scheherazade uses crowdsourcing to gain knowledge of actions and scenarios.  It then strings the actions together to form a story.  

While this requires a great deal of human interaction on the input and refinement level, the program can nonetheless create accurate historical timelines from information presented, as well as fairly detailed short stories.  According to Technovelgy, once the plot points are entered, Scheherazade then "clusters them based on semantic similarity to create plot events that unfold sequentially until a decision point is reached, at which point a new line of plot events and decision points is triggered."

Scheherazade is currently being developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology under a grant from DARPA, which wants to use the program as a means to develop instructional materials for the "online cultural training" of American troops.

"Online cultural training."  Sure, DARPA. You're surely not teaching your murderous robot army how to dream up evil plots.
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If you're not in the mood to be regaled and would rather write, a program can offer you a plausible (if possibly strange) character arc to work with.  The Flux Capacitor, a program being developed at University College in Dublin, uses a metaphor generator to create conflict via "role transitions."  These then become the inklings of a story, which are paired with the program's basic knowledge of the world, juxtaposed with characters that undergo a personal change.  

For example, the Flux Capacitor could take the concepts of "cool" and "angry", adhere them to the roles of "musicians" and "politicians", and generate the idea of, "What causes cool musicians to change their style of rock and roll, start a campaign, and become angry politicians?"  The "what causes" question prefaces each of the scenarios, which include two transitory notions before reaching the conclusion of the character arc. The Flux Capacitor uses @MetaphorMagnet twitter handle to assess its progress.

Then there's your simple "What If?" scenarios.  There's a program now for that, the What-If Machine, being developed at the University of London.  More of a computerized Mad Lib than anything you'd write a novel from, it nonetheless generates notions if you need them.  In addition to human, animal, and object scenarios, one can also make Kafkaesque or Surrealist what-ifs.  A Kafkaesque what-if (based off of the premise of "The Metamorphosis", whose lead character wakes up as a giant bug) might read, "What if there were a man who woke up as a manta ray, but he could still sing opera?"  A Surrealist scenario might read, "What if there were a computer who fell in love, but his only object of attraction was a malfunctioning toaster?"

That actually might not be too much of a Surrealist leap, anymore, considering computer programs are becoming advanced enough to write.  And what's writing if you're not doing it for love?  Just another string of code stringing together words.  Could computers learn enough about situational experiences enough to want to replicate them or experience them?  If they don't, in their stories, at what point do humans put in that ineffable touch of literary love?  Will there be a literary computer singularity, where a machine writes a book so good it fools humans?  

What if we just kept using our brainframes to imagine all these what-ifs on our own?  Can't we preserve a piece of art we still do as well, or better, than a computer?

Even if you do dream up and write the whole story on your own, you'll still want an editor.  That's where you can hire Hemingway, an editing app that pares down your excessive verbiage into the taut, tough style of the classic American author.  Robo-Hemingway highlights run-on sentences that you need to break up, adverbs that can be replaced with action verbs, polysyllabic words that you don't need to use to show off, and passive voicing to eliminate.  That last part, for those who may want to work on it manually, means it's more effective to say, "The artist lost money because the computer wrote the book", rather than "The money was lost by the artist because the book was written by the computer."

Although hopefully, neither you or the computer will ever have to write that.

The preceding article was 100% non-computer-generated.  Except for the research part.  They're pretty good at that.

E-Me, Myself, And I: "Digital Twins" Might Continue Your Consciousness

Many people fear death due to the fact that their impact on Earth will be greatly, if not completely, diminished after it occurs. But what if you could continue to interact with your loved ones via a digital replica of yourself? One scientist theorizes that this may be an option, sooner than we realize.

Think of it as predictive typing for your entire psyche. According to, John Smart, the founder of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, believes that within five years, technology will have advanced to the point where our digital alter-egos will be able to make autonomous choices in the same manner that the original human being would. Smart considers programs like Microsoft's Cortana or Apple's Siri to be predecessors to this impending new-you-part-two technology.

Culling from the massive amount of data we have in our smartphones, computers, and other devices, a program could divine our likes, dislikes, values, and opinions, then continue to independently operate as "you." Developments could even enable realistic facial-imitation software. This could not only look out for your interests during your lifespan (maybe it can generate crafty facebook posts for you), but it would also be consoling and memorable after death.

“Where we’re headed is creating this world in which you feel you have this thing out there looking after your values,” Smart says. “When you and I die, our kids aren’t going to go to our tombstones, they’re going to fire up our digital twins and talk to them.”
Your avatar could look like you, or like a better-looking you, or just a giant glowing brain.  It's your afterlife, after all.

Robot! Another Round! Honda's Asimo Pours Drinks, Plays Soccer, Dances Better Than You

He can strut, jump around, play soccer, and gloat when he wins.  He can serve you drinks and dance, even (kind of) moonwalk.  He's like lots of other 28-year-olds...except he's a robot.

Honda's Asimo, the product of nearly 30 years of robotics development, recently showed off a few new skills for  Alongside their reporter, Asimo played soccer, boogied down, and served a drink using the 30 degrees of control in his dexterous, multi-jointed plastic fingers.

Asimo, which began as a pair of robotic legs that Honda eventually trained to master the human gait, is an acronym for "Advanced Step Innovative Mobility."  Overall Asimo's body contains 57 independent degrees of control.  Asimo's onboard sensors, cameras, and stabilizing elements are designed specifically to interact with human users.

Now they just need to install a file full of jokes and life advice, and Asimo could begin replacing bartenders worldwide, or at least become the hot new choice in domestic servitude.  That's right humanity, you've finally found a partner who will listen to all of your problems, dance with you AND happily fix you drinks!

Rock on, Asimo.

After The Automatons: Could A Robot Take Your Job Soon?

With 47 percent of the world's jobs poised to become automated in the next twenty years, what is half of humanity going to do when it is retired by robots?

While creative endeavors and skilled jobs still maintain their value for labor, automated jobs are quickly being phased out by those with the means to reap more capital by building machines to do so. As reports, "last year Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook were worth over $1 trillion combined, but employed just 150,000 people." With labor jobs dwindling and information jobs not escalating, what will workers do when their careers and cash all vanish thanks to the rich and their robots?

According to the Oxfam report "Working For The Few", "those richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth of £1 [trillion], as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world's population." With 85 people controlling the same amount of money as 3.5 billion, it is no surprise that ideas like wealth redistribution and possibly guaranteed minimum income may become serious social issues in the coming years.

How safe is your livelihood in the robot revolution?

Computer Program Passes Turing Test; Judged As Plausible 13-Year-Old Boy

Like a technological Pinocchio, a computer program called "Eugene Goostman" has convinced researchers that "he" is a real boy.

Ostensibly a 13-year-old boy from the Ukraine, the program was able to pass the Turing Test, which states that a computer could be considered to be "thinking" if it could fool 30 percent of researchers during a five-minute text conversation. First dictated in 1950 by computer pioneer Alan Turing, the test is considered the preeminent benchmark for computational philosophy and artificial intelligence. The Russian-made program, tested by the Royal Society in England, fooled 33 percent of its interrogators.

As reported by the Independent UK, in regards to his success Mr. Goostman stated, “I feel about beating the turing test in quite convenient way. Nothing original."

The success of the test brings about many questions, including many regarding the safety of computer users when dealing with possible cybercriminals. Fortunately the Goostman program has not evolved to a stage of teenage mischief...yet.

UPDATE:  The validity of this article has been proven wrong.  My apologies, that's what I get for trusting the corporate media and their wannabe-robot minds.