Executives Evaluate AI Proposals for ETC Student Challenge

On April 1, after students presented their ideas for AI-Assisted Experiences during ETC’s latest student challenge, a group of leading tech executive judges engaged the students in a spirited discussion of possibilities, opportunities and ethics related to artificial intelligence. Interactive Media and Game Design senior Toby Zhao and Universal Pictures’ Sherry Wong discussed the uses and limitations of AI in today’s creative process. Psychology graduate Erik Rollins asked whether the industry is thinking about how AI will influence society. Epic Games CTO Kim Libreri responded that society needs standards that will let us know when something is real versus synthetic or altered. It is already too easy to distribute manipulated or false information and rile people up, he said. Continue reading Executives Evaluate AI Proposals for ETC Student Challenge

CES: Federal Tech and Innovation Priorities for the New Year

Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada), a former computer programmer, brought Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico) to the CES stage to talk about their top technology interests in the new year. All of them serve on committees with core interests in the future of technology. In addition to serving on six committees, Rosen is on the subcommittee on cybersecurity; Warner is chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence among other committee assignments; and Luján is a member of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation among others. Continue reading CES: Federal Tech and Innovation Priorities for the New Year

Nuclear-Fusion Breakthrough Points to Clean Energy Future

The U.S. Department of Energy announced that that scientists at a federal research facility have achieved a breakthrough in nuclear fusion that advances the quest to unlock an unlimited energy source. The development, which took place at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, was decades in the making, and paves the way for advancements in national defense and the future of clean power. Marking a first, the team at Livermore’s multi-billion dollar National Ignition Facility achieved “scientific energy breakeven,” producing more energy from fusion than the laser energy used to drive it. Continue reading Nuclear-Fusion Breakthrough Points to Clean Energy Future

Deepmind’s AlphaCode AI Can Program Like Human Coders

DeepMind researchers have trained an AI to solve computer coding challenges as well as the average person. In a paper published last week in the journal Science, the group from Google’s AI division described how AlphaCode performed when pitted against human programmers, ranking in the top 54.3 percent in simulated tests, commensurate with “approximately human-level performance.” “This performance in competitions approximately corresponds to a novice programmer with a few months to a year of training,” according to Science, which says about half the humans who compete in coding contests could outperform the AI. Continue reading Deepmind’s AlphaCode AI Can Program Like Human Coders

LinkedIn Test Raises Ethics Questions Over Parsing Big Data

LinkedIn’s experiments on users have drawn scrutiny from a new study that says the platform may have crossed a line into “social engineering.” The tests, over five years from 2015 to 2019, involved changing the “People You May Know” algorithm to alternate between weak and strong contacts when recommending new connections. Affecting an estimated 20 million users, the test was designed to collect insight to improve the Microsoft-owned platform’s performance, but may have impacted people’s career opportunities. The study was co-authored by researchers at LinkedIn, Harvard Business School, MIT and Stanford and appeared this month in Science. Continue reading LinkedIn Test Raises Ethics Questions Over Parsing Big Data

Senate Advances $52B Bill to Combat Global Chip Shortage

The Senate moved to advance legislation that supports U.S. semiconductor manufacturing by stripping other aspects from a larger China competitiveness bill. Dubbed “CHIPS-plus,” the narrowed proposal still allocates $52 billion in subsidies for chipmakers but had a “hold-this-space” marker for the remainder of the language. The procedural motion required 51 votes to determine if this stripped-down version of the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) could proceed to a final vote even though adjustments would continue to be made before the Senate votes on the finished result. It cleared that hurdle, 64-34. Continue reading Senate Advances $52B Bill to Combat Global Chip Shortage

Upfronts: YouTube Promotes Talent, Google Advertising Tech

YouTube’s Brandcast presentation at the TV upfronts focused on the platform’s massive consumer reach, popular influencers and technology solutions. In a Tuesday evening presentation at New York’s Imperial Theatre, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki messaged that now “YouTube is the mainstream,” a contention supported by Nielsen findings that in October the video streamer reached about 230 million U.S. viewers 18 and older. Leveraging sisterly synergy, the company unveiled a new ad frequency cap that lets marketers use Google Ads to set limits on how often ads will stream to specific IP addresses, which has ramifications for services beyond YouTube. Continue reading Upfronts: YouTube Promotes Talent, Google Advertising Tech

IBM Rolls Out Its First Commercial Quantum Computer at CES

During CES last week, IBM announced the IBM Q System One, the company’s first foray into commercial quantum computing outside of the lab. The 20-qubit IBM Q system combines quantum and classical computing intended for a range of business and research applications. According to IBM, these new systems are “designed to one day tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle.” The systems are also said to be upgradeable and easy to maintain. Continue reading IBM Rolls Out Its First Commercial Quantum Computer at CES

Harvard Scientists Store Motion Picture Clip on DNA Strand

Storing information, including film, on DNA sounds like science fiction, but Harvard Medical School researchers just encoded Eadweard Muybridge’s 1878 film of a galloping horse onto a strand of DNA in a living cell, from which it can be retrieved and multiplied indefinitely. This is a first, but other researchers previously recorded all of Shakespeare’s sonnets on DNA, and Harvard geneticist George Church, one of the new study’s researchers, did the same with his book “Regenesis” and made 90 billion copies of it. Continue reading Harvard Scientists Store Motion Picture Clip on DNA Strand

Facebook Looking to Publish More Long-Form Original Series

Facebook is on the hunt for more TV-like original programming for the video tab in its mobile app. The company is looking for weekly shows no longer than 30 minutes per episode. Facebook isn’t interested in hard news content, but rather scripted and unscripted shows in subject areas including sports, science, pop culture, lifestyle, gaming and teens. Original programming would not only help keep users on the social media platform longer; it could also generate a significant amount of ad revenue. Continue reading Facebook Looking to Publish More Long-Form Original Series

Chan Zuckerberg Fund Invests $3 Billion in Medical Research

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan announced they plan to invest more than $3 billion over the next 10 years to develop tech focused on research to combat disease. “The first investment by the couple’s for-profit philanthropic arm, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC, will be $600 million to create a research lab of engineers and scientists based in San Francisco,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “This focus on building on tools suggests a road map for how we might go about curing, preventing and managing all diseases this century,” said Zuckerberg. Continue reading Chan Zuckerberg Fund Invests $3 Billion in Medical Research

Toyota Invests $1 Billion in Planned Return to Traditional R&D

Facebook, Google and numerous startups are among those actively researching new possibilities with artificial intelligence technology. Japanese automaker Toyota is joining the crusade with a five-year, $1 billion R&D effort. The planned Silicon Valley facility will become one of the largest research labs in the area. Toyota Research Institute will initially open a lab next to Stanford and an additional facility near MIT in Cambridge. Toyota’s plans represent a shift in tech research — a return to a focus on science and engineering rather than a push for tech that would become a specific product or service. Continue reading Toyota Invests $1 Billion in Planned Return to Traditional R&D

National Geographic and Fox Partner on a New Media Venture

The National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox have formed a for-profit venture, National Geographic Partners, which includes the National Geographic Channels cable TV group and magazine, other print publications, studios, digital media, maps, children’s media, travel, licensing and e-commerce. Fox’s $725 million purchase price bumps up the National Geographic Society’s endowment to $1 billion, enabling the non-profit organization to double its investment in science, research and education. Continue reading National Geographic and Fox Partner on a New Media Venture

MIT Media Lab Director Ito Explores Transformative Research

Joichi “Joi” Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, explored how radical new approaches to science and technology can transform society in his SIGGRAPH 2015 keynote presentation. Ito’s remarks addressed what he and his colleagues at the Media Lab view as a fundamental shift in the way we need to work, collaborate, think, imagine and create. He calls it the “Creativity Compass” and unites science, art, design and engineering. Several of the Media Lab’s futuristic projects were also featured. Continue reading MIT Media Lab Director Ito Explores Transformative Research

Augmented Reality on Track to Transform Our Everyday Lives

Augmented reality systems with technology that overlays digital interfaces onto the physical world may eventually edge out virtual reality and significantly impact human perception. While VR products such as Oculus Rift, Gear VR and HTC’s Vive get closer to launch, timelines for augmented reality devices such as Microsoft’s HoloLens and Google-backed Magic Leap remain vague. However, some believe AR is more likely to become integrated into our everyday activities and subsequently affect the way we interact, work and communicate. Continue reading Augmented Reality on Track to Transform Our Everyday Lives