robots & ai

I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening

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Slowly, but surely, robots (and virtual ’bots that exist only as software) are taking over our jobs; according to one back-of-the-envelope projection, in ninety years “70 percent of today’s occupations will likewise be replaced by automation.” […]

If history repeats itself, robots will replace our current jobs, but, says Kelly, we’ll have new jobs, that we can scarcely imagine:

In the coming years robot-driven cars and trucks will become ubiquitous; this automation will spawn the new human occupation of trip optimizer, a person who tweaks the traffic system for optimal energy and time usage. Routine robosurgery will necessitate the new skills of keeping machines sterile. When automatic self-tracking of all your activities becomes the normal thing to do, a new breed of professional analysts will arise to help you make sense of the data.

Well, maybe. Or maybe the professional analysts will be robots (or least computer programs), and ditto for the trip optimizers and sterilizers.

{ The New Yorker | Continue reading }

Subjectivity after Wittgenstein: The Post-Cartesian Subject and the ‘Death of Man’

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Foxconn, the maker of Apple’s iPhone and iPad, plans to rely more on robots for manufacturing over the coming years, allowing the company to invest more in research and development and save on labor costs. […]

Local Chinese media reported that Foxconn CEO Terry Gou had said the company plans on deploying 1 million robots over the next three years to complete routine assembly tasks. Foxconn currently uses 10,000 robots. […]

The Taiwan-based company has more than 1 million employees, the majority of which are located at facilities in mainland China. Foxconn is one of the world’s largest producers of electronics. Aside from Apple, the company also manufactures products for companies like HP, Sony and Nintendo.

{ IT World | Continue reading }

Each one is sister to another and he binds them all with an outer ring and giveth speed to the feet of men

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The gap between professional race drivers and self-driven cars isn’t all that big, as a race at the Thunderhill Raceway in California proved yesterday. Although the human driver achieved victory against the self-driven Audi TTS in a head-to-head, he only managed to shave off a few seconds from the computer’s time.

{ Silicon Angle | Continue reading }

photo { Roger Minick }

‘We’re fucked.’ –Tim Geoghegan

{ Thanks Tim }

Try it with the glycerine

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Can you determine a person’s character in a single interaction? Can you judge whether someone you just met can be trusted when you have only a few minutes together? And if you can, how do you do it?

Using a robot named Nexi, psychology professor David DeSteno and collaborators […] have figured out the answer. […]

In the absence of reliable information about a person’s reputation, nonverbal cues can offer a look into a person’s likely actions. This concept has been known for years, but the cues that convey trustworthiness or untrustworthiness have remained a mystery. Collecting data from face-to-face conversations with research participants where money was on the line, DeSteno and his team realized that it’s not one single non-verbal movement or cue that determines a person’s trustworthiness, but rather sets of cues.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

photo { Garry Winogrand }

‘Mistakes are the portals of discovery.’ –James Joyce

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Mr. Arnuk is a professional stockbroker. But suddenly, and improbably, he has emerged as a leading critic of the very market in which he works. He and his business partner, Joseph C. Saluzzi, have become the voice of those plucky souls who try to swim with Wall Street’s sharks without getting devoured. […]

These two men are taking on one of the most powerful forces in finance today: high-frequency trading. H.F.T., as it’s known, is the biggest thing to hit Wall Street in years. On any given day, this lightning-quick, computer-driven form of trading accounts for upward of half of all of the business transacted on the nation’s stock markets. […]

Proponents of high-frequency trading call them embittered relics — quixotic, old-school stockbrokers without the skills to compete in sophisticated, modern markets. And, in a sense, those critics are right: they are throwbacks. Both men say they wish Wall Street could go back to a calmer, simpler time, all the way back to, say, 2004. […]

The two want to require H.F.T. firms to honor the prices they offer for a stock for at least 50 milliseconds — less than a wink of an eye, but eons in high-frequency time. […]

Mr. Arnuk then eyed the stock’s price on dozens of other trading platforms — private ones most people can’t see. Known as the dark pools, they help hedge funds and other big-money players trade in relative secrecy.

Everywhere, different prices kept flickering on the screens. Computers at high-speed trading firms, Mr. Arnuk said, were issuing buy and sell orders and then canceling them almost as fast, testing the market. It can be hell on human brokers. On the tape, the stock’s price was unchanged, but beneath the tape, things were changing all the time. […]

On the afternoon of May 6, 2010, shortly before 3 o’clock, the stock market plummeted. In just 15 minutes, the Dow tumbled 600 points — bringing its loss for the day to nearly 1,000. Then, just as fast, and just as inexplicably, it sprang back nearly 600 points, like a bungee jumper.

It was one of the most harrowing moments in Wall Street history. And for many people outside financial circles, it was the first clue as to just how much new technology was changing the nation’s financial markets. The flash crash, a federal report later concluded, “portrayed a market so fragmented and fragile that a single large trade could send stocks into a sudden spiral.” It turned out that a big mutual fund firm had sold an unusually large number of futures contracts, setting off a feedback loop among computers at H.F.T. firms that sent the market into a free fall. […]

Since the 2010 flash crash, mini flash crashes have occurred with surprising regularity in a wide range of individual stocks. Last spring, a computer glitch scuttled the initial public offering of one of the nation’s largest electronic exchanges, BATS, and computer problems at the Nasdaq stock market dogged the I.P.O. of Facebook.

And last month, Knight Capital, a brokerage firm at the center of the nation’s stock market for almost a decade, nearly collapsed after it ran up more than $400 million of losses in minutes, because of errant technology.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

A Hobson’s choice is a choice in which only one option is offered

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You walk into your shower and find a spider. You are not an arachnologist. You do, however, know that any one of the four following options is possible:

a. The spider is real and harmless.

b. The spider is real and venomous.

c. Your next-door neighbor, who dislikes your noisy dog, has turned her personal surveillance spider (purchased from “Drones ‘R Us” for $49.95) loose and is monitoring it on her iPhone from her seat at a sports bar downtown. The pictures of you, undressed, are now being relayed on several screens during the break of an NFL game, to the mirth of the entire neighborhood.

d. Your business competitor has sent his drone assassin spider, which he purchased from a bankrupt military contractor, to take you out. Upon spotting you with its sensors, and before you have any time to weigh your options, the spider shoots an infinitesimal needle into a vein in your left leg and takes a blood sample. As you beat a retreat out of the shower, your blood sample is being run on your competitor’s smartphone for a DNA match. The match is made against a DNA sample of you that is already on file at EVER.com (Everything about Everybody), an international DNA database (with access available for $179.99). Once the match is confirmed (a matter of seconds), the assassin spider outruns you with incredible speed into your bedroom, pausing only long enough to dart another needle, this time containing a lethal dose of a synthetically produced, undetectable poison, into your bloodstream. Your assassin, who is on a summer vacation in Provence, then withdraws his spider under the crack of your bedroom door and out of the house and presses its self-destruct button. No trace of the spider or the poison it carried will ever be found by law enforcement authorities.

This is the future. According to some uncertain estimates, insect-sized drones will become operational by 2030.

{ Gabriella Blum/Hoover Institution/Stanford University | PDF }

photo { Alexander Hammid, Maya Deren, 1945 }

Who is Patricia? THIS IS PATRICIA.

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Previous research on gender effects in robots has largely ignored the role of facial cues. We fill this gap in the literature by experimentally investigating the effects of facial gender cues on stereotypical trait and application ascriptions to robots. As predicted, the short-haired male robot was perceived as more agentic than was the long-haired female robot, whereas the female robot was perceived as more communal than was the male counterpart. Analogously, stereotypically male tasks were perceived more suitable for the male robot, relative to the female robot, and vice versa.

{ Journal of Applied Social Psychology | via Mind Hacks }

photo { Barbara Crane }

With all my worldly goods I thee and thou. (She murmurs.) You did that. I hate you.

Nokia accuses Apple of bias after Siri no longer says that the Lumia 900 is the best smartphone ever

Until recently Siri had responded that the best smartphone was the newly-released Nokia Lumia 900, although this is no longer the case. […] If you now ask the question, Siri responds tongue-in-cheek “Wait… there are other phones?”

{ TechWeek | Continue reading }

OMG guys, UFO

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Robotics is a game-changer in national security. We now find military robots in just about every environment: land, sea, air, and even outer space. They have a full range of form-factors from tiny robots that look like insects to aerial drones with wingspans greater than a Boeing 737 airliner. Some are fixed onto battleships, while others patrol borders in Israel and South Korea; these have fully-auto modes and can make their own targeting and attack decisions. There’s interesting work going on now with micro robots, swarm robots, humanoids, chemical bots, and biological-machine integrations. As you’d expect, military robots have fierce names like: TALON SWORDS, Crusher, BEAR, Big Dog, Predator, Reaper, Harpy, Raven, Global Hawk, Vulture, Switchblade, and so on. But not all are weapons–for instance, BEAR is designed to retrieve wounded soldiers on an active battlefield.

{ The Atlantic | Continue reading }

One more sign of a growing ‘entourage’ culture, where behavior is influenced by like-minded cohorts rather than essential values

Everyone complains about his memory, and no one complains about his judgment

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It’s now been a couple of weeks since Siri debuted as part of Apple’s iPhone 4S. (…)

Siri is hard to copy. For anyone who doesn’t understand voice applications, it’s easy to think that Siri will be easy to copy. It won’t.  There are 2 parts to making a successful voice app: the voice rec technology which has improved a lot but is basically a commodity and the app itself, which is a combination of art and artificial intelligence.  It’s that 2nd part that’s so tough to replicate and that’s why Apple bought Siri last year.  It’s true Google has experience in the voice rec space and doing some simple voice apps but they do not have the personality and AI of Siri and that will be very difficult to copy — especially for a company that doesn’t sit at the intersection of the humanities and technology.

{ Forbes | Continue reading }

related { Apple gets Siri-ous about TV }