“Guy with a gun right there!” shouts Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Hill, as we storm an enemy compound in Afghanistan. Dressed in camouflage and weighed down with a backpack, I crouch with another soldier, Staff Sgt. Edwin Lopez, near a small concrete wall. I peer around the corner to see a Taliban fighter aiming at us from the doorway of a run-down two-story building. As bullets zip past my helmet, I look up into the bright blue sky to see a column of thick black smoke twisting up from a nearby rooftop. But before I can raise the heavy rifle in my hands, I hear the scream of a bullet, and everything goes black. As someone helps me take off my helmet, I’m suddenly not in Afghanistan anymore. Motion-tracking sensors are strapped to my arms and legs. My backpack holds a computer processing unit. Virtual reality goggles dangle from my helmet. The gun in my hands is an exact replica of an M16—except for the tiny joystick on the back of the trigger to control my motion. … [Read more...] about Ender’s Game is Already a Reality for the U.S. Military
Life is like a train
Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, are set to become guinea pigs for a new high-tech approach to improving relations between cops and citizens. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department is working with University of Chicago researchers to create software that tries to predict when an officer is likely to have a bad interaction with someone. The claim is that it will be able to forewarn against everything from impolite traffic stops to fatal shootings. FiveThirtyEight’s look at the program points out that previous efforts to use algorithms to nudge police to do their jobs better haven’t worked out. Chicago’s police department gave up on a system introduced in the 1990s after resistance from cops who didn’t like working under its algorithmic eye.As well as concerns about trust and retaliation, one problem with that system was its poor accuracy. Although predictive algorithms have improved in the years since, that will still be a major challenge. Training … [Read more...] about Police Will Soon Be Watched by Algorithms That Try to Predict Misconduct. Is That a Good Thing?
Artificial intelligence is close to entering our everyday lives. It might not be the Skynet-style system that comes to mind when we think of AI, but “virtual assistant” software designed to learn about its user could well be the first step towards full-blown machine intelligence.Just last month, Bill Gates made headlines across the web when he stated that he is “concerned about super intelligence” as part of a Reddit AMA. Gates’ trepidation regarding the technology came as something of a surprise to many, but he’s far from the only silicon superstar calling for caution. Should we be more concerned than we are about this sort of technology?Concern in the face of a “super intelligence”Speaking to MIT students in 2014, Elon Musk described artificial intelligence as “our biggest existential threat.” Last month, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO contributed $10 million to the Future of … [Read more...] about Is Cortana a dangerous step towards artificial intelligence?
Mark Zuckerberg took questions from Facebook users around the world on Tuesday in his first-ever Facebook Live Q&A session.Part Facebook Live promotion and part PR effort to bring the company boss closer to the community he helped build, the Zuck fielded a wide range of questions during the 60-minute session, with some 100,000 users dropping by to see what he had to say.There were a few surprises along the way, too, with comedy giant Jerry Seinfeld at one point joining the live-stream to probe Zuckerberg about his home life. But more on that later.“There’s some pretty crazy brain research going on”After predictably highlighting his passion for making the world a better place by connecting everyone on the planet (through Facebook, obviously) and bringing more opportunity to everyone, Zuckerberg moved on to the topic of virtual and augmented reality, an area in which the social networking giant is showing increasing interest.At the current time Facebook is pushing … [Read more...] about Mark Zuckerberg confirms he is not a lizard during Facebook Live Q&A chat
For the majority of the public, the albums and bands you discover in high school and college are the ones you’ll listen to for the rest of your life. There’s a comfort in the familiar, of course, and really, why expend energy seeking out new music, when you’ve already got your favorite bands firmly in place? Worst-case scenario, you just have to rebuy those dozen records once a decade or so.For some of us, though, that thrill of discovery ultimately brings us every bit as much joy as the music we seek. In fact, if anything, my own music listening has just grown weirder in my post-collegiate years. The cuts have grown deeper, the chords more dissonant and the artist names more obscure. The iPod Classic was made for me.And to be, honest, I’m genuinely saddened by its passing. I couldn’t tell you how many iPods I’ve owned over the years, but I bet if dug through enough drawers and boxes, I’d be able to excavate a half dozen click wheels of various … [Read more...] about For music lovers, the iPod Classic’s demise is like a favorite band breaking up
A strange thing happened to me while playing the review copy for PES Production’s PES 2013. As a longtime fan of EA’s FIFA series, and an even longer time fan of soccer, I always get excited this time of year when the new FIFA demo launches on Xbox Live and PSN. That’s because at this point in the year we are already three weeks into the European soccer season, and my excitement is at an all-time high to recreate the wonder and magic of the respective leagues in the virtual world. Except, this year was different. This year I was too captivated by PES 2013 to stop playing it for 10 minutes and give the FIFA 13 demo a go, and this, my friends, has never happened before.Alright, so we have a new football king then… right? All hail PES, may it reign for many years to come! Whoa, slow down there. While PES is good, great even, it’s too early to tell which soccer-sim (if either) will come out on top. Plus, we haven’t even played the full version of FIFA … [Read more...] about PES 2013 review: Is there a new king of the pitch?
I had a lot of preconceptions about Pebble Beach before heading there for my inaugural visit this year. The notion of being at such a prestigious event filled my head with images of fastidiously cared for vintage motorcars, the kind that often spend more time being looked at than being enjoyed. A vast collection of potential energy, history encased in amber.Understanding the evolution of the automobile and the artisanship of design is undoubtedly a valuable and interesting endeavor, but I find myself gravitating toward pursuits of action, of “performance”. While there’s certainly no shortage of meticulously restored and absurdly valuable vehicles that spend the vast majority of their existence under climate-controlled lock and key at Monterey Car Week, the notion that the experience would essentially begin and end at Pebble Beach Golf Links was shattered before I even arrived at my hotel, when I came across an early 1960s Ferrari race car (a vehicle with a value … [Read more...] about Attending Monterey Car Week is like living in an Xbox racing game
Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have created a reasoning virtual 4-year-old child.The "child," named "Eddie," can reason about his own beliefs to draw conclusions in a manner that matches human children of that age.To test Eddie's reasoning powers, the group created a demo in Second Life in which Eddie was shown someone placing an object in one location then leaving the virtual room, followed by a second person who moved the object to another location in the room. Eddie was then asked where the first person would look for the object when he got back.Eddie's response was the first location -- incorrect, but typical of a 4-year-old child in the real world.Like real children, Eddie can learn from his mistakes and, if the test is run again, will give the correct answer.Second Life is a virtual world launched in 2003 in which its users, called "residents," can interact with each other through virtual representations of themselves, called "avatars."That isn't what Eddie … [Read more...] about AI Program Thinks Like a 4-Year-Old
The security of any given computer system is no better than the skills researchersbring to finding the next potential program flaw. Network securityworkers concentrate on updating patches and making sure only validatedusers can access the corporate LAN (local area network). Meanwhile, security researchershunt for existing but unidentified infrastructure flaws that could letin the bad guys.However, even when researchers find a new potential vulnerability, productvendors are not always quick to respond with fixes. That seems to bethe case with a common browser flaw that allows attackers to silentlyexploit compromised SSL encrypted data.Two researchers recently uncovered what they contend is a serious flawin handling Extended Validation SSL in popular Web browsers. Thiscould place users of EV SSL-protected Web sites at risk from silentman-in-the-middle attacks (MITM)."These researchers specialize in advanced research on the cuttingedge," Tim Callan, vicepresident of product marketing for … [Read more...] about Is There a Dark Cloud Over SSL’s Green Glow?
Artificial intelligence (A.I.) could become a game-changer for multiple industries.Powerful algorithms may soon be able to quickly sift through reams of data and information, delivering quantifiable insights for tasks such as enhancing guidance systems for self-driving cars, assisting physicians in diagnosing patients, or helping farmers implement plans that simplify the management and protection of their crops.Technology giants in the U.S. like IBM and Microsoft are exploring business opportunities where A.I. could have the most impact, but an ecosystem for this type of R&D is already thriving in Canada.Our neighbor to the north has produced several pioneers in A.I.Prominent computer scientists like Geoffrey Hinton, Ph.D., and Yoshua Bengio, Ph.D., started their careers in Toronto laying the groundwork for various A.I. oriented fields.Hinton, an engineering fellow at Google and professor emeritus of computer science at the University of Toronto, is considered a pioneer in training … [Read more...] about Why Canada is Becoming a Hub for A.I. Research