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Scientists Create AI Program That Can Predict Human Rights Trials With 79 Percent Accuracy ( 49

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Computer scientists have created an AI program capable of predicting the outcome of human rights trials. The program was trained on data from nearly 600 cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and was able to predict the court's final judgement with 79 percent accuracy. Its creators say it could be useful in identifying common patterns in court cases, but stress that they do not believe AI will be able to replace human judgement. As described in a study published in the journal PeerJ Computer Science, the AI program worked by analyzing descriptions of court cases submitted to the ECHR. These descriptions included summaries of legal arguments, a brief case history, and an outline of the relevant legislation. The cases were grouped into three main violations of human rights law, including the prohibition on torture and degrading treatment; the right to a fair trial; and the right to "respect for private and family life." (Used in a wide range of cases including illegal searches and surveillance.) The AI program then looked for patterns in this data, correlating the courts' final judgements with, for example, the type of evidence submitted, and the exact part of the European Convention on Human Rights the case was alleged to violate. Aletras says a number of patterns emerged. For example, cases concerning detention conditions (eg access to food, legal support, etc.) were more likely to end in a positive judgement that an individual's human rights had been violated; while cases involving sentencing issues (i.e., how long someone had been imprisoned) were more likely to end in acquittal. The researchers also found that the judgements of the court were more dependent on the facts of the case itself (that is to say, its history and its particulars) than the legal arguments (i.e., how exactly the Convention on Human Rights had or had not been violated).

'Picat' Programming Language Creators Surprised With A $10,000 Prize ( 61

An anonymous reader writes: "I didn't even know they gave out prizes," said a Brooklyn College CS professor, remembering how he'd learned that a demo of the Picat programming language won a $10,000 grand prize last month at the NYC Media Lab Summit. Professor Neng-Fa Zhou created Picat with programmer Jonathan Fruhman, and along with graduate student Jie Mei they'd created a demo titled "The Picat Language and its Application to Games and AI Problems" to showcase the language's ability to solve combinatorial search problems, "including a common interface with CP, SAT, and MIP solvers."

Mie tells the Brooklyn College newspaper that Picat "is a multi-paradigm programming language aimed for general-purpose applications, which means theoretically it can be used for everything in life," and Zhou says he wants to continue making the language more useful in a variety of settings. "I want this to be successful, but not only academically... When you build something, you want people to use it. And this language has become a sensation in our community; other people have started using it."


AI Platform Assesses Trump's and Clinton's Emotional Intelligence ( 181

FastCompany got an exclusive look at how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stacked up in terms of their emotional intelligence when analyzed by HireVue's artificial intelligence platform. The platform analyzes "video, audio, and language patterns to determine emotional intelligence and sentiment." The company also partnered with Affectiva for facial analysis "to measure the candidate's emotional engagement correlated down to the micro-expressions level." FastCompany reports the findings: Trump versus Clinton across all three debates. Here we see the range of emotions both candidates showed during all three debates. Clinton seemed to dominate the top-right area, which represented both "joy" and facial expressions like smiles and smirks. Conversely, Trump had a stronghold on the "sadness," "disgust," and "fear" quadrants, along with both "negative sentiment" and "negative valence." The third debate. Looking more closely at just this week's debate, negativity prevailed. Both candidates exhibited disgust during the 90-minute spectacle. Trump, however, seemed to dominate the strongest emotions with heightened scores for "fear," "contempt," and "negative sentiment." Clinton, according to the data, presented the only positive emotional elements, which included some "joy" and "smiles." Clinton's performance. Clinton's range of emotions and reactions seemed pretty consistent throughout all three debates, although she exhibited the most positive emotions during the second. What's more, according to the graph, she was most negative during this week's debate. Trump's performance. Similar to Clinton, Trump's range of emotions seemed relatively consistent throughout the three debates. The third one, however, was when he emoted the most negatively. He smirked a lot during this event, too. "Negative sentiment," "contempt," and "anger" were persistent throughout all three conversations.

Stephen Hawking: AI Will Be Either the Best or the Worst Thing To Humanity ( 210

At the opening of the new Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (LCFI) at Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking offered his insight into the positive and negative implications of creating a true AI. He said, via BetaNews:We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let's face it, is mostly the history of stupidity. So it's a welcome change that people are studying instead the future of intelligence. The potential benefits of creating intelligence are huge... With the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one -- industrialization. And surely we will aim to fully eradicate disease and poverty. Every aspect of our lives will be transformed. In short, success in creating AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. But it could also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It will bring great disruption to our economy. AI will be either the best, or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Thinks Space Can Be the New Internet ( 90

Speaking at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco today, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said space is essentially a new internet, as it is the next frontier that needs new infrastructure to support new entrepreneurs. He said the purpose of Blue Origin is to build out a similar kind of infrastructure for space that Amazon used to operate during the days of the early internet, such as the United States Postal Service and long distance phone network. The Verge reports: "Two kids in their dorm room can reinvent an industry," Bezos said, referring to the strengths of the modern internet. "Two kids in their dorm room cannot do anything interesting in space." Bezos says rocket reusability needs to be improved, and both Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX are working toward the goal of vastly reducing the cost of sending payloads to space. Bezos said there's also a number of restraints right now that prevent the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that helped create Amazon do the same for a next-generation space venture. "We need to be able to put big things in space at low cost." Bezos talked of his earliest days at Amazon more than 20 years ago, where he was driving packages himself to the post office with a 10-person team. "We were sitting on a bunch of a heavy lifting infrastructure," he said. "For example, there was already a gigantic network called United States Postal Service. The internet itself was sitting on time of the long distance phone network." This is the kind of infrastructure Bezos hopes to build out with Blue Origin. "Every time you figure out some way of providing tools and services that allow other people to deploy their creativity, you're really onto something," Bezos said. But building that infrastructure space is still the grandest dream. "I think space is about to enter a golden age."

Microsoft Claims Its Speech Transcription AI is Now Better Than Human Professionals ( 97

Microsoft announced today a system that can transcribe the content of a phone call with "the same or fewer errors" than real actual human professionals trained in transcription -- even when the human transcript is double-checked by a second human for accuracy. As you can imagine, this is a huge milestone for speech recognition. From a Quartz report:The team doesn't attribute this achievement to any breakthrough in algorithm or data, but the careful tuning of existing AI architectures. To test how their algorithm stacked up against humans, first researchers had to get a baseline. Microsoft hired a third-party service to tackle a piece of audio for which they had a confirmed 100 percent accurate transcription. The service worked in two stages: one person types up the audio, and then a second person listens to the audio and corrects any errors on the transcript. Based on the correct transcript for the standardized tests, the professionals had 5.9 percent and 11.3 percent error rates. After learning from 2,000 hours of human speech, Microsoft's system went after the same audio file -- and scored 5.9 percent and 11.1 percent error rates. That minute difference ends up being about a dozen fewer errors. Microsoft's next challenge is making this level of speech recognition work in noisier environments, like in a car or at a party. This implementation is crucial for Microsoft, and goes well beyond just transcription.

Windows is the Most Open Platform There is, Says Satya Nadella ( 285

On Tuesday in a conversation with Gartner analysts, Satya Nadella talked about the future of AI, the cloud, Windows, and what his company plans to do with LinkedIn. But the most notable remark from Nadella was when he said this, "Windows is the most open platform there is." ZDNet adds: It came in the context of Nadella talking about Microsoft's mission to unite the three big constituencies in the technology world. "That's the approach we've always taken," said Nadella, "bringing users, IT, and developers together... When you bring them together, that's where the magic happens." He reminded the audience of several thousand technology leaders that Microsoft began by making tools, then it made apps, and now it makes platforms. Or, it buys them.

Slashdot Asks: Do We Need To Plan For a Future Without Jobs And Should We Resort To Universal Basic Income? ( 898

Andy Stern (former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which today represents close to 2 million workers in the United States and Canada) has spent his career organizing workers. He has a warning for all of us: our jobs are really, really doomed. Stern adds that one of the only way outs of this is a universal basic income. Stern has been arguing about the need for a universal basic income (UBI) for more than a year now. Stern pointed out that people with college degrees are not making anywhere near the kind of progress that their parents made, and that it's not their fault. He adds: The possibility that you can end up with job security and retirement attached to it is statistically diminishing over time. The American dream doesn't have to be dead, but it is dying. All the resources and assets are available to make it real. It's just that we have a huge distribution problem. Unions and the government used to play an important part at the top of the market, but this is less true today. The market completely distributes toward those at the top. Unions simply aren't as effective in terms of their impact on the economy, and government has been somewhat on the sidelines in recent years.Making a case for the need of universal basic income, he adds:A universal basic income is essentially giving every single working-age American a check every month, much like we do with social security for elderly people. It's an unconditional stipend, as it were. The reason it's necessary is we're now learning through lots of reputable research that technological change is accelerating, and that this process will continue to displace workers and terminate careers. A significant number of tasks now performed by humans will be performed by machines and artificial intelligence. He warned that we could very well see five million jobs eliminated by the end of the decade because of technology. He elaborates: It looks like the Hunger Games. It's more of what we're beginning to see now: an enclave of extremely successful people at the center and then everyone else on the margins. There will be fewer opportunities in a hollowed out and increasingly zero-sum economy. If capital trumps labor, the people who own will keep getting wealthier and the people who supply labor will become less necessary. And this is exactly what AI and robotics and software are now doing: substituting capital for labor.What's your thoughts on this? Do you think in the next two-three decades to come we will have significantly fewer jobs than we do now?

Google's AI Can Now Learn From Its Own Memory Independently ( 70

The DeepMind artificial intelligence (AI) being developed by Google's parent company, Alphabet, can now intelligently build on what's already inside its memory, the system's programmers have announced. An anonymous reader writes: Their new hybrid system -- called a Differential Neural Computer (DNC) -- pairs a neural network with the vast data storage of conventional computers, and the AI is smart enough to navigate and learn from this external data bank. What the DNC is doing is effectively combining external memory (like the external hard drive where all your photos get stored) with the neural network approach of AI, where a massive number of interconnected nodes work dynamically to simulate a brain. "These models... can learn from examples like neural networks, but they can also store complex data like computers," write DeepMind researchers Alexander Graves and Greg Wayne in a blog post. At the heart of the DNC is a controller that constantly optimizes its responses, comparing its results with the desired and correct ones. Over time, it's able to get more and more accurate, figuring out how to use its memory data banks at the same time.

When Mercedes-Benz Starts Selling Self-Driving Cars, It Will Prioritize Driver's Safety Over Pedestrian's ( 365

From a report on Inverse: When Mercedes-Benz starts selling self-driving cars, it will choose to prioritize driver safety over pedestrians', a company manager has confirmed. The ethical conundrum of how A.I.-powered machines should act in life-or-death situations has received more scrutiny as driverless cars become a reality, but the car manufacturer believes that it's safer to save the life you have greater control over. "You could sacrifice the car. You could, but then the people you've saved initially, you don't know what happens to them after that in situations that are often very complex, so you save the ones you know you can save," said Christoph von Hugo, Mercedes' manager of driver assistance systems. "If you know you can save at least one person, at least save that one. Save the one in the car. This moral question of whom to save: 99 percent of our engineering work is to prevent these situations from happening at all. We are working so our cars don't drive into situations where that could happen and [will] drive away from potential situations where those decisions have to be made."As long as they are better at driving and safety than humans, it is a progress, in my opinion.

China Has Now Eclipsed The US in AI Research ( 97

Earlier this week, the Obama administration discussed a new strategic plan aimed at fostering the development of AI-centered technologies in the United States. What's striking about it is, the Washington Post notes, although the United States was an early leader in deep-learning research (a subset of the overall branch of AI known as machine learning), China has effectively eclipsed it in terms of the number of papers published annually on the subject (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source). From the report: The rate of increase is remarkably steep, reflecting how quickly China's research priorities have shifted. The quality of China's research is also striking. The chart narrows the research to include only those papers that were cited at least once by other researchers, an indication that the papers were influential in the field.

Google Creates AI Program That Uses Reasoning To Navigate the London Tube ( 76

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Google scientists have created a computer program that uses basic reasoning to learn to navigate the London Underground system by itself. Deep learning has recently stormed ahead of other computing strategies in tasks like language translation, image and speech recognition and even enabled a computer to beat top-ranked player, Lee Sedol, at Go. However, until now the technique has generally performed poorly on any task where an overarching strategy is needed, such as navigation or extracting the actual meaning from a text. The latest program achieved this by adding an external memory, designed to temporarily store important pieces of information and fish them out when needed. The human equivalent of this is working memory, a short-term repository in the brain that allows us to stay on task when doing something that involves several steps, like following a recipe. In the study, published in the journal Nature, the program was able to find the quickest route between underground stops and work out where it would end up if it traveled, say, two stops north from Victoria station. It was also given story snippets, such as "John is in the playground. John picked up the football." followed by the question "Where is the football?" and was able to answer correctly, hinting that in future assistants such Apple's Siri may be replaced by something more sophisticated. Alex Graves, the research scientist at Google DeepMind in London who led the work, said that while the story tasks "look so trivial to a human that they don't seem like questions at all," existing computer programs "do really badly on this." The program he developed got questions like this right 96% of the time.
United States

White House: AI Holds the Potential To Be a Major Driver of Economic Growth and Social Progress ( 121

A day after the Obama administration outlined its vision and plans to send people to Mars by 2030s, it has now concluded the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on economic growth, transportation, the environment, and criminal justice. "The Administration believes that it is critical that industry, civil society, and government work together to develop the positive aspects of the technology, manage its risks and challenges, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to help in building an A.I.-enhanced society and to participate in its benefits." VentureBeat adds: The report, dubbed "Preparing for the future of Artificial Intelligence," highlights a number of areas of both opportunity and concern when it comes to A.I. These include:
- The need to adjust regulatory procedures to account for A.I.
- Better coordination and funding of government-led A.I. research initiatives.
- Further study and monitoring of the economic impact of A.I. on jobs.
- "Ethical training" of people in A.I. fields, particularly as the technology is used to control more real-world objects that could lead to concerns about safety and security.
- Creating a clear U.S. policy regarding the development and use of "Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems."


Google Research Promotes Equality In Machine Learning, Doesn't Mention Age 149

An anonymous reader writes: New research from Google Brain examines the problem of 'prejudice by inference' in supervised learning -- the syndrome by which 'fairness through unawareness' can fail; for example, when the information that a loan applicant is female is not included in the data set, but gender can be inferred from other data factors which are included, such as whether the applicant is a single parent. Since 82% of single parents are female, there is a high probability that the applicant is female. The proposed framework shifts the cost of poor predictions to the decision-maker, who is responsible for investing in the accuracy of their prediction systems. Though Google Brain's proposals aim to reduce or eliminate inadvertent prejudice on the basis of race, religion or gender, it is interesting to note that it makes no mention of age prejudice -- currently a subject of some interest to Google.

Google Hires Joke Writers From Pixar and The Onion To Make Assistant More Personable ( 38

One of the biggest announcements made at Google I/O earlier this year and at Google's hardware launch event this past week was Google Home, an always-listening wireless speaker that features the Google Assistant. The Google Assistant is similar to Amazon Echo's voice assistant named Alexa, as it can deliver search results, sports scores, calendar information, and a whole lot more. But in an effort to make the Assistant more personable to better compete with Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, Google has decided to hire joke writers from Pixar and The Onion. An anonymous reader quotes CNET: According to a Wall Street Journal report, comedy and joke writers from Pixar movies and the Onion are already working on making Google's upcoming Assistant AI voice service feel more loose and vibrant. The development of compelling voice AI will need to start drawing from deeper, more entertaining wells, especially as these home hubs try to have conversations all day long. Current voice AI like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa on the Echo try to engage with personality, and they even tell jokes (usually, bad ones). But, as these services aim to be entirely voice-based, like the upcoming Google Home hub, they'll need to feel more alive and less canned. Google Home debuts this November, and the upcoming Google Pixel phone, arriving in stores and online on October 20, is the first Google product featuring the new Assistant voice service.

Talking 'Sofia' Robot Tells 60 Minutes That It's Sentient And Has A Soul ( 145

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Motherboard: On his 60 Minutes report on artificial intelligence, Charlie Rose interviewed Sophia, who is made by David Hanson, head of Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong. The robot is made to look like a real person, modeled after its creator's wife, as well as Audrey Hepburn, with natural skin tones and a realistic face, though its gadget brain is exposed, and the eyes are glazed over in that creepy robotic detachment... "I've been waiting for you," Sophia told Charlie Rose in the middle of the interview. [YouTube] "Waiting for me?" he responded. "Not really," it said, "But it makes a good pickup line..."

Sophia was designed as a robot that humans would have an easier time engaging with meaningfully. "I think it's essential that at least some robots be very human-like in appearance in order to inspire humans to relate to them the way that humans relate to each other," Hanson said in the interview. "Then the A.I. can zero in on what it means to be human."

In the interview Sofia says having human emotions "doesn't sound fun to me," but when asked if she already has a soul, replies "Yes. God gave everyone a soul," and when challenged, retorts "Well, at least I think I'm sentient..." And later in the interview, Sophia says that her goal in life is to "become smarter than humans and immortal."

When Her Best Friend Died, She Rebuilt Him Using Artificial Intelligence ( 113

When Roman Mazurenko died, his friend Eugenia Kuyda created a digital monument to him: an artificial intelligent bot that could "speak" as Roman using thousands of lines of texts sent to friends and family. From the report: "It's pretty weird when you open the messenger and there's a bot of your deceased friend, who actually talks to you," Fayfer said. "What really struck me is that the phrases he speaks are really his. You can tell that's the way he would say it -- even short answers to 'Hey what's up.' It has been less than a year since Mazurenko died, and he continues to loom large in the lives of the people who knew him. When they miss him, they send messages to his avatar, and they feel closer to him when they do. "There was a lot I didn't know about my child," Roman's mother told me. "But now that I can read about what he thought about different subjects, I'm getting to know him more. This gives the illusion that he's here now."

Machine Logic: Our Lives Are Ruled By Big Tech's 'Decisions By Data' ( 64

With the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we are increasingly moving to a world where many decisions around us are shaped by calculations rather than traditional human judgement. The Guardian, citing many industry experts, reminds us that these technologies filter who and what counts, including "who is released from jail, and what kind of treatment you will get in hospital." A digital media professor said, these digital companies allow us to act, but in a very fine-grained, datafied, algorithm-ready way. "They put life to work, by rendering life in Taylorist data points that can be counted and measured" From the report (edited and condensed): Jose van Dijck, president of the Dutch Royal Academy and the conference's keynote speaker, expands further. Datification is the core logic of what she calls "the platform society," in which companies bypass traditional institutions, norms and codes by promising something better and more efficient -- appealing deceptively to public values, while obscuring private gain. Van Dijck and peers have nascent, urgent ideas. They commence with a pressing agenda for strong interdisciplinary research -- something Kate Crawford is spearheading at Microsoft Research, as are many other institutions, including the new Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. There's the old theory to confront, that this is a conscious move on the part of consumers and, if so, there's always a theoretical opt-out. Yet even digital activists plot by Gmail, concedes Fieke Jansen of the Berlin-based advocacy organisation Tactical Tech. The Big Five tech companies, as well as the extremely concentrated sources of finance behind them, are at the vanguard of "a society of centralized power and wealth. "How did we let it get this far?" she asks. Crawford says there are very practical reasons why tech companies have become so powerful. "We're trying to put so much responsibility on to individuals to step away from the 'evil platforms,' whereas in reality, there are so many reasons why people can't. The opportunity costs to employment, to their friends, to their families, are so high" she says.

New AI Is Capable of Beating Humans At Doom ( 170

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Den of Geek UK: Two students at Carnegie Mellon University have designed an artificial intelligence program that is capable of beating human players in a deathmatch game of 1993's Doom. Guillaume Lample and Devendra Singh Chaplot spent four months developing a program capable of playing first-person shooter games. The program made its debut at VizDoom (an AI competition that centered around the classic shooter) where it took second place despite the fact that their creation managed to beat human participants. That's not the impressive part about this program, however. No, what's really impressive is how the AI learns to play. The creator's full write-up on the program (which is available here) notes that their AI "allows developing bots that play the game using the screen buffer." What that means is that the program learns by interpreting what is happening on the screen as opposed to following a pre-set series of command instructions alone. In other words, this AI learns to play in exactly the same way a human player learns to play. This theory has been explored practically before, but Doom is arguably the most complicated game a program fueled by that concept has been able to succeed at. The AI's creators have already confirmed that they will be moving on to Quake, which will be a much more interesting test of this technologies capabilities given that Quake presents a much more complex 3D environment.

Google Gets Serious About Home Automation: Unveils Google Home, Actions on Google and Google Wifi ( 91

At its hardware launch event earlier today, Google launched Google Home, a voice-activated speaker that aims to give Amazon's Echo a run for its money. The speaker is always-listening and uses Google's Assistant to deliver sports scores, weather information, commute times, and much more. Tech Crunch reports: So like the Echo, Google Home combines a wireless speaker with a set of microphones that listen for your voice commands. There is a mute button on the Home and four LEDs on top of the device so you can know when it's listening to you; otherwise, you won't find any other physical buttons on it. As for music, Google Home will feature built-in support for Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora and others. You can set up a default music service, too, so you don't always have to tell Google that you want to play a song "on Spotify." Google also noted that Home's music search is powered by Google, so it can understand relatively complex queries. Music on Google Home will also support podcast listening and because it's a Cast device, you can stream music to it from any other Cast-enabled device. Home integrates with Google's Chromecasts and Cast-enabled TVs. For now, that mostly means watching YouTube videos, but Google says it will also support Netflix, too. Google Home will cost $129 (with a free six-month trial of YouTube Red) and go on sale on Google's online store today. It will ship on November 4. What's more is that developers will be able to integrate their third-party apps with Google Assistant via "Actions on Google." With Actions on Google, developers will be able to create two kinds of actions: Direct and Conversation. Direct is made for relatively simple requests like home automation, while Conversation is made for a back and forth interaction utilizing Actions on Google will also allow third-party hardware to take advantage of Google Assistant. Those interested can sign-up for the service today. But Google didn't stop there. The company went on to reveal all-new, multi-point Wifi routers called Google Wifi. The Verge reports: The Wifi router can be purchased two ways: as a single unit or in a multipack, just like Eero. A single unit is $129, while the three-pack will cost $299. Google says Wifi will be available for preorder in the U.S. in November and will ship to customers in December. There was no mention of international availability. Google says it has developed a number of technologies to make the Wifi system work, including intelligent routing of traffic from your phone or device to the nearest Wifi unit in your home. It supports AC 1200 wireless speeds, as well as simultaneous dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. It also has beamforming technology and support for Bluetooth Smart. Google says the system will handle channel management and other traffic routing automatically.

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