AI System Can Recreate Video Games It Observes

I wouldn’t be surprised if one day AI systems ruled the world. While there are skeptics, most people in the technological industry remain pretty optimistic. And with good reason. A system built by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology can recreate video games by observing them for only 2 minutes.

The team did this by training the AI on footage of two distinct types of players making their way through Level 1 of Super Mario Brothers. One that adopted an “explorer” style of play and the other a “speedrunner” style, where they headed straight for the goal.

The system managed to rebuild an accurate representation of the game with only minor deviations. It’s impressive and also far less creepy than an AI creating its own language.

“Our AI creates the predictive model without ever accessing the game’s code, and makes significantly more accurate future event predictions than those of convolutional neural networks,”

Okay, so its capabilities are still sort of spooky, but useful, nonetheless. The program, which is algorithm-based, could be vital in pattern recognition, among other things. In the end, the model is an effective training method that can also be easily controlled by users — phew!

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V.R. Is Helping Doctors Treat Cancerous Tumors

Things are looking up for cancer patients — from gene editing to the humble avocado, various forms of treatment are manifesting all over the world. Now, virtual reality systems are making it easier for doctors to treat cancerous tumors.

Once wearing the Oculus VR headset, the wearer can clearly see how the drug combats certain DNA strands inside the cell of a cancerous growth.

The wearer can then look around 360 degrees inside the tumor to see how the drug attaches itself to DNA strands to help dismantle the cancer.

The Oculus VR can eliminate the need of replica training, which is less practical and more expensive. It also provides users with feedback, allowing surgeons to perform more accurately.

“It is helpful in engaging the brain through interacting with a personalized animation someone is familiar with, so it feels real.”

I suppose this means virtual reality can escape its video game bubble and transition into the education industry. After all, there is always value in new technology.

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AI Alerts Cars When You’re Texting And Driving

Distracted driving survivors have Apple Watches and shock bracelets to thank for sparing their lives. However, car accidents remain abundant — but not if researchers at the University of Waterloo have anything to say about it. A new artificial intelligence software can now alert cars when you’re texting and driving, which can prevent oncoming disasters.

This system can detect signs of distraction, which could be caused by texting or talking on the phone, reaching into the backseat, or anything else that causes a change in head and face position.

With the rise of self-driving vehicles comes the simultaneous ascent of new safety features. In other words, you can count on your car to pick up the slack.

“The car could actually take over driving if there was imminent danger, even for a short while, in order to avoid crashes.”

Majority of crashes are caused by human error. Researchers claim that autonomous vehicles can save tens of thousands of lives every year. Of course, this isn’t to hand over free passes to reckless drivers. Staying focused remains a number one priority for anyone behind the wheel.

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Microsoft Commits $25M to AI for People with Disabilities

I’m sure I’m not the only one inspired to hear news about someone overcoming obstacles in his or her life and going on to accomplish amazing feats. Time and time again, people have proven that their disabilities cannot take away the drive for awesome deeds, such as a model and a beauty queen with Down’s Syndrome. Blind children achieved scout status, while a blind woman is representing her country at an international triathlon. And in a nearly unbelievable effort, a woman suffering locked-in syndrome wrote a book using only her eye movement.

Microsoft is probably super inspired as well, because the company has recently shown willingness and commitment to help people with disabilities discover their potential. To be specific, it has shown willingness in the amount of 25 million dollars.

The tech company announced their “AI For Accessibility” initiative during their annual developer conference in Seattle on [Monday, May 14].

“By innovating for people with disabilities, we are innovating for us all,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith about the program. “By ensuring that technology fulfills its promise to address the broadest societal needs, we can empower everyone — not just individuals with disabilities — to achieve more.”

The amount will be divided in investments to products involving artificial intelligence that Microsoft and their partner companies will develop. Part of it will also go to grants for startup innovators and designers as well as universities, if they have projects that align to Microsoft’s goals, which is to make life better for people with disabilities. After the next five years in which the initiative will come to fruition, I wonder what inspiring stories we’ll be hearing about then.

The initiative takes special interest in specifically harnessing AI technology to help the disabled, similarly to how it is utilized in real-time text-to-speech programs and predictive-text capabilities.

“AI can be a game changer for people with disabilities,” said Smith. “By making AI solutions more widely available, we believe technology can have a broad impact on this important community.”

Once again, the industry sends a statement that there’s more to technology than profit. And Microsoft has a 25-million-dollar commitment to show for it.

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AI Can Distinguish Abusive Language Online

So far, we’ve used artificial intelligence much to our advantage in whatever way possible. We’ve built devices as trivial as visual emotion masks, but overall, people feel mostly optimistic. But now that we know AI can serve purposes of various degrees of impact, developers from McGill University are developing an AI that can recognize hate speech on social media.

Instead of focusing on isolated words and phrases, they taught machine learning software to spot hate speech by learning how members of hateful communities speak… They focused on three groups who are often the target of abuse: African Americans, overweight people and women.

Previous softwares detecting abusive language have proven unsuccessful due to the misleading nature of online slang. That and the fact that machines aren’t well-versed in sarcasm. The system, however, was able to identify racist slurs and avoided false positives. And I believe this first step in compiling data about sites that condone and even encourage abusive language can lead to finding solutions in the future. Perhaps hopefully, not just online. After all, our material reality reflects our online visual reality, and vice versa.

“Comparing hateful and non-hateful communities to find the language that distinguishes them is a clever solution… [But] ultimately, hate speech is a subjective phenomenon that requires human judgment to identify,”

While it won’t eliminate every online bully, it’s a commendable attempt at making the Internet a safer environment.

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Smart Glasses Help Autistic Kids Improve Social Skills

Throughout history, music therapy has allowed children with social deficits to come out of their shells. Because of an exploding technological universe, scientists are experimenting with treatment using artificial intelligence. To help autistic children work on their life skills, a Massachusetts startup has created emotion-tracking high-tech glasses.

“Our applications are gamified and engaging, and run on smart glasses. Unlike with a tablet or phone, the person is looking up, and our software encourages social interaction with other people.” [said Dr. Ned Sahin, founder of Brain Power.]

The Empower Me glasses feature games such as Emotion Charades, which encourages users to interact with others. Seeing that emojis are all the rage with young smartphone consumers, the application is a clever one. Years of thorough testing are finally bringing the system to market.

“People on the spectrum enjoy the engaging format of the applications we have designed, and parents truly appreciate the ‘connectedness’ they feel with their child,” Sahin continued.

Developed along with MIT, Harvard, and Affectiva, Empower Me doesn’t come cheap. At $945 for the apps alone, the price tag isn’t a light one — but it surely is well worth it.

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First Robot Passes Medical Exam In China

If robots have become capable of performing complex surgeries, surely they can begin to replace traditional doctors. Such is the case with Xiaoyi, a machine that recently passed China’s medical licensing exam.

“Since 2013, more than half of the questions in the test are about [patient] cases,” [said engineer] Wu [Ji]… “So it’s impossible to purely rely on memorising and searches.”

To earn a score of 456 out of a perfect 600, developers programmed Xiaoyi to link words and phrases. In doing so, the “Little Doctor” learned to reason — an impressive but also intimidating feat.

“What it can do most at present is make suggestions to doctors, to help them identify problems quicker and avoid some risks,” Wu said.

Still, Xiaoyi won’t be flying solo anytime soon. After all, there’s nothing like the reassurance you get from a human being — especially when they’re holding a needle!

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Liquid Biopsy Can Detect 8 Variations Of Cancer

In the past years, cancer treatments have flourished in abundance and effectivity. Experimental medications such as personalized vaccines and gene altering have made for smoother recoveries. At any rate, discovering such conditions remains tricky, if not for a simple blood test. The new method can detect eight common but evasive cancers.

“The sort of ultimate vision is that at the same time that you are getting your cholesterol checked when you are getting your annual physical, you will also get your blood screened for cancer,” said lead study author Joshua Cohen.

The test, CancerSEEK, sifts through cancer compounds that allow for early detection. It can even pinpoint cancers without current screening tests — that is, ovarian, stomach, esophageal, liver, and pancreatic. The process is a melting pot of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and algorithms.

“The test needs to be validated in a large-scale study that would evaluate tens of thousands of healthy individuals to confirm the sensitivity and specificity,” Cohen said.

Though CancerSEEK’s accuracy levels for early testing remain at 60%, it’s a step up from having no means of diagnosis to begin with. It’s a slow and steady affair that will hopefully, one day, win the race.

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Artificial Muscles Can Lift Massive Amounts Of Weight

Current technology such as implantable batteries are opening doors for enhancing the human body. On the other end of the spectrum, engineers are working on artificial intelligences capable of honing skills humans aren’t. To practice building more human-like robots, scientists at Harvard and MIT created a soft muscle that can lift 1,000 times its own weight.

The simple objects are constructed out of metal or plastic “skeletons” that are covered in either a liquid or air, and then sealed in plastic or fabric “skins.” The muscle pulls taught when a vacuum is created inside the skin, and goes slack when the vacuum is released.

The invention, inspired by traditional Japanese origami, are highly durable and easy to make. In fact, developers claim it takes only 10 minutes and less than a dollar to produce a single muscle. The secret to their resilience lies in a simple concept: folding and pressure.

“Vacuum-based muscles have a lower risk of rupture, failure, and damage, and they don’t expand when they’re operating, so you can integrate them into closer-fitting robots on the human body,” [said] Daniel Vogt, a research engineer at the Wyss Institute.

Looks like muscular robots may be a lot less squishy that we pictured.

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Microsoft Teaching Motor-less Plane To Fly

At the rate technology is advancing, we can teach machines to do almost anything. From programming drones to plant trees to manufacturing a robot that can detect water pollution, gadgets have become more capable than ever. But can we train a device to rely entirely on nature? Microsoft is teaching this motor-less plane to fly just like a bird.

The researchers have found that through a complex set of AI algorithms, they can get their 16 1/2-foot, 12 1/2-pound aircraft to soar much like a hawk would, by identifying things like air temperature and wind direction to locate thermals — invisible columns of air that rise due to heat.

The plane is one of the only AI systems to act based on predictions it makes. In a nutshell, it is is akin to a simple thinking being.

“Birds do this seamlessly, and all they’re doing is harnessing nature. And they do it with a peanut-sized brain,”

If successful, the planes could be implemented in farming and providing internet connections to remote areas. If cars can drive themselves, planes can follow in their tread marks.

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