AI On The Rise Weekly: Robots Dive The Great Barrier Reef, Visit CES 2013

Artificial intelligence shows no signs of slowing down as several updates lead to progress, one after another. Even the Asian powerhouse China has now recognized the big positive impact of robotics in their economy.

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If you thought that last week’s AI feature is already stuffed, you have seen nothing yet. Just a few days have passed and this field of information technology has clinched several feats.

Robots March To CES 2013

AI and robots will not miss one of the largest trade shows in the technology industry, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that kicks of in Las Vegas tonight. Enthusiasts are lurking to find out about the reboot of Lego’s Mindstorms. Dubbed as Mindstorms EV3. This model will run on a Linux OS and an ARM9 processor, wherein the Intelligent Brick is the core of it all. The EV3 robots will also bear infrared sensors in the eye and more reactive motor skills. EV3 will hit the market in summer with a $350 pricetag.

Other exciting robotics innovations include iRobot’s latest pool cleaner and Ava, the telepresence bot that can facilitate video conversations between folks in different locations. Ecovacs will show off its Winbot 7 window washer that sucks glass and cleans your panes autonomously.

Robotics

Robotics are diving deep into technology and it literally reached depths with a recent dive at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The robots found living corals at 125 meters deep. Humans can lo longer withstand the pressure at this depth. For this reason, robots were sent to do the job. The scientists were surprised that there are actually living corals found at that region. That was the deepest that divers got. Well, at least for robots this time. The specimens they got are enough for now to fuel their studies on how communities of corals can survive such conditions.

From diving to climbing, robots will be featured at this year’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition Science and Technology) Robotics Competition or FRC via a live NASA-TV broadcast and webcast. Some 51,000 high school students worldwide will join the 2013 Kickoff. The game entitled ULTIMATE ASCENT aims to unite the people from different countries instead of just mere competing.

“FIRST isn’t about competing, it’s about cooperating, and recognizing that if you have the right tools, you’ll be able to make this world a better place for yourself and for the country,” said Dean Kamen, president of DEKA Research and Development and FIRST Founder, adding, “There is no stimulus package that will have as much return as stimulating a bunch of kids to become the workforce of the future, the problem solvers, the creators of the future.”

Kamen also added that they wanted to prepare these young folks for the 21st century jobs—which are predominantly revolving around information technology and now, artificial intelligence. The teams are given a kit consisting of batteries, motors, control system, PC and other automation components with no manuals. They will be working with adult mentors for 6 weeks to build these robots from scratch. After the robot has been tested, the participants will also join the 77 Regional and District competitions that will gauge the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

NASA and Massachusetts-based PTC, Needham sponsored this event.

In Switzerland, scientists is building a robot toddler they will name “Roboy”. The University of Zurich’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory folks are looking to create a humanoid that can fit homes, but would not be as freaky as metal spiders and tank treads. With the aid of “soft robotics” technology, the scientists will mirror Roboy from human body but will reduce its size to just 1.2 meters or just 3ft and 11 inches tall. At the moment, Roboy doesn’t look that endearing but more of a cyborg skeleton. The 40 engineers and 15 project partners are estimating completion on March. The project commenced June 2012.

AI

AI could be humorous too. While the word “geeky” looms around artificial intelligence, it can also be hilarious. The New York Times featured jokes written by Standup (System to Augment Non-Speakers’ Dialogue Using Puns). This program is originally intended for punning riddles to help children with language disabilities improve their verbal communication skills.

From comedic spectacle, AI goes to music. Iamus, a music-making computer is thought to be the next Mozart. The sound of this report resonates from Malaga Technology Park—Spain’s answer to Silicon Valley of the U.S. Software consultant and pianist, Gustavo Diaz-Jerez spearheads this project. In a BBC article, he mentioned of some details on the progress of Iamus, which is named after a Greek god.

“We have taught a computer to write musical scores.”

“Now we can produce modern classical music at the touch of a button.”

“We’ve just told the computer some very general technical things.”

“We have informed the computer that it is impossible for a pianist to play a 10 note chord with one hand. We only have five fingers on one hand.”

Indeed, instructing computers to write musical scores will be a big leap in linking technology and music.

It is not music, but learning the urban language is what IBM’s Eric Brown is tasked to accomplish. Brown is the genius behind the supercomputer, Watson. He is now facing another challenging assignment: to teach Watson to comprehend and speak the ambiguous human language. Two years ago, Brown sought the aid of Urban Dictionary. His starting point was OMG, and abbreviation of “Oh, My God!”. Unfortunately, Watson picked up profanity and even answered “bullshit” in one of the researcher’s query. Obviously, this is another facet that he should look at—for the machine to be equipped with filtering skills of polite and profane terms.

Let’s see how far can Watson go.