Nnamdi Onwumere

Alexa Learns to Talk Like a Human With Whispers, Pauses, and Emotion

TechCrunch/MSN, 4/29/2017

Amazon is furthering the humanization of its virtual assistant Alexa by equipping it with more emotion functionality. Developers can use a markup language called Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) that allows for the coding of Alexa’s intonation, emphasis, and region-specific responses. This opens up new possibilities for app companies and how their virtual assistants are used in the world.

Elon Musk on Mission to Link Human Brains With Computers in Four Years: Report

MSN/Reuters, 4/22/2017

Neuralink Corporation hopes to develop a micron-sized device that could connect the human brain and a machine interface. The initial goal is to help those with severe brain injuries, then to explore use by people without disabilities. For example, if each person had a device, then two people could (theoretically) communicate concepts brain-to-brain. The long-term goal is to integrate human brains and artificial intelligence (AI), so humans will not be left behind (see Alternative Article below).

Facebook Is Developing a Helicopter to Deliver Internet Access in Emergencies

The Verge, 4/20/2017

Facebook is developing a small helicopter to provide wireless Internet access in emergencies. Where cellular infrastructure is damaged, the “Tether-Tenna” helicopter would latch onto functioning fiber data lines, along with electric lines, and rise up in the air to broadcast a signal. This technology, along with others currently being built, is part of Facebook’s efforts to make Internet access more widely and consistently available.

Robots Could Soon Cooperate on Surveillance

Engadget, 4/14/17

Security robots could soon be able to communicate with other devices to identify and track objects and people, using a system currently being designed by Cornell scientists. The robots would collect information by sharing images and data through a central unit, so objects of interest could be identified and tracked. Such a system could provide added surveillance in the U.S. and be used by the U.S. armed forces in other countries.

Cyborgs at Work: Employees Get Implanted With Microchips

CBS News/AP, 4/3/2017

Epicenter, a Swedish startup, is implanting microchips into their employees as replacements for swipe cards. Using Near Field Communication (NFC), the microchips provide identifying data to devices such as printers and doors, providing more convenience to employees. This technology has never before used for such a broad group of people; demonstrating that it can be beneficial in the workplace suggests that it may quickly become more widely used, despite security and privacy risks.

Startup Matroid Uses AI to Pluck Images From Streams of Video

MSN/Bloomberg News, 3/26/2017

Reza Zadeh, a professor at Stanford University, has begun an artificial intelligence (AI) startup called Matroid whose software can detect specific people or objects in video streams. The user specifies what they are looking for, using example images and video or preset options, and the algorithms find corresponding people or objects in different videos. This approach could prove useful for businesses, law enforcement, and political and social science.

Dive With a Blue Whale in New Virtual-Reality Experience

Live Science, 3/16/2017

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles (NHMLA) collaborated with designers from Wevr to develop an oceanic underwater virtual reality (VR) experience for visitors. The VR gives visitors an opportunity to explore and interact with marine animals in their natural habitat, with the further goal of raising awareness about environmental issues that threaten ocean wildlife.

Offline AI Revolution Awaits Smartphones

Phys.org/AFP, 2/27/2017

Phone manufacturers are attempting to make handsets operate offline by using artificial intelligence (AI) and faster processors. This could let handsets use data already stored to operate. Some companies are focusing on AI technologies that let handsets perform tasks before the user does. For example, Neura, a startup from┬áCalifornia uses an AI that takes data from user’s routine behaviors and then makes predictions on what the users next steps are. Handsets that operate offline and perform tasks before the user does become more helpful and user interactive.

Machine-Learning Algorithms Can Predict Suicide Risk More Readily Than Clinicians, Study Finds

Newsweek, 2/27/2017

Human clinicians are known not to be very accurate at predicting suicides, so researchers are developing machine-learning algorithms that use multiple factors to identify short-term suicide risk. Data scientists trained the algorithm on data from thousands of clinical records, from both non-fatal suicide cases and random patients. Accuracy was significantly better than studying only one risk factor at a time. Using such a system could aid clinicians in targeting at-risk patients and treating them early.