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Back in January, Google's DeepMind AI beat the European champion of the complex board game Go, marking a major achievement for AI. Today -- or yesterday, depending where you are in the world -- began the matchup against world champion Lee Sedol, widely regarded as significantly more skilled than the previous opponent Fan Hui.
To the surprise of even the commentators, DeepMind took the first game of the five game series, which will play out over the next few days. While it's just one game, it proves DeepMind can hang with the best of the best -- all the more impressive given it was projected to not be able to even beat the European champion for another decade.
Astronaut Scott Kelly returned from his year in space mission yesterday, which NASA is commemorating with a look at his achievements during the long voyage.
To say the least, it was a very social voyage, with Kelly hosting the first NASA TweetChat, Tumblr AnswerTime, and Reddit AMA from space. He also Instagrammed the whole time at the President's request. Obama was also sure to give him a warm welcome on his return home.
The AI revolution continues, with a team of Stanford researchers creating a new way of teaching AI systems how to predict a human's response to their actions.
The system is called Augur, which provides access to an online writing community called Wattpad, and its archive of over 600,000 stories. The information in these stories will enable support for vector machines - which are learning algorithms at their core - and will allow AI to better predict what people do in certain situations.
The researchers wrote in their study: "Over many millions of words, these mundane patterns [of people's reactions] are far more common than their dramatic counterparts. Characters in modern fiction turn on the lights after entering rooms; they react to compliments by blushing; they do not answer their phones when they are in meetings".
Google's Boston Dynamics has an impressive new version of its Atlas robot on display in the video below, which gives off a pretty strong AT-AT vibe. In it, you can see Atlas open doors, walk through rocky, snowy terrain, pick up and move boxes, and get up again when it gets knocked down. Pretty impressive, especially considering this failure at last year's DARPA Robotics Challenge.
As for the source of its mystical robot powers, it features articulated, sensate hands, and an articulated sensor head with stereo cameras and laser range finder.
Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have made a pretty startling discovering, finally figuring out just how large a capacity our brain actually has when put in normal computing terms. With the help of GPU computing they figured out that we can store around one petabyte, which is nearly 10 times larger than what we originally thought.
Modeling the full function of the brain isn't easy, and even with clusters of GPU powerhouse servers it takes time to properly model the actual function of the connection between neurons, the synapses. The team of researchers modeled the full hippocampus of a rat with startling accuracy and 26 different sizes of synapses. Size matters, apparently, and the bigger the more storage the accompanying neurons have. They found that the average amount of information that can be held in one synapse is around 4.7 bits, far more than we thought previously.
The amount of information stored and transferred across those still misunderstood synapses doesn't translate directly to computing terms, however. We obviously don't store our moving memories as GIF's or even H.265 encoded MPEG's either. In fact, our brain is incredibly efficient, moving information across the synapse at a rate of around 10-20% of the time.
Up until now, the Hubble Space Telescope was the one that was looking to the utter edges of the universe, taking a few photos and blowing the world away each time. Well, NASA could retire Hubble very soon with its new WFIRST telescope.
The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (or WFIRST) has a field of view 100x larger than Hubble, and it's designed to block the glare from individual stars, which will make NASA's job of finding the chemical makeup of exoplanets easier. NASA won't launch WFIRST until the mid-2020s, so we should see the James Webb telescope that will be finished in 2018 be the champion until at around 2025 or so.
Once NASA has WFIRST online, it will provide a view of space that we've never seen before. NASA should be better capable of understanding the shape of the universe, as well as provide the US space agency with more insight into how dark energy and dark matter work, which could solve some very big problems and mysteries we have here on Earth.
MWC 2016 - LG has just unveiled its new, and very interesting Rolling Ball, at Mobile World Congress. LG worked with drone maker Parrot on the Rolling Ball, which looks like BB-8 from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
LG's new Rolling Ball works with the company's new G5 smartphone and turns it into a remote that can control the Rolling Ball from anywhere in the world. It features an on-board camera that records footage, but it's also a speaker that lets you speak through it - like, to your pet. LG's Rolling Ball also includes an IR blaster that lets you turn your TV on, from your smartphone, through the Rolling Ball.
The hardware powering the LG Rolling Ball are found in the center stripe, with the two large hemispheres are the engine that turns the robot in any direction. LG isn't talking about the price on the Rolling Ball just yet, but we should find out in the near future.
It's not unusual these days to find evidence of new world's hanging out beyond our solar-system. The original Kepler project found thousands of candidates that are still being confirmed as potential exo-planets. But finding nearly visible evidence of a planet being formed in the presence of the harsh conditions of a binary star system? That doesn't come along every day.
Just 450 light-years away, shining brightly in the constellation Taurus, the HD 132527 star system just birthed a new planet, and it's been caught in some stunning high-resolution photos from both the Hubble telescope in the past and now from the Atcama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) by researchers at Rice University. This is the first time we've ever had clear evidence of what planet formation actually looks like.
There's a tremendous amount of detail being recorded right now by the ALMA array, and it shows dust and gases coming together to actually make a planet. In the photo above, the bright red is where there's the most dust and where carbon monoxide is appearing. That gas is freezing inside the dust, clumping together to form solid rock formations that seem to be sticking together, making an even larger object.
The threat of AI blowing up the world or keeping us in cages like animals might scare most people, but I think the prospects of AI could be truly transformative - and that we're bound by other things like society, religion, government and more - but according to one scientist, AI "could leave half the world unemployed".
According to Moshe Vardi, who told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): "We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task. I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: if machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?".
Vardi is a professor at Rice University Guggenheim fellow, adding that technology is a bigger threat than UAVs that some fear, adding that AI could see unemployment numbers hitting 50%, taking away middle-class jobs, and making the wealth gap even bigger.
It might seem like fantasy, but scientists have found a way to delete bad memories from your head - forever. The news is coming from a new documentary being shown in the US this week called "Memory Hackers".
Memory Hackers is a NOVA documentary from PBS, which looks into the cutting edge research being done on the nature of memory, and how it might be used for the benefit of mankind. The filmmakers said: "For much of human history, memory has been seen as a tape recorder that faithfully registers information and replays it intact".
They continue: "But now, researchers are discovering that memory is far more malleable, always being written and rewritten, not just by us but by others. We are discovering the precise mechanisms that can explain and even control our memories".