Language is all about repetition. Every word you're reading was created by humans, and then used by other humans, creating and reinforcing context, meaning, the very nature of language. As humans train machines to understand language, they're teaching machines to replicate human bias.
On Thursday, Google announced that its Home smart hub device can now recognize and identify up to six different users by the sound of their voice. It's an inevitable—but crucial—step in the development of smart home virtual assistants. The new skill means that different people in a household will be able to ask the Google Assistant questions about what's on their calendar, or what their commute looks like, and the Home device will know who is speaking to it and give tailored responses. It'll make it a more streamlined experience for families sharing a smart home speaker hub.
Forensic scientists are trying to understand what tears and distortions in the fabric around a stab wound can say about the knife type, angle of attack, and stabbing technique that caused the wound. But the patterns have been difficult to work out, partly because researchers have had to do most of their laboratory experiments by hand, manually stabbing different fabric swatches. But inconsistencies and human error are unavoidable. So a team of forensic scientists and engineers invented a stabbing machine to help standardize this type of research.
A robot is movement, controlled. This is as true for plane-sized flying machines as it is for micrometer-sized contraptions, like the amoeba-inspired robot recently created by researchers at Japan's Tohoku University. It isn't the smallest robot ever made, as there are a few robots at the nanometer scale, but it's one of the smallest robots whose movement can actually be controlled.
The future of bots is sitting in thousands of documents folders, waiting to be born. At least, that's the premise of Albert, a bot and bot-creation tool from NoHold, which released a pro version on Monday. The premise behind Albert is straightforward: upload a document, and then ask the Albert-generated bot to answer questions with information based on that document. Albert is a product of the modern era of chatbots, but Albert's origins are, by tech standards, positively ancient: the key work dates back to a patent filed in 1999.
Dr. Adam Watts of the Desert Research Institute is standing by the side of the road near Donner Pass, shouting over the wind into his phone to talk about a recent test flight. “We built a robot that can fly itself and bring more water out of clouds,” he says, capturing the technological promise at hand in just a few words. Together with Nevada's Drone America, the team flew a cloud-seeding drone beyond the pilot's line of sight. It's the next step in a gradual and ambitious process, aimed at solving a decades-old problem: can the desert pull more water from the sky, and can it do so without injuring anyone along the way?