In an apparent move to feed its smart-hardware ambitions, Google has bought an artificial intelligence startup, DeepMind, for somewhere in the ballpark of $500 million. Considering all of the data Google sifts through, and the fact that it might be getting into robotics, it's not completely absurd that they'd want some software to give a robotic helping hand. (Facebook apparently wanted the company, too, and they've already made moves to wrangle their ownsprawlingweb of information.) But the other part of thisstory is a little stranger: the deal reportedly came under the condition that Google create an "ethics board" for the project.
Earlier this week, flying barely under the wire of its 2013 deadline, the Federal Aviation Administration announced the six states it had selected as test sites for domestic drone use. The goal is to figure out how unmanned aerial vehicles can safely work in U.S. skies alongside commercial planes, news and police helicopters, cropdusters, and the whole range of peopled flying machines. Twenty-four states applied, eager to lead the country in developing commercial uses for drones and grab a slice of what the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International predicts will be an $82 billion industry by 2025.
Facebook users upload 350 million photos onto the social network every day, far beyond the ability of human beings to comprehensively look at, much less analyze. And so that’s one big reason the company just hired New York University (NYU) machine learning expert Yann LeCun, an eminent practitioner of an artificial intelligence (AI) technique known as “deep learning.” As director of Facebook’s new AI laboratory, LeCun will stay on at NYU part time, while working from a new Facebook facility on Astor Place in New York City.
We've had a laugh at drone-delivery marketing gimmicks before, and Amazon Prime Air—announced yesterday during a flattering segment on 60 Minutes—may very well be more of the same. But that's just for now. Drone-based package delivery could totally become reality in the next 10 years.
It’s fun to make fun of Amazon’s delivery drones. “Amazon is exploring drone delivery,” tweeted Atlantic writer Philip Bump last night. “Or, put another way, ‘Amazon gimmick gimmick gimmick.’ ” Today’s Gizmodo headline was even more gleeful: “Amazon Drones Are Truly Revolutionary [Marketing].”
In 1968, Arthur C. Clarke created HAL 9000, the sentient computer in his Space Odyssey series. Now, more than 60 years later, the company Ivee has launched something similar, albeit less villainous. The Sleek draws individual smart-home devices into a single hub and adds artificial intelligence so that users gain voice control over them all. In other words, it’s HAL for your home.