As the month of July comes to a close, and August shines bright on the horizon, it’s time to reflect on the latest developments from the last 31 days. We’ve selected ten of the best AI articles that hit the news this month, to help you get up to speed with what’s been going on in the world of artificial intelligence in July.
By Lauren Goode
Visual search tools are being released by Google and Bing with the aim of broadening the scope for search engine performance. These new features, however, haven’t exactly taken off yet, mainly because we’ve all been raised on the standard type-search box that still reigns supreme. Plus, as we all know, voice search too can be a bit tricky. Siri and the Google Assistant may be good, but they’re far from perfect. And so is visual search. But Lauren Goode has found what may be the perfect use for Google Lens – discovering nature.
By Paul Mozur
This is a fantastic piece from NYT, taking an in-depth look at the troubling use of technology in China. In short, artificial intelligence is ushering in new levels of authoritarianism, a surveillance state, which is particularly worrying given the country’s history with authoritarian governance. For we in the West, the infringements on personal liberties seem somewhat shocking, but even more so is the indifference with which Chinese citizens seem to be embracing the changes.
By Olivia Solon
AI systems can be difficult to implement, particularly across large companies, which would require massive infrastructure overhaul to automate the automatable systems the company thrives on. So, in a kind of ‘Wizard of Oz’ technique, many companies are claiming to be using artificial intelligence where, in fact, behind the curtain, humans are still doing the majority of ‘bot’ work.
By Loz Blain
Too many cooks? A self-driving vehicle startup named Wayve postulates that there are too many humans getting involved in the quest for a great self-driving car. So, they put algorithms in charge, and with the simple addition of one single camera and a graphics processing unit, the reinforcement learning algorithm kicked ass at teaching the car to drive itself within 20 minutes.
By Sigal Samuel
Dealing with mass immigration is an issue that would strike fear into the most steadfast leader. How can we possibly predict the impact of enacting particular policies to ease tensions and make the influx as smooth and uncomplicated for existing citizens and immigrants alike? If only there were a way to test the effects of different policy decisions before setting them loose on the population…
Well, the Modeling Religion Project might have the answer. Using ‘virtual people’ in a simulation of the target society, the project aims to test the consequences of multiple courses of action before the politicians make a decision.
By Emerging Technology from the arXiv
It’s not news that AI systems have conquered chess, Go and Jeopardy. Video games have also been a successful game of choice for neural networks and we’ve heard all about it. But what happens when we pit one kind of algorithm against another? Well, in short, we work out the best method for machine learning. Evolutionary algorithms have been on the scene for ages, but are just coming in vogue, partially as a result of these experiments.
Artificial intelligence can predict your personality… simply by tracking your eyes (University of South Australia)
By Annabel Mansfield and Dr Tobias Loetscher
Using machine learning algorithms, researchers have found that a person’s eye movements say a lot about their personality. So, the eyes really are the window to the soul, apparently. The algorithm was reportedly able to recognise four out of the Big Five personality traits: neuroticism, extroversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Far from being a fairground sideshow experiment, the study offers valuable insight for social signal processing and – interestingly – social robotics. As we aim to build better human-robot interactions, as bots become an increasingly everyday part of society, making sure that robots can really understand us is key to acceptance.
By Oscar Schwartz
You’d have to have been living under a rock not to notice how overblown the headlines are in AI news. Of course, news outlets need to get those all-important clicks, and shock headlines are just the ticket for this. But for all those clicks, such headlines are causing real issues for people actually working in the AI space.
Frightening stories about terminator robots and stuff like AIs ‘creating their own language’ are not only counterproductive to the cause, they’re also wildly inaccurate. It’s vitally important that people get on board, understand and learn about what’s going on, how the world is changing. Inciting fear threatens to block development and acceptance, could affect funding and therefore stunt the release of vital tools for evolving society in meaningful ways.
By David Streitfield
In this absolutely fascinating piece, which goes far beyond the topic of the headline, Streitfield explores the murky underworld of Amazon self-publishing, and how authors are gaming the site’s algorithms to gain sales. This has led to the sale of books that are little more than reams of nonsense words strung together, and has also seriously affected exposure for decent titles.
Of course, when you let self-publishing take centre stage and sideline the publishing industry, you’re going to end up with a pretty poor selection (after all, there are many ‘writers’ out there who think that a GCSE in English means you are qualified to write for a living). You could call the kind of gaming going on at Amazon a kind of ‘black hat SEO’ practice, something that search engines have worked hard to eliminate, but appears to persist within the Amazon community.
Artificial intelligence, immune to fear or favour, is helping to make China’s foreign policy (South China Morning Post)
By Stephen Chen
It’s not just China’s citizens that are feeling the wrath of artificial intelligence surveillance. It seems that the country is also employing AI to work with the government on foreign affairs and diplomacy. As Chen writes, “Diplomacy is similar to a strategic board game. A country makes a move, the other(s) respond. All want to win. Artificial intelligence is good at board games.”
The system studies the strategy of international politics by drawing on a large amount of data, which can contain information varying from cocktail-party gossip to images taken by spy satellites. When a policymaker needs to make a quick, accurate decision to achieve a specific goal in a complex, urgent situation, the system can provide a range of options with recommendations for the best move, sometimes in the blink of an eye.
These articles represent our team’s recommendations for the best AI articles in July 2018, but you may have other suggestions. Drop us a link in the comments, so others can enjoy the articles you have also found interesting this month.
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