Friday, 12 February 2016

Meet Alex

Meet Nadine, the terrifyingly lifelike 'social robot' that looks and acts like its owner and could one day work in your office

Behind the welcome desk at a Singapore university, a receptionist called Nadine is causing a stir. 
She has mousy, shoulder-length hair neatly parted to the side, remembers what you talked about last time she saw you and returns your greeting with a friendly hello. 
But there's something unusual about Nadine - she's the latest in a line of so-called 'social robots' that have personalities and emotions of their own. 
Nadine is touted as the latest in a new generation of robots, capable of conversing with people, adapting their responses and remembering previous conversations. 
The advanced robot is the creation of Professor Nadia Thalmann, director of the Institute for Media Innovation at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. 
According to Professor Thalmann, the humanoid has her own personality and is capable of displaying positive and negative moods and emotions. 
A video of the robot in action sees her answer questions from her creator in a pseudo-emotional computerised Scottish accent. 
'You are a beautiful and attractive social robot,' says Professor Thalmann. To which Nadine replies: 'Thank you. You look attractive too.' 
The android can also react appropriately to negative sentiments. For instance, when Professor Thalmann says 'I hate you', Nadine replies with a chipper: 'Tell me more about that'.

This new wave of social robots could ultimately be commercialised for use as personalised assistants in the workplace, and even as companions for children and the elderly. 
The technology could also be rolled out at much lower cost, by appearing on a screen or monitor. 
'Robotics technologies have advanced significantly over the past few decades and are already being used in manufacturing and logistics,' said Professor Thalmann. 
'As countries worldwide face challenges of an ageing population, social robots can be one solution to address the shrinking workforce, become personal companions for children and the elderly at home, and even serve as a platform for healthcare services in future.' 
In addition to the lifelike Nadine, NTU is working on several 'telepresence' robots that could be used to carry out work remotely. 
Edgar is another of this team's creations. While Edgar doesn't have the human-like facial features of Nadine, it does provide a glimpse into the workplace of the future.
This type of telepresence robot can be controlled remotely by users from anywhere in the world. 
Users simply stand in front of a specialised webcam and their upper body gestures are projected by the robot.
In addition, their facial expressions can be displayed on the robot's face, in real-time.
Professor Thulmann added: 'Over the past four years, our team at NTU have been fostering cross-disciplinary research in social robotics technologies -involving engineering, computer science, linguistics, psychology and other fields - to transform a virtual human, from within a computer, into a physical being that is able to observe and interact with other humans. 
She added: 'This is somewhat like a real companion that is always with you and conscious of what is happening.

Alex press photo

Celebrity endorsements

20,000 servers under the sea

The Microsoft cloud is diving into the deep blue sea to make its services the most reliable, accessible and secure.
Over the past nine months, Microsoft has been significantly investing in dark fiber capacity through partnerships that span multiple oceans and continents, writes David Crowley, managing director of Network Enablement. On Monday, those connections across the Atlantic and Pacific just got stronger. New partnerships will help link Microsoft’s datacenter infrastructure in North America to Europe and Asia. 
“Competition in the cloud and infrastructure space continues to heat up,” Crowley writes. “But it’s not a battle that will be won on just cloud or infrastructure alone, but instead on holistic innovation and providing value to customers from the ‘sea to the sky.’” Swim over to the Azure blog for the whole story.
Jake SiegelMicrosoft News Center Staff

10 PRINT "LOLZ"; 20 GOTO 10

The Pixels Weave A Person

Poster #3,213

Everyone's fantasy

Dr. Hard prototypes

Dr. Easy prototypes

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The AI revolution road

Have you wondered why the likes of Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates have gone on record lately to state what a huge threat AI is to our species? If  it sounds like they've all gone a bit David Icke, Tim Urban's article on "Wait But Why?" is a fascinating, enlightening, chilling explanation of why Hawking and Gates are in fact completely sane.

He tells us it's not because Sky Net might nuke us and we'll end up in a bitter struggle with legions of Arnie clones. It's much more mundane. We will be wiped out dispassionately by an AI that became super intelligent (an ASI) learning to write, and because nobody told it that human life was more important than good handwriting.

Of course, the other alternative is that an ASI emerges that can solve all known human challenges - literally all known challenges - and human beings become immortal. Those are the two most likely proposed outcomes of  ASI, and nobody can know which will occur. Either way, the fork in the road lies just decades away. Happy New Year!

Immortality or Extinction