If you’ve ever been to a restaurant where you order by iPad, you know there’s a small waitstaff that deals with exceptions, while the iPad app handles routine orders. A new study in MIT Sloan Management Review argues the same will be true for chatbots and customer service. David Mindell will discuss these sorts of human-machine collaborations in Pittsburgh, including some lessons to be learned from the Boeing 737-Max crashes (June 12–14; agenda, registration).
Huawei’s problems just got much worse: ARM (Gary Atkinson, London, Jul 2014) is cutting ties with the company in accordance with a U.S. trade ban. Yes, ARM is a UK company, but some of its design work is done in Austin and San Jose.
Scientists have recoded the E. coli DNA entirely from scratch in an experiment that’s also intended to see the extent to which the number of codons can be reduced in DNA synthesis. (Juan Enriquez, Washington, D.C., Dec 2005)
Researchers have been working on detecting emotions for more than 20 years, starting with angerin the late 1990s. Now Amazon wants Alexa to detect emotions, allegedly as a part of a “health and wellness product.” (Rodolphe Gelin, Brooklyn, Jul 2016)
Meanwhile, Anouk Wipprecht (Atlanta, Feb 2014) has taken a detour from high-tech couture fashion to design a device that helps children with ADHD and their caregivers. A headpiece detects P300, the neural signature of attention, while also recording video (Angelika Dimoka and Paul Pavlou, Paris, Jul 2011). The EEG board and the camera are connected to a Raspberry Pi (Eben Upton, Detroit, May 2015, and Vienna, Jul 2013). “When a P300 event is detected, the Pi wirelessly sends a video clip incorporating the 3 seconds before the event and the 5 seconds after to a laptop computer, so that what captured the wearer’s attention can be reviewed.”
“The City of Baltimore is currently unable to send or receive email”—or record real estate sales or let residents to pay water bills and parking tickets online. If you haven’t been following the ongoing wave of municipalities being held up by ransomware hackers, here’s a chance to catch up. (Steve Grobman, San Francisco, May 2016)
If desalination could be done with solar power, it would be cheap and have essentially no carbon footprint. A Finland-based startup may have figured it out. (Gary Atkinson, London, Jul 2014)
Facebook’s role in teenage depression may be overstated. Or, in the words of the researchers of a new study in PNAS, “social media use is not, in and of itself, a strong predictor of life satisfaction across the adolescent population.” (Rey Junco, Los Angeles, Mar 2018)
Amazon discontinued sales of a book that promotes a lethal “cure” for autism, specifically ingesting bleach. This move was, in part, thanks to internet misinformation slayers such as Renee DiResta (Detroit, May 2015). If you have not kept up with her war on prevarication, you can track it on Twitter via @noUpside or her website.
Ground Zero for fake news is, of course, Facebook. And without a commitment from the social network itself, misinformation will continue to propagate. That commitment may have started; the company issued an RFP intended to help fund the academic community to help it address problems of hate speech and inauthentic online behavior, as well as misinformation. (Douglas Guilbeault, Washington, D.C., Sep 2017; Giovani Luca Ciampaglia, Boston, Apr 2017; Roger McNamee and Jonathan Taplin, Los Angeles, Mar 2018; Judith Estrin, Berkeley, Mar 2019)
A smartphone app and a paper funnel can diagnose ear infections as well as expensive medical tests. The app sends test sounds into the ear and hears the return echo, which is different from that of a healthy ear. (David Schafran, Washington, D.C., May 2012)
One of the early promises of modern AI was that it would diagnose diseases from PET, CT, and other scans better than doctors. For lung cancer, that may finally be true. (Bo Zhu, Brooklyn, Jun 2018; Ahna Girshick, Philadelphia, Jul 2015)
The First American Financial Corp data breach is surely one of the worse ever: Reportedly, “bank account numbers and statements, mortgage and tax records, Social Security numbers, wire transaction receipts, and drivers license images — were available without authentication to anyone with a Web browser” for hundreds of millions of documents.
SpaceX (Jim Cantrell, Berkeley, Mar 2019) launched the first 60 satellites of its Starlink system, and expects hundreds to be in place by next year. It’s one of several efforts to blanket Earth with internet access from space, a vision that began more than 20 years ago with Iridium (Edward Staiano, McLean, Va., Nov 1997).
The pre-conference reading for our Robots, AI, and the Future of Work (Pittsburgh, June 12–14, 2019) has been posted on our website. We look forward to robust conversations with members and speakers at the event!
"I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!”
(The croupier hands him his money.)
“…Your winnings, sir.”
“Oh, thank you very much!"