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artificial-intelligence

Las Vegas launched a self-driving shuttle, and it crashed an hour later

If driverless vehicles are gonna take over the world, it should feel about as natural as taking an elevator, and, say, less risky than playing a slot machine.

And yet. On the first day of Las Vegas celebrating the historic launch of its new self-driving shuttle bus pilot program, said shuttle bus promptly collided with a semi truck. No word on what the over/under was for how long it might take for an incident, but we’re guessing that, uh, this was the “under” bet.

The Navya Arma shuttle that was running in Vegas is equipped with specialized LiDAR sensors to map out the road around it, cameras to pick up obstacles in its path, and GPS so its operators can track it in real time, but none of those systems can control other drivers on the road. Las Vegas and its partners AAA and Keolis were reminded of that shortly after the shuttle took its first trip down its 0.6-mile, three stop loop up and down the strip.

The crash happened within the shuttle’s first hour of operation, according a report from local Las Vegas NBC affiliate KSNV. A AAA rep responded to one of KSNV’s reporters directly on Twitter to clarify that the bus didn’t cause the collision.

Another AAA rep confirmed to Mashable that the shuttle wasn’t damaged either, calling the accident a minor fender bender and emphasizing that the system responded exactly how it should have to prevent the incident. The shuttle drove itself around the block after the collision, but its operators took it out of service afterward.

The AAA rep told us the organization and its partner Keolis are “debriefing” after the incident and running all necessary safety checks before putting the shuttle back on the road. They called the incident a “perfect case study” for the program, and a “a live example of the type of error that can be prevented by autonomous technology.”

Self-driving car crashes aren’t exactly rare, but they’re often highly publicized early on in the testing process, especially in such a high-profile project like the Las Vegas program. The shuttle will soon return to the city’s streets, where it’ll be exposed to the (apparently high-stakes) traffic environment once again.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/08/las-vegas-self-driving-shuttle-bus-crash/

Enlarge your photos with artificial intelligence with a simple drag-and-drop website

You know how in CSI, the cops always try to “enhance” a shot to zoom in and read (non-existent) details in photos? It’s amusing to the rest of us, but perhaps one day won’t be all that impossible, with artificial intelligence.

Researchers have been adopting neural networks and machine learning technologies to help computers fill in missing detail in photos.

Some consumer-ready websites are already making some of this magic accessible to you and me.

One of these is called Let’s Enhance, which was recently launched with an easy drag-and-drop interface.

After you let its system process your picture, you’ll be able to download a shot that’s been enlarged by four times, by clicking the “magic” option.

The results are certainly impressive. We compared it with several small pictures that were enlarged with a basic Photoshop interpolation method.

jack russel puppy on white carpet; Shutterstock ID 519357004

Image: Shutterstock / Smit

Image: Shutterstock / Richard Lyons

Looking at this shot of people’s hands, Let’s Enhance has restored the wrinkles in the texture of the hand in the foreground.

It may have been a little too enthusiastic with this, producing fairly harsh outlines, but it’s certainly reproduced the original picture quite faithfully.

Image: Shutterstock / GreenArt

And if you look at the cat above, you can see the jagged lines around its eyeballs, where basic interpolation has simply filled in the missing pixels by copying the ones around them.

Let’s Enhance’s version has restored the smoothness of the lines, and even reproduced the reflection of the photographer in the blacks of the cat’s eyes.

Founders Alex Savsunenko and Vladislav Pranskevičius, told PetaPixel their system rolls in machine learning frameworks such as SRGAN and EDSR to upscale small images.

SRGAN, for example, relies on a generative adversarial network, which basically pits two neural networks against each other to test and fine-tune an image repeatedly.

Looks like some of our TV magic is coming to the real world one day. Enhance!

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/03/lets-enhance-photo-ai/

A new religion wants to welcome advanced artificial intelligence

Image: Getty Images/Blend Images

There’s a new church for tech-minded folks, and it sounds like something out of a science fiction novel.

“Way of the Future” (or WOTF, as they abbreviate it) is

1. Not a joke, and

2. According to them (and this is real) “about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + ‘machines.'”

Yes, you read that correctly. They want to get a head start on selling out the human race to our machine-overlords-to-be.

The church (for lack of a better word) assumes that technology will eventually surpass human capabilities, and turn into an all-knowing, all-seeing being that will resemble—or arguably actually be—a god. And that we need to know who’s on the computers’ side by keeping track (more on that later).

This is all according to Anthony Levandowski, an engineer of self-driving car technology, and ostensibly, the leader of this new religion.

WOTF is all about preparing—and even working—to make sure that happens, he said.

“It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?” Levandowski told Wired.

Levandowski’s name has been in the press plenty previously, and not even for his fealty in front of machines. He’s at the center of a massive lawsuit between Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Uber over the theft of intellectual property relating to self-driving car technology. Levandwoski’s alleged to have taken important files pertaining to self-driving car tech when he left Waymo (Google’s self-driving car company), and using it to develop technology later acquired by Uber.

But that all pales when compared to Levandowski’s new “religion,” of which he is the “dean,” according to documents surveyed by Wired.

What Levandowski predicts is commonly known as “the singularity.” The term, coined by mathematician/sci-fi author Vernor Vinge, is used when explaining the moment when computer intelligence surpasses that of people. That idea was widely embraced by other futurists including Ray Kurzweil, an influential artificial intelligence researcher who thinks the singularity will arrive in 2045.

WOTF and Levandowski aren’t making predictions, though. They’re making preparations.

“Given that technology will be able to surpass human abilities [relatively soon], we want to help educate people about this exciting future and prepare a smooth transition,” states WOTF’s website.

That might sound relatively reasonable, but it gets scary pretty quickly. Among the things that WOTF says it will do is to track which people are supportive of its movement—a move that tends to sound a bit like what cults tend to do.

“We believe it may be important for machines to see who is friendly to their cause and who is not. We plan on doing so by keeping track of who has done what (and for how long) to help the peaceful and respectful transition,” the WOTF states.

Levandowski himself comes off even more terrifying. Speaking to Wired about the need for people to prepare themselves for a future that is ruled by god-like computer intelligence, Levandowski made it sound like people won’t have much of a choice.

“Do you want to be a pet or livestock?” he asked Wired.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/15/way-of-the-future-artificial-intelligence-religion-church/

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