Tech | The Knowledge Dynasty

Tech

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/

Glass Room by Mozilla & TTC in London

There’s a lot of high-brow, abstract talk about privacy and personal data.

But when it comes to our personal experience with it, all we usually get is a long, boring, overlooked list of conditions that nobody reads before signing up to Facebook or other social media giants. Do we truly understand what part of our digital footprint is owned by these companies?

That’s why the Glass Room, which just opened in central London, is important.

At first sight, it’s just another all-white, sleek, shiny, minimalist pop-up tech store, with massive windows overlooking central London and interactive handsets methodically placed in tactical positions. It bears more than a fleeting resemblance to a famous retail store, which shall remain nameless.

Except that once you get inside and start checking out the “products”, you’re left amused at best, desperately baffled at worst.

Image: David Mirzoeff

Mozilla and Tactical Tech, the organisers of The Glass Room, call it “a tech store with a twist”, and its declared purpose is to make the intangible — the theoretical, philosophical world of privacy, data and digital life — tangible in a playful, cheeky manner, so you can make better, informed decisions about your data and the way they interact with big tech companies.

“The world of privacy and security is actually very difficult to help individuals understand in a tangible way,” Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, Chief Marketing Officer at Mozilla, said.

“What happens when they go online and choose to interact with different kinds of businesses? Glass Room is a series of artists’ interventions to help you physically feel, touch, and see the way that your data works for different companies.”

Image: David Mirzoeff

Most of the items exhibited are interactive, from Where The F**k was I?, a book listing the artist’s locations from June 2010 to April 2011 as recorded by his Apple’s iPhone, to “Smell Dating”, a new way to make connections that matches single people based on their olfactory compatibility.

Some of the “products” have a dark shroud of creepiness. “Data Production Labour”, from artist and activist Manuel Beltran, investigates how the data we produce is a form of productive labour.

You simply place your phone on the mat and scroll Facebook, while a sensor records your hand movements and an emotion-recognition software tracks your facial expressions to see your response to what you see. The result is checked against the minimum wage in London.

Facial recognition also features in “Megapixel”, which is a clever, intuitive way into the dominant debate on AI and privacy. The visitor simply walks up to the front of it and the system starts scanning your face and attempts to match it against a publicly accessible database of photos.

Image: David Mirzoeff

“The database that Megapixel uses to train for its facial recognition is available through common licensing, off of Flickr. So what you and I may not know is when you choose to upload your information into a place that we like because it offers a good service, that data is made available to other other businesses that can choose to do whatever they want,” Kaykas-Wolff said.

A part of The Glass Room is dedicated to the big tech companies — Google, with a piece showing Alphabet’s massive network of acquisitions; Facebook, with a model showing Mark Zuckerberg’s house; Microsoft, with a remote-control fertility chip developed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

At the end of your visit, a group of white-clad volunteers called “Ingenious” introduce you to a cheeky tool: the Data Detox Kit, a programme in eight prescribed steps — one for each day — to take back control of your data online and have a healthier relationship with the businesses running your life.

“What we don’t understand as a mass of people around the world is how we can individually take control of our data,” Kaykas-Wolff said. “With Glass Room, they’ll understand their relationship into contributing to a healthier internet choosing to do something as simple as let’s say shutting off location services on your phone.”

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/25/glass-room-london-data-privacy-art/

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Categories

Coursera

New Skills, New You: Transform your career in 2016 with Coursera

Follow us on Twitter