A giant US retail corporation just filed a patent for autonomous robot bees

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Like an episode out of Black Mirror, Walmart has filed a patent for autonomous robotic bees, technically called pollination drones, that could potentially pollinate crops just like real bees.

The drones would carry pollen from one plant to another, using sensors and cameras to detect the locations of the crops.

First spotted by CB Insights, the robot bee patent appears along five other patents for farming drones, including one that would identify pests and another that would monitor crop health. Walmart did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

While Walmart’s exact goal for these patents is unclear, they may signal that the company hopes to venture into agriculture and gain more control over its food supply chain.

This would make sense, considering Walmart has recently focused on improving its grocery delivery business.

On Wednesday, the retailer announced that it will expand its grocery delivery this year to over 800 stores that reach 40 percent of US households.

In some locations, the service will offer same-day delivery in as little as three hours. In January, Walmart also filed a patent for an online grocery shopping service that would allow shoppers to accept or reject produce picked by Walmart employees.

Walmart is not the first organisation to create a robot bee.

Harvard University researchersintroduced the first RoboBees in 2013. At the time, the bee-size robots could only fly and hover midair when tethered to a power source, but they have advanced since then.

The researchers believe these RoboBees could soon artificially pollinate fields of crops – a development that would help offset the yearly bee losses over the past two decades.

Though Harvard’s bees can do several tricks, they still can’t be remotely controlled. The robotic bees described in Walmart’s patent, however, would have this capability, along with the ability to automatically detect pollen.

That would mean that the bees could theoretically work on a farm one day, rather than just in a lab.

NFL star Benjamin Watson donates ultrasound machines to save lives

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NFL tight end and Super Bowl champion Benjamin Watson, who plays for the New Orleans Saints, has long been an outspoken defender of life. But he also puts his money where his mouth is, making generous donations, like 3D ultrasound machines, to pregnancy help centers. He has also spoken at the March for Life, where he implored men to do their part in preventing abortion. “We as men must stand up for the lives of the innocent and their mothers in crisis,” he said. “As important as women have been in championing this cause, you men must rise up and lead the charge. Even if it wasn’t demonstrated for you by a father, you can be different. You can change the course of generations. Men: we can be silent no more!”

 

Watson recently announced that he’s taken action again to help expectant mothers and fathers choose life. “Earlier this year we felt led to serve expecting mothers, fathers and their unborn children by placing ultrasound machines at at health services providers around the country,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “So many men and women struggle with making decisions for life but we know from experience the power and encouragement seeing inside the womb offers.”

He added that the ultrasound machines would “allow expecting mothers and fathers in New Orleans to see the precious life God has given them reminding them of its dignity, beauty and value,” explaining how grateful he was to work with “those who are meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the patients that walk through their doors daily.”

Watson has also previously said that men need to do more to support women in crisis.

It is past time for men to be the leaders, caretakers and protectors they were created to be. As with many other social injustices, abortion will not end until men stand up for both the lives of the innocent and the mothers in crisis. While it has been attractively packaged by some, abortion is the most egregious social injustice of our time. This book, as well as the work of Human Coalition, has and will continue to play a vital role in encouraging men to understand, confront, and embrace their responsibility in righting this wrong during what has proved to be a very unpopular time to do so. We cannot remain silent.

He has also criticized the racism he sees in the abortion industry, saying, “I do know that blacks kind of represent a large portion of the abortions, and I do know that honestly the whole idea with Planned Parenthood and Sanger in the past was to exterminate blacks. And it’s kind of ironic that it’s working.”

“We (as minorities) support candidates, and overwhelmingly support the idea of having Planned Parenthood and the like, and yet, that is why she created it,” he continued. “We are buying it hook, line, and sinker.”

Many women considering abortion have chosen life for their babies after seeing them on ultrasounds.

Deal of the Day: Save $79 on an Amazon Alexa-enabled robot smart vacuum

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The team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

Since you don’t have all day to scour the web for noteworthy sales and discounts, we rounded up the best bargains for you to shop in one convenient place.

1. Save $79 on the Shark ION ROBOT 750 Vacuum

With Wi-Fi connectivity and Amazon Alexa voice control, the Shark ION ROBOT 750 Vacuum is both convenient and easy to use. You can schedule cleaning from anywhere by using the Shark ION ROBOT app on your smartphone or give a simple voice command to start a cleaning. The smart device uses sensors to seamlessly navigate between floors and carpets and adapts to surrounding obstacles over time.

2. Save 20% on dining room furniture at West Elm

With holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years approaching, you’re going to want to make your dining room suitable for hosting, and West Elm has a sale that includes everything you need to do so. Right now, you can save 20% on pieces of dining room furniture like dining tables, chairs, stools, buffets, bar carts, and more.

3. Save $100 on an Amazon Echo Show

4. Save 25% on orders of $175 or more at Bonobos

With everything from casual and sporty apparel to business casual and full formal attire, Bonobos has an impressive selection of clothing for men. Right now, the brand is having a huge sale to help you fill your closet with some new pieces. You can save 25% on all orders of $175 or more by using the promo code “SITEWIDE” at checkout. This is the perfect chance to save on full-price new arrivals way before they make it to the clearance section.

5. Save 50% on select video games at Best Buy

Today, Best Buy is having a 50% off sale on select video games from two of the biggest publishers, Activision and Blizzard. The sale includes popular titles like Call of Duty World War II, Call of Duty Black Ops III, Overwatch, Crash Bandicoot, and more. If you’re a gamer, this is a great opportunity to save on top rated games you’d want in your collection even at full price.

6. Get two pairs of made-to-measure INDOchino for $139

Made-to-measure suit brand Indochino recently launched a new collection of fully customizable chino pants called INDOchinos. Originally priced at $79, Business Insider readers can save even more on INDOchinos with an exclusive discount. Simply use the promo code “INSIDERPICKS” at checkout to get two pairs for $139. Read my full review to learn about customizing your own pair here.

7. Save up to 30% on watches at Linjer

Founded on the premise of affordable luxury, watch startup Linjer believes that quality should never be compromised for a good deal. Now, the brand is making their fairly priced watches even more affordable with a huge sale. You can save up to 30% on stylish watches for men and women.

8. Save up to $225 on a Leesa mattress

Right now, popular mattress startup Leesa Sleep is having one of its biggest sales ever. For a very limited time, you can save $150 on the Leesa Mattress and $225 on the Sapira Mattress. If buying a mattress online concerns you, know that you can try it out for 100 nights free of risk. If it’s not the best sleep you’ve ever had, you can return it hassle-free.

Crowdsourcing in the age of artificial intelligence: How the crowd will train machines

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It was over 10 years ago that I was introduced to the concept of crowdsourcing. I was a student at London Business School when a professor one day came into the classroom with a jar of pennies.

He asked us each to take a look at the jar and guess the correct amount of money inside. The jar went around the classroom and I gave it an estimate of £30 in good faith. The professor duly wrote down each of our 100 guesses on the whiteboard and then opened a sealed envelope where the real amount was revealed: £18.76.

While my initial lesson learned was that I shouldn’t ever try a career in penny guessing, the amazing surprise was still in store for me: The professor calculated the average of all our 100 guesses and it magically came down to £18.76. The wisdom of the crowd was spot on and was better than 99 percent of our own estimates (only one of us actually guessed the right amount).

Just a few months later I founded a crowdsourcing company with my fellow student Janeen. We attracted the best security and defence innovators to solve complex challenges for industry and government clients. That was 2005, and the initial wave of crowdsourcing was born with InnoCentive, Wikipedia, and Amazon Mechanical Turk leading the pack in accessing and working with the knowledge and ideas of the crowd.

Existing companies also started various crowdsourcing initiatives to access the minds of customers and suppliers to co-create products like My Starbucks Ideas.

Second-generation crowdsourcing

Over the last few years, crowdsourcing has evolved into a more pragmatic approach for corporates, who access the crowd not for co-creation of products or their ingenuity but rather as trainer for their AI systems.

Eric Schmidt, the Chairman and long serving CEO of Google, said back in 2016 that the next Google will be a crowdsourcing AI company. He said that if he wanted to start a new company, he would crowdsource a lot of labeled data from a crowd of specialists (he used the example of dermatologists) in order to train an AI system that would be able to learn and eventually be better at a task than these individuals and then sell the product back to them.

And there are large enterprises who use crowdsourcing for services typically performed by contractors or employees. Swisscom for instance acquired crowdsourcing platform Mila to outsource its maintenance and repair work to the crowd. The company ultimately seems to want to gather data from these crowd workers via mobile and AR so that it can eventually train an AI system to perform most of that human work.

So is the crowd now just cannon fodder for AI?

The point of crowdsourcing was always to outsource “micro tasks” that didn’t take an individual much effort (like guessing pennies in a jar) but delivered real value when executed by a crowd.

In the age of AI we see a parallel, where one labeled data set is useless but thousands together create value.

But I predict that it will go a step further. Today we are accessing the knowledge of the crowd to label data — for instance to label a picture to be a sunset or sunrise. But the next step will be for the crowd to provide data sets, too. For instance, I could provide health information about myself on a daily basis in a format that an AI system requires (formatted data) in order for firms to develop new drugs. One amazing non-profit venture I once advised, CancerBase, is trying something like that for curing cancer. In this next generation of crowdsourcing, the crowd will either get paid for its data or, as in the case of CancerBase, will provide data for free to help advance a good cause for humanity.

So how will this affect my university’s penny guessing problem in the future? Instead of asking students to guess the number of pennies, the professor will ask them each to take a picture of a random set of pennies from their wallets. Students will then label that picture with the amount their photo contains and send it to an AI app, which will determine the right number in any jar going forward.

Welcome to a brave new crowdsourcing world where we are the data providers.

Simon Schneider is an entrepreneur in the crowdsourcing economy and director at ECSI.

Netflix responds to fans who find the Lost in Space robot hot

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They say there’s no accounting for taste! And it seems that streaming giant Netflix has grown a little concerned as their viewers have started crushing on an artificial specimen in their new Lost In Space reboot.

Over the past week, fans of the show have been taking to Twitter to comment how the robot character in the series has been pushing all their buttons. One fan got straight to the point by tweeting: “There’s literally NO REASON the lost in space robot should have a butt that nice. this was intentional.” 

To be fair, while the robot doesn’t have anything on those AI stunners over at Westworld we will say it certainly has an impressively built physique with a sleek design. Still, Netflix is having none of it, and made their feelings known by pouring cold water over the heated discussion on the Internet. “When Lost In Space premiered we were prepared for a big reaction. What we weren’t prepared for was this…,” the streaming service began in a humorous tweet, posting some of the messages from fans. “Ya’ll need Jesus,” their messaged added.

Hang on a second though, Netflix. Is it just us or are robots and monsters in genre getting a whole lot sexier lately? We’ve already mentioned the delectable Delos hosts, and as we found out last year, director Guillermo del Toro “kept pushing for sexy” when he directed Doug Jones as the hunky fish monster in the Oscar-winning The Shape of Water.

Hell, even Pennywise managed to make some movie fans swoon thanks to the good looks of actor Bill Skarsgård in last year’s .

We’re going to throw this out there too with no judgement whatsoever: some people have also been lusting after Thanos from(corrugated chin and all.) So intentional or not, it would appear that Netflix is very on-trend with their mechanical pin-up in the midst of all this love from genre fans. 

Do you think the robot in Lost in Space is hot? Yes, we did just ask you that. Let us know your thoughts (keep ’em clean) in the comment section below. 

Anki will integrate Alexa into its robot companion Vector

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When Anki unveiled its latest robot companion Vector earlier this year, the bot came with its own custom voice interface to better depict its playful character, said the company.

But one personality might not be enough for Vector: Anki announced today that it’s going to integrate Alexa into the little bot. The company announced the news in a blog post, saying it was the top request from backers on Kickstarter. “We’re in the early phases and hope to share more details soon on exact timing but we’re aiming for end of this year,” said the blog’s author, Anki CEO and co-founder Boris Sofman.

We’ve reached out to Anki for more details, but the company said it had nothing else to share at this time, so it’s not clear what this Alexa integration will actually mean. We can safely assume it won’t take over from Vector’s built-in personality, which the company spends a lot of time shaping with the help of animators and writers. But it might take over some basic question functionality. Anki can answer queries like “what’s the weather like,” start timers, and so on, but Alexa can do much more with the help of its ecosystem of skills.

The news is particularly interesting given rumors that Amazon is reportedly developing its own mobile robot with Alexa built in. Project Vesta, as the robot is supposedly called, would follow users around their home so they can talk to Alexa in more places.

Although Amazon’s AI assistant has made its way into plenty of products, from microwaves to cars, it hasn’t been put in a mobile robot for the home. But if that’s functionality that customers actually want, it might be Vector, not Vesta, that’s the first device to offer it.