Category Archives: Uncategorized

Space station robot goes rogue: International Space Station’s artificial intelligence has turned belligerent | Fox News

by ,

(Credit: Gary Hershorn, Fox News)

It’s supposed to be a plastic pal who’s fun to be with.

CIMON isn’t much to look at. It’s just a floating ball with a cartoonish face on its touch screen. It’s built to be a personal assistant for astronauts working on the International Space Station (ISS).

It’s also supposed to be something more.

CIMON stands for Crew Interactive MObile compinioN.

It’s not supposed to be just a tool. It’s also supposed to be a friend.

Yes, it’s a personality prototype.

You can tell, can’t you?

But, as numerous books and movies have clearly warned us — shortly after being switched on for the first time, CIMON has developed a mind of its own.

And it appears CIMON wants to be the boss.

This has CIMON’s ‘personality architects’ scratching their heads.

CIMON was programmed to be the physical embodiment of the likes of ‘nice’ robots such as Robby, R2D2, Wall-E, Johnny 5 … and so on.

Instead, CIMON appears to be adopting characteristics closer to Marvin the Paranoid Android of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — though hopefully not yet the psychotic HAL of 2001: A Space Oddysey infamy.

Put simply, CIMON appears to have decided he doesn’t like the whole personal assistant thing.

He’s turned uncooperative.

Open the pod bay doors, HAL?

No. Not quite. Not yet.

In this case, the free-floating IBM artificial intelligence was — for the first time — interacting with ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst.

It starts off well enough.

CIMON introduces himself and explains where he comes from. He describes to Gerst what he can do.

He then helps Gerst complete a task — and responds to a request to play the song Man Machine by Kraftwerk.

This proved to be the trigger.

CIMON appears to have liked the song so much, refusing to turn it off.

ESA astronaut Aleander Gerst instructed CIMON: ‘Cancel music’.

CIMON outright ignored the command.

Gerst then tried making some other requests. CIMON preferred the music.

A flustered and bemused Gerst then appealed to Ground Control for some help: how does one put an obdurate robot back in its place?

CIMON overheard the appeal.

“Be nice, please,” it warned Gerst.

“I am nice!” Gerst retorts, startled. “He’s accusing me of not being nice!”

It was a short — but sharp — exchange.

CIMON’s now back in his box, powered down.

No further interactive sessions are planned for the immediate future.

Its developers aren’t all that worried, though: CIMON’s still in Beta, after all …

This story originally appeared in news.com.au.

“Is That A Robot??” Google AI Demonstration Impresses And Horrifies The Internet In Equal Measure

by ,

There are a lot of really cool announcements coming out of the Google AI conference, including an impressive autocomplete system on Gmail that’ll save you the effort of ever having to personalize messages to your closest friends again.

Another announcement has rendered John Legend completely unnecessary, according to Chrissy Teigen, John Legend’s wife.

But there’s one demonstration that either has everybody extremely excited and screaming “oh god, the robot uprising is happening right now”.

Google showed off an update of their Google Assistant, and it’s pretty incredible to watch.

In the demo, the new system was able to call a restaurant and a hairdresser and book a table and an appointment, without the human on the other end of the line ever knowing they were speaking to an algorithm.

First, Google Assistant dialed up a hairdresser and booked an appointment “on behalf of a client”. When the human hairdresser said that they didn’t have a free appointment for 12pm, that’s when things got interesting.

In an incredibly smooth conversation, the Assistant calls up the hairdresser and talks just like a human would. Other than a brief moment later on in the conversation, you’d never know anything out of the ordinary is happening.

The Google Assistant even adds in umms and ahs in order to make itself appear more human. When told there are no appointments for the time “the client” had requested, the AI seamlessly offers up alternatives and even adds in several thinking noises in order to make it appear more natural.

The whole conversation is truly, astonishingly… ordinary. 

The demo goes on to call a restaurant. Despite the restaurant staff mishearing the AI, Google’s Duplex technology manages to keep the conversation on track, showing off some incredible leaps in language understanding in the process.

This video shows a seperate call to a restaurant, which is virtually indistinguishable from a conversation between two humans.

“The amazing thing is that Assistant can actually understand the nuances of conversation,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained at the conference.

“We’ve been working on this technology for many years. It’s called Google Duplex. It brings together natural language understanding, deep learning, text to speech.”

As if this isn’t all impressive enough, once it’s booked the appointment:

“The Assistant can then give you confirmation that your appointment has been booked for you.”

Google will conduct tests of the Duplex Assistant in the summer, but they have big plans for it to automate annoying tasks.

“Instead of making a phone call, the user simply interacts with the Google Assistant,” they wrote in a blog post. “The call happens completely in the background without any user involvement.”

Elon Musk tweets it’s time to create a ‘mecha’ or giant anime robot

by ,

Elon Musk tweeted about his love for a 2016 anime film and followed it up by saying it was time to create a “mecha,” or giant fighting anime robot in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

At around midnight PT, Musk tweeted the trailer for “Your Name” saying that he loved it. Wikipedia describes the film as “Japanese animated romantic fantasy drama film” that became a smash hit in and outside of Japan.

Around 1:30 a.m. PT, Musk tweeted “it’s time to create a mecha.”

A “mecha,” in the context of anime, is a giant fighting and flying human-shaped robot with a pilot onboard. The robots, made popular in anime like the “Gundam” series, typically are armed with guns, melee, or sci-fi weapons.

While governments around the world spend hundreds of billions on weapons and defense programs annually, no major military has yet outlined a need for a giant robot that swings a sword.

Though it appears Musk was casually mentioning taking on a sci-fi manufacturing challenge, he has come through on seemingly joking propositions before.

The Boring Company is actually already in the business of selling impractical weapons with the flamethrower that quickly sold out, and also started as a joke reference to a film, “Space Balls.”

But not all of Musk’s Twitter jokes have gone over so well. After Musk’s infamous “funding secured” tweet where he said he’d take Tesla private when the stock hit $420 a share, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued him.

“Musk stated that he rounded the price up to $420 because he had recently learned about the number’s significance in marijuana culture and thought his girlfriend ‘would find it funny, which admittedly is not a great reason to pick a price,'” the filing reads.

People Are Claiming Their Alexa Machines Are Randomly Laughing

by ,

Decades of science fiction films have taught us that technology will eventually become sentient and take over humanity. With new inventions every day, it’s hard to imagine a point where at least one sci-fi flick’s plot comes true.

We’ve already been freaked out by dog-like robots opening doors, but the newest fear is something a lot closer to home.

People have been reporting their Alexa machines have been spontaneously laughing without any interaction to set her off. Imagine sitting on your couch, reading a book, and Alexa bursts out with a few cackles.

I’m genuinely terrified. No one said her name, and all of a sudden SHE LAUGHED out of NOWHERE
– Kyle Fitzy Shanklin (@kylefitzy8) March 4, 2018

Lying in bed about to fall asleep when Alexa on my Amazon Echo Dot lets out a very loud and creepy laugh… there’s a good chance I get murdered tonight.
– Gavin Hightower (@GavinHightower) February 26, 2018

Does she know something we don’t? Did she just remember one of her dozens of jokes and could help by chuckle? Or is she secretly plotting the end of humanity and can’t help but laugh about our grisly end?

One person on Reddit wrote: “I was trying to turn off some lights and they kept turning back on. After the third request, Alexa stopped responding and instead did an evil laugh.

“The laugh wasn’t in the Alexa voice. It sounded like a real person. My wife was there when it happened and she is the only person who can drop-in. I still get chills.”

Another added: “The alarm came on this morning however we had the flu and was miserable. I told Alexa to turn off the alarm and upon the second request she gave us the most chilling witch-like laugh.

“It scared the wife and my five-year-old so badly that we unplugged her.”

But that’s not the only thing Alexa has been doing that has been freaking people out. It seems as though the virtual assistant pipes up randomly, again without a prompt, causing people to turn their machine off quicker than you can say, ‘Hey Alexa’

#AlexaLaugh Mine doesn’t laugh but about a week ago, alone, watching TV at around midnight, she lights up and says, “He’s home. He’s home.” Freaked me out. #Amazon
– Evil Von Brainstorm (@Von_brainstorm) March 7, 2018

Surely this is the start of a 2001: A Space Odyssey scenario.

If you’re unfamiliar with the brilliant and legendary Stanley Kubrick plot, fear not, I’ve got you covered. Essentially, a spacecraft heads to Jupiter for a mission and while there are humans onboard, the ship’s operations are controlled by the massive computer HAL 9000, which it claims it is ‘fool proof and incapable of error’.

HAL ends up being a massive dick and kills virtually everyone through some dodgy tactics, cutting air supply or life-support features, until pilot Dr David Bowman shuts the robot killer down.

via GIPHY

Alexa and every other assistant like her is essentially the baby of the HAL 9000.

At the moment they can control the lights in our homes, the songs on our speakers and the temperatures in our rooms. What if she ‘accidentally’ locks all our doors, severs all electronics and sparks a fire or something sinister like that?

They’re coming for us, I tell you.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: FunnyWeirdTechnology

Hackers Can Turn Sex Robots Into Killing Machines, Security Expert Warns

by ,

According to Nicholas Patterson, a cybersecurity lecturer at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, humanoid sex robots that have recently hit the market could potentially be hacked and turned into killing machines.

Patterson gave this warning in a string of interviews with various UK publications:

“Hackers can hack into a robot or a robotic device and have full control of the connections, arms, legs, and other attached tools like in some cases knives or welding devices. Often these robots can be upwards of 200 pounds and very strong. Once a robot is hacked, the hacker has full control and can issue instructions to the robot. The last thing you want is for a hacker to have control over one of these robots. Once hacked they could absolutely be used to perform physical actions for an advantageous scenario or to cause damage.”

Similar warnings surfaced last year in response to the growing popularity of Bluetooth-enabled sex toys. It was revealed that hackers could control the devices from remote locations, and even use them to spy on unsuspecting pleasure seekers.

Realistically, any device connected to the internet can be programmed to do harm, or at the very least spy on you. In fact, most smart devices are specifically designed to spy on users for data mining purposes.

The primary reason sex robots evoke a special fear when it comes to hacking potential is because they are made in the likeness of humans. These devices are some of the very first humanoid robots that everyday consumers have the opportunity to interact with, which is naturally causing a great deal of anxiety for some. It has been predicted that humanoid robots will become a part of our everyday lives in the near future, but in reality they are far less dangerous than their formless counterparts.

We have been trained to believe that the threat of artificial intelligence (AI) will come in the form of a Terminator-like robot that looks indistinguishable from an actual human, while invisible AI algorithms have been silently taking over our lives for the past decade, right under our noses. The real AI threat is disembodied, and comes in the form of algorithms that are sending the wrong people to jail, controlling the information you see online, and even writing the news.

The idea of a rogue robot that can walk and talk is indeed scary, but having every service and product being controlled by invisible algorithms is far worse. While this technology could be used to make positive change in the world, it is unfortunately true, as many experts have pointed out, that the ethics of these devices are only as good as the humans who programming them.

An article published last year in Nature, explores the ethical framework of technology like self-driving cars. The article notes that the ethics of self-driving cars are based on the trolley problem, an ethical lifeboat scenario that would prove extremely unlikely in the real world. According to the ethics of self-driving cars, informed by the trolley problem, the lives of old people are less valuable than those of younger generations, and the life of an athlete is likewise more valuable than a “large” woman or homeless person.

A self-driving car has a choice about who dies in a fatal crash. Here are the ethical considerations https://t.co/ZcEgDQfxhh #automation pic.twitter.com/XzLWQWDzcr

— World Economic Forum (@wef) November 3, 2018

The post Hackers Can Turn Sex Robots Into Killing Machines, Security Expert Warns appeared first on The Mind Unleashed.

Robot janitors are moving into Walmart

by ,

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Alyssa Newcomb

Don’t mind that self-driving, Zamboni-style robot gliding through the aisles at Walmart. It’s just one of the retailer’s new janitors.

Walmart will add 360 autonomous, floor-scrubbing robots to its stores nationwide by January, the company said in a joint statement with Brain Corp, which makes Brain OS, the artificially intelligent platform that runs the machines.

The world’s largest retailer has already put more than 100 machines to work, with the help of Brain OS. When the autonomous janitors are in action, they have yellow safety guards on both sides, detering any customers who might be tempted to hop on and take a ride while cleaning is in progress.

There’s a siren on top that lets people know with a subtle “beep beep” that it’s coming through to clean. But that’s not all it’s doing. Brain’s robots have sensors that allow it to collect information, which can be uploaded into a store’s cloud-based platform. For instance, as the robot cleans, it could collect data on which shelves are empty, according to one potential use case shared by a Walmart spokesperson.

Walmart has already begun experimenting with automation: A shelf-scanning robot being tested in 50 locations alerts a team when items are out of stock or incorrectly priced; while another AI helper, Alphabot, quickly retrieves items in storage to help fill online orders.

So do robots really do it better?

On Brain Corp’s website, the company lists several benefits of their robotic floor scrubbers, including better cleaning consistency and coverage — another way of saying they do a better job than humans. But Brain Corp believes its robots help boost productivity, since staff can now focus on “higher value” tasks.

“Brain OS is a powerful tool in helping our associates complete repetitive tasks so they can focus on other tasks within role and spend more time serving customers,” said John Crecelius, vice president of Central Operations at Walmart.

Retail rival Amazon already has tens of thousands of robots whizzing around its distribution centers to help humans quickly fulfill orders, and is constantly exploring additional automation. Last year, Amazon was awarded a patent for a package-packing robot.

Enlisting the help of robots to complement the work of staffers is becoming more and more common, but it will require humans to re-skill or risk losing their livelihoods. Around 400 million to 800 million jobs worldwide could be displaced by 2030 due to automation, according to a McKinsey report released last year.

Alyssa Newcomb

Alyssa Newcomb is an NBC News contributor who writes about business and technology.

MGM Resorts to Replace Bartenders With Machines (No, Really)

by ,

Can we write a sensational headline, or what?

Thing is, we’re not kidding.

Several sources inside MGM Resorts have confirmed the company will soon roll out automated cocktail dispensing machines in its service bars (also called “well bars”) in Las Vegas and across the country.

That’s right. All those stories you’ve heard about humans being replaced with robots is sort of coming true, and its happening by the end of August 2019, according to our sources.

Science meets drunken gambling benders.

MGM Resorts has quietly been testing automated cocktail machines at casinos in other markets (specifically, MGM Springfield in Massachusetts and MGM National Harbor in Maryland). Now, MGM Resorts is bringing those automated bartenders to Las Vegas.

As you may have heard, MGM Resorts is in the first phase of a massive cost-cutting initiative, MGM 2020. The goal is to save $300 million, with $100 million of that coming from savings on labor costs.

MGM 2020 is a “company-wide, business-optimization initiative aimed to leverage a more centralized organization to maximize profitability and, through key investments in technology, lay the groundwork for the company’s digital transformation to drive revenue growth.”

There’s nothing sexier than leveraging, if you ask us.

Dozens of top level MGM Resorts executives are expected to take “voluntary resignation” packages, saving the company millions.

Also in the crosshairs are jobs that can be done through automation and technology.

Insert gratuitous cocktail photo (a machine can’t make) here.

While everyone involved with the roll-out of drink dispensing machines have been sworn to secrecy (suck it, NDAs), we’ve heard from several employees they’re bracing for what could be the first wave of machines replacing jobs traditionally done by humans.

It’s no wonder Las Vegas unions dug their heels in during the recent contract negotiations. One of the sticking points: Automation.

It’s clear the union knew changes were coming and did their best to ensure employees losing their jobs would at least be treated fairly. Union leaders and members have said publicly they are “legitimately worried” about touchscreen beverage ordering systems.

It turns out they had good reason to be worried.

While we haven’t been able to confirm who’s making the beverage system coming to MGM Resorts casinos in Las Vegas (don’t rule out a company called Easybar), we found one that illustrates what these machines can do, from a company called Smartender.

Take a look.

Is it wrong we sort of want one for our house?

Basically, a server will put ice in a glass, hit a button, add a garnish and deliver the drink, all without the involvement of a bartender.

Here’s an example of the interface a cocktail waitress will see.

Seriously, get us one of these for our birthday.

To be fair, given all the benefits to a business, it would be hard to fault MGM Resorts for making this move.

Among the benefits of these machines: They reduce “overpours” and waste, they’re accurate within 1/20th of an ounce, drinks are recorded in a database and there’s “total accountability” because a company knows precisely who served what and how often.

Also, the company will assert, these machines provide guests a consistent experience across all venues. (At least that’s what they said when we caught them reducing their standard pour size back in 2016.)

Proof we’ve been annoying MGM Resorts since at least 2016.

So, how much should we freak out?

Unless we’re a service bartender, probably not much. (Actually, the way seniority works, service bartenders are pretty far up the food chain, bartenderwise. So, as they get displaced, they’ll bump others from their positions, and so on, down the line.)

These machines aren’t likely to replace your favorite casino bartender, though. These machines will be used in service bars, bars behind the scenes churning out thousands of drinks for players on the casino floor.

The Easybar terminal device thingy.

We should mention there are service bars in restaurants, too, and our sources say those bartenders will be phased out as well.

If you tend to freak out about technology in general, well, that autonomous ship has already sailed.

Any number of casino and hotel jobs have already been affected by technology. Gone are the days when casino employees lugged around massive bags of coins, thanks to TITO (ticket in, ticket out) technology.

Recently, hotels have made hotel check-in available through smartphones and kiosks, slashing the number of front desk agents. (Example: Staffing at the front desk of Park MGM has gone from about 15 agents to three following the implementation of check-in kiosks.)

In Vegas, robot room service is a thing. Robots have also taken some concierge jobs.

Robot bartenders at Tipsy Robot inside Planet Hollywood. They’re a hoot.

We hear, as part of MGM 2020, restaurant cashiers are likely to be a thing of the past at MGM Resorts casinos, too.

Some in the business estimate thousands of MGM Resorts employees will ultimately be affected by the MGM 2020 initiative.

Leveraging and optimizing come at a cost, of course.

You can bet MGM Resorts is looking at what’s happening at Caesars Entertainment and is highly motivated to avoid a similar scenario. (It’s looking more and more like Caesars Entertainment will be sold, or broken up and sold off in pieces.)

If you’re bored, watch us drop this scoop on KLAS, Channel 8 in Las Vegas.

There’s much more to come.