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Motherboard Analysis: Joke-Compatible Represents “Final Frontier” In Artificial Intelligence.

A nearly 1,800-word article in Motherboard (3/15) discusses efforts by scientist to develop a funny robot, one that is “in on the joke, able to detect various shades of wit from their human companions, and to fire back in turn with their own wisecracks.” Motherboards states the “mastery of sophisticated functions like self-awareness, empathy, spontaneity, and linguistic subtlety” that are required for a robot to be “joke-compatible” lead some to believe it is the “final frontier for artificial intelligence.”

Article posted: 03/16/2016

Increased Female Participation Boosts Robotics Growth In Michigan.

The AP (3/13, Higgins) reports that organizers of robotics events n Michigan are seeing a growth in participation, and that much of this growth is fueled by girls who are “joining teams” and “taking on leadership roles” “at all levels – on coed” and all-girls teams. The AP reports that this growth comes “amid widespread efforts to get more girls to consider science careers” and lists various programs that are aimed at engaging girls of various ages. The article than discusses various robotics events and reviews the female participants on some of the teams committed to attending.

Article posted: 03/14/2016

Google AI Beats Human World Champion In First Round Of Go.

In its “The Two-way” breaking news blog, NPR (3/9, Chappell) reports Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo program narrowly defeated Go world champion Lee Sedol in round 1 of the ancient game. The article carries a recap of the game from Google. The AlphaGo program “actually learned the game without much human help,” as NPR explains it “started by studying a database of about 100,000 human matches, and then continued by playing against itself millions of times.” NPR adds, “As it went, it reprogrammed itself and improved.”

Article posted: 03/10/2016

Pentagon Tests Secret “Micro-Drones.”

The Washington Post (3/8, Lamothe) reports the Pentagon spent last summer testing “new, secret prototypes” of “micro-drones,” which are launched from the flare dispensers of F-16As and F/A-18s fighters and which later use parachutes to slow down before emerging to create a swarm. The 3-D printed UAS systems can also be launched from the ground. The “shroud of secrecy” regarding the Strategic Capabilities Office, which oversees the project, “was lifted partially in recent weeks” when Defense Secretary Ash Carter “disclosed last month the existence of some of the office’s projects while previewing his proposed 2017 budget.” While “many details about the organization remain classified,” “it receives technical support from several contractors who specialize in part on simulation and modeling, including Modern Technology Solutions Inc., in Alexandria, Va., and Science Applications International Corp. in McLean, Va.” The mini-UAS units are part of a program called “Perdix,” which costs around $20 million.

Article posted: 03/09/2016

DARPA Plans Neural Implant Project.

CNN (3/7, Browne) reports DARPA plans to design a neural implant to allow the brain to communicate with computers, and has announced it will spend up to $62 million under its Neural Engineering System Design program on the project. CNN says if the project succeeds, “cyborgs will be a reality,” and says experts believe the implant could have numerous applications, for example to control the military’s Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) exoskeleton under development through US Special Operations Command. CNN quotes cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, who cautions that he thinks success is unlikely because “we have little to no idea how exactly the brain codes complex information.”

Article posted: 03/08/2016