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Age of RobotsAge of Robots

Age of Robots November 2017

Age of Robots magazine is dedicated to reporting on the technology of the Second Machine Age and how it is impacting our society and psychology. We aim to keep readers abreast of the many advances taking place in artificial intelligence, robotics, and associated fields.

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the editor

Music has always been a personal passion. I studied music technology and composition at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music before attempting a career as a film composer—which didn’t quite go as planned. Cold and hungry in the heart of London during a depression in the film industry, I couldn’t even get a job serving coffee and sweeping floors at the studios I had dreamt would be my doorway to cinematic sublimes. I returned home to Australia and continued to pursue music as a sideline, and I did eventually get to score a film. Enter Issue 2 of AoR, and it was with much excitement that I was able to get back in touch with my music technology and film-scoring passions when putting together a report on music by machines. Music is one…

in brief

voice authentication A security-token necklace, ear buds or eyeglasses developed at the University of Michigan could eliminate vulnerabilities in voice authentication—the practice of logging in to a device or service with your voice alone. The solution that has been developed is called VAuth, and it’s a wearable device that can take the form of a necklace, ear buds or a small attachment to eyeglasses. Source: University of Michigan Light-activated nanoparticles supercharge antibiotics Light-activated nanoparticles, also known as quantum dots, can provide a crucial boost in effectiveness for antibiotic treatments used to combat drug-resistant superbugs such as E. coliand Salmonella, new CU Boulder research shows. Researchers were able to re-potentiate existing antibiotics for certain clinical isolate infections by introducing nano-engineered quantum dots, which can be deployed selectively and activated or de-activated using specific wavelengths of light. Rather than attacking the infecting…

emotion ai

What do the author of The Future of Happiness, a senior director of autonomous driving ecosystems for NVDIA, and an 18-year-old high school student from Kansas all have in common? They all appeared recently at the first Emotion AI Summit, at the world-renowned MIT Media Lab. Sponsored by emotion AI software development company, Affectiva, more than two dozen experts spoke on a variety of issues surrounding the burgeoning ability of AI to recognize human emotions. How will it affect our work, play, health, and yes, even our happiness and wellbeing? Amy Blankson, the aforementioned author, spoke of testing 400—yes four hundred—different devices and apps to monitor mood, as part of her research on the future of happiness. “The market is huge,” she asserts, “and it’s useful to have somebody who is knowledgeable to…

al is rewriting the history of 'malware'

In much of the world, the Internet has completely altered the average way of life, to the point that just last year the UN declared Internet access to be a universal human right. This is a technology that barely existed 40 years ago, yet it has integrated so seamlessly into society that many now consider it a basic living requirement. After all, much of the average person’s life and livelihood, as well as the infrastructure around them, is now dependent on the Internet. Unfortunately, while Internet connectivity has increased ease of communication and access to information, it has also left some of the most critical functions of society vulnerable to cybercriminal acts perpetrated by cyber-criminal organizations, nation-states and even lone vigilantes. The programs involved, which started life as a kind of…

peering into the black box

In a process referred to as “deep learning,” training data is fed to a network’s input nodes, which modify it and feed it to other nodes, which modify it and feed it to still other nodes, and so on. The values stored in the network’s output nodes are then correlated with the classification category that the network is trying to learn — such as the objects in an image, or the topic of an essay. Neural networks learn how to perform computational tasks by analyzing huge volumes of training data and are becoming the core of today’s best artificial intelligent systems. Neural nets are trained by continually readjusting thousands of internal parameters until they can reliably perform a particular task, such as identifying objects in digital images, or translating text from…

farming in an age of robots

“Small autonomous machines will facilitate high-resolution precision farming, where different areas of the field, and possibly even individual plants can be treated separately, optimizing and potentially reducing inputs being used in field agriculture.” Harper Adams University hosted an event this year that was founded in the Netherlands in 2003—the International Field Robot Event (FRE) where robotics teams come together to battle it out on the farm to see who has the most innovative technology. It’s actually not that easy to build a farming robot, as the 14 teams who participated in the event demonstrated as they tried to navigate their robots through a series of agricultural tasks. For example, one of the tasks was to identify weeds and not damage the crops—a tricky thing for a robot and at the FRE event…