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Read on to learn about the impact of tech on spies, Amazon’s secret plan for home robots, bots at work from Microsoft, and more.
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CIA officers working overseas used to expect to be followed after hours by adversarial spies hoping to find their sources. But now, foreign spies often don’t need to bother because technology can do it for them, said Dawn Meyerriecks, deputy director of the CIA’s science and technology division.
Digital surveillance, including closed-circuit television and wireless infrastructure, in about 30 countries is so good that physical tracking is no longer necessary, Meyerriecks told the audience at an intelligence conference in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday. “Singapore’s been doing it for years,” she told CNN following her keynote speech on Sunday morning at the 2018 GEOINT Symposium, hosted by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. Meyerriecks did not elaborate with further examples.
A RAND Corporation report concludes that military adoption of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies could have a destabilizing effect over the next couple of decades, and lead one nation to take the nuclear option.
Details: Strategic stability provided by “mutually assured destruction” might be undermined if AI offers a new—and vastly better—way to target an adversary’s weapons systems, the report says. The report’s findings are drawn from information collected through workshops including experts on nuclear weapons, national security, government policy, and AI.
Flying Fish Partners is ready to cast its pole deep underneath Seattle’s iceberg. The new venture firm has raised $27.8M as part of a larger $80 million fund that will be used to invest in Pacific Northwest startups building artificial intelligence and machine learning technology.
“We think we have the biggest iceberg of talent in North America. It could not be higher in quality, but the deals that investors are seeing today are just the very tip of that iceberg,” explained Heather Redman, a longtime Seattle-area tech veteran and general partner at Flying Fish. “The amount of the iceberg that’s underwater is 90 percent — once we get capital in front of that part, we will see a huge increase in deals.”
The retail and cloud computing giant has embarked on an ambitious, top-secret plan to build a domestic robot, according to people familiar with the plans. Codenamed “Vesta,” after the Roman goddess of the hearth, home and family, the project is overseen by Gregg Zehr, who runs Amazon’s Lab126 hardware research and development division based in Sunnyvale, California. Lab126 is responsible for Amazon devices such as the Echo speakers, Fire TV set-top-boxes, Fire tablets and the ill-fated Fire Phone.
The Vesta project originated a few years ago, but this year Amazon began to aggressively ramp up hiring. There are dozens of listings on the Lab 126 Jobs page for openings like “Software Engineer, Robotics” and “Principle Sensors Engineer.”
Microsoft is working on multiple chat bots it’s counting on to make employees more productive. The company announced two years ago its Calendar.help scheduling bot, which remains in preview. The company also is working on another conversational bot, named “SwitchBot,” that’s designed to improve workers’ focus.
SwitchBot is a Skype bot that aims to help workers detach and then reengage at the start and end of their workdays. It’s goal: To make workers more productive by getting workers to better use their time on and off the job. Microsoft researchers built SwitchBot using the Microsoft Bot Framework and its machine-learning service, Language Understanding and Intent Service (LUIS). They designed task-centric dialogues (such as “What did you work on today?”) and emotion-centric dialogues (“How did you feel
about work today?”).
Researchers from NVIDIA, led by Guilin Liu, introduced a state-of-the-art deep learning method that can edit images or reconstruct a corrupted image, one that has
holes or is missing pixels. The method can also be used to edit images by removing content and filling in the resulting holes. The method, which performs a process called “image inpainting”, could be implemented in photo editing software to remove unwanted content, while filling it with a realistic computer-generated alternative.
“Our model can robustly handle holes of any shape, size location, or distance from the image borders. Previous deep learning approaches have focused on rectangular regions located around the center of the image, and often rely on expensive post-processing,” the NVIDIA researchers stated in their research paper. “Further, our model gracefully handles holes of increasing size.”
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently developed a device that allows a person to maintain a semi-conscious state between wakefulness and sleeping. There’s now a working “sleep interface,” in the form of a device that allows humans to have a small amount of control over their own consciousness.
A person puts on the glove and then makes a fist, as they begin to fall asleep they naturally loosen their grip. Once Dormio detects the person is moving from hypnophagia into sleep, it interrupts them with by playing a prerecorded reminder.