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AI-powered weed hunters could soon reduce the need for herbicides and genetically modified crops. How it’s done now: Current farming methods involve spraying large amounts of indiscriminate weed killer over fields full of crops that have been genetically tweaked (usually by the same company that makes the weed killer) to resist the chemicals. The pesticide and seed industry is enormous, worth $100 billion globally. Of that, herbicide sales alone account for $26 billion.
The future: Robots like the one created by ecoRobotix (shown below) will be able to roll through fields, using computer vision to target and spray individual weeds as they go. EcoRobotix claims its robo-brigade will decrease total herbicide use by a factor of 20. You might even be able to get a smaller Roomba-esque version for your home garden.
Google’s Duplex, which can carry on conversations with humans, may soon have a new competitor. Microsoft is using a similar technology in China for its XiaoIce social chatbot. It’s not identical to Google’s Duplex, which can make calls for you using Google Assistant. Instead, XiaoIce can have a phone conversation with you.
“Xiaoice has the ability to have human-like verbal conversations, which the industry calls ‘full duplex,'” said Harry Shum, Microsoft’s executive vice president for artificial intelligence and research, in a blog post Monday. “Using this skill, she has talked with over 600k people on the phone since we launched last August!”
The robots use a processor, gyroscopes and a lot of data to predict how to safely pull off their high-flying stunts, which include a single backflip, a double backflip and a graceful free-fall. Check out the research here.
Workday on Tuesday rolled out new data visualisation capabilities within Prism Analytics, its data-as-a-service effort. With the new capability, called data discovery, users can drag-and-drop data to quickly build reports and explore data visually.
With a visualisation tool embedded in the Workday application, users can click on a piece of data in a visualisation — such as the identity of a worker or supplier — to get more context or start a business process like updating payment terms. Users can share their visualisations as a Workday report or a worklet on a dashboard.
The company is to open an AI research lab in Cambridge, in a move that has been welcomed by the prime minister. The lab will join other Samsung centres dedicated to the topic, based in Moscow and Toronto. The technology is now seen as key to competing in many industries.
The UK has been a hotspot for AI research. But there are concerns about a growing skills shortage. Samsung says the lab will focus on health and communication.
A new UK self-driving car startup founded by Amar Shah and Alex Kendall, two machine learning PhDs from University of Cambridge, is now de-cloaking. Wayve — backed by New York-based Compound, Europe’s Fly Ventures, and Brent Hoberman’s Firstminute Capital — is building what it describes as “end-to-end machine learning algorithms” to make autonomous vehicles a reality, an approach it claims is different to much of the conventional thinking on self-driving cars.
“Wayve is building intelligent software to decide how to control a vehicle on all public roads,” Wayve CEO Amar Shah said. “Rather than hand-engineering our solution with heavily rule-based systems, we aim to build data-driven machine learning at every layer of our system, which would learn from experience and not simply be given if-else statements. Our learning-based system will be safer in unfamiliar situations than a rule-based system which would behave unpredictably in a situation it has not seen before”.
Founded in 2007, Realeyes’ software essentially taps into viewers’ computer webcams to analyse slight changes in facial expressions in reaction to marketing videos with the help of AI. (Don’t worry, according to TechCrunch’s report, the technology is used on a small cohort of viewers, on an opt-in basis.)