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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Teaching computers to plan for the future

As humans, we’ve gotten pretty good at shaping the world around us. We can choose the molecular design of our fruits and vegetables, travel faster and farther and stave off life-threatening diseases with personalized medical care. However, what continues to elude our molding grasp is the airy notion of “time” — how to see further than our present moment, and ultimately how to make the most of it. As it turns out, robots might be the ones that can answer this question.

Computer scientists from the University of Bonn in Germany wrote this week that they were able to design a software that could predict a sequence of events up to five minutes in the future with accuracy between 15 and 40 percent. These values might not seem like much on paper, but researcher Dr. Juergen Gall says it represents a step toward a new area of machine learning that goes beyond single-step prediction.

Although Gall’s goal of teaching a system how to understand a sequence of events is not new (after all, this is a primary focus of the fields of machine learning and computer vision), it is unique in its approach. Thus far, research in these fields has focused on the interpretation of a current action or the prediction of an anticipated next action. This was seen recently in the news when a paper from Stanford AI researchers reported designing an algorithm that could achieve up to 90 percent accuracy in its predictions regarding end-of-life care.

When researchers provided the algorithm with data from more than two million palliative-care patient records, it was able to analyze patterns in the data and predict when the patient would pass with high levels of accuracy. However, unlike Gall’s research, this algorithm focused on a retrospective, single prediction.

Accuracy itself is a contested question in the field of machine learning. While it appears impressive on paper to report accuracies ranging upwards of 90 percent, there is debate about the over-inflation of these values through cherry-picking “successful” data in a process called p-hacking.

In their experiment, Gall and his team used hours of video data demonstrating different cooking actions (e.g. frying an egg or tossing a salad) and presented the software with only portions of the action and tasked it with predicting the remaining sequence based on what it had “learned.” Through their approach, Gall hopes the field can take a step closer to true human-machine symbiosis.

“[In the industry] people talk about human robot collaboration but in the end there’s still a separation; they’re not really working close together,” says Gall.

Instead of only reacting or anticipating, Gall proposes that, with a proper hardware body, this software could help human workers in industrial settings by intuitively knowing the task and helping them complete it. Even more, Gall sees a purpose for this technology in a domestic setting, as well.

“There are many older people and there’s efforts to have this kind of robot for care at home,” says Gall. “In ten years I’m very convinced that service robots [will] support care at home for the elderly.”

The number of Americans over the age of 65 today is approximately 46 million, according to a Population Reference Bureau report, and is predicted to double by the year 2060. Of that population, roughly 1.4 million live in nursing homes according to a 2014 CDC report. The impact that an intuitive software like Gall’s could have has been explored in Japan, where just over one-fourth of the country’s population is elderly. From PARO, a soft, robotic therapy seal, to the sleek companion robot Pepper from SoftBank Robotics, Japan is beginning to embrace the calm, nurturing assistance of these machines.

With this advance in technology for the elderly also comes the bitter taste that perhaps these technologies will only create further divide between the generations — outsourcing love and care to a machine. For a yet mature industry it’s hard to say where this path with conclude, but ultimately that is in the hands of developers to decide, not the software or robots they develop. These machines may be getting better at predicting the future, but even to them their fates are still being coded.


Source: TechCrunch

Ugh. I’m done with fitness trackers, and so is the world

In 2016, everyone was tracking their fitness. In 2017, people grew tired of it. In 2018, I’m done with it. I’m going tracker-free in my workouts from now on.

The post Ugh. I’m done with fitness trackers, and so is the world appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

HoloLens 2 could pack Qualcomm’s new XR1 chip for extended reality

The next version of Microsoft’s HoloLens headset for augmented reality will supposedly feature Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon XR1. The rumor arrives by way of an anonymous source who claims the headset will appear in January 2019.

The post HoloLens 2 could pack Qualcomm’s new XR1 chip for extended reality appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

Gadget Lab Podcast: Why Apple, Google, Microsoft Are Stirring the Software Pot

This week’s podcast is all about the software that points to the future of our how we’ll use our gadgets – even if they infuriate us in the interim.
Source: Wired

Elizabeth Holmes reportedly steps down at Theranos after criminal indictment

Elizabeth Holmes has left her role as CEO of Theranos and has been charged with wire fraud, CNBC and others report. The company’s former president, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, was also indicted today by a grand jury.

These criminal charges are separate from the civil ones filed in March by the SEC and already settled. There are 11 charges; two are conspiracy to commit wire fraud (against investors, and against doctors and patients) and the remaining nine are actual wire fraud, with amounts ranging from the cost of a lab test to $100 million.

Theranos’s general counsel, David Taylor, has been appointed CEO. What duty the position actually entails in the crumbling enterprise is unclear. Holmes, meanwhile, remains chairman of the board.

The FBI Special Agent in Charge of the case against Theranos, John Bennett, said the company engaged in “a corporate conspiracy to defraud financial investors,” and “misled doctors and patients about the reliability of medical tests that endangered health and lives.”

This story is developing. I’ve asked Theranos for comment and will update if I hear back; indeed I’m not even sure anyone is there to respond.


Source: TechCrunch

Protect My Head? Soccer Pros Shrug and Carry On

New tests find that certain headbands cut risk of head injuries, but officials are reluctant to mandate their use.
Source: Wired

Trump Says He Gave Kim Jong Un His Direct Number. Never Do That.

If Trump actually followed White House protocol for secure calling, it’s probably fine. But what are the odds?
Source: Wired

Electric scooters are gone from San Francisco, for now – CNET

But they’ll be back.
Source: CNET

Facebook Messenger app crashes? Try this fix – CNET

It’s easy — just go back to the App Store and download a just-released version.
Source: CNET

Judge says ‘literal but nonsensical’ Google translation isn’t consent for police search

Machine translation of foreign languages is undoubtedly a very useful thing, but if you’re going for anything more than directions or recommendations for lunch, its shallowness is a real barrier. And when it comes to the law and constitutional rights, a “good enough” translation doesn’t cut it, a judge has ruled.

The ruling (PDF) is not hugely consequential, but it is indicative of the evolving place in which translation apps find themselves in our lives and legal system. We are fortunate to live in a multilingual society, but for the present and foreseeable future it seems humans are still needed to bridge language gaps.

The case in question involved a Mexican man named Omar Cruz-Zamora, who was pulled over by cops in Kansas. When they searched his car, with his consent, they found quite a stash of meth and cocaine, which naturally led to his arrest.

But there’s a catch: Cruz-Zamora doesn’t speak English well, so the consent to search the car was obtained via an exchange facilitated by Google Translate — an exchange that the court found was insufficiently accurate to constitute consent given “freely and intelligently.”

The fourth amendment prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, and lacking a warrant or probable cause, the officers required Cruz-Zamora to understand that he could refuse to let them search the car. That understanding is not evident from the exchange, during which both sides repeatedly fail to comprehend what the other is saying.

Not only that, but the actual translations provided by the app weren’t good enough to accurately communicate the question. For example, the officer asked “¿Puedo buscar el auto?” — the literal meaning of which is closer to “can I find the car,” not “can I search the car.” There’s no evidence that Cruz-Zamora made the connection between this “literal but nonsensical” translation and the real question of whether he consented to a search, let alone whether he understood that he had a choice at all.

With consent invalidated, the search of the car is rendered unconstitutional, and the charges against Cruz-Zamora are suppressed.

It doesn’t mean that consent is impossible via Google Translate or any other app — for example, if Cruz-Zamora had himself opened his trunk or doors to allow the search, that likely would have constituted consent. But it’s clear that app-based interactions are not a sure thing. This will be a case to consider not just for cops on the beat looking to help or investigate people who don’t speak English, but in courts as well.

Providers of machine translation services would have us all believe that those translations are accurate enough to use in most cases, and that in a few years they will replace human translators in all but the most demanding situations. This case suggests that machine translation can fail even the most basic tests, and as long as that possibility remains, we have to maintain a healthy skepticism.


Source: TechCrunch

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