By Paul KvintaPosted 09.06.2012 at 10:35 am 1 Comment
Simon the robot has just learned a new skill: transferring a red block from one hand into a coffee cup held by the other. But like an eager preschooler, he wants to know more. “Can I begin here?” he asks, lifting the block high. Simon has two arms, eight fingers, doe eyes, and a monotone voice. With each question and answer, he is doing what roboticist Andrea Thomaz calls “whittling away the hypothesis space,” or eliminating information that is not essential.
Siri is helpful when you want to schedule a reminder or look at the forecast, but wouldn’t it be better to have a bona fide Jeopardy! champ in your pocket? IBM is trying to figure out how to bring the power of its superbrainy Watson to smartphones, helping people answer far more complex questions.
Oriental fruit flies are one of the biggest scourges to farmers around the globe, often forcing officials to put crops into quarantine just to keep Bactrocera dorsalis shut out. In Taiwan, where the situation is especially dire, scientists are using artificial intelligence tech that can determine, with uncanny accuracy, where and when an outbreak is about to happen.