Apple, Tesla, Emergent Future

Issue 19
This week we look at a
self-driving car that saves the driver’s life, the Facebook 404 Hardware lab, how Apple’s betting on AI, why a bunch of bots are hacking other bots, and a reminder that the Google’s Brain Team has an AMA next week. Plus, projects to try at home, and our top reads from the past week. 

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AI To The Rescue

You might have heard: A self-driving Tesla SUV saved a man’s lifeby driving him to an emergency room while he was having a pulmonary embolism. The artery blockage in his lungs could have been fatal had he been forced to pull over and wait for an ambulance.

Instead, the Model X navigated 20 miles of highway until it reached an off-ramp near a hospital. From there, he drove himself a few blocks to the emergency room.

But did you know: Three members of Google’s self-driving car project are leaving, including CTO Chris Urmson.

Urmson was the main engineer behind the code running the car’s autonomous software.

Some are asking if the company can expect a financial windfall from its moonshot projects since a commercial version of the car is still likely to be several years away.

Plus: A driving dataset for car autopilot AI training based on the paper Learning a Driving Simulator, which uses an agent that learns to clone driver behaviors and maneuvers by simulating future events in the road.

Area 404: Facebook’s Hardware Lab 4⃣️0⃣️4⃣️

Take a look inside Area 404, Facebook’s 22K square foot hardware lab at its Menlo Park HQ. The social network is using the lab to prototype its solar drones, internet-beaming lasers, VR headsets, and next-generation servers.

In an effort to “move fast and break things,” the company developed the lab to avoid outsourcing delays and shorten the time needed to go from concept to prototype.

Apple Acquires AI Startup Turi ⚙

It appears that Apple’s dead serious about AI after all. The company acquired Turi, a machine learning startup, for around $200M last week.

The Seattle startup helped developers build apps using machine learning and AI in the cloud. Apple’s plans for Turi aren’t clear.

The purchase comes as Apple and the other giants of the tech world — Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon — areincreasingly focused on machine learning and artificial intelligence.

While Apple was early with its Siri personal assistant, other companies have made big moves into bots, while Siri has evolved rather slowly.

Plus: Computing pioneer Alan Kay on AI, Apple, and the future

Bots Hacking Bots ⚔

A Pentagon-sponsored bot battle last week showed how computers can fix their own flaws, while making the Internet safer in the process.

A Cyber Grand Challenge was staged at the DEF CON hacking conference by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to spur the invention of software able to automatically spot, test, and fix security flaws.

Seven teams played a 96-round game of “Capture the Flag,” wherebots had to play both offense and defense against other bots, while fixing security holes in their code while exploiting the holes of others.

In the end, “Mayhem,” a Carnegie Mellon team took home the $2 million DARPA prize.

An AMA with the Google Brain Team

Google’s Brain Team will hold an AMA on Reddit on August 11th.

The team of research scientists and engineers, tasked with building intelligent machines used to improve people’s lives, is gathering questions now.

Head over to /r/MachineLearning and add your question.

Need Inspiration? Skim through the excellent Quora Session with Yann LeCun, director of AI research at Facebook, for a survey of breakthrough technologies.

What We’re Reading

  • Who Should Control Our Thinking Machines? An interview with Google’s Demis Hassabis on using artificial intelligence on everything from climate change to aging. (Bloomberg)
  • The amazing power of word vectors. The subject matter is “word2vec” – the work of Mikolov et al. at Google on efficient vector representations of words and what you can do with them. (The Morning Paper)
  • Why I’m not a big fan of Scrum. Scrum is now the default agile software development methodology. This management framework, which is “simple to understand but difficult to master”, is used by 66% of all agile companies. (OK I Give Up)
  • What’s the Difference Between Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning? Artificial intelligence is the future. Artificial intelligence is science fiction. Artificial intelligence is already part of our everyday lives. All those statements are true, it just depends on what flavor of AI you are referring to. (Nvidia)
  • Long-term forecasting with machine learning models.Time series analysis has been around for ages. Even though it sometimes does not receive the attention it deserves in the current data science and big data hype, it is one of those problems almost every data scientist will encounter at some point in their career. (Thomas Huijskens)

Try This At Home

Emergent Future is a weekly, hand-curated dispatch exploring technology through the lens of artificial intelligence, data science, and the shape of things to come. Subscribe here.