1 – Could Slack’s Slackbot Herald the Era of Virtual Colleagues?

Slack’s new virtual assistant, Slackbot, has helped increase the company’s valuation to $2.8 billion by investors. The “assistant, notepad and programmable bot” first helps Slack users fill out their profile on Slack. The virtual bot then allows users to store message in a notepad, and programmed with automatic responses to encourage colleagues to pick up the pace. Other organizations, such as The New York Times (NYT), have created their own version of the Slackbot (NYT dubbed theirs Blossom, which recommends stories to be posted to Facebook). The potential of chatbots lies in the range of other capabilities that could be programmed, such as sending messages between colleagues to schedule work trips, research topics, run recruitment campaigns, and more.

Read the full article on (The Guardian)

2 – The Struggle to Define What Artificial Intelligence Actually Means

Society needs a usable definition of AI – and fast – if it is to effectively establish regulation and governance laws and policies. While the definition could change slightly depending on context, there is currently a very loose sense of the term throughout scientific and public circles. The primary debate revolves around the “intelligence” bit. While philosophy often prevents a set definition from occurring, regulators need to know what is at stake in regards to public welfare and safety. John McCarthy of Stanford University summed up the issue this way:

“The problem is that we cannot yet characterize in general what kinds of computational procedures we want to call intelligent. We understand some of the mechanisms of intelligence and not others.”

Soon after, Marcus Hutter (ANU) and Shane Legg (Google DeepMind) proposed the following “human-independent” definitions: Intelligence measures an agent’s ability to achieve goals in a wide range of environments. While this invokes a clearer set of variable for regulators, many hurdles still remain.

Read the full article on (Popular Science)

3 – Research: 34 percent Afraid of Artificial Intelligence

In July, Tech Pro Research presented a survey-based report titled Artificial Intelligence and IT: The Good, The Bad and the Scary. About 34 percent of respondents conveyed some fear of AI, with AI in healthcare being the forerunner, and business services/consulting, education, and IT also ranking higher than the average amongst categories. Respondents may be viewing these areas as threats to the future of careers; however, more than half of respondents thought that AI was good for business and society. About 24 percent of respondents said they were currently using AI for business, and 26 percent stated they were evaluating AI for its potentials.

Read the full article on (ZDNet)

4 – Team Uses Artificial Intelligence to Crowdsource Interactive Fiction

The Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a new AI system, named Scheherazade IF (Interactive Fiction), that uses crowdsourcing to brainstorm plots for interactive stories, a popular component of video games. Currently many AI models for games offer a limited number of scenarios and depend on a dataset that is pre-programmed. Mark Ridel, lead investigator and associate professor of Interactive Computing, explained,

“Our open interactive narrative system learns genre models from crowdsourced example stories so that the player can perform different actions and still receive a coherent story experience.”

The system was tested with players and measured variables that included “commonsense” errors and players’ subjective experiences. The technology may also be applied toward online course education or corporate training.

Read the full article on (Phys.org)

5 – Qualcomm’s Latest Smartphone Chip Has Built-In, AI -Driven Security 

Qualcomm is introducing cell phone chips that have built-in artificial intelligence to prevent malware from infecting phones. The next-generation Snapdragon 820 processor is the first child to use machine learning to uncover threats and privacy issues using an application called Snapdragon Smart Protect. Evolving security threats require systems that can learn and evolve in real-time, the purpose behind Snapdragon. The learning component comes from the Zeroth neural networking technology developed by Qualcomm over the past few years. Qualcomm is working with security software providers through an application programming interface to share data so that the AI the Snapdragon chip can better learn what types of threats exist and find best practices for handling those threats. Qualcomm expects to roll out the technology next year, with the hope that handset manufacturers adopt the chip.

Read the full article on (Fortune)


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