All items about artificial intelligence


Researchers at the University of Plymouth in the UK, have made some significant steps forward in the quest to create an artificial intelligence that can learn about the world around it. Using the iCub robotic toddler, designed by a consortium of European universities, they have trained software to recognize and identify moving objects in its field of vision, based on their position relative to the robot’s body. This is the same way a human child learns.

To learn more, watch the video or read the New Scientist article.

Satellite TV interference, by pkmital on Flickr

Galaxy 15, a communications satellite operated by Intelsat, has drifted off course while still transmitting, threatening to cause interference to communications networks and satellite TV reception for customers across North America as it drifts past competitor’s satellites. Here’s more, from the Register:

Engineers have sent more than 150,000 commands to the roving craft in an attempt to regain control of it. May 31 to June 1 will be the riskiest time for AMC-11 customers as its parent, SES World Skies, tries to position it as far as possible from the wayward Galaxy 15 while still allowing it to operate as normally as possible.

It’s a good reminder that when we design complex systems, we cannot always predict every eventuality, and should plan fail-safes and contingency mechanisms for when things go wrong. Read the original report from

Image credit: pkmital on Flickr


Apple has just acquired Siri, a “virtual assistant” that can perform simple tasks for you from your iPhone, such as booking restaurants, movie tickets and taxis (see video right).

Siri is the first of a new genre of product, Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs), which could drive a move away from search engines that just find things for you, towards intelligent software agents that actually do things for you, based on knowing your context and preferences.

Apple’s purchase is exciting because it’s likely to bring the concept of agent software into the public awareness, and catalyse innovation in the space. If Apple add Siri’s functionality into the iPhone OS, it will also bring the iPad a step closer the Knowledge Navigator vision that Apple published way back in 1987.


Welcome to posthumanity


We’re all getting an upgrade, whether we like it or not.

In a few years, every moment of our lives will be recorded, analyzed, and shared. We’ll take the sum of human knowledge for granted. We’ll wear tiny computers masquerading as fashion accessories. The merging of humans and technology is unavoidable, and the end result will be a new species able to hack its own cognition and edit its own biology.

This new species—call it Human 2.0—is the most important subject of the century. But it’s still hiding in academia and science fiction. We hope to change that. Read more »

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