In the last issue of Emergent // Future for 2016, we look at Uber’s self-driving cars in San Francisco, Google’s new autonomous car company, how Mark Zuckerberg built an AI assistant for himself, what Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are up to.
We’ll see you in 2017. Thanks for joining us as we explore technology through the lens of artificial intelligence, data science, and the shape of things to come.
You Might Have Heard: Uber debuted self-driving cars in San Francisco last week.
Each car is staffed with a backup driver and a data collector. The autonomous taxis are a modified Volvo XC90s with Uber’s self-driving technology integrated into the sports utility vehicle.
The cars are equipped with seven cameras, as well as a fast-spinning lidar system on the top to constantly scan and analyze the moving environment.
But Did You Know… Google spun off its self-driving car unit as a new company within Alphabet called Waymo.
The new company is planning a ride-sharing service with Fiat Chrysler and will deploy a semi-autonomous version of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan as early as end of 2017.
ALSO: NVIDIA will start testing self-driving cars on public roads after California gave them the go-ahead.
Meanwhile, Uber’s refusing to apply for a $150 permit for its self-driving car testing in California, arguing that the cars are technically not autonomous vehicles under state law due to a human in the drivers seat. Similar to how Tesla’s Autopilot system doesn’t need a permit since a human is monitoring the ride from the drivers seat.
Jarvis, remind me to develop you a personality for you later. 🤓
Mark Zuckerberg made good on his 2016 personal challenge to build artificial intelligence tools to help him at home and work.
In a post, Zuckerberg details how he built an AI assistant to control aspects of his home, like the lights, temperature, appliances, music and security, what he learned over the 100-150 hours spent working on it, and what’s next for his AI assistant.
Hey Zuck, I’ve got news for you: we built part of your AI solution in February during a weekend hackathon.
Chat Bots, IoT, and Drones
Microsoft announced a Cortana Devices SDK and Skills Kit for developers to create and publish chat bots. The Bot Framework also allows developers to repurpose code from their existing Alexa skills as Cortana skills.
Google debuted a platform for building IoT devices with Google services and Android APIs called Android Things.
And, Amazon tested Prime Air drone deliveries in UK with two shoppers last week. The first order took 13 minutes to deliver. Amazon will later add drone deliver for hundreds living near their Cambridge warehouse.
What We’re Reading 📚
- The Great A.I. Awakening. How Google used artificial intelligence to transform Google Translate, one of its more popular services — and how machine learning is poised to reinvent computing itself. (New York Times)
- Our Automated Future. How long will it be before you lose your job to a robot? (The New Yorker)
- A Chinese Internet Giant Enters the AI Race. Tencent, which provides the immensely popular mobile app WeChat along with games and entertainment content, is determined to build a formidable AI lab. (MIT Technology Review)
- Inside the secret meeting where Apple revealed the state of its AI research. Apple has long been secretive about the research done within its Cupertino labs. It’s easy to understand why. But it seems Apple is starting to open up.(Quartz)
- How Nvidia went from video games to revolutionizing AI. “There was no market in 1993, but we saw a wave coming” (Forbes)
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.