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Emergent // Future Weekly: Cognitive Toolkits, Artsy AI, Solar Roofs, and Autonomous Trucking

Emergent Future: Cognitive Toolkits, Artsy AI, Solar Roofs, Autonomous Trucking

Issue 29

This week we check out Microsoft’s Cognitive Toolkit, watch artsy AI videos, learn about Elon Musk’s new solar roofs, and look at how Uber’s slipped into autonomous trucking.

Plus, our top projects to try at home, and our favorite articles from the past week are down at the bottom.

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Cognitive Toolkit 🔧

You Might Have Heard: Microsoft launched Cognitive Toolkit 2.0 beta last week, the next version of its deep learning framework.

Previously known as CNTK, it was initially developed by Microsoft developers who wanted a tool to do their research more quickly and effectively. The latest version of the toolkit, available on GitHub, includes new functionality and support for Python and C++.

But Did You Know: AI Pioneer Yoshua Bengio is launching Element AI, a deep learning incubator.

The incubator will help build companies from the AI research that emerges from the University of Montreal, where Bengio is also a professor, and at nearby McGill University.

Bengio says this is just part of his efforts to develop an ecosystem for AI in Montreal.

That’s why we’re working with MIT, University of Washington, Carnegie Mellon University, University of California Berkeley, Caltech, University of Texas at Austin, University of Tokyo, University of Toronto, and others to make state-of-the-art algorithms accessible and discoverable by everyone.


Artsy AI 🌊

Neural net art bubbled up last week.

First, Facebook’s Chris Cox demoed an unlaunched prototype for style transfer of Live video, applying a Van Gogh style to his video in real time.

Zuckerberg then shared an impressionist video of his dog, Beast.

Prisma co-founder Alexey Moiseenkov jumped in, posting a video of his app’s technology working on top of the Facebook Live platform. [Video]

You think that’s it? Nope.

Google then published the paper “A Learned Representation for Artistic Style,” which contributes a fast style transfer method for combining multiple painting styles at once.

📽 The video is amazing.

More about Google’s deep learning tool that lets you pick your pastiche.


Solar Roofs 🏡

Tesla unveiled their “solar roof,” a residential roof made of a textured glass tile with integrated solar cells.

The system let’s homeowners replace their entire roof with solar panels connected to an updated Powerwall 2 battery pack, making it much simpler for homes to be entirely powered by solar.

This is Elon Musk’s grand unification of Tesla: Fast cars, big batteries, and a stunning solar rooftop. Nobody saw this coming. 👀


Autonomous Trucking 🚛

Uber quietly launched Uber Freight, its own “Uber for trucking” marketplace.

They’re using the Otto self-driving truck technology they purchased last summer for a cool $680 million.

Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot, Otto’s system offers true “Level 4’ autonomy. Once the rig hits the interstate, it is entirely capable of the job at hand: i.e. the truck can handle almost every situation all by itself, as long as it stay in its safe place. Like a highway lane.

The first delivery? A beer run. The truck went 120-miles across Colorado to deliver 50K cans of Budweiser. 🍻


What We’re Reading 📚

  • Google’s AI creates its own inhuman encryption. Google Brain researchers have discovered that the AI, when properly tasked, create oddly inhuman cryptographic schemes and that they’re better at encrypting than decrypting. (TechCrunch)
  • AI Is Not out to Get Us. Hollywood’s dark vision of machines taking over belies how far AI is from meaningful reality—and what it will look like when it gets there. (Scientific American)
  • Artificial Intelligence as a Bridge for Art and Reality. “We wanted to see the world through two different lenses — how the world was represented before and how the world is represented today.” (New York Times)
  • How Economists View the Rise of Artificial Intelligence.Machine learning will drop the cost of making predictions, but raise the value of human judgement. (Fortune)
  • [Audio] Python and Machine Learning in Astronomy. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Python and data science play a central role in modern day Astronomy. (TalkPython.fm)
  • [Video] Andrew Ng: Why Artificial Intelligence Is the New Electricity. Why breakthroughs in machine learning will transform countless industries. (Inc)

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.

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