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Social and Soft Robotics, Super-Human Speech Recognition, More – This Week in Artificial Intelligence 08-26-16

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Social and Soft Robotics, Super-Human Speech Recognition, More - This Week in Artificial Intelligence 08-26-16

1 – People Favour Expressive, Communicative Robots Over Efficient and Effective Ones

A recently published study out of the University of Bristol and University College London provides evidence that people may prefer robots that are able to show human-like emotions over those that are more quick and efficient in completing tasks. Researchers studied how humans interacted with Bert2, a humanoid robot assistant, while making an omelette. When the robot made a mistake and showed a sad expression, users responded well to its apology. When Bert2 asked if it could have a job as a kitchen assistant, most participants were hesitant or showed discomfort before responding, which researchers conveyed as a “pre-condition” to not cause the robot to feel distress. Graduate Student and Researcher Adriana Hamacher said,

“Human-like attributes, such as regret, can be powerful tools in negating dissatisfaction but we must identify with care which specific traits we want to focus on and replicate. If there are no ground rules then we may end up with robots with different personalities, just like the people designing them.”

The research is being presented at the IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN) from August 26 to 31 in New York City.

(Read the full article on University of Bristol News)

2 – The First Autonomous, Entirely Soft Robot

A Harvard team of researchers has created the first autonomous, soft robot nicknamed the ‘October’, using 3D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics technologies. While the robot is not fully functional, the production paves the way for more complex robotic designs that are compliant in both body and power source components, which until now have presented a challenge in soft robotics. Replacing rigid batteries and circuit boards, the scientists used a microfluidic logic circuit (hydrogen peroxide-fueled) to inflate and power the bots octopus-like arms. A next-generation octobot would be able to crawl, swim and interact with its environment. The design is quick to manufacture, and the research team hopes to inspire other research teams working on advanced robotics manufacturing.

(Read the full article on the Harvard gazette and research paper at Nature)

3 – Microsoft Acquisition of Genee to Accelerate Intelligent Experiences in Office 365

Microsoft announced on Monday its intent to purchase the AI-powered scheduling service Genee, created in 2014 by Co-founders Ben Cheung and Charles Lee. Cheung and Lee, who plan to join the Microsoft team, announced on their own blog (which seems to have been taken down as of September 2017) that the Genee service will shut down on September 1, 2016, but that they look forward to continuing to “build amazing next generation intelligent experiences” at Microsoft. Genee was designed as a scheduling service that uses natural language processing and optimized decision-making algorithms, providing the experience of interacting with a human-like personal assistant.

(Read the full press release on the Microsoft Blog)

4 – nuTonomy Launches World’s First Public Trial of Self-Driving Car Service and Ride-Hailing App

nuTonomy, a Singapore-based tech company developing cutting-edge software for self-driving vehicles conducted the first ever public trial of its self-driving vehicles in Singapore’s one-north business district on Thursday. Trials will continue on an on-going basis, as nuTonomy engineers ride in the self-driving taxis to observe system performance and assume control if necessary. nuTonomy, which was founded by MIT graduates Karl Iagnemma, PhD, and Emilio Frazzoli, PhD, has been testing its autonomous vehicles since April of this year in Singapore, the UK, and Michigan, in partnership with various automotive manufacturers (Jaguar Land Rover is one example). The company’s goal is to release a self-driving fleet by 2018.

(Full press release on nuTonomy is no longer available as to our September 2017 update of this article)

5 – Smartphone Speech Recognition Can Write Text Messages Three Times Faster than Human Typing

A new study out of Stanford University, done in collaboration with Baidu Inc. and University of Washington, shows that speech recognition technologies are now an average of three times faster than human beings – and more accurate. Speech recognition has made significant progress in the past few years due to increased use of deep learning and training neural networks on extensive reams of data. Baidu’s Deep Speech 2 cloud-based speech recognition software was used for the study, though the team stipulated that other comparable speech recognition algorithms are likely to perform at similar levels. James Landay, Stanford University professor and co-author commented,

“You could imagine an interface where you use speech to start and then it switches to a graphical interface that you can touch and control with your finger.”

“Speech Is 3x Faster than Typing for English and Mandarin Text Entry on Mobile Devices” is published online at arxiv.org.

(Read the full article on Stanford University News)

Source: https://emerj.com/social-soft-robotics-super-human-speech-recognition-week-artificial-intelligence-08-26-16/

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Monero’s former maintainer released from US custody

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Riccardo Spagni, the former lead maintainer of the privacy coin Monero, has reported U.S. officials have released him after more than a month in custody.

In a Sept. 21 tweet, Spagni said he was working with his legal team to return to South Africa to address the allegations against him. Authorities in the U.S. arrested Spagni in August on fraud charges tied to alleged crimes which occurred in South Africa between 2009 and 2011 at a company called Cape Cookies.

“I am actively working with my attorneys on a way to return to South Africa as soon as possible so I can address this matter and get it behind me once and for all,” said Spagni. “That’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”

The South African government had been seeking Spagni’s extradition on the charges, alleging he “used false information” to create invoices which inflated the prices for certain goods and services and had funds transferred to a bank account he controlled. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Today marks the first time Spagni has tweeted since July, though someone — presumably his lawyers — did retweet a statement posted to his wife’s Twitter account shortly after his arrest. The legal team claimed the arrest was on account of “his alleged failure to appear in court, and nothing more.”

Related: Liquidators seek expanded probe of alleged South African Bitcoin scheme

The lead maintainer of the privacy coin Monero (XMR) until December 2019, Spagni has been involved in the crypto space for more than a decade. Many know him for his colorful social media posts and wry humor on cryptocurrency projects and industry figures.


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Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/monero-s-former-maintainer-released-from-us-custody

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Coinbase Ventures, Samsung NEXT back Metrika’s $14M Series A

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Blockchain intelligence platform Metrika has concluded a $14 million Series A fundraiser to bootstrap the next phase of its growth strategy, further underscoring the venture capital demand for budding blockchain startups. 

Metrika announced Tuesday that the funding will be used to further develop its blockchain intelligence platform, which provides monitoring and analytics for decentralized networks, as well as to expand its user base. The investment round was led by Neotribe Ventures with participation from Coinbase Ventures, Samsung NEXT, Nyca Partners and others.

Combined with its $3.7 million seed round, Metrika has successfully raised $17.7 million to date.

Although Metrika has yet to emerge as a household name in blockchain intelligence, the company boasts several high-profile customers, including Algorand, Solana, Blockdaemon and NBA Top Shot creator Dapper Labs. Metrika provides an operational intelligence service that helps companies to monitor the health of their blockchain networks and improve their performance.

The continued growth of the decentralized economy has created a new demand for blockchain intelligence services. As Cointelegraph recently reported, this demand isn’t limited to just market participants but is true of regulators as well. Last month, a spokesperson from blockchain analytics firm AnChain.AI confirmed that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission had offered the firm a $125,000 annual contract to help monitor and regulate the DeFi industry.

Related: Coinbase signs new $1.36M contract with US Customs enforcement agency

Meanwhile, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase recently signed its second contract centered around its blockchain analytics service with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

There’s also growing evidence that the payments sector is integrating blockchain intelligence technology as part of its wider embrace of cryptocurrencies. Earlier this month, Mastercard announced it had acquired crypto forensics company CipherTrace for an undisclosed amount.


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Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/coinbase-ventures-samsung-next-back-metrika-s-14m-series-a

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Bitcoin in ‘good shape’ as long as BTC price stays above $40K — Mike Novogratz

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Bitcoin (BTC) won’t be making Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz “nervous” unless it dips below $40,000.

In an interview with CNBC on Sept. 21, the infamously bullish investor calmed fears about the latest sell-off across cryptocurrency.

Novogratz on institutions: “I see nothing but engagement and activity”

Despite the macro environment wobbling over China and Bitcoin shedding up to 10% this week, there are few bearish voices among well-known crypto industry commentators.

Novogratz is no different, arguing that the price drop was more so a healthy corrective move for a market that had spent several months in “up-only” mode.

“I think the market got itself a little too long — the China news scared people,” he said, also noting concerns over United States regulatory activity.

For the short term, “very important levels to watch” are $40,000 for Bitcoin and $2,800 for Ethereumu2019s coin, Ether (ETH).

“As long as those hold, I think the market’s in good shape,” he continued.

Looking beyond market action, however, the underlying demand from institutional investors has remained untouched.

“I see nothing but engagement and activity from our investing clients and our corporate clients,” Novogratz added, concluding that he is not nervous about crypto.

Dalio joins Bitcoin “value” debate

Other institutional voices have meanwhile been more tame in recent days.

Related: Institutional investors increase their crypto holdings for 5th straight week

In a similar media appearance, Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates stressed that Bitcoin has a “perceived” rather than intrinsic value, despite being an investor himself.

Regulation, he warned, could still “kill” the cryptocurrency’s fortunes, likewise pointing to the United States.

Dalio has nonetheless softened his stance on Bitcoin considerably since he first began mentioning it in public and making an allocation.

“We can get into philosophical debates about what value is,” Novogratz said about Bitcoin’s true worth.

“A Matisse painting can run $100 million because a small amount of people decide they’re worth $100 million. Over 150 million people around the world that have decided Bitcoin is worth something. That’s enough for me.”


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Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-in-good-shape-as-long-as-btc-price-stays-above-40k-mike-novogratz

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