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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/

Blockchain

Meet The Kraken Bank Executive Team: CEO David Kinitsky

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First revealed last September, Kraken is quietly hard at work gearing up to launch Kraken Bank. This exciting new venture is helping to shape the landscape for both Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency services – and the banking industry – well into the future. 

While we can’t reveal all the details yet, we sat down with Kraken Bank CEO David Kinitsky to get a glimpse into how he’s leading the charge to ensure the next generation of financial firms are built with the next generation of assets in mind. 

David brings more than 15 years of experience in cryptocurrency and financial services. He helped launch a streak of innovations with Grayscale, Fidelity, Circle, SecondMarket, and the private investment funds he’s managed.

He’s full of industry knowledge and always adds a colorful perspective to the conversation. Enjoy!

Hi David! You worked at some of the biggest names in the industry. How did you get into crypto, what were those experiences like?

I first came across Bitcoin when I was working at a company called SecondMarket, which would become Digital Currency Group, one of the largest players in this industry. SecondMarket built marketplaces for illiquid, esoteric, and emerging assets. Eventually we got into Bitcoin and sold the legacy business to NASDAQ. 

I took the lead in setting up Grayscale, structuring it’s first and flagship product – the Bitcoin Investment Trust – and served as GM of the business, which I ran for the next couple years. Today, Grayscale is the largest digital asset manager in the world with some $25-30 billion assets under management. (Big shout out to the team over there that took the baton, executed with remarkable consistency, and grew it into the juggernaut it is today.)

I left Grayscale to join Fidelity as their first digital asset hire, helping them to develop their strategy in the crypto space. I also ran a proprietary crypto fund there as a co-portfolio manager alongside the team that now runs Castle Island Ventures, an early stage VC firm focused on crypto.

My next stop was at Circle where I helped to restructure their business, refocus it around their USDC stablecoin, and relaunch with their payments/treasury platform.

Finally, when I saw Kraken pursuing the SPDI bank, I jumped at the opportunity and went all in, moving along with my family to Wyoming where the bank is based. It’s important infrastructure for Bitcoin and crypto, and is also reshaping traditional banking and financial services.

There is a lot of discussion about regulating cryptocurrencies. What do you find fascinating about bitcoin in this respect and how do you look at regulation of the space?

There’s not just a lot of discussion about regulating, there’s real regulating going on already. I sometimes hear this misunderstanding that crypto is not regulated. It’s regulated in the same way we regulate most financial services and other industries – by regulating the services providers and the actions taken by users. Just look at crypto companies and the licensure/registrations they maintain.

We should want to be especially smart about how we regulate these crypto companies as compared to their more traditional counterparts. There’s a key distinction to consider. In traditional financial services – say banking or brokerage or whatever – end users have no other alternative to access these services. They can’t opt out. If you want to send money across space and time, you need a bank or other financial service provider. Crypto is different. Users can receive, hold, and send their own assets themselves. It may be clunky for some, but they can do it. So there is some level of burden above which users will just not use the key nexus through which regulation is enforced. And the first ones to leave are the “bad guys” you want to be able to oversee.

I’ll also say that crypto provides new tools and abilities. For example, financial institutions can incorporate verifiable proof of reserves or to build other auditable assurances into their operations to ensure they’re solvent and doing what they say they are.

I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to thread the needle on the right regulation in the long term, and just hope we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot nearer term.

What about political and public opinion? How is Bitcoin and crypto currently being viewed and how might that affect its status and regulation?

It’s a good question. Absolutely foundational. After all, law and regulation arise out of policy objectives that take into account certain cost-benefit tradeoffs. Historically, we haven’t been able to have these serious conversations about Bitcoin or crypto here in the US because of some absolutist or ill-informed opinions. 

The most common is that there’s no use case other than speculation or illicit activity, and no reason to make any accommodations within the existing system. I do think that more recently – especially in this macro environment – there’s an increasing appreciation for the benefits that Bitcoin provides as a store of value and in terms of censorship resistance, as well as an openness to the other opportunities crypto could create in the future. There’s also starting to be some recognition that Bitcoin and crypto will continue to operate regardless, and will simply do so outside of the existing financial system if we don’t pave a path for them within it.

Another is that they’re necessarily adversarial to America somehow, or simply incompatible with our laws, regulation, and institutions. But, Bitcoin is as American as apple pie. Its values are exactly the same as American values – free speech, free association, free enterprise, individual liberty, property rights, and so on – all the principles this country was founded on and the engines for growth throughout our history. And either way, the fact is that Bitcoin exists and other countries are getting involved. It’ll be critical that the U.S. maintain a position in this emerging industry to ensure its global competitiveness and national economic security.

What is it about Kraken Bank that makes this a venture worth building? 

I do actually think that this initiative has some symbiotic elements to it, but – and maybe it’s gauche to say these days – we’re building Kraken Bank because it achieves some very clear organizational objectives of ours. 

It provides the business with better legal/regulatory positioning, improved infrastructure and resultant customer experience, and more product/market opportunities. More broadly, it supports Kraken’s mission of promoting crypto adoption to enable more financial freedom, by seamlessly connecting crypto all the way down to the bottom of the financial services stack, which is entirely buttressed by banking. It puts us in a position to help shape the future of banking and it incorporates crypto.

Finally, I’m excited to help develop the ecosystem right here in Wyoming. Banks have always played important roles and re-invested within their communities. Kraken will be no different. We’re not carpetbaggers. We want to be connected to communities where, and with which, we conduct business – and to build something special together. 

Want to help? Kraken and Kraken Bank are actively hiring, with new jobs posted periodically on the company’s careers page.  If you don’t see a role at the bank that’s right for you today, stay tuned for more listings soon!

Thank you David. 

-The Kraken Team

Source: https://blog.kraken.com/post/8049/meet-the-kraken-bank-executive-team-ceo-david-kinitsky/

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Blockchain

Institutional Clients: Get Free Real-Time USD Transfers Through Signature Bank

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Institutional clients at Kraken now have a new way to transfer USD that is free, near-instant and available 24/7. The new funding option is available through our integration with the Signet™ payment platform offered by Signature Bank. 

Fees

  • Deposits: $0
  • Withdrawals: $0

Available currencies

Requirements

  • Kraken Pro business account
  • Account with Signature Bank
  • Both accounts must be under the same name

How to get started  

Note that you must have an account with Signature Bank, so the process is different depending on whether you already have an account or not. Follow the link below for complete instructions and requirements.

Learn more about Signature’s relationship with Kraken and the Signet platform in the Q&A below with Signature CEO Joseph DePaolo. 

Can you talk about your relationship with Kraken? 

We are thrilled to have been working with Kraken for almost three years. Kraken continues to showcase thought leadership and technological innovation in the digital space, which are the critical qualities we look for in a partner. Kraken not only has top security protocols in place for their clients, but also the platform has seen extreme growth recently. I am excited to see what the future holds as the exchange connects to our Bank’s Signet platform and API. 

Can you give a quick overview of the Signet Platform and how it leverages blockchain tech?

Signet is the first proprietary, blockchain-based, digital payments platform that can be integrated directly into client’s businesses and technology systems. Signature Bank launched Signet on January 1, 2019, to enable its commercial clients to make instant and free payments in U.S. dollars. 

Through Signet’s design and features, Signature Bank clients have used Signet’s API to merge their proprietary systems with the Signet platform for full transactional capabilities. These API enhancements allow clients to continue to leverage Signet’s real-time, 24/7/365 benefits and transactions safety and securely. 

Signet’s blockchain technology is largely influenced by Ethereum’s code and allows for the minting of signets, which are tokenized representations of USDs, to instantly send and settle payments between clients. However, rather than operating a public ledger where anyone has access to the transaction history, Signet is a private, closed loop blockchain for use by Signature Bank clients only.

Why did you start a niche for small businesses? What is missing among the “big banks”?

Signature Bank was founded 20 years ago with a mission to provide excellent client service and care to small- and mid-sized businesses, values that we share closely with Kraken. Our private client banking teams serve as a single point of contact to meet all clients’ banking needs – unique when compared to mega-banks where clients are typically parsed out to different departments. This single-point-of-contact approach has become the hallmark of the Signature Bank franchise.

As the Bank grew and diversified, it appointed a Digital Assets private client banking team in January 2018 to serve the rapidly evolving digital asset community. 

Kraken is proud to offer our institutional clients this fast and convenient new funding option. For more information and instructions on how you can enable Signet for your account, visit our support page here.

Source: https://blog.kraken.com/post/8020/institutional-clients-get-free-real-time-usd-transfers-through-signature-bank/

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Blockchain

Bill Gates explains why he associates Bitcoin with tax avoidance and illegal activity

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Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said he doesn’t hold Bitcoin, nor is he short against it. Instead, Gates claims he holds a neutral position as far as the leading cryptocurrency is concerned.

However, his follow-on comments contradict his opening statement. While he’s all for the digitization of money, he believes Bitcoin encourages tax avoidance and illegal activity. Instead, Gates prefers the central bank digital currency approach to digital money, with reversible transactions and direct identity association.

“I don’t own Bitcoin. I’m not short Bitcoin. So I’ve taken a neutral view. I do think moving money into a more digital form and getting transaction costs down, that something the Gates Foundation does in developing countries.

But there we do it so you can reverse the transaction, you have total visibility of who’s doing what, so it’s not about tax avoidance or illegal activity.”

Gates pivots towards charity work

Cutting edge pioneer or industrial pilferer? Whichever side you take, there’s still no getting away from Gates’ impact on the digital age.

Since leaving his position as Microsoft’s chief software architect in 2000, Gates has increasingly focused on charity work via the Gates Foundation.

In 2020, he decided to dedicate more time to this cause and cut ties with Microsoft by resigning from its board. However, he mentioned that he’s always available in a consultation capacity.

“dedicate more time to philanthropic priorities including global health and development, education, and my increasing engagement in tackling climate change.”

Bitcoin community chimes in on Gates’ comments

Throughout this transition, Gates has become less known as a tech innovator and more as a philanthropist. Bitcoin-bull Anthony Pompliano implied this had dulled his understanding of disruptive technology.

It is wild to hear one of the smartest men in the world sound so uninformed and uneducated on one of the most disruptive pieces of technology.

Equally, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao tried to pass off Gates’ ill-informed comments by saying he’s earned the right not to be “bleeding edge” any longer.

He’s at a different stage in life though. He is not on the bleeding edge, leading, push, etc. He doesn’t have to.”

Growth lead at Kraken exchange Dan Held said there’s some merit to Gates’ comments on high fees and excessive energy consumption. But overall, Held believes that Gates hasn’t taken the time to understand Bitcoin.

As a former board member of Berkshire Hathaway and close friend of Warren Buffett, Gates’ position on Bitcoin should surprise no-one.

Like what you see? Subscribe for daily updates.

Source: https://cryptoslate.com/bill-gates-explains-why-he-associates-bitcoin-with-tax-avoidance-and-illegal-activity/

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