The era of easily faked, AI-generated photos is quickly emerging — from qz.com by Dave Gershgorn

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Until this month, it seemed that GAN-generated images [where GAN stands for “generative adversarial networks”] that could fool a human viewer were years off. But last week research released by Nvidia, a manufacturer of graphics processing units that has cornered the market on deep learning hardware, shows that this method can now be used to generate high-resolution, believable images of celebrities, scenery, and objects. GAN-created images are also already being sold as replacements for fashion photographers—a startup called Mad Street Den told Quartz earlier this month it’s working with North American retailers to replace clothing images on websites with generated images.

 

From DSC:
So AI can now generate realistic photos (i.e., image creation/manipulation). And then there’s Adobe’s VoCo Project, a sort of a Photoshop for audio manipulation plus other related technologies out there:

 

So I guess it’s like the first article concludes:

The era of easily-faked photos is quickly emerging—much as it did when Photoshop became widely prevalent—so it’s a good time to remember we shouldn’t trust everything we see.

…and perhaps we’ll need to add, “we shouldn’t trust everything we hear either.” But how will the average person with average tools know the real deal? The concept of watermarking visuals/audio may be increasingly involved. From the ending of bbc.com article:

For its part, Adobe has talked of its customers using Voco to fix podcast and audio book recordings without having to rebook presenters or voiceover artists.

But a spokeswoman stressed that this did not mean its release was imminent.

“[It] may or may not be released as a product or product feature,” she told the BBC.

“No ship date has been announced.”

In the meantime, Adobe said it was researching ways to detect use of its software.

“Think about watermarking detection,” Mr Jin said at the demo, referring to a method used to hide identifiers in images and other media.

 

But again, we see that technology often races ahead. “Look at what we can do!”  But then the rest of society — such as developing laws, policies, questions about whether we should roll out such technologies, etc. — needs time to catch up. Morals and ethics do come into play here — as trust levels are most assuredly at stake.

Another relevant article/topic/example of this is listed below. (Though I’m not trying to say that we shouldn’t pursue self-driving cars. Rather, the topic serves as another example of technologies racing ahead while it takes a while for the rest of us/society to catch up with them).

 

 

 

AI and Internet of Things will drive digital transformation through 2020 — from zdnet.com by Courtney Sato
Research study reveals IoT, AI and synchronous ledger tech (blockchain) priorities.

Excerpt:

Businesses are investing heavily in the Internet of Things (IoT) while remaining cautious about investments in artificial intelligence (AI), reveals the Constellation Research 2017 Digital Transformation Study. However, Constellation expects AI to emerge in 2018 as the predominant area of technological experimentation due to the increasing availability of AI development kits and frameworks.

Nearly half of respondents of the Constellation 2017 Digital Transformation Survey said their organization either had an established IoT strategy with applications in production (19 percent) or have pilot projects underway (28 percent). In contrast, just 25 percent of executives said they were investing in AI.

 

Investmet in AI Digital Transformation
 

 

Highlights:

  • Charging ahead with IoT
  • Cautious about AI for now
  • Blockchain remains enigmatic
  • Appetite for cloud and big data grow to support digital transformation
  • Digital transformation goes mainstream
  • Digital transformation focuses on digital business
  • The war for talent intensifies

 

 

 

Diminished reality will have as much power as AR for retailers — from by Beck Besecker

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

It’s an exciting time for augmented reality. With new AR platforms launching from the biggest names in tech over the last few months, including Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, retailers like Ikea, Wayfair, and Anthropologie have already released ARKit-powered apps, opening the door to consumer acceptance of AR as viable retail technology.

But across the board, early AR shopping apps still leave much to be desired. Sure, it’s useful to use AR to virtually place a new chair, side table, work of art or sectional into a room. But unless you’re starting with an empty room, physical objects can get in the way of a true sense of presence and satisfying experience.

Enter diminished reality — a different “reality” — that promises to change that. With DR, users will be able to digitally remove unwanted, inanimate objects from their physical surroundings, to get an even more realistic view of how potential purchases will fit within the context of their lives.

So, what exactly is DR, and what does it mean for the future of retail and beyond?

 

 

Also, a somewhat relevant/interesting HCI-related item, see:

 

 

 

From DSC:
Reading the item below prompted me to return to a thought/question that I’ve had several times now…in the future, will students be able to choose “where” they want to study? One of our daughters would probably be able to focus better if she were able to be transported to a place of her choosing — perhaps by a stream of running water.

 

 

Anyway, it’s an interesting thought/question to consider. It would certainly provide:

 

 

 

Thanks to VR, your office will resemble a tropical island — from thenextweb.com by Amber Leigh Turner

Excerpt:

For example, the idea of being able to teleport their employees to worlds outside of the office – including on a beach on an island a thousand miles away – may help boost employees’ productivity while reducing their stress level.

Mure VR, an Icelandic company, has found a way to integrate virtual reality with your work with the introduction of Breakroom. According to their website, “Breakroom is the way to turn your virtual reality headset into a multi-monitor system. You open a relaxing virtual environment and open your regular Windows applications as a floating 2D monitor within the virtual world. You are no longer limited by the physical computer monitor and can surround yourself with applications.”

Breakroom allows employees to escape workplaces by creating a workspace – such as on the beach, or in a park – that is stress-reducing, while tailored specifically to their needs. Becoming immersed in your work and blocking out the distractions that come with now-popular open office environments is a practical way that Mure VR is bringing virtual reality into the workplace.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Also here’s another application of virtual reality:

Using virtual reality to teach medical students empathy for elders — from unionleader.com by Gretchen Grosky

Excerpt:

“We are Alfred” is a pioneering virtual reality program where students don a headset to experience first-hand what it is like to be an older adult living with these common conditions.

Students at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Maine – the state with the oldest population in the country – are among the first in the world to use this program as a means to learn empathy for their patients.

“We’re trying to get our students to understand the person-to-person approach of caring for people and working with people,” said Dr. Marilyn R. Gugliucci, professor and director of geriatrics education and research at the college. “We don’t want to just teach in a classroom. They’ve got to know people to help heal people.”

 


 

 

 

Farmers Insurance is using the Oculus Rift to train workers in Virtual Reality — from fortune.com by Jonathan Vanian

Excerpt:

By the end of this year, about 50 employees will have donned the Oculus Rift headsets and participated in the VR training program, said Farmers Insurance chief claims officer Keith Daly. The company plans for hundreds more to be trained using the next year, and, eventually, get all of its thousands of claims adjusters through the program, Daly said.

The goal is to build on the company’s existing two-to-three week training that workers attend before going into real world to inspect homes damaged in earthquakes, floods, and other major catastrophes.

 

 

Also see:

 

 

Chris Lenihan from DiscoverDataScience.org emailed me to let me know about a recently published guide on their site that’s entitled, “A Guide for Women in STEM”. Discover Data Science partnered with Heather Ambler from the University of Pittsburgh and Aiden Ford from the University of Connecticut to help produce this guide. Per Chris, the guide covers :

  • An overview of the challenges women can face in STEM fields
  • Outlines reasons women should pursue a STEM related career
  • Provides tips on how to encourage girls at an early age to follow their passion
  • Gives the reader extensive links to pre-college programs available for women, followed by a listing of over 30 scholarship options available to women pursuing STEM related degrees

Chris mentioned that both current and aspiring students can benefit from this information as they look for inspiration in their careers. Their mission is to serve students by delivering accurate, high quality information presented in a simple, clean format and they hope that this guide achieves that.

Check it out. >>


Here’s a sample excerpt from that guide:



Pre-College Programs for Women in STEM

CURIE Academy is a one-week summer residential program for high school girls who excel in math and science. The focus is on juniors and seniors who may not have had prior opportunities to explore engineering, but want to learn more about the many opportunities in engineering in an interactive atmosphere.

G.R.A.D.E. CAMP is a week-long day program designed specifically for entering 8th to 12th grade girls who want to find out what engineering is all about through “hands-on” experience. G.R.A.D.E. CAMP emphasizes career exposure rather than career choice, so you can come just to experience something new.

Girlgeneering’s goal of a girls-only camp is to increase the interest of high ability young women in a career in engineering by combating stereotypes, creating connections, reducing the issue of competition for resources with boys, and demonstrating the real-world social impact of engineering. This one-week day camp will introduce middle school young women to the field of engineering by showing how engineering is connected to personal issues, social concerns, and community interests.

It’s a Girl Thing is a residential camp for girls. The goals are to provide girls with strong role models and dispel myths and misconceptions about science and careers in science. Campers experience university life, hands-on classes and recreational activities. In the past we have offered classes ranging from Nano Energy to Animal Science.

Smith Summer Science and Engineering Program (SSEP) is a four-week residential program for exceptional young women with strong interests in science, engineering and medicine. Each July, select high school students from across the country and abroad come to Smith College to do hands-on research with Smith faculty in the life and physical sciences and in engineering.

Survey the World of Engineering – is a one-week day camp that will allow you to develop your creativity as well as provide you with the opportunity to meet and speak with working engineers. For part of the camp, you will work on campus with different engineering departments, learning and completing hands-on projects to better understand the breadth and variety of different engineering fields. For the remainder of the camp, you will visit various corporate engineering plants such as General Electric, Procter & Gamble, and Northrop Grumman Xetron to meet professional engineers and see their work in action.

 



Addendums on 10/26

 


 

 

“Infuse real life into virtual reality worlds”

 

 

 

 

Microsoft’s new studios create Mixed Reality holograms — from theverge.com by Tom Warren

Excerpt:

Microsoft is opening its first Mixed Reality capture studios in San Francisco and London, allowing developers and creators to create holograms from real life objects. Microsoft has been using its own studio at its Redmond headquarters to capture Buzz Aldrin, Reggie Watts, Max Frost, and Cirque Du Soleil performances and bring them into virtual reality and augmented reality holograms.

The new studios in San Francisco, London, and Redmond will allow third parties to create holograms that can be used on regular 2D screens, a HoloLens device, or even Microsoft’s new Windows Mixed Reality (VR) headsets. Microsoft will be licensing these studios, and it’s likely to be an expensive process to capture items as holograms.

 

 

 

MIT Pilots Digital Diplomas Based on Bitcoin’s Blockchain — from campustechnology.com by Joshua Bolkan

Excerpt:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has begun offering some students the option to receive digital diplomas through an app, in addition to a traditional paper degree.

Based on Bitcoin’s blockchain technology and integrated with the school’s identity provider, the new diplomas are the result of a partnership between MIT and Learning Machine, a local software company. The electronic credentials were rolled out over the summer and offered to 111 students as part of a pilot program.

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

 

VR and AR: Transforming Learning and Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences — from er.educause.edu b

What if a text or work of art is no longer read, but instead, experienced? What new questions are raised when it’s possible to visit an author’s home or stroll through the streets of an ancient city? How will our interpretations of literature, art, history and archaeology change when we are no longer passive recipients but co-constructors and actors in immersive experiences? How will this challenge us to think outside our current learning paradigms? These and other questions arise when we examine the impact of immersive technologies on the humanities and the social sciences.

 

Some examples mentioned there include:

 

 

 

Microsoft joins the VR battle with Windows Mixed Reality [on 10/17/17] — from theverge.com by Tom Warren

Excerpt:

Microsoft is launching its own answer to virtual reality today, taking on HTC and Oculus in the process. Windows Mixed Reality will be available in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, and headsets are now available to buy. Here’s everything you need to know about Windows Mixed Reality.

Microsoft is offering movement tracking (six degrees of freedom) without the need for traditional external sensors placed throughout a room. Windows Mixed Reality headsets have cameras and sensors to track the motion controllers.

Walmart looks to see if virtual shopping is better than the real thing — from washingtonpost.com by Abha Bhattarai

Excerpts:

…Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is setting its sights on virtual reality.  Imagine this, says Katie Finnegan, who heads Walmart’s tech incubator: You need a tent for your next camping trip. If all goes to plan, you could one day virtually swoop in to your campsite and see any given tent in action. “You could unzip it, lay down, look left and right and say, ‘Oh, this is supposed to be a two-person tent? It’s kind of tight,’ ” she said. And then you could move on to the next tent — without leaving your couch.

Here are the five ideas the Bentonville, Ark.-based company says could be making their way online:

  1. 3-D holograms at Bonobos.com, the male clothing site Walmart acquired this year for $310 million, that would make it possible for shoppers to try on virtual clothing for fit and style.
  2. At ModCloth, the women’s clothing site Walmart took over in March, customers may one day be able to take 3-D photos of themselves using their smartphones, and use those images to get an idea of how something might look on.
  3. An “interactive virtual store” for designer Rebecca Minkoff, whose items are sold at Walmart.com, would allow customers to sit in on fashion shows and shop directly from the runway.
  4. Tired of shopping online alone? If Walmart gets its way, you may soon be interacting with other shoppers and experts as you pick out items for your virtual cart.
  5. Electric outlets, stove tops and door handles can all be child safety hazards — and soon, an online tool could peek inside your home and tell you where the biggest risks are lurking.

 

 

 

Explore the surface of Mars from the comfort of your living room — from haptical.com
Google’s new project allows viewers to explore the discoveries of NASA’s Curiosity rover.

Excerpt:

NASA and Google have teamed up to build a new virtual experience that lets space enthusiasts explore the red planet without having to leave their homes. Dubbed as “Access Mars”, the new project virtually transports users, wherever they are, to Earth’s neighboring planet in the solar system.

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese School Opens Full-Function VR Classrooms — from vrfocus.com by Rebecca Hills-Duty
HTC Vive have created a system which allows 50 VR units to work together with no cross-interference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artificial Intelligence in Education: Where It’s At, Where It’s Headed — from gettingsmart.com by Cameron Paterson

Excerpt:

Artificial intelligence is predicted to fundamentally alter the nature of society by 2040. Investment in AI start-ups was estimated at $6-$9 billion in 2016, up from US$415 million four years earlier. While futurist Ray Kurzweil argues that AI will help us to address the grand challenges facing humanity, Elon Musk warns us that artificial intelligence will be our “biggest existential threat.” Others argue that artificial intelligence is the future of growth. Everything depends on how we manage the transition to this AI-era.

In 2016 the Obama administration released a national strategic plan for artificial intelligence and, while we do not all suddenly now need a plan for artificial intelligence, we do need to stay up to date on how AI is being implemented. Much of AI’s potential is yet to be realized, but AI is already running our lives, from Siri to Netflix recommendations to automated air traffic control. We all need to become more aware of how we are algorithmically shaped by our tools.

This Australian discussion paper on the implications of AI, automation and 21st-century skills, shows how AI will not just affect blue-collar truck drivers and cleaners, it will also affect white-collar lawyers and doctors. Automated pharmacy systems with robots dispensing medication exist, Domino’s pizza delivery by drone has already occurred, and a fully automated farm is opening in Japan.

 

Education reformers need to plan for our AI-driven future and its implications for education, both in schools and beyond. The never-ending debate about the sorts of skills needed in the future and the role of schools in teaching and assessing them is becoming a whole lot more urgent and intense.

 

 

 

AI Experts Want to End ‘Black Box’ Algorithms in Government — from wired.com by Tom Simonite

Excerpt:

The right to due process was inscribed into the US constitution with a pen. A new report from leading researchers in artificial intelligence cautions it is now being undermined by computer code.

Public agencies responsible for areas such as criminal justice, health, and welfare increasingly use scoring systems and software to steer or make decisions on life-changing events like granting bail, sentencing, enforcement, and prioritizing services. The report from AI Now, a research institute at NYU that studies the social implications of artificial intelligence, says too many of those systems are opaque to the citizens they hold power over.

The AI Now report calls for agencies to refrain from what it calls “black box” systems opaque to outside scrutiny. Kate Crawford, a researcher at Microsoft and cofounder of AI Now, says citizens should be able to know how systems making decisions about them operate and have been tested or validated. Such systems are expected to get more complex as technologies such as machine learning used by tech companies become more widely available.

“We should have equivalent due-process protections for algorithmic decisions as for human decisions,” Crawford says. She says it can be possible to disclose information about systems and their performance without disclosing their code, which is sometimes protected intellectual property.

 

 

UAE appoints first-ever Minister for Artificial Intelligence — from tribune.com.pk

 

“We announce the appointment of a minister for artificial intelligence. The next global wave is artificial intelligence and we want the UAE to be more prepared for it.”

 

 

Tech Giants Are Paying Huge Salaries for Scarce A.I. Talent — from nytimes.com by Cade Metz
Nearly all big tech companies have an artificial intelligence project, and they are willing to pay experts millions of dollars to help get it done.

Excerpt:

Tech’s biggest companies are placing huge bets on artificial intelligence, banking on things ranging from face-scanning smartphones and conversational coffee-table gadgets to computerized health care and autonomous vehicles. As they chase this future, they are doling out salaries that are startling even in an industry that has never been shy about lavishing a fortune on its top talent.

Typical A.I. specialists, including both Ph.D.s fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock, according to nine people who work for major tech companies or have entertained job offers from them. All of them requested anonymity because they did not want to damage their professional prospects.

With so few A.I. specialists available, big tech companies are also hiring the best and brightest of academia. In the process, they are limiting the number of professors who can teach the technology.

 

 

 

Where will AI play? By Mike Quindazzi.

 

 

 

 

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