This Week In Digital – Week 47

Virtual news anchors, virtual awareness of HIV, a new device that could solve VR motion sickness, and an AI that could write scripts. Last week had been a great ride in the tech world. 

IBM Watson AI wrote the script for Lexus’ latest car ad – Alphr, November 19, 2018.

Lexus’ latest car ad may have Oscar-winning director Kevin MacDonald at the helm, but IBM’s Watson AI dreamt up its entire script. According to Lexus, “Driven by Intuition” is a mirror to both the advert’s creative process and the relationship between driver and car. It melds the scripting talents of Watson with the directorial nouse of MacDonald, just like Lexus’ vehicle AI steps in to enhance the human-orchestrated driving experience. It’s a long shot, for sure, but its supposed to help explore the importance of intuition and the relationship between two creative forces.

IBM and Columbia University Launch Two Accelerator Programs for Blockchain Startups – IBM News Room , November 19, 2018.

IBM and Columbia University today announced two new accelerator programs to build and scale the next generation of blockchaininnovation. As key components of the Columbia-IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency, the accelerators will offer entrepreneurs and blockchain network founders around the world access to the expertise and resources they need to establish blockchainnetworks. The programs will each support ten startups that are working to build out blockchain businesses and developing enterprise blockchain networks. As part of each program, participants will explore best practices for building a blockchain network with technical, academic and business mentors from IBM and Columbia. They will have access to agile design workshops from IBM, an experienced network of business and technical support, connections to the Columbia research community and student talent pools, business value design assistance and access to IBM Cloud technology through the program.

Introducing Waffle – Marek Kirejczyk, November 19, 2018.

If you care about the quality of your software, you care about tests. If you care about tests, you care about syntax and speed. We find a good testing framework is essential for creating quality software. Which brings us to smart contracts. Today testing smart contracts seem cumbersome and tedious. Frameworks have verbose syntax and make it hard to formulate precise expectations.

And so we would like to announce waffle — a framework for testing smart contracts. It allows you to write short but expressive tests.

Blockchain smart contracts are finally good for something in the real world – Mike Orcutt, November 19, 2018.

You have probably heard that blockchain technology and “smart contracts” are going to revolutionize our lives. Recommended for You An electric plane with no moving parts has made its first flight The first worldwide drone standards have been unveiled to keep aircraft safe The first flight of the SpaceX capsule designed to carry astronauts will happen in January What is machine learning? We drew you another flowchart One of the fathers of AI is worried about its future But there’s a problem: before smart contracts can do anything really useful, they need a reliable way to connect with events in the real world—and that has proved impossible so far. This is the so-called “oracle problem,” a technological challenge that is still hampering any chance that blockchain will break out and become a part of our everyday lives.

China Introduces AI-Powered Virtual News Anchor – Bobby Carlton, November 19, 2018.

China’s VR news anchor is here and able to deliver the news 24/7 in a professional manner. The well-dressed VR anchor, based on a real-life Xinhua state news anchor named Zhang Zhao, gets its data from a non-stop stream of information typed into his system.  The AI then reads the data and manipulates the VR anchor with facial expressions such as raising eyebrows, blinking, and small head movements, that makes the anchor seem more realistic.

Apple acquires AI startup ‘Silk Labs’ – Utkarsh Saurbhi , November 21, 2018.

Tech giant Apple has reportedly bought a privacy-focussed AI startup, according to a report by The Information. The Artificial Intelligence startup, called Silk Labs is directed at “software lightweight enough to fit onto consumer hardware like cameras.” The common area of interest that has led to Apple reportedly acquiring this startup has been AI. Both the companies are interested in using AI in a user privacy-centric approach. The startup has spoken about AI that can be used locally on users’ devices, rather than on the cloud.

What to expect at NeurIPS 2018, the biggest AI conference of the year – Kyle Wiggers, November 23, 2018.

In just over a week, NeurIPS — the biggest AI summit of the year — will kick off in Montreal. In 2016, the event had 5,000 registered participants. Last year, the number was 8,000. This year, the first batch of 2,000 tickets sold out in 12 minutes. The annual conference on Neural Information Processing System — until earlier this month it bore the acronym NIPS, which some attendees protested for its potentially offensive connotations — was first proposed in 1986 at the Snowbird Meeting on Neural Networks for Computing, an event organized by the California Institute of Technology and Bell Laboratories. Originally conceived as a meeting for researchers exploring biological and artificial neural networks, it’s come to be dominated by papers on artificial intelligence (AI), statistics, and machine learning.

This New Device Could Solve VR Motion Sickness – Kyle Melnick, November 23, 2018.

According to research published by ScienceNews, roughly 25% to 45% of users report some form of motion sickness while engaged in a virtual reality experience. While the potential causes of this discomfort are still under debate, it’s clear that VR-induced sickness is an ongoing concern within the industry. As a result, multiple researchers and organizations have begun developing solutions to help combat nausea while immersed. One such individual, Samuel Owen of Otolith Labs, has engineered his own potential fix in the form of a prototype device that uses a series of small vibrations to alter the manner in which the brain processes the fact that the body is in motion. This, in turn, blocks the root cause of motion sickness.

UNAIDS partners with Google & Makhulu Media for a series of VR films about HIV testing – Kyle Melnick, November 25, 2018.

According to the The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), roughly one quarter of people living with HIV are completely unaware of their status. That’s a pretty terrifying number when you consider there’s an estimated 37 million people carrying the virus worldwide. South Africa alone currently has 7.2 million people living with HIV — the highest amount in the world. “We wanted to see if immersive virtual reality films could encourage people to take an HIV test and improve relationships between nurses and young people by helping them to step into each other’s shoes,” adds Makhulu Media producer Rowan Pybus.

Top 4 Advantages of Integrating AI in Software Testing – Mitul makadia , November 25, 2018.

Today, the surface area for testing software and quality assurance has never been so broad. Applications interact with each other through a myriad of APIs, leverage legacy systems, and grow in complexity from one day to the next in a nonlinear fashion. However, increased complexity also leads to its fair share of challenges that can be overcome by machine-based intelligence. By assimilating machines which can meticulously mimic human behavior, the team of testers can move beyond the traditional route of manual testing models and progressively move forward towards an automated and precision-based continuous testing process. An AI-powered continuous testing platform can recognize changed controls more efficiently than a human, and with constant updates to its algorithms, even the slightest changes can be observed.

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