By experimenting, computers are figuring out how to do things that no programmer could teach them

Inside a simple computer simulation, a group of self-driving cars is performing a crazy-looking maneuver on a four-lane virtual highway. Half are trying to move from the right-hand lanes just as the other half try to merge from the left. It seems like just the sort of tricky thing that might flummox a robot vehicle, but they manage it with precision.

This approach, known as reinforcement learning, is largely how AlphaGo, a computer developed by a subsidiary of Alphabet called DeepMind, mastered the impossibly complex board game Go and beat one of the best human players in the world in a high-profile match last year.
Source: MIT Technology Review


Meet the Company That’s Using Face Recognition to Reshape China’s Tech Scene

In China, face recognition is transforming many aspects of daily life. Employees at e-commerce giant Alibaba in Shenzhen can show their faces to enter their office building instead of swiping ID cards. A train station in western Beijing matches passengers’ tickets to their government-issued IDs by scanning their faces. If their face matches their ID card photo, the system deems their tickets valid and the station gate will open.

Megvii believes that as the Internet takes over more and more commercial and social functions, face recognition will become part of the Web’s infrastructure as a means of identification, though only for activities that require real identities.

Source: MIT Technology Review


Challenges for smart cities

The main danger is to assume that the city is a system capable of resolving everything and not a political entity that is constantly facing unforeseen circumstances, including cyber security failures. We should not be overly tempted by technocracy.

The second danger is that we believe there is only a single possible kind of smart city instead of realizing that models must be adapted to the context of each place, and so there are as many kinds as there are places where the idea is implemented. The third danger is that artificial intelligence and the collective intelligence of people end up excluding each other, instead of contributing what each knows how to do best. Neither of the two, on their own, offers solutions to all the problems facing new cities.
Source: IE

Bitcoin has split in two, so you can have double the cryptocurrency

A little after 8 AM ET today, Bitcoin was split into Bitcoin Cash, an alternative cryptocurrency, in a chain split that had been anticipated for months. The split, called a “hard fork,” comes out of a bitcoin group’s desire to combat high transaction fees and a bitcoin size limit that made mining larger blocks invalid.

If you own Bitcoin but don’t control the keys, then it depends on whether you’ve chosen to keep your bitcoins on a Bitcoin Cash-friendly platform or digital wallet. Each platform is treating the new Bitcoin Cash differently. To enjoy this extra currency, you should check with your platform and wallet to see what the company policy is.
Source: The Verge

Blood-Delivering Drones

In Rwanda, an early commercial test of unmanned aerial vehicles is delivering urgently needed medical supplies.

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