this week

Eric Schmidt: The US Risks Falling Behind China in AI

Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google owner Alphabet, has warned that the US is at serious risk of falling behind China in the development of AI, with significant implications for both commercial and military interests. Part of the problem, he says, is that many of the world's best AI experts cannot get US visas due to their nationalities.

Source: The Verge

BMW Promises Fully Self-Driving Cars by 2021

Car maker BMW has said that it is on track to deliver a vehicle with level 5 automation - a fully driverless car - by 2021. The car would be able to make all driving decisions itself, removing the need for human drivers. However, the company is unlikely to make the car commercially available for several years due to legal issues.

Source: Automotive News

Smartphones Are Changing Brains: Neuroscientists

The frequency of smartphone use is changing the shape and structure of our brains, particular among children, according to neuroscientists. Studies have found that there is now a clear difference between children's brains now and 10 or 20 years ago, leading to predictions that technology will future change the brains of future generations.

Source: NBC

Genetic Engineering Could Protect Galapagos Fauna from Extinction

The unique biodiversity of the Galapagos is under threat, with a host of species at risk of extinction at the hands of invasive newcomers. Genetic engineering could be the answer, allowing the activities of interlopers to be stemmed without resorting to poison. However, there are serious ethical and practical concerns to consider.

Sensors Used to Find Previously Undiscovered Void in Great Pyramid

A previously unknown cavity, spanning 30m, has been found in the Great Pyramid of Giza, using sensors designed to detect particles known as muons. The first major structure found in the pyramid since Victorian times, the cavity sits above the grand gallery, and may be a formerly undiscovered chamber or just play a structural role.

Source: The Guardian

AI Lawyer Outperforms Humans in Legal Competition

A content between AI lawyer Case Cruncher Alpha and legal professionals from some of London's biggest firms saw the software come out on top. Both the humans and the AI were tasked with predicting the outcome of hundreds of insurance mis-selling cases, with the AI getting an accuracy of 86.6% compared to the human's 66.3%.

Source: BBC

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC