ButtonMasher: AI takes on humans to create video game - tech - 02 January 2014 Read full article Continue reading page |1|2 ButtonMasher is our new column about video games and gaming culture – from the offbeat fringes to the cutting-edge innovations behind the latest blockbusters Making video games that are engaging and creative is always a challenge. Could an AI outdo humans? That's what Mike Cook of Goldsmiths, University of London, is investigating with Angelina, his AI game designer. "I can safely say that the game created by Angelina has better gameplay and graphics than several other entries," says Alan Zucconi, a game developer and researcher at Imperial College London who also took part. Cook is developing Angelina as part of his work on computational creativity – looking at whether software can be made to do things that would be considered creative if done by a human. Angelina has created many games in controlled situations, but this is the first time an AI has competed against humans in such a setting. But Angelina does fall down on the theme. (YouTube)
Vertical farming: The next big thing for food—and tech As a concept, vertical farming has been around for decades, and thinkers like Columbia professor Dickson Despommier are credited with advancing the concept. Until recently, however, it was never economically viable. Even now, the concept has major drawbacks. It's capital-intensive to start a vertical farm, energy costs can run very high, and space constraints limit what can be grown. Due to the lack of soil, the produce also doesn't get an organic label—even though it costs consumers about as much as organic products do. "The challenge has been to make it commercially profitable," said Colangelo. Read MoreAg giants look to plant a seed to fight the drought Every project, he said, becomes more efficient as data is collected and the process improves. And that's why vertical farming is finally taking off now: New technology is driving down costs, just as consumers are increasingly seeking out locally sourced, all-natural foods. Lighting is one of the biggest expenditures.
Eight ways robots stole our jobs in 2013 If we talked about nothing else in 2013 -- and, all right, 2012, too -- we talked about the question of whether technology is going to take all our jobs. This latest surge of the age-old debate seems to have abated, for now, with the anti-robot contingent in America somewhat mollified by the promise that additional automation may be the one advance that allows for manufacturing jobs to return from overseas and relieves humans of the most dangerous and unpleasant tasks. Theoretically, the robotic gospel goes, that talent is then freed up for more fulfilling and productive work. Either way, it's worth looking at the different ways automation began rendering new classes of jobs obsolete this year. Amazon's new robots don't go on strike. 1. Back in 2012, Amazon acquired Kiva Systems, a maker of robots that can be programmed to pick up online orders in a warehouse and shuttle them to their departure points. Burger to go, no human needed. 2. 3. 4. 5. The human-less tractor. 6. 7. 8.
index Kameoka, Japan (CNN) — The fields around the Spread factory in Kameoka, a satellite town west of the Japanese city of Kyoto, are scrubby and barren -- the farmers there have long since harvested the rice ahead of winter. While it doesn't generally get too cold in this part of Japan, the temperature drops enough to halt crop farming for four to five months. Inside the doors of the eerily high-tech facility it's business as usual, as masked workers glide around quietly but purposefully. They'll see 21,000 heads of lettuce shipped out across the length and breadth of Japan today, all delivered to supermarkets and restaurants within 24 hours of leaving the doors of this vertical farm. They'll see a further 21,000 the following day, and the day after that too -- 7.7 million a year in fact. Spread harvests 21,000 heads of lettuce a day. Euan McKirdy/CNN Marrying agriculture and industry Growing time, from seed to harvest, is a lean 40 days. Sustainable, safe food source? It hasn't been an easy ride.
Virtual tailor measures you up for perfect online shop - tech - 03 January 2014 Body scanners and virtual fitting rooms could solve the common problem of clothes ordered online being too baggy or tight IT'S the curse of online clothes shopping. You come across a shirt you simply must have, only to find that what you receive doesn't fit despite being in your size. How can you order clothes with confidence when you can't try them on? A new wave of start-ups are finding clever ways to address the problem. To set up the fitting room, developers run through most of the size-shape combinations the dummies can assume, and take several thousand photos of them dressed in every available size of each shirt or dress, from extra small to XXXL. Another start-up wants to redefine our system for sizing clothes. To arrive at these, Hornbuckle hired another company to analyse 200,000 measurements of men's bodies, looking for correlations. Arden Reed, a New York-based start-up, wants to take this personalised approach a step further with its bespoke suits. More From New Scientist
Vertical farms: "Making nature better" PORTAGE, Indiana -- Do not be confused by the drab facade of the warehouse in this Northwest Indiana industrial park. It's a farm... and it could well be the future. They're called "vertical farms" -- The entire operation is indoors, and it's a trend that could turn urban areas into agricultural hotbeds. You'll find arugula and parsley, basil, kale and other greens that grace our plates. "We are growing nine varieties of lettuces,'' said Robert Colangelo, the founder of Green Sense Farms. Or you could call him Mr. "I guess. This is how he does it, with a pink light from a light-emitting diode, or LED "It gives you a very concentrated amount of light and burns much cooler. No sun? Researchers believe plants respond best to the blue and red colors of the spectrum, so the densely-packed plants are bathed in a pink and purple haze. "We take weather out of the equation," says Colangelo. This abundance keeps the prices consistent year-round at local groceries. © 2014 CBS Interactive Inc.
Vertical farms sprouting all over the world - tech - 16 January 2014 Leader: "Fruit and veg, fresh from the skyscraper" URBAN warehouses, derelict buildings and high-rises are the last places you'd expect to find the seeds of a green revolution. But from Singapore to Scranton, Pennsylvania, "vertical farms" are promising a new, environmentally friendly way to feed the rapidly swelling populations of cities worldwide. In March, the world's largest vertical farm is set to open up shop in Scranton. Built by Green Spirit Farms (GSF) of New Buffalo, Michigan, it will only be a single storey covering 3.25 hectares, but with racks stacked six high it will house 17 million plants. Vertical farms aim to avoid the problems inherent in growing food crops in drought-and-disease-prone fields many hundreds of kilometres from the population centres in which they will be consumed. The plant racks in a vertical farm can be fed nutrients by water-conserving, soil-free hydroponic systems and lit by LEDs that mimic sunlight. Farming from afar More From New Scientist
FarmedHere, Nation's Largest Indoor Vertical Farm, Opens In Chicago Area (PHOTOS) Occupying 90,000 square feet of a formerly abandoned suburban Chicago warehouse, FarmedHere is not only the first indoor vertical farm of its kind in the nation — it’s also the largest. Celebrating its grand opening in Bedford Park, Ill., on Friday, FarmedHere utilizes a soil-free, aquaponic process to grow organic greens that are both tastier and more sustainable than traditional farming. Here’s how it works: Plants are grown in beds stacked as much as six high by using a mineral-rich water solution which is derived from tanks of hormone-free tilapia offering up nutrients to the plants in a controlled environment that ensures optimal growing. (Peek inside the Chicago-area facility below.) The facility hopes to produce an anticipated 1 million pounds of chemical-, herbicide- and pesticide-free leafy greens — including basil, arugula, mints and other greens — to the Chicago area once it hits full production.
A smart-object recognition algorithm that doesn’t need humans (Credit: BYU Photo) BYU engineer Dah-Jye Lee has created an algorithm that can accurately identify objects in images or video sequences — without human calibration. “In most cases, people are in charge of deciding what features to focus on and they then write the algorithm based off that,” said Lee, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. “With our algorithm, we give it a set of images and let the computer decide which features are important.” Humans need not apply Not only is Lee’s genetic algorithm able to set its own parameters, but it also doesn’t need to be reset each time a new object is to be recognized — it learns them on its own. Lee likens the idea to teaching a child the difference between dogs and cats. Comparison with other object-recognition algorithms In a study published in the December issue of academic journal Pattern Recognition, Lee and his students demonstrate both the independent ability and accuracy of their “ECO features” genetic algorithm.
The mystery of Google's sudden robotics splurge - tech - 16 December 2013 So why is Google suddenly so interested in robots? That's the question everyone's asking after it emerged this month that the internet giant has quietly amassed a portfolio of eight advanced-robotics firms. Google is describing the venture as partly a long term "moonshot" project – the name given to its more outlandish or ambitious ideas, such as its self-driving car or broadband via high-altitude balloons. But it also says it aims to launch a raft of robotics products in the short term. Based in the US and Japan, the new acquisitions make diverse products, ranging from walking humanoids, to many-legged, animal-like packhorses for the military, to assembly robots, machine-vision systems and robotic special-effects movie cameras. Andy Rubin isn't saying. Robot army Google's other acquisitions include Schaft, a Tokyo-based maker of life-sized, high-power humanoid robots, plus Meka and Redwood Robotics, both of San Francisco, which make smaller humanoid bots and industrial robot arms.