October 25, 2016

Emergent // Future Weekly: Speech Recognition Milestone, Open Sourced AI, and Webcams that Break the Internet

Speech Recognition Milestone, Open Sourced AI, Webcams Breaking the Internet

Issue 28

This week we check out Microsoft's speech recognition milestone, how Amazon is developing a drone listens to you, why it's important to open source AI, and what it means whenwebcams break the internet

And, check out the top projects to try at home, and our favorite articles from the past week are down at the bottom. 

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Speech Recognition Milestone

You Might Have Heard: Microsoft AI research group says its speech recognition tech is now as proficient as humans.

"We've reached human parity," says Microsoft's chief speech scientist Xuedong Huang in a statement. "This is an historic achievement."

The 5.9% error rate is about equal to that of professional transcriptionists. Microsoft's system understands acoustics and details like a speaker's pitch and how fast or slow they speak.

But Did You Know: Amazon filed a patent for a new drone that can both see and hear you.

The voice-controlled drone is small enough to fit in your pocket, and could act like a personal assistant hovering over you.

There is a gotcha, however: Most of the use cases Amazon describes in the filing aren’t legal since they require flying a drone out of line of sight and in populated areas. Oops.

AI agents like Alexa, Siri, and M will create the first trillion-dollar company.

Open Sourced AI

The Artificial Intelligence Open Network launched last week to draw attention to the important, under-appreciated AI-related research problems that exist.

AI•ON's goal is for more open source code getting shipped shipped that has the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the real world by connecting researchers and enabling them to work on applied and fundamental AI research.

We love this, and have long believed that algorithm development is broken.

Algorithm marketplaces can function as the global meeting place for researchers, engineers, and organizations to create, share, and remix algorithmic intelligence at scale.

When Your Webcam Breaks the Internet

Friday's internet outage was caused by a DDoS attack on DynDNSthat was powered by a Mirai-based botnet of DVRs and webcams.

Twitter, Etsy, Github, Heroku, Spotify and hundreds of other sites were all effected by the attack.

Mirai is malware that turns Linux machines into remotely controlled botnets that can be used in large-scale network attacks.

We’re in a new era of internet attacks powered by everyday devices, the NY Times writes.

Most of the IoT devices used in the attack were produced by the Chinese company Xiongmai.

Weak default passwords are to blame, and Xinogmai said it patched this last September, but some devices are still vulnerable... because who upgrades the firmware on their webcam?

Massive DDoS attacks are undermining the Internet, and Friday’s outages are just the beginning.

Here’s a few choice tweets:

  • We thought Skynet would be killer drones & humanoid robots with glowing red eyes, but actually Skynet is our smart egg trays turning on us (@tomgara)
  • Not sure it's fully set in yet how disturbing it is a bunch of hijacked cameras shut down a large portion of the world's internet yesterday (@trevortimm)
  • Buildings with thousands of obsolete, unpatched IoT lightbulbs will become the Internet equivalent of superfund sites. (@mattblaze)
  • "How'd your accounts get owned?” "Toaster. You?” "Washing machine.” (@internetofshit)

What We're Reading

  • The Byzantine Science of Deceiving Artificial Intelligence.Machine learning algorithms have quickly become the all-seeing shepherds of the human flock. To deceive them would be to shift tectonic underpinnings of the internet, and could pose even greater threats for our safety and security in the future. (Popular Science)
  • Context, Language, and Reasoning in AI: Three Key Challenges. The next phase in the AI revolution calls for advances in how the technology addresses and processes data from the non-vision world. (MIT Technology Review)
  • Meet the Artists Who Have Embraced Artificial Intelligence. The project is deceptively simple: trying to get artificial intelligence to make nature art. But it’s also a way of figuring out the limits of computational creativity. (Fusion)
  • Technology Fives Us Super-Human Powers. Computers and robots relieve us of repetitive activities, so we can concentrate on the interesting parts of life and work. This began with the invention of the plow and applies even more so in the age of technology. (Credit Suisse)

Try This At Home

DNS Outage

A depiction of the outages caused by today’s attacks on Dyn, an Internet infrastructure company. 

Emergent Future is a weekly, hand-curated dispatch exploring technology through the lens of artificial intelligence, data science, and the shape of things to come. Subscribe here.


Matt Kiser

Matt Kiser

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