Before having kids, tech entrepreneur Nirav Tolia spent hours online each day catching up on his favorite sports teams, doing research, or scrolling through social media. Now the father of three young sons, Tolia, the co-founder and chief executive of neighborhood-based social network Nextdoor, goes out of his way to put his smartphone down so he and his wife can lead by example for their kids.
Earlier this year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai described artificial intelligence as more profound to humanity than fire. Thursday, after protests from thousands of Google employees over a Pentagon project, Pichai offered guidelines for how Google will--and won’t--use the technology. One thing Pichai says Google won’t do: work on AI for weapons. But the guidelines leave much to the discretion of company executives and allow Google to continue to work for the military.
When people see machines that respond like humans, or computers that perform feats of strategy and cognition mimicking human ingenuity, they sometimes joke about a future in which humanity will need to accept robot overlords. But buried in the joke is a seed of unease.
As companies scramble to adapt to the modern workforce, they’re doing whatever they can to attract top tech talent. For some that may mean getting a head start in filling next year’s most in-demand roles, which range from data-focused to security-related positions, according to Robert Half Technology’s 2018 IT salary report. The survey also reveals the average salaries for each role based off experience.
This new focus on AI is part of the US’s renewed drive to advance its at-home capabilities, to keep up with competitors, such as China and Russia. The news is somewhat of a change of heart from the Trump administration. Some members of the government had previously shown initial skepticism about the technology, which contrasted starkly with China’s full-throttle approach.
"The United States will not get a second chance to win the global 5G race," Meredith Attwell Baker, president and CEO of the wireless industry group CTIA, warned in April, when the group released a report concluding that the US trails China and South Korea in preparing for 5G (fifth generation) networks. If that doesn’t change, the report warns, the US economy will suffer.
The next wave of technological innovation is shaping up differently. China’s rulers have identified the industries they want to dominate this century, from robotics to biotechnology and artificial intelligence, or AI. Chinese firms with a project in those fields don’t have to sweat through pitches to venture capitalists: government coffers are open.
Affordable consumer technology has made surveillance cheap and commoditized AI software has made it automatic. Those two trends merged this week, when drone manufacturer DJI partnered June 5 with Axon, the company that makes Taser weapons and police body cameras, to sell drones to local police departments around the United States. Now, not only do local police have access to drones, but footage from those flying cameras will be automatically analyzed by AI systems not disclosed to the public.
Plenty of people around the world got new gadgets Friday, but one in Eastern Tennessee stands out. Summit, a new supercomputer unveiled at Oak Ridge National Lab is, unofficially for now, the most powerful calculating machine on the planet. It was designed in part to scale up the artificial intelligence techniques that power some of the recent tricks in your smartphone.