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  • News

    A new algorithm could help protect planes from damaging volcanic ash

    Five to 10 minutes. That’s what it takes for superheated volcanic ash to shoot 11 kilometers into the sky — reaching altitudes at which commercial jets cruise and potentially harming their engines.

    Now scientists have developed a new algorithm that can identify and track explosive ash clouds soon after volcanoes erupt. Using satellite imagery, the program can measure the temperature,...

    11/27/2018 - 08:00 Earth, Technology, Computing
  • News

    Virtual avatars learned cartwheels and other stunts from videos of people

    Animated characters can learn from online tutorials, too.

    A new computer program teaches virtual avatars new skills, such as dances, acrobatic stunts and martial art moves, from YouTube videos. This kind of system, described in the November ACM Transactions on Graphics, could render more physically coordinated characters for movies and video games, or serve as a virtual training ground...

    11/05/2018 - 14:09 Computing, Technology
  • News

    A new computer program generates eerily realistic fake videos

    “The camera never lies” is a thing of the past.

    A new computer program can manipulate a video such that the person on-screen mirrors the movements and expressions of someone in a different video. Unlike other film-fudging software, this program can tamper with far more than facial expressions. The algorithm, to be presented August 16 at the 2018 SIGGRAPH meeting in Vancouver, also tweaks...

    08/14/2018 - 10:33 Computing, Technology, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    Solving problems by computer just got a lot faster

    A new computer program works smarter, not harder, to solve problems faster than its predecessors.

    The algorithm is designed to find the best solution to a given problem among all possible options. Whereas other computer programs winnow down the possibilities one at a time, the new program — presented July 12 at the International Conference on Machine Learning in Stockholm — rules out...

    07/16/2018 - 07:00 Computing, Technology
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Weird Math’ aims to connect numbers and equations to the real world

    Weird MathDavid Darling and Agnijo BanerjeeBasic Books, $27

    Weird Math sets out to “reveal the strange connections between math and everyday life.” The book fulfills that laudable goal, in part. At times, teenage math prodigy Agnijo Banerjee and his tutor, science writer David Darling, find ways to make complex math relatable, like linking chaos theory to weather forecasting and...

    04/16/2018 - 07:00 Numbers, Computing, Science & Society
  • Science & the Public

    Are computers better than people at predicting who will commit another crime?

    In courtrooms around the United States, computer programs give testimony that helps decide who gets locked up and who walks free.

    These algorithms are criminal recidivism predictors, which use personal information about defendants — like family and employment history — to assess that person’s likelihood of committing future crimes. Judges factor those risk ratings into verdicts on...

    02/20/2018 - 09:00 Computing, Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Machines That Think’ predicts the future of artificial intelligence

    Machines That ThinkToby WalshPrometheus Books, $16

    Movies and other media are full of mixed messages about the risks and rewards of building machines with minds of their own. For every manipulative automaton like Ex Machina’s Ava (SN: 5/16/15, p. 26), there’s a helpful Star Wars droid. And while some tech titans such as Elon Musk warn of the threats artificial intelligence presents...

    02/02/2018 - 15:20 Artificial Intelligence, Computing, Science & Society
  • Feature

    Your phone is like a spy in your pocket

    Consider everything your smartphone has done for you today. Counted your steps? Deposited a check? Transcribed notes? Navigated you somewhere new?

    Smartphones make for such versatile pocket assistants because they’re equipped with a suite of sensors, including some we may never think — or even know — about, sensing, for example, light, humidity, pressure and temperature.

    Because...

    01/23/2018 - 12:00 Computing, Technology
  • The List

    Ask AI: How not to kill online conversations

    A new artificial intelligence could tell whether your next post to an online forum will engage others or fall flat.

    Computer scientist Qiaozhu Mei of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and colleagues trained a machine-learning program on about 63,000 Reddit threads to learn what dialog-ending responses look like.

    This kind of chat-savvy computer code, described in a paper...

    01/03/2018 - 09:00 Artificial Intelligence, Networks, Computing
  • News

    New setup for image recognition AI lets a program think on its feet

    Artificial intelligence is getting some better perspective. Like a person who can read someone else’s penmanship without studying lots of handwriting samples, next-gen image recognition AI can more easily identify familiar sights in new situations.

    Made from a new type of virtual building block called capsules, these programs may cut down the enormous amount of data needed to train...

    12/04/2017 - 08:00 Artificial Intelligence, Computing, Technology