Boston Dynamics and DeepMind Dream Of AI + Robot Futures

PLUS: DeepMind uses large language models to train versatile robots for real-world tasks.

Good morning! Today is Monday, January 8th and Marc Raibert focuses on autonomous robot software, enterprises adopt generative AI, and AI screens for tuberculosis via cough sounds. New to The Intelligence Age? Sign up here.
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News & Insights

Boston Dynamics Have Their Eyes On Software

At the Boston Dynamics AI Institute, Marc Raibert, a pioneer in robotics, is now channeling his expertise into making robots more autonomous. His previous work in robotics focused on creating physically capable machines; however, the intelligence of these robots was largely human-driven. Raibert's new venture, supported by Hyundai, aims to reduce human intervention by developing AI that enables robots to handle unpredictable situations independently.

Raibert notes the disparity between a robot's athletic prowess and its cognitive abilities, stating, "The athletic part of robotics is really doing well, but we need the cognitive part." He sees potential in large language models, like those driving ChatGPT, to contribute to robotics, suggesting that the integration of learned information and innate human knowledge could enhance AI's physical understanding. As the field of robotics evolves, the institute also explores the feasibility of humanoid robots in the workforce and the advancement of dexterous manipulation, which Raibert believes still has a long road ahead. wired

What’s Next For Generative AI In Enterprises?

Generative AI is redefining how knowledge workers interact with data, streamlining search processes with its sophisticated natural language capabilities. As Thor Olof Philogne, CEO of Stravito, highlights, this technology enables users to ask complex questions like "What are the trends in packaging for non-dairy milk?" and receive detailed answers drawn from extensive data sources. This transformation in data interaction is not just about speed but also about fostering a new creativity by revealing unexpected connections and insights.

While generative AI is enhancing productivity, it's crucial to remember that it doesn't negate the need for human skills. Soft skills such as empathy are irreplaceable when it comes to ethical considerations, while hard skills such as prompt-writing and fact-checking remain essential due to the current limitations of AI systems. As AI continues to evolve, the blend of human expertise with AI's analytical prowess is set to redefine roles rather than replace them. siliconrepublic

AI for Tuberculosis Screening

Emerging AI technology is transforming medical diagnostics, leveraging the ubiquity of smartphones. In a recent study, an AI-powered smartphone app exhibited potential as a tuberculosis (TB) screening tool by analyzing cough sounds, a method significantly more cost-effective than traditional sputum tests. Although it missed TB in roughly 30% of cases, its convenience and affordability could make it a valuable asset in low-income regions.

The app, developed through a collaboration of US and Kenyan researchers, was informed by over 34,000 cough recordings. While it's not ready to replace standard diagnostics, it's indicative of a broader trend: using body sounds as biomarkers for health. AI's data analysis capabilities, coupled with this approach, could lead to a new generation of non-invasive diagnostic tools. Resistance exists, but the growing availability of public datasets, like the NIH-funded voice and cough sound database, may accelerate validation and innovation in this field. technologyreview

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Practical AI

Building A Viable Pricing Model For Generative AI Features Could Be Challenging

Box's recent adoption of a consumption-based pricing model for its generative AI features reflects an innovative approach in monetizing AI capabilities. Users start with 20 credits per month and can draw from a shared pool if needed, a mechanism designed to accommodate varying usage levels and the costs associated with using OpenAI's API. CEO Aaron Levie's strategy aims to balance user engagement with cost control, a nuanced challenge that many SaaS companies now face.

Contrasting with Box's model, Microsoft has opted for a more conventional add-on pricing for its Copilot features, charging extra on top of the regular Office 365 subscription. The conversation around these models gained momentum with insights from leaders like Christine Spang and Manny Medina at Web Summit, highlighting the importance of integrating generative AI in a way that delivers tangible value and aligns with emerging pricing structures. techcrunch

Around The World

More News

  • Google Unveils Gemini, a Cutting-Edge Generative AI Platform, Poised to Transform Content Creation and Data Analysis with Advanced Machine Learning Capabilities.

  • Microsoft Integrates AI-Powered Advertisement Directly onto Keyboard Hardware in a Novel Marketing Approach This Week in AI.

  • Intel Launches Articul8, a New Subsidiary Focused on Streamlining the Deployment of Generative AI in Enterprise Environments.

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Research Review

DeepMind Is Training Robots For Real-World Activities

DeepMind's recent foray into robotics via AutoRT leverages AI's prowess to navigate the complexity of real-world tasks. The system fluently integrates large foundational models, empowering robots to collect data and multitask across new environments. "AutoRT can simultaneously direct multiple robots...in a variety of office buildings," illustrating a significant leap in robotic orchestration and adaptability.

Safety remains paramount as these robots enter daily settings, with a 'robot constitution' incorporating Asimov's Three Laws. Beyond ethical guidelines, practical safety measures are embedded within the system, such as automatic shutdowns and human oversight with emergency stop capabilities. DeepMind's SARA-RT enhances robotic transformers, heralding a "scalable attention mechanism to provide computational improvements with no quality loss," showcasing potential applications far beyond robotics. zdnet

Written by Isaac R. Ward, Casey Clifton, and Alex Brogan.

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