For crime victims in the Kenyan town of Lamet Umoja, where before there was silence, now there is Twitter.
The village’s police chief, Francis Kariuki, realized some time ago that he could use the microblogging site as an instant way to blast critical messages to citizens. He posts information about child abductions, stolen livestock and active criminal activity as he gets it. As this story was being written, for example, he sent out the description of a man who went missing midday on Dec. 10. “Disappeared from home at around 1pm. If seen around please inform me,” he tweeted.
Kariuki’s efforts are just one example of the rapidly expanding adoption of mobile communication and information technologies to overcome stubborn governance problems across Sub-Saharan Africa. Officials, members of civil society and ordinary citizens are being motivated to deploy these tactics as workarounds for a lack of basic government services and infrastructure.
One of the greatest challenges the field of artificial intelligence faces is to simulate the workings of a human brain. Now an AI company reveals its software can solve the world’s most widely used test of a machine’s ability to act human, Google’s reCAPTCHA, by copying how human vision works.
The founder of modern computing, Alan Turing, developed the Turing test, which asks if it is possible to devise machines capable of acting human, and in doing so helped spawn the field of artificial intelligence. The most famous version of his test asks whether a machine can mimic a person well enough in a conversation over text to be indistinguishable from human — if so, a computer could be argued to be at least as intelligent as us.
The most commonly used Turing test is the CAPTCHA, which stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” CAPTCHAs are designed to see whether users are human, often to prevent Internet-crawling bots from accessing computing services or collecting sensitive data.
Every year, the average American commuter spends a total of about one week of their life in traffic.
Traffic congestion and the resulting delays costs major U.S. cities $121 billion in fuel costs and productivity loss annually, the equivalent of about $800 per commuter. Now, computer scientists in Pennsylvania have a new smart traffic signal system that could help reduce traffic congestion, curb pollution and cut commuter time.
Even after years of progress and exponential growth in capabilities, the best computers out there in terms of efficiency, speed and processing power aren’t made of silicon and circuits. The crown still goes to the unbelievably complex human brain. In February 2011, Ars Technica reported on a study that found all the world’s general-purpose computers in 2007 held about the same processing power as a single human brain.
Seeing an opportunity in the huge disparity between our abilities and those of the computing machines we create, many researchers have been aiming to build a new generation of computers based on the one inside our heads. A recent breakthrough from European and U.S. computer scientists has brought this long sought “artificial brain” a step closer to reality. They have created microchips that are able to mimic the information-processing circuitry of the brain in real-time.