Machine learning takes a crack at creating human images
You might already know that AI can put real faces in implausible scenarios, but it’s now clear that it can create faces that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Developer Phillip Wang has created a website, ThisPersonDoesNotExist, that uses AI to generate a seemingly infinite variety of fake but plausible-looking faces.
His tool uses an NVIDIA-designed generative adversarial network (where algorithms square off against each other to improve the quality of results) to craft faces using a large catalog of photos as training material. The results are imperfect, but when everything falls into place, it’s disconcertingly realistic — you sometimes wouldn’t know a person is imaginary. It doesn’t require much computational power, either.
Wang told Motherboard that he’s using an NVIDIA GPU on a rented server to create a random face every two seconds. This isn’t so much a technological breakthrough as a bid to raise awareness of AI’s ability to manipulate images. The system in question isn’t limited to faces. NVIDIA’s technology can already handle cars, cats and even bedrooms.
Stylish sunglasses that also play music
From Popular Mechanics:
If the Frames didn’t have the Bose name on them, I wouldn’t even try them. They seem like one of those “As Seen on TV” kind of things — sunglasses that also play music like headphones. Because they’re Bose, I said, “Okay, they have credibility, I’m willing to take a chance.” Still, I had very low expectations.
But as soon as you put them on, the sound is ridiculously good. And the first thing everybody says is: “If it sounds so good in your ear, everybody around you must be able to hear it.” But the answer is “No.” You can hear the music a little bit when they’re off your ears, but once you put them on, people on the outside can’t hear it. And, again, the sound is just amazing.
And they’re easy. I’ve been using them when I walk my dog — I take them out of the case, put them on, and push the button. It tells me how much battery I have left, and that it’s connected to my phone. So now the only reason I really need to touch my phone is to play whatever it is I’m gonna play — Pandora, Spotify, Sirius, a podcast. Once that’s going, I don’t touch the phone again. If I run into my neighbors, I hit the button on the right temple, and it pauses. Hit it again, I’m on my way.
Could robot therapists really help people?
From Fast Company:
One of the world’s first chatbots was a therapist. Built in 1964 by MIT researcher Jerome Weizenbaum, the program, called ELIZA, was designed to mimic techniques from Rogerian psychotherapy where the therapist prompts the patient to examine their own thoughts and feelings.
ELIZA had no memory or understanding of the conversation. It merely searched for a keyword in the last sentence typed in by its interlocutor and calculated an answer using a rule associated with the keyword. Nevertheless, and much to Weizenbaum’s dismay, many users became convinced that ELIZA understood them.
These days we’re surrounded by chatbots and voice analysis apps, a growing number of which are geared toward improving how we feel. Aimed at users who suffer from conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD or simply from stress, chatbots like Woebotand Tess claim to be able to identify the mood or condition of the user, and in many cases can also offer advice or suggest therapeutic exercises.
The technology arrives amid a growing mental health crisis, especially among the young. Twenty-five per cent of U.S. college students were treated for a diagnosable mental illness in the previous year according to a 2015 Chronicle of Higher Education report. Twenty per cent of 67,000 students surveyed in 2015 had thought about suicide, while 9 per cent had actually attempted it.
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