NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 12: Stephen Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research, University of Cambridge as he and Yuri Milner host press conference to announce Breakthrough Starshot, a new space exploration initiative, at One World Observatory on April 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize Foundation)

The renowned British scientist Stephen Hawking died in 2018, but he’s still talking to us. His parting words to humanity have just been released, in the form of recorded excerpts from his last book, Brief Answers to Big Questions. Here’s what he has to say.

First, we have to stop ignoring climate change or we will be doomed, said Hawking. “A rise in ocean temperature would melt the ice caps and cause the release of large amounts of carbon dioxide,” Hawking said. “Both effects could make our climate like that of Venus with a temperature of 250C.”

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Autonomous AI and weapons may have a future. Just not together.

As of August 2018, more than 2400 high-impact players in science and technology — from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to late astrophysicist Stephen Hawking — have signed a Lethal Autonomous Weapons Pledge declaring their intentions to halt an autonomous AI arms race before it begins. The historic motion urges governments to consider instituting regulations that preemptively ban, deter, and monitor militarized nations from amassing Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS): a growing classification of automated weaponry, including unmanned drones, fighter jets, and any lethal AI endowed with decisive power over human life.

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Credit: Pixabay

Artificial intelligence technology has made great strides of late, showing it can perform not just credit worthiness and shopping-behavior algorithms, but interpret what animals are saying, create nude art and even write the next installment of Game of Thrones.

However, it turns out machine learning is missing a critical component of human thought: the ability to not be sexist and racist.

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Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith speaks during the annual Microsoft shareholders meeting in Bellevue, Washington on November 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jason Redmond

In early July, a New York Times story about how Chinese officials are using facial recognition technology to track down lawbreakers went viral.

The story opened with a short anecdote about a police officer in Zhengzhou who used his special glasses to catch a heroin smuggler. His glasses were powered by artificial intelligence that allowed him to match the faces around him — each of which had been recorded by numerous security cameras around the city — with the face of the perpetrator. People around the world tweeted about the dystopian nature of this use of technology, making the usual jokes about the movie Minority Report. In the U.S., many worried about whether we might be next. As with most viral news stories, this was knocked off the top of the trending list by the next story.

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AFP/Getty Images This photo taken on February 5, 2018 shows a police officer wearing a pair of smartglasses with a facial recognition system at Zhengzhou East Railway Station in Zhengzhou in China's central Henan province. Chinese police are sporting high-tech sunglasses that can spot suspects in a crowded train station, the newest use of facial recognition that has drawn concerns among human rights groups.

Remember the first time you saw Terminator, when the cyborg portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger first spotted John Connor using the virtual reality technology that had been engineered into his brain? You might have thought: cool! I want that!

But then as you thought about it a little more, you may have been a little creeped out. Turns out you were totally justified.

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Artificial intelligence has made many advances of late — translating animal language, for instance, or writing the next Game of Thrones. However, the world may have to wait a few more years for AI-created nude paintings, if a recent project is any indication of the technology’s aesthetic.

Robbie Barrat, a recent high school graduate from West Virginia and AI enthusiast, used a type of artificial intelligence called a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) to scan thousands of nude paintings from WikiArt. Using two neural networks, a generator and a discriminator, the GAN essentially mimics distribution of data — from images and music to speech — to create its own versions.

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Many animals can learn to understand human language, and some even learn to speak it. Studies involving primates, dolphins, and domesticated animals confirm what any dog owner already knows: No matter what language we speak, the animals we interact with know the meaning of some of our words.

The average dog knows 165 human words, and smart ones can more than 250 words — about the same as a two-year-old human. An elephant named Koshik learned to imitate six words of human speech — in Korean — and use them to communicate with his trainers. Seals and sea lions in captivity learn to understand several human words, and some learn to speak it, including a harbor seal named Hoover who was raised in a Maine household and learned to say, “Hello there!” and “Hey! Hey! Come over here!” in a New England accent.

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