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China’s Policing Robot: Cattle Prod Meets Supercomputer

Computerworld (10/31/16) Patrick Thibodeau

Chinese researchers have developed AnBot, an “intelligent security robot” deployed in a Shenzhen airport. The backend of AnBot is linked to China’s Tianhe-2 supercomputer, where it has access to cloud services. AnBot uses these technologies to conduct patrols, recognize threats, and identify people with multiple cameras and facial recognition. The cloud services give the robots petascale processing power, well beyond the processing capabilities in the robot itself. The supercomputer connection enhances the intelligent learning capabilities and human-machine interface of the devices, according to a U.S.-China Economic and Security Review report that focuses on China’s autonomous systems development efforts. The report found the ability of robotics to improve depends on the linking of artificial intelligence (AI), data science, and computing technologies. In addition, the report notes simultaneous development of high-performance computing systems and robotic mechanical manipulation give AI the potential to unleash smarter robotic devices that are capable of learning as well as integrating inputs from large databases. The report says the U.S. government should increase its own efforts in developing manufacturing technology in critical areas, as well as monitoring China’s growing investments in robotics and AI companies in the U.S.

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U.S. Gets Warnings and Advice About the Internet of Things

Computerworld (06/07/16) Patrick Thibodeau

In response to a U.S. Department of Commerce request for comments about the Internet of Things’ (IoT) potential, industry groups including ACM’s U.S. Public Policy Council and others submitted more than 130 reports detailing positive and negative aspects, which will form the basis of a green paper (a tentative government report). Booz Allen Hamilton stresses the workforce would need to adapt to a reality in which some jobs will become redundant, while demand for others will grow. Trends the consultancy forecasts include a need for data specialists “to analyze and remove noise from data, and privacy officers will need to analyze vulnerabilities and evolve policies.” Booz Allen also envisions crowdsourcing becoming more popular as a means for corporations “to access top talent on demand,” while emotional intelligence, creativity, “and the ability to deduce meaning from information” will be sought. Meanwhile, the American Bar Association warns of the IoT’s potential scale becoming so vast that responding to a “disabling attack” could exceed “the capacity of any application vendor, the largest global device manufacturers, a self-help community within an industrial sector, or even national governments to address.” ACM cautions although vendors can secure individual devices, once users start building devices into a “composable” infrastructure, the certainty fades that any safeguards will remain. The Electronic Privacy Information Center notes businesses could gain valuable commercial insights about customers with the IoT.

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