In Exponential Minds’ The Future of Virtual Humans we look at the US Army’s Human-Virtual Human Interaction Program, losing (and regaining) common good, the world’s largest solar park, sinking cities, and Memtransistors.
How the Army plans to use virtual humans powered by artificial intelligence
Deep within the Army’s 2019 budget request, lies a program that, at first glance, reads like the plot of an episode from the futuristic series “Black Mirror.”
The program, formally known as Human-Virtual Human Interaction, is described in the Army’s research and development budget as an effort to create “virtual human computer-generated characters that look, communicate and behave like real people.” The document goes on to describe what exactly such behavior entails. “The virtual humans will be autonomous, use verbal and non-verbal communication, exhibit emotions, model their own beliefs, desires and intentions as well as those of others, and reason using advanced artificial intelligence.”
Yup. The Army is seeking to create virtual humans that model their own beliefs and desires, powered by advanced artificial intelligence.
Read more at C4ISRNET
Have we lost common good, with Robert Reich
Most Americans no longer believe that the major institutions of society — government, corporations, banks, charities, and universities — work for them. The fundamental question is whether we can restore the common good, and rebuild trust in the system.
World’s largest solar park under development in Egypt
The Benban Solar Park aims to reach somewhere between 1.6-2.0GW of solar power by the middle of 2019.
The projects will receive no incentives, however, it will be given a 25 year contract to sell its electricity at 7.8¢/kWh to the the state-owned Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) and pegged to the value of the US dollar.
Currently, 29 projects have received financing – representing at least $1.8 billion in public financing. These 29 projects represent almost 1.5GW of solar power.
Read more at Elektrek
The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilised World (Book Review)
What will happen in the next eighty years remains far from certain. There is a tipping point after which ice sheets will fully collapse – Greenland holds enough water to raise sea levels by roughly 22 feet – but researchers don’t know where that point lies. In January, NOAA released a major report on sea level rise that factors in current ice-sheet collapse and more than doubles the median rise in global sea levels predicted at the time of the Paris Agreement, from 2.3 feet to 4.9 feet. Goodell’s conclusion is crystal clear: ‘If we want to minimise the impact of sea level rise in the next century, here’s how we do it: stop burning fossil fuels and move to higher ground.’ If humans stopped using fossil fuels entirely by 2050, we might face two to three feet of sea level rise by the end of the century. Instead of 4.9 feet. Or 11 feet. But the water will come. The future depends on how humans rise to meet it.
Read more at London Review of Books
‘Memtransistor’ brings world closer to brain-like computing
The memtransistor builds upon work published in 2015, in which Hersam, Sangwan, and their collaborators used single-layer molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) to create a three-terminal, gate-tunable memristor for fast, reliable digital memory storage. Memristor, which is short for “memory resistors,” are resistors in a current that “remember” the voltage previously applied to them. Typical memristors are two-terminal electronic devices, which can only control one voltage channel. By transforming it into a three-terminal device, Hersam paved the way for memristors to be used in more complex electronic circuits and systems, such as neuromorphic computing.
To develop the memtransistor, Hersam’s team again used atomically thin MoS2 with well-defined grain boundaries, which influence the flow of current. Similar to the way fibers are arranged in wood, atoms are arranged into ordered domains – called “grains” – within a material. When a large voltage is applied, the grain boundaries facilitate atomic motion, causing a change in resistance.
Read more at Phys.org