This Week’s Awesome Stories from Around the Web (Through Jul 18)

ROBOTICS: Forces of nature: Biomimicry in robotics
Stuart Nathan | The Engineer
“For example, the processes – the combination of systems of sensors, muscles and brain [and other organs that process information] – that allow a squid to control its tentacles are still beyond us. All we’re doing is trying to understand  the mechanics of a tentacle to the extent that we can mimic some of  its characteristics, even if the mechanisms used in that mimicry are unrelated to those used by the squid.'”

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: First computers recognized our faces, now they know what we’re doing
Rick McCormick | The Verge
“The [NeuralTalk] software uses a neural network to work out what’s going on in each picture, comparing parts of the image to those it’s already seen and describing them as humans would. Neural networks are designed to be like human brains, and they work a little like children. Once they’ve been taught the basics of our world — that’s what a window usually looks like, that’s what a table usually looks like, that’s what a cat who’s trying to eat a cheeseburger looks like — then they can apply that understanding to other pictures and video.”

INTERNET: Reddit’s Future is the Future of The Internet
Davey Alba | WIRED
“In updating its policy on offensive content, Reddit finally admitted it has a problem with harassment—in sharp contrast to its notoriously hands-off attitude in the past pegged to a rigid definition of ‘free speech’…It’s important because the site is founded on principles that mirror the founding principles of the web itself. Reddit was conceived as an open forum, a place where conversation is self-regulated and community-driven, freedom of expression is prized above all, and authorities don’t meddle with—much less censor—content. And sometimes, wonderful things happen. But there’s also a dark side. Trolls and harassment abound, and users revel in despicable topics.”

ROBOCARS: Self-driving cars are coming, but most drivers don’t want them—yet
Jonathan M. Gitlin | Ars Technica
“Only 15.6 percent reported a preference for entirely automated cars. Another 40.6 percent said they’d like semi-autonomous vehicles, but 43.5 percent wanted to be in control of their vehicles at all times. A majority of those surveyed also replied that they were moderately (32.7 percent) or very (35.6 percent) concerned about riding in an autonomous car if that was the only option, with levels of distrust increasing with the age of those surveyed.”

FUTURE OF CITIES: Millennials Will Live in Cities Unlike Anything We’ve Ever Seen Before
Alissa Walker | Gizmodo
“What’s happening with millennials and cities is really just part of a larger issue around the rising cost of housing that’s pricing out plenty of people in already-expensive cities. Of course moving into a city is going to be extra-unattainable, financially, for someone just starting out in their career. Maybe millennials are actually way smarter than everyone else for not staying in places they can’t realistically afford.”

ENERGY is the Global Grand Challenge for July

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: US Energy Use Per $1 Halved Over Last 35 Years Via Improved Energy Efficiency
James Ayre | CleanTechnica
“The report from the ACEEE noted that roughly 60% of the cut in energy intensity was the result of improvements to energy efficiency, and roughly 40% was the result of ‘major structural changes in the economy.’ The savings that accompanied the cut coming from energy efficiency have been estimated as standing at $800 billion (around $2,500 per capita).”

Image Credit: Shutterstock

David J. Hill
David J. Hill
David started writing for Singularity Hub in 2011 and served as editor-in-chief of the site from 2014 to 2017 and SU vice president of faculty, content, and curriculum from 2017 to 2019. His interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but he'll always be a chemist at heart.
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