This Week’s Awesome Stories From Around the Web (Through February 11th)


Understanding Agent Cooperation
Joel Leibo, Vinicius Zambaldi, Marc Lanctot, Janusz Marecki, Thore Graepel | Google DeepMind Blog
“Recent progress in artificial intelligence and specifically deep reinforcement learning provides us with the tools to look at the problem of social dilemmas through a new lens… we showed that we can apply the modern AI technique of deep multi-agent reinforcement learning to age-old questions in social science such as the mystery of the emergence of cooperation.”


Agility Robotics Introduces Cassie, a Dynamic and Talented Robot Delivery Ostrich
Evan Ackerman | IEEE Spectrum
“Agility Robotics, a spin-off of Oregon State University, is officially announcing a shiny new bipedal robot named Cassie. Cassie is a dynamic walker, meaning that it walks much more like humans do than most of the carefully plodding bipedal robots we’re used to seeing… Cassie has some work to do before it’s ready to be hauling groceries up stairs for you, but we’re very much looking forward to watching this robot taking more steps toward robust and dynamic legged locomotion.”


How Escape Rooms and Live Theater Are Paving the Way for VR
Bryan Bishop | The Verge
“Cinema has had more than a century to develop its own language of shots, cuts, and transitions, while storytelling in VR is still in its infancy… creators seem to be zeroing in on interactive, experiential moments as one of the key building blocks of VR storytelling. One of Chris Milk’s next projects is a piece set in the Planet of the Apes universe that will lean heavily on AI to drive interactive character performances.”


The Universe Is as Spooky as Einstein Thought
Natalie Wolchover | The Atlantic 
“With an experiment described this week in Physical Review Letters—a feat that involved harnessing starlight to control measurements of particles shot between buildings in Vienna—some of the world’s leading cosmologists and quantum physicists are closing the door on an intriguing alternative to ‘quantum entanglement.'”


The Army Is Testing Brainwave-Reading Technology for Drivers
Jordan Pearson | MOTHERBOARD 
“In the study, the researchers developed a series of algorithms to interpret brainwaves based on their previous work, and tried them out on 16 different people strapped into a car in a testing chamber. The test subjects were asked to drive down a long, uniform highway and periodically switch lanes in a simulation. Their brainwaves were recorded during the test, and a video camera kept tabs on them.”


The Techies Who Are Hacking Education by Homeschooling Their Kids
Jason Tanz | WIRED
“‘The world is changing. It’s looking for people who are creative and entrepreneurial, and that’s not going to happen in a system that tells kids what to do all day,’ Samantha says. ‘So how do you do that? Well if the system won’t allow it, as the saying goes: If you want something done right, do it yourself.'”


Companies That Stay Silent on Political Issues Can Pay a Hefty Price
Daniel Korschun | Fast Company
“Chevron, Disney, Verizon, GM, Wells Fargo and others have all taken a wait-and-see approach… Such responses are no doubt based on the prevailing wisdom that companies need to stay out of politics… in fact, the opposite may be true: It may be more dangerous to remain silent than to take a political stand… As long as a company is not being deceptive by obfuscating its beliefs, consumers can be surprisingly tolerant of a company that holds an opposing view.”

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Alison E. Berman
Alison E. Berman
Alison tells the stories of purpose-driven leaders and is fascinated by various intersections of technology and society. When not keeping a finger on the pulse of all things Singularity University, you'll likely find Alison in the woods sipping coffee and reading philosophy (new book recommendations are welcome).
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