New XPrize: Can an AI project get a standing ovation at TED?

Can an artificial intelligence system get a standing ovation at the TED conference?

That's the challenge for the brand-new A.I. XPrize, announced Thursday at TED in Vancouver by XPrize Foundation head Peter Diamandis.

Unlike most XPrizes, which have clear rules and goals, this one is a bit more free-form. Described as "a modern-day Turing test, [it will] be awarded to the first A.I. to walk or roll out on stage and present a TED talk so compelling that it commands a standing ovation from you, the audience."

And TED and the XPrize Foundation is turning … Read more

OK, Glass, have an NBA player dunk in my face

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--"This is the real Google," taunted Sacramento Kings guard Orlando Johnson.

Johnson leaned in, dribbling a basketball, ready to explode to the hoop. Only teammates Ray McCallum and Jason Thompson stood in the way. Through the Google Glass I was wearing, I watched Thompson prepare to stop Johnson. From Thompson's exact point of view.

Moments earlier, I'd watched as McCallum had dribbled in, jumped high in the air, and dunked the ball hard. My view? A look at the rim from a couple of feet away, close enough to see the stitches on … Read more

Glassholes: At least you know who they are

Google Glass has provoked a lot of angst among those worried about the electronic eyewear is rude, weird, or creepy -- and for good reason.

Among the concerns Glass raises are that the wearer could be recording video, audio, or photos of other people or that the wearer could be looking up online information about those people. For a good illustration of the social difficulties of Google Glass, check Becky Worley's report from South By Southwest on Google Glass at Yahoo Tech, in which wearers report problems at a supermarket, customs, a business meeting, and a trip to the … Read more

Giant 3D printer starts spitting out a house

Till now, 3D printing has been used to create relatively small items -- everything from iPhone cases to prosthetic fingers to aircraft parts and alien shoes. But none of those projects are a match for the full-size house Dutch architects have begun building in Amsterdam using a 20-foot-tall 3D printer.

The project, known simply as the "3D Print Canal House," uses a super-sized version of the popular in-home 3D printer made by Ultimaker. Dutch architectural firm Dus commissioned the machine when it decided to take the scale-model rooms it was already 3D-printing and turn them into the real thing.… Read more

Matterport breathes life into fully immersive 3D models

Picture a 3D virtual representation of your living room, one you can fly over in a top-down view and even move through with the fluidity of a first-person video game. Now imagine having the ability to tinker with that space: Change the paint on your walls, drop in a new couch to see how it fits with the existing furniture, or perform accurate measurements of the room, all on a computer screen.

That's Matterport's vision for the future of 3D modeling, and it extends beyond home renovation. From architecture and construction to real estate and crime scene visualization, … Read more

NASA asks citizen scientists to become 'asteroid hunters'

NASA is looking for citizen scientists to help save planet Earth.

The space agency announced Monday that it is launching an "Asteroid Data Hunter" contest series to reach out to people to help create algorithms to identify asteroids zooming around outer space. NASA will give away $35,000 in awards to competition winners.

Millions of asteroids are thought to be currently orbiting the sun and scientists want to be sure to identify as many of them as possible. Why? So humans don't go the way of the dinosaurs.

While NASA deemed Earth safe last year from a … Read more

That's Chef Watson to you

AUSTIN, Texas -- We know that IBM's Watson computer is the world's best "Jeopardy" player. But does it have a clue about what tastes good?

On Thursday night, I was one of a small and very lucky group of people invited to an IBM event to find out.

Called "Cognitive cooking," the event was a demonstration of Watson's so-called "computational creativity." Essentially, the idea went, IBM set out to have its famous computer help design a gourmet meal, one filled with dishes made from recipes the world had never seen before. … Read more

Silver Spring to network 75,000 Florida streetlights

In a sign of what modernizing infrastructure means in the Internet era, Silver Spring Networks, which brings IP networking to power grids, will install 75,000 networked streetlights for Florida Power & Light in the Miami-Dade County region, the company said Thursday.

The lights will be linked together with a wireless "mesh" network -- one where data is transferred among its members hop by hop without relying as much on central network equipment to route traffic. The network itself is IPv6 -- the new version 6 of the Internet Protocol that's gradually spreading across the Net, making … Read more

Canary raises $10 million for app-enabled home security

Canary, a startup that hopes to reproduce with home security the success that Nest had with its app-enabled thermostats and smoke alarms, has raised $10 million in a series-A round of funding.

The funds came from Khosla Ventures, Bobby Yazdani, and seed-round investors including Two Sigma Ventures, Canary said.

The company also raised $2 million through crowdfunding at Indiegogo (it had planned to raise only $100,000, but evidently struck a nerve). The venture capital will mean Canary can hire more staff and push more quickly to develop its hardware and software.

Canary's technology pairs a mobile app with … Read more

'Talking Angela' programmer talks hoaxes, AI mastery (Q&A)

If you're not a parent or teenager, it's possible you first heard of Talking Angela because of a meme spreading virally on Facebook that it was a front for a pedophilia ring.

In fact, Talking Angela is a hugely popular artificial intelligence chatbot, a talking cat, aimed at teenagers, and the hoax has been fully repudiated. Available for iOS and Android, Talking Angela has been downloaded more than 57 million times. But thanks to word going around about the pedophilia hoax, the app jumped to No. 3 on the iTunes iPhone charts.

On the one hand, it's … Read more