Kanye West Rhymes from AI

On a bet from peers in his high school programming club, a teenager in West Virginia taught himself to build an artificial intelligence program that can rap like Kanye West, according to news reports.

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Seventeen-year-old Robbie Barrat thought that artificial intelligence could accomplish tasks better than humans, and his high school programming club told him to prove it. Using open-source code and 6,000 Kanye West lines, Barrat built a neural network that could mimic the superstar rapper. Barrat completed the project in a week and showed the program to his peers at their next club meeting. “It took one afternoon to write most of the code”, Barrat said, but a few more days to optimize the AI’s results. The program can now write original material and rap, even using semi-appropriate pauses.

At first, the challenge came in understanding where the neural network went wrong, which Barrat said was difficult because machine learning models are not very transparent. The teen therefore relied on open-source code and different software to refine the AI program.

Source (Kacey Deamer, “Teen-Programmed AI Spits Rhymes Like Kanye West”, LiveScience, 20.03.2017)

Cisco Spark Board


Credit: Cisco

The Cisco Spark Board is an all-in-one device that provides everything you need to collaborate with your teams in physical meeting rooms: You can wirelessly present, white board, and have video and audio calls. And it securely connects to your virtual teams through the Cisco Spark service via your Cisco Spark app-enabled devices, so you can take your meetings and content on the road.

Although an interactive whiteboard isn’t new technology, Cisco’s Spark Board is taking it to the next level. Spark Board allows anyone with the Cisco Spark app to draw on or mark in real time on the whiteboard simultaneously, even from a remote mobile phone. Participants can draw on a black canvas or any document and team members can edit at the same time. In addition, content is saved instantly and automatically so that the whole team can share.

The Spark Board automatically connects to any laptop, PC, Mac or mobile device with no Wi-Fi, network connection or Bluetooth needed. Cisco is able to achieve this through “groundbreaking new ultrasound wireless pairing” technology along with a tight integration with the Cisco Spark platform, according to Meggers. “We are using highly advanced ultrasound technology to automatically detect the device and we’re able to present from any laptop or PC or Mac with no Bluetooth and no Wi-Fi requirements,” he said.

No longer do organizations need to have microphones installed around a conference room separated from the voice or video hardware. Cisco has installed “an incredible microphone array” around the framework of the screen. With a focus around simplicity, Cisco decided to forgo a remote controller and instead allow users to leverage Spark Board’s touch-screen capability and drawing pen to navigate. On the 55(or 70)-inch screen is a 4K ultra-high-definition camera. Meggers said the 4K UHD camera gives a broad, crisp view of the room without being obtrusive.

Source (Mark Haranas, “12 Reasons Why Cisco’s Spark Board Is Its Coolest Product Ever”, CRN, 24.01.2017)

Back to the past: New materials could turn water into the fuel of the future

Researchers at Caltech and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have  nearly doubled the number of materials known to have potential for use in solar fuels. They did so by developing a process that promises to speed the discovery of commercially viable solar fuels that could replace coal, oil, and other fossil fuels.


Credit: Caltech

Solar fuels, a dream of clean-energy research, are created using only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide (CO2). Researchers are exploring a range of target fuels, from hydrogen gas to liquid hydrocarbons, and producing any of these fuels involves splitting water. Each water molecule is comprised of an oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. The hydrogen atoms are extracted, and then can be reunited to create highly flammable hydrogen gas or combined with CO2 to create hydrocarbon fuels, creating a plentiful and renewable energy source. The problem, however, is that water molecules do not simply break down when sunlight shines on them — if they did, the oceans would not cover most of the planet. They need a little help from a solar-powered catalyst.

To create practical solar fuels, scientists have been trying to develop low-cost and efficient materials, known as photoanodes, that are capable of splitting water using visible light as an energy source. Over the past four decades, researchers identified only 16 of these photoanode materials. Now, using a new high-throughput method of identifying new materials, a team of researchers led by Caltech’s John Gregoire and Berkeley Lab’s Jeffrey Neaton and Qimin Yan have found 12 promising new photoanodes.

Read more here (California Institute of Technology. “New materials could turn water into the fuel of the future: A new materials discovery approach puts solar fuels on the fast track to commercial viability.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2017.)

Original paper: Yan, Q., Yu, J., Suram, S.K., Zhou, L., Shinde, A., Newhouse, P.F., Chen, W., Li, G., Persson, K.A., Gregoire, J.M. and Neaton, J.B., 2017. Solar fuels photoanode materials discovery by integrating high-throughput theory and experiment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences114(12), pp.3040-3043.


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