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automation

The Ultimate Impact of Intelligent Automation Will Not Just Be Measured by Its Efficiency, but Also by How It Will Uplift Humanity | Dr. Asish Banerjee

From robot-assisted surgery to email spam filters, there is much we gain from artificial intelligence. However, people are often wary of systems that they don’t fully understand. Dr. Ashis Banerjee, an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering and mechanical engineering at the University of Washington, has made it his mission to educate people about the ways in which automation can contribute to the betterment of humankind.

AI

Man Wins Art Fair With AI Generated Art

A video game designer in Pueblo, Colorado, won an art fair with artwork generated by artificial intelligence software. Jason M. Allen entered his work titled “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” into a state fair and received first place, winning a prize of $300. He had spent 80 hours tinkering with an AI art generator named Midjourney to create his final piece.

The two competition judges, Cal Duran and Dagny McKinley told The Pueblo Chieftain that while they did not know an AI created the work, they still would have awarded Allen the prize. In Duran’s mind, the chief purpose of any artwork is to tell a story.

“Even as this controversy is coming out, it’s still invoking that. It’s still causing an uproar. That in itself is kind of remarkable.”

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In order to generate art using an AI like Midjourney, a user must input keywords that the AI uses to make associations between prompts and images on the internet. It recognizes shapes, colors, and patterns within existing art and photos. The resulting piece of art is an amalgamation of those elements.

The recent development of AI-generated art engines such as DALL-E has started a debate on the ethics of art and the implications of automating creativity. While automation is becoming increasingly more common in other sectors of society, people previously considered the automation of art, music and writing beyond technological capability.

Even iPhone users can download AI art generators from Apple’s app store, albeit much weaker ones. Nonetheless, these apps can craft a piece of art within 15 seconds based on as little as one keyword. Even an online poetry generator titled “Verse by Verse” exists. Google programmed the software to compose poetry in the voice of historically famous poets.

Allen told The Pueblo Chieftain that Midjourney had also aided his team in creating concept art for their game designs. While inputting keywords may seem easy, Allen claims it is difficult to put in a prompt that is just right to generate the desired image.

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Judge McKinley is optimistic about the replicability of the quote-on-quote “artist” if AI art becomes commonplace. “Yes, it will likely take away some jobs from artists, but the technology exists and we can’t go backwards,” McKinley said.

“For me, nothing can replicate human work because human work is flawed and it is those flaws that bring humanity to art. How does an artist create their own style and voice? That is what makes art interesting.”

Understandably, many artists are unhappy with the potential automation of the creative process.

RJ Palmer, a concept artist, wrote on Twitter, “what makes this AI different is that it’s explicitly trained on current working artists.” Artists are not paid for their work but instead used to generate digital art pulled from their original ideas. Palmer writes that it is “actively anti-artist.”

Basketball Court

NBA And Microsoft Team Up To Bring Fans Courtside Virtually

As professional competitive sports in America slowly make their way back to our television screens, many are unsettled by the sight of their favorite teams playing in front of empty crowds. Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, all mass gatherings have been put to a halt, prompting all sports to essentially shut down. Now, sports are able to exist again, just in a much more condolences fashion. 

The NBA has heard their fans and as they gear up to restart the 2020 season on July 30th, they came to the agreement with tech-giant Microsoft that fans needed to be present at every game, just in a much safer and distanced way. Microsoft and the NBA announced this week that it would be using new technology to project more that 300 basketball fans onto 17-foot tall video screens that will be courtside during all games. 

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The fans will be able to interact with each other as well, allowing them to feel like they’re really sitting next to a bunch of other fans during the live games. Sara Zuckert is the NBA’s head of next generation telecasting, and recently spoke with the media about this new fan experience. 

“Our goal is to create an enjoyable and immersive experience where fans can engage with each other and maintain a sense of community as we restart the season under these unique and challenging circumstances.”

The specific feature from the Microsoft team is known as “together mode” and it was initially released in the beginning of July as a feature for remote workers to make meetings more engaging, allowing everyone to “focus on other people’s faces and body language, making it easier to pick up on non-verbal cues that are so important to human interaction.” 

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Microsoft claims that Together Mode uses AI technology to put all video chat participants in the same setting by giving everyone a shared background. The company claims this makes it easier for everyone to feel as though they’re in the same space as one another. In this case, that space will be a basketball arena, and the NBA claims that the chosen fans will be able to impact visual effects within the arenas themselves through “virtual cheering” and different graphics and animations to motivate the players. 

As we know, the NBA is using the “bubble strategy” to resume their season and protect all players and NBA staff members from potential Covid-19 infection. 22 teams are projected to play a total of 88 games, after which 16 will move on to the playoffs. Once eight teams remain, friends and families will be able to join and watch in person on the sidelines. 

Major League Baseball is looking into similar technologies to bring the same level of fan-energy to their arenas as they continue with their recently restarted 2020 season. As of right now the MLB is offering their fans the ability to buy cardboard cutouts of themselves to place in the stands for a more visually appealing game. 

Initial pictures of the new NBA fan format has a lot of individuals online criticizing the “dystopian” aspect of having what looks like a giant zoom meeting going on during basketball games, however, during uncertain times finding new ways to enjoy normal past times is what we all have to adjust to.