Magical new AR demo transforms 2D photos into ‘Harry Potter’-style 3D animations

Imagine if you were able to point your smartphone, tablet or augmented reality (AR) headset at a still image, and watch it come to life before your very eyes. This is something that’s possible using the latest augmented reality technology, such as Apple’s ARKit or Google’s ARCore. However, while we have seen it done before, typically it has been limited to just one or two select images — for instance, as a tool for animating advertising billboards.

Researchers from the University of Washington and Facebook have built something that’s a whole lot more versatile. Their new “Photo Wake-Up” project will animate stationary characters in any image, resulting in them springing into action to sprint toward you out of the background. Because who has time for boring old still images as we reach the final days of 2018?

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Google created AI that just needs a few snapshots to make 3D models of its surroundings

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The algorithm only needs a couple perspectives to figure out what objects look like.

Google’s new type of artificial intelligence algorithm can figure out what things look like from all angles — without needing to see them.

After viewing something from just a few different perspectives, the Generative Query Network was able to piece together an object’s appearance, even as it would appear from angles not analyzed by the algorithm, according to research published today in Science. And it did so without any human supervision or training. That could save a lot of time as engineers prepare increasingly advanced algorithms for technology, but it could also extend the abilities of machine learning to give robots (military or otherwise) greater awareness of their surroundings.

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People are attacking Waymo’s self-driving cars in Arizona by slashing tires and, in some cases, pulling guns on the safety drivers

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Alphabet’s Waymo unveils its first commercial driverless taxi service: Waymo One

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Alphabet’s self-driving car unit Waymo today took a huge step toward launching its first public self-driving taxi service.

Waymo has been testing a driverless car service in Phoenix for a while already, but today the company officially lifted the lid on its first commercial service that riders can actually pay for.

Waymo One, as the service is called, will work much like Uber and other popular ride-hailing apps. After Waymo One gives you a price estimate based on your starting and end points, you can beckon a car that will transport you from A to B.

However, Waymo One isn’t yet available for everyone. Initially, only riders who were involved in the early stages of the trial program will have access, though plans are afoot to extend the service to more people in the future.

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Google and Disney partner to bring storybooks to life

A new Google and Disney partnership brings Disney Storybooks to life. When reading out loud select Disney Little Golden Books, Google Home will add sound effects and soundtracks to accompany the story as it is read aloud. The new feature uses voice recognition to be able to tell when a reader has skipped ahead or gone back, and adjust the sound effects accordingly. If the user pauses reading, ambient music will play until the user begins reading again. This feature works on Google Home, Home Mini, and Home Max speakers in the US. To activate the action, say, “Hey Google, let’s read along with Disney.”

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Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt listed the ‘3 big failures’ he sees in tech startups today

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Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, gave the Centre for Entrepreneurs lecture in London this week.

In a draft of the speech, seen by Business Insider, Schmidt outlined what he sees as the three big market failures holding back tech entrepreneurship today.

He said tech startups need to be more diverse, less product driven, and more willing to partner early.

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has listed the three “big failures” in tech entrepreneurship around the world.

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In a major breakthrough, Google unveils an AI that learns on its own

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Surpassing The Masters

We’ve written before about how Google is one of the most prominent tech companies leading the way when it comes to the development of artificial intelligence. As each month passes, its AI division, DeepMind, continues to reveal increasingly advanced AI capabilities, especially when it comes to AlphaGo.

This particular AI is most well-known for mastering the ancient Chinese game of Go…and subsequently defeating 18-time world champion Lee Se-dol, which happened just last year.

Since then, DeepMind has started adding imagination to its AI, and they also used gaming to teach the AI how to better manage tasks. AlphaGo even went on to defeat another top go player, Ke Jie, once again showing off its (potentially) unlimited potential to learn.

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Google just launched new AI-powered algorithms

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Search engine now returns answers instead of just links.

Training The Network

Today, if you ask the Google search engine on your desktop a question like “How big is the Milky Way,” you’ll no longer just get a list of links where you could find the answer — you’ll get the answer: “100,000 light years.”

While this question/answer tech may seem simple enough, it’s actually a complex development rooted in Google’s powerful deep neural networks. These networks are a form of artificial intelligence that aims to mimic how human brains work, relating together bits of information to comprehend data and predict patterns.

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Sundar Pichai of Google: ‘Technology doesn’t solve humanity’s problems’

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Growing up in India, he slept on the floor of a house without a refrigerator. Today, the chief executive is steering Google through the most turbulent period in its history.

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, last week.CreditCreditErik Tanner for The New York Times

Google is facing more challenges today than at any time in its 20-year history. Employees are outraged over sexual harassment. Executives are under scrutiny for an effort to secretly make a censored version of its search product for China. Google will shut down its social network next year after a security vulnerability was discovered. Political and social debates, including one over building military-grade artificial intelligence, are roiling the work force.

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How Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are shaking up healthcare — and what it means for the future of the industry

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The healthcare industry is undergoing a profound transformation. Costs are skyrocketing, consumer demand for more accessible care is growing rapidly, and healthcare companies are unable to keep up.

Health organizations are increasingly turning to tech companies to facilitate this transformation in care delivery and lower health expenditures. The potential for tech-led digital health initiatives to help healthcare providers and insurers deliver safer, more efficient, and cost-effective care is significant. For healthcare organizations of all types, the collection, analyses, and application of patient data can minimize avoidable service use, improve health outcomes, and promote patient independence, which can assuage swelling costs.

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Exclusive: Tim Berners-Lee tells us his radical new plan to upend the World Wide Web

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With an ambitious decentralized platform, the father of the web hopes it’s game on for corporate tech giants like Facebook and Google.

Last week, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, asked me to come and see a project he has been working on almost as long as the web itself. It’s a crisp autumn day in Boston, where Berners-Lee works out of an office above a boxing gym. After politely offering me a cup of coffee, he leads us into a sparse conference room. At one end of a long table is a battered laptop covered with stickers. Here, on this computer, he is working on a plan to radically alter how all of us live and work on the web.

“The intent is world domination,” Berners-Lee says with a wry smile. The British-born scientist is known for his dry sense of humor. But in this case, he is not joking.

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