Each week, we review the press, highlighting and responding to interesting and relevant articles in the news.

Image Source: Google

Conversing with Robots

At the Google I/O event last week, we got a glimpse of Google’s new AI tool in development: LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications). Unlike most language models that are trained only on text, LaMDA is trained on dialogue, helping it to pick up conversational tones and nuances. A more conversational and intuitive language model could take leaps and bounds for AI language tools and voice assistance. Sophisticated language models have the potential to make both information and computing more accessible. However, Google has been in the news with some controversial firing decisions, centring around it’s AI Ethics Research Department. Without a fully robust AI Ethics Team, we likely won’t see the full potential of language models.

Your Car is Watching You

They say that eyes are the window to the soul, but Smart Eye and Affectiva are making this a reality by joining forces. Eye-tracking AI company, Smart Eye, has acquired the Emotion AI pioneer Affectiva for $73.5M. With this acquisition, Smart Eye hopes to expand further into the rapidly developing automotive Interior Sensing market and build upon growth in the Media Analytics and Human Factors Research markets. By joining efforts, Smart Eye and Affectiva will develop interior sensing AI for Driver Monitoring Systems, monitoring the whole cabin to improve auto safety and enhance wellness. Behavioural technology has great potential to “bridge the gap between humans and machines,” augmenting performance from both.

Big Oil, Big Change

Wednesday was a bad day for Big Oil, but a great day for proponents of renewable energy.

  1. A Dutch court demanded Shell cut carbon emissions (Scope 1 and 3) by a net 45% by 2030.
  2. Chevron shareholders voted to reduce Scope 3 (consumer) emissions
  3. ExxonMobil shareholders voted to install two new board members from activist hedge fund Engine No. 1.

This is a turning point for the fossil fuel industry, as shareholders realise the existential threat of oil/coal reliance and courts lay down the law. Companies around the world are changing how they do business, opting for greener, more sustainable alternatives. Big Oil previously dragged its feet about the transition towards renewable energy, but Wednesday demonstrated a step in the right direction for the industry.