The Year of the Algorithm. AI potpourri, part I: Astronomer, Factory Worker, Musician, and more

2017 seems to have been a watershed year for the use and application of AI and algorithms.  This is part 1 of a two part post highlighting the use (and possible regulation) of AI. 

[NYTimes] An 8th Planet Is Found Orbiting a Distant Star, With A.I.’s Help

NASA announced the discovery of a new exoplanet orbiting a distant star some 2,500 light years away from here called Kepler 90.

The new exoplanet was detected with the help of an artificial intelligence researcher at Google using a machine learning technique called neural networking.

The technology, which is loosely inspired by the human brain, is designed to recognize patterns and classify images.
In many factories, workers look over parts coming off an assembly line for defects.

Andrew Ng, co-founder of some of Alphabet Inc, launches a new venture with iPhone assembler Foxconn to bring AI and so-called machine learning onto the factory floor.

He said he understands that his firm’s technology is likely to displace factory workers but that the firm is already working on how to train workers for higher-skilled, higher paying factory work involving computers.
Bing is working on a system to help users get to the information they are looking for even if they aren’t exactly sure how to find it. For example, let’s say you are trying to turn on Bluetooth on a new device. The new system could prompt users to provide more information, such as the type of gadget or operating system they are using.

Another new, AI-driven advance in Bing is aimed at getting people multiple viewpoints on a search query that might be more subjective.

Microsoft also announced plans to release a tool that highlights action items in email and gives you options for responding quickly on the go.
Researchers at MIT want to get rid of subjective feelings in treatment by using a facial recognition algorithm that can detect your pain levels by studying your face.

Trained on thousands of videos of people wincing in pain, the algorithm creates a baseline for each patient based on common pain indicators – generally, movements around the nose and mouth are telltale signs.

So far, the algorithm is 85% successful at weeding out the fakers. Meaning that people trying to fake pain to get prescription painkillers will soon be out of business.
In the city (London) that spawned David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and the Spice Girls, two college professors are working on an artificial intelligence capable of making its own music. And it’s already played its first show.

The race is on to see whether A.I. can add something meaningful to this cultural activity.

The pair invited a number of musicians to come together for a show called “Partnerships,” a reference to the relationship between human and machine. The show featured a mix of compositions, all performed by humans, with varying levels of input from the A.I. Some compositions took the computer’s work as a starting point, some used the project as inspiration, while others directly played the generated work as it stood.
Artificial intelligence could one day scan the music videos we watch to come up with predictive music discovery options based on the emotions of the performer.

Consumers of the future will rely on computer software to serve them music discovery options. YouTube Red and the YouTube Music app do a good job of serving up new and different options for music discovery, but it’s dragged down by its inability to actually identify what’s playing on the screen. Sure, Google knows which videos you gave a thumbs up to, watched 50 times on repeat, shared on social media, and commented on, but it doesn’t have the visual cues to tell it why.