Contemplating BabyX x.x at ESC Minneapolis 2017 -

Contemplating BabyX x.x at ESC Minneapolis 2017


Earlier this week, I received a LinkedIn message from Mak Agashe saying “Hi Max, I'm giving a talk at ESC Minneapolis on cognitive computing. I saw that you are giving a talk on this topic and more. I look forward to connecting with you there, Mak.”

Well, I immediately bounced over to the ESC Minneapolis website, clicked on the Education tab and then the Full Schedule item, and then searched for “Mak” in the Speakers category. This quickly led me to his session: Cognitive Services for Embedded Systems .

Mak's talk is going to compare and contrast the cognitive technologies and APIs provided by vendors such as Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and others. It's no secret that I'm interested in anything to do with artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive (thinking, reasoning) systems, so I definitely plan on attending Mak's session.

On the one hand, I think it's fair to say that I'm typically a tad “gung-ho” about technology. On the other hand, I must admit that I'm starting to experience feelings of disquiet in my nether regions.

AI applications like Artificial Intelligence-Based Handwriting Recognition are reasonably benign, non-threatening, and leave me with a smile of appreciation on my face. But then there are applications like BabyX, which is starting to send shivers running up and down my spine.

BabyX is the brainchild (a pun that works on so many levels that I'm metaphorically high-fiving myself) of those little scamps who scamper around the Laboratory for Animate Technologies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

If you visit their webpage, you'll discover that they are engaged in creating “live” computational models of the face and brain by combining Bioengineering, Computational and Theoretical Neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence, and Interactive Computer Graphics Research. But what does all of this actually mean? Well, take a look at this video of something they call BabyX 3.0.

I first saw the above video quite some time ago, and I thought it was creepy even then, so you can only imagine my feelings when I saw this video of BabyX 3.0 learning to speak its first words.

OMG! Give me strength! I was still reeling from the shock of watching this second video on YouTube when I ran across this somewhat surreal video of BabyX 5.0 watching BabyX 3.0 on YouTube.

I'm sure you've seen this video of the Handle robot from Boston Dynamics. What about this video of a katana fight between two ABB robots during an exhibition? Now imagine being chased down the road by a Handle equipped with a sword and controlled by the mind of a disgruntled BabyX 6.0. Eeek!

Of course, you may think that the prospect of robots running wild is a bit far-fetched. My response would be to ask if you saw my Review of Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson? Am I alone in my disquiet, or do you also share my sense of trepidation?

I feel the need to talk to someone about all of this — people who know what's going on in AI Space (where no one can hear you scream) — and what better venues could one hope for than ESC Minneapolis in November and ESC Silicon Valley in December?

Will you be attending ESC Minneapolis or ESC Silicon Valley? If so, and if you see me ambling around, please feel free to stop me to say “Hi”. I'll be the one in the Hawaiian shirt. As always, all you have to do is shout “Max, Beer!” or “Max, Bacon!” to be assured of my undivided attention.

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