(TMU) – For the very first time, a feature film will star an artificially intelligent robot. The AI actor, named Erica, was designed with the idea of applying method acting to robotics; she will play the main character in a science fiction feature film entitled ‘b’, set for release in 2021.
Financially backed by Bondit Capital Media, Belgium-based Happy Moon Productions and New York’s Ten Ten Global Media, the $70-million-dollar film is being brought to life by Tarek Zohdy, Sam Khoze, and visual effects supervisor Eric Pham. The story is reportedly about a scientist who creates an artificially intelligent woman (Erica) and then discovers a dangerous plot to alter human DNA.
Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa created the lead AI actor as a kind of proof-of-concept experiment about how to teach AI acting skills. In addition to coding Erica, the scientists had to figure out how to channel method acting to enable her to simulate human emotions.
Co-creator Khoze explains the challenges of creating an artificial ‘leading lady’:
“In other methods of acting, actors involve their own life experiences in the role. But Erica has no life experiences. She was created from scratch to play the role. We had to simulate her motions and emotions through one-on-one sessions, such as controlling the speed of her movements, talking through her feelings and coaching character development and body language.”
The announcement comes at a time when the entertainment industry is increasingly anxious about paring down productions due to COVID-19. It also comes during a time when Hollywood is increasingly using CGI advances to replace human actors with technologically simulated characters. Just this May, casting agency CAA signed a fully CGI virtual influencer/actress named Miquela.
According to ScreenRant, “Many actors and other creatives in the film industry are fearing that the efficiency of these robots whose sole purpose would be acting, who don’t need to earn a salary to provide for their families and who don’t care about union regulations will abolish the need of human actors.”
The film b does not even have a director attached yet, nor has it signed a human co-star. Nevertheless, producers began filming some of Erica’s scenes in 2019 and plan to wrap up principal photography in Europe in June of 2021.
It remains unknown what the effect of b and Erica’s debut will be on the film industry. Will it start a trend of producers looking to save money and cash in on an AI boom? Or will the ‘uncanny valley’ rear its awkward head again and render an alienating experience for viewers?
Darren Hendler, head of Digital Domain’s Digital Humans Group, says the AI revolution in filmmaking is coming, slowly but surely:
“[Machine learning] hasn’t been widely adopted yet because filmmakers don’t fully understand it,” he says. “But we’re starting to see elements of deep learning and machine learning incorporated into very specific areas. It’s something so new and so different from anything we’ve done in the past.”
Ultimately, he sees a symbiotic relationship where creative humans and creative algorithms work side by side and evolve together.
Scientists Discover New Organ In The Center Of The Human Head
Medical researchers have made a shocking historical anatomical discovery by finding a new organ located at the center of the human head that has been lurking there all along.
The finding was reported in Radiotherapy and Oncology. Researchers discovered the organ by accident thanks to doctors in the Netherlands, who were examining 100 patients for prostate cancer while performing an advanced type of scan called PSMA PET/CT. This diagnostic process when paired with injections of radioactive glucose highlights tumors in the body.
However, in this case, the researchers found something else entirely, nestled in the rear of the nasopharynx. The nasopharynx functions as an airway in the respiratory system. Also contained within the nasopharynx are the adenoids, or pharyngeal tonsils.
The new organ looks to be a mysterious set of salivary glands that have been hidden inside the human head. How this was discovered in 2020, missed for centuries is unknown, but until now, the human body has had three major salivary glands — parotid, submandibular, and sublingual glands.
“People have three sets of large salivary glands, but not there,” explains radiation oncologist Wouter Vogel from the Netherlands Cancer Institute. “As far as we knew, the only salivary or mucous glands in the nasopharynx are microscopically small, and up to 1,000 are evenly spread out throughout the mucosa. So, imagine our surprise when we found these.”
Now, we can add a fourth located behind the nose and above the palate, close to the center of the human head.
“The two new areas that lit up turned out to have other characteristics of salivary glands as well,” said one of the first author of the study, oral surgeon Matthijs Valstar from the University of Amsterdam.
“We call them tubarial glands, referring to their anatomical location [above the torus tubarius].”
These tubarial glands were seen to exist in the PSMA PET/CT scans of all the 100 patients, revealing visible draining duct openings towards the nasopharyngeal wall.
“To our knowledge, this structure did not fit prior anatomical descriptions,” the researchers explained in their paper.
It’s worth noting that there are an additional approximately 1,000 minor salivary glands situated throughout the oral cavity and the digestive tract. Although, these are not seen without a microscope according to Scientific Alert.
The researchers suggest the organ is found at a poorly accessible anatomical location under the skull base, which explains why it has been missed all of these centuries. The medical professionals note that it’s possible they may have noticed the duct openings, but it’s unlikely they would have realized the structures were apart of a larger gland system. But thanks to newer technology allowing advanced PSMA-PET/CT imaging techniques, seeing the macroscopical organ was possible.
The study needs to be replicated and validated. However, pathologist said that the team may be on to something and if its real it could change the way we view diseases in that region of the skull.
“It seems like they may be onto something,” pathologist Valerie Fitzhugh from Rutgers University, who wasn’t involved with the study, told The New York Times.
“If it’s real, it could change the way we look at disease in this region.”
Smoothie Robot In Walmart Signals Continued Rise Of Automated Fast Food Workers
A robot that makes smoothies was showcased at a Walmart in California signaling the rise of automated workers.
The Mind Unleashed has previously reported on how automated robots were beginning to take over various different jobs, including flipping burgers with Miso Robotics’ Flippy. Now, Walmart has partially got involved in the trend. A new start-up company called, “Blendid” showcased its product at the Fremont Walmart in California this week opening a kiosk, Yahoo News reported.
The stall is open seven days a week and is pitched as a way for customers to place contactless orders for a smoothie. Customers place their orders for a 12-ounce delicious drink and then an autonomous robot whips it up. What’s more, the drink is made in just 3 minutes or less from the time it’s placed.
Digital Trends recently questioned the CEO Vipin Jain about how the robot works. Jain explained that customers use an app scanning a simple QR code at the kiosk or via the Blendid app to order. If that doesn’t impress you, how about artificial intelligence that remembers your taste preferences?
“Consumers use their cell phone to order by scanning a QR code at the kiosk or via the Blendid app,” Vipin Jain, Blendid’s CEO and co-founder, told Digital Trends. “They browse our menu of smoothies made from whole fruits, and vegetables. Once they select a drink, they customize it to their personal taste and health preferences, by modifying the amount of each ingredient as desired. Then they place their order, and Blendid robot gets to work preparing their drink. Once the drink is ready, they receive a text with instructions for a contactless drink pickup. The robot serves the drink to them when they confirm the pickup.”
While a robot taking over a job like making a smoothie might seem small, the fact Walmart has an automated kiosk in one of its California stores is a larger signal of the automation trend to come.
In fact, it was previously reported by Fox News in July that, Walmart was looking to remove all cashiers and standard conveyor belt lines from its stores and is testing a pilot in one of its superstores in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the short term.
CNN previously reported that grocers – big and small chains alike – are turning to robots for performing various tasks like cleaning floors, stocking shelves, and delivering groceries to shoppers. The CV crisis could even prompt online retail warehouses like Amazon to invest more into automation technology as well.
Walmart also isn’t the first business to discuss using automation. Last year international fast-food chain McDonald’s reported they would begin employing automated fryer robots throughout their different branches across the world. Former McDonald’s USA CEO Ed Rensi told Fox Business, “It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries.” McDonald’s has also introduced touchscreen ordering kiosks to some of its stores.
Restaurant chains that are using automation include McDonalds, KFC, Panera, Wendys, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Arbys according to Business Insider.
Robots aren’t just taking over restaurants, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute indicates there are 800 million careers (or 30 percent of the global job force)—from doctors to accountants, lawyers to journalists—that will be lost to automation by 2030. The report concludes that hundreds of millions of people worldwide will have to find new jobs or learn new skills.
A report by the University of Oxford suggests we will face a robot job apocalypse predicting that 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at risk of being replaced by robots and Artificial Intelligence over the next fifteen to twenty years. However, with the current ongoing pandemic workers might find they are replaced quicker. Especially, any type of work that requires physical contact with a customer.
It shouldn’t be surprising for the reader that’s exactly what a report by A3, Association For Advancing Automation, detailed earlier this year. Stating all the ways that artificial intelligence and automation is being used in different industries to combat CV. Oxford Economics also published its own report warning that accelerating technological advances in automation, engineering, energy storage, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have the potential to reshape the world in 2020 through 2030s, displacing at least 20 million workers.
With CV as a catalyst to speed up the deployment of automated machines, we can probably safely say that number will be much more severe. It seems I am not the only one to share that opinion; a recent MarketWatch article written by Johannes Moenius, a professor of global business and the director of the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis at the University of Redlands, agrees with this author’s conclusion stating “at least 50 million jobs could be automated in just essential industries.”
In fact, the Brookings Institution said in a report last month that “any CV-related recession is likely to bring about a spike in labor-replacing automation … Automation happens in bursts, concentrated especially in bad times such as in the wake of economic shocks, when humans become relatively more expensive as firms’ revenues rapidly decline.”
You can watch a video of Blendid in action below.
Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Says Space-Time ‘Bruises’ Are Evidence of Ancient, Pre-Big Bang Universe
One of the most respected physicists in the world recently stunned the science community by claiming there is evidence our universe formed in the aftermath of a far more ancient universe. Pointing to ‘bruises’ of Hawking radiation, which he believes are the final relics of a bygone era of reality, Sir Roger Penrose says the Big Bang was not the true beginning of this universe.
Penrose, who just won the Nobel Prize for his work proving the existence of black holes, says there are anomalous blotches, or bruises, of electromagnetic radiation on the fabric of space-time. He calls them ‘Hawking Points’ and says they are likely the final relics of energy regurgitated from black holes dating all the way back to the previous universe.
These views align with a theoretical model of the universe called “conformal cyclic cosmology,” which submits that the universe is continually expanding, contracting, and reforming itself. In this theory, the distant future of one universe becomes the Big Bang-like singularity of the next universe.
However, according to Penrose, the slate is not totally wiped clean. Black holes take an extremely long time to completely evaporate and, according to Penrose, their final output of Hawking radiation can linger on into the next universe and show up as the blotches that have been documented.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Penrose stated a summary of his theory:
“I claim that there is observation of Hawking radiation. The Big Bang was not the beginning. There was something before the Big Bang and that something is what we will have in our future. We have a universe that expands and expands, and all mass decays away, and in this crazy theory of mine, that remote future becomes the Big Bang of another aeon.”
“So our Big Bang began,” he continues, “with something which was the remote future of a previous aeon and there would have been similar black holes evaporating away, via Hawking evaporation, and they would produce these points in the sky, that I call Hawking Points.
“We are seeing them. These points are about eight times the diameter of the Moon and are slightly warmed up regions. There is pretty good evidence for at least six of these points.”
Despite his success over the years, Penrose has many critics. One of them, Ethan Siegel, vigorously critiques the entire theory of “conformal cyclic cosmology” and specifically disputes Penrose’s contention that there are bruises of Hawking radiation on our universe.
“Like many before him, [Penrose] appears to have fallen so in love with his own ideas that he no longer looks to reality to responsibly test them,” Siegel writes.
Penrose responded to the criticism by reminding people that most scientists didn’t believe in black holes at first, either. They were considered mathematical curiosities that didn’t exist in reality.
So, could Penrose be right? Is our universe just the most current iteration of an infinite cosmological cycle? Can we see the dying glow of a former universe’s final black hole radiation?
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