Monday, December 16, 2013

Google, Facebook, Robots and Artificial Intelligence

It seems a lot is happening in the structuring of the world of robotics and artificial intelligence those days ...

Google and Facebook seems to be playing a game of "who will acquire more ressources" on these two connected fields. Google for instance just got "Boston Dynamics", a well-known (military) quadruped robots, which become the 8th major acquisition of Google in this field, while Facebook is hiring key scientists from the academic world in order to boost its research groups on artificial intelligence.

Why the big players of the Internet world want to invest in artificial intelligence and robots ?

Well, first obvisouly for economic reasons: social network platforms need to diversify their activities, obviously. And artificial intelligence may be a good way to do so, capitilizing on an expertise in algorythms they already have, with important research teams working on such subjects. But not only direct economic outcomes could be foresee. Developping more powerful artificial intelligence paradigms would allow a more efficient use of the data and meta-data these companies are gathering, and therefore, targeting adds more efficiently and ultimately generating more money. Also, it is something to be considered in the light of the Editorial on CHB, where social networks may be a step before the rise of technology-enhanced human group cognition. Same for robotics, it goes in the same line than augmented reality for Internet application.

Interestingly, with the economical power such major companies have, they may well succeed were university researcher failed due to ressources limitations. In any case, it will be interesting to follow ...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lab Update

Well, looks like I have not blogged since a few months ...
Not an excuse, I know, but things have been extremely busy in the lab these last months. We launched a few fascinating projects (I know, I am biased), and some already brought some results. Also, we had some major editorial activities, some of them had some nice echoes in the media.

In the last few months, we got a pretty important media coverage, both on our work on tinnitus, and on our works on human behavior in virtual spaces. This included appearance in a few TV show, radio talks, and interviews in local newspapers. That kept me a bit busy, but well, it is important to show to people what we are doing and how research can contribute to advance well-being of people.

Pursuing our research on human behavior in virtual spaces - and, for those who have read some of my recent papers, my interest for popular culture-based virtual settings - we advanced in a fascinating direction: that's it to use immersive virtual spaces as tools to predict human behavior in large-scale crisis. I already have suggested that a few months ago :

Guitton MJ (2013) Editorial: Developing tools to predict human behavior in response to large-scale catastrophic events. Computers in Human Behavior, 29:2756-2757.

but with Dr C├ęcile Cristofari (postdoc in our team), we pushed things further ... considerably further :

Guitton MJ, Cristofari C (2013) Life in Science: Zombiology. Science, 342:559.

(and two major contributions are on their way, a rather long and comprehensive commentary on public health to be published soon on practical ways to use zombies to implement training tools for health-related organisations, and an experimental study that we just submitted yesterday).

In a logic of anticipating future of humanity, or more specifically, how new technologies could affect it, I also got the following editorial published :

Guitton MJ (2014) Artificial vs. Enhanced Intelligence: Computer or Human Behavior? Computers in Human Behavior, 31:332-333.

a good anniversary milestone discussing some of the unexpected outcomes of half a century or more of research on artificial intelligence.

And we got a few other nice things on their way, including the paper with Dr Anna Lomanowska (her last paper as postdoc in the lab, or first as junior faculty, depending how one looks at it), and another editorial on the "dark side" of social networks :

Lomanowska AM, Guitton MJ (2014) My avatar is pregnant! Representation of pregnancy, birth, and maternity in a virtual world. Computers in Human Behavior, 31:322-331.
Guitton MJ (2014) The importance of studying the dark side of social networks. Computers in Human Behavior, 31:335.

And with the new coming year, we are having a lot of new projects too !
One of them is of course the conference of the Royal Anthropological Institute, which will be held in the British Museum May 29th to May 31st, and in which I am the convenor and chair of the first panel on "Anthropology and photography in the digital age". Call for paper is open, so people interested, please have a look and submit !

More updates to come in future blog posts !