Skynet Watch

What Are Algorithms up to Today? Fighting Off Fruit Flies

Best without bugs. (Photo:

Algorithms: They’re not just for Amazon recommendations and online dating anymore. The latest application, as per the New Scientist: Battling¬†oriental fruit flies, a species that inspires the cold sweats in anyone who makes his livelihood on a fruit orchard.

These pests are a far more serious threat than the nuisances spawned by slovenly kitchen habits. They infest at least 230 different kinds of crops. The result? Rotten, maggot-infested fruit and crop losses that can add up to billions of dollars.

Luckily,¬†scientists in Taiwan–where the bugs are a persistent problem–are working on a solution: Read More

Rise of the Machines

Someone Call Sarah Connor, Google’s Brain Machine Learned to Recognize Cats


No big deal or anything. Don’t be alarmed. But Google’s secretive computer network simulating the human brain has learned to recognize cats. On its own. With no hints from its mortal creators. AH-HA! So this is how Skynet will begin.

The project, of course, comes out of Google’s clandestine X Labs, the same futuristic outfit responsible for augmented reality on your face and cars that drive themselves. Geeze, they just can’t make humans obsolete fast enough, can they? Read More

Power Struggles

The Robots Are Coming

robot dishes

Some researchers at Cornell have set about teaching robots how to think like people and perform menial tasks ’round the house in pursuit of a limited, non-scary sort of artificial intelligence. “If we’re ever going to have robot butlers, then they’re going to have to learn how to figure things out for themselves,” Gizmag writes of the experiments. “After all, if you have to reprogram the robot for every slight variation on a task, you might as well do it yourself.” Read More

Music Moguls

Forget Pandora – Brooklyn’s Clio Uses Machine Learning To Recommend Music


The Music Genome Project conceived by Pandora is the foundation for one of the most successful streaming radio apps of all time. But any serious audiophile who spends more than few days on the service quickly begins to notice the same tracks and artists repeating.

Part of the reason the catalog feels shallow is because its expensive to license new tracks. But another reason is that the Music Genome relies on human experts to evaluate each track, an extremely time consuming process. It’s why Pandora has less than 1,000,000 songs while competitors like Rhapsody have ten times that.

The team behind Clio, a new service for analyzing music, is taking the exact opposite approach. Read More