Mayflower, the AI ship sent to sail from the UK to the US with no humans, made it three days before breaking down

Plus: Canon has cameras that only let employees into meeting rooms if they smile, and more


In brief The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS), which set sail this week from the UK to the US, failed just three days into its journey. It appears a mechanical fault occurred, something the Mayflower's AI can't fix itself.

Netizens, eager to track the computer-controlled, human-less Mayflower's progress from its online dashboard, realized something was up when the live video stream from the ship was turned off. The official Twitter account for the vessel confirmed that its “non-essential systems” have been temporarily powered down to conserve energy.

With no one onboard to fix it, the craft has been directed to slowly return to base, where it's hoped it can be repaired.

Smile, AI is watching you

A Chinese subsidiary of the Japanese camera company Canon installed AI-powered cameras that only let employees enter office rooms if they were smiling. The cameras were trained to detect if people were grinning happily or not, according to a report on surveillance in the workplace in China by Nikkei Asia.

A spokesperson for Canon China was quoted as saying: "We have been wanting to encourage employees to create a positive atmosphere by utilizing this system with the smile detection setting 'on'. Mostly, people are just too shy to smile, but once they get used to smiles in the office, they just keep their smiles without the system which created positive and lively atmosphere.”

Fscking spare us.

Your computer will give me how much for my house?

American real-estate biz Zillow has deployed a neural network to automatically value people’s homes as opposed to using about 1,000 separate tailored algorithms. The aim of the game is to increase the accuracy of price estimates for properties not yet on the market, according to Wired. The neural net takes into account all the usual stuff – where the property is located, how big it is, and so on.

The model can update prices more often, often weekly but sometimes daily. “Neural networks that are trained on the entire country could take information from other parts of the country about the value of waterfront and apply it in a local geography, even if there weren't a lot of homes like that in that geography,” said Zillow's chief analytics officer Stan Humphries.

Waymo gets waymo money to stay afloat

Self-driving car startups are expensive to operate. Competition is fairly fierce, and many have lost steam after running out of cash or engineers. Waymo, a Google spin-off, is lucky enough to be backed by investors with deep pockets.

The upstart announced it had received $2.5bn in its latest investment round led by parent biz Alphabet and top firms Andreessen Horowitz and Tiger Global, to name just a few.

“We’re the first company to operate a fully autonomous, public ride-hailing service - Waymo One, and we’ve served thousands of rider-only trips in Metro Phoenix,” the autonomous vehicle startup gushed this week.

“We’ve been driving in San Francisco and the Bay Area since we first started in 2009, and most recently San Francisco residents are seeing the Waymo Driver on our growing fleet of all-electric Jaguar I-PACE vehicles throughout the city. We’re building the most advanced technology stack for urban driving, and we’re partnering with key community organizations as we shape our product.”

Despite these collaborative efforts, however, the technology is not quite good enough for Waymo to be profitable and it’ll continue having to survive on handouts for a while yet. ®

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