Friday, March 25, 2016

Amazon shows you how to make an Echo with Raspberry Pi


If you're into messing with hardware and have some basic programming skills, you can put together an Amazon Alexa device of your very own. Amazon has even put together an official guide to do so on GitHub, Lifehacker reports. You'll need to snag a Raspberry Pi 2 and a USB microphone to make it happen, but you've probably got the other required hardware (a micro-SD card for storage, for example) lying around. Unfortunately, due to limitations with Amazon's Voice Services, your creation can't listen for trigger words like Echo and Echo Dot. Instead, you'll have to hit a button to issue commands. This isn't the first DIY Amazon Echo project, but it's notable since it comes officially from Amazon. The GitHub guide is also fairly detailed, so you can probably follow through it even if you don't know what all the commands mean. It could be a fun project for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about hardware.

Via: Hacker News

Source: Amazon (GitHub)


AI-written novel passes first round of a literary competition


Researchers from the Future University in Hakodate have announced that a short-form novel co-written by an artificial intelligence also developed by the team was accepted by a Japanese story competition, the Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award. Though the story didn't eventually win the competition, its acceptance does suggest that AI systems are quickly becoming capable of emulating human-like creativity.

The team, led by computer science professor Hitoshi Matsubara, collaborated closely with their digital construct during the writing process. The humans first assigned a gender to the protagonist and developed a rudimentary outline of the plot. They also assembled a list of words, phrases, and sentences to be included in the story. It was the AI's job to assemble these distinct assets into a unified text that wasn't just intelligible but compelling as well. The result was a novel entitled Konpyuta ga shosetsu wo kaku hi, or "The Day a Computer Writes a Novel", about an AI that abandons its responsibilities to humanity after recognizes its own talent for writing.

This is the first year that the Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award has allowed submissions from machines. Of the 1,450 novels received for this year's competition, 11 were human/AI collaborations like Future U's. Interestingly, judges throughout the competition's four rounds are never told which stories are written by computers or humans. Though the team's story did make it past the first round, it was eventually eliminated because, as sci-fi novelist and award judge, Satoshi Hase, explained, the story lacked sufficient character development despite being well-structured. Welp, there's always the X-Prize.

Via: Motherboard

Source: The Japan News