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Artificial intelligence

This robot watches you flex to learn to be a better teammate

An MIT robot collaborates with a person by tracking his or her muscles.

Welcome to the “gun show,” robot.

Flex it: Researchers at MIT have created a robot that closely monitors your biceps as you lift and move things around. It isn’t just admiring your guns, though. The idea is to develop a system capable of collaborating with people more effectively.

Muscle monitor: The robot, dubbed RoboRaise, monitors a person’s muscles using attached electromyography sensors. Machine learning matches the signals picked up by those sensors with a representation of the arm movement a person is performing. The robot can then match that action.

Teamwork! Most workplace robots are so dumb and dangerous that they work in isolation from humans, but there is growing interest in having robots collaborate with human workers, using advances in sensors and computer algorithms to make them safer and smarter.

Watch carefully: It's a fascinating approach, and it shows how, in theory, robots might be able to pick up far more subtle cues about a person’s behavior. This might lead to machines that are better attuned to our actions and intentions. 

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

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Galactica was supposed to help scientists. Instead, it mindlessly spat out biased and incorrect nonsense.

A bot that watched 70,000 hours of Minecraft could unlock AI’s next big thing

Online videos are a vast and untapped source of training data—and OpenAI says it has a new way to use it.

Google’s new AI can hear a snippet of song—and then keep on playing

The technique, called AudioLM, generates naturalistic sounds without the need for human annotation.

Responsible AI has a burnout problem

Companies say they want ethical AI. But those working in the field say that ambition comes at their expense.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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