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Some carmakers and tech companies say they're preparing to deliver self-driving cars to consumers within just a few years, a fresh promise that makes it seem like 2016 again. But beware the hype.
Why it matters: Your car might be capable of driving itself in the not-too-distant future, but only under certain conditions, like favorable weather or within certain geographic limits. And the timetable is squishy at best.
The future we will live in will largely be a function of balancing the benefits that new technology brings with the risks and downsides it inevitably causes.
Why it matters: The pandemic has demonstrated both the value of accelerated technology and the penalty when it's held back by red tape and regulation — lessons that would be smart to take for a future that demands innovation.
Big majorities of Americans think tech companies are too big and too nosy and want government to rein them in, an exclusive poll by Axios and the Illinois Institute of Technology finds.
Why it matters: As technology's role in American life increases, people on both sides of today's political divide have grown wary of its influence.
Your next car might well be able to read your mind, offering suggestions of where to go and what to do before you even ask it.
Why it matters: Artificial intelligence and machine learning are making vehicles smarter and safer than ever, and could potentially transform the relationship between driver and machine.
Driving the news: Cerence, a pioneer in vehicle voice-recognition, will be showing off an intuitive, AI-powered driving companion early next month at CES, the big consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.
How it works: The AI is integrated with the car's sensors and data to understand what's going on inside the vehicle and around it.
For example, the system can suggest ordering and paying for a cup of coffee when the driver is a mile from their favorite coffee shop.
Yes, but: Co-Pilot can also act like a backseat driver, pointing out that rolling stop you did at the last intersection, for example.
What to watch: The technology will debut next month on two unnamed models, Cerence says.
As quantum computing matures, industry experts are calling for ethics to be taken into account as early as possible.
Why it matters: Previous technological development in social media and AI took place before their makers fully grappled with the ethical considerations.
The AI startup Primer has harnessed a natural language processing (NLP) model to generate conversation-provoking questions for team building.
Why it matters: The exercise shows how AI, properly trained by experts, can "help humans be more humans," as Primer director of science John Bohannon puts it.
Autonomous vehicle companies are exploring the use of a common language — standardized light patterns or sounds — that would help driverless cars communicate their intentions to humans.
Why it matters: Autonomous vehicles will share the road with human-driven vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists for a long time. The development of a standard communications method could build trust and reduce traffic accidents.
AI companies are developing methods to interpret and synthesize voices in ads, movies and TV.
Why it matters: The advances in voice synthesis could help fix bad movie dubbing — and they come as international content is becoming increasingly important to studios and streaming platforms as part of the globalization of entertainment.
A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.
Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.