Tech Digest daily roundup: Japanese use AI to train robots to laugh

J.A.R.V.I.S., the AI system
J.A.R.V.I.S., the AI system with a sense of humour that Dr Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr) created in the Iron Man series of Marvel films

Whether it be Iron Man’s Jarvis or Knight Rider’s Kitt, a sense of humour is one key component of sci-fi’s favourite robots which real life has yet to be able to emulate. But now, Japanese scientists have managed, for the first time, to incorporate a sense of humour and the ability to laugh into a robot in a bid to make it more human. Researchers at Kyoto University in Japan are using artificial intelligence (AI) to train robots about appropriate laughter – and to know when to chuckle quietly and when to let out a side-splitting guffaw. Writing in the journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI, they describe working with a robot called Erica with the hope of making conversations more natural. Telegraph 

The flight taking the Queen’s coffin to London was the most tracked in history, website Flightradar24 has said. Nearly six million people tried to follow the plane’s route from Edinburgh to RAF Northolt within its first minute in the air, the website said. The huge traffic caused disruptions to the site, where users can track the path of planes in the air. More than 4.79 million people watched on its site and app and 296,000 were watching on a YouTube stream, it said. The previous record was when a flight carrying US politician Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan last month was followed by 2.2 million people on Flightradar24. BBC 

The Zero Emission Mobility (ZEM) car captures more carbon dioxide (CO2) than it emits

The sporty all-electric car from the Netherlands resembles a BMW coupe, but is unique: It captures more carbon than it emits. “Our end goal is to create a more sustainable future,” said Jens Lahaije, finance manager for TU/ecomotive, the Eindhoven University of Technology student team that created the car. Called ZEM, for zero emission mobility, the two-seater houses a Cleantron lithium-ion battery pack, and most of its parts are 3D-printed from recycled plastics, Lahaije said. The target is to minimize carbon dioxide emitted during the car’s full lifespan, from manufacturing to recycling, he added. Reuters 

A revolution is coming – and it will be powered by electricity. As part of the government’s net-zero drive, and with a looming 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, up to 30 million electric vehicle chargers will need to be installed by 2050, according to the trade association for energy infrastructure companies, BEAMA. On top of that, the association says 20 million heat pumps will also be required, increasing electricity demand by more than 70 per cent. Merlin Hyman, chief executive of Regen, a think tank with the mission of helping the UK achieve a net-zero energy system, describes this as “a massive ask”. E&T

Microsoft’s $75bn acquisition of video game maker Activision Blizzard faces in-depth probes in Brussels and the UK following growing concerns that the deal is anti-competitive and will exclude rivals from accessing the blockbuster game Call of Duty. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is expected to launch an in-depth investigation this week after Microsoft decided not to offer any remedies at this stage, according to two individuals with knowledge of the situation. This month, the CMA became the first global antitrust regulator to sound the alarm over the transaction, giving Microsoft five days to come up with undertakings that would resolve its concerns or face an extended “phase 2” probe. 



Chris Price
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