Roundup for June 19, 2015

In some of the most terrifying A.I. news in recent memory, computers are learning to read...from the Daily Mail. (And CNN).

A couple of major Asian tech companies are making a big bet on personal robots, reports Yue Wang in Forbes, with Alibaba and Foxconn both plunking down $117.8 million for a stake in Softbank Robotics, which is going to market this week in Japan with “Pepper” a bot that’s supposed to be able to read human emotion. The company hopes to market the bot as a companion for the elderly, among other applications, reports Stephanie Mlot.

A case for why 2017 will be the breakout year for 3d printing, with HP entering the market and new tech poised to increased print speeds exponentially

We all enjoyed that youtube of bots falling on their shiny metal asses at the recent DARPA robotics challenge, but their clumsiness might be more of a sign than a joke — non-humanoid bots generally out-performed their two-legged counterparts at the challenge, Engadget’s Mona Lalwani points out.

In slightly more disturbing news, most auto-insurance execs admit to being entirely clueless about self driving cars and what they may mean for their industry, says DFP’s Greg Gardner. (Full survey results from KPMG)

And in sports, IBM’s Watson will be calling balls and strikes…er, nets and lets, rather, at Wimbledon this year. (Bots have also turned up at the U.S. Open, with some mysterious Wall-E looking thing trailing around after Phil Mickleson.)

And in disturbing/slash hopeful bit of news, California Life Guards are using drones to scout for Great Whites. Not word on how good the Cap’n Quints of 2015 are at launching harpoons via remote controlled joystick.

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