Trump’s wall won’t stop China’s AI

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The US will levy trade tariffs on China this week designed to target “largely high-technology products.” In retaliation for the taxation, China announced it would raise duties on 128 US imports. Begun, the trade wars have. President Trump, over Easter weekend, let loose on Twitter with his usual barrage of attacks. Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and The Washington Post took a moderate amount of vitriol, as did other usual suspects like immigrants and journalists. And he spent a significant amount of his time over the holiday tweeting about the border wall. But what he didn’t talk about, at least not on…

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China’s first space station burns up over the South Pacific

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China's Tiangong-1 has met its fiery end. The out-of-control space station plummeted through the Earth's atmosphere at roughly 7:15pm ET on Sunday evening, as expected. Most of Tiangong-1 was destroyed during re-entry, however parts crash-landed some…
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China’s out-of-control space station harmlessly breaks up over the Pacific Ocean

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China’s out-of-control space station — Tiangong-1 — has at last plunged through Earth’s atmosphere and landed somewhere over the southern Pacific Ocean. The spiraling spacecraft made its descent at around 8:16PM ET on April 1st, according to US Strategic Command, which was able to confirm the exact point of reentry along with organizations in eight other countries. The vehicle’s fall puts an end to the space station’s seven years in orbit, and it managed not to hit any populated areas on the way down.

It was hard to know exactly where Tiangong-1 was going to make its final descent, which is the case for most falling space debris. Sunday afternoon, trackers were able to narrow down the time of the vehicle’s reentry to a three- to…

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China’s spiraling space station will plunge to Earth in about a week

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After a couple years of anticipation, China’s first human space station — Tiangong-1 — will drop out of its orbit in about a week and plunge into Earth’s atmosphere. The European Space Agency has pinpointed the vehicle’s reentry date to sometime between March 30th and April 2nd, with the event most likely happening on April Fools’ Day. Once the station descends, it will finally put an end to all of the anxiety over the location of this vehicle’s landing.

Tiangong-1’s fall has caused a lot of concern because China no longer has control of the space station. The country’s engineers can’t just fire up the vehicle’s engines again and deposit it over open ocean. Tiangong-1 is pretty heavy, too. It weighed nearly 19,000 pounds (8,500…

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How likely is it that you’ll get hit by China’s Tiangong-1 space station?

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Debris from the 8.5-tonne will be hitting around early April but the chances are you’ll be fine
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China’s tests for a global satellite network will start this year

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Last month SpaceX launched a couple of satellites to test plans for a global internet provider (you can watch another non-internet satellite launch tonight), and now the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) said it will perform a test of…
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China’s Google Equivalent Can Clone Voices After Seconds of Listening

AI Mimicry

The Google of China, Baidu, has just released a white paper showing its latest development in artificial intelligence (AI): a program that can clone voices after analyzing even a seconds-long clip, using a neural network. Not only can the software mimic an input voice, but it can also change it to reflect another gender or even a different accent.

You can listen to some of the generated examples here, hosted on GitHub.

Previous iterations of this technology have allowed voice cloning after systems analyzed longer voice samples. In 2017, the Baidu Deep Voice research team introduced technology that could clone voices with 30 minutes of training material. Adobe has a program called VoCo which could mimic a voice with only 20 minutes of audio. One Canadian startup, called Lyrebird, can clone a voice with only one minute of audio. Baidu’s innovation has further cut that time into mere seconds.

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While at first this may seem like an upgrade to tech that became popular in the 90s, with the help of “Home Alone 2” and the “Scream” franchise, there are actually some noble applications for this technology. For example: imagine your child being read to in your voice when you’re far away, or having a duplicate voice created for a person who has lost the ability to talk. This tech could also be used to create personalized digital assistants and more natural-sounding speech translation services.

However, as with many technologies, voice cloning also comes with the risk of being abused. New Scientist reports that the program was able to produce one voice that fooled voice recognition software with greater than 95 percent accuracy in tests. Humans even rated the cloned voice a score of 3.16 out of 4. This could open up the possibility of AI-assisted fraud.

Programs exist that can use AI to replace or alter — and even generate from scratch — the faces of individuals in videos. Right now, this is mostly being used on the internet to bring laughs by inserting Nicolas Cage into the “Lord of the Rings” series. But coupled with tech that can clone voices, we soon could be bombarded with more “fake news” of politicians doing uncharacteristic actions or saying things they wouldn’t.

It’s already very easy to fool swathes of people using just the written word or Photoshop; there could be even more trouble if these technologies were placed into the wrong hands.

The post China’s Google Equivalent Can Clone Voices After Seconds of Listening appeared first on Futurism.

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China’s Hypersonic Plane Travels From Bejing to New York in a Few Hours

Global powers are pushing flight faster. With Japan looking to reintroduce supersonic speeds to aircraft, China has joined several U.S. companies in working on aircraft capable of achieving hypersonic speeds — and they’re relatively far along.

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing successfully tested their “I Plane” (named because it resembles a capital ‘I’ when viewed from the front) in a wind tunnel at speeds ranging from Mach 5 to Mach 7, or than 3,800 to 5,370 miles per hour. In their research, published in the journal Science China Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy, the team explains the hypersonic plane would only need a “couple of hours” to travel from Beijing to New York. For comparison, a commercial airline flight can take at least 14 hours.

An artist's depection of the I Plane, a hypersonic plane being developed by China. It features a highly pointed nose with two sets of wings.
The I Plane. Image Credit: China Science Press

Testing has been successful so far, with the craft producing low drag and high lift. As reported by the South China Morning Post, the I Plane’s lift was roughly 25 percent of that of a Boeing 737; compared to the 737’s ability to carry up to 20 tonnes, or 200 passengers, an I Plane of the same size could carry 5 tonnes or 50 passengers.

A researcher familiar with the project (who went unnamed) told the SCMP the I Plane could be used to transport bombs as well, saying it could be “something like a hypersonic heavy bomber;” incidentally, China also recently developed hypersonic missiles capable of traveling at speeds above 7,000 mph.

Popular Science notes the I Plane’s development reflects China’s desire to be a leader in the hypersonic arms race. China’s next hypersonic project includes a wind tunnel that can produce speeds of up to Mach 36, making it more capable than the Mach 30 LENX-X in Buffalo, New York.

U.S. Admiral Harry Harris warned congress in February about China delving into hypersonic technology, but it’s not as though the U.S. isn’t working on hypersonic projects of its own.

Researchers from NASA discovered last year that boron nitride nanotubes could be a material that makes hypersonic air travel more feasible, and could allow NASA planes to cross the country in less than an hour. Furthermore, the U.S. Navy is testing hypersonic weapons that could hit anywhere on Earth within an hour, and Lockheed Martin hinted in January the SR-72 — the successor to the SR-71 Blackbird — is already in development, and that this hypersonic plane could be flying by 2030.

It’ll be some time before hypersonic flight comes to commercialized aircraft, but the idea of going hypersonic is already being capitalized on. At this point, it comes to to who can use it more effectively first.

The post China’s Hypersonic Plane Travels From Bejing to New York in a Few Hours appeared first on Futurism.

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Apple will store China’s iCloud keys on local servers

Apple has already bent over backwards in a bid to keep doing business in China, but it'll have to bend a little further. As of the end of February, the company will host mainland Chinese users' iCloud keys on servers located within the country — an…
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