Strange but true. A new video shows a robot aboard ISS getting emotional while Nvidia introduces their new AI systems that can radically change how 3D realistic images and environments are created. Just because Cimon is a robot doesn’t mean he can’t throw a fit every now and again. (Photo via Airbus)


Did you ever imagine that an AI algorithm could create realistic images faster than a game developer? Or that a robot could throw a tantrum? It sounds like something from The Onion, but both stories are true. 


First, there’s the AI algorithm that can create photorealistic details with ease. Developed by Nvidia, the algorithm can auto-generate virtual details and environments, something that takes game developers thousands of hours to do. Researchers taught the AI using standard machine learning techniques to help it identify various objects in a scene. They then used a generative adversarial network (GAN) to train the computer to fill in realistic 3D imagery.


From there, the system can be given the outline of a scene showing where different objects, and it will add realistic details. The results are impressive even if the images look a bit warped at times. “We can create new sketches that have never been seen before and render those,” says Bryan Catanzaro, vice president of applied deep learning at Nvidia. “We’re actually teaching the model how to draw based on real video.”


This AI could have a profound effect on game design. Details and images that would once take hours, even days, can be done quickly. Catanzaro also believes the approach could be used to create realistic settings for virtual reality and even synthetic training data for autonomous vehicles and robots.


While this AI has the potential to make things easier for game developers, another one is throwing a fit. As a recent video from the European Space Agency shows even robots can have temper tantrums. The video introduces us to Cimon, the artificially intelligent robot companion for astronauts that was sent to the International Space Station back in July. The bot is currently being tested by ISS for different capabilities. One of these is its interactions with humans, as the video shows Cimon with German astronaut and geophysicist Alexander Gerst.


For most of the video, Cimon is kind and polite, but there’s a brief moment where the bot gets testy. After giving the bot simple commands to follow, like turning 90 degrees, Gerst asks Cimon to play his favorite song. The robot follows orders and plays Kraftwerk’s “The Man-Machine.”


Gerst then asks Cimon to turn off the music, but the robot refuses. It replies “I love music you can dance to.” Gerst repeats his command to which Cimon asks him to “be nice please.” "I am nice! He's accusing me of not being nice! He just doesn't know me when I'm not nice," says Gerst. Cimon sounds hurt and asks the astronaut “don’t you like it here with me?” followed by asking him to not “be so mean please.”


While the video is funny, you can’t help but think about sci-fi movies where the AI goes haywire and everything goes wrong. Is Cimon the next HAL – 9000 in the making? Let’s hope not.



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