AIhub monthly digest: June 2021 – RoboCup, comics, and the return of the AI song contest

30 June 2021

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Welcome to our June 2021 monthly digest where you can catch up with any AIhub stories you may have missed, get the low-down on recent events, and much more. In this edition we cover RoboCup 2021, take a look at a new comic series, ask “what is AI?”, and treat our ears to some music composed with the help of AI.

RoboCup 2021

This month saw the running of RoboCup 2021 as a fully remote event with competitions and activities taking place all over the world. In this article, RoboCup President Peter Stone wrote about RoboCup and its role in the history and future of AI.

In the run up to the event we had the pleasure of talking to members of the executive and organising committees for four different leagues within the RoboCup family. They told us about their respective leagues and how they had to modify their competitions for the virtual environment. From chatting to all four it was clear that there is a strong sense of community both within the leagues themselves, and between the different leagues, with teams sharing ideas, code and hardware tips. Read all of the interviews below:
Sebastian Eltester – Logistics League
Marco Simões – 3d Simulation League
Maike Paetzel-Prüsmann – Humanoid League
Asad Norouzi – RoboCup@Work League

If you are interested in watching the recordings of the various matches, challenges and tasks, then this page has all the links you need.

Spatial planning of low-carbon cities

The most recent webinar from Climate Change AI concerned spatial planning of low-carbon cities with machine learning. You can watch it here. The speakers were Jason Cao, Tao Tao and Mafalda Silva. They outlined machine learning approaches for analysing large volumes of data and for finding urban planning strategies that could both reduce the carbon footprint of cities and improve the quality of life of their citizens.

Climate Change AI will be holding a workshop on 23 July at the forthcoming International Conference on Machine Learning (the conference itself runs from 18-24 July 2021). The livestream of the event, entitled Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning, will be free for all to attend.

We are AI comic series and course

Fans of previous comics from Falaah Arif Khan and Julia Stoyanovich will be delighted to hear that the duo have produced five more volumes. These new comics form the We are AI series. Here are the links to the pdfs for each of the five parts:
Volume 1: What is AI?
Volume 2: Learning From Data
Volume 3: Who lives, Who dies, Who decides?
Volume 4: All about that Bias
Volume 5: We Are AI

Also, check out the five-week learning circle course, designed to introduce the basics of AI, discuss some of the social and ethical dimensions of the use of AI in modern life, and empower individuals to engage with how AI is used and governed. You can find out more information about the course here.

The impossibility of automating ambiguity

In an article published this month, Abeba Birhane writes about the impossibility of automating ambiguity. She argues that the use of machine learning, a tool that fundamentally sorts, categorizes, and classifies, to predict of social behaviour, which is active, messy, and unpredictable, is not only erroneous but also presents real harm to those at the margins of society.

What is AI?

In the most recent episode of The Machine Ethics Podcast, host Ben Byford has put together a compilation of answers from previous guests to the question “What is AI?” You can hear from Jess Smith, Rishal Hurbans, Jacob Turner, Cennydd Bowles, Joanna J Bryson, Damien Williams, Olivia Gamelin, David Gunkel, Bertram Malle, David Yakobovitch, Luciano Floridi and Lydia Nicholas.

This is actually the second such compilation. It’s also well worth listening to the first which features guests from earlier episodes of the podcast.

A false start for the Mayflower autonomous ship

Regular readers of this digest will know that we’ve been eagerly awaiting the launch of the Mayflower autonomous ship. Following a successful grand départ on 15 June, the vessel unfortunately developed a technical fault a few days later and had to be recovered and returned to base (in Plymouth, UK). The team hope to restart the mission soon.

AI learns to drive on a pipe

In this video, YouTuber Yosh demonstrates and explains the different learning methods he used to train a car to drive on a pipe in the video game Trackmania . There are some really cool demos and Yosh does a great job of talking through his methodology.

AI song contest

This month saw the return of the AI song contest with this year’s entries released to the public on 1 June. The competition has really grown since its inception last year, with 38 groups vying for top spot.

You can listen to all of the songs here. Voting closes on 1 July, so get your earphones on and enjoy the variety of styles on offer.


Lucy Smith , Managing Editor for AIhub.
Lucy Smith , Managing Editor for AIhub.

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