The list of the most fascinating technological breakthroughs in 2018 does not end at Artificial Intelligence (AI). For AI still has setbacks when it comes to self-learning and precision. “What I cannot create, I do not understand,” goes a famous aphorism attributed to the iconic physicist Richard Feynman. Right underneath, the quote read “Know how to solve every problem that has been solved.” This principle became the driving force for the next breakthrough on the list. Read on:

Dueling Neural Network

Artificial Intelligence was created to identify things, or differentiate between two, and take decisions based on probable programmed results. For example, show it a million pictures, and it can tell you with uncanny accuracy which ones represent a person walking down the street. But AI cannot generate images of people by itself. If there’s a slightest possibility to do that, it would bring a tremendous wave of positive transformations in technology like AI, which the world looks up to. If AI could create sheaves of synthetic pictures depicting real people in various settings, those pictures could be used by an autonomous car could to train itself without ever going out on the road. The problem is – AI fails to copy the ability of a human mind to be creative or resourceful.

The solution to problem first occurred to Ian Goodfellow, who was pursuing his doctoral at the University of Montreal in 2014, when some friends asked for his help with a project that involved a computer that could create photos by itself. Goodfellow developed an approach, known as a GAN (Generative Adversarial Network), that takes two neural networks and set them against each other in a digital cat-and-mouse game. As MIT summarizes, “Two AI systems can spar with each other to create ultra-realistic original images or sounds, something machines have never been able to do before.”

Researchers are already using neural networks, a set of complex algorithms derived from the web of neurons in the human brain, as a “generative” to create credible new data of their own. Dueling Neural Network is one of the most promising technological breakthrough worked upon by Google Brain, DeepMind, and Nvidia. The progresses in this technology will mark a big leap forward in what’s known in AI as “unsupervised learning.”

Babel Fish Earbuds

Do you remember the Babel Fish envisaged in the cult-classic, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, nearly 40 years ago? Wherein, you slide a yellow Babel fish into your ear to get real-time translations in an instant. Well, Google has finally developed, a dream-come-true technological innovation, an AI-Powered Babel-fish in-ear translator called Pixel Buds. A $159 pair of ear-buds is likely to be the future of international communication.

The real-time translation, supported with over 40 international languages, breaks the communication barrier in development and lets you to reach beyond the global boundaries. Since every technology requires vigorous improvements to reach the optimal stage of adaptability, the Pixel Buds needs some extensive changes too. The clunky hardware, compatibility issues with various operating systems, user-friendliness in terms of comfort and language accents needs to be fixed before the ear buds hit your ears!

Zero-Carbon Natural Gas

According to MIT, the world is probably going to reliant upon natural gas as one of the primary sources of electricity for long impacting on human’s capacity to live a fulfilling life. Cheap and readily available, natural gas is the source for more than 22% of world electricity. There’s also a finite increase in consumption of Liquid Natural Gas and Compressed Natural Gas. Although it’s cleaner than coal, it’s still a colossal source of carbon emissions.

This is about an interesting technological breakthrough by a pilot power plant just outside Houston. Net Power, a US energy start-up in the heart of the US petroleum and refining industry, is testing a technology that could make clean energy from natural gas. The company believes it can generate power, at least as cheaply as standard natural-gas plants, and capture essentially all the carbon dioxide released in the process. This project is a collaboration between 8 Rivers Capital, Exelon Generation and CB&I.

Of all the clean-energy technologies under development, Net Power’s Zero-Carbon Natural Gas is the most promising one with a marginal advance in cutting carbon emissions. MIT predicts that the technology could become a reality in three to five years.

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