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VentureBeat

The DeanBeat: Agent Venture makes Zoom time fun again

Escape rooms have taken a big hit during the pandemic. But they’ve moved online, into Zoom calls and other video solutions, and that may save us all while we’re still locked in isolation. These games are an example of the human need for play. Clever game developers are adapting escape rooms into online-only episodes that you can play with your friends while you’re talking in a Zoom meeting. Such entertainment is a lifeline during COVID-19. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of calls on Zoom or other meeting platforms, and this really hits the spot. I played an online adventure called Agent Venture from the United Kingdom-based The Adventure Is Real. You participate in a Zoom call with up to four of your friends and go on a mission, assisting a secret agent as he tries to infiltrate the operations of the evil B.A.D. Corp. headquarters and foil the crimes of the wicked CEO, J. Bozo. The contact on the ground, Agent Venture, is played by an actor, whose face you never see. They supply the drama and voices for multiple characters. Your group of four or five friends serves as the remote team, dubbed CRTL, to help get Agent Venture where he needs to go. And the agent doubles as the game’s coach in case your team gets stuck. It’s like the team that helps James Bond on his missions. How it came to be Above: The Adventure Is Real started as a dungeon-themed physical escape room.…Continue readingThe DeanBeat: Agent Venture makes Zoom time fun again

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The Next Web

Sony’s new AI agent achieves superhuman Gran Turismo Sport scores

One of the best things about computers is that they can learn just as much from a simulation as they can from so-called ‘real world’ experiences. That means, given the proper simulator, we can teach AI to drive cars without ever putting a single human in danger. Just about every AI company trains their driverless vehicle algorithms using simulations. Until now, the simulators themselves weren’t all that interesting. They’re mostly just physics engines designed to be interpreted by a neural network. But Sony just unveiled the most popular autonomous driving simulator ever: Gran Turismo Sport. In case you’re not a gamer: this isn’t advanced software designed to train AIs, it’s a game. And not just any game but the latest in one of the most beloved racing simulation series in history Researchers from the University of Zurich and Sony AI Zurich recently published a pre-print paper showcasing the development of an autonomous agent designed to beat the best human players at the game. Per the team: Among racing games, Gran Turismo Sport (GTS) is known as a highly realistic driving simulation, modelling phenomena, such as the influence of tires’ temperature and a car’s current fuel level on traction. Therefore, similarly to real-world racing, the optimal trajectory (i.e., the trajectory leading to the fastest lap time) for a car in GTS depends not only on the geometry and properties of the track, but also on various (a priori unknown) physical characteristics and states of the car. Due to its similarity to real…Continue readingSony’s new AI agent achieves superhuman Gran Turismo Sport scores

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Engadget

Valorant’s twelfth agent is Killjoy, a German robotics genius

Riot Games Finally, Killjoy’s Ultimate is a tactical Lockdown that, after a certain period, ‘detains’ enemies caught in its area of effect. Riot confirmed that the Lockdown device can be destroyed by the opposing team, though. Killjoy’s addition to Valorant could be divisive. Riot has always insisted that the game is built around gunplay, rather than match-altering powers similar to Overwatch. Every agent has head-turning abilities, however the ones offered at launch were mostly tactical, reducing the opposition’s visibility or pressuring them to move into your weapon’s sight lines. Killjoy’s feature set, meanwhile, feels like a slight deviation from this promise. The fanbase’s reaction will undoubtedly decide if Riot continues down this route or veers back toward a straight-shooter experience like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Source linkContinue readingValorant’s twelfth agent is Killjoy, a German robotics genius

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TechCrunch

Tire Agent, with a new financing platform, raises $5 million – TechCrunch

Tire Agent, an Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator-backed startup that is looking to bring the tire industry into the 21st century, has today announced the close of a $5 million funding round led by American Family Ventures, with participation from ERA, Sidekick Fund, NY Angels and HBS Angels. According to Consumer Reports, the average tire costs about $97. Four new tires costs a little under $400, and that doesn’t include added costs like taxes, fees, or the cost of installation. Tire Agent wants to make tire shopping more convenient and accessible to customers, while also making the process more affordable. The startup works with tire brands (more than 50, to be exact) to give users a place to browse tires online. Moreover, Tire Agent layers in educational, easy-to-understand content about these tires to help users understand the difference between brands, models, and get the best value. Tire Agent also helps users find an installer near them and shows the cost of installation up front, so there are no surprises. Plaid founder and CEO Zach Perret recently said on an episode of Extra Crunch Live that every company is a fintech company, and TireAgent seems to agree. The company has built out a tire financing platform called PayPair that connects customers of any credit score and matches them with a variety of lenders, financing and payment plan companies to give them options on how to cover the cost of new tires. Tire Agent also has a partnership with AllState to offer warranties to…Continue readingTire Agent, with a new financing platform, raises $5 million – TechCrunch

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VentureBeat

Google builds AI agent that learns to generalize to new environments by ignoring distractions

In a study earlier this year accepted to the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) 2020, Google researchers investigate the properties of AI software agents that employ self-attention bottlenecks. They claim that these agents not only demonstrate an aptitude for solving challenging vision-based tasks, but that they’re better at tackling slight modifications of the tasks, due to their blindness to details that might confuse them. Inattentional blindness is the phenomenon that causes a person to miss things in plain sight; it’s a consequence of selective attention, a mechanism that’s believed to enable humans to condense information into a form compact enough for decision-making. Luminaries like Yann LeCun assert it can inspire the design of AI systems that better mimic the elegance and efficiency of biological organisms. The Google researchers’ proposed agent — AttentionAgent — aims to devote most of its attention to task-relevant elements, ignoring distractions. To achieve this, the system segments input images into patches and relies on a self-attention architecture to “vote” on patches and elect a subset. The elected patches guide AttentionAgent’s actions as it keeps apprised of changes in the input data, tracking how important factors evolve over time. Above: VizDoom: The AttentionAgent is trained in the environment with no modifications (left). It is able to adapt to changes in the environment, such as a higher wall (middle left), a different floor texture (middle right), or floating text (right). In experiments, the team showed that AttentionAgent learned to attend to a range of regions in the images.…Continue readingGoogle builds AI agent that learns to generalize to new environments by ignoring distractions