Minor League Baseball is Now Using AI Umpires to Call Strikes

"There's no guarantee that robot umpires will make their way to the majors," writes the San Francisco Chronicle. "But the system is as close as it has been now, one level below." Here's how it looks for a minor league/Triple-A team, the Albuquerque Isotopes: Using the same computerized optical tracking technology known as Hawk-Eye that has been used for several years now in pro tennis and some other sports, MLB's new Automated ball-strike system is a rather in-depth setup. In early April, MLB set up eight high-speed cameras and hundreds of receivers around Isotopes Park that, along with the video from the cameras, add to a triangulation process that can help determine exactly where the ball crosses the strike zone — despite there being no camera directly over or behind the plate. The MLB says it is confident a foul ball hitting one camera or a light drizzle of rain during a game won't affect the data accuracy. "It's here," said Albuquerque Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer. "We'll all get used to it. As long as we don't see it really messing things up, we'll adjust." The manager also added, "I don't know what human umpires miss in a game — maybe three or four calls a game? And this system seems like it's missing three or four a game, I guess. I'm sure that they can improve it and it's always going to keep improving I guess." "The technology is there," said an MLB official who spoke to the Journal about the implementation of the automated ball-strike system... At this point, MLB is trying to get enough of a sample size to see how the game is affected and troubleshoot any unforeseen issues. There's still an umpire behind the plate making the punching gesture for a strike — but he's just repeating whatever call the system has beamed into his ear. The paper shares this story from a relief pitcher watching another pitcher disagree with a "called ball" early in the game, and asking the umpire whether it was in the strike zone and why it wasn't called a strike. "And the umpire just shrugged and said, 'I don't know.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ford Pays Millions Over False Claims About Its 2013 Hybrid’s Fuel Economy

Ford's fuel-economy figures for the 2013-2014 C-Max hybrids "were not based in reality" says Iowa's attorney general. And now the Ford Motor Company "will pay $19.2 million to a consortium of 40 states and Washington,D.C.," writes Consumer Reports (which also covers additional false advertising about the payload capacity of its Super Duty pickup trucks). In these two cases, Ford exaggerated numbers for an advantage in competitive segments. And it was caught.... Ford ran a series of ads that claimed the C-Max provided better fuel economy than the Toyota Prius. The 2013 C-Max was originally rated at 47 mpg in city and highway driving, and 47 mpg overall. The claim was that it delivered 47 mpg in every situation. Back on Dec. 6, 2012, Consumer Reports wrote... "After running both vehicles through our real-world tests, we have gotten very good results. But they are far below Ford's ambitious triple-47 figures." We got 37 mpg overall in our tests. That's close to what owners reported on the Environmental Protection Agency's fueleconomy.gov, at 39 mpg.... In our tests, the Toyota Prius at the time got 44 mpg overall, far more than the C-Max. Iowa's attorney general notes that "In 2013, Ford admitted that its initial fuel economy rating for the C-Max hybrid was likely overstated. The carmaker announced at the time that it would make a 'goodwill payment' of $550 to consumers who purchased a 2013 C-Max hybrid and $325 to those who leased the vehicle, according to Edmunds." Consumer Reports adds: It then made hardware updates for new models, including a higher final gear ratio, lower-viscosity motor oil, and aerodynamic improvements, including a rear spoiler, new hood seals, and air deflectors in front of the tires, and a higher speed threshold for the electric drive. The new mpg figures were 39 mpg combined for 2014 through 2016 (41 city, 36 highway)... This case underscores why Consumer Reports goes to great lengths to test the fuel economy of every nonelectric car we purchase. It provides realistic, objective, independent information for car shoppers and helps keep the auto industry honest. Consumer Reports also quotes Ford's statement on their false advertising. "We are pleased that the matter is closed without any judicial finding of improper conduct." "We worked with the states to resolve their concerns."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: What Will Language Be Like In a Future ‘Human-Machine Era’?

Long-time Slashdot reader united_notions is trying to envision "the 'human-machine era', a time when the tech has moved out of our hands and into our ears, eyes, and brains." Real-time captioning of conversation. Highly accurate instant translation. Auto voice mimicry making it sound like you speaking the translation. Real-time AR facial augmentation making it also look like you speaking the translation. Meanwhile, super-intelligent Turing-passing chatbots that look real and can talk tirelessly about any topic, in different languages, in anyone's voice. Then, a little further into the future, brain-machine interfaces that turn your thoughts into language, saving you the effort of talking at all... Slashdot has long reported on the development of all these technologies. They are coming. When these are not futuristic but widespread everyday devices, what will language and interaction actually be like? Would you trust instant auto-translation while shopping? On a date? At a hospital? How much would you interact with virtual characters? Debate with them? Learn a new language from them? Socialise with them, or more? Would you wear a device that lets you communicate without talking? And with all this new tech, would you trust tech companies with the bountiful new data they gather? Meanwhile, what about the people who get left behind as these shiny new gadgets spread? As always with new tech, they will be prohibitively expensive for many. And despite rapid improvements, still for some years progress will be slower for smaller languages around the world – and much slower still for sign language – despite the hype. "Language in the Human-Machine Era" is an EU-funded research network putting together all these pieces. Watch our animations setting out future scenarios, read our open access forecast report, and contribute to our big survey!

Read more of this story at Slashdot.