Alphabet’s Loon hands the reins of its internet air balloons to self-learning AI

Alphabet’s Loon, the team responsible for beaming internet down to Earth from stratospheric helium balloons, has achieved a new milestone: its navigation system is no longer run by human-designed software.



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© Image: Loon


Instead, the company’s internet balloons are steered around the globe by an artificial intelligence — in particular, a set of algorithms both written and executed by a deep reinforcement learning-based flight control system that is more efficient and adept than the older, human-made one. The system is now managing Loon’s fleet of balloons over Kenya, where Loon launched its first commercial internet service in July after testing its fleet in a series of disaster relief initiatives and other test environments for much of the last decade.

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Loon’s internet balloons are now piloted by an AI flight control system

Similar to how researchers have achieved breakthrough AI advances in teaching computers to play sophisticated video games

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UA Little Rock hosts Starbucks networking event to raise money, gather donations for Helping Hands Campaign

The UA Little Rock Staff Senate and Starbucks are holding a networking and coffee event to benefit the Helping Hands Campaign on Nov. 17

UA Little Rock staff and faculty members are encouraged to visit Starbucks from 9-11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17, for a coffee and some socially distanced networking. Starbucks will make a donation to the Helping Hands Campaign based on sales during the event.

The Staff Senate Helping Hands Campaign provides holiday meal baskets for UA Little Rock employees and students who would otherwise not be able to provide a traditional holiday dinner for their families and has assisted with meeting the needs of dozens of families each holiday for more than 20 years.

Staff Senate is also collecting non-perishable food items until Dec. 15. Donation items needed for the food baskets include stuffing/dressing mix, cornbread mix, cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, chicken/vegetable broth, green

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