AI Digest

AI Digest: Edition VII

Microsoft Build 2017

Microsoft Build 2017, the company’s developer conference and launch event, is taking place this week and Microsoft is making a number of AI announcements. Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, spoke in depth about AI services, specifically big data learning and algorithms that can be brought to “edge computing,” according to Wired.

Another service Microsoft launched is a deep neural networks training for developers. According to TechCrunch, “The best way to think about Batch AI Training is probably as a managed AI training service where developers can focus on their models and don’t have to think about operating the underlying infrastructure.”

Azure, which is Microsoft’s prized cloud platform, is the predominant focus of Microsoft’s AI innovations; however, Nadella hopes to bring AI to all products in one form or another. By spreading Cortana, Microsoft’s Alexa and Siri competitor, into more products, and adding AI capabilities into the Xbox, Windows, Bing and Office, Microsoft plans to let everyone, not just developers, benefit from AI.

He also referenced George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World” when describing how to use AI responsibly. “What Orwell prophesied in ‘1984,’ where technology was being used to monitor, control, dictate, or what Huxley imagined we may do just by distracting ourselves without any meaning or purpose— neither of these futures is something that we want.” This is nice to hear, because I don’t think any of us foresee these futures as a fun place to live.

Nadella also emphasized using AI to improve workplace safety and used a construction site as a practical example. With the amount of cameras already in place on construction sites, and the use of computer vision and facial recognition, AI could ensure that only qualified workers are using the correct machinery and enforce policy automatically. This is just one of the ways that AI will have a direct impact on workplaces in the near future.

The AI Arms Race is On

Microsoft is just one of the enterprise companies that is racing to beat its competitors in the AI space. Similarly to the way the industrial revolution came from technological innovation, we are seemingly in the midst of an AI revolution, and all enterprise companies are fully embracing it, hoping to end up like U.S. Steel or Standard Oil (minus the monopoly lawsuits).

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, believes that his car company can be worth as much as Apple one day. The way to get there, he explained, is with AI and robotics software. By focusing on creating more intelligent machines that build Tesla’s cars, he believes Tesla can reach another level.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, believes that we are in the “golden age” of AI and, with the recent release of the Amazon Echo Show, the e-commerce behemoth shows that it wants to emerge as the leader from this golden age. Bezos is a firm believer that AI will improve all sectors and areas of business. “It will empower and improve every business, every government organization, every philanthropy. Basically, there’s no institution in the world that cannot be improved with machine learning.” The optimism is refreshing when compared to others, such as Bill Gates, who believe AI could lead to a much bleaker future.

Other enterprise companies making splashes in AI this week include Uber, which hired a new AI researcher, Raquel Urtasun, to head a lab for driverless car research north of the border. Also, IBM updated its PowerAI tool for data scientists, making it easier to deploy deep learning algorithms and integrate computer vision into applications, according to ZDNet.

Linguistics is AI’s Latest Forte

Linguistics is intrinsically human, right? Wrong. This week Facebook made a splash by open-sourcing its machine translation, which relies on convolutional neural networks. Don’t feel bad if you’re unfamiliar with convolutional neural networks (I wasn’t) because you can learn directly from the source in Facebook’s “Convolutional Sequence to Sequence Learning” research paper, which set off the frenzy of news stories over the company’s AI-powered translation.

Okay, okay, we get this is a big deal, but what does it actually mean in layman’s terms? According to WIRED, Facebook’s machine learning translations will actually make sense.

Translators aren’t the only ones being automated. Editors and proofreaders should take notice as AI platform Grammarly raises a whopping $100 million in funding, establishing itself as the top dog in the freemium grammar and spell checking space.

Since 2009, Grammarly has been a major player in the freemium grammar and spelling check space, and is rated extremely high by students, professors and journalists alike.

Video of the Week

FUTURISM – Google’s Go Is Complicated….And Perfect for Testing AI

Twitter Follow of the Week

Dr. Angelica Lim is a computer scientist and AI roboticist at SoftBank Robotics. She helps build AI software for robots to interact in more intelligent ways. She consistently curates AI and robotics content, and injects interesting insights into the subject. Give her a follow!

Quick Hits

  • With AI, This Startup Wants to Help Reporters Keep Up With Breaking News (BuiltIn)
  • AI Is the Future of Cybersecurity, for Better and for Worse (Harvard Business Review)
  • VIDEO: Robots & Us – The AI and Automation Revolution, Episode 4: How Food-Bots Are Changing How We Eat (WIRED)
  • AI Startup Neurala Claims Major Breakthrough in Deep Learning (SiliconANGLE)
  • Nvidia’s Shares Jump As AI and Gaming Drive graphics Chip Demand (SiliconANGLE)
  • Dell Has a New-Machine Learning Tool for Female Entrepreneurs (Fortune)
  • Personality Factors Are Best Defense Against Losing Your Job to a Robot (University of Houston)
  • Is Artificial Intelligence the Key to Personalized Education? (Smithsonian)
  • Kentucky Derby Introduces Artificial Intelligence to Predict Race’s Outcome (Sports Illustrated)
  • Twitter Using Deep Learning to Figure Out What Tweets to Show You (CNBC)