Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘AI’ Category

Common Sense AI

leave a comment »

Microsoft announced that it is acquiring conversational AI and bot development software vendor XOXCO, Inc., an Austin-based firm, for an undisclosed amount.

According to a report from ZDNet, XOXCO was founded in 2008, and has been working on conversational AI since 2013.

One of its products, Howdy.ai, has been described as one of the first commercially available bots for Slack that helps schedule meetings.

Though it may be great for scheduling meetings, a new article in WIRED suggests that artificial intelligence and deep learning could stand to gain some common sense:

Deep learning is the reigning monarch of AI. In the six years since it exploded into the mainstream, it has become the dominant way to help machines sense and perceive the world around them. It powers Alexa’s speech recognition, Waymo’s self-driving cars, and Google’s on-the-fly translations. Uber is in some respects a giant optimization problem, using machine learning to figure out where riders will need cars. Baidu, the Chinese tech giant, has more than 2,000 engineers cranking away on neural net AI. For years, it seemed as though deep learning would only keep getting better, leading inexorably to a machine with the fluid, supple intelligence of a person.

But some heretics argue that deep learning is hitting a wall. They say that, on its own, it’ll never produce generalized intelligence, because truly humanlike intelligence isn’t just pattern recognition. We need to start figuring out how to imbue AI with everyday common sense, the stuff of human smarts. If we don’t, they warn, we’ll keep bumping up against the limits of deep learning, like visual-recognition systems that can be easily fooled by changing a few inputs, making a deep-learning model think a turtle is a gun. But if we succeed, they say, we’ll witness an explosion of safer, more useful devices—health care robots that navigate a cluttered home, fraud detection systems that don’t trip on false positives, medical breakthroughs powered by machines that ponder cause and effect in disease.

I look forward to having an argument with a bot…someday.

Written by turbotodd

November 14, 2018 at 11:05 am

Posted in 2018, AI, microsoft, Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

But Is It Art?

leave a comment »

I think we’re about to jump the AI shark. And that’s before the shark has hardly even started to begun to swim.

A new work of art entitled “Portrait of Edmond de Belamy” is going on sale at Christie’s tonight, and according to a report by Quartzy, at first glance it appears to look like the handiwork of a long-dead Old Master.

Quartzy reports that it has a few smudges, a lightness in the brush strokes, some negative space at the edge of the canvas, and even a subtle chiaroscuro.

But, in fact, the picture of a man in a black shirt is not the work of any painter, living or dead.

No, it’s the result of an artificial intelligence algorithm.

“Portrait of Edmond De Belamy” will be the first algorithm – made artwork to go on auction in the world of fine art.

So how was the painting produced?

The humans behind the AI, a Parisian art collective called “Obvious,” first fed 15,000 images of paintings from between the 14th and 20th centuries into an open-source generative adversarial network, or “GAN”: 

This sort of neural network works in two parts: one generates the picture using the data available, and the other “discriminates,” essentially telling it whether it’s done a good job or whether the finished images are still obviously the work of a machine. It’s not clear exactly how many images the network shored up on the screen in total, but this is the one that won out. Obvious members then printed it on canvas, framed in gilt—and put it up for sale.

Will anybody buy it?

Quartzy reports that Christie’s is banking on somebody biting, probably with a final sale price of between $7,000 to $10,000?

No word yet whether or not the first AI-produced painting will shed itself after the sale, but knowing the arrogance of those AI algorithms, there’s a good stance it will instead attempt to replicate itself.

Written by turbotodd

October 25, 2018 at 9:39 am

Explaining AI Decisions

leave a comment »

IBM’s Institue of Business Value recently issued a new report concerning the implementation of AI, and according to a survey of 5,000 executives, discovered that 60 percent of those polled said they were concerned about being able to explain how AI is using data and making decisions in order to meet regulatory and compliance standards.

According to a story in The Wall Street Journal, there’s concern that:

AI decisions can sometimes be black boxes both for the data scientist engineering them and the business executives telling their benefits. This is especially true in deep learning tools such as neural networks that are used to identify patterns in data, whose structure roughly tries to mimic the operations of the human brain.

But just as in high school geometry, the question arises as to how to demonstrate one has proved their work. That is to say, to reveal how the AI system arrived at a specific conclusion.

The Journal identifies measures IBM took last week which include cloud-based tools that can show users which factors led to an AI-based recommendations. 

The tools can also analyze AI decisions in real-time to identify inherent bias and recommend data and methods to address that bias. The tools work with IBM’s AI services and those from other cloud services providers including Google, said David Kenny, senior vice president of cognitive solutions at IBM.

You can learn more about those measures in this blog post.

Written by turbotodd

September 27, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Automation Feast or Famine

leave a comment »

Happy Wednesday. 

Now that we’ve gotten that whole new iPhone analysis thing out of the way, let’s get back to the smart stuff.

The Wall Street Journal CIO Journal’s “Morning Download” email has been a must read for me for a couple of years now, and they do a generally good job of keeping their fingers on the pulse of enterprise IT, software, etc.

In today’s edition, they cited a new report from the World Economic Forum report on the jobs impact of artificial intelligence between now and 2022.

The report suggested that 984,000 jobs would disappear, but that 1.74 million new jobs would be created. 

The survey was of chief HR officers and top strategy execs from 300 global companies.

Almost 40 percent of respondents indicated they expect to expand their workforce by 2022, but more than a quarter expect automation to create new roles in their companies. 

More than 50 percent of employees of larger companies will need to invest in significant training for their employees to remain relevant, and nearly 50 percent of respondents said they expect their full-time workforce to shrink by 2022 as a result of automation.

In terms of cadence, 29 percent of current workplace tasks will be completed by machines in 2018, 42 percent in 2022, and more than half — 52 percent — by 2025.

I guess the large and lingering question is, which half of which tasks?

We’ll find out soon enough.

Written by turbotodd

September 19, 2018 at 12:34 pm

UiPath Raises $225 Million in Series C, Focuses on AI for Repetitive Tasks

leave a comment »

The AI venture capital wars continue to heat up.

VentureBeat reported early today that UiPath, a robotic process automation platform that helps companies automate repetitive tasks, has raised $225 million in a series C round of funding co-lead by Alphabet’s late-stage venture capital fund CapitalG and Sequoia Capital, with participation from Accel.

This follows on their series B round, which raised $153 million.

The company was founded in Romania, but is now headquartered in New York. VentureBeat writes that the platforms core selling point is that it brings automation to enterprise processes.

The company builds what it calls “intelligent software robots” that help businesses carry out what are often laborious and repetitive tasks using computer vision and rule-based processes.

UiPath’s tech sits atop business applications such as enterprise resource planning software and customer relationship management tools to emulate tasks usually carried out by a person manually pressing buttons at their desk.

The “robots” are trained to observe the interface to see and understand what is happening and then carry out the task as a human would.

Current customers range from NASA to Airbus to DHL, Equifax, Lufthanse, Autodesk, and 2,000 other companies around the globe. The company expects to use the Series C round to accelerate its product development and acquire more companies.

Robotic process automation…remember that category!

Written by turbotodd

September 18, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Posted in 2018, AI, artificial intelligence

Tagged with ,

Bing Me An Uber

leave a comment »

A headline in today’s Wall Street Journal: Toyota investing $500 million in Uber in driverless-car pact.

Toyota’s investment values Uber at roughly $72 billion, slightly higher than where SoftBank Group Corp. valued the company earlier this year with its funding.

Through the deal, Uber will integrate self-driving technology into Toyota Sienna minivans for use in Uber’s ride hailing network.

And as the Journal story observes:

For ride-sharing concerns like Uber and Lyft Inc., autonomous vehicles could cut their biggest expense: paying human drivers. For auto makers such as Toyota, the potential of self-driving cars to power car-sharing services represents a major challenge to an industry dominated by individual car ownership.

The Journal also reminds us that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is looking to take the company public next year and has been selling off unprofitable operations while “putting new focus on rentable bikes and scooters.”

Could a Lime or Bird acquisition be in the offing? 

Also on today’s AI frontiers, Search Engine Land is reporting that Bing is introducing a new “Spotlight” news feature which showcases a timeline of how a story has evolved, differing perspectives from news sources, and related social media posts on a topic.

Uh, can we see the full timeline in Spotlight for the Mueller investigation?

Yeah, there’s probably not enough AI on the planet to fully grok that timeline yet.

Lest you worry that the “Spotlight” will render human editors irrelevant, the Search Engine Land story indicates Bing explained that the perspectives and stories “are compiled using a combination of both AI and experienced human editors.”

Bing monitors millions of queries and news articles every day and identifies impactful stories that evolve over a period of weeks or months. We look at various user signals such as queries and browser logs, and document signals from publishers such as how many publishers cover a story, their angles, and how prominently they feature the story on their site.  For controversial topics, in the Perspectives module, we show different viewpoints from high-quality sources. For a source to be considered high quality, it must meet the Bing News PubHub Guidelines, which is a set of criteria that favors originality, readability, newsworthiness, and transparency. Top caliber news providers identify sources and authors, give attribution and demonstrate sound journalistic practices such as accurate labeling of opinion and commentary. Behind the scenes, we leverage our deep learning algorithms and web graphs of hundreds of millions of web sites in the Bing index to identify top sources for national news, per category, query, or article. Our goal is to provide broader context for impactful stories, from politics to business to major disasters, and much more.

All the news that’s fit to algo.

Written by turbotodd

August 28, 2018 at 9:21 am

Posted in 2018, AI, algorithms, microsoft, news

Tagged with , ,

Robotic Confusion

leave a comment »

Have you watched the new “Lost in Space” series on Netflix?

Danger, Will Robinson!

Sorry, couldn’t help myself.  It’s good stuff.

But, I must say, I’m now all confused about this whole robotic thing.

Now because of the new Netflix series.  

No, rather, because I keep hearing loads of contradictions about what’s going on with the whole machine versus man convo.

On the one hand, I hear that robots are going to take over the world and leave us mere mortals sitting around in a depressed malaise, complaining about how the robots took all our jobs.

And then on the other, I learn that robots are “riding to the rescue” in Eastern Europe, where severe labor shortages have forced companies to call in the machines.

Perhaps both these things are true, and that’s the real warning about our future?  We just don’t know.

Two stories in particular struck me as resonant with this apparent contradiction.

First, in The New York Times, this headline: Robots Ride to the Rescue Where Workers Can’t Be Found. 

The lede: Fast-growing economies in Eastern Europe have led to severe labor shortages, so companies are calling in the machines.

As reported, despite a roaring economy and a jobless rate of just 2.4 percent, in the Czech Republic the dearth of manpower has limited the ability of Czech companies to expand and nearly a third of them have started to turn away orders.

Jaroslav Hanak, the president of the Czech Confederation of Industry, explained that “It’s becoming a brake on growth…If businesses don’t increase robotization and artificial intelligence, they’ll disappear.”

And apparently this in an Eastern Europe that is already well automated, with around 101 robots for every 10,000 workers.

But then there’s this other story: That Elon Musk is replacing robots at his Tesla factory with humans, saying that “humans are underrated.”

This is the same guy who warned us about the coming AI apocalypse.

But because his Tesla Model 3 production facility is way behind on delivering vehicles to customers who have been waiting for many months, apparently the AI apocalypse is not so close that it will prevent humans from coming in to fix the problem that the machines caused in the first place.

As Musk explained on the “CBS This Morning” show to Gayle King in a recent interview: “We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts…And it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing.”

And so Musk has now hit “pause” on the Tesla 3 production line to try and resolve those problems with the automation and figure out a way that humans can come in and restart production and, presumably, be more efficient and reach its target of 5,000 cars produced per week by the end of 2018.

As for the robots, they’ll have to get back in their own assembly line and wait to be reassigned.

No danger, Will Robinson.  That is, unless you’re Class B-9-M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot (the Robot’s real name in the original “Lost in Space”).

Written by turbotodd

April 17, 2018 at 10:40 am

Posted in 2018, AI, robots

Tagged with ,

%d bloggers like this: