Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘artificial intelligence’ Category

Happy New Year…Decade?

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Happy New Year…Decade?

Well, I guess that’s a wrap for the 2010s.

Happy New Year/Decade, a day or two late!

Here’s hoping you stick to all your New Year’s resolutions for more than 30 days, and that this decade is kinder to us than the ‘teens.

I’ve not made any major resolutions myself, other than to try and continue to stay above dirt (ambitious, I know).

As for predictions, I’m not sure that’s a limb I want to walk out on…But I’ll throw out a few themes that I think could be in the market conversation for 2020 and beyond.

1. More focus on (consumer) privacy
2. More focus on (business) cybersecurity
3. 5G, for those who can get it
4. Production AI (as opposed to pilot) driving real efficiency
5. Deep Fakery (in political campaigns *and* in mainstream culture) driving real fear (and embarrassment)
6. A new round of AR (Pokemon is sooo 2016)
7. Crypto renaissance as recession hedge
8. More synergy in etail, retail, and “me-tail”
9. Ramped up efforts to augment real world problems with tech solutions (solving for natural disasters, climate change, etc.)
10. Accelerating cyber/space race (including quantum and satellite comms) — the new mission critical battle space

What’s at the top of *your* 2020 list?

Written by turbotodd

January 3, 2020 at 10:05 am

Faster, Cheaper, Better AI

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Happy Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has passed the 28,000 mark, apparently prompted by news that China and the U.S. are zeroing in on a trade deal.

And to help with translation of any future meetings between the parties, they might want to consider the Google real-time translation that works in conjunction with Google Assistant now on mobile devices.

The new feature is now available in 44 languages, and should help you more easily ask directions to the nearest metro station around the globe.

The AI juggernaut of apparently continued unabated this year, according to the AI Index Report, which reported a 300% rise in research papers.

The report generally aspires to get a handle on AI progress, yet another headline seems to be that while AI is on the march, we’re a long way from reaching “general intelligence.”

The U.S. continues to lead in terms of private investment (just under $12B, compared to China’s $6.8B, which places them in second).

Algos are coming faster, cheaper, smarter, easier to train, and self-driving cars continue to get more investment than in any other field.

I eagerly await the algo and/or SDV that can cleverly route me from north to south Austin in rush hour without raising my blood pressure!

Written by turbotodd

December 12, 2019 at 11:22 am

New (Google Ad) Rules

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Google is jumping on the political advertising guard rail bandwagon, announcing new limits on its microtargeting to age, gender, and general location (zip code). Google will also continue to allow retargeting based on content of website visits.

They will no longer allow ads to be directed to specific audiences based on public voting records or political affiliations (“left-leaning,” “right-leaning,” etc.)

The policies will impact both Google search results, on YouTube, and via the Google Content Network which displays ads on other sites.

The move left many politicos stunned, for in past campaigns they have leaned mightily on microtargeting specific sets of voters, an efficiency that makes many grassroots campaigns financially feasible.

Also on the GOOG front…remember Google Duplex, the creepy-crawly AI that would sound like a human and call to make your hair appointments? Well, Duplex is now officially moving beyond the confines of voice ops and launching as “Google Assistant in Chrome” as a streamlined workflow to help you buy movie tickets.

Next up: Streamlining the process of renting a car. And then?…maybe using Google Duplex to more easily buy political search ads from Google??!

Written by turbotodd

November 21, 2019 at 10:32 am

Making Copies

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Happy Monday.

Only 10 days to Turkey Day. Get ready to gobble gobble.

I’ll tell you who’s not making copies. That would be HP, the board of which rejected Xerox’s acquisition bid over the weekend claiming the $22/share bid undervalued HP and was not in the best interest of shareholders.

Operators of Yahoo sites in Japan and the Line chat app have reached agreement on a merger, one where SoftBank Group and SK internet firm Naver will form a joint holding company. The new entity is expected to become the largest internet player in Japan.

On the funding front: AI-driven news app SmartNews has raised a $92M round at a valuation of $1.2B. The app is said to use machine learning (rather than human curation) to generate personalized news experiences.

The company is focused initially on Japan and the U.S. as key markets.

Self-driving startup Wayve has raised $20M in a Series A to help teach cars to drive autonomously using reinforcement learning, simulation, and computer vision.

Wayve is looking to improve AI through simulation and knowledge transfer to the real world, rather than “hand-coded” rules. It plans to launch a pilot fleet of autonomous Jaguar I-Pace cars in Central London which will include, for now, safety drivers. 

Written by turbotodd

November 18, 2019 at 10:53 am

Streaming to the Max

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Details are emerging on HBO Max, HBO’s new live streaming service.

It’s $15/month (U.S.), which is what existing HBO costs…but AT&T is planning to bundle free subscriptions for some customers of its other services.

Compare that to Apple’s $5/month and Disney’s $7/month (Netflix comes in between $9 and $16/month, depending on what flavor you get).

On the subject of money, Sony announced a Q2 operating profit of $2.56B, jumping 16% on its 102.8M total unit sales of the PlayStation 4 (now larger than the original PlayStation).

Funding Rounds: Duality, which makes privacy-preserving data analysis tools w/ homomorphic encryption, raised $16M in a Series A led by Intel Capital. And Quill raised a $2M seed and $12.5M Series A for its messaging product and Slack competitor.

At today’s TensorFlow World conference in Santa Cruz, Google launched TensorFlow Enterprise, an “optimized” version of its open source machine learning framework for large businesses.

Tonight: It’s the Houston Astros vs. the Washington Nationals in a winner-take-all game 7. On the mound, Zack Greinke for Houston & Max Scherzer for Washington. It’s hard to believe it came down to a game 7, but that’s late October for ya!

Play ball!

Written by turbotodd

October 30, 2019 at 2:29 pm

Bot Smoke

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Happy Monday. Tech conferences and announcements worthy of note this week.

India Mobile Congress got started earlier today in New Delhi. The always-interesting Gartner IT Symposium|Expo starts this weekend.

And tomorrow Google’s hardward event is expected to see the announcement of the Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixelbook, and new Google Home speakers.

Rumor is the Pixel 4 will include its iteration of a Face ID tech for secure authentication, and support for gesture commands using radar-detection technology.

Story this AM about a congressional committee and the MA attorney general investigating whether millions of bot-generated social media messages about e-cigarettes misled consumers about safety and health issues.

Specifically, the committee is looking for evidence of deceptive or misleading use of social media for targeted marketing and advertising.

Nicotine marketers, you’ve come a long way, baby!

And, the winner of the 2019 Call for Code was announced at a gathering at the UN this weekend. The Barcelona-based Prometeo team built an AI-based platform to monitor and act on firefighter health and safety in real-time and over the long-term. Congrats!

Written by turbotodd

October 14, 2019 at 10:10 am

A Changing SAP

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Big news on the enterprise software front overnight. SAP announced that CEO Bill McDermott would be leaving the company after nearly a decade at the helm. McDermott has overseen SAP’s shift to the cloud, and the company’s stock was up 75% over the past five years.

Board members Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein were appointed co-CEOs.

For SAP clients out there, also know that IBM just rolled out a new open source SDK that lets users call Watson services directly from ABAP code in SAP systems. ABAP is the primary programming language supported on the SAP NetWeaver ABAP server platform.

On the frenzied AI dealmaking front, AI-powered checkout firm Standard Cognition has bought DeepMagic, which provides autonomous retail kiosks. This apparently to better compete with Amazon Go’s checkout experience.

DeepMagic allows customers to swipe a payment card when entering a smaller kiosk or store, pick up items that are detected by cameras and then walk out while having their card charged.

Sorry, no cash!

And for those of you who are using G Suite (especially those in newsrooms) who thought your documents were encrypted end-to-end, the Freedom of the Press Foundation says differently. 

Written by turbotodd

October 11, 2019 at 10:45 am

Good Grammar

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An update on the HKMap live app that Hong Kongers were using to keep abreast of protests in the semiautonomous city. Apple has now removed that app from its App Store just days after approving it.

This after the People’s Daily published an editorial hat accused Apple of aiding “rioters” in HK, according to a report in the NY Times. “Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings,” said the editorial.

Apple’s response: “…This app violates our guidelines and local laws.”

The Times: “With its reversal, Apple joins a growing list of corporations that are trying to navigate the fraught political situation between China and Hong Kong, where antigovernment protests have unfolded for months.”

Uh, more like a minefield.

Today’s funding feature: Grammarly, the nifty AI tool that currently helps 20M+ correct their written grammar, has raised an additional $90M round that brings its total to $200M and a valuation of $1B.

Grammarly is currently available via a number of web browsers and in Microsoft Word. The company will use this investment to suppor more platforms and focus more on the enterprise.

I look forward to leveraging Grammarly to address the elephant in the room and to do a deep dive..now, let’s take this offline!

Written by turbotodd

October 10, 2019 at 10:31 am

Diablo Winds

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Buenos dias.

The “diablo” winds have pushed CA’s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to an unprecedented power shut-off that will affect up to 600K customers.

Those dry, warm winds can reach speeds upwards of 70 MPH, especially coming down mountain slopes,. P&E is playing offense by shutting the power down to try and avert any fire catastrophes like those witnessed in Paradise, CA last year.

Stay safe, my western amigos.

Meanwhile, Wired is reporting on a braindrain of astrophysicists leaving academia to work in the data science realm (particularly in machine learning). The lure? Job security, no tenure-track bottlenecks, money, and interesting work.

More interesting than studying the cosmos?! Apparently, as studying human beings can be just as complex and complicated as the heavens.

Back here at home on our little blue marble, right here in Austin, Austin AI startup SparkCognition has raised $100M in a Series C led by March Capital Partners, making that a total of $175M.

SparkCognition focuses on AI for specific industries, including oil and gas, defense, utilities, aviation, and financial services, and recently partnered with Boeing to form SkyGrid, a joint venture focused on unmanned aircraft system traffic management.

#whyaustin

Written by turbotodd

October 9, 2019 at 9:59 am

Big Builds, Bigger Dogs

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Yesterday it was AI and agriculture, today it’s AI and construction. Built Robotics is a company looking to make construction equipment autonomous and has raised a $33M Series B round. Recognizing that the industry is facing a labor shortage, Built is building systems that would allow one equipment operator to oversee a fleet of vehicles working autonomously in parallel. 

But there’s plenty more VC money sloshing around where that came from…Wordpress parent Automattic raised $300M in a Series D round from Salesforce Ventures, valuing the company at $3B. Thirty-four percent of the world’s top 10 million websites now run on WordPress. No word yet if that means everyone at the company gets an “automattic” raise! 

There’s also more consolidation on the developer tooling front with GitHub’s acquisition of code analysis tool Semmle. Semmle streamlines security testing and offers developers a query languages to allow researchers to more easily test their code. No price on the deal, but Semmle was born from Oxford just last year and had raised a $21M Series B round led by Accel.

And app performance monitoring firm Datadog raised $648M in its U.S. IPO, valuing the company at $7.83B. Datadog had previously declined a buyout offer from Cisco.

Written by turbotodd

September 19, 2019 at 9:45 am

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