Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘AI

AI Bored, Amazon HQed

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I continue to keep my eye on many things AI.

Last week, Google announced a new AI ethics board, but Vox is reporting that it is "already in trouble."

The board was founded to guide "responsible development of IA" at the company, writes Vox, and would have had eight members and met four times over the course of this year to consider concerns about Google’s AI program.

Just a week after it was announced, Google’s new AI ethics board is already in trouble.

The board, founded to guide “responsible development of AI” at Google, would have had eight members and met four times over the course of 2019 to consider concerns about Google’s AI program — everything from how AI can enable authoritarian states, how AI algorithms produce disparate outcomes, whether to work on military applications of AI, and more.

Apparently a Google employee outcry led to the requested removal of Kay Coles Hames, president of conservative think tank Heritage Foundation. Another was CEO of drone company Trumbull Unmanned, Dyan Gibbens. Privacy researcher Alssandro Acquisti has already announced on Twitter he wouldn’t serve.

Maybe they need a bot board instead?

Meanwhile, MIT is hitting "pause" on its relationships with Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE, following a review of international projects or partnership that pose an elevated risks, according to a report from CNN News.

"MIT is not accepting new engagements or renewing existing ones with Huawei and ZTE or their respective subsidiaries due to federal investigations regarding violations of sanction restrictions," Maria Zuber and Richard Lester, the university’s vice president for research and associate provost respectively, said in a letter to the school community on Wednesday.

The administrators also said that the university had determined that working with certain countries — particularly China, Russia and Saudi Arabia — "merit additional faculty and administrative review beyond the usual evaluations."

Any projects involving funding from people or entities from these countries, or MIT faculty or students doing work there, would face further review.

And if you’ve been watching the Amazon U.S. city 2nd headquarters saga, you’ll be interested to know that Geekwire is reporting that Amazon plans to relocate its entire Seattle-based worldwide operations team to Bellevue, Washington….by 2023. That would add thousands of employees to its new campus just across Lake Washington. This according to an internal email that Geekwire obtained.

Sources familiar with the plans said several thousand employees will be moving to Bellevue in the years ahead. Amazon confirmed the authenticity of the email obtained by GeekWire.

Amazon will start moving employees to Bellevue this month and will finish the migration by 2023. The company currently has 700 employees in Bellevue and more than 45,000 at its Seattle headquarters.Worldwide operations is one of the most critical teams at Amazon, the arm responsible for getting packages to customers’ doors. It oversees more than 175 operating fulfillment centers around the world and the 250,000 employees who work there. The team also manages Amazon’s thousands of delivery truck trailers and its fleet of 40 airplanes. New logistics initiatives, like Amazon’s “Delivery Service Partners” program, also fall under the worldwide operations purview. Amazon will start moving employees to Bellevue this month and will finish the migration by 2023. The company currently has 700 employees in Bellevue and more than 45,000 at its Seattle headquarters.

So the new winner of the great Amazon 2nd HQ shootout of 2019 is…the home of Microsoft??

Todd "Turbo" Watson
Twitter:@turbotodd
Blog: www.turbotodd.com
Email: toddhttp://about.me/toddwatson

Written by turbotodd

April 4, 2019 at 9:55 am

Posted in 2019, amazon, artificial intelligence

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Nvidia’s New Chips

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Nvidia announced its largest-ever acquisition today, offering $6.9 billion for data center chip technology maker, Mellanox.

Bloomberg is reporting that Mellanox beat out rivals that included Intel in a bidding process for the American-Israeli company, one which its founder, Jensen Huang, built in under three years by “persuading owners of data centers that his graphics chips are the right solution for processing the increasingly large amounts o information needed for artificial intelligence work, such as image recognition.”

The growing reams of data generated means work on AI and large databases needs to be split between multiple computers. Simply using a faster processor isn’t enough, Huang said. To deal with this, data centers in future will be built as though they are single giant computers “with tens of thousands of compute nodes,” requiring inter-connections that let them work in parallel. Nvidia will use its newly acquired technology to make those giant warehouses full of machinery more efficient and effective, he said.

The deal may signal a resumption of consolidation in the $470 billion semiconductor industry, which has been reshaped over the past five years as companies combined to gain scale while battling rising costs and shrinking customer lists.

The deal will require regulatory approval.

ZDNet’s take

Nvidia’s purchase of Mellanox for $6.9 billion will translate into a broader data center play for beyond the graphics and high performance computing markets.

  • Nvidia’s rivalry with Intel hits a new stage.
  • Nvidia gets more revenue diversification and data center sales.
  • Mellanox gives Nvidia more entries into high performance computing and the data center.
  • As artificial intelligence workloads become the norm, Nvidia with Mellanox be more an architecture play.

And SiliconANGLE spoke with analyst Patrick Moorhead about the deal:

“Both Nvidia and Mellanox are big in the high performance computing, machine learning, automotive, public cloud and enterprise data center markets, and could bring even more value to customers when [their technologies are] combined.”

“Scale and diversification is everything in the chip business, and Nvidia gets both with this acquisition,” added Holger Mueller, principal analyst and vice president of Constellation Research Inc. “It allows the company to scale and diversify from its existing graphics, gaming and AI use cases. Getting in the data center is vital with the overall move to the public cloud, so if this goes through, it means Nvidia will become more relevant for both executives and developers alike.”

The financial spin: Nvidia is paying a 15% premium to Mellanox’s Friday closing level, and indicated the purchase would be immediately accretive to earnings, margins and cash flows.

Written by turbotodd

March 11, 2019 at 2:03 pm

Call for Big Tech Regulation

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Well, the gloves are coming off.

In a report this morning from The New York Times, Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren has announced a regulatory plan aimed at breaking up some of America’s biggest Tech firms, including Amazon, Google and Facebook.

Specifically, the Proposal calls for the appointment of regulators who would unwind tech mergers that illegally undermine competition and legislation that would prohibit platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.

Excerpts from her blog post announcing the proposal:

Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation. I want a government that makes sure everybody — even the biggest and most powerful companies in America — plays by the rules. And I want to make sure that the next generation of great American tech companies can flourish. To do that, we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor.

That’s why my Administration will make big, structural changes to the tech sector to promote more competition — including breaking up Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

Warren argues that America’s big tech companies have used mergers and proprietary marketplaces to limit competition, and that “weak antitrust enforcement has led to a dramatic reduction in competition and innovation in the tech sector.”

Some specific remedies Warren calls for: Unwinding Facebook’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, Amazon’s acquisitions of Whole Foods and Zappos, and Google’s acquisitions of Waze, Nest, and DoubleClick (an acquisition that occurred, FYI, back in 2007 before the iPhone had even been introduced).

My own free market tendencies would generally disapprove of any such unwindings, but never mind the larger point I think that needs to be made, which is that Warren seems to be fighting the tech war of yesterday.

While she seems concerned about existing scale and domination, there doesn’t seem to be any focus on going on offense and preparing the workforce for the tsunami of robotic assistance and automation that is yet to come, a wave some would argue is already here and which could make this Big Tech trustbusting play look like, well, child’s play.

Written by turbotodd

March 8, 2019 at 11:01 am

Posted in 2019, AI, politics

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This Person Does Not Exist…No, Really!

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This one made me laugh out loud: According to a story in the Financial Times, two fifths of artificial intelligence (AI) start-ups don’t use any AI programs in their products.

This from a report by London-based investment firm MMC Ventures, which said it could not find any evidence of AI apps in 40 percent of 2,830 AI start-ups based on public information and interviews with executives.

And yet the companies were often described as AI-focused.

Hey, it’s AI. Everything can be AI when it’s AI. Except when it’s not, which just means the AI is fooling you into thinking it isn’t.

What’s up is down and what’s down is up, and as the White Queen explained in Alice in Wonderland, ”Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

This, increasingly, the world we’re moving into. 

Witness the most recent AI phenomenon, ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com, the creation of Uber software engineer Philp Wang.

If you haven’t checked this site out, it’s pretty simple (and yet, under the covers, quite complex): Every time you refresh the site its “generative adversarial network,” which was trained on a massive dataset of real images, produces a new facial image of a non-real person.

Yes, ladies and germs, a real website that creates images of fake people.

So if you thought you weren’t sure whether you could believe those sleazy photos of that sleazy politician were for real…well, now you’ll likely be right.

Then, extrapolate that scenario and multiply it by a gazillion others.

They always said truth was the first casualty of war…I think it’s safe to say you can now append AI to that list. 

Written by turbotodd

March 5, 2019 at 11:11 am

Posted in 2019, AI, startups

Tagged with , , ,

AI Survey: More Harm Than Good?

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Happy Friday.

So yesterday I wrote about the beginnings of an AI backlash vis a vis some of the tests Waymo has been doing on Arizona. 

Then today this AI study hits my in-box, featured on the MIT Technology Review and conducted by the Center for the Governance of AI and Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute.

The headline is that of Americans surveyed in the study, a higher percentage of respondents support than oppose AI development, while more respondents than not also believe high-level machine intelligence would do more harm than good for humanity.

The report goes on to ask respondents to rank their specific concerns, and they list a weakening of data privacy and the increased sophistication of cyber-attacks as issues of most concern and those most likely to affect many Americans within the next 10 years.

They’re also concerned about other key issues, including autonomous weapons, hiring bias, surveillance, digital manipulation, and, interestingly further down the list, technological unemployment.

So, more than 8 in 10 believe that AI and robotics should be “managed carefully.”

But as MIT observes in its article, that’s easier said than done “because they also don’t trust any one entity to pick up that mantle.”

I’m assuming that also means no one wants to leave it up to the Director from “Travelers” (you’ll have to go watch the show on Netflix to understand the reference…I don’t want to give any plot points away).

Where do they put the most trust in building AI?  University researchers, the US military, and tech companies, in that order.

Allan Dafoe, director of the center and coauthor of the report, says the following about the findings:

“There isn’t currently a consensus in favor of developing advanced AI, or that it’s going to be good for humanity,” he says. “That kind of perception could lead to the development of AI being perceived as illegitimate or cause political backlashes against the development of AI.”

“I believe AI could be a tremendous benefit,” Dafoe says. But the report shows a main obstacle in the way of getting there: “You have to make sure that you have a broad legitimate consensus around what society is going to undertake.”

Like any life-changing technology, it all comes down to trust…or the lack thereof.

Written by turbotodd

January 11, 2019 at 3:38 pm

Rage Against the Machines

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Happy Thursday.  

CES 2019 is heading into its last couple of days, and I suspect the big bang announcements are already over.

The one story that struck me most coming out of Vegas also apparently struck a robot.

I’m talking, of course, about the autonomous robot that was struck and “killed” by a self-driving Tesla Model S.

Apparently the poor robot, a Promobot, is manufactured by a Russian tech company and was just standing on the side of the road when the Tesla cruised by and edged Promobot off his feet…err, wheels!

Whether this was a real story or a great publicity stunt is really beside the point.

It could be a harbinger of things to come. Some would argue the Luddite blowback against AI and robots has already begun.

In Phoenix, where Waymo has been testing its self-driving cars for going on two years now, armed citizens have started taking to the streets.

A report from the Arizona Republic described “a multitude of incidents where citizens, apparently enraged by the sight of the Waymo vans, decided to threaten and attack their autonomous invaders.”

Specifically, they cited a man emerging from his home to “point a .22-calibre revolved at the van and its human safety driver.” 

The man, Roy Leonard Haselton, apparently had become obsessed with the vans after the March collision in Tempe, Arizona between an Uber Technologies Volvo and the pedestrian it killed, Elaine Herzberg.

But the threatening .22 was just one of 20-something incidents that have occurred in the past couple of years.

There have been incidences of rock throwing at Waymo vans, and games of chicken, one where a black Jeep engaged six Waymo vans, pulling into the oncoming lane in an attempt to cause the Waymo to swerve out of the way.

In short, the anti-AI/autonomous/bot Luddites are emerging from the shadows and they are p—ssed!

And the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, sits in his cell at the US Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado, twenty-some-odd years into this sentence and just shakes his head exclaiming “I told you so!”

Written by turbotodd

January 10, 2019 at 10:59 am

Smarter Assistance

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Happy Friday, and Happy Holidays.

For those of you who have already started fleeing to parts beyond, here’s hoping you did not get caught up in the drone traffic at Gatwick Airport outside of London.

I guess that whole geofencing thing to keep the drones out…yeah, that’s not working out so much.

Me, I’m firmly ensconced in Turbo North, praying for the weather to stay warm enough over the weekend to follow a little white ball around.

In the meantime, I’m trying to keep up with the breakneck pace of tech news that was coming out this week.

This one caught my eye from Loup Ventures, where they conducted their annual smart speaker IQ test.

They conducted the test by asking each of the four smart speakers — Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and Cortana — 800 questions each, and then measured how well they answered correctly and/or understood the query.

Google Assistant came out on top, answering the questions correctly 87.9 percent of the time and understanding the query 100 percent of the time!

Surprisingly (at least to me, anyways), Siri came in second at 74.6 and 99.6 percent, respectively, and Alexa third, at 72.5 and 99 percent. Cortana was dead last at 63.4 and 99.4 percent.

Meanwhile, if you’re a user of Slack, be prepared to not be cut any if you visited or live in a U.S. sanctioned country recently.

The Verge reported yesterday that Slack is banning some users with links to Iran, even if they’ve left the country. 

“In order to comply with export control and economic sanctions laws…Slack prohibits unauthorized use of its products and services in certain sanctioned countries,” the notice from Slack read. “We’ve identified your team/account as originating from one of these countries and are closing the account effective immediately.” Users received no warning, and had no time to create archives or otherwise back up data.

That right there is the long arm emoji of Uncle Sam hard at work!

And speaking of big guvment, there’s this on the sub-continent of India today: India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has authorized ten government agencies, including intelligence and law enforcement, to monitor, intercept, and decrypt data on all computers in the country. 

The governmental order detailing the powers immediately drew strong criticism from both India’s privacy activists and its opposition parties, who said it enabled blanket state surveillance and violated the fundamental right to privacy that India’s 1.3 billion citizens are constitutionally guaranteed.

People who don’t comply might face up to seven years in prison and a fine, according to India’s Information Technology Act, which the order falls under.

The order caused a major dispute in India’s parliament, with members of the opposition calling it “unconstitutional, undemocratic, and an assault on fundamental rights.”

How come all of a sudden almost every single tech story seems to also have a government or public policy angle?!

That would be a question best responded to by Facebook’s PR team, the next great breeding ground for crisis communications talent.

Okay, back to the salt mines…Happy Holidays, everyone!

Written by turbotodd

December 21, 2018 at 9:40 am

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