Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘AI

Big Fines and Big Pipes

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Happy Monday.

First off, a hearty congratulations to the European team Ryder Cup victors. They left the U.S. team babbling in Le Golf National’s dust from which U.S. captain Jim Furyk couldn’t see the forest for the fescue.

Meanwhile, tech-related news hardly stopped just because there was a not-so-exciting golf tournament going on outside Paris.

Remember that August Tweet Tesla’s Elon Musk sent about taking his company public at $420?

Yeah, well, he paid for that one when the SEC fined both he personally, and Tesla the company, $20 million apiece over the weekend.

Though Musk admitted no guilt, he did have to resign as chairman of Tesla for three years, as well as appoint two new independent directors. He will also be required to have his communications monitored, including his social media activity, ongoing.

We also learned that the state of California is being sued by the Trump Administration in an effort to block what some have described as the toughest net neutrality law ever enacted in the United States.

On Sunday, California became the largest state to adopt its own rules requiring internet providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to treat all web traffic equally.

Only hours after California’s proposal became official did senior Justice Department officials tell the Washington Post they would take the state to court on grounds that the federal government, not state leaders, has the exclusive power to regulate net neutrality.

That is the lowdown of the showdown in preparation for the big pipes throwdown.

Written by turbotodd

October 1, 2018 at 9:34 am

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

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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

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Oculus Went, Atlas Shrugged

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This has been some couple of weeks in technology. 

First, Facebook’s F8 conference last week, then Microsoft Build and Google I/O this week.

Coupla things stand out.

First, Facebook’s introduction of Oculus Go, the company’s new “everyperson’s” more friendly and accessible VR.  Looking back, I think the announcement was almost understated (and yes, there was a lot of other new news).

Like I always do when I’m considering a new tech purchase, I started searching for early reviews, and clearly Oculus/Facebook had done a good job getting devices into the hands of valued reviewers and sources. Almost to a one had mostly good things to say.

How often does that happen?  So I bit, and received my device one day ago this week.

For me, getting the Oculus Go was kind of like one of those moments you won’t forget: The first time I used the Netscape browser, the first time I used instant messaging, the first Tweet…Oculus Go was that moment for me where VR is concerned.

At SXSW two years ago I got to handle several of the leading VR goggles, and wasn’t really blown away by any of them — maybe it was all the umbilical cords and overweighted goggles. And maybe it was also the experiences themselves.

But when I got the Oculus Go last Friday, it just went. From the moment I turned it on to the quick setup to immediately blowing another $40 on a bundle of VR games and experiences, it was all easy peasy and sense surround.

Saturday morning, I downloaded a single shooter space game called “End Space.” It was so immersive that it had my brain thinking I was traveling through 360 degrees of space, requiring a spinning chair and, later, the spinning brain and dizziness to prove it. 

Now THAT was the kind of VR experience I’d been waiting for. Like I said when I first got it, finally good enough is more than good enough. Sure, you can complain if you’d like about the resolution not being where we’d like it and the fact that it’s really only 180 degrees, but those are minor roadblocks.

And these are still early days.

No, if nothing else, Oculus Go opens one’s imagination as to all the possibilities of full VR immersion, from education to virtual travel to gaming (already a strong suit in VR) to remote work and collaboration and beyond.  You can’t smell it yet, but you sure can touch it and feel it, and it feels pretty cool.

The second thing was experiencing yet another of those AI aha moments.

My first was back in the Web’s early Dark Ages, in 1997 in the auditorium of the Equitable Center in NYC where IBM’s Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov in chess — for those who saw it either there or online, it was an unmistakable leap forward — the machine beat the man. The next were IBM’s Watson beating the world’s best in Jeopardy!, and Google’s AlphaGo beating the world’s best humans in Go.

This week, watching the Google I/O webcast, I saw the Google Duplex technology in action, one where a disembodied Google Assistant voice was “smart” enough to call a hair salon and make an appointment…over the phone, and using her voice. The hair salon attendant seemed none the wiser.

I don’t know if that comes close to passing the Turing Test, but it’s pretty damned close.

And yet the very next day, I was attending a social media seminar given by our friends at Fleishman Hillard where I was introduced to “Lil Miquela” an Instagram influencer with over 1.1 million followers. 

Lil Miquela supports Black Lives Matter and seems to have a keen fashion sense. Lil Miquela is also not real. “She” was invented by an influencer marketing company called Brud, which Crunchbase says is “a group of problem solvers specializing in robotics, AI, and their applications to media businesses.”

Brud is in the business of selling access to brands to made-up influencers like Lil Miquela, and is backed by the likes of Sequoia Capital. And if you think about it, such a venture makes sense. As our Fleishman friends explained, “You don’t have to worry about Lil Miquela and her friends doing something in Vegas they shouldn’t be doing.” A, because Lil Miquela isn’t real, and B, because she has no “real” friends.

In other words, Lil Miquela and her ilk are “brand safe,” so why wouldn’t having a big brand associate themselves with her/it??

As I said in a room filled with actual real people, “We’re entering a wild wild “Westworld” where there are no rules and the boundaries aren’t clear…which makes for a nice petri dish in which just about anything and everything can by manipulated by digital, social and, now, AI and VR media. One day you’re talking to a Google Assistant to make your hair appointment, the next day you’re talking to a fake virtual IRS agent who’s taking control of your tax refund for you.

On October 30, 1938, renowned actor Orson Welles aired a radio broadcast on CBS based on H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds. 

Because the program was hosted on a “sustaining” show without commercial interruptions, “Mercury Theatre on the Air,” the program went on for 30 minutes and people across the country mistook the science fiction for an actual new broadcast. It caused panic across the country and people took to the streets. The Martians had arrived at Grover’s Mill!

That was 56 years before we saw the advent of the commercial Internet, and 80 years before we witnessed the Google Duplex phone call.

The saying used to go “Truth is stranger than fiction.”  Now, VR goggles and AI algorithms in tow, truth is increasingly turning into fiction, and that may be the slippery-est slope of all.

Written by turbotodd

May 11, 2018 at 10:21 am

Perspectives on AI

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MIT’s "The Download" recently reported that China’s artificial intelligence startups scored more funding that America’s last year.

Of $15.2 billion invested globally in 2017 in AI, 48 percent went to China and 38 percent to America. That’s the first time China’s AI startups surpassed those in the U.S. in terms of funding.

But The Download also observes competition continues to be fierce across the board. AI startup investment rose 141 percent in 2017, and 1,100 new AI startups appeared last year.

The R&D and overall AI market may, in fact, be moving too fast.

In a separate report from Science Magazine, an analysis revealed that AI may be grappling with a replication crisis when it comes to research:

AI researchers have found it difficult to reproduce many key results, and that is leading to a new conscientiousness about research methods and publication protocols….The most basic problem is that researchers often don’t share their source code. At the AAAI meeting, Odd Erik Gundersen, a computer scientist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, reported the results of a survey of 400 algorithms presented in papers at two top AI conferences in the past few years. He found that only 6% of the presenters shared the algorithm’s code. Only a third shared the data they tested their algorithms on, and just half shared "pseudocode"—a limited summary of an algorithm. (In many cases, code is also absent from AI papers published in journals, including Science and Nature.)

Why are researchers holding back?

The article argues researchers believe some code may be a work in progress, or could be owned by a company or held tightly by a researcher eager to stay ahead of the competition.

IBM Research offered some assistance a the recent AAAI meeting, a tool for recreating unpublished source code automatically. Itself a neural network, it scans an AI research paper looking for a chart or diagram describing a neural net, parses those data into layers and connections, and generates the network in new code.

At this week’s Index | San Francisco conference, on Wednesday at 9 AM PST, New York Times journalist and author John Markoff will be hosting a session entitled "Perspectives on AI." You can register to watch the livestream here.

Written by turbotodd

February 19, 2018 at 10:11 am

Posted in 2018, AI, artificial intelligence

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IBM and MIT to Pursue Joint Research in Artificial Intelligence

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IBM and MIT today announced that IBM plans to make a 10-year, $240 million investment to create the MIT–IBM Watson AI Lab in partnership with MIT. The lab will carry out fundamental artificial intelligence (AI) research and seek to propel scientific breakthroughs that unlock the potential of AI.

The collaboration aims to advance AI hardware, software and algorithms related to deep learning and other areas, increase AI’s impact on industries, such as health care and cybersecurity, and explore the economic and ethical implications of AI on society. IBM’s $240 million investment in the lab will support research by IBM and MIT scientists.

The new lab will be one of the largest long-term university-industry AI collaborations to date, mobilizing the talent of more than 100 AI scientists, professors, and students to pursue joint research at IBM’s Research Lab in Cambridge — co-located with the IBM Watson Health and IBM Security headquarters in Kendall Square, in Cambridge, Massachusetts — and on the neighboring MIT campus.

The lab will be co-chaired by IBM Research VP of AI and IBM Q, Dario Gil, and Anantha P. Chandrakasan, dean of MIT’s School of Engineering. IBM and MIT plan to issue a call for proposals to MIT researchers and IBM scientists to submit their ideas for joint research to push the boundaries in AI science and technology in several areas, including:

  • AI algorithms: Developing advanced algorithms to expand capabilities in machine learning and reasoning. Researchers will create AI systems that move beyond specialized tasks to tackle more complex problems, and benefit from robust, continuous learning. Researchers will invent new algorithms that can not only leverage big data when available, but also learn from limited data to augment human intelligence.
  • Physics of AI: Investigating new AI hardware materials, devices, and architectures that will support future analog computational approaches to AI model training and deployment, as well as the intersection of quantum computing and machine learning. The latter involves using AI to help characterize and improve quantum devices, and also researching the use of quantum computing to optimize and speed up machine-learning algorithms and other AI applications.
  • Application of AI to industries: Given its location in IBM Watson Health and IBM Security headquarters and Kendall Square, a global hub of biomedical innovation, the lab will develop new applications of AI for professional use, including fields such as health care and cybersecurity. The collaboration will explore the use of AI in areas such as the security and privacy of medical data, personalization of healthcare, image analysis, and the optimum treatment paths for specific patients.
  • Advancing shared prosperity through AI: The MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab will explore how AI can deliver economic and societal benefits to a broader range of people, nations, and enterprises. The lab will study the economic implications of AI and investigate how AI can improve prosperity and help individuals achieve more in their lives.

In addition to IBM’s plan to produce innovations that advance the frontiers of AI, a distinct objective of the new lab is to encourage MIT faculty and students to launch companies that will focus on commercializing AI inventions and technologies that are developed at the lab. The lab’s scientists also will publish their work, contribute to the release of open source material, and foster an adherence to the ethical application of AI.

Both MIT and IBM have been pioneers in artificial intelligence research, and the new AI lab builds on a decades-long research relationship between the two. In 2016, IBM Research announced a multi-year collaboration with MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences to advance the scientific field of machine vision, a core aspect of artificial intelligence.

The collaboration has brought together leading brain, cognitive, and computer scientists to conduct research in the field of unsupervised machine understanding of audio-visual streams of data, using insights from next-generation models of the brain to inform advances in machine vision. In addition, IBM and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have established a five-year, $50 million research collaboration on AI and Genomics.

For more information, visit MITIBMWatsonAILab.mit.edu.

Written by turbotodd

September 7, 2017 at 9:09 am

IBM Watson To Generate Match Highlights At The U.S. Open

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IBM has announced it is launching IBM Watson Media, a new suite of AI-powered solutions on the IBM Cloud that analyze images, video, language, sentiment and tone, at the US Open.

By combining IBM Watson with IBM’s video capabilities, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) will be able to rapidly share highlight videos of more matches while engaging and informing fans more than ever before.

The US Open will use one of the first solutions available through IBM Watson Media called Cognitive Highlights. Developed at IBM Research with IBM iX, Cognitive Highlights can identify the match’s most important moments by analyzing the statistical tennis data, sounds from the crowd and the reactions of a player using both action and facial expression recognition.

The system then ranks the shots from seven US Open courts and auto-curates the highlights, which simplifies the video production process and ultimately positions the USTA team to scale and accelerate the creation of cognitive highlight packages.

The finished highlight videos will be available in four ways:

  • Each day, the USTA will post a Highlight of the Day, as ranked by Watson, on its Facebook page.
  • Fans that “favorite” players on the US Open apps will receive real-time push notification alerts about those players’ highlights. Fans on iOS 10 can play the highlights within the lock screen.
  • On the player bio page, video highlights will be available across all of the USTA’s digital platforms.
  • Onsite in the player’s lounge and in the fan-facing IBM Watson Experience on the plaza near Court 9.

“The US Open is packed with so much action across so many courts that even the fastest video team is challenged to keep pace with what’s happening,” said Noah Syken, IBM VP of Sports & Entertainment Partnerships. “To meet that challenge, Watson is now watching the matches alongside the USTA to help bring fans closer to the best moments across the courts shortly after they happen. We’re seeing this technology come to life through tennis, but the entire IBM Watson Media portfolio has the potential to impact many industries.”

Written by turbotodd

August 31, 2017 at 8:54 am

Posted in 2017, cognitve computing, ibm watson, us open

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Codify Academy Users IBM Cloud, Watson to Design Cognitive Chatbot

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IBM recently announced that Codify Academy, a San Francisco-based developer education startup, tapped into IBM Cloud’s cognitive services to create an interactive cognitive chatbot, Bobbot, that is improving student experiences and increasing enrollment.

Using the IBM Watson Conversation Service, Bobbot fields questions from prospective and current students in natural language via the company’s website.

Since implementing the chatbot, Codify Academy has engaged thousands of potential leads through live conversation between the bot and site visitors, leading to a 10 percent increase in converting these visitors into students.

IBM Cloud with Watson provided Codify Academy with the speed and scale needed to immediately start building with cognitive intelligence. Bobbot can answer more than 200 common questions about enrollment, course and program details, tuition, and prerequisites, in turn enabling Codify Academy staff to focus on deeper, more meaningful exchanges.

For example, students can ask questions such as “What kind of job will I be able to find after I complete the program?” or “How do I apply, and what are tuition rates?”

“We saw a huge spike in interest from potential students in the early days of our company, which is a fortunate problem to have, but made us realize we needed to quickly build a solution to help us scale,” said Matt Brody at Codify Academy. “IBM Cloud gave us the infrastructure and access to cognitive services, including Watson, that we needed to quickly build and deploy an intelligent and intuitive bot – in turn helping us to field all inquiries and significantly increase enrollment.”

Codify Academy runs on the IBM Cloud platform, which has become one of the largest open, public cloud deployments in the world. It features more than 150 tools and services, spanning categories of cognitive intelligence, blockchain, security, Internet of Things, quantum computing and DevOps.

“We have designed our cloud platform to serve as the best possible engine for cognitive apps such as chatbots," said Adam Gunther, Director, IBM Cloud. "This enables companies to harness and fine tune incoming data quickly to create highly tailored user experiences.”

To learn more about Codify Academy, visit http://codifyacademy.com/.

Written by turbotodd

August 4, 2017 at 1:42 pm

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