AI Biweekly: 10 Bits from Oct (Pt 1)
October 2nd — Instagram Releases Shoppable Tags Feature in US
US businesses using BigCommerce now have access to Instagram’s shoppable posts through photo tags. BigCommerce also provides data analytics to vendors including viewerships and click-through rates. The platform currently serves over 50,000 vendors ranging from SMEs to big conglomerates, taking advantage of Instagram’s 800 million monthly active users. The platform has experienced a stunning growth of 100% since March to reach two million users. Retail brands like Kate Spade, JackThreads have been monetizing on Instagram since last November.
October 4th — Voyage Launches Self-Driving Taxis in San Jose Escorting 4,000 Residents
Udacity spinoff startup Voyage has launched self-driving taxis in a retirement community in San Jose, escorting 4,000 residents for rides up to 24 km at a speed of 40 km/hr. The company went through lengthy permission granting processing from the California state government, followed by insurance assessments. The self-driving car is equipped with a Velodyne LiDAR system. Company CEO Oliver Cameron tells the press that if the pilot service goes well, he expects the deployment to expand to the whole city.
October 10th — Deutsche Bank Announces First Artificial Intelligence Implementation Through IBM Watson
Deutsche Bank is using the IBM Watson cognitive system to implement a new Artificial Intelligence Client Communication Center (AI-C³). The bank plans to use this technology for customer support and internal advisory. The system can upgrade consultancy speed and quality with the help of data analysis. The launch is expected to be by the end of 2017 with additional user cases released in 2018.
October 10th — Alibaba Group Pumps US$15 Billion into AI & Quantum Computing
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group announces the new DAMO Academy for fundamental and disruptive technology research. The company will invest US$15 billion into the project, which has a dozen top-notch international scientists working in quantum computing, machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, cybersecurity, human-computer interaction, fintech, IoT, hardware, and more. DAMO is the sequel to Alibaba’s “NASA” plan announced earlier this year, which involves more than 20,000 scientists and engineers.
October 10th — Intel Joins Facebook and Microsft’s ONNX Ecosystem
Intel joins Facebook and Microsoft’s Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) AI developer platform. The company will back up the project with Intel Nervana’s reference deep learning framework Neon, Intel Nervana Graph opensource library, and the Intel deep learning deployment toolkit. Currently, ONNX is supported by Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, Caffe2, and PyTorch. Intel’s participation in the ecosystem means accelerating training time and providing more options for developers, on top of forming a strategic partnership with Facebook and Microsoft against high profile moves from Nvidia, its biggest competitor in the AI industry.
October 11th — Facebook Pushes Ad Overhaul Before 2018 U.S. Election
Facebook is weeding out political advertisements after evidence showing Russian involvement in the last US election. Company COO Sheryl Sandberg arrived in Washington this week to discuss concerns rising out of national stability. Facebook currently has two billion users and five million advertisers. The sheer scale of the operation is pressing the company to hire 1,000 more employees to deal with political advertising. This also means reinventing the company’s automated systems to help accomplish the task.
October 11th — Facebook Introduces Standalone VR Headset Oculus Go for US$199
Facebook introduces its virtual reality headset Oculus Go at the price of US$199. The new device can operate without a smartphone or PC. The Oculus Rift series first launched at US$599 and the company had difficulty selling it to the mass market, which isn’t thrilled by the virtual world just yet. To hype user interest, Facebook announced a virtual reality hangout app named Spaces at the Oculus Connect Developer conference. The social app is designed to blend VR with Facebook features to make a virtual space where friends can hang out together.
October 12th — Amazon and Microsoft Now Have Gluon to Counter Google’s TensorFlow
Amazon and Microsoft let their virtual assistants Alexa and Cortana talk to each other in August, and now the companies are teaming up on the developer side. Gluon, a python-based programming interface, allows developers to work with MXNet backed by Amazon Web Services and Micorosft’s Cognitive Toolkit. The interface is being open-sourced for wider adoption. Gluon is an apparent counter to Google’s popular open-sourced AI framework TensorFlow, first released in 2015.
October 12th — Google and Goodwill Partner to Train One Million People with Digital Skills
Google teams up with workforce development nonprofit organization Goodwill to launch the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator. The company is injecting US$10 million and marshalling 1,000 Google volunteers for the project. The end goal is to help train one million people from disadvantaged demographics with digital skills that will help them transition back into society. The initiative will begin in the home of Goodwill’s headquarters, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is hoped the project can help fill more than six million US job openings requiring specific technical skills.
October 13th — Google’s AutoML Project Can Now Make AI-Made AI
Google researchers have taught machine learning algorithms from its AutoML project to self-produce. The models have generated new models more powerful than those designed by humans. Due to the scarcity of AI talents, AutoML’s breakthrough is considered very useful. AI made by AI can expedite the spread of technology to various industry sectors. Company CEO Sundar Pichai says the company wants to “democratize” AutoML for the benefit of the programmer community.
Credit: Synced Global Industry Analyst Team | Editorial & Infograph: Meghan Han