TheTake Looks to Convert Product Recognition to B2B Service

TheTake, a startup that helps viewers purchase the products that they see in movies and television shows, is now turning its image recognition technology into a business-to-business service. The company is selling the service to major studios and entertainment sites so that they can generate extra revenue from identifying marketable products and locations. TheTake built the technology by training an AI to look for matches from the company’s database of more than 10 million products. Continue reading TheTake Looks to Convert Product Recognition to B2B Service

Facebook’s New Mission Statement Emphasizes Global Issues

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg just released a 6,000 word document outlining the company’s new role in “social infrastructure,” to address terrorism, disease, climate change and other global woes. He suggested ways that the 13-year old company can work with governments, nonprofit organizations and other companies. Zuckerberg revealed that the company is building products and developing tools to fight the spread of fake news, and use AI to detect terrorism propaganda as well as promote global political engagement. Continue reading Facebook’s New Mission Statement Emphasizes Global Issues

Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Both Amazon and Google are thinking about turning their respective home speakers — Echo and Google Home — into home telephones. Knowledgeable sources say the tech giants could introduce the feature this year, with the goal of gaining yet more control over consumers’ home lives. But the companies are also finding that it’s not so simple, facing issues related to privacy, telecom regulations and emergency services — as well as the potential that consumers will be wary that their conversations are being recorded. Continue reading Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

The Ford Motor Company is extending its foray into self-driving car technology with a $1 billion investment in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence startup. The newly formed startup, led by former Google and Uber self-driving experts, will initially develop the technology for Ford before licensing it to other companies. The move is part of Ford’s strategy to rebrand itself as more than a car manufacturer. The billion-dollar investment will roll out over the next five years. Argo AI will become a subsidiary of Ford that operates out of Pittsburgh, one of the main hubs of autonomous driving research. Continue reading Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

Artificial Intelligence Now Powers Photo Searches on Facebook

Facebook’s Lumos computer vision platform, which was originally created to help visually impaired members of the social network’s community, is now being used for a more sophisticated image search. It allows users to find images on Facebook via key words that describe content, rather than a search that is limited to tags and captions. “Facebook trained an ever-fashionable deep neural network on tens of millions of photos,” explains TechCrunch. “The model essentially matches search descriptors to features pulled from photos” and “ranks its output using information from both the images and the original search.” Facebook may apply the tech to videos in the future and potentially raise the bar on its targeted ad offerings. Continue reading Artificial Intelligence Now Powers Photo Searches on Facebook

IBM’s Watson Joins with H&R Block for Better Tax Preparation

IBM struck a deal with H&R Block to utilize Watson to help the company’s 70,000 tax professionals at 10,000 branch offices file taxes for 11 million customers. The partnership, which was presented in a 60-second Super Bowl ad on Sunday, began last summer when H&R Block chief executive Bill Cobb contacted IBM. His goal was to aid the company’s professionals in increasing tax refunds and reducing tax liabilities for the company’s clients, and make the experience “engaging and interactive.” Continue reading IBM’s Watson Joins with H&R Block for Better Tax Preparation

Facebook Eyes Success with Mobile Ads and Focus on Video

In its Q4 earnings report, Facebook revealed that sales rose 51 percent to $8.81 billion, above the $8.51 billion average analyst prediction. The bump in revenue is largely attributed to advertising on mobile phones. Also, within the space of a year, monthly active Facebook users increased 17 percent to 1.86 billion people, with 1.23 billion checking daily and 1.74 billion accessing the social network via their smartphones. Facebook has now cemented its No. 2 position in the mobile advertising market behind Google. The company is also making a major move into video content. Continue reading Facebook Eyes Success with Mobile Ads and Focus on Video

SoundHound Raises $75M to Advance AI Speech Recognition

Twelve-year old audio recognition company SoundHound just raised $75 million to build its speech recognition AI-based platform, Houndify, betting that voice will become the dominant form of interaction with Internet-connected devices. Although large companies like Apple, Baidu and Microsoft dominate the space, SoundHound has built its own AI technology to identify audio. In contrast to these other companies, SoundHound also plans to offer its voice AI tools to other device manufacturers. Continue reading SoundHound Raises $75M to Advance AI Speech Recognition

FaceApp Uses Neural Networks to Alter Age, Gender in Photos

FaceApp relies on neural networks to paste a smile on a person’s photo or change his gender or age. The iOS app doesn’t always work reliably; if the person’s face is large, has a beard or isn’t looking straight at the camera, for example, the results can be unconvincing. Switching genders can produce convincing results, but can only be accessed in “collage” mode, for a very small image. But FaceApp, similar to the Prisma app that uses artificial intelligence to make selfies look like famous paintings, proves that AI is making it easier to manipulate photographs. Continue reading FaceApp Uses Neural Networks to Alter Age, Gender in Photos

IBM, Microsoft Execs Promote the Ethical Development of AI

Many in the artificial intelligence community have called for ethical guidelines for the burgeoning field, and IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty is the latest to add her voice, which she did at the World Economic Forum in Davos. MIT, Harvard and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman have established a $27 million fund to analyze the impact and implications of AI; the IEEE has proposed ethical guidelines; the Obama administration issued a report on AI’s impact on jobs; and Carnegie Mellon studies the future of AI. Continue reading IBM, Microsoft Execs Promote the Ethical Development of AI

Android Creator Andy Rubin to Launch Smartphone This Year

Since leaving Google two years ago, Android operating system creator Andy Rubin has integrated his expertise in software with artificial intelligence to create consumer-facing Essential. The company, which was first registered in California in November 2015, has 40 employees, many from Apple and Google. Essential is first building an upscale smartphone whose large screen has no surrounding bezel. “Tablets, accessories and computer operating software for mobile phones” are also potential future products. Continue reading Android Creator Andy Rubin to Launch Smartphone This Year

Corporations Are Adopting AI, Startup Debuts AI-Based Video

As artificial intelligence and machine learning become less expensive, their role is taking off in corporate America, and will soon extend from routine tasks to more complex, sophisticated decision-making. The neural network, for example, mimics the operations of the human brain, enabling AI to learn without extensive human intervention. Companies that are moving towards AI include AIG, which has shifted funds that would have gone to outsourced projects to AI, and aims to hire more programmers with AI skills. Continue reading Corporations Are Adopting AI, Startup Debuts AI-Based Video

Fiat Chrysler/Waymo Self-Driving Vehicle a Collaborative First

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Google unveiled a self-driving minivan built by Fiat Chrysler and featuring sensors and vision systems from Waymo, the company that spun off from Google parent Alphabet. The van is the first major collaboration between a Detroit car manufacturer and a Silicon Valley behemoth, and is an example of Waymo’s strategy of partnering with automakers that may not want to fully shoulder the financial burden of building a self-driving car from scratch. General Motors and Ford Motor are building their own autonomous cars. Continue reading Fiat Chrysler/Waymo Self-Driving Vehicle a Collaborative First

Digital Assistants Grab Spotlight at CES, Alexa Leads the Pack

Virtual assistants that serve as a new voice-activated hub to the connected smart home and our ecosystem of personal electronics have grabbed the spotlight at this year’s CES. Aided by advances in artificial intelligence software that enable improved speech interaction with devices, tech giants such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others are battling for dominance in the digital assistant space. These companies are looking beyond smartphones and PCs toward a world in which voice-based systems become a standard feature in TVs, cable boxes, home appliances and connected vehicles. If the headlines are any indication, it seems that Amazon’s Alexa has taken an early lead in this race. Continue reading Digital Assistants Grab Spotlight at CES, Alexa Leads the Pack

Emotech Demos Olly: Your Lifestyle Assistant with Personality

At CES last week, Emotech, a UK-based startup, introduced a desktop robotic assistant named Olly that develops a unique personality depending on individual users and their interactions with it. The doughnut-shaped, voice-controlled personal assistant is similar in function to the other smart lifestyle assistants. It will play you music or tell you the weather like Amazon’s Alexa, but the company hopes Olly’s personality will set it apart. The device has two cameras and a microphone array, allowing it to face the user, and will use a combination of AI techniques to decipher a user’s state of mind and respond accordingly. Continue reading Emotech Demos Olly: Your Lifestyle Assistant with Personality

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