Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

To battle Amazon’s ubiquity and customers’ fickle loyalty, some retailers are testing the new Customer 360 software from Salesforce.com and Freshworks to improve their customer service. The software lets retailers build shopper profiles similar to Facebook to better understand what each customer wants and increase the odds that he or she will become more loyal to the retailer in question. Other strategies retailers are employing are the use of improved chatbots and better customer support training. Continue reading Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

Intel Describes Tool to Train AI Models With Encrypted Data

Intel revealed that it has made progress in an anonymized, encrypted method of model training. Industries such as healthcare that need a way to use AI tools on sensitive, personally identifiable information have been waiting for just such a capability. At the NeurIPS 2018 conference in Montreal, Intel showed off its open-sourced HE-Transformer that works as a backend to its nGraph neural network compiler, allowing AI models to work on encrypted data. HE-Transformer is also based on a Microsoft Research encryption library. Continue reading Intel Describes Tool to Train AI Models With Encrypted Data

Amazon Unveils Graviton, Its Own ARM Chips for Data Centers

In a surprise announcement, Amazon revealed that it is making its own chips, dubbed Graviton, for its cloud computing division. Similarly, Google also recently stated its plans to create chips for artificial intelligence algorithms in its data center. Amazon’s chips are likewise targeting its data centers, where the company hopes to better integrate software and hardware, resulting in less expensive services for customers. Typically, companies like Amazon and Google would use AMD or Intel’s off-the-shelf chips. Continue reading Amazon Unveils Graviton, Its Own ARM Chips for Data Centers

Facebook Expands Watch Party, Playlist Makes Music Social

Facebook is expanding its Watch Party feature globally, to all Pages and all users. The company debuted the feature to all Groups in July 2018; in the following months, users streamed more than 12 million Watch Parties, which allow remote viewers to watch and comment together in real time. According to Facebook, these Watch Parties have resulted in eight times as many comments as the number generated by non-live videos in Groups, which the company regards as a “key metric” that the feature does indeed encourage engagement. Meanwhile, a new app named Playlist is bringing similar social interaction to music. Continue reading Facebook Expands Watch Party, Playlist Makes Music Social

NBCU Testing Machine Learning Tool for Better Ad Placement

NBCUniversal introduced its Contextual Intelligence Platform, a machine learning-powered tool that places ads in the most relevant spots across its many media properties. The tool examines program scripts, closed captions, and visual descriptions of the program and ads to find the best moment for an advertiser’s spot. The tool also relies on proprietary algorithms to gauge the emotionality of each scene. NBCU is beta-testing the system with three to five advertisers, and plans to release it in early 2019. Continue reading NBCU Testing Machine Learning Tool for Better Ad Placement

New Alexa Speaking Style Created by Neural Text-to-Speech

Amazon is training Alexa to speak like a newscaster, a feature that will roll out in a few weeks. The new speaking style is based on Amazon’s neural text-to-speech (NTTS) developments. The new voice style doesn’t sound human, but does stress words as a TV or radio announcer would. Before creating this voice, Amazon did a survey that showed that users prefer this newscaster style when listening to articles. The new voice is also an example of “the next generation of speech synthesis,” based on machine learning. Continue reading New Alexa Speaking Style Created by Neural Text-to-Speech

Pandora and Spotify Bring Streaming Experience to Podcasts

Podcasting is growing popular among a younger demographic, and now Pandora and Spotify are leveraging their music streaming experience in an effort to engage those listeners. The main challenge with podcasting is discoverability. Pandora Media chief executive Roger Lynch characterizes podcast discovery as “the Stone Age” compared to music discovery. He believes that the company can bring people in to listen to a podcast and keep them on the platform with music. Neither company revealed details of its podcast businesses. Continue reading Pandora and Spotify Bring Streaming Experience to Podcasts

Sports Leagues Pioneer Virtual Reality-Powered Innovations

In February, Verizon hosted a virtual reality Super Bowl LII experience over a 5G network at a virtual luxury suite at Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium. That NFL/Oculus Rift collaboration put viewers on the field in the midst of 3D holographic models, and is only one of numerous examples of the marriage of professional sports and virtual reality. The BBC app, for example, offered a virtual reality World Cup experience, and NBC let viewers pick their camera angles and access data for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Continue reading Sports Leagues Pioneer Virtual Reality-Powered Innovations

In Speedier Rollout, Amazon Adds Four New Alexa Slot Types

When Amazon’s Alexa asks for the name of an actor, athlete, author or another noun in response to a question, there’s a method to the madness: it’s trying to fill a “slot type,” which defines how data is recognized. A skill or third party app with a slot type for actors would likely query filmographies listing names of actors. These slots are intended to save time, says Amazon, as well as provide a more consistent experience. Amazon is adding four new slot types: Creative Work, Food, Sport and Video Game. Continue reading In Speedier Rollout, Amazon Adds Four New Alexa Slot Types

AMD Debuts Zen 2 Chip Architecture, Turns to Chiplet Design

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) debuted Zen 2 processor architecture, a follow-up to the Zen design introduced in March 2017, to be launched beginning in 2019. AMD chief executive Lisa Su said the Zen 2 doubles performance of the first Zen generation, which itself could process 52 percent more instructions per clock cycle than its previous generation. The company hopes its new processors will help it surpass or at least maintain parity with Intel processors. AMD is also relying on new chiplet design to maintain growth. Continue reading AMD Debuts Zen 2 Chip Architecture, Turns to Chiplet Design

Facebook’s VideoStory Relies on AI to Automate Storytelling

Facebook’s video clips get over 8 billion views a day on average, but people with bad Internet connections or disabilities often don’t have access to them. That led Facebook to create VideoStory, which the company described in a research paper as “A Dataset for Telling the Stories of Social Media Videos.” The paper, to be delivered at the Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, noted that, “automatically telling the stories using multi-sentence descriptions of videos would allow bridging this gap.” Continue reading Facebook’s VideoStory Relies on AI to Automate Storytelling

Unity Deepens Storytelling Workbench With CineCast Feature

At the Unite 2018 developers conference last week, Unity Technologies’ head of cinematics, Adam Myhill, unveiled CineCast, a synthetic co-director for filming video games that has implications for narrative storytelling and sports broadcasts of all kinds. Myhill, with the help of four players and a stand-in director — professional gamer Stephanie Harvey — demoed the CineCast mode for “GTFO,” a first-person shooter and the first property to use CineCast. Under Harvey’s watchful eye, CineCast automatically and in real-time chose the best and highest quality shot to move the action forward, with Harvey making only a few, on-the-fly adjustments. Continue reading Unity Deepens Storytelling Workbench With CineCast Feature

Pinterest Introduces New Features to Make Shopping Easier

In an effort to become more of a personal shopping assistant, Pinterest has introduced product recommendations with its new Product Pin system based on an individual’s tastes. It has also launched a shopping shortcut in the main home feed that provides easy access to a shopping-specific feed and list of shoppable Product Pins by holding down a Home or Style pin to access a shopping tag icon. Pinterest previously rolled out Buyable Pins for direct purchases through the platform in addition to other recommendation features such as Shop the Look and Lens that use machine learning and visual search. Continue reading Pinterest Introduces New Features to Make Shopping Easier

Scientists and Military Look for Key to Identifying Deepfakes

The term “deepfakes” describes the use of artificial intelligence and computer-generated tricks to make a person (usually a well-known celebrity or politician) appear to do or say “fake” things. For example, actor Alden Ehrenreich’s face was recently replaced by Harrison Ford’s face in footage from “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” The technique could be meant simply for entertainment or for more sinister purposes. The more convincing deepfakes become, the more unease they create among AI scientists, and military and intelligence communities. As a result, new methods are being developed to help combat the technology. Continue reading Scientists and Military Look for Key to Identifying Deepfakes

Accounting, Finance Industries Demand Explainable AI Tools

As artificial intelligence-based tools become more widespread in the business industry, cloud service companies are debuting tools that explain the artificial intelligence algorithms they use to provide more transparency and assure users of their ethical behavior. That’s because regulated industries are demanding it. Capital One and Bank of America are just two such companies interested in using AI to improve detection of fraud, but want to know how the algorithms work before they implement such tools. Continue reading Accounting, Finance Industries Demand Explainable AI Tools

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