Big Tech Companies Acquire Significant Number of AI Startups

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating the purchase of hundreds of small startups made by Big Tech companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft to determine if they have become too powerful. In 2019, a record-breaking 231 artificial intelligence startups were snapped up, which in many cases ended public availability of their products. According to CB Insights, that number compares to 42 AI startups acquired in 2014. Apple has been the No. 1 buyer of these startups since 2010. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Acquire Significant Number of AI Startups

CES 2020: ‘Robots for Good’ Advocates See Hopeful Future

A conference on “Robots for Good” sought to allay increased fears that robot overlords will soon rule the world and make humans redundant in the workforce. UC Berkeley professor Ken Goldberg, who heads a robotics lab there, spoke about his “radically hopeful vision of the future.” Robots will not replace humans, he said, but rather enable people to focus on what they do best: creativity, innovation, empathy and other inherent human traits. Goldberg also put the fear of robots in historical perspective. Continue reading CES 2020: ‘Robots for Good’ Advocates See Hopeful Future

Intel Doubles Down on AI with $2 Billion Habana Acquisition

Intel acquired Israel-based AI chip manufacturer Habana Labs for about $2 billion, to strengthen its offerings for data centers requiring such chips. The tech giant already stated that it expects to complete more than $3.5 billion in sales related to artificial intelligence, an increase of 20 percent from last year. The Habana purchase is just one of several that Intel has made in recent years in its efforts to grow new markets. Intel expects the AI chip market to grow to $25 billion by 2024, half from selling chips for data centers. Continue reading Intel Doubles Down on AI with $2 Billion Habana Acquisition

Google Founders Step Down: New Era for Tech Giant Begins

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have stepped down from their executive roles, with Google chief executive Sundar Pichai now heading up both Google and Alphabet. For the past 20 years, Page and Brin personified the company and many of their ideas on how to run an Internet company became standard for other Silicon Valley firms. The two first dialed back their involvement in 2015 when they created Alphabet as a holding company and turned their attention to “other bets,” including life-extending technologies. Continue reading Google Founders Step Down: New Era for Tech Giant Begins

Microsoft Pairs Azure Cloud Platform, Graphcore AI Chips

Microsoft will begin providing customers of its Azure cloud platform with chips made by U.K. startup Graphcore, with the goal of speeding up the computations for artificial intelligence projects. Graphcore, founded in Bristol in 2016, has attracted several hundred million dollars in investment and the attention of many AI researchers. Microsoft invested in Graphcore last December, with the hope of making its cloud services more compelling. Graphcore’s chips have not previously been available publicly. Continue reading Microsoft Pairs Azure Cloud Platform, Graphcore AI Chips

SuperGLUE Is Benchmark For Language-Understanding AI

Researchers recently introduced a series of rigorous benchmark tasks that measure the performance of sophisticated language-understanding AI. Facebook AI Research with Google’s DeepMind, University of Washington and New York University introduced SuperGLUE last week, based on the idea that deep learning models for today’s conversational AI require greater challenges. SuperGLUE, which uses Google’s BERT representational model as a performance baseline, follows the 2018 introduction of GLUE (General Language Understanding Evaluation), and encourages the creation of models that can understand more nuanced, complex language. Continue reading SuperGLUE Is Benchmark For Language-Understanding AI

Microsoft Invests in OpenAI to Pursue Challenging AI Goal

With Sam Altman as chief executive, OpenAI, the nonprofit artificial intelligence lab he founded with Elon Musk, has become a for-profit company pursuing investments. In fact, Altman, who stepped down as head of Y Combinator, just inked an impressive $1 billion contract with Microsoft. With Microsoft as a marquee investor, OpenAI will now pursue its lofty goal of creating artificial general intelligence (AGI), a system that can mimic the human brain. Alphabet’s DeepMind lab is also pursuing the creation of AGI. Continue reading Microsoft Invests in OpenAI to Pursue Challenging AI Goal

Bots Take On Gamers to Help Advance Artificial Intelligence

At DeepMind, Alphabet’s AI labs, researchers built virtual video-game players that master the game by playing other bots. Most of the time, the bots played a capture-the-flag video game better than human game testers who are professional. DeepMind researcher Max Jaderberg said that the work, first described in the company blog last year, is moving towards “developing the fundamental algorithms” that could in the future lead to a “more human intelligence.” Not every lab, however, can afford the compute power required. Continue reading Bots Take On Gamers to Help Advance Artificial Intelligence

Quantum Computing Era Approaches as Moore’s Law Ends

Quantum computing is coming and it’s safe to say that only a handful of people know what it is. At NAB 2019, USC Viterbi School of Engineering Ph.D. candidate Bibek Pokharel did an excellent job of breaking down the basics. First, according to quantum computer scientists, all the computers we have used thus far are “classical computers.” Although IBM, Intel, Google, Microsoft, Rigetti and D-Wave have built quantum computers, the task is so incredibly complex that you won’t be able to purchase one at Best Buy. Continue reading Quantum Computing Era Approaches as Moore’s Law Ends

Google Debuts Deep Planning Network Agent with DeepMind

Google unveiled the Deep Planning Network (PlaNet) agent, created in collaboration with DeepMind, to provide reinforcement learning via images. Reinforcement learning uses rewards to improve AI agents’ decision-making. Whereas model-free techniques work by getting agents to predict actions from observations, agents created with model-based reinforcement learning come up with a general model of the environment leveraged for decision-making. In unfamiliar surroundings, however, agents must create rules from experience. Continue reading Google Debuts Deep Planning Network Agent with DeepMind

DeepMind’s AlphaZero Defeats Leading Chess Game Engine

Alphabet’s London-based DeepMind loosed AlphaZero, its AI-powered system that can master games without human intervention, on Stockfish, the highest rated chess game engine, and crushed it. DeepMind developed the self-training method, dubbed deep reinforcement learning, specifically to attack strategy board game “Go,” and an earlier iteration of the system beat one of the world’s best “Go” players, although it needed human guidance. AlphaZero trained itself in chess in three days, rejecting red-marked moves after a mere 1,000 simulations. Continue reading DeepMind’s AlphaZero Defeats Leading Chess Game Engine

DeepMind’s Learning Algorithm Could Prove a Game-Changer

DeepMind recently released the full evaluation of AlphaZero, a single system capable of playing “Go,” chess, and shogi (Japanese chess). This new project builds on AlphaGo, a program that beat one of the best players in the world at the board game “Go” in 2016, and AlphaGo Zero, software capable of mastering the game from first principles. AlphaZero represents a dramatic step forward in AI research as it is one of the first intelligent systems capable of generalizing solutions to new problems with little to no human input. Continue reading DeepMind’s Learning Algorithm Could Prove a Game-Changer

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

DeepMind Intros Intriguing Deep Neural Network Algorithm

A research team at Google’s AI unit DeepMind, led by Ali Eslami and Danilo Rezende, has created software via a generative query network (GQN) to create a new perspective of a scene that the neural network has never seen. The U.K.-based unit developed the deep neural network-based software that applies the network to a handful of shots of a virtual scene to create a “compact mathematical representation” of the scene — and then uses that representation to render an image with a new perspective unfamiliar to the network. Continue reading DeepMind Intros Intriguing Deep Neural Network Algorithm

OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research group backed by Elon Musk, stated that its software can beat “teams of five skilled human players” in Valve’s video game “Dota 2.” If verified, the achievement would be a milestone in computer science and a leap beyond other AI researchers working on mastering complex games. IBM’s software mastered chess in the late 1990s, and Alphabet’s DeepMind created software that dominated “Go” in 2016. “Dota 2” is a multiplayer sci-fi fantasy game where teams advance through exploration. Continue reading OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

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