Extremely busy week in the AI world, particularly because of the 2019 annual CES conference. Lots of companies announced new product developments, partnerships, and investment in their AI strategy.
One of the biggest CES developments came from Xiaomi, who announced a $1.5bn investment in AI and smart devices. The recently IPO’d tech company is looking to expand aggressively, likely driven in part from the Chinese stock market’s recent sell off. Other weekly news can be found below.
We’ve finished up our first week in 2019 with numerous AI developments to kick things off. In the autonomous vehicle arena we witnessed perhaps the most bizarre developments as Waymo’s vehicles continue to face attacks from pedestrians. It’s quite a situation and just another reminder of how weird humans can be (let’s hope the AI doesn’t fully resemble us!). It seems like although these are random incidents, they pose a threat to public perception of the safety of autonomous vehicles.
Anthony Levandowski is back in the news again. This time it’s for his new autonomous trucking startup Pronto.ai, where he completed a 3,099 mile cross-country trip in one of his trucks. If verified it would be the longest known journey for an autonomous truck. Levandowski just keeps finding ways to stay relevant.
Some end of the year AI blues for the U.S. gov’t. Recent reports have indicated the Pentagon is concerned the U.S. is losing its AI advantage to China and Europe. Democratic lawmakers also pushed back against a compromise bill for self-driving vehicles. Will be interesting to see how legislature approaches AI in 2019. My guess is it will slip again, but hopefully I’m proven wrong.
Despite recent reports of Chinese VCs pulling back AI investment, many top AI players continue to raise large amounts of cash. ByteDance, the $75bn unicorn that has now surpassed Uber’s valuation, is in talks to raise another $1.45bn. The use of proceeds is to pursue their aggressive global expansion plans.
Meanwhile in the U.S., Republican Senator John Thune and Democratic Senator Gary Peters circulated a draft of a revised self-driving vehicle bill aimed at breaking a legislative stalemate. With the pace of innovation in the field, let’s hope they get this passed sooner rather than later.
Big news out of China this week on yet another ambitious AI project. This time they’re looking to create an underwater AI colony in the South China sea. The base will be for scientific research and defense purposes, so will be interesting to see how much investment is put into this.
There were a few interesting developments this week in various areas of AI. On the autonomous vehicle front, GM’s Cruise is now expanding to Seattle. Ultimately they’re aiming to hire up to 200 engineers for the office there. Seems like GM is really making a big push this year to expand across the U.S. with their autonomous vehicle program.
Meanwhile, one of the most high profile AI events will be moving to Africa in 2020 due to visa issues for many of the attendees. Yoshua Bengio (founder of Element AI) made the call this past Saturday for the International Conference on Learning Representations (ICLR). He noted that many researchers from the Black in AI group where particularly facing visa difficulties. This is a real positive step for fostering an inclusive and diverse environment for AI research.