What’s happened in AI: January 1-15

By | January 16, 2018

Strong start to the year with regards to AI developments. The Chinese government and prominent Chinese technology companies have dominated the majority of AI news from the past two weeks.

Government / Policy

Baidu COO says China’s government will help the country dominate AI

  • What will give an edge to China is a much larger population and a fast growing market,” he said. “And a favorable policy environment designed to nurture and enable more data harnessing and AI technology.”
  • The government has thrown its support behind the creation of AI as part of national planning exercises, and it has started using machine learning to power key national infrastructure like surveillance cameras. A couple months ago, the Chinese government called Baidu’s Apollo self-driving car platform its national platform for creating autonomous vehicles

Beijing to build $2 billion AI research park: Xinhua

  • Beijing is planning to build a 13.8 billion yuan ($2.12 billion) artificial intelligence development park in the city’s west, the official Xinhua news agency reported, as China pushes ahead to fulfill its ambition to become a world leader in AI by 2025
  • The AI park will house up to 400 enterprises and have an estimated annual output of 50 billion yuan, Xinhua said, citing a report from authorities in Beijing’s Mentougou district

Canada is exploring using AI to help prevent suicide

  • Canadian officials are in talks with Ottawa-based Advanced Symbolics to develop a program that will leverage the power of social media to forecast geographic spikes in suicidal behavior
  • According to reports, the terms of the agreement will include a three-month pilot program. During the pilot, researchers will analyze 160,000 social media accounts to identify trends that could indicate a pending rise in suicide-related deaths in communities across Canada

Partnerships

Intel partners with car makers from BMW to Nissan for autonomous driving gear

  • In the opening keynote for CES 2018, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich showed off some futuristic tech and announced autonomous driving partnerships with BMW, Nissan, and Volkswagen, and it has another kind of partnership with Ferrari. Krzanich also announced Intel Studios to make immersive media in partnership with Paramount Pictures
  • The car partnerships will leverage Intel’s tech for artificial intelligence, including its Mobileye-based mapping technology for helping self-driving cars navigate. Intel also has a new collaboration with SAIC Motor and NavInfo to extend crowdsourced map building to China

Company developments

Ford revs up self-driving auto and smart city plans

  • Ford Motors will partner with the delivery service Postmates as the auto manufacturer continues its slow march towards developing self-driving vehicles
  • Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, says the pilot will enable Ford to experiment with managing an autonomous fleet and assess the costs of running a network of cars all the time

Alibaba’s AI Outguns Humans in Reading Test

  • Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. put its deep neural network model through its paces last week, asking the AI to provide exact answers to more than 100,000 questions comprising a quiz that’s considered one of the world’s most authoritative machine-reading gauges. The model developed by Alibaba’s Institute of Data Science of Technologies scored 82.44, edging past the 82.304 that rival humans achieved
  • Alibaba said it’s the first time a machine has out-done a real person in such a contest. Microsoft achieved a similar feat, scoring 82.650 on the same test, but those results were finalized a day after Alibaba’s, the company said

DeepBrain Chain, the First Artificial Intelligence Computing Platform Driven by Blockchain

  • DBC is the first AI computing platform driven by blockchain. It is a new attempt between AI and Digital Currency. The company introduced its cloud platform in May 2017 and already created a working product with over 100 manufacturers using the platform including Microsoft, Samsung, Siemens, and Lenovo
  • The DeepBrain Chain platform serves the interests of several parties. Firstly, the Miner’s main income is rewarded with token from mining. Secondly, AI companies just pay small amounts to run. Thirdly, the Chain uses the smart contract to separate the data provider and data trainer physically. Thus, it protects the data of the provider

M&A

TD Bank’s first fintech acquisition is an AI company

  • The Canadian banking giant, also based in Toronto, invested an undisclosed amount in Layer 6 to help it “continue to transform itself” in the industry shift from mobile-first to AI-first customer experiences, said Rizwan Khalfan, TD’s chief digital and payments officer. The transaction was completed Tuesday morning
  • But bringing in an AI startup, and Layer 6 specifically, whose niche is in personalization and prediction, solves a huge problem for banks as they compete with other industries’ more personalized customer experiences

Universities

Japanese scientists just used AI to read minds and it’s amazing

  • In late December, Guohua Shen, Tomoyasu Horikawa, Kei Majima and Yukiyasu Kamitani released the results of their recent research on using artificial intelligence to decode thoughts on the scientific platform, BioRxiv
  • Scientists from Kyoto developed new techniques of “decoding” thoughts using deep neural networks (artificial intelligence). The new technique allows the scientists to decode more sophisticated “hierarchical” images, which have multiple layers of color and structure, like a picture of a bird or a man wearing a cowboy hat, for example.