Ever wonder whether artificial intelligence is a one-trick pony? Are there other practical applications for AI, besides giving a marketing edge to the latest smartphone releases? That's what Google, and a whole host of other technology companies, are aiming to figure out.
This week, Google announced the People + AI Research Initiative (or PAIR), a new program devoted to advancing the use of artificial intelligence. According to the official blog, the program plans to bring together numerous researchers from Google and several outside research facilities to effectively "redesign the ways people interact with AI systems." The underlying goal is to figure out the "human side" of it all, including its application in various trades and industries. Google is even opening up its Facets Overview and Facets Drive visualization tools so that AI engineers can unpack it and study the machine learning process:
For its part, Google seems primarily focused on building out its human-centered machine learning (HCML) engine, which exists to help address where AI can assist with actual human needs. That might include research related to climate change, medical advancement, or just ensuring your virtual keyboard knows you're about to switch into typing in another language.
Microsoft took this week to also announce its AI-focused research lab, aptly titled Microsoft Research AI. The program focuses on developing "general-purpose artificial intelligence technology" — just like Google. Microsoft has hired a team of scientists to work in its Redmond facility, and it's even bringing cognitive psychologists on board.
Apple and Facebook have their own ambitions related to the AI space, as well, though the social network is a bit farther along than Cupertino at present. There's also a hefty number of start-ups and smaller companies attempting to develop their own very specific use cases for AI, likely in a bid to get scooped up by one of the Big Four.
Automation is a majorly hot topic in the tech world right now, but you don't have to study the Silicon Valley to feel the effects of that. Instead, swipe over to the left on your Google Pixel's Home screen, or yell out to the Google Home unit sitting in your kitchen. Those are all examples of how automation and artificial intelligence have come into play in our daily lives. Those of us who can afford it are also experiencing it behind the wheel of a Tesla Model X — I didn't realize the depth of what AI can do until I was autonomously chauffeured down a windy Sonoma County road at 40 miles-per-hour.
For companies like Google and Microsoft, jumping on the AI train also means being able to maintain relevance. Google began as a search company, but as the Internet extends its reach past computer browsers and mobile devices, Google will have to find its way into other future-facing spaces, whether it's in the home or at the university research lab. Microsoft, too, started with personal computers and a desktop operating system, but as we become less reliant on those particular machines, the company has to find other means of applications for its products. The company's AI for Earth (opens in new tab) is an excellent example of this, as it offers its artificial intelligence tools to researchers and organizations to help solve climate issues.
Make no mistake: these initiatives aren't merely for advancing artificial intelligence. It's to sell us, the homosapiens, on the idea that there's a practical element to it — a viable choice for a time when more technology and machinery is becoming autonomous. In this race, however, the prize isn't reserved for the company with the most robust AI engine, but for the one that can do the best job of convincing humanity that this is all required to help move us forward as a species.
Florence Ion was formerly an editor and columnist at Android Central. She writes about Android-powered devices of all types and explores their usefulness in her everyday life. You can follow her on Twitter or watch her Tuesday nights on All About Android.
As things stand in AI, seems like a race to second place... I expect Microsoft will lose.
We beat them before ...I'm sure we won't have any trouble this time... R.I.P Nokia
Microsoft's partnerships in China give them a fighting chance that you ignore at your own peril: https://www.economist.com/news/business/21725018-its-deep-pool-data-may-...
iBM's Watson is right now the far leader in AI. They are yrs ahead of any known AI.
DeepMind is far more advanced when it comes to comprehension. Watsons only advantages are its data resources and computing power, which is useless without adequate algorithms. I mean yes, it plays chess well, and yes, it crunches massive amounts of data, and sure, it knows a ton of information.. Fantastic accomplishments indeed. Watson is what Googles DeepMind will be installed into, and thats where the real magic will happen.
"Apple and Facebook have their own ambitions related to the AI space, as well, though the social network is a bit farther along than Cupertino at present." Are they? or has Facebook simply talked about it more? Talking more isn't the same as being ahead.
The problem with AI is instead of it being used to make the world better, it's being perverted into an exercise in stealing information about people and data-mining them (also known as stealing). The way I go about my life is MY intellectual property, and anyone who gathers data about it should have to pay me a licensing fee to use that data.
Implement AI wherever you want, but leave the analytics and tracking out of it, it is NOT necessary to steal information from/about users in order to improve a product, no matter what any company says. You go into business because you know what you are doing, you don't do it to release a half-assed product and then steal information about how people tried to use it.
Any internet connected product should, at the very least, declare exactly, in detail, what information would be collected and sent back to the company, none of this stealth spyware crap that countless Smart TV manufacturers got busted for engaging in.
Come back in 20 years and tell me the same thing. Dont ask why.. You cant handle the truth.
They are not stealing, they are trading your info for the benefits of using the product. If you never use it, you will never need to worry about it. You seem to think that these companies should develop stuff for you to use as a courtesy. Why would they do that? Also, machine learning needs data to become even usable.
You will have a lot of trouble making friends and dating if you expect your companions to pay a licensing fee in order to get to know you better.
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