Issue 201: CognitionX Data Science, AI and Machine Learning Briefing


Royal Society’s machine learning report. $60M funding for Babylon Health. Oracle AI focus. Amazon explores self-driving tech. Black Mirror strikes again. Deep learning books.

25% of the community surveyed last week felt that London was on its way to becoming the centre of AI. While the majority, 67% were less convinced, stating factors like lack of engineering talent, China’s dominance, lack of governmental support, less risk-loving investors, and of course Brexit. Maybe the newly released Royal Society 125-page report on machine learning can give some advice on how the UK could continue to make advances in this technology.


Tabitha UntiltheBotsTakeOver Goldstaub

Stats that Impress

Royal Society releases 125-page report on machine learning

What is the potential of machine learning over the next 5-10 years? And how can we develop this technology in a way that benefits everyone?

The Royal Society’s machine learning project (including CognitionX advisor Hermann Hauser​) has been investigating these questions and has just launched a report setting out the action needed to maintain the UK’s role in advancing this technology while ensuring careful stewardship of its development.  The report discusses the benefits and risks of using machine learning, as well as how to deal with data (such as from NHS).

Future of Health

Babylon Health raises further $60M to continue building out AI doctor app

Babylon Health, the UK startup that offers a digital healthcare app using a mixture of artificial intelligence (AI) and video and text consultations with doctors and specialists, has raised $60 million in new funding.

The company says it plans to use the new capital to continue building out its AI capabilities,
including offering diagnosis by AI (rather than a more simple triage functionality), which is pegged to roll out later this year.


Oracle plans internal ‘startup’ to outpace rivals’ innovation

Oracle Corp. is forming a unit it’s calling a startup within its U.S. operations to work on new technologies that may include virtual reality and artificial intelligence, trying to attract talent and outpace the innovation of rivals.

“The mission of the organization and these two centres is to build and engineer cutting-edge solutions for our customers around cloud
computing, big data analytics, mobile computing, internet of things, cybersecurity,” the company said. Additional areas of potential investment are artificial intelligence and augmented and virtual reality, Oracle added in the job posting. Sound familiar? Sounds a bit like Intel’s recent announcement about their creation of the Artificial Intelligence Products Group.

Something to Get Involved In

One Question conference (17 May 2017): can we really trust technology?

The One Question conference invites our loyal readers to their annual event in London’s Banking Hall which is addressing one question: ‘can we really trust technology”. The speaker list is epic, including Lindsay Holst (former digital director for VP Joe Biden) and Matthew Luhn, one of the Original story creators at Pixar.

They are offering loyal readers of the newsletter 15% off of the ticket price with the exclusive discount code ‘onequestioncx’. Book your ticket here.

Future of Transportation

An Amazon team is exploring the possibilities of autonomous delivery

Amazon has a team studying the ramifications of self-driving car technology on its business, although at present the online retailing giant does not have plans to build a fleet of autonomous delivery vehicles.

The team consists of a dozen employees and was formed more than a year ago, according to a Wall Street Journal report Monday citing individuals briefed on the matter. The group amounts to an in-house think tank charged with studying how a range of fast-paced developments in the self-driving field can be applied to its vast shipping needs. Last week Amazon hosted an event called the “Radical Transportation Salon.” The meeting was organized H.B. Siegel, whose responsibilities at Amazon include new ideas, and in part featured experts on autonomous technology.

Another Example of “Robots Taking Humans’ Jobs”

Robots want your tasks, not your jobs (or why the liberal arts still matter)

Scott Hartley (venture capitalist and author) argues in a recent blog post that although automation will certainly be taking some of our jobs, this is not what we should be concerned about. The solution to the
challenge of automation, according to him, is to double down on the liberal arts, since this is where students are exposed to broad ideas and challenged to grapple with the humanities, arts, and social and natural sciences in settings designed to tug on our minds, question our assumptions, and refine our curiosity.

He writes that “it isn’t that jobs are going away. Instead, jobs are inexorably changing as automation seeps ever deeper into society. We probably don’t need to worry about the existence of jobs per se, but rather about those who do not cultivate their ability to think broadly and continue refining the soft skills that are unique to being human.”

Chat Bots, yadda yadda yadda

Eternime wants you to live forever as a digital ghost

Startup Eternime, founded by MIT fellow Marius Ursache, seeks to offer comfort to people who have lost a loved one. Rather than ghosts or spirits, however, Urasche is using digital avatars and chatbots. He draws inspiration from science fiction, not spirit guides.

Give Eternime access to your social media profiles and the startup’s algorithms will scrape your posts
and interactions to build a profile. It will see the photo of the muffin you posted to Facebook and the article on retirement finances you shared on LinkedIn. The algorithms will study your memories and mannerisms. They’ll learn how to be “you.” We saw something just like this a couple of months ago from Quartz. As we said then, this is eerily similar to Black Mirror (and won’t be in production for a while).

Education and Advice We Rate

A roundup review of the latest deep learning books

Daniel Jeffries takes a look at a roundup of the best and worst books to start learning AI. He discusses which books are readable for the general reader (like Hands-On Learning with Scikit-Learn and Tensorflow) and which are more foreboding (like the classic Deep Learning by Ian Goodfellow). The list only includes 5 books, but it is still a good start.


Artificial intelligence survey finds UK public broadly optimistic

A recent survey by the polling firm Ipsos Mori highlights the nuanced views people hold about the relevant risks and benefits of AI. The findings were drawn from face-to-face interviews with 978 people chosen to be representative of the UK population, along with discussions at public meetings, and questions put to a community of 244 people online.

For example, the respondents thought positively about the police’s use of facial recognition software but were more hesitant about driverless cars.  “Society needs to think about these issues,” said Peter Donnelly, a statistician and geneticist at Oxford University. “We need an open and nuanced discussion to work out what we can do to help ameliorate some of these worries, and what we want to insist on.”

Dates for Your Diary

Tuesday May 2Why Women in AI 

Thursday May 25:
Will robots replace HR? 

June 19-21: CogX: The AI Innovation Exchange

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