Issue 287: CognitionX Data Science, AI and Machine Learning Briefing

Self-driving lorries are set to be tested on UK roads, by the end of 2018. A contract has been awarded to the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to carry out the tests of vehicle “platoons”. Although there will be a driver in the cabin, this is a significant step forward.

In other self-driving news, Tesla’s Autopilot team reportedly became divided over Elon Musk’s self-driving car plans and the US government’s self-driving car council seems to have has fallen apart.

Finally, Intel recently conducted a study to see if people who have never ridden in an autonomous car change their mind after experiencing it first-hand. They believe that ‘consumer apprehension [can be averted] by creating an interactive experience between car and rider that is informative, helpful, and comfortable’.


Tabitha UntilTheBotsTakeOver Goldstaub


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Business Impact of AI

Amazon building fashionable AI that can quickly spot and reproduce the latest trends

Researchers at Amazon are currently working on several machine learning systems that could help provide an edge when it comes to spotting, reacting to, and perhaps even shaping the latest fashion trends. The effort points to ways in which Amazon and other companies could try to improve the tracking of trends in other areas of retail—making recommendations based on products popping up in social-media posts, for instance. And it could help the company expand its clothing business or even dominate the area.

“There’s been a whole move from companies like Amazon trying to understand how fashion develops in the world,” says Kavita Bala, a professor at Cornell University who took part in a workshop on machine learning and fashion organized by Amazon last week. “This is completely changing the industry.”


A neural network writes the sixth book of Game of Thrones

A fan of Game of Thrones known as zackthoutt on GitHub has grown tired of waiting for the publication of the next book and has decided to continue the story on its own. His strong point is not to write, so he hopes artificial intelligence will do it for him. To replace George R.R. Martin has been creating a neural network, which has trained with the five previous novels, as well as with all the information available in the universe of Game of Thrones. Check out his work here.

At the moment, this AI has already written the first five chapters of his particular version of Winter Winds, and is taking the plot through completely unsuspected paths: Hodor returns from the grave and learns to say more words, Ned is still alive, Jon Snow Is actually a Lannister and Sansa is a Baratheon, and even introduces a new character called Barbaverde.


Apple’s Machine Learning Journal drops 3 new articles

One of the 3 focuses on their use of deep learning for Siri. Starting in iOS 10 and continuing with new features in iOS 11, they have based Siri voices on deep learning. This article presents more details about the deep learning based technology behind Siri’s voice. They describe how in order to provide the best possible quality for Siri’s voices across all platforms, Apple is now taking a step forward to utilise deep learning in an on-device hybrid unit selection system. You can listen to how Siri has improved from iOS 9 to iOS 11.

Check out the other 2 articles on Inverse Text Normalisation and Improving Neural Network Acoustic Models.

Deal of the Day

Descartes Labs raises $30M for its brand of geospatial analytics

Descartes Labs is announcing a $30 million Series B this morning in a large round led by March Capital. This comes just three months after one of Descartes’ largest
competitors, Orbital Insight, closed its own $50 million Series C with Sequoia.

Both Descartes and Orbital are playing in the emerging market of geospatial analytics. These companies use machine learning to produce insights from satellite imagery and other data. This capability has proved exceedingly popular with hedge funds where images of store parking lots, for example, can be used to project out revenue numbers. But companies running the gamut from agriculture to logistics see the value in having an extra pair of trained eyes in the sky.

Chat Bots 4Eva

Benchmarking famous speech recognition APIs for chat bots

RecastAI has taken a look at how good 3 popular speech-to-text providers are 1) Google Cloud speech API, 2) IBM Watson, and 3) Microsoft Speech Bing API. This benchmark uses audio data and transcription from the Voxforge corpus. They used 1000 samples (from 3 to 11 seconds) for both English and French benchmarks. Check it out here. They found that Google performed the best, in both languages.

Future of Health

Tanzania taps California’s Zipline to build ‘world’s largest drone delivery network’ for medical supplies

Tanzania is leading the way on drone deliveries as the east African country looks to provide easier access to emergency medical supplies.

The Tanzanian government has announced that it will use more than 100 drones from four distribution centers to make up to 2,000 deliveries each day, kicking off in early 2018.For the initiative, the government is partnering with Zipline, a San Francisco-based robotics startup that builds autonomous drones designed to deliver vaccines, medicine, or blood on request from health workers operating in hard-to-reach areas.

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