How is AI impacting the future of work and the workplace? We heard a lot of really interesting thoughts about this at CogX over the past 2 days from Chief Product Officer of WeWork Shiva Rajamaran, CTO of Accenture Paul Daugherty (check out the video here), Laszlo Bock (CEO, Humu & Former SVP, People at Google), and many others. Subscribe to our Youtube channel for more.
Since this newsletter is all about the latest news and trends, here are some recent news pieces we saw about the topic:
Corey Tollefson (Infor Retail) writes about a few ways some of the world’s largest retailers are employing AI to keep their brick-and-mortar stores afloat.
Tailored customer experiences (e.g. what Sephora is doing with Color IQ, its exclusive machine learning-driven, in-store product that scans the surface of your skin to provide a personalized foundation and concealer shade recommendation)
Reduced markdowns and out-of-stock items (e.g. H&M, which recently announced plans to adopt AI and big data capabilities to analyze store receipts and returns as a means of evaluating purchases per location)
Specialised inventory (e.g. Walgreens is using information technology to tailor inventory for anticipated flu outbreaks)
Dina Katabi, a researcher at MIT, has been developing technology for detecting people and their movements behind a solid wall using radio waves. The approach relies on cutting-edge machine learning to interpret the signals.
Katabi and her students trained an AI system using radio signals and video footage of people moving around. This made it possible to generate stick figures showing what people were doing behind a wall. The system, called RF-Pose, can also distinguish between different people reliably. Here’s their research paper. One idea is to use the system to monitor those who might be at risk of a fall—a sick or elderly person, say.
Google has rolled out offline downloads for its AI-powered translator. So if you don’t have unlimited data or you have a plan that doesn’t work internationally, you can now download neural machine translation from Google’s Android and iOS apps.
Google Translate’s offline AI translations will first be available in 59 languages, including English, Arabic, Chinese, German, and Hindi, to name a few. They’ll take about 35MB per language, so they
won’t use up too much of your device’s storage. Lower-specced phones should also be able to support the new update, as Google says it wants users in all markets to have access to the feature.
French startup Exotec Solutions raised a $17.7 million funding round (€15 million) from Iris Capital with existing investors 360 Capital Partners and Breega also participating. The startup has built an automated robot called the Skypods to optimize e-commerce warehouses. It’s easy to forget about it when you click on “buy now”, but there are a ton of people walking through endless aisles of products every day to pick up your next order.
Exotec is selling a complete solution to replace part of your warehouse with a robot-managed area. France’s second biggest e-commerce website Cdiscount has been experimenting with Exotec and now plans to buy more robots, racks and stations in the coming months.
AI is an enabler of technology rather than being a business itself, according to Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, who told ZDNet that AI is critical in sitting behind much of the networking giant’s portfolio. Speaking with ZDNet during Cisco Live 2018 in Orlando, Robbins pointed towards Cisco’s Talos discovering the VPNFilter attack last month.
“Across our portfolio … if you look at how we deal with security and the number of threats, there’s an element of AI and machine learning, and we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing [without it],” Robbins told ZDNet.
Researchers at a British university are working on an AI engine that can diagnose illness simply by smelling the breath of a person. Andrea Soltoggio, a member of the data science team at Loughborough University, said the engine is being taught how to identify a range of illness-revealing substances that humans might exhale.
“Compared to that of animals, the human sense of smell is far less developed and certainly not used to carry out daily activities. For this reason, humans aren’t particularly aware of the richness of information that can be transmitted through the air, and can be perceived by a highly sensitive olfactory system. AI may be about to change that,” Soltoggio wrote in an article for online publication Smithsonian.com.
Last year, Dish launched an Amazon Alexa skill for its Hopper and Wally set-top boxes that allowed users to change the channel, search for shows or control playback with their voice. Now, the company is expanding its Alexa capabilities with the ability to set recordings, launch apps such as Pandora or Netflix and navigate Home, Guide, DVR, On Demand, Settings
and Help menus on Hopper boxes.
You can see full list of Alexa integrations over on Dish’s website, along with setup instructions to connect your Alexa-capable device to your box. It’s always nice to see functionality added to our existing devices, and hands-free voice control is never a thing we’re going to complain about.
James Vincent (CogX Award Finalist and AI journalist) writes about how a lot of companies are trying to make it easier to use artificial intelligence, but few are making it as simple as Lobe. The startup, which launched earlier this year, offers users a clean drag-and-drop interface for building deep learning algorithms from scratch. It’s mainly focused on machine vision. That means if you want to build a tool that recognizes different houseplants or can count the number of birds in a tree, you can do it all in Lobe without typing a single line of code.
If AI really is going to change the world, then it seems obvious that the more people who get involved, the better — especially people outside the tech world. There are professionals in scientific fields who may not feel they have
the time to learn to code, but they can play around in their browser to get a feel for things. With that in mind, Lobe looks like a perfect recruitment tool for a machine learning revolution.