Among the various companies, non-profits and researchers using tech company Google’s TensorFlow platform, one application that has caught the attention of developers at the internet giant is PlantMD. “PlantMD’s machine learning model was inspired by a dataset from PlantVillage, a research and development unit at Penn State University. PlantVillage created an app called Nuru, Swahili for ‘light’, to assist farmers to grow better cassava, a crop in Africa that provides food for over half a billion people daily,” Fred Alcober, a member of Google’s TensorFlow team, wrote in a blog post.
Created by high school students Shaza Mehdi and Nile Ravenell, the app can detect diseases in plants. The duo, who showcased the app at Google’s I/O annual developer conference this year, built it based on the Internet company’s open-source machine learning library for data programming—TensorFlow.
A new group called the Global Council on Extended Intelligence was announced Friday by the Media Lab and the IEEE standards organisation. CXI, as the project is also known, aims to steer more of the talent and money being spent on AI towards projects aimed at improving the lot of everyone. Areas of interest include helping people control their identity even as technologies such as facial recognition become more widely used, and finding ways to measure how automation impacts the well-being of workers, not just company profits and GDP.
CXI is already working on policy guidance for governments on those topics. The group’s members include representatives of the European Union, the UK’s House of Lords, and the governments of India and Taiwan.
Richrelevance is a 12-year-old company headquartered in San Francisco, California that uses a powerful machine learning framework distributed across 14 datacenters to “turn digital interactions into personal experiences,” as CEO Carl Theobald puts it.
Its product search engine, Find, factors intent, context, preferences, and previous behaviors into decisions about which categories and products to show visitors. Another tool, Discover, re-sorts product and category listing based on individual behaviors, affinities, and preferences. And Engage maps customer behavior against targeting and segmentation data.
The company’s latest work, showcased this month at the CVPR computer vision conference, demonstrates how digital forensics done by humans can be automated by machines in much less time. The research paper does not represent a breakthrough in the field, and it’s not yet available as a commercial product, but it’s interesting to
see Adobe — a name synonymous with image editing — take an interest in this line of work.
Speaking to The Verge, a spokesperson for the company said that this was an “early-stage research project,” but in the future, the company wants to play a role in “developing technology that helps monitor and verify authenticity of digital media.” Exactly what this might mean isn’t clear, since Adobe has never before released software designed to spot fake images. But, the company points to its work with law enforcement (using digital forensics to help find missing children, for example) as evidence of its responsible attitude toward its technology.
A Vancouver Island professor is trying to find a whole new way to help people experiencing memory loss. University of Victoria associate professor Deborah Sheets is seeking volunteers for her study which explores how artificial intelligence software — like Amazon Alexa — can help people with memory loss and dementia, as well as their family caregivers.
Sheets, who specialises in nursing, said the benefit of new voice technology is that it can simplify someone’s everyday routine if they struggle with remembering specifics. She used the example of someone calling their mother; rather than having to remember the phone number, a person can instead say “computer, call my mom” and the software will do the rest. “It can add to quality of life if it’s hooked up to a few of the right things,” she said.
The push to automate Centrelink services is causing mental stress and burdening the community sector, a report from Anglicare Australia has said. The report, Paying the price of welfare reform, studied the impact of Centrelink automation on Anglicare staff and clients across southern Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia.
“Our research found that people are falling through the cracks as Centrelink services become more and more automated,” Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said. “It is becoming harder to talk to a human being.”She said staff in Centrelink service centres directed people to phones and computers, rather than offering help, while at the same time people reported spending hours waiting on the phone only to get cut off.
Israeli website navigation software tool WalkMe has announced last week it had acquired its third company, the Israeli-based machine learning tech startup DeepUI. DeepUI is a company in stealth mode that has “developed a patented machine learning technology that understands any business software at the graphical user interface (GUI) level, without a need for an application-programming interface (API.),” the statement from WalkMe said. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
DeepUI speeds up the adoption of any digital process by using data and insights crowdsourced from thousands around the world with algorithms that can anticipate the user’s needs and create customised steps to help complete tasks quickly and efficiently.
Developed in Singapore, the launch of the chatbot in the city-state was Citi’s first globally and a test for roll outs in other markets. Now, the chatbot will soon go live in another Asian finance hub, Priscilla Ng, the Hong Kong head of digital banking told The South China Morning Post.
While other banks in Hong Kong have launched app-based chatbots for customer inquiries, Citi’s is the first Facebook messenger-embedded chatbot to let customers conduct transactions and access their own financial records.