Inside AI - November 14th, 2019

Inside AI (Nov 14th, 2019)

John Carmack steps down to focus on AI / Neuralink chips could "solve" brain diseases / Punchh Series C


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1. John Carmack, the CTO of Facebook’s VR subsidiary Oculus, is stepping down from the full-time position to focus on artificial general intelligence, also known as strong AI. In a Facebook post, Carmack said he will work from home on his AI efforts but stay on as a consulting CTO at Oculus VR. As far as AI, he said, "I think it is possible, enormously valuable, and that I have a non-negligible chance of making a difference there, so by a Pascal’s Mugging sort of logic, I should be working on it." Strong AI is considered the more "science fiction" version of AI, with a goal of teaching machines to exhibit human-level intelligence. - TECHCRUNCH

2. Should an AI that creates its own works be allowed to copyright it? That's what the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is asking the public, according to a recent notice that it published in the Federal Register. The office is seeking feedback about the impact of AI on copyright, trademark, and general intellectual property rights, with questions like what degree of human involvement in an AI project should be sufficient so that the work qualifies for copyright protection? According to The Verge, there are no concrete answers in U.S. lawbooks about these copyright issues, which have been up for debate for years, particularly in areas like machine-created art. - THE VERGE

3. Intel plans to incorporate more AI circuitry into its products, including those that power laptops, according to Naveen Rao, GM of Intel's AI chip work. Speaking at this week's Intel 2019 AI Summit, Rao said that many of people's computer experiences will "start relying on AI capabilities, even in your laptop," noting that "the whole purpose of the computer is shifting to be an AI machine." Intel's new Ice Lake laptop processors currently have modest AI capabilities, including a Gaussian Neural Accelerator that processes voice commands. - CNET

4. AI models such as Facebook's population density map and computer vision technologies like object recognition could play big roles in fighting climate change, according to a recent paper published by AI experts and IT professionals. The main author David Rolnick, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, said the paper highlights the "high-impact opportunities for real-world change” on climate issues that are derived from AI, computer vision, and other related areas. These include better predictions and estimates surrounding climate, improved tracking and monitoring of problems like deforestation, and optimized legacy systems and workflows. - TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS

5. Google has released the source code for MobileNetV3 and MobileNetEdgeTPU, two of its machine learning on-device systems. In a blog post on Wednesday, Google Research engineers Andrew Howard and Suyog Gupta said that source code and checkpoints for MobileNetV3, as well as the Pixel 4 Edge TPU-optimized counterpart MobileNetEdgeTPU, are available to the open source community. The two wrote that the "need to bring on-device machine learning to compute and power-limited devices" has triggered the development of "algorithmically-efficient neural network models," which are capable of performing billions of operations per second while consuming a minimal amount of power. - ZDNET

6. During an AI podcast this week, Elon Musk said he thinks his company Neuralink will be able to "solve" brain diseases such as schizophrenia and autism. Musk's plans for the neural technology company are to develop an AI-based chip that would be implanted into people's brains and record (as well as potentially stimulate) their brain activity. However, the U.K. National Autistic Society clarified that autism is not a disease but rather a developmental disability, and cannot be cured. You can watch Musk's full podcast here. - BUSINESS INSIDER

7. In its ongoing effort to scale its use of artificial intelligence, Australia’s largest commercial airlines, Qantas, has migrated 70 percent of all applications to the cloud, CIO Susan Doniz told a panel audience at IBM's Cloud Information Exchange in Sydney this week. Doniz, who came to Qantas nearly three years ago from SAP, explained that the cloud is central to the airline’s strategy to improve its management of flight delays by expanding its use of AI and data technologies. - ZDNet

A version of this story first appeared in Inside Cloud.

8. The FDA has cleared an AI system that can allegedly detect cardiovascular disease early in patients. The image analysis system from U.K.-based Ultromics uses AI to analyze ultrasound-based heart scans and look for signs of poor heart function. Specifically, the EchoGo system was trained to calculate left ventricular ejection fraction, left ventricular volumes, and cardiac strain in a person who may have early signs of heart disease. - E&T

9. The machine learning startup Punchh has raised $40 million, which will go toward expanding its AI capabilities geared toward retailers, CEO Shyam Rao said. The Series C round was co-led by Adams Street Partners and Sapphire Ventures, with a contribution from AllianceBernstein. Punchh's AI algorithms use in-store and online data to create marketing campaigns, with a goal of promoting loyalty toward specific retailers and increasing same-store sales, Rao said. - MARTECH SERIES

10. Google Cloud has made its Contact Center AI generally available as of today. The service is built with the conversational AI Dialogflow and includes a virtual agent that can automatically interact with customers at call centers and respond to basic queries. It connects with software from Twilio, Salesforce, and Vonage. - VENTURE BEAT

Written and curated by Beth Duckett in Orange County. Beth is a former reporter for The Arizona Republic who has written for USA Today, Get Out magazine and other publications. Follow her tweets about breaking news and other topics in southern California here.

Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

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