Inside AI - December 10th, 2019

Inside AI (Dec 10th, 2019)

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1. During her keynote speech at Monday's Neural Information Processing Systems conference, cognitive psychologist Celeste Kidd addressed issues of sexual harassment in the workplace. Kidd, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, mostly discussed what computer scientists should understand about human cognition, but spent the last few minutes of the AI conference detailing her own experiences and thoughts regarding sexual harassment. In 2018, Kidd left her position at the University of Rochester after accusing the university of mishandling sexual harassment complaints she and others filed against a prominent brain sciences professor. Kidd told the men in the audience that they shouldn't be afraid to mentor or work alongside female researchers since women typically only make harassment allegations when the misconduct is egregious. "Unless you are deeply doing wrong," she said, "You are probably on safe ground." She earned a standing ovation. - FORTUNE

2. The position of artificial intelligence specialist topped LinkedIn's annual Emerging Jobs list, released on Tuesday. Hiring of the role - which typically commands a salary of around $140,000 or more - has grown by nearly 75 percent in the past four years, according to LinkedIn. “AI has infiltrated every industry, and right now the demand for people skilled in AI is outpacing the supply for it,” Guy Berger, principal economist at LinkedIn, told MarketWatch. Rounding out the top five were robotics engineers (40 percent hiring growth), data scientist (37 percent), full stack engineer (35 percent), and site reliability engineer (34 percent). Machine learning engineer also ranked highest on Indeed's annual list of the 25 best jobs of 2019, which came out in April. - MARKET WATCH

3. AI startup Iterable raised $60 million in a Series D funding round led by Viking Global Investors. The San Francisco-based firm, which recently opened offices in Denver and London, developed a cross-channel growth marketing platform that helps businesses attract customers through personalized marketing messages. Its clients include Priceline, Evernote, Zillow, and SeatGeek. The cash infusion will help Iterable hire more employees, build on its AI and data-privacy capabilities, and continue scaling its business into other markets, according to co-founder and CEO Justin Zhu. - TECHCRUNCH

4. Advancements in AI are entering a "critical stage" in China, according to Liu Qingfeng, founder and chairman of iFlytek. The voice recognition technology firm was one of eight AI companies added to the U.S. trade blacklist earlier this year. Speaking during a conference in Beijing on Monday, Qingfeng did not address the blacklist but focused on what he described as a fast rate of AI adoption across most Chinese industries, which he said will lead to wider industrial applications. Qingfeng has previously said that the blacklist - which also included the AI giants SenseTime and Megvii - would not impact iFlytek's daily operations. - SCMP

5. IBM researchers trained an AI to provide commentary of soccer games, which researchers showed off at Sunday's Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) conference. The system, which is still in the research phase, was trained on roughly 50 videos of soccer games as well as their play-by-by commentary. John R. Smith, head of AI Tech for IBM AI Research, noted that it's "definitely still a work in progress," as the AI often repeats the same phrases and still can't emote (such as enthusiastically announcing "GOOOOOOAAAAL!!!"). That's "something we've thought about incorporating in the future," Smith said about the system, which builds on the company's software that automatically creates highlight videos of sports games. - FORTUNE

6. Y Combinator alum has raised $26 million to accelerate its voice AI platform for call centers. The U.S-Indian startup developed a natural language processing system that transcribles and analyzes conversations between customers and human agents to determine how satisfied the customer was. The AI becomes smarter after each analysis, with the goal of coaching the call center employees. The Series A round, led by Scale Venture Partners, included participation from Nexus Venture Partners, Steadview Capital, 01 Advisors, and Emergent Ventures. Andy Vitus, a partner at Scale Venture, will also join’s board. - VENTURE BEAT

7. A human beat an AI-powered drone during the Drone Racing League's (DRL's) latest competition. The pilot Gabriel "Gab707" Kocher finished the main course in six seconds, besting the drone's time of 11 seconds. The event included DRL's first AI drone competition, known as Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing (AIRR), which pitted nine AI-powered drones against each other in four circuits. An autonomous racing drone, developed by Team MAVLab from the Netherlands, won the championship and a $1 million prize. - NEW ATLAS

8. Uber is in advanced negotiations to acquire autonomous driving simulation startup Foresight. The Information reports the deal would be more of an “acqui-hire,” priced modestly and would mostly cover the cost of hiring the team at Foresight. While Uber has its own simulation software that can test the its self-driving vehicles, The Information reports that company insiders have said the simulation testing software is ineffective and was partially responsible for a fatal self-driving crash that occurred last year. Earlier this year, Uber acquired computer vision startup, Mighty AI, to boost its self-driving development division. Uber and Foresight did not offer comment on the potential deal. - THE INFORMATION

A version of this story first appeared in Inside Auto.

9. Amazon researchers trained AI models to select jokes for Alexa. A natural language processing model and a machine learning model were trained on an annotated data set of voice assistant users’ reactions to jokes. Jokes were labeled “positive," or funny, if a user requested a new joke within five minutes of hearing it. A second label marked jokes as positive when all joke requests were followed by new ones during a time period of one hour to 25 hours. After testing both approaches against production data, the researchers found that they increased user satisfaction. - VENTURE BEAT

10. Singapore's government has approved using AI software that can analyze vascular ultrasound scans, potentially detecting strokes. See-Mode Technologies developed the AI, which uses deep learning, text recognition, and signal processing to interpret the scans, which are typically used on patients with cardiovascular and heart diseases. The results can help technicians decide on the best treatment for each patient, ZDNet reports. See-Mode, which has offices in Singapore and Australia, raised $1 million earlier this year from investors including SGInnovate, Cocoon Capital, and Blackbird Ventures. - ZDNET

Written and curated by Beth Duckett, a former reporter for The Arizona Republic who wrote a book about the solar industry and frequently covers hobby and commercial drones. You can follow her tweets about artificial intelligence news here.

Edited by Sheena Vasani, Inside Dev editor.

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