Facebook confirms it's working on an AI voice assistant for Portal and Oculus products


Facebook has confirmed a report from earlier today saying it's working on an artificial intelligence-based digital voice assistant in the vein of Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant. The news, first reported by CNBC, indicates Facebook isn't giving up on a vision it first put out years ago, when it began developing an AI assistant for its Messenger platform simply called M. This time around, however, Facebook says it is focusing less on messaging and more on platforms in which hands-free interaction, via voice control and potentially gesture control, is paramount. "We are working to develop voice and AI assistant technologies that may work across our family of AR/VR products including Portal, Oculus and future products," a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge today, following the initial report. That means Facebook may not position the product as a competitor to Alexa or similar platforms, but as more of a feature exclusive to its growing family of hardware devices. CNBC reported that the team building the assistant is working out of Redmond, Washington under the direction of Ira Snyder, a general manager at Facebook Reality Labs and a director of augmented and virtual reality at the company.

Boeing rolls out software fix to defend 737 Max franchise as it awaits U.S. regulator's approval

The Japan Times

SEATTLE/WASHINGTON - Boeing Co. on Wednesday took its most aggressive moves yet to defend its core 737 airliner franchise, saying it had developed software fixes to prevent failures of an automated flight control system that is being scrutinized after two deadly crashes in the past five months. Boeing, in the midst of one its worst crises in years, is under pressure from crash victims' families, airlines, lawmakers in Washington and regulators around the world to prove that the automated flight control systems aboard its 737 Max aircraft are safe, and that pilots have the training required to override the system in an emergency. A Boeing official in Seattle said on Wednesday the timing of the software upgrade was "100 percent independent of the timing of the Ethiopian accident," and the company was taking steps to make the anti-stall system "more robust." There was no need to overhaul Boeing's regulatory relationship with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) now, the company said. "We are going to do everything that we can do to ensure that accidents like these never happen again," Mike Sinnett, vice president for product strategy and future airplane development told reporters.

The Quantum Revolution Is Coming, Ready Or Not


The Redmond, Washington-based tech giant is competing with Alphabet Inc.'s Google, International Business Machines Corp. and a clutch of small, specialized companies to develop quantum computers – machines that, in theory, will be many times more powerful than existing computers by bending the laws of physics. Two recent articles caught my eye. The first was in Financemagnates.com It was an interview with Michael Bancroft of Bloomberg TV, in which he spoke of the spreading popularity of blockchain technology, not just for protecting cryptocurrencies but for a growing number of uses including cybersecurity. He said that before too long, "what we're likely to see is blockchain being employed for cybersecurity… [in] governments who are looking to secure important files and records safe from hackers."

Microsoft launches AI business school to help companies improve decision-making


San Francisco: Microsoft on Monday announced a business school in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that will help companies improve decision-making in integrating AI across their operations. INSEAD, a graduate business school with campuses in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, partnered with Microsoft to build the AI Business School's strategy module, which includes case studies about companies across many industries that have successfully transformed their businesses with AI, the company said in a statement. A series of short introductory videos provide an overview of the AI technologies driving change across industries, but the bulk of the content focuses on managing the impact of AI on company strategy, culture and responsibility, the company said in a statement. "There is a gap between what people want to do and the reality of what is going on in their organisations today, and the reality of whether their organisation is ready," said Mitra Azizirad, Corporate Vice President for AI marketing at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. "This school is a deep dive into how you develop a strategy and identify blockers before they happen in the implementation of AI in your organisation," she added.

Microsoft launches AI Business School, focusing on strategy, culture, and responsibility


In recent years, some of the world's fastest growing companies have deployed artificial intelligence to solve specific business problems. In fact, according to new market research from Microsoft on how AI will change leadership, these high-growth companies are more than twice as likely to be actively implementing AI as lower-growth companies. What's more, high-growth companies are further along in their AI deployments, with about half planning to use more AI in the coming year to improve decision making compared to about a third of lower growth companies. Still, less than two in 10 of even high-growth companies are integrating AI across their operations, the research found. "There is a gap between what people want to do and the reality of what is going on in their organizations today, and the reality of whether their organization is ready," said Mitra Azizirad, corporate vice president for AI marketing at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington.

Tableau's Ask Data feature uses NLP to answer sales questions


Seattle, Washington data analytics company Tableau wants to make it easier to get straightforward answers to sales questions. Toward that end, it today announced the general availability of Ask Data, a natural language processing feature for Tableau Server and Tableau Online that enables users to pose queries and get a response. It also debuted Tableau Data Management -- a new subscription add-on targeting data prep scenarios -- and a pair of revamped smartphone clients. Ask Data is available as a part of Tableau's latest release, Tableau 2019.1, and supports the platform's full range of live and extract data sources. Using Ask Data to get an answer is as simple as typing in a question like "What were my sales this month?",

Washington in Review - February 15, 2019


On the heels of President Trump's State of the Union address making a case for increased border security and other initiatives, federal agencies have been moving quickly on artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and robocall spoofing. Meanwhile, the EU and Japan have entered into an agreement on cross-border data flows, and India is taking action on investment in e-commerce. Want our Strategic Policy Advisory team to take a look at other topics? Let us know in the comments! Earlier this week, President Trump signed the American AI Initiative, an Executive Order directing federal agencies to develop new AI R&D budgets, share resources with academia and industry, create educational programs to improve the AI talent pipeline, and develop regulatory guidances for AI implementation that balance innovation with civil liberties.

Trump and the Pentagon have big goals for AI. Greater Washington companies will play a part.


The Washington Business Journal's inaugural FedBiz Forum offered a glimpse at how artificial intelligence is changing government contracting.

Drones Pose A Unique Big Data Challenge For Business Users


A SZ DJI Technology Co. drone is displayed during keynote presentations on artificial intelligence at the Microsoft Developers Build Conference in Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Monday, May 7, 2018. The public might consider them nuisances, but in the commercial market, drones are valuable data collection devices. Their primary task is to capture, store, and transmit data. So as IT departments consider integrating more drone data into existing enterprise business processes, they face new data governance requirements. As drone technology matures, it is important for companies to know what it means for their information technology and software.

How Huawei planned international robot espionage via email


Huawei began building its own phone-testing system, xDeviceRobot, in early 2012. The Chinese company hoped to improve the quality of its mobile hardware, which tended to fail far more often than competitors' devices in third-party trials. In May 2012, Huawei China asked T-Mobile if it could license or flat-out buy the company's phone-testing robot, Tappy, which served as a standard for much of the industry. So, Huawei decided to steal Tappy. After installing a handful of employees at T-Mobile's headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, federal prosecutors claim Huawei USA and China employees attempted to illegally collect information on Tappy in a year-long espionage campaign that culminated in actual theft.