The rise of a technology has Bill Gates issuing warnings of an apocalypse. It's Artificial Intelligence or AI, an idea whose time has come--it is incubating in science labs and being deployed by start-ups and industrial units alike. Why are Gates and Co. worried? Specifically, it's over machine learning, an early form of AI that has in recent years become mainstream, causing both delight and nervousness among AI experts and technology companies. AI involves building computers capable of taking smart decisions by themselves, the way humans do. Machine learning and various other sub-fields such as deep learning are the means to achieve AI. Google announced this week that it is rethinking all its products to base them on AI; it has created a new unit called Google.ai to facilitate this shift. The revival of interest in machine learning has been driven by a confluence of factors, such as the massive increase in computing power, emergence of neural networks (connected transistors that replicate the structure of neurons in the human brain) and the easy availability of vast amounts of data, thanks to the Internet. Compared to AI leaders in the Silicon Valley and China, India is a laggard but even here, nearly 300 start-ups are using some form of AI, according to Tracxn, a start-up tracker. Among dedicated AI-only Indian start-ups, 23% are working on providing solutions to multiple industries, 15% are in e-commerce, 12% in healthcare, 11% in education, 10% in financial services, and the rest in fields such as retail and logistics, according to a 2017 report by Kalaari Capital, a venture capital firm. Internet companies tap machine learning techniques for a range of uses--to recommend products for you, for instance, or to predict where cabs should be placed so that when you open your cab-hailing app, there's one a couple of minutes' drive away. Healthcare start-ups use AI to help hospitals make speedy and accurate blood reports and medical diagnoses, saving lives. Others get fashion brands and retailers to buy the right quantities of stock.
California-based AI startup Avaamo has successfully raised $14.2 Mn Series A funding, led by Intel Capital. Other Investors who participated in the round were Ericsson Ventures, Mahindra Partners, Wipro Ventures, and WI Harper. Intel Capital director Arun Chetty, who led the investment, will join Avaamo's board. Avaamo will use the latest funding to expand its sales and marketing channels to meet the demand in the enterprise for conversational AI solutions in the growing global market. With this, Avaamo's total funding now stands at $23.5 Mn.
Doomsday conspiracies of the human race being ruled by robots aside, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here to stay. From changing the job landscape, to becoming a buzzword for almost every company, AI is now an integral part of most organisations. Whether it is Google, Facebook, or even companies like Oracle, Microsoft and SAP, they are all working to design software that can learn, and make decisions – in short, Artificial Intelligence. It isn't only private organisations that are keen on the technology, but government organisations like Niti Aayog are also looking closely at it. In fact, the Indian Government has allocated Rs 3,073 crore to spearhead work on fifth generation technology startups like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and Blockchain.
Bengaluru-based Microsoft Accelerator has selected 14 startups for its startup accelerator programme. It is the tenth batch for Microsoft's Accelerator Programme. Selected startups belong to the realm of AI and machine learning and will undergo an intensive programme to increase their'enterprise readiness quotient.' The cohort has been selected from VC portfolios – including Inventus Capital Partners, Ideaspring Capital, Accel Partners, IDG Ventures and Pi Ventures, based on their nominations. They were selected based upon founder experience and industry expertise, products, and traction, as per an official statement.