In recent years, a growing number of researchers have explored the use of robotic arms or dexterous hands to solve a variety of everyday tasks. While many of them have successfully tackled simple tasks, such as grasping or basic manipulation, complex tasks that involve multiple steps and precise/strategic movements have so far proved harder to address. A team of researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Tencent AI Lab has recently developed a deep learning-based approach to solve a Rubik's Cube using a multi-fingered dexterous hand. Their approach, presented in a paper pre-published on arXiv, allows a dexterous hand to solve more advanced in-hand manipulation tasks, such as the renowned Rubik's Cube puzzle. A Rubik's Cube is a plastic cube covered in multi-colored squares that can be shifted into different positions.
Charles Brayne is EY's UK Chief Tax Innovation Officer and Partner and has a dual role. On the one hand, he works with clients to help them adopt new tax technologies and on the other, he oversees the implementation of AI technologies within EY's own tax business. Meanwhile, as EY's UK Chief Tax Data Scientist, Harvey Lewis works directly with tax and law professionals to create and deliver new AI tools and applications, as well as provide strategic oversight for their automation projects. In this keynote, Charles and Harvey discuss EY's lessons from implementing AI within their own organisation. With flagship shows in San Francisco, London, New York, Munich, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Cape Town, 2019 will see over 30,000 delegates from businesses globally joining the AI revolution through The AI Summit events.
China, writes Amy Webb in Inc., has been "building a global artificial intelligence empire, and seeding the tech ecosystem of the future." It has been particularly successful, Webb, the founder of the Future Today Institute, believes. "China is poised to become its undisputed global leader, and that will affect every business," she notes. Not everyone shares Webb's assessment that Chinese researchers are in the lead. America, after all, is home to most leading AI tech.
We live in exponential times, and merely having a digital strategy focused on continuous innovation is no longer enough to thrive in a constantly changing world. To transform an organisation and contribute to building a secure and rewarding networked society, collaboration among employees, customers, business units and even things is increasingly becoming key. Especially with the availability of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, organisations now, more than ever before, need to focus on bringing together the different stakeholders to co-create the future. Big data empowers customers and employees, the Internet of Things will create vast amounts of data and connects all devices, while artificial intelligence creates new human-machine interactions. In today's world, every organisation is a data organisation, and AI is required to make sense of it all.
The automotive industry is one of the most high-tech industries in the world – so a headline finding in a report published this week was, on the face of it, somewhat surprising. Capgemini's report – Accelerating Automotive's AI Transformation – found that during 2018, the number of companies in the industry deploying AI "at scale" grew only marginally by 3%. This reflected that just 10% of respondents surveyed said that their organizations were deploying AI-driven initiatives across the entirety of its operations "with full scope and scale," during 2018, compared to 7% in 2017. The relatively slow pace of growth is evidence that "the industry has not made significant progress in AI-driven transformation since 2017", the report concludes – a surprising finding given the scale of investment and enthusiasm shown by industry leaders. I spoke to one of the report's authors, Capgemini's Ingo Finck, who told me "To an extent, I did find this surprising, because from the discussions we've been having with these companies we see that the vast majority – more than 80% - mention AI in their core strategy. "It's clearly a strategic factor for them, so yes … we were surprised by the relatively slow growth rate." Before we start delving into the possible reasons for this slow uptake, it's worth noting that there is a key geographic variation: In China, the number of automotive companies working at scale with AI almost doubled, from 5% to 9%. This is explained to some extent by the comparatively "open" approach taken by China's AI giants, such as Baidu's development of the open source Apollo platform. This has involved it partnering with over 130 other businesses and organizations. Finck explains that the slow growth demonstrated in other regions could be down to the fact that organizations are taking a more mature approach to AI deployment. This might mean they are moving away from "try everything and see what works" methodologies, towards focusing on proven use cases that can then be scaled. Another disparity is apparent when we consider the sizes of the businesses that are reporting growth in AI deployments. "We can see that the smaller companies are struggling more with AI – whereas with larger companies [with revenue of $10 billion plus] the adoption rate is higher.
One of China's newest autonomous vehicle makers, Neolix, recently put self-driving microvans into action as it looks to scale up its solution to the country's logistics puzzle made more complex by a surge in online shopping. The Beijing-based startup, barely a year old, has already deployed the vehicles in the capital and other cities, but it faces stiff competition from a crowded field where other players, especially e-commerce groups, are racing to develop similar robovans. "Operating 10,000 units will be an industry milestone and it is crucial [for us] to achieve it," said Yu Enyuan, 45, Neolix's founder and chief executive. Neolix's ambition is to replace the roughly 40 million vehicles providing so-called last-mile logistics in China, a market projected to be 3 trillion yuan ($428 billion). These home deliveries are now handled mainly by two- and three-wheel electric motorbikes, zigzagging through neighborhoods to carry everything from milk tea to mattresses.
The company covers a good range of services based on blockchain. Last year in the month of October, the company was looking into holding an IPO (initial public offering) through stock exchange listing in Amsterdam, London or Hong Kong, as per sources. Also in the same year, the company closed an 80 million U.S. Dollar funding which was led by Korelya Capital. Market analysts and experts alike think that the company has a very potent and has the capacity to touch the value of 3 to 5 billion U.S. Dollars, the moment it gets public. This is anticipated in a coming couple of years.
Chinese search engine Sogou is creating artificial-intelligence lookalikes to read popular novels in authors' voices. It announced "lifelike" avatars of Chinese authors Yue Guan and Bu Xin Tian Shang Diao Xian Bing - created from video recordings - at the China Online Literature conference. Last year, Sogou launched two AI newsreaders, which are still used by the government's Xinhua news agency. Appetite for audiobooks in China is on the rise, mirroring trends in the West. Chinese think tank iiMedia expects the market to more than double between 2016 and 2020, to 7.8bn Chinese yuan (£900m) a year.
China just stepped up its effort to use technology to police the country deploying traffic robots to help law enforcement in the city of Handan in China's Hebei province. Xinhua, the state-sponsored news agency reported a team of robots has been deployed to assist traffic police in patrolling, providing citizens with information and offering up accident alerts. The artificial intelligence robots have sensors that enable them to move autonomously in every direction similar to a human. These robots can take photos of cars that violated parking rules, verify driver's licenses and even direct traffic. The government plans to use the robots 24 hours a day, deploying them in public locations including train stations and airports.
In a provocative op-ed in the New York Times last week, PayPal and Palantir founder Peter Thiel argued that artificial intelligence is "a military technology." So, he asks, why are companies like Google and Microsoft, which have opened research labs in China to recruit Chinese researchers for their cutting-edge AI research, "sharing it with a rival"? Thiel's op-ed caused a big splash in the AI community and frustrated experts in both AI and US-China relations. An outspoken Trump backer, Thiel has been a leading voice pushing for tech to be more aligned with what he sees as America's defense interests -- and his messages have been influential among conservative intellectuals. Critics pointed out that Thiel had failed to disclose that his company, Palantir, has defense contracts with the US government totaling more than $1 billion, and that he might benefit from portraying AI as a military technology (a characterization of AI that experts dispute).