China


Another Chinese acquisition of a European robotics manufacturer

Robohub

Huachangda Intelligent Equipment, a Chinese industrial robot integrator primarily servicing China's auto industry, has acquired Swedish Robot System Products (RSP), a 2003 spin-off from ABB with 70 employees in Sweden, Germany and China, for an undisclosed amount. RSP manufactures grippers, welding equipment, tool changers and other peripheral products for robots. Last month HTI Cybernetics, a Michigan industrial robotics integrator and contract manufacturer, was acquired by Chongqing Nanshang Investment Group for around $50 million. HTI provides robotic welding systems to the auto industry and also has a contract welding services facility in Mexico. China is in the midst of a national program to develop or acquire its own technology to rival similar technologies in the West, particularly in futuristic industries such as robotics, electric cars, self-driving vehicles and artificial intelligence.


Self Driving Cars, The Most Hyped Thing Sinceā€¦The Segway?

#artificialintelligence

With headlines like these, it's hard not to get excited about autonomy and self driving cars. After all, we've seen the cars in Minority Report, Total Recall, and iRobot, and thought to ourselves: "When can we finally get into those cars?" Truth be told, it may be quite a while before we're actually there. There's a general misalignment between what the public think is "fully autonomous" versus what these executives are actually saying. Elon Musk's 2018 goal is to have a self driving car that's safer than a human driver.



China's biggest search engine unveils a smart speaker, the first of its AI products to come

Mashable

Google Home and the Amazon Echo have new competition. Baidu, which runs China's most popular search engine, has produced the Raven H, a voice-activated speaker that runs on an artificial intelligence platform. The Raven H is the first product in Baidu's upcoming AI plan, following its acquisition in earlier this year of Beijing-based smart home startup, Raven. 'Humans & machines have been interacting w/ one another for years, but raven H aims to create a world in which this interaction is seamless.' If anything, the new speaker's design looks like none of the competition, and appears to be able to flip up to face the user, when activated.


Who Wants to Supply China's Surveillance State? The West

Wall Street Journal

The surveillance-equipment market in China was valued at $6.4 billion last year, according to IHS Markit . China is a big buyer of surveillance technology as Beijing steps up its efforts to better monitor its 1.4 billion people. That is providing a boon for equipment makers, who are looking to export their gear abroad. But it has also sparked concern from rights activists about how the authoritarian government is using the souped-up "Big Brother" technology. Seagate Technology PLC, Qualcomm Inc. and United Technologies Corp. were among the foreign companies to show their wares at the 16th China Public Security Expo, where prospective customers included Chinese police, government officials and businesses.


Teenage Engineering's 'H' and 'R' aren't your typical smart speakers

Engadget

Most people still don't know who or what Teenage Engineering is. But, those that do probably think of them as a music company -- the iconic OP-1 synthesizer, OD-11 speaker and line of tiny Pocket Operator synths have earned Teenage Engineering that reputation. But more than that, the company is made of of people who love getting weird with hardware design; pushing the boundaries of what can be created is in Teenage Engineering's DNA. The two new products Teenage Engineering just unveiled at the Baidu World conference in Beijing, China most definitely fit with that ethos. Simply referred to by the single letters "H" and "R," the easiest way to identify devices is to call them smart speakers.


Alibaba's AI Fashion Consultant Helps Achieve Record-Setting Sales

MIT Technology Review

On the third floor of a shopping mall in the heart of Shanghai last week, Xiaolan He, a woman in her 50s, took an olive-green down jacket to a fitting room. To her surprise, she found a screen about the size of a large poster on the wall. It recognized the item of clothing in her hands through a tiny sensor embedded in the garment, and showed several options for matching items that she could flip through like a photo album. The screen, and the system that powers it, make up FashionAI--which essentially became He's personal stylist. FashionAI received its first big wave of customers on Saturday during Singles' Day, a Chinese shopping festival started by Alibaba in 2009 and held on November 11 each year.


China and the CIA Are Competing to Fund Silicon Valley's AI Startups

#artificialintelligence

A trio of new investments in Silicon Valley machine-learning startups shows that the U.S. intelligence community is deeply interested in artificial intelligence. But China is investing even more in these kinds of U.S. companies, and that has experts and intelligence officials worried. Founded to foster new technology for spies, the 17-year-old In-Q-Tel has also helped boost commercial products. Compared to a venture capitalist firm whose early-stage investments are intended to make some money and get out, the nonprofit's angle is longer term, less venture, more strategic, according to Charlie Greenbacker, In-Q-Tel's technical product leader in artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, analytics, and data science. "Our model is to put a little bit of pressure at the right spot to influence a company to make sure it develops things that are useful to our customers," said Greenbacker, who estimated that their investments in a given startup generally amount to about one of every 15 dollars the company has.


AI to help, not confront humans, says AlphaGo developer Aja Huang

#artificialintelligence

AI (artificial intelligence) will not confront human beings but serve as tools at their disopal, as human brain will remain the most powerful, although some say AI machines may be able to talk with people and judge their emotions in 2045 at the earliest, according to Aja Huang, one of the key developers behind AlphaGo, an AI program developed by Google's DeepMind unit. Huang made the comments when delivering a speech at the 2017 Taiwan AI Conference hosted recently by the Institute of Information Science under Academia Sinica and Taiwan Data Science Foundation. Huang recalled that he was invited to join London-based Deep Mind Technologies in late 2012, two years after he won the gold medal at the 15th Computer Olympiad in Kanazawa in 2010. In February 2014, DeepMind was acquired by Google, allowing the AI team to enjoy sufficient advanced hardware resources such as power TPU (tensor processing unit) and enabling them to work out the world's most powerful AI program AlphaGo, which has stunned the world by beating global top Go players. In March, 2016, AlphaGo beat Lee Sedol, a South Korean professional Go player in a five-game match, marking the first time a computer Go program has beaten a 9-dan professional without handicaps.


China now has more supercomputers on the world’s top 500 list than the U.S.

Mashable

China has reached a supercomputing milestone. The country now has more machines on a list of the world's 500 fastest supercomputers than the U.S. SEE ALSO: Nvidia's new supercomputer is designed to drive fully autonomous vehicles China has 202 systems on the Top500's supercomputer list, with the U.S. comparatively having only 143. The U.S. ranking is its lowest since the Top500 rankings began 25 years ago, though the country still manages to come in at second place. Japan comes in third with 35 supercomputers, and Germany fourth with 20. According to Top500, China's managed to turn things around pretty fast.