If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
In the 1960's, a variety of television shows delighted and entertained their audiences with exotic technological devices and fanciful futuristic automated assistants that helped humans at work, at home, and at play. We knew that the things we saw on science fiction and deep space adventure shows were fiction, not magic. But I suspect that if – in the sixties – we had encountered any of those technologies in real life, we almost certainly would have said it was some sort of magic trick – or filmmaker's special effect. What kinds of things are we talking about? Well, the list would include flying cars, robots delivering goods autonomously to anywhere, house-cleaning robots, food replicators, dynamically changing shapeshifters, handheld communication devices, touchless medical diagnostic assessment recorders, question-answering computers, computers playing chess (and other difficult games), and mysterious real-time "black box" universal translators.
In the ongoing race to build the best and smartest applications that tap into the advances of artificial intelligence, a startup out of London has raised a large round of funding to double down on solving persistent problems in areas like healthcare and energy. BenevolventAI announced today that it has raised $115 million to continue developing its core "AI brain" as well as different arms of the company that are using it specifically to break new ground in drug development and more. This venture round values the company at $2.1 billion post-money, its founder and executive chairman Ken Mulvaney confirmed to TechCrunch. Investors in this round include previous backer Woodford Investment Management, and while Mulvaney said the company was not disclosing the names of any other investors, he added it was a mix of family offices and some strategic backers, with a majority coming from the U.S., but would not specify any more. Notably, BenevolentAI does not have any backing from more traditional VCs, which more generally have been doubling down on investments in AI startups.
Precision medicine initiatives are taking hold at healthcare organizations as providers begin to incorporate genetic and molecular data into treatment decisions for patients. In fact, according to "Trends in Precision Medicine Adoption" by Oracle, 62 percent of healthcare organizations surveyed "participate in research activities to drive biomarker discovery or translational research." Another 12 percent have plans to participate in precision medicine studies in the next two years. "Precision medicine is vital to advancing medicine, and critical to its success is the underlying technology needed to manage the large volumes of data it requires," Andy Alasso, global vice president of Oracle Health Sciences, said in a press release. Several organizations, such as the Mayo Clinic and the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, Calif., have already made the infrastructure changes necessary to support more robust data storage and the interoperability necessary to facilitate precision medicine projects.
Voicera today announced it has acquired Wrappup to expand its meeting assistant Eva to the AI note-taking app for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. Voicera has raised $20 million from some of the biggest names at the intersection of enterprise and AI, including Microsoft Ventures, Cisco Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, and GV, formerly Google Ventures. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cisco and Microsoft both shared plans last year to bring Spark Assistant and Cortana into the workplace and meeting rooms. With millions of G Suite customers and Alexa expanding into the workplace as well, Google Assistant may join other tech companies that want to bring their assistants into offices and meeting rooms.
After a lot of scandal and a great deal of confusion, Facebook has finally made clear what its privacy settings will look like in the wake of Europe's forthcoming GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation). In a news release, the company said that everyone, no matter where they live, will be asked to review information on the way Facebook uses their data. The options will roll out in Europe first, ahead of GDPR implementation on May 25. On the face of it, the options seem comprehensive enough. Facebook will ask you to make choices about adverts, sensitive information and face recognition technology, and claims that it's developed better tools to access, delete and download information.
On Thursday, IBM announced new capabilities for its Watson Data Platform that make it easier for developers and data scientists to analyze and prepare enterprise data for artificial intelligence (AI) applications. By 2018, nearly 75% of developers will build AI functionality into their apps, according to an IDC report. However, this requires wading through increasingly complex data that lives in different places, and must be continually and securely ingested, according to an IBM press release. In response to this challenge, Watson will now include data cataloging and data refining, to improve data visibility and better enforce data security policies so that users can more easily share information across public and private cloud environments. "We are always looking for new ways to gain a more holistic view of our clients' campaign data, and design tailored approaches for each ad and marketing tactic," Michael Kaushansky, chief data officer at global advertising and marketing consultancy Havas, said in the release.
If it's started to feel like all summer blockbuster movies are being written by robots [INSERT FORMER PRO WRESTLER, INSERT GIANT CGI ANIMAL], you'll be disquieted to learn that that future may not be too far off. The meditation app Calm teamed up with the tech team at Botnik to write a new Brothers Grimm-style fairy tale entirely through artificial intelligence. By inputting the data from existing Brothers Grimm stories and using predictive text technology (and with a few human writers stitching things together), the group at Botnik crafted "The Princess and the Fox," a story about "a talking fox [who] helps the lowly miller's son to rescue the beautiful princess from the fate of having to marry a dreadful prince who she does not love." "We're doing for the Brothers Grimm what Jurassic Park did for dinosaurs," says Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm, in a press press release. "We're bringing them back from the dead, with modern science."
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