Does Artificial Intelligence Replace Thinking?


Artificial intelligence (AI) delivers many truly amazing capabilities. Vendors are even showing the potential of AI-driven software to personalize customer experience in an organizationally aligned way, making automated adjustments to pricing, messaging, operations, and finance, all optimized for one sale. If this sounds like science fiction, it is. I am combining a few technologies here, including customer relationship management and integrated enterprise resource planning platforms. These systems feed the current trend toward extreme personalization, also known as personalization to a level of one.

Google's AI Experts Try to Automate Themselves


Just before 9 am last Thursday, an unusual speed dating scene sprang up in San Francisco. A casually dressed crowd, mostly male, milled around a gilt-edged Beaux Arts ballroom on Nob Hill. Pairs and trios formed quickly, but not in search of romance. Ice breakers were direct: What's your favorite programming language? Which data analysis framework are you most expert in?

InfluxData charts new path for time series databases


At Google NEXT this week, Google is introducing its own strategy for accommodating open source platforms. Rather than compete with its own implementations, it is making them first-class citizens on GCP with native integration to its own cloud management infrastructure. InfluxData, the creator of one of the most popular open source time series databases, has signed on. It occurs as time series databases are starting to crawl out from behind the shadows. We'll be reviewing this more deeply next week in our postmortem on the event.

The Secret Farm Team for em Jeopardy! /em Players


As she met her fellow captains and competitors, all multiweek winners on the game show (including me), she was surprised how familiar everyone seemed to be with each other. Back in 2014, when she made her first appearance, "I didn't know a single person who had ever been on the show," Julia told me. But this time, she marveled, "everyone else seems to have known each other, either personally or by reputation, for decades." They shared years of experience on Jeopardy's secret farm team: quiz bowl. Of the 18 "All-Stars" in the tourney, all but Julia and two others had played the academic competition known as quiz bowl in high school or college.

How Box CEO Levie aims to transition to cloud content management, broader suite


Box is a company in transition with broader content management ambitions, a bevy of product releases ahead and a mission to grab more enterprise wallet share from its more than 92,000 customers. The problem: Transitions are rarely easy. Just ask Box CEO Aaron Levie. Box is coming off a mixed fourth quarter and an outlook for the first quarter that fell short of expectations. On the fourth quarter conference call, Levie outlined the promise of Box's plans to meld its file transfer and storage business with content management.

DARPA Subterranean Challenge: Q&A With Program Manager Timothy Chung

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

In an earlier post today, we distilled half a dozen DARPA-dense docs into an easy-to-follow overview of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge (SubT), a new competition that will task teams of humans and robots to explore complex underground environments. In this post, we have an interview with SubT program manager Timothy Chung, whom we met late last year at DARPA's D60 Conference. "I think for many of the technologies we're seeking to advance--it's one of those, aim for the moon, even if you miss you hit the stars type of an approach," he told us about the new challenge. "So we envision some component technologies being immediately operationally of value, but we've set the bar ambitiously high enough for it to be DARPA-worthy and also provide a vision for how that kind of impact could be magnified if and when we're successful." IEEE Spectrum: What are the SubT courses going to be like?

This teenager started playing video games 18 hours a day. Now he makes more money than most adults.

Washington Post

Griffin Spikoski spends as much as 18 hours a day glued to his computer screen playing the wildly popular, multi-player video game Fortnite. His YouTube channel -- where he regularly uploads videos of himself playing the online game -- has nearly 1.2 million subscribers and more than 71 million views; figures that have netted him advertisers, sponsorships and a steady stream of income. Last year, that income totaled nearly $200,000. The healthy sum -- more than enough to comfortably raise a family in most American cities -- is all the more impressive considering Spikoski is 14 years old. Still, he approaches video games the way an elite student athlete would approach a sport like football or basketball: when he's not playing, Spikoski, who goes by the name "Sceptic" on YouTube, completes school work online.

DARPA Subterranean Challenge: Teams of Robots Compete to Explore Underground Worlds

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

This weekend, nine teams of robots (and their humans) will make their way to the Edgar Experimental Mine in Idaho Springs, Colo. DARPA SubT is a challenge on a similar scale to DARPA's incredible Robotics Challenge that took place in 2015--a series of competitions based on real-world needs, attracting some of the best roboticists in the world with sophisticated robotic hardware to match. The integration exercise (which is closed to anyone but the participating teams, we definitely asked) is just the first step in a challenge that will involve both a virtual competition and a competition for physical systems, each with multiple circuits culminating in a final that wraps everything together into one epic event. Some teams will get over US $4 million in DARPA funding, and the prize pool for the finals is up to $2 million. We'll be following SubT through multiple stages all the way until the final event, which is schedule for August of 2021.

Is AI as smart as a chimp or a lab rat? The Animal-AI Olympics is going to find out.

MIT Technology Review

In one of Aesop's fables, a thirsty crow finds a pitcher with a small amount of water beyond the reach of its beak. After failing to push the pitcher over, the crow drops pebbles in one by one until the water level rises, allowing the bird to have a drink. For Aesop, the fable showed the superiority of intelligence over brute strength. Two and a half millennia later, we might get to see whether AI could pass Aesop's ancient intelligence test. In June, researchers will train algorithms to master a suite of tasks that have traditionally been used to test animal cognition.

Machine Learning for March Madness Is a Competition In Itself


This year, 47 million Americans will spend an estimated $8.5 billion betting on the outcome of the NCAA basketball championships, a cultural ritual appropriately known as March Madness. Before the tournament starts, anyone who wants to place a bet must fill out a bracket, which holds their predictions for each of the 63 championship games. The winner of a betting pool is the one whose bracket most closely mirrors the results of the championship. For most people, making a bracket is a way to flex their knowledge of collegiate basketball and maybe make a few bucks by outguessing their colleagues in the office betting pool. But for the mathematically inclined, accurately predicting March Madness brackets is a technical problem in search of a solution.