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Council Post: Beware The AI Death Spiral

#artificialintelligence

Over 20 years of experience creating AI that delivers business impact. One of the reasons I wrote a book titled AI is a Waste of Money was that I kept hearing the same AI horror story over and over. The story usually goes like this: A business adopts AI, hoping it will improve one or more of its business functions. Instead, the business finds itself in the grips of what I've come to call "the AI death spiral." While using AI increases their revenues, it completely destroys profitability.


Waymo CEO dismisses Tesla self-driving plan: "This is not how it works"

#artificialintelligence

Many Tesla fans view the electric carmaker as a world leader in self-driving technology. CEO Elon Musk himself has repeatedly claimed that the company is less than two years away from perfecting fully self-driving technology. But in an interview with Germany's Manager magazine, Waymo CEO John Krafcik dismissed Tesla as a Waymo competitor and argued that Tesla's current strategy was unlikely to ever produce a fully self-driving system. "For us, Tesla is not a competitor at all," Krafcik said. "We manufacture a completely autonomous driving system. Tesla is an automaker that is developing a really good driver assistance system."


What's coming for the channel in 2021

ZDNet

For the channel, 2020 was a tale of two cities. On one hand, customers and governments recognized partners as an essential service and central to their ability to rapidly respond to a worsening pandemic. On the other, customer demand shifted to automation, cloud acceleration, customer/employee experience, and e-commerce/marketplaces, where many technology channel parts were left in the cold. The industry experienced a "K-shaped" recovery where partners who had skills, resources, and prebuilt practices around the business needs of their customers excelled with double- (and sometime triple-) digit growth. Yet many smaller VARs and MSPs were down by double digits, relying on government, vendor, and distributor funding to survive.


Marketing and sports data apps join fight against pandemic

The Japan Times

Devices designed for improving customer marketing and sports performance are now being used in the fight against COVID-19 as companies deploy their technologies to meet new needs during the pandemic. Hitachi-LG Data Storage originally developed its 3D LiDAR People Counter sensor for retail stores to track shoppers' movements and analyse data in order to improve sales and customer satisfaction. The company, a joint venture between Japan's Hitachi and South Korea's LG Electronics, has now paired the application with a heat detection and camera app that takes customers' temperatures and checks if they are wearing a mask with a facial detection system. The technology monitors the number of people and their movements to reduce congestion and it estimates wait times at cash registers, to help reduce infection risks. It can also determine whether or not a customer has stopped by a specific area such as a required hand sanitizer station.


Are you being overcharged by clever AI? Watchdog looks at whether algorithms hurt competition

ZDNet

To stop algorithms from charging unfair prices when we shop online, the UK's competition watchdog is launching a new investigation into the ways that AI systems might harm consumers – an issue that has so far lacked in-depth research and analysis, says the organization, and yet affects most of us in our everyday lives. While a lot of attention has focused on algorithmic harms in general, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) suggested that little work has been done in the specific area of consumer and competition harms, and reported that almost no research on the topic exists in the UK. There is particularly little insight into the ways that automated systems tailor costs, shopping options or rankings to each individual's online behavior, often leading to consumers paying higher prices than they should. For this reason, the CMA has asked academics and industry to submit evidence about the potential misdeeds caused by the misuse of algorithms, and is launching a program called "Analyzing Algorithms", which could even help identify specific firms that are violating consumers' rights, so that cases can be taken forward if needed. Kate Brand, director of data science at CMA, said: "We want to receive as much information as possible from stakeholders in academia, the competition community, firms, civil society and third sector organizations in order to understand where the harm is occurring and what the most effective regulatory approach is to protect consumers in the future."


Google Cloud offers image search, recommendations service for retailers

ZDNet

Google's Google Cloud division today announced it has made generally available two search functions that rely on machine learning techniques to help retailers who use its cloud service. Called Vision API product search and Recommendations AI, the two services are part of what Google has unveiled as a suit of functions called Product Discovery Solutions for Retail. The vision search function will let a retailer's customers submit a picture and received ranked results of products that match the picture in either appearance or semantic similarity to the object. Recommendations, said Google, is "able to piece together the history of a customer's shopping journey and serve them with customized product recommendations." Both are generally available now to retailers.


Still talking to Cortana? Microsoft gives you more control over how your voice recordings are used

ZDNet

Users of Microsoft's voice-enabled services such as Cortana will now be able to decide whether or not the audio recordings of their interactions can be used by the company to improve its speech recognition algorithms. By default, customers' voice clips will not be contributed for review, said Microsoft in a new blog post; instead, users will be required to actively opt in to allow the company to store and access their audio recordings. Customers who have chosen to remain opted out will still be able to use all of Microsoft's voice-enabled products and services, confirmed the company. Their audio recordings won't be stored, but Microsoft will still have access to some information associated with voice activity, such as the transcriptions automatically generated during user interactions with speech recognition AI. If and once they have opted in, however, users' voice data might be listened to by Microsoft employees and contractors as part of a process to refine the AI systems used to power speech recognition technology.


What is an 'edge cloud?' The wild card that could upend the cloud

#artificialintelligence

The edge of a network, as you may know, is the furthest extent of its reach. A cloud platform is a kind of network overlay that makes multiple network locations part of a single network domain. It should therefore stand to reason that an edge cloud is a single addressable, logical network at the furthest extent of a physical network. And an edge cloud on a global scale should be a way to make multiple, remote data centers accessible as a single pool of resources -- of processors, storage, and bandwidth. The combination of 5G and edge computing will unleash new capabilities from real-time analytics to automation to self-driving cars and trucks.


ICYMI: More gadget highlights from CES 2021

Engadget

While CES was a bit different this year, we still managed to check out a number of inspiring new devices, apps and services. While we acknowledged the most promising tech in Engadget's Best of CES awards, there remain a bunch of gadgets that didn't make the list that will be worth checking out when they actually hit shelves later this year. Things like HP's new Dragonfly laptops, TCL's 8K TVs and Cowin's two-piece soundbar are all things to look forward to as 2021 progresses (and some are even available already). Here are some of the CES 2021 gadgets you may have missed this week. Cherlynn Low found a lot to like about last year's HP Dragonfly laptop: it was lightweight at 2.2 pounds, had a great battery life and an attractive design.


Amazon launches new service that lets auto, device makers build customized voice assistants

ZDNet

Amazon is rolling out a new service that gives companies access to Alexa's AI smarts to build their own voice assistants. Amazon said the Alexa Custom Assistant lets automakers and device manufacturers create voice assistants that are built on Alexa technology and work in cooperation with Alexa. The company said this is the first time it's offering this type of access to its voice AI technology. Automaker Fiat Chrysler is the first to integrate Alexa Custom Assistant into its vehicles. Among the key features of the service, Amazon is highlighting what it calls an industry-first capability of simultaneous multi-assistant cooperation.