SAP embraces Robotic Process Automation as part of new AI and cloud push


SAP has signalled its intention to help firms automate a wide range of back office tasks using robotic process automation. Here's how it's related to artificial intelligence, how it works and why it matters. The software and services vendor announced an investment in intelligent robotic process automation (RPA) that will help SAP automate repetitive processes across its portfolio. "Machine learning acts here as the brain that is managing exceptions and guides the RPA bot to execute on desired processes," said Juergen Mueller, chief innovation officer at SAP, speaking at the SAP TechEd conference in Barcelona. During RPA, software is used to capture the rules that govern how people process transactions, manipulate data and send data to and from computer systems, in an attempt to build an automated platform that can perform those roles.

Four ways machine learning is evolving, according to Facebook's AI engineering chief


Machine learning is slowly changing the world -- helping cars to "see" the world around them and virtual assistant to understand our questions and commands. Driving forward machine-learning research are companies like Facebook, Google and Baidu -- each of which are identifying new applications for the technology. But how is the field of machine learning changing and what factors are shaping its future direction? Yangqing Jia, director of engineering for Facebook's AI platform team, spoke about the changing nature of the field at the recent AI Conference presented by O'Reilly and Intel AI in London. In supervised learning, the system learns by example, typically by analyzing labelled data, for example, photos annotated to indicate whether they contain a cat.

Look to Africa to advance artificial intelligence


Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing society as profoundly as the steam engine and electricity have done. But unlike past technological revolutions, the AI revolution offers a unique chance to improve lives without opening up and exacerbating global inequalities. That will require widening of the locations where AI is done. The vast majority of experts are in North America, Europe and Asia. Africa, in particular, is barely represented.

Oracle acquires DataFox, brings AI-based company data management to cloud apps


Oracle has announced plans to acquire data management and AI solutions provider DataFox. Financial details were not disclosed. Founded in 2013, San Francisco, CA-based DataFox is the developer of an artificial intelligence (AI)-based engine which automatically locates and pulls the most current information available on public and private businesses. The engine currently manages the information of over 2.8 million companies, with 1.2 million being added on an annual basis. See also: Larry Ellison pitches Oracle's Gen 2 Cloud as purpose-built for enterprise Customers, including Goldman Sachs, Bain & Company and Twilio, use the platform for account management, lead generation, and to keep customer-relationship management (CRM) solutions current.

Google has built a 'spell check' for breast cancer diagnosis


On Friday, Google released two papers that were published in the journals Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and The American Journal of Surgical Pathology. The first paper set out to show that the algorithm could be used to pick up cancer cells on the tissue images it was presented. In addition to looking at the slides from the Netherlands, the algorithm also had to look at 108 slides from another laboratory.

While India's IT managers get the axe, old world coders get a lifeline


That's certainly the arc that technology seems to take when it comes to products and even professionals, consigning the stars of today to the memory bins of yesteryear. And yet, every now and then something happens to demonstrate that these arcs are not always consistent. Indeed, India's IT landscape has emerged as a total head-scratcher when it comes to figuring out what's hot and what's not when it comes to skills that will help you survive. There's a gigantic shift taking place in IT services as the old-era practice of housing mainframes on premises with flocks of in-house or outsourced techies maintaining this infrastructure and devising applications to cater to these businesses empires has died almost overnight. Today, the digital world and cloud businesses are taking care of much of that.

Companies are on the hook if their hiring algorithms are biased


Between 2014 and 2017 Amazon tried to build an algorithmic system to analyze resumes and suggest the best hires. An anonymous Amazon employee called it the "holy grail" if it actually worked. After the company trained the algorithm on 10 years of its own hiring data, the algorithm reportedly became biased against female applicants. The word "women," like in women's sports, would cause the algorithm to specifically rank applicants lower. After Amazon engineers attempted to fix that problem, the algorithm still wasn't up to snuff and the project was ended.

Get ready for an explosion of Alexa-powered headphones


Get ready for the Alexa headphone explosion. Up till now, there haven't been too many headphones that integrate Amazon Alexa. There are certainly some you can buy -- from high-end noise-canceling cans that fit over the ears to true-wireless models -- but even when Alexa is present, its abilities are limited to a subset of what it can do on an Echo smart speaker. That's about to change in a big way. Qualcomm has developed an audio chipset specifically for headphones to integrate digital assistants like Alexa, and a reference design that incorporates the technology: a neckband-style pair of headphones lets you call up Amazon's digital assistant at the touch of a button.

Should our machines sound human?


Yesterday, Google announced an AI product called Duplex, which is capable of having human-sounding conversations. I am genuinely bothered and disturbed at how morally wrong it is for the Google Assistant voice to act like a human and deceive other humans on the other line of a phone call, using upspeak and other quirks of language. "Hi um, do you have anything available on uh May 3?" If Google created a way for a machine to sound so much like a human that now we can't tell what is real and what is fake, we need to have a talk about ethics and when it's right for a human to know when they are speaking to a robot. In this age of disinformation, where people don't know what's fake news… how do you know what to believe if you can't even trust your ears with now Google Assistant calling businesses and posing as a human? That means any dialogue can be spoofed by a machine and you can't tell.

Google Home Hub alternatives you can buy right now


One year after enlisting the help of third-party manufacturers to get screen versions of Google Home into your life, Google has launched its own smart display, called Home Hub. Designed to be a smart home controller, it's equipped with a speaker for alarms and timers, and it comes with a screen so you can view the thousands of pictures you've stored in Google Photos. Another advantage of having a display: It can show you results and speak them to you, which -- in many scenarios -- is very useful. Just say "OK Google" to get Google Assistant's attention, followed by a command, and then control the results with your fingers on the screen. However, it's not the only smart display with built-in Google Assistant smarts -- let alone the only smart display.