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) …
Take a deep breath, Samsung Galaxy Note 9 users. Bixby is about to annoy you a little less. Samsung is giving its Note 9 customers the ability to reduce accidental activations of Bixby. According to Android Authority, thanks to Samsung's latest Note 9 update, it will now take a double-tap of the dedicated Bixby button to activate Bixby. For those mobile customers who don't know what a Bixby is, Bixby is Samsung's virtual assistant.
I can't profess to fully understand all of the complexities of localizing services for various languages, nuances, accents and dialects where voice recognition is concerned. However, with Amazon's Alexa ambitions ramping up after its hardware event Thursday, it's worth questioning why the voice assistant's language support is so abysmal. Almost four years after launching, Alexa supports English, French, German and Japanese, with Italian and Spanish on the way. Compare that with Siri, which, within a year of launch, supported all of the above languages, along with Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese -- and some languages were tuned for local differences by that point, too. Apple's voice assistant is now available in 21 languages.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at the inaugural FWD:DFW conference sponsored by Capital One. The event, which attracted speakers from around the country and across Capital One, and attendees from throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth region, was focused on data-driven innovation. A recurring theme at the event, and in my discussions with Capital One leaders there, was transformation. Specifically, how companies can apply a variety of emerging technologies and tools–including, of course, machine learning and AI–in service of the broader goal of reshaping the customer experience and the organization's ability to innovate more rapidly and operate more efficiently. The event offered numerous examples of this principle at work including finance industry standbys like credit monitoring, fraud and anomaly detection, anti-money laundering, and forecasting transaction volume.
To use the title of Brad Stone's seminal book about the nation's largest online retailer, Amazon is so much "The Everything Store" that it can be a little hard to remember when it was just a bookstore. But Jeff Bezos' ambitions are actually the grandest in the land, and the dozen-plus Alexa devices the company announced today show the next step. Throughout tech history, incumbents have needed to beware of leapfroggers. Apple never needed to defend a dumb-phone business, so it could upend smartphones. T-Mobile had no landline thinking, so it could become the UnCarrier.
IBM on Wednesday introduced technology that automatically detects bias and explains how AI formulates decisions as they are made. The software runs on the IBM Cloud. IBM Research's bias detection tool, AI Fairness 360 toolkit, will become open-source. The hope is that academics, researchers and data scientists will integrate bias detection into their models. The company puts its bias detection tools on Github, a software development platform that Microsoft acquired in June 2018 for $7.5 billion.
Microsoft and Amazon said that voice and video calls via the service will come to Alexa devices (including Microsoft's Xbox One) with calls that you can start and control just by voice. Last year the two companies announced plans to make Alexa and Cortana work together and it's taken a while to arrive, but now it's here. Amazon's push to make people buy more things via its assistant could provide a boost to Microsoft's aspirations of product integration in a way that didn't happen after the launch of the Xbox One and Kinect, which already featured voice control for Skype before Cortana and Alexa were on the scene.
One of the most watched developments in data analytics and business technology these days is that of machine learning. Becoming something of a business-critical technology, machine learning makes computing processes more efficient, cost-effective, and reliable and may ultimately accelerate every aspect of business decision-making. Machine learning has applications in most industries, where it presents a great opportunity to improve upon existing processes. Yet many organizations are slow on the uptake. Recent surveys report that fewer than 25% of businesses have adopted any significant level of machine learning automation; yet it is currently behind some of the most game-changing advancements at Google, PayPal, Netflix, and other industry giants.
When it comes to AI-enhanced marketing, the future is already happening. How far are we from hyper-intelligent robots becoming a part of our daily lives' AI-enabled'assistants' like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa have already been adopted into many people's homes and businesses. Admittedly, we don't usually use these applications for anything more important than finding the nearest grocery store or choosing some mood-appropriate music. But they are becoming very common. More relevantly, we are also seeing the use of advanced analytics and Artificial Intelligence in many business functions.
Amazon took a major shot at smart speaker rival Sonos, unveiling all the elements for a complete Alexa-enabled sound system including a slew of new Echo devices for the home and vehicles, along with updates to its Alexa artificial intelligence (AI) assistant. At an event in the US, the company announced audio equipment including the $130 Echo Sub (pictured), a 6-inch subwoofer which can be paired with other Amazon Echo devices to improve sound. It also unveiled Alexa-enabled amplifiers, the $200 Echo Link and $300 Echo Link Amp, to fine tune and boost sound quality in existing stereo equipment; as well as the $35 Echo Input, a plug-in device with four-microphones which adds Alexa to existing speakers. The company also rolled out revamped versions of its staple Echo smart home hub series, including: Echo Show ($230), redesigned with a larger 10-inch display, upgraded speaker system and integration with new content players including Hulu; Echo Plus ($150), featuring a new fabric exterior, a built-in Zigbee hub to connect compatible IoT devices, upgraded speakers and a temperature sensor; and Echo Dot ($50), also with an updated mesh fabric and better speakers. Amazon's effort to bring Alexa to as many devices as possible included the debut of the Echo Wall Clock ($30) to provide a visual display for timers, alarms and reminders; and the company's first smart plug ($25), which is essentially an Alexa-enabled timer.