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) …
DARPA stands for "Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency," but while defense is good and all, what DARPA is really into is that P, for projects. The agency is focused on the development of breakthrough technology, and its sights are focused on the enormous potential of artificial intelligence. Its funding for AI projects is huge by any measure, and available to applicants far beyond the traditional defense community. As a 60th birthday present for itself, DARPA launched the AI Next campaign this past September, announcing a $2 billion investment applied to AI in a variety areas over a period of five years -- or about $400 million a year, says Brian Pierce, Director of the Information Innovation Office at DARPA. Anyone can participate in DARPA-funded programs by responding to an invitation for proposals on fbo.gov.
One of the first things people generally say upon visiting my apartment is, "No way! Robot vacuums like the iconic iRobot Roomba have been around for several years now, yet they're still an object of fascination--and sometimes even envy--for many people. I always get comments like, "That's so cool!" and "I wish I had one!" However, their next question is almost always, "Is it worth it?" While they seem extremely cool and useful, there are actually some downsides to robotic vacuums that might not work for you.
Enterprise spending on artificial intelligence (AI) is increasing, with 82 percent of early adopters saying they have seen positive returns on their investment, according to a new report from professional services giant, Deloitte. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they had launched six or more pilot schemes (up from 35 percent a year ago), with 58 percent undertaking six or more full implementations (up 32 percent year on year). According to the second annual State of AI in the Enterprise report, which surveyed 1,100 US executives with early-stage AI projects, the average return on these programmes is 17 percent. Deloitte looked at four types of AI: machine learning; deep learning; natural language processing; and computer vision. Natural language systems are spearheading AI's enterprise growth, with 62 percent of the companies surveyed adopting it, up nine percent year on year.
The Australian government has announced a AU$6 million investment in an "ultra-rapid" electric vehicle (EV) charging network powered by renewable energy across the nation under the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). According to the federal government, the EV charging network will be deployed around Sydney and Melbourne; between Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, and Adelaide; and across Western Australia. Euroa, in Victoria, and Barnawartha North, outside Albury Wodonga on the New South Wales-Victorian border, will be the first sites to gain charging areas thanks to a grant from the Victorian government. The AU$15 million EV charging network is being built by Chargefox, with plans to develop 21 charging stations across the nation, each around 200km apart. The charging stations are designed to provide a range of 400km or up to 80 percent capacity within 15 minutes of charging, with the network to be worth AU$15 million.
Companies are ramping up their investments in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. That's the biggest takeaway from Deloitte's second State of the AI in the Enterprise report, a survey of more than 1,100 IT and executives from US-based companies conducted in the third quarter of 2018. "Companies are excited about the potential of AI to improve performance and competitiveness -- and for good reason," Dr. Jeff Loucks, executive director at Deloitte's Center for Technology, Media, and Telecommunications, said. "But to reach this potential, companies must engage risk, address talent shortfalls and execute well. While AI's upside is significant, haste can leave companies with bridges to nowhere -- pilots that don't scale or projects with no business benefit."
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced this week that it would invest $1 billion in a new college of computer engineering: the Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing. And when the new building hosts its first classes in 2022, it'll be the largest structural addition to MIT's campus since the 1950s. Yet another AI-forward institution of note is Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), which partnered with Bosch's Center for Artificial Intelligence on an $8 million research project that goes through 2023. CMU has the additional distinction of being the first university to offer an undergraduate degree in AI, and it neighbors the ARM Institute, a $250 million initiative focused on accelerating the advancement of transformative robotics technologies and education in the U.S. manufacturing industry. This week, I participated in a tour of startups in Pittsburgh's blossoming robotics and automation industry, the majority of which draw on CMU not just for funding, but for expertise.
Silicon Valley is in the midst of a health craze, and it is being driven by "Eastern" medicine. It's been a record year for US medical investing, but investors in Beijing and Shanghai are now increasingly leading the largest deals for US life science and biotech companies. In fact, Chinese venture firms have invested more this year into life science and biotech in the US than they have back home, providing financing for over 300 US-based companies, per Pitchbook. Chinese capital's newfound appetite also flows into the mainland. Business is booming for Chinese medical startups, who are also seeing the strongest year of venture investment ever, with over one hundred companies receiving $4 billion in investment.
I think that a healthy debate is healthy and I think it's actually good for start-ups. Having the open debate has changed the way the conversation goes with start-ups. Early-stage founders used to not proactively bring up these issues and now they do. As part of our due diligence process, we have a step called a brainstorm. We were already bringing up these issues as part of the brainstorming process and now I'm pleased that the founders are bringing up the issue.
Google is eager to invest in other insurance technology companies well beyond its newly announced minority stake in Applied Systems, a principal investor with the global search engine giant said on Oct. 17. "We really like the market," said Jesse Wedler, a principal with CapitalG, the growth equity investment fund of Google's parent Alphabet. "We will definitely be looking for additional investments in the insurance technology space." Wedler, speaking during a second conference call held to discuss CapitalG's new investment in Applied, said he didn't want to define the scope of CapitalG's insurance technology investment search "too narrowly." However, he said the search would be for other businesses like Applied, ones "that add insurance technology to the market."
MIT's move signals two trends in higher education: growing investment in sophisticated technology research and increased fundraising from the private sector. Last year, the university announced plans to partner with IBM on a 10-year, $240 million AI research effort. The resulting MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab is co-located with an IBM research facility in Boston and brings together faculty members and students as well as IBM and university researchers to enhance AI's impact across industries. More recently, IBM partnered with Columbia University to develop research competency in blockchain technology through the Columbia-IBM Center for Blockchain and Data Transparency. Public institutions are nabbing corporate funding, too.