Facebook backs Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence with $7.5 million

“Facebook will donate $7.5 million for the creation of The Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence, a research center being made to explore topics such as transparency and accountability in medical treatment and human rights in human-AI interaction.

The announcement was made today during a speech by COO Sheryl Sandberg at the Digital Life Design (DLD) conference in Munich, Germany and is Facebook’s first investment in an independent center to study ethics in AI, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.”


Former Facebook engineer picks up $15M for AI platform Spell

“In 2016, Serkan Piantino packed up his desk at Facebook with hopes to move on to something new. The former director of Engineering for Facebook AI Research had every intention to keep working on AI, but quickly realized a huge issue.

Unless you’re under the umbrella of one of these big tech companies like Facebook, it can be very difficult and incredibly expensive to get your hands on the hardware necessary to run machine learning experiments.

So he built Spell, which today received $15 million in Series A funding led by Eclipse Ventures and Two Sigma Ventures.

Spell is a collaborative platform that lets anyone run machine learning experiments. The company connects clients with the best, newest hardware hosted by Google, AWS and Microsoft Azure and gives them the software interface they need to run, collaborate and build with AI.”


‘Less common sense than a house cat’: Why Facebook’s AI guru thinks the tech still has a long way to go

“Yann LeCun, who was hired by the social media giant in 2013 to oversee its AI operations, is widely considered one of the “godfathers” of deep learning, the breakthrough technology based on computer programs structured to work like the neural networks in the human brain.

“AI is not solved. The techniques that we have at the moment are very limited. They have a lot of applications, but they are very limited,” he told the Financial Post in a recent interview.

“Our best AI systems have less common sense than a house cat.”

LeCun said the next breakthrough will come from “unsupervised” or “self-supervised” learning, where an AI system could just watch thousands of hours of video, or read all the pages on Wikipedia, and just digest all of that information.”


A New York City lawmaker is taking on companies that mine your face -FastCompany

[Photo: Randallbritten/Wikimedia Commons]

  • “Amazon has lately courted controversy with its Rekognition service, a facial scanning software used by law enforcement agencies like ICE, as well as many of its other cloud customers. Facebook is well known for its facial recognition algorithm, allowing the company to identify users and target ads at them accordingly.
  • Last month, Microsoft’s president called for rules around face recognition, while Google said it would not yet sell facial recognition services for the time being, given the ongoing privacy and ethical concerns.
  • In March, the same month that the Times described MSG’s technology, the ACLU asked 20 of America’s top retailers if they used facial recognition on their customers.
  • All but two of the companies refused to confirm or deny. One company, Ahold Delhaize–a brand that owns supermarkets Food Lion, Stop & Shop, Giant, and Hannaford–responded they did not use face recognition, while the hardware company Lowes said it does use face recognition technology to identify shoplifters.
  • “Since there is no regulation, since there is not even the most basic standards of transparency, we don’t know how widespread the use of facial recognition technology is in New York City or elsewhere in the country–we just don’t know,” he says. ‘Businesses are under no obligation to report on the use of facial recognition technology. I think that is part of the purpose of the bill: to shed light on a world of biometric technology that has historically been hidden from public view.'”


How Facebook deals with the fact AI is a mess on smartphones

“Apple, they write, stands out: its “Metal” API for iOS runs on a consistent chip platform and the GPUs in those chips are higher-performance, on average, “making Metal on iOS devices with GPUs an attractive target for efficient neural network inference.” Even then, however, the results of a “rigorous” examination of the speed of inference across six generations of Apple’s “A” series chips shows that within each generation of chip there is still “wide performance variability.”

“Programmability is a primary roadblock to using mobile co-processors/accelerators,” they write. 

The newest version of Facebook’s “PyTorch” framework, unveiled this year at the company’s developer conference, is designed to “accelerate AI innovation by streamlining the process of transitioning models developed through research exploration into production scale with little transition overhead.” It also supports the “Open Neural Network Exchange,” or ONNX, specification backed by Microsoft and others.”


AI Weekly: 2018 in machine learning – Khari Johnson

  • “On the AI assistant front, we saw Alexa and Cortana begin to work together.
  • We documented how this fall Google, Facebook, and Amazon simultaneously fought major scandals while at the same time entering full pitch mode for smart displays, and we looked at the need for trust in AI assistant adoption.
  • One of my favorites from Kyle Wiggers is about the danger that too much focus on apocalyptic AGI scenarios of the future will distract from pressing problems we face now.
  • My favorite from former AI staff writer Blair Hanley Frank analyzed the way tech companies market AI solutions and proclaimed that Sensei, Watson, and Einstein must die.”


ai – A day in my life

How many times will I interact with ai today?

This is a question that has been on my mind, but I haven’t had the time to monitor, document and track the interactions. So, yesterday December 29th, was my opportunity. It was Saturday, in the midst of the New Year holiday weekend. The kids would be with Grandma for the majority of the day, and my wife had plans filled with errands and a nap.

So here we go…

Saturday 12/29

  • Woke up, grabbed coffee and turned on my Amazon Fire TV with Netflix and shows recommended for me. Usually it’s spot-on but my wife has been using my account so I have the “The Great British Baking Show” and “Windsor” 🙂

  • Opened FlipBoard to check for new stories and read the section “For You” including articles on unplugging, exercise tips, AI, sports and investing. These are well targeted. There are usually more stories on hiking, camping and backpacking but I’ve been more focused on ai in recent weeks.

  • I loaded a couple of Amazon gift cards from the holiday into my account and checked out deals recommended for me. There’s one that interesting….a Yeti cooler lock. Don’t judge 🙂 it seems like an odd product but those coolers aren’t cheap, and I don’t want someone to throw mine in their truck while we’re away from our tent hiking.

  • It’s interesting though, even Amazon has plenty of room for improvement in their ai image recognition. Example, I was shopping at Academy (local sporting goods store) a couple days after Christmas and wanted to see if Amazon had a better deal on the lock. So, I opened the Amazon app, clicked on the “search by image” tool, and it failed to correctly identify the image below in my hand as the very same product displayed in a slightly different product images (see below).

  • Meanwhile my wife was doing the grocery shopping online. She selected an avocado and promptly received recommendations for peppers and tomatillos. I now have her helping with the experiment.

  • Next, I’m sitting in my recliner and the house feels chilly today so I decided to check the temperature…brrrrr…it has dipped down into the 40’s – that’s cold for Texas!!

  • While in the app I receive an advertisement for a Google Home mini. Unfortunately, I already have the large Google home device. Note: It’s an ok device but I just don’t use that often. It was frequently “turning on” unprompted and disrupting work related phone calls. It now has a semi-permanent home in the hall closet.
  • Back to the temperature…what I need, and have been watching prices for, is a Nest thermostat. I was really surprised over the holiday. I checked the price nearly every day from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday and the Nest was never discounted…at least never more than a few pennies. So it remains on my wish list…sigh.

  • While watching the Peach Bowl (Michigan 10 v. Florida 13 at the half) I decided to send a thank you note to my brother for the Christmas gift cards. Gmail now uses ai to help predict what you’re writing and offers quick and easy auto-fill.

  • Time to check Facebook to see what friends and family are up to this weekend. The result…memories, updates and targeted offers…delivered by ai.

  • I’m still watching the Peach Bowl, but not really concerned with the outcome since I’m an alum of Purdue and Butler. However, will someone PLEASE develop an ai system that replaces referees/officials/umpires. There were TWO officials standing on top of this play and completely missed the call.

  • Grandma and the kids just arrived from Austin where they used Google maps to navigate, and my wife just returned from HEB – the local grocery store. Both had to use GPS since we’re at the lake on vacation for the holiday.

  • We’re a bit of a sports family so this is our setup for the afternoon: Purdue Basketball, Butler Basketball and Cotton Bowl powered by 3 Amazon Fire enabled TVs. I’m confident all of this is being captured and added to my profile in Amazon’s version of “the graph” to power further ai based recommendations.

  • Throughout the course of the day I witnessed my kids on: Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram…all of which are powered by ai for content, personalization and recommendations.

  • This evening I posted about a new publication titled “HBRs 10 Must Reads – On AI, Analytics, and the New Machine Age. Amazon says that the hard-back and paper-back versions won’t be available until Feb 12th, but I was able to download the digital version to my kindle app within minutes.
  • I’ve only read the first two chapters: 1) Artificial Intelligence for the Real World and 2) Stitch Fix’s CEO on Selling Personal Style to the Mass Market. The total purchase price was $44.83 and I already believe it was money well spent.

  • I’m a little disappointed. I was hoping to fly our drone today, but we didn’t get it charged up in time. It was a gift to kids last Christmas, but the newness has warn off so I’m quasi taking it over. It is simply AMAZING and chalk full of ai. From the way it self-balances for hovering, self-lands to prevent crashes and follows you based on GPS. The technology is impressive, especially when you consider it’s built into an affordable “toy”.

  • Well, it has been a fun-filled day and time to turn-in for the night. As I set the alarm I wonder what ai is built into the monitoring and detection capabilities.

So that’s it…or is it? What else may have been impacting my life without even realizing the fact.

  • Has my electric company begun using ai to monitor and deliver power?
  • Did my bank utilize ai to protect my accounts while I was watching basketball?
  • Is the US post office utilizing ai that resulted in the delivery of my mail or packages?

Night all…

AI hits the mainstream

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications can now tackle several of marketing’s time-consuming and repetitive tasks, such as market segmentation, content curation and predictive analysis. As AI applications become more sophisticated, they are beginning to take on tasks which require creativity, affording marketers more time to focus on perfecting campaigns and coming up with new ideas. For example, Narrative Science has created a program called Quill that can analyze data and facts and create insightful, natural language text for ads. Another company, EyeEm, has developed AI-based image curation software that helps companies find high-quality images from a database of photos and designs. The software selects photos related to a business’ brand and messaging, then figures out which ones will best suit a particular audience.

In addition, AI is becoming more accessible to the average business, thanks to major players like Facebook and Google. These companies have invested heavily in AI marketing tools, some of which can now be used by advertisers at no cost, thus lowering the barriers to entry for AI applications and democratizing the playing field. By leveraging accessible and cost-free tools, small businesses can find out for themselves if they want to invest more in AI marketing technology.

Although the rapid development of AI is exciting, this technology is by no means perfect. Even as AI applications start to take on progressively more complex tasks, human input will undoubtedly remain the most important part of the creative design process. But markets that succeed in combining the powerful precision of AI with human imagination will be able to create ads that are better received and more powerful than ever. Here, marketers need to find a balance between process optimization and customer desire for human interaction to avoid creating content which seems overly robotic.”


Why SMS Marketing Could Be Your Brand’s Secret Weapon in 2019

Credit: Getty images

This article is not related to AI, but it’s such a critical opportunity that I wanted to include it this evening. I have deep experience in this space from my time at Facebook. My team leveraged SMS to acquire, engage and retain users. Our budget for SMS alone was mind-boggling and impact we drove was unparalleled. You’re leaving growth and revenue on the table if you’re not utilizing this channel today.

“One promising opportunity that’s often overlooked is SMS marketing, or text message marketing. Here are the reasons why SMS marketing could be the medium that takes your brand to new heights in 2019, how to get started and some best practices to ensure you’re using the channel most effectively.

People are always connected to their phones.

We live in a mobile-first world where people of all ages are increasingly becoming glued to their smartphones. In fact, it’s been recorded that, on average, people check their phones a whopping 80 times per day. As a result, it’s no wonder why open rates for SMS marketing typically hover around 82 percent. This makes sending texts to customers and members of your brand’s community the closest thing to being absolutely certain your content won’t get overlooked.”


20 New Tools from Social Media Platforms

“By following the launches and updates of social media platforms, merchants can discover new ways to reach customers and prospects.

Here is a list of recent updates from social media platforms. There are tools for interactive video, customer service, analytics, artificial intelligence, visual search, and shoppable images.


New features in Google My Business app.

Google has revamped its My Business app. It now features a new “customers” tab for businesses to see followers, reviews, and messages in one place. A new “for you” tab displays posts from businesses a user follows. Users can also use the message button on Google Maps and Google Search to reach out directly to businesses, which in turn can respond directly via the app.”