Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been progressing at a record rate in recent years, with its numerous names and voices becoming familiar in daily life and within the enterprise. These include Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Watson, Einstein and Coleman, to name but a few.
Innovation has of course been driving the advancements and developments of AI, but a huge amount of investment has fuelled the progress, ensuring the continuation of exploration. Research and funding are almost symbiotic in requiring one another to progress in areas such as the AI space.
While on the one hand there are behemoths of the tech world at the forefront of AI development, there are also smaller organisations that are research centric, pulling a great deal of the weight of progress forward on the backs of world class experts.
It will come as no surprise that Microsoft is one of the giants leading the way into the AI future. The company is a provider of an AI platform that harnesses a set of APIs; this is geared towards the futuristic approach of using speech, language and vision at the core of the process, streamlining traditional methods.
Microsoft also has a Cognitive Toolkit on offer that the company considers ‘commercial-grade’, and it has been developed to be highly usable, helping organisations and other users to bridge the gap into this technology. Vast quantities of data are central to functional AI, and this scale is achieved by the Azure cloud.
The company is also a big contributor to the general progress within artificial intelligence, as Microsoft Research has gained significant ground in areas such as Deep Learning.
Technology company Infor recently released another name to the familiar list of AIs that are used across the globe. This is called Coleman, and it is set to be a cloud-based AI platform for the enterprise, streamlining many outdated, arduous business processes.
Coleman is not only intended to make processes efficient, the intelligent aspect of this creation intends to enhance the user’s productivity, providing an edge when it comes to completing tasks. For instance Coleman could be accessed by a delivery driver, for which purpose it could make an intelligent analysis of the best route to take to achieve the ultimate goal in the least time.
Infor is aiming to set a benchmark for communication with its new AI platform, with a conversational UX, making Coleman more like a part of a team, rather than simply functioning as a tool.
An outstanding landmark has recently come out of DeepMind, a company owned by Google, as its AI offering is now working with Blizzard games to use StarCraft 2 as a research environment.
The reason for this is to help AI to learn, enhancing the technology to the point that it would take on and beat the best human players of the game. On a similar note, an AI platform has just beaten a human world leader in the game Dota 2.
DeepMind was acquired by Google in 2014 for $400 million, and has become a pillar within the developing world of artificial intelligence. The focus of DeepMind is on turning research into reality, and it focusses on key areas such as energy, health and science.
Facebook has shown itself to be at the cutting edge within the artificial intelligence space, working on controversial use cases such as the tackling of fake news, while it has also looked to develop AI for messaging purposes.
The company has shown an interest in not simply endorsing itself with AI technology, but it has taken a very open, community based approach to research by launching the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) group, helping to pave the way for development.
Also grabbing headlines in recent weeks, Facebook has been working to on two AIs called Alice and Bob, teaching them to negotiate, a complex form of human interaction for an AI platform to learn. During this process the AIs quickly learnt from one another without the researchers noticing.
The two managed two AIs created their own language that the researchers found to be more formidable than the human language they had been taught, and had to be shut down before being allowed to continue further. This caught the imagination of many, and marks a new level of AI capability noted by the social media giant.
Having been around from the dawn of tech as we know it, it is no surprise that IBM is among the front runners within artificial intelligence. IBM is pressing ahead with cognitive technology such as deep learning, also relevant to AI, having recently broken records for speed and accuracy, surpassing the likes of Microsoft.
IBM are responsible for Watson, one of the now many familiar names in the world of AI. Watson can be used to construct virtual agents and chatbots designed to answer questions for customers. This area is hugely popular as a use case for AI, as it is thought that organisations could make significant gains by automating elements of customer service.
Watson is now very well established across the world, now available and functional in 45 different countries, while also being active across a broad spectrum of 20 industries. This number of industries is indicative of the scale of AI use cases.
Salesforce is also parent to one of the now familiar AI identities at work within organisations across the world, Einstein. Also geared towards the customer, Einstein is used to learn from large amounts of data and form forecasts to benefit business processes.
For example, Einstein is set to benefit financial advisers by providing them with a dynamic understanding of networks that surround their clients. This is intended to create a new level of transparency, bringing together crucial data that is pertinent to the current time-frame, while also making the adviser aware of particularly important information.
Einstein could give a financial adviser insight into other family members connected to the client, helping to advise based on an array of connected information.
While masses of money, huge investments, and high-profile acquisitions are important and impressive for a list of top AI players, the funding would be irrelevant if it wasn’t for ongoing high quality research.
OpenAI is a prime example of this, as the group is among the top entities contributing to the overall human progress and understanding of the technology that is set to become ubiquitous across the full spectrum of industries.
The non-profit research group started from the ground up, but for what they lack in monetary and physical assets, the group makes up for in a team of some of the most formidable professionals in the space, including deep learning expert, Ilya Sutskever.
While Apple was less vocal to begin with regarding AI, it has accelerated into the spotlight by enhancing the abilities of developers to harness the technology, and also by beginning to engage in research on the development of the new technology.
A significant item of AI news from Apple recently is that the giant is now working on a chip for AI. This has been referred to as the Apple Neural Engine. Areas that this development could enhance include speech and facial recognition; this taps into biometrics, another key tech trend at present.
This acceleration in AI activity may come down to the arrival of challengers for its own AI assistant, Siri that was released in the dark and distant epoch that is 2011. Amazon in particular has taken the challenge to Apple by introducing Alexa.
Amazon has raced to the front of the AI pack with its release of Alexa, housed within the Amazon Echo device. With AWS, Amazon is positioned well in the AI space, as cloud is being used as a supercomputer to equip AI platforms with the vast knowledge necessary to create a formidable AI.
The company has been busily engaged in deep learning, now offering the AWS Deep Learning AMI product that can be used by researchers and developers to get the ball rolling when it comes to teaching and training AI platforms.
AWS is also a supporter of all of the central AI frameworks, including the likes of Caffe, Theano and TensorFlow. This is an important factor as Google owned TensorFlow is not supported by Apple, for example.
This company is developing a use case for artificial intelligence that will be highly desirable to all major brands that are interested in highly accurate understanding of its reception around the world.
Banjo uses AI to search throughout the realm of social media to ascertain a company’s standing based on important situations and events, for example. This could also be key for the emergency services and other organisations and movements that require agility within public opinion and activity.
The use case was developed in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, this is an example of the kind of emergency that could benefit immensely from an immediate, autonomous understanding of important developments.