There are always plenty of tech conferences happening. But this week saw two biggies: Google I/O and Microsoft Build.
No doubt, a red-hot topic at these events was AI (Artificial Intelligence). It seemed as if this was the only thing that mattered — or existed in tech!
OK then, with these conferences, what were the important announcements? Which are likely to be game-changing for the AI space?
Well, let’s take a look:
Microsoft: In a Microsoft blog about the Build conference, this is what Chris Stetkiewicz had to say: “Just a few years ago, artificial intelligence was largely relegated to universities and research labs, a charming computer science concept with little use in mainstream business. Today, AI is being integrated into everything from your refrigerator to your favorite workout app.”
This is certainly spot-on.
Now as for the notable developments at the Build conference, Microsoft released a variety of new tools for developers infused with AI. But perhaps the most interesting ones were for its new offerings for AutoML (Automated Machine Learning). These are systems – which are part of the Azure Machine Learning service — that allow just about anyone to create sophisticated AI models. This is critical as it is extremely difficult to recruit data scientists (here’s a recent post I did for Forbes.com on the topic).
Besides the AutoML tools, Microsoft also highlighted its support for ONNX Runtime, or the Open Neural Network Exchange, which is a joint venture to allow models to be deployed across different platforms. The company also announced the launch of Decision, which is an AI system that provides recommendations on making decisions (by using sophisticated approaches like reinforcement learning).
Google: For the keynote, CEO Sundar Pichai noted: “We are moving from a company that helps you find answers to a company that helps you get things done. We want our products to work harder for you in the context of your job, your home and your life.”
This is all part of the company’s ambitious “AI first” mission. In other words, the technology is not just about a few products; rather, its about transforming everything Google does.
Just look at Google Assistant, which is getting more and more powerful.
“I am amazed at the advancements we are seeing in AI, specifically Conversational AI,” said Bryan Stokes, who is the VP Product Management for Vonage. “Instead of the previous AI experience, which was more of a halting back and forth interaction, Conversational AI has evolved to become more of a natural ‘discussion.’ It’s like going from the Walkie Talkie to the telephone. Today’s AI capabilities enable a continuous conversation. As someone who lives and breathes communications of all kinds, seeing the next generation of Google Assistant – where you can have continuous conversation and the assistant can take actions – comes so much closer to natural human interaction. Not only can this lead to more individual productivity, but it also provides real-time insights and the ability to take action during a conversation between two people. It is the latter that I think will be most beneficial — taking away the menial tasks, like taking notes or scheduling a follow up meeting, so we can focus solely on what the other person is saying — to make that human connection.”
Google I/O also showcased how the company’s engineers and researchers are pushing the boundaries of AI innovation. For example, the company has been able to make significant strides with localized artificial intelligence, made possible by compressing 100GB algorithms to less than half a GB. This means that Google can implement AI into devices – allowing for near zero latency as well as improved security and privacy. In fact, at the keynote, Pichai dubbed it as having “a data center in your pocket.”