Tag: Google

Do Companies Need a Chief AI Officer (CAIO)?

The short answer to the above question is “no”. But let’s get into the specifics. Clearly for many companies, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the range of Cognitive Technologies are strategic to their businesses and organizations. Indeed, for many companies, AI is as fundamentally important to their long-term well being as their IT organizations and finances. So, if you have a Chief Information Officer (CIO) in charge of all the information and IT-operation activities in the organization and a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in charge of all the finances for the business, why shouldn’t you have a Chief AI Officer (CAIO) in charge of all the AI-related activities?

Do you have a Chief Mobile Officer or Chief Internet Officer?

From helping to identify and defray fraud to improving business processes to new products and services that have not previously been possible, AI is enabling a wide class of solutions. However, just because something is important, even fundamentally and significantly so, doesn’t mean that the corporation’s management team needs a shakeup with a new person at the top rung in the organizational structure. Every few decades, a new major technology movement comes that shakes up the economy and shuffles the way businesses work. In the recent past, the most significant of these movements have been the emergence of the Internet and mobile devices as separate major technology trends. There’s no doubt that the Internet pretty much changed everything in most industries from retail to finance to real estate, and similarly there’s no doubt that the emergence of mobile computing was another tectonic shift for those industries and others that might have weathered the Internet revolution.

Yet, did we see an explosion of Chief Internet Officer or Chief Mobile Officer titles? Perhaps at the early stages, companies flirted with those titles as a way to signal to the outside world that it took the Internet and mobile seriously, but now I think you’d be challenged to find any Fortune 1000 company with those titles as part of the top-level “C stack” in the organization. Why is that? Simply put, while there’s no doubting the significance of the Internet, mobile, and other movements such as Big Data and cloud computing to the enterprise, the strategic portion of the organization didn’t need some new high-level executive to add to management team. If anything, companies saw these new movements reinforcing the value of their existing team and adding to the strategic importance of management-level titles such as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

If AI and Cognitive Technology are Important to You, then Get Your Existing C-Level Team to be “AI-First”.

Much of the reason why companies are creating CAIOs is because they want to signal to the outside world that they find AI so core to their business and mission-critical that they will create and elevate a position within the company that’s solely focused on AI and directly reporting to the CEO. However, it seems both short-sighted and organizationally confusing to use a C-level title as a way of indicating to the outside world the importance of a company’s AI efforts.

Rather than create a whole new C-level executive, companies that are itching to name a CAIO should instead follow the examples of companies that have declared their intent to be “AI First”.  Specifically, over a year ago, Microsoft decided to ditch their “mobile first” mantra, which was questionable in its ability to have the strategic results the company desired, to become “AI first”.  In the speech announcing the move, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadela stated, that Microsoft would create “best-in-class platforms and productivity services for an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge infused with AI”. This is just as much about putting a stake in the ground for the market and competition to know as it is as a rallying cry for their internal employees and stakeholders. Microsoft even when a step further, creating a dedicated site with a mission-statement, objectives, and ethical considerations in its move to be “AI First”. If anything, this says more than simply appointing someone to an ill-defined CAIO role.

Likewise, in 2017, Google also declared their intentions to be “AI-first”, moving away from a mobile-first and mobile-centric world. Specifically, Google CEO Sundar Pichai stated that Google was moving away from “searching and organizing the world’s information to AI and machine learning.” That’s a very fundamental statement for a company that built its reputation on wrangling the world’s information.  Both Google and Microsoft took action to followup on their words and made major executive changes, but did not appoint a CAIO. Google named a new head of AI initiatives and Microsoft split its development and engineering divisions into a Cloud group, an AI group, and an experiences and devices group. These were all big management changes, and yet no CAIO.

What Would the CAIO Be Responsible For Anyways?

Another thing to consider with regards to the CAIO role: just who and what would the CAIO be managing as part of the role’s organizational efforts? If a CAIO is a chief of something, it needs to be a chief of managing either people, resources, or both. It doesn’t make sense for the CAIO to manage the development team implementing Machine Learning (ML) models for enterprise end user customers because much of where AI and ML implementation happens is within the line of business.  And even if AI development is not happening within the line of business at enterprise end users, then it’s happening within the IT organization and managed by the CIO.  Does it make sense for the CIO to handle all information except AI and ML-related data and information?  Not really. Does it make sense for the line of business managers to handle their line of business except when it has to do with AI and ML? Not really.  So without people or information to manage within an enterprise, the CAIO is useless.

Within a vendor’s organizational structure, the CAIO title makes little sense as well. The CTO usually manages the company’s long-term technology vision and sets strategy for the company as it pursues new business opportunities. It doesn’t make sense for the CTO to manage all strategic initiatives except those relating to AI and ML.  Likewise, the actual product development usually rests with the VP of Product Management or the SVP of some product or development organization. Why would that SVP work on those products that are not AI related, if AI is so critical to the company?  In these cases, if a technology vendor names a CAIO and it also has a CTO, CIO, and VP Product Management or SVP, lots of conflict over product and strategy ownership will occur.  If the CAIO is not managing anyone or crafting a strategy, then what value is that role?

Forget the Title, Go For the Value

Indeed, the best way for a company to signal to internal employees and stakeholders as well as outside customers, investors, partners, and competitors that it is serious about AI and ML is to do the precise opposite of naming a CAIO: not naming a CAIO. Instead, companies that aim to make AI and ML a core part of the organization’s mission, mantra, and message should task each of the existing C-level executives to make AI and ML part of their organization’s mission. The CEO should be “AI-first” and speak in terms of how AI and ML will strategically impact the business. The CIO, CTO, CFO, CMO, Chief of Human Resources, and other strategic executives need to also craft their messages from the lens of AI and ML, if they wish to be portrayed as being strategically focused on AI.  To further this statement, if you see any company naming a CAIO while also retaining the CIO, CTO, CMO, and other relevant positions, you should come to the conclusion that AI is not strategic for their firm or they are confused about AI really fits within their organization.  After all, why would they separate the CAIO responsibilities from the rest of the organization while keeping those other roles intact?  This is a signal that AI is somehow separate from the rest of the business and not core, despite what that firm might otherwise indicate.

AI and precision engineering, Google to release TPU AI Chips, Ford to invest $4 billion in AI tech, AI patents rising rapidly

The following are some of the AI stories we are tracking:

How Robot Hands Are Evolving to Do What Ours Can

One of the areas that artificial intelligence comes really handy is precision engineering. One particular field that is evolving is robotic engineering. Controlling a robotic hand to perform complex tasks on its own instead of manning it is now possible thanks to advances in AI and machine learning. Read how AI-powered robotic hands can learn more complex tasks on their own on New York Times.

Google bolsters edge computing strategy with a new version of its TPU AI chips for edge devices

The global search giant is working on fusing the Internet of Things devices with AI. Google has announced its Cloud IoT Edge software and Edge TPU chip, which will be released as a reference design in October, will bring machine learning to IoT. Google is coming out with its own version of machine learning chips as it sees future in is IoT and AI convergence. Read more about Google's TPU AI chip for edge devices on Geek Wire.

Ford follows GM's Cruise move with self-driving spinoff

Even as its competitors are miles ahead in the field of self-driving cars, Ford Motors plans its own AI foray. Ford has announced that it will invest a whopping $4 billion for 5 years in its new Ford Autonomous Vehicles unit. Ford said that the $4 billion included the acquisition price of AI startup Argo AI last year. Ford will invest $4 billion through 2023 in its newly formed autonomous vehicle unit, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC. Source: Reuters.

Despite Pledging Openness, Companies Rush to Patent AI Tech

With AI driving tech for a foreseeable future, many companies have pledged openness in developing the tech. But it all seems to a sham as companies are rushing to patent AI tech. For the record, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft have all released as open source software that their own engineers use for machine learning. But a look at the National Bureau of Economic Research study released this month shows US filings related to machine learning, the technology driving the current AI boom, increasing rapidly. Read more on Wired.

The Future of Artificial Intelligence Depends on Trust

Purchasing a home or car is an exciting moment in a person’s life. Consumers may be comfortable with and even appreciate data-driven recommendations in the search process, for example, from websites that suggest homes based on properties they’ve previously viewed. But what if the decision to grant a mortgage or auto loan is made by a machine-learning algorithm? Can it be right? Read why Anand Rao and Euan Cameron say that the future of artificial intelligence depends on trust on Strategy Business.

Smart Speakers? Meh. Intelligent Assistants? Yeah!

Ever since the launch of Amazon’s Echo device in 2014, its seems that every month brings a new development in dedicated devices that process voice commands and perform actions. However, what exactly are these devices? The popular media calls them “smart speakers” or “voice assistants” or “intelligent personal assistants”, but these words describe very different concepts. A smart speaker conjures up a primarily output oriented device that aims to replace keyboard or button interaction with voice commands. Yet, that seems to be a particularly trivial application for the significant investments and competitive posture that Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, and countless others are taking. After all, why are all these vendors so aggressively marketing and promoting these devices if all they do is allow you to play Taylor Swift on vocal demand or let you ask about the weather?

Clearly there’s a bigger play here than simply the smart speaker. The smart speaker is just a way to initially get their product into a larger number of households and businesses and get people comfortable with using these devices. The real play is something bigger than just a speaker you can control with your voice. The power is not in the speaker, but in the cloud-based technology that powers the device. These devices are really low-cost input and output hardware that are a gateway to the much more powerful infrastructure that sits at the major tech companies’ data centers. The device itself is the giveaway to this. You can even build your own full-featured conversational device for just a few dollars.  So let’s dispense with the clearly ill-fitting term “smart speaker”. It belies the real power of these devices.

Not Smart Speakers. Intelligent Conversational Assistants.

If you ask Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and others, you know that playing music, games, and responding to simply queries is not the end state of their vision for what these conversational gateway devices will be. This week’s demonstration of Google Duplex at Google I/O 2018 clearly shows the power of what an intelligent conversational assistant can truly be. Rather than just being passive devices, intelligent conversational assistants can proactively act on your behalf, performing tasks that require interaction with other humans, and perhaps soon, other conversational assistants on the other end. The power is not in the speaker device.

Indeed, where exactly is the device? The device (speaker) is completely missing in the Google Duplex scenario. We don’t see a device because a device is not necessary here as the devices are just gateways to the real activity that’s happening in the data centers.  The conversational agent is acting completely behind the scenes from Google’s data center interacting through voice-over IP (VoIP) telephone lines with a human on the other end.

So, why are devices needed at all if they’re just gateways? They’re needed because they provide the user interface to the cloud-based intelligence services. Without a device, the only way to access these services is through a web, desktop, or mobile interface. But this is inefficient. Amazon wasn’t truly the first to bring voice-based assistants to market. Apple had them beat by over three years with Siri, and Google introduced their voice-based assistant in Android just a short while after. What made Amazon stand out though with their Echo devices is that the mobile phone was eliminated entirely.  Rather than activating the device through a phone, you can simply speak in the comfort of whatever activity you’re doing and trigger intelligent capabilities. Basically, the value of the device is in its hands-free mode of interaction, but the intelligence of the device is in the back-end infrastructure.

How Intelligent Are These Devices?

Earlier this year, Cognilytica announced the creation of our Voice Assistant Benchmark. The purpose of the benchmark isn’t to test the natural language processing (NLP) or natural language generation (NLG) capabilities of the devices. Nor is the intent of the benchmark to see what sort of skills these devices can perform. We know that better NLP/NLG means the ability to handle a wider range of voices, accents, languages, and speaker characteristics, and more skills mean more single-task capabilities. Those are all “table stakes” as far as we’re concerned.

If the power of the devices is not in the device itself, but in the back-end intelligence that gives these devices real capabilities, then we need to test to see how intelligent that back end really is. Can the conversational agents understand when you’re comparing two things together? Do they understand implicit unspoken things that require common sense or cultural knowledge? For example, a conversational agent scheduling a hair appointment should know that you shouldn’t schedule a hair cut a few days after your last hair cut, or schedule a root canal dentist appointment right before a dinner party.  These are things that humans can do because we have knowledge and intelligence and common sense. Yet as it stands and as we demonstrated in our initial benchmark, neither the Google Home nor Amazon Echo nor Apple Siri devices can answer the question “what’s larger, the sun or the earth?” Are these devices you’d trust running your life? Not yet.  But, we aim to help move things in that direction.

The Implications of an Intelligent Conversational Assistant

In the not-so-distant future, intelligent assistants will be everywhere. We’ll be interacting with them daily in both our personal and business lives. We’ll be chatting with assistants in our homes, and also interacting with other people’s and business’s conversational agents. In a future where everyone will have a personal electronic virtual assistant, we’ll have them do everything from messaging friends when you’re putting together a birthday party, to scheduling all the logistics for that party, to dealing with inbound calls from late attendees who can’t make it. Soon enough, as dependent as we are now on our GPS systems from keeping us from getting lost and our mobile phones for keeping us always connected, we’ll be dependent on these intelligent assistants for keeping our lives in order. This is just an inevitable direction of where things are heading.

However, there’s a downside to the use of intelligent assistants. In a recent article in Verge, experts bemoan the fact that humans will want to know if they’re talking to a robot or not. Clearly people will be frustrated by the earlier generations of intelligent assistants as they make frustrating mistakes. Yet, there’s an even darker potential outcome. Criminals and mischief makers can use voice assistants to tie up phone lines, cause retail “denial of service” attacks by scheduling fake appointments, cause harm by faking information to people to get them to leave their houses or otherwise tie up resources. In the future, we’ll need a sure-fire way to make sure that we know who the speaker on the phone is, what their intentions are, and how real the requests are. The future, which is really here now, is that we can’t believe anything we see or hear. This makes verifying reality incredibly important in an AI-Enabled Future where intelligent assistants are part of our everyday lives.

Xage to use blockchain for IoT security, innovation can compromise cybersecurity, Qualcomm announces breakthrough in 5G chips, Google’s Blockchain push, and critical look at US efforts to regulate Internet of Things

The following are some of the enterprise tech topics we are tracking:

Xage secures $12 million Series A for IoT security solution on blockchain

Blockchain and Internet of Things are both pretty hot topics right now. Palo Alto-based Xage is combining both blockchain and Internet of Things to provide hack-proof security for connected devices.  It has managed to raise $12 million in funding to secure IoT devices on the blockchain. Xage is engaged in building a security fabric for IoT, which takes blockchain and synthesizes it with other capabilities to create a secure environment for connected devices to operate. Read more about Xage and its ideas for IoT security using blockchain on Tech Crunch.

Innovation forcing CIOs to compromise IT security

Here is something of a paradox that the tech sector overlooks - innovation can compromise cybersecurity. According to a report by Dimension Data cyber attacks are rapidly expanding in their scope, ambition, and sophistication, and frequently aimed at the finance sector. Matt Ellard, EMEA MD for Tanium says that many respondents admitted that the need to innovate quickly is causing them to compromise on security practices. In fact, one in five stated their cyber practices haven’t changed because other IT initiatives have had to take priority. Read how cybersecurity takes a backseat as companies go for innovative ideas on Bobs Guide.

Qualcomm's new chips fix a major problem for 5G phones

There is a great deal of buzz around 5G. You will be able to use it by next year. The world's leading smartphone chip maker, Qualcomm has unveiled first mmWave 5G and sub-6GHz antenna modules for 5G smartphones and mobile hotspots. Chip makers were facing major hurdles in shrinking the 5G tech so that it can fit into smartphones. On Monday, Qualcomm unveiled its new QTM052 millimeter wave and QPM56xx sub-6GHz radio frequency antenna module families. Qualcomm's latest chip will work alongside the company's Snapdragon X50 5G to bring 5G to smartphones. Source: CNet.

Google Expands Blockchain Push With Digital Asset Tie-Up

With half the tech world embracing Blockchain how can the world's largest search engine be left behind. Google has tied up with  New York-based startup Digital Asset to bring blockchain to Google Cloud. “We’re partnering with Google Cloud to provide developers with a full stack solution so they can unleash the potential for web-paced innovation in the blockchain,” said Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Asset, in a statement. Read more about Google's latest initiative to bring blockchain technology to Google Cloud on Fortune.

The Internet of Things: Are Government Regulation Efforts Too Little, Too Late?

The Internet of Things connected devices have entered into our lives someway or the other. But lack of cybersecurity has been one of the prime reasons that users are still skeptic to use the Internet of Things devices. Almost 20 years have passed since technology pioneer Kevin Ashton first coined the phrase Internet of Things (IoT) in a 1999 presentation for Procter & Gamble yet there are little or no laws to protect end users from misuse of IoT. Gwenn B. Barney takes a look at whether the US government's latest drive to regulate Internet of Things comes a little late on Law.

How will AI affect nation states, Social media battle against fake news using AI, Walmart and Microsoft team up to take on Amazon, AI won’t be taking away your jobs

These are some of the AI stories we are tracking:

The ascent of Artificial Intelligence: How will AI change the nation-state?

We often talk about how artificial intelligence and machine learning will change the way we think about technology but how will it affect the human race as a whole? More specifically how AI will affect nations? Today, as different nation-states make choices around data, AI is shaping the privacy rights and governance rhetoric. Conversely, the “data” policies that nation-states form are also shaping the type of AI that emerges. Prerna Sharma of Brookings Institute takes a look at how artificial intelligence will change the way countries look at data on Brookings Institute Blog.

Inside Facebook, Twitter and Google's AI battle over your social lives

Facebook, Twitter, and Google have been worst abused by left wing and right wing groups to spread fake and hate news. Now all three are using artificial intelligence to manage abuse on a massive scale never seen before. They are getting help from humans to identify false positives which is still a problem area for AI. But on the whole, from removing fake accounts to identifying hate news, social networks are using AI weapons to stop online abuse. Source: CNet.

Amazon Foes Walmart and Microsoft Deepen Tech Partnership

With Amazon gaining almost 50 percent of the e-commerce space in the United States, its rival, Walmart has been left with no choice but to innovate. And innovating it is with the help of Microsoft. Walmart had signed a strategic partnership deal with Microsoft to use its cloud technology, AI, machine learning, and other services. The partnership is a win-win situation for both as Walmart is competing with Amazon in e-commerce space while Microsoft is battling it out with AWS in cloud services space. Read about the strategic partnership between Walmart and Microsoft to defeat the common foe Amazon on Wall Street Journal.

AI Won't Kill The Job Market But Keep It Steady, PwC Report Says

Ever since artificial intelligence came into being, various doomsday type scenarios have been played out. Many top tech pundits have come out with their own version of how AI could destroy the human race. Rhetoric apart, one area in which AI could really impact is the job market. However, a new report from PwC says that AI won't affect the job market. In fact, it would keep the job market steady. Read about the new report by PwC about AI affect on job market on Forbes.

Apple combines machine learning and Siri teams under Giannandrea

Apple is really looking to steal the AI march from Google. It has confirmed that it will be combining machine learning, artificial intelligence, and Siri teams under John Giannandrea, who was hired from Google earlier this year. Apple last week released Core ML. Now it has announced a combined new artificial intelligence/machine learning team to bring together its Core ML and Siri teams under one leader in John Giannandrea. Source: Tech Crunch.