Some of us take for granted our road maps, not necessarily acknowledging just how much work goes into them, and how quickly they can become outdated due to natural disasters, time, or simply new infrastructure. 

Facebook AI has been working well and truly hard to create computer and AI systems to facilitate the road mapping process around the world. 

Most maps are created for highly developed areas but don't take into account the majority of the world - which relies on dirt or gravel roads, or unpaved paths. 

 
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Google Maps and Apple have certainly been trying and perhaps doing their best at providing road maps, but their focus has been mostly on navigating big cities, allowing drivers, cyclists, public transport commuters and walkers to get to well-known businesses and addresses. 

Now Facebook is stepping in to help facilitate the bigger, less traveled upon, picture, working closely with OpenStreetMap.

Facebook engaging with the public for help

It doesn't simply take a team of researchers in a back room to update a street map. What Facebook is looking for is people on the ground, willing and able to assist it with improving its modern mapping services. 

Facebook Is Helping to Map Roads with Deep Learning and AI-Focused Tools
RapiD mapping experience. Source: Facebook

It's working on the project closely with OpenStreetMap (OSM) and helping validate their roads.

A perfect example of this has been Facebook's mapping of over 300,000 miles of roads across the entirety of Thailand. This, in turn, created RapiD, a machine-learning enhanced labeling tool that accelerates the process of putting down computer-readable roads onto satellite images. 

RapiD is an open-source extension of the web-based iD map editor, and it allows human reviewers to work on the maps. This helps with mapping out accurate road systems, and there are safety checks in place in order to ensure top quality results. 

Facebook Is Helping to Map Roads with Deep Learning and AI-Focused Tools
Left: results of the segmentation model per-pixel predictions; bright magenta means higher probability of the pixel belonging to a road. Right: Conflation of the vectorized roads data with the existing OSM roads (in white).(Satellite images provided by Maxar.) Source: Facebook AI

It's very important to decipher exactly which of the highlighted sections are indeed roads. The AI systems assist to validate these roads, with mostly images taken from satellites and ensure they're accurately positioned, as many can be mistaken for dry riverbeds, for example. 

 

Anyone can help map the world, by simply joining the OSM troops.

Source:Interesting Engineering

Microsoft recently announced plans to invest $1 billion in OpenAI, an AI startup co-founded by Elon Musk (no longer involved) and focused on developing human-level artificial intelligence. Normally, this would be an article about robots that can think and how two of the biggest players in the AI industry joining forces could lead to amazing things. But this deal is really creepy. So let’s talk about that instead.

First, OpenAI was founded as a non-profit. Under CEO Sam Altman the company’s recently rearranged to become what’s essentially a for-profit business nested under a non-profit with oversight power. In other words, as Wired reported, OpenAI can operate like a for-profit business but it has to adhere to the company’s original charter of developing AGI that benefits all humankind.

Interestingly enough, the company that OpenAI appears to be trying to catch up to with this deal is Google — another for-profit business once guided by the principle “don’t be evil.” Despite that motto having not worked out, Google‘s current resources and talent dwarf that of nearly every other AI venture, OpenAI‘s included. Enter Microsoft.

The deal seems like a marriage made in heaven: Microsoft has the coffers and hardware, OpenAI has Ilya Sutskever and dozens of other researchers who’d be the smartest people in most rooms. But, based on everything we’ve seen, this isn’t a joint research deal, or a developmental partnership, or even a pledge to work on the same problems together.

It appears to be a deal in which OpenAI will develop all or some of its technology on Azure for Microsoft to sell, distribute, or choose to open source. In return Microsoft will hand OpenAI cash over the next decade to eventually equal about $1B, but it expects to get all of it back as OpenAI pays for using Azure or other compute services.

Lol.

Here’s what Microsoft’s blog post on the deal had to say:

Microsoft and OpenAI will jointly build new Azure AI supercomputing technologies. OpenAI will port its services to run on Microsoft Azure, which it will use to create new AI technologies and deliver on the promise of artificial general intelligence. Microsoft will become OpenAI’s preferred partner for commercializing new AI technologies

OpenAI’s take was a little different:

OpenAI is producing a sequence of increasingly powerful AI technologies, which requires a lot of capital for computational power. The most obvious way to cover costs is to build a product, but that would mean changing our focus. Instead, we intend to license some of our pre-AGI technologies, with Microsoft becoming our preferred partner for commercializing them.

And Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella just made things fuzzier. According to the New York Times:

Mr. Nadella said Microsoft would not necessarily invest that billion dollars all at once. It could be doled out over the course of a decade or more…. will be fed back into its own business, as OpenAI purchases computing power.

What’s really going on here? Who knows. New York Times writer Cade Metz had a take that might explain it:

Cade Metz@CadeMetz
 

OpenAI will build narrower forms of A.I. in the meantime, like systems that aim to understand natural language: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/18/technology/artificial-intelligence-language.html 

Finally, a Machine That Can Finish Your Sentence

Completing someone else’s thought is not an easy trick for A.I. But new systems are starting to crack the code of natural language.

nytimes.com
Cade Metz@CadeMetz
 

With the deal, both OpenAI and Microsoft are looking for a little PR.

 
See Cade Metz's other Tweets
 
 

 

And AI expert Stephen Merity had an absolutely satisfying thread on the subject where he seemingly points out that the only thing keeping OpenAI in adherence with its non-profit, open-source roots is the fact that it promises not to act any different now that it’s ready to commercialize. Big tech promises eh, what are those worth?

Smerity@Smerity
 
 

What is OpenAI? I don't know anymore.
A non-profit that leveraged good will whilst silently giving out equity for years prepping a shift to for-profit that is now seeking to license closed tech through a third party by segmenting tech under a banner of pre/post "AGI" technology? https://twitter.com/tsimonite/status/1153340994986766336 

Tom Simonite
 
@tsimonite
 

Most interesting bit of the OpenAI announcement: "we intend to license some of our pre-AGI technologies, with Microsoft becoming our preferred partner."

Commercializing sub-human AI was previously described as an option “If the timeline is longer” https://www.wired.com/story/compete-google-openai-seeks-investorsand-profits/ 

 
315 people are talking about this
 
 

 

But, hands-down, the most entertaining take on the deal to be found on Twitter was a simple three-tweet interjection by Google AI expert Francois Chollet (opinions are his own, according to bio):

François Chollet
 
@fchollet
 
 

Many people in the AI community are confused by OpenAI's pivot from non-profit to for-profit, its cult-like, beyond-parody PR about "capturing the lightcone of all future value in the universe", and its billion-dollar partnership with Azure... https://twitter.com/Smerity/status/1153364705777311745 

Smerity@Smerity
 

What is OpenAI? I don't know anymore.
A non-profit that leveraged good will whilst silently giving out equity for years prepping a shift to for-profit that is now seeking to license closed tech through a third party by segmenting tech under a banner of pre/post "AGI" technology? https://twitter.com/tsimonite/status/1153340994986766336 

 
57 people are talking about this
 
 

 

François Chollet
 
@fchollet
 

Personally, I feel bad for the employees. It must be disappointing to sign up for a non-profit org that aims at doing open AI research in the public interest, only to find out a bit later than your job is now to make Azure a more attractive enterprise AI cloud than AWS & GCP

François Chollet
 
@fchollet
 

And on top of it, you are now part -- in the eyes of the world -- of a doomsday techno-cult...

 
See François Chollet's other Tweets
 
 

 

Is OpenAI a doomsday techno-cult? Probably not. But all of this creepy, PR-filled nonsense smacks of the kind of closed-door, marketing crap that makes idealistic developers leave big tech to work in academia or the non-profit sector. For many fans of OpenAI, this is like your favorite punk band selling out and becoming used car salespeople. I’m kind of hoping it’s a doomsday techno-cult instead:

Jack Clark@jackclarkSF
 

Are there any mystical groups that have conducted or outlined ceremonies in data centers, yet? Pagan Computation. Satanic Cable-Routing. Eldritch Free Air Cooling Infrastructure.

Tristan Greene@mrgreene1977
 

This is your best tweet.

 
See Tristan Greene's other Tweets
 
 

TOKYO: Last year, an anguished young farmer in Maharashtra's Amravati district flattened his entire cotton crop spread over three acres of land. What drove him to take the extreme step? His crop was damaged by the dreaded pink bollworm pest, a wily worm that eats away cotton bolls and causes extensive crop damage. Sadly, he is not the only cultivator in the state dealing with the problem.


Thousands of farmers in Maharashtra have been grappling with the pink bollworm menace for several years despite switching to the genetically-altered BT seeds, which are supposed to resist the pest. While experts have identified several reasons behind the menace, lack of timely intervention and shortage of expertise are two major factors adding to the trouble.

Farmers largely depend on government extension workers who manually identify pests by examining pest/insect traps on farms and relay the data to research institutes for expert advice. However, the data is not always reliable since field workers are not equipped with adequate technology to identify or count the pests affecting the crop — this is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help fill a critical gap.

A new AI-based pest management tool, which works on a smartphone, is currently being tested in Maharashtra to identify the pink bollworm pest affecting cotton farmers in the state. Developed by Mumbai-based Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence, the tool classifies and counts pests based on photos taken by a farmer or a field worker on the phone. Wadhwani AI is currently testing this model in partnership with Better Cotton Initiative and the Maharashtra government.

The research institute, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, recently bagged a $2 million grant from Google under its AI impact challenge for its pest management solution.

"The model can work on a basic smartphone and there has been incredible acceptance from field workers so far. All they have to do is take pictures of the pest trap on their phone and the system will use image classification models to detect the pest and suggest ways to tackle the problem, such as which pesticides to use, etc," Wadhwani AI's VP (Products and Programmes) Raghu Dharamraju said, adding that the technology can prevent crop damage worth crores of rupees every year.

He said that the approach can be generalized to other crops and the institute plans to find partners to identify them.

                                                                       Raghu Dharamraju at a Google event in Tokyo    

Asked how AI-driven technology can work in rural areas, which are saddled with issues such as poor internet connectivity and low education, Dharamraju revealed that the institute has achieved model compression which makes AI models small enough to be put in a very basic smartphone and functional offline.


But Artificial Intelligence-based tools are not just helping solve agricultural issues in India.


On the healthcare front, for instance, Wadhwani AI is working on a "virtual weighing machine" to fill a critical gap in the maternal and child health in the country.


Dharamraju said the institute has built a smartphone-based technology which allows frontline workers to screen for low birth weight babies in rural homes. With a quick five-second video of a newborn, the AI-powered virtual weighing machine will provide accurate, tamper-proof, geo-tagged measurements like weight, head circumference and other viral parameters on the phone itself.

"There are 1.25 million health workers that go out in the field every day, Now imagine having such a feature in all their smartphones," he said.
Like Wadhwani AI, several institutes and firms are actively working on AI models to tackle key problems in education, healthcare, environment, infrastructure, among others. While the use of AI-based intervention tools is still in its infancy, experts as well as governments are betting big on harnessing their power to build sustainable and long-term social solutions.

Source:TOI

In Collaboration with HuntertechGlobal

TOKYO: Last year, an anguished young farmer in Maharashtra's Amravati district flattened his entire cotton crop spread over three acres of land. What drove him to take the extreme step? His crop was damaged by the dreaded pink bollworm pest, a wily worm that eats away cotton bolls and causes extensive crop damage. Sadly, he is not the only cultivator in the state dealing with the problem.


Thousands of farmers in Maharashtra have been grappling with the pink bollworm menace for several years despite switching to the genetically-altered BT seeds, which are supposed to resist the pest. While experts have identified several reasons behind the menace, lack of timely intervention and shortage of expertise are two major factors adding to the trouble.

Farmers largely depend on government extension workers who manually identify pests by examining pest/insect traps on farms and relay the data to research institutes for expert advice. However, the data is not always reliable since field workers are not equipped with adequate technology to identify or count the pests affecting the crop — this is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help fill a critical gap.

A new AI-based pest management tool, which works on a smartphone, is currently being tested in Maharashtra to identify the pink bollworm pest affecting cotton farmers in the state. Developed by Mumbai-based Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence, the tool classifies and counts pests based on photos taken by a farmer or a field worker on the phone. Wadhwani AI is currently testing this model in partnership with Better Cotton Initiative and the Maharashtra government.

The research institute, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, recently bagged a $2 million grant from Google under its AI impact challenge for its pest management solution.

"The model can work on a basic smartphone and there has been incredible acceptance from field workers so far. All they have to do is take pictures of the pest trap on their phone and the system will use image classification models to detect the pest and suggest ways to tackle the problem, such as which pesticides to use, etc," Wadhwani AI's VP (Products and Programmes) Raghu Dharamraju said, adding that the technology can prevent crop damage worth crores of rupees every year.

He said that the approach can be generalized to other crops and the institute plans to find partners to identify them.

                                                                       Raghu Dharamraju at a Google event in Tokyo    

Asked how AI-driven technology can work in rural areas, which are saddled with issues such as poor internet connectivity and low education, Dharamraju revealed that the institute has achieved model compression which makes AI models small enough to be put in a very basic smartphone and functional offline.


But Artificial Intelligence-based tools are not just helping solve agricultural issues in India.


On the healthcare front, for instance, Wadhwani AI is working on a "virtual weighing machine" to fill a critical gap in the maternal and child health in the country.


Dharamraju said the institute has built a smartphone-based technology which allows frontline workers to screen for low birth weight babies in rural homes. With a quick five-second video of a newborn, the AI-powered virtual weighing machine will provide accurate, tamper-proof, geo-tagged measurements like weight, head circumference and other viral parameters on the phone itself.

"There are 1.25 million health workers that go out in the field every day, Now imagine having such a feature in all their smartphones," he said.
Like Wadhwani AI, several institutes and firms are actively working on AI models to tackle key problems in education, healthcare, environment, infrastructure, among others. While the use of AI-based intervention tools is still in its infancy, experts as well as governments are betting big on harnessing their power to build sustainable and long-term social solutions.

Source:TOI

In Collaboration with HuntertechGlobal

We are not strangers to the way AI is impacting our daily lives – both personally and professionally. We have been audience to the paranoia about AI taking away jobs and the optimism of AI creating jobs. While the jury is still out on the long-term impact of AI, we’re already seeing automation of several activities, ranging from driving to radiology. It’s becoming evident that no job will remain untouched by AI, though the degree of impact will differ from occupation to occupation.

Automation in the IT Industry

The technology industry, which is the catalyst of this change, will itself get transformed by AI. If you are an IT professional, you should be prepared as traditional IT careers will likely not exist in the future. Some activities will get automated, some augmented, and others eliminated. This will mean that some jobs will be lost, some created, and others transformed. If you're wondering how to prepare yourself for the AI era, below is a simple approach to redesign your careers.

Critically Assess Your Work Profile

Think of your job as a collection of connected activities. To start with, list the primary activities that you perform as part of your job. Critically evaluate each activity for its possibility of getting automated. If your answer is a yes to any of the below questions, then the activity might be a good candidate for automation. Does the activity primarily involve:

  1. Performing a repetitive task that needs little or no human discretion
  2. Identifying triggers, alerts, anomalies
  3. Analyzing patterns in data, e.g. root cause analysis

Activities such as IT infrastructure scaling, maintenance, monitoring, controls, service desk, aspects of database administration, etc. are already being intelligently automated using algorithms. AIOps platforms that use machine learning to automate the repetitive aspects of ITOps are finding adoption in enterprises. Several aspects of QA, QC, audits can be more effectively performed by AI.

Embrace AI and Automation

‘Embrace Change’ might be a cliché, but it is certainly the way to keep evolving and moving forward. We are usually uncomfortable with the unknown, and this is no different. Whether you like it or not, AI is going to be a big part of our lives in the future. Do not fight AI or be scared of it – embrace it.

The first step towards embracing AI would be to learn about its capabilities. Try to get an understanding of what machine learning can do for you – whether it is pattern recognition, computer vision, or natural language processing. Build awareness of how robotic process automation has been used in your industry.

You need not understand the inner workings of the technology, but certainly need to be aware of the applications of the technology. Systems of the future will not be fully built in-house, they will often leverage several plug-and-play third-party applications – we’re already seeing this for AI. Understanding of AI solutions available for your function will enable you to leverage the benefits of AI for your work.

As AI augments and automates parts of your work, you will have more time for higher value activities. These higher value activities depend on your inclination towards technology or business, as outlined in the below sections. You’ll need to choose the mix you’ll want to strike.

Understand the Technology Value Chain

In the time of hyper-specialization, you tend to be slotted as a specialist of a particular activity. While building a network of such specialized roles tends to be efficient for a large organization, it can be detrimental for you in the long run. If your role is anything similar, then you need to look beyond.

Understand the larger IT pipeline of your organization, and develop a perspective of the value of each section. Learn technologies that are alternatives for your area of specialization. There could be several open-source technologies and 3rd party tools that might be good alternatives to what you use today. Understand in greater detail the upstream and downstream activities that might get performed by other specialists today. Learn how to contribute there.

This way, you’ll need to worry less about your current job being automated by AI, but you’ll be able to understand the broader opportunities to bring in AI and automation and its implications. You can be the technologist who helps your team navigate the changing technology landscape and identify opportunities for innovations using AI and automation.

Understand the Business Value Chain

As a technology professional, you might be excited and focused on purely the technical elements, and this might have brought your success in your career so far. But do you understand how your company generates value? What are the different functions in the company, and how do they come together to generate value? How does your department or function fit into the bigger picture?

Developing this business perspective and a detailed understanding of your business function will enable you to be that person who understands both sides of the coin – business and technology. Furthermore, bridging the gap between tech-lingo and business-jargon will help you become an invaluable translator.

As automation frees you up of some of your mundane activities, a deeper understanding of the business will enable you to take up higher value activities. If part of your job involved observing certain indicators and flagging issues, now you’ll have time to analyze the reason behind those observations. You can go beyond analysis to advising on actions to address these issues, and possibly lead some of these initiatives.

AI Era and Beyond

Technology is fickle, and we’ll go through different technological cycles in our lifetime. We will continue to be faced with situations where our future jobs will stand to be affected by certain technologies. We could use this simple framework in a very different scenario as well:

  1. Critically evaluate our work profile for the impact of the technology
  2. Embrace the technology, don’t fight it. Understand relevant applications of the technology.
  3. Expand your work profile to higher value activities – whether technology or business

Whatever be the scenario, there will always be a need for problem-solvers, some will be technologists with an understanding of the business, and others will be business professionals with an understanding of technology.

Beyond technology, there are certain human skills that will always be needed – critical thinking, emotional intelligence, negotiation, leadership, etc. Consciously cultivate these skills. These are unlikely to be automated, at least for now.

Source: Forbes

In collaboration with HuntertechGlobal

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