Monday 1st December 2014
The Internet of Things
I am now the owner of a new “smart” TV, which promises to deliver streaming multimedia content, games, apps, social media, and Internet browsing.
The amount of data this thing collects is staggering. It logs where, when, how, and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect “when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.” It records “the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.” It ignores “do-not-track” requests as a considered matter of policy.
It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition. The purpose is to provide “gesture control” for the TV and enable you to log in to a personalized account using your face.
More troubling is the microphone. The TV boasts a “voice recognition” feature that allows viewers to control the screen with voice commands. But the service comes with a rather ominous warning: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.” Got that? Don’t say personal or sensitive stuff in front of the TV.
You may not be watching, but the telescreen is listening.
According to retired General David Petraeus, former head of the CIA, Internet-enabled “smart” devices can be exploited to reveal a wealth of personal data. “Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvester,” he reportedly told a venture capital firm in 2012. “We’ll spy on you through your dishwasher” read one headline.
Indeed, as the “Internet of Things” matures, household appliances and physical objects will become more networked. Your ceiling lights, thermostat, and washing machine — even your socks — may be wired to interact online. The FBI will not have to bug your living room; you will do it yourself – Michael Price
Wednesday 6th May 2015
Aritificial Intelligence: Viv
* Seed money came from the richest man in China and Gary Morgenthaler, the first investor in Siri. “I looked at the work they were doing,” Morgenthaler remembers, “and said, This is as good or better than anything I’ve seen in twenty years.”
* The solution was something they call the “planning objective function”. They created a program that could write its own code and find its own solutions. They named their invention Viv, after the Latin for “life.”
* They think they’re about six months from a beta test and a year from a public launch
It’s a completely new concept for talking to machines and making them do our bidding—not just asking them for simple information but also making them think and react.
Right now, a founder named Adam Cheyer is controlling Viv from his computer. “I’m gonna start with a few simple queries,” Cheyer says, “then ramp it up a little bit.” He speaks a question out loud: “What’s the status of JetBlue 133?” A second later, Viv returns with an answer: “Late again, what else is new?”
To achieve this simple result, Viv went to an airline database called FlightStats.com and got the estimated arrival time and records that show JetBlue 133 is on time just 62 percent of the time.
Onscreen, for the demo, Viv’s reasoning is displayed in a series of boxes—and this is where things get really extraordinary, because you can see Viv begin to reason and solve problems on its own. For each problem it’s presented, Viv writes the program to find the solution. Presented with a question about flight status, Viv decided to dig out the historical record on its own.
Now let’s make it more interesting. “What’s the best available seat on Virgin 351 next Wednesday?”
Viv searches an airline-services distributor called Travelport, the back end for Expedia and Orbitz, and finds twenty-eight available seats. Then it goes to SeatGuru.com for information on individual seats per plane, and this is when Viv really starts to show off. Every time you use Viv, you teach it your personal preferences. These go into a private database linked with your profile, currently called “My Stuff,” which will be (they promise) under your complete control. So Cheyer is talking to his personal version of Viv, and it knows that he likes aisle seats and extra legroom. The solution is seat 9D, an economy-class exit-row seat with extra legroom – John H. Richardson
Saturday 21st November 2015
The OS Fund
Oct 20th 2014: Today I am announcing the OS Fund — $100 million of my personal capital dedicated to investing in inventors and scientists who aim to benefit humanity through quantum leap discoveries at the operating system, or OS, level – Bryan Johnson
OS Fund Turns 1: A Year of Learning, Adventure, And Reward
One year ago, we launched OS Fund; what a fantastic year it’s been! It’s been uniquely satisfying to work alongside many of the world’s most capable entrepreneurs focusing on some of the most audacious projects on planet Earth.
Here’s a snapshot of what some of our portfolio companies are working to achieve:
- Cure age-related diseases and radically extend healthy human life to 100+ (Human Longevity)
- Make biology a predictable programming language (Ginkgo Bioworks & Synthetic Genomics)
- Create advanced artificial intelligence (Vicarious and Viv)
- Mine an asteroid (Planetary Resources)
- Reinvent transportation using autonomous vehicles (Matternet)
- Reimagine food using biology (Hampton Creek)
In less than 18 months, one of our first investments, Human Longevity, has become the world’s largest sequencer of human genomes, launched the newly imagined preventive care center Health Nucleus , and inked a deal with one of the largest insurance companies in the world (Discovery) for low-cost exome sequencing, redefining personalized health care.
This past summer, Matternet piloted its autonomous vehicles to deliver mail in Switzerland. Where else better to test your product than within one of the world’s most efficient postal services?
One particularly exciting area to us is synthetic biology, which uses organisms and designs from nature to engineer new tools. Synthetic biologists are the future of engineering and are creating solutions now in food, flavors, textiles, and cosmetics – working toward solutions in health and medicine, the environment, and more.
A good example of this industry at work is a company we invested in this year, Ginkgo Bioworks. Based in Boston, this company is working to make the programming of biology more predictable. Ginkgo signed several deals this year in fragrances and flavoring, and we are proud to support them and excited to see what comes next!
Taking a different approach to reinventing the food industry is Hampton Creek, a company we invested in last year. It’s been a remarkable year for Hampton Creek – with their Just Mayo and other products on the shelves everywhere from Dollar Tree to Whole Foods – and also a tumultuous one – with recent stories surfacing that they were a target of an ugly attack by the American Egg Board. Reinventing an entire industry is no small task, and we look forward to seeing what the next year brings for Hampton Creek. – Bryan Johnson
Wednesday 17th February 2016
Viv: Artificial Intelligence Virtual Personal Assistant
The company is working on what co-founder and CEo Dag Kittlaus describes as a “global brain” – a new form of voice-controlled virtual personal assistant.
With the odd flashes of personality, Viv will be able to perform thousands of tasks, and it won’t just be stuck in a phone but integrated into everything from fridges to cars. “Tell Viv what you want and it will orchestrate this massive network of services that will take care of it,” he says.
It is an ambitious project but Kittlaus isn’t without a track record. The last company he co-founded invented Siri, the original virtual assistant now standard in Apple products. Siri Inc was acquired by the tech giant for a reported $200m in 2010.
But, Kittlaus says, all these virtual assistants he helped birth are limited in their capabilities. Enter Viv. “What happens when you have a system that is 10,000 times more capable?” he asks. “It will shift the economics of the internet.”
Kittlaus pulls out his phone to demonstrate a prototype (he won’t say when Viv will launch but intimates that 2016 will be a big year). “I need a ride to the nearest pediatrician in San Jose,” he says to the phone. It produces a list of pediatricians sorted by distance and with their ratings courtesy of online doctor-booking service ZocDoc. Kittlaus taps one and the phone shows how far away the Uber is that could come and collect him. “If I click, there is going to be a car on the way,” he says. “See how those services just work together.”
He moves on to another example. “Send my mom a dozen yellow roses.” Viv can combine information in his contact list – where he has tagged his mother – with the services of an online florist that delivers across the US. Others requests Kittlaus says Viv will be able to accomplish include “On the way to my brother’s house, I need to pick up some good wine that goes well with lasagne” and “Find me a place to take my kids in the last week of March in the Caribbean”. Later I test out how well both Siri and Google’s virtual assistant perform on these examples. Neither gets far.
Viv can be different because it is being designed to be totally open, says Kittlaus. Any service, product or knowledge that any company or individual wants to imbue with a speaking component can be plugged into the network to work together with the others already in there. (Dozens of companies, from Uber to Florist One, are in the prototype). Other virtual assistants are essentially closed. Apple and only Apple, for example, decides what capabilities get integrated into Siri.
Viv’s biggest secret is the technology to bring the different services together on the fly to respond to requests for which it hasn’t been specifically programmed. “It is a program that writes its own program, which is the only way you can scale thousands of services working together that know nothing about one another,” says Kittlaus. Other personal assistants generally have their responses programmed by a developer. They are, essentially, scripted. There was no choice but to do things differently, says Kittlaus. To think of every combination of things that could be asked would be impossible. Viv will also include elements of learning; it will adapt as it comes to know your preferences.
Expect a phone app initially, says Kittlaus, but the loftier ambition is to incorporate Viv into all manner of devices, including cars. He imagines Viv’s icon becoming ubiquitous. “Anywhere you see it will mean you can talk to that thing,” he says. Of course this will require time: for companies to volunteer their services, and for users to come on board. But Kittlaus says some of the world’s largest consumer electronics companies are “very interested in plugging in”.
Viv has the potential to upend internet economics, says Kittlaus. Companies currently spend billions to advertise online with Google, and much traffic arrives based on web users’ keyword searches. But if instead requests are directed at Viv, it would cut out the middleman. The team are still exploring different business models, but one involves charging a processing fee on top of every transaction. – Zoe Corbyn
Wednesday 17th February 2016
Viv’s Competition: Today’s Virtual Personal Assistants
The original personal assistant, launched on the iPhone in 2011 and incorporated into many Apple products. Siri can answer questions, send messages, place calls, make dinner reservations through OpenTable and more.
Name: Google Now
Communication: Voice and typing
Available through the Google app or Chrome browser, capabilities include answering questions, getting directions and creating reminders. It also proactively delivers information to users that it predicts they might want, such as traffic conditions during commutes.
Built into Microsoft phones and Windows 10, Cortana will help you find things on your PC, manage your calendar and track packages. It also tells jokes.
Embedded inside Amazon’s Echo, the cylindrical speaker device that went on general sale in June 2015 in the US. Call on Alexa to stream music, give cooking assistance and reorder Amazon items.
Released in August 2015 as a pilot and integrated into Facebook Messenger, M supports sophisticated interactions but behind the scenes relies on both artificial intelligence and humans to fulfil requests, though the idea is that eventually it will know enough to operate on its own.
Sunday 13th March 2016
Investing in Robotics and AI Companies
Here are some AI (and robotics) related companies to think about.
I’m not saying you should buy them (now) or sell for that matter, but they are definitely worth considering at the right valuations.
Think about becoming an owner of AI and robotics companies while there is still time. I plan to buy some of the most obvious ones (including Google) in the ongoing market downturn (2016-2017).
Top 5 most obvious AI companies
- Alphabet (Google)
- Facebook (M, Deep Learning)
- IBM (Watson, neuromorphic chips)
- Apple (Siri)
- MSFT (skype RT lang, emo)
- Amazon (customer prediction; link to old article)
Yes, I’m US centric. So sue me 🙂
- SAP (BI)
- Oracle (BI)
- Nuance (HHMM, speech)
- Nippon Ceramic
- Pacific Industrial
Private companies (*I think):
- *Scaled Inference
- *Expect Labs
- *Nara Logics
- *Context Relevant
- *Rethink Robotics
- *Sentient Technologies
General AI areas to consider when searching for AI companies
- Self-driving cars
- Language processing
- Search agents
- Image processing
- Machine learning
- Oil and mineral exploration
- Pharmaceutical research
- Materials research
- Computer chips (neuromorphic, memristors)
- Energy, power utilities
Tuesday 29th March 2016
$3bill of Artificial Intelligence R&D Planned in South Korea
After what has been dubbed the ‘AlphaGo shock’, South Korea is getting serious about artificial intelligence
South Korea, well known for its IT infrastructure, is promising 3.5 trillion won ($3 billion) in funding from the public and private sectors to develop artificial intelligence for corporate and university AI projects.
South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye assembled leaders across the country’s tech industry and senior government officials in Seoul last week to announce plans to invest the amount over the next five years.
It appears to be largely a reaction to the phenomenal performance of Google’s algorithm AlphaGo in an historic AI-versus-human game in Seoul earlier this month, which captured the South Korean media’s imagination.
“Above all, Korean society is ironically lucky, that thanks to the ‘AlphaGo shock’ we have learned the importance of AI before it is too late,” the president told local reporters assembled for the meeting, describing the game as a watershed moment of an imminent “fourth industrial revolution”.
South Korea will establish a new high-profile, public/private research centre with participation from several Korean conglomerates, including Samsung, LG, telecom giant KT, SK Telecom, Hyundai Motor, and internet portal Naver.
The institute was reportedly already in the works, but AlphaGo’s domination quickened the process of setting up the grouping. Some Korean media reports indicate that the institute could open its doors as early as 2017.
South Korea already funds two high-profile AI projects — Exobrain, which is intended to compete with IBM’s Watson computer, and Deep View, a computer vision project. – Philip Iglauer
Monday 23rd May 2016
Artificial Intelligence Better Than Humans at Cancer Detection
- Machines are now better than humans at detecting cancer both in pictures and in free text documents. What’s next? – Sprezzaturian
- And so it begins: convolutional nets built into ultrasound machine to help detect breast cancer (Samsung Medison unveils deep learning-based breast ultrasound imaging device) – Yann LeCun, Director of AI Research, Facebook
Researchers from the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing say they’ve found that open-source machine learning tools are as good as — or better than — humans in extracting crucial meaning from free-text (unstructured) pathology reports and detecting cancer cases.
The computer tools are also faster and less resource-intensive.
“We think that its no longer necessary for humans to spend time reviewing text reports to determine if cancer is present or not,” said study senior author Shaun Grannis*, M.D., M.S., interim director of the Regenstrief Center of Biomedical Informatics.
“We have come to the point in time that technology can handle this. A human’s time is better spent helping other humans by providing them with better clinical care. Everything — physician practices, health care systems, health information exchanges, insurers, as well as public health departments — are awash in oceans of data. How can we hope to make sense of this deluge of data? Humans can’t do it — but computers can.”
“This is a major infrastructure advance — we have the technology, we have the data, we have the software from which we saw accurate, rapid review of vast amounts of data without human oversight or supervision.” – Kurzweil AI
Thursday 18th August 2016
Most Active Investors in Artificial Intelligence
1 – Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)
2 – Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL)
3 – GE (NYSE: GE)
4 – Samsung (005930.KS)
Artificial intelligence dealmaking has exploded recently, leaping to a new quarterly record of over 140 deals in Q1’16.
1 – Intel Capital is the most active corporate investor on our list, having backed over a dozen separate unique AI-based companies, including healthcare startup Lumiata, machine-learning platform DataRobot, and imaging startup Perfant Technology.
2 – Google Ventures, which backed over 10 unique companies, ranked second as an active investor in AI. Google is also a major acquirer of AI startups.
Wednesday 19th October 2016
Samsung Acquires AI firm Viv Labs, run by Siri co-creator
Samsung said in a statement it plans to integrate the San Jose-based company’s AI platform, called Viv, into the Galaxy smartphones and expand voice-assistant services to home appliances and wearable technology devices.
Technology firms are locked in an increasingly heated race to make AI good enough to let consumers interact with their devices more naturally, especially via voice.
“Viv brings in a very unique technology to allow us to have an open system where any third-party service and content providers (can) add their services to our devices’ interfaces,” Rhee In-jong, Samsung‘s executive vice president, told Reuters in an interview.
The executive said Samsung needs to “really revolutionise” how its devices operate, moving towards using voice rather than simply touch. “We can’t innovate using only in-house technology,” Rhee said.
Viv chief executive and co-founder Dag Kittlaus, a Siri co-creator, and other top managers at the firm will continue managing the business independently following the acquisition. Rhee told Reuters Samsung will continue to look for acquisitions to bolster its AI and other software capabilities, without naming any targets. – Se Young Lee
Wednesday 30th November 2016
Building an AI Portfolio
The following stocks offer exposure to Artificial Intelligence. – Lee Banfield
Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL)
Stock Price: $776
Market Cap: $531 billion
Healthcare Images – Google Deepmind
Machine Learning – GoogleML
Autonomous Systems – Google Self-driving Car
Hardware – GoogleTPU
Open Source Library – TensorFlow
IBM (NYSE: IBM)
Stock Price: $162
Market Cap: $154 billion
Enterprise Intelligence – IBM Watson
Healthcare – IBM Watson Health
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN)
Stock Price: $752
Market Cap: $355 billion
Personal Assistant – Amazon Alexa
Open Source Library – DSSTNE
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT)
Stock Price: $60
Market Cap: $473 billion
Personal Assistant – Cortana
Open Source Libraries – CNTK, AzureML, DMTK
Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA)
Stock Price: $94
Market Cap: $50 billion
Stock Price: $1,250
Market Cap: $176 billion
Personal Assistant – Viv
Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM)
Stock Price: $68
Market Cap: $100 billion
Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA)
Stock Price: $188
Market Cap: $29 billion
Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN)
Stock Price: $133
Market Cap: $20 billion
Healthcare, Cancer Detection – Grail
Mobileye (NYSE: MBLY)
Stock Price: $37
Market Cap: $8 billion