Intel’s Artificial Intelligence Answer to Nvidia : Nervana Acquisition

Artificial Intelligence in general and Deep learning in specific has been one of the most important technology adopted this year. A lot of artificial intelligence – deep learning open sources as well as commercial softwares are coming up to solve problems from image processing to fraud detection. Google’s TensorFlow, Facebook’s Torch, Amazon’s DSSTNE are few important deep learning open sources released this year.

DeepLearning processing requires a different type of compute suitable for GPU/Cuda – massively in-memory processing . Earlier this year Nividia announced Tesla P-100 processor and DGX-1 a machine specifically catered towards running deep learning / artificial intelligence type of work loads. Nividia also provided a Deep Learning SDK framework for developers.

Intel’s first answer to this was Intel Xeon Phi chip with 72 core, coupled with an on-package, high-bandwidth, memory subsystem (Multi-Channel DRAM) and integrated fabric technology called Intel® Omni-Path Architecture (Intel® OPA). However, it needed to do more of Software framework and better chipset. It achieved both with the acquisition of Nervana, founded by ex-Qualcomm researcher Navin Rao.

According to an unofficial source (Re-code), this 2.5 years old Nervana has been acquired at 400million+. This acquisition will given Intel Neon as a fast DL framework and upcoming Nervana engine (ASIC chipset to be released in 2017). This acquisition

Reflections on Artificial Intelligence Based Chat Bots

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It has been years since, applications and softwares like, Apple’s SIRI and IBM’s Watson have introduced personal assistance and AI for practical use cases to consumers and enterprises. In recent months, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon, all opened up Chat frameworks or chat-based assistant.

Anyway, the entry of the giants in the area of chat bots and personal assistance has triggered a lot of startups get started in the space. Over the last few months, many startups got funded. Some of them Digital Genius, Luka.ai, x.ai, Ozlo, Maluuba, Arya, Mezi, talla, GrowBot, Findo.io, Your.MD etc.

In 2009 we at GloMantra, where I was CTO, started working on a personal assistance and developed assistance similar to SIRI before its acquisition by Apple. We provided voice and text activated actionable recommendations on Mobile (also supported Facebook and Web App). The solution was implemented using variety of technologies like voice to text, NLP, NLU, semantic search, user personalization (interest profile). What we developed was a text message type interface with output as text and action buttons or chat plus matching-recommendations.

Now that everywhere chat based personal assistance are coming up, I was thinking, did GloMantra did the personal assistance too early and, rather, did we give up too early (ran out of money in 2013)?

A lot of technologies like Natural language processing, Intent classification, semantic search, artificial intelligence are now much better shape and available as open sources, there are a lot of possibilities that AI based chat box solving variety of problems and tasks.

Anyway, now the market is getting flooded with a variety of chat bot startups. I recently read a comment of Phil Libin, the former CEO of Evernote who is now a VC. He is quoted as, “I’ve heard 200 bot pitches over the last couple of months.”

But is this market in its early hype cycles? Having done some work in the area, getting it right to handle variety of unpredictable way of human interactions is not that easy too. So, it will be interesting to see how many do it right and survive / succeed. But it is for sure that the AI based chatbots are going to be there solving consumer to enterprise to human-machine interface use cases.

Mobile Momentum to Virtual Reality Making Real to Masses

Google had introduced a cheap VR experience with Google Cardboard in 2014 via its Cardboard.  Since then, more than 5 millions units of Cardboard are reported to be sold . This was a huge success. In the same year in 2014, Facebook had acquired Oculus, a VR startup.  Currently, more than 200 games and apps are now available for the platform in the Oculus store.

However, price factor had kept Oculus Rift and Sony Playstation VR away from masses to use VR. This is now rapidly changing via mobile’s adding VR technologies and gadgets. Samsung encorporated Oculus technology in its Gear VR announced in Dec 2015. Since then, it is claimed that more than 1m VR videos have been watched. In the Mobile World Congress last month , LG announced LG-G5 mobile which came with LG 360 giving a 360 degree virtual reality experience.  I heard that Apple is now selling a VR headset but have not yet personally seen it. According to the news, it is supposed to be available online at $29.95 only (starter pack).

Meanwhile, Google is continuing to push its development and innovation further in the game. It is expected that Google will give a preview of its enhanced VR getting incorporated in newer versions of Android in May and release later in the year.

Yesterday, Qualcomm announced VR SDK for its Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 820 processor making it is easy to program with SDK.

Concerns about IOT Security Starts Initiatives and Alliances

IoT

 

Within this year, we would see hundreds of billions of devices expected to be connected to internet connecting our lives, homes, commute, shopping, transportations etc. etc. All of these, whether call it Internet of Things or Internet of Everything, will be potentially putting everything about us and everything of us on internet. When Facebook connected went beyond connecting friends but also putting all about us online to be learnt, profiled and targeted, it of course became huge privacy concern for all of us. But IoT goes much beyond, it is no more informational, but if  hacked,  can be controlled.

There are three main issues: First, any devices connected to

First, any devices connected to internet, would potentially be monitored. If you are putting cameras in all the rooms so that you can monitor your teenager or intruder remotely from your office, the same cameras can be potentially monitored by hackers, and if you are unlucky, then by anti-social people including thieves and terrorists.

Second, the devices can be subjected to Denial of Service attack hence they would not perform as expected.

Third, more dangerous, is they can be controlled. Once, their control plane is hacked in, the devices can be controlled. Whether your self driving car, or your home entrance door or oven, if they can be controlled by you, they can be controlled by others too. Wouldn’t it be scary.

Of course, traditional security measures are getting appropriated for devices, their OS, communication etc. Multi-level, authentications, authorizations followed with encryptions, key and secrets managements are getting in from devices, to OS, to transports to controls.

This need spurring a lot of initiatives along with partnerships, at the RSA Conference last week in San Francisco,  Intel partnered with Intercede, UK-based digital identity and credentials expert.  To protect the transfer of data between devices and cloud and web servers, Symantec is partnering with  Cryptosoft. Symantec claims have already embedded security in over one billion devices. For protecting ‘connected Car’, WISeKey, a Swiss cyber security company, and bright box  announced an alliance to protect connected cars.

IOTivity framework 1.1.0 to be released for IOT devices

As announced last week, a new version 1.1.0 of IOTVity from Open Interconnect Consortium is getting released soon, I thought it is worth covering a little bit about this one of many IOT Standardizations. Prominent backers of OIC are Intel, Broadcom, Samsung and , latest, Microsoft and many others. The Iotivity is a standard for device intercommunication from the OIC. It is competing to ALLJoyn from AllSeen consortium led by Qualcomm.

iotivity-architecture-small-v01

As depicted in above architectural diagram, IOTivity offers Device Discovery, Device Communication, Data and Device Management functionalities. This opensource is available on Android, Ubuntu Linux, Tizen, and Andruino under Apache 2.0 license.

Battle of Titans on IoT Standards to Control your Connected Life

According to a report from Gartner published in Dec 2013, The Internet of Things (IoT) will grow to 26 billion units installed in 2020 representing an almost 30-fold increase from 0.9 billion in 2009. This will result into 300 billion incremental revenue mostly in 2020.

This is a next big opportunity. All the device manufacturers, network players, telcos, etc. would want to have a major share of it.

The IoT would include worlds of home automation devices, interconnected cars, wearables, smart sensors, movable / fixed assets, etc. All the diverse devices needs to communicate, monitored and controlled.

No wonder, Intel, Samsung, Dell, Broadcom and many others announced this week a formation of Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC). According to a report, the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) will define a common communications framework to wirelessly connect and manage the flow of information among personal computing and emerging IoT devices of operating system via diverse service providers. The consortium would make open source code contribution, and provide device certifications.

OIC is not the first one in the market. Back in December, a group of companies led by Qualcomm announced another alliance called AllSeen Alliance and made AllJoyn as a standard for achieving the same. Initial members of this alliance included Qualcomm, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Sharp, Silicon Image and Hailer. Microsoft, and Cisco also joined the alliance.

However, Google’s Nest has become a de facto icon of intelligent device in the sphere of Home automation. Google is seriously expanding in the market.Google has recently bought Dropcam too. Google took it further by announcing Working With Nest framework. Effectively it would become Google’s standard for controlling home automation.

Apple is not be behind too. Apple will deliver a much awaited iWatch later this year. It would play an important role in wearables. Apple already has AirPlay as a standard for connecting apple ecosystem devices like AppleTV, etc. Would AirPlay be Apple’s “standard” for for interconnecting , controlling and monitoring devices?

The big question is Who would control effectively your life, home (via home automation), transport (via interconnected cars) and health( via wearables) ?

Do you have a say in it?

Databricks joins Amazon and Google for providing Big Data Analytics on Cloud

Today at Spark Summit, Databricks CEO, Ion Stoica , announced its first product that is DatabricksCloud. This was one among two important announcements from Databricks today. The first one was that Databricks got series B round of funding 33M from Andreeseen Horowitz. But IMO the availability of DatabricksCloud is more significant.

A few months back, I had an opportunity of have teleconference with Ion. During the discussion, while talking on business model, he emphasized more on Databricks’s Spark certification service. He was (rightly though) ambiguous on other developments and business model. After the call, I discussed with a colleague about a possible product around IDE for programmers and data scientists and monitoring of Spark clusters. But what we saw today was much better.

Databricks Cloud has put Apache Spark on Cloud. Big Data on Cloud is not a new thing. However, what Databricks has provided is an interactive, SQL based Web tool for Data Scientists to play with data and visually see the output in different forms like trends, charts, etc. It also provides a powerful WYSIWYG dashboard builder.

With making Spark and Spark streaming available on Cloud, Databricks joins Google and Amazon, both of them have streaming services with analytic stack available on cloud for building real time analytics and dashboard. However, the key difference is that Amazon and Google built those services for programmers to write streaming applications. In contrast, Databricks Cloud is more suitable for Data scientists.

Databricks Cloud has web based interactive tool , called Databricks Notebook. Though the details of the technology it built on is not yet available (in fact Databricks website is still silence on the announcement), the concept and look & feel is astonishingly similar to ipython’s Notebook. And name is similar too!! Is it reusing the Rich client from iPython’s Notebook? Of course, it also seems to be different. A few big differences are: the Databricks Notebook heavily demonstrates the power of using SQL on data. It also make the power of machine learning available to the data scientists. Anyway, looking forward to get to see more details about the service, and pricing.

Anyway, for last couple of months, I was exploring a business viability of Spark Analytics as a Service on Cloud. It just got killed! Good that it happened earlier than later🙂