[ML UTD 4] Machine Learning Up-To-Date

[ML UTD logo] human brain image on circuit board

Welcome to Machine Learning Up-To-Date (ML UTD) 4! The LifeWithData blog separates the signal from the noise in today’s hectic front lines of the intersection between software engineering and machine learning.

LifeWithData aims to consistently deliver curated machine learning newsletters that point the reader to key developments without massive amounts of backstory for each. This enables frequent, concise updates across the industry without overloading readers with information.

ML UTD 4 brings updates in the areas of business, politics, and software.

[Business] Amazon Go Grocery is Open for Business!

An Amazon Go Grocery store, which uses machine learning to completely remove the need for cashiers.
A Go Grocery store, with zero cashiers [Source]

Amazon has opened its first round of fully cashier-less grocery stores. These stores use various machine learning applications to track your cart throughout the store, eliminating the need for a cashier checkout. There is a major debate rising regarding the number of jobs this kind of technology removes. However, I believe the statement below summarizes the prevailing sentiment well:

Eliminating jobs makes sense when they impose repetitive and dehumanizing routines on us and because they result in lower productivity and more errors than a machine produces. Ultimately, a technology like this does not seek to eliminate jobs, but to put humans where they really add value, rather than by carrying out meaningless mechanical tasks.

Enrique Dans on Forbes

[Business] Spotify Unwrapped Reflects on the Past Decade

Marketing material for Spotify's 2019 Wrapped data campaign.
Spotify’s 2019 Wrapped Marketing Material [Source]

Spotify’s Wrapped series is a major marketing and social media campaign run annually, which delivers user-specific summaries of music listening habits. For the end of 2019, the music giant went one step further, providing a reflection on the entire past decade, lauding its maturity in this space over competitors newer to the market.

[Business] OpenAI’s Messy Journey

The OpenAI company's logo hanging in its main office.
OpenAI’s logo present in its main office [Source]

OpenAI, the non-profit turned for-profit artificial intelligence company, has had a rather mixed history in the public view. Their moral goals of developing AGI and evenly distributing it to the masses are misaligned with their sometimes secretive and brow-raising actions. Karen Hao has a wonderful write-up on the issue, and I recommend the full read.

[Politics] The New US Budget Favors AI

The front page of the fiscal year 2021 US budget, which had heavy usage of the phrase "artificial intelligence".
Frontpage of the FY 2021 budget [Source]

The White House has released its report for the budget for the fiscal year 2021. Amidst several cuts to other areas of scientific discipline, there is a clear push for AI development via increased funding to anything AI-related. This comes as no surprise, given the current trade war and technical arms race with foreign countries. However, the overuse of the term “artificial intelligence” by those not deeply familiar with the discipline leaves us begging for more details.

[Politics] DeepFakes Rampant in Indian Election Campaigns

Of all use cases for first movers using DeepFake-enabled technology, I doubt “politics for the benefit of the DeepFake’s target” was high on anybody’s list. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of India took a wonderfully creative approach recently, using DeepFakes to deliver a message from President Manoj Tiwari in several different languages.

BJP President Manoj Tiwari speaking English [Source]

Did you watch the video above? It was generated by an algorithm. Below is the original recording, in the speaker’s native language. Were you fooled? Even if you were not fooled, did it impress you?

BJP President Manoj Tiwari’s original recording [Source]

[Software] Google Cloud launches Dialogflow Meta Agent

A diagram of Google's Dialogflow system, which provides a machine-learning-enabled conversational interface for mobile applications.
Diagram of DialogFlow behavior [Source]

Amidst the constant storm of new AWS services, Google Cloud has started to follow suit. Their latest offering, Dialogflow, provides a machine-learning-powered conversational interface for mobile applications.

Dialogflow is an end-to-end, build-once deploy-everywhere development suite for creating conversational interfaces for websites, mobile applications, popular messaging platforms, and IoT devices.

Google Cloud [Source]

[Software] Microsoft’s Dynamics365 Leverages AI for Finance and Ops

Microsoft's Dynamics365 Finance Insights screenshot, showing a visualized financial analysis from a grid of data.
Microsoft’s Dynamics365 Finance Insights in Action [Source]

Microsoft’s Dynamics365 suite has been around for 2016, but now has two new tools in its arsenal. Dynamics 365 Finance Insights and Dynamics 365 Project Operations provide companies with automated insight in the areas of financial reporting and resource allocation, respectively.

Combining this release with Google’s Dialogflow and AWS’s various offerings, it’s clear that seamless multi-cloud operation is a coming obstacle for small and medium-sized companies. What multi-cloud tools and services are you aware of that can help here? Let us know.

Stay Up To Date

That’s all for ML UTD 4. However, things are happening very quickly in academics and industry! Aside from ML UTD, keep yourself updated with the blog at LifeWithData.

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