1 – This Robot Keyboard Will Catapult Microsoft into the Artificial Intelligence Race

The UK-based Swiftkey announced this week its decision to “join the Microsoft family.” In 2008, the company introduced the heavily-used keyboard app that suggests the next word in your sentence. Unlike other keyboard programs that make predictions from a set of existing words, Swiftkey uses pattern recognition, semantics, and historical analysis to predict an individual’s next utterance. The $250 million purchase by Microsoft could reflect the company’s intent to use this machine learning technology in many of its products, from Microsoft Word to Outlook, as well as a number of its purchased apps like Wunderlist. The acquisition also supplies Microsoft with a source for user behavior data, an invaluable commodity amongst AI-driven tech companies.

(Read the full article on The Washington Post)

2 – Google’s Head of Artificial Intelligence To Take Over Search

John Ginannandrea, currently the leader of Google’s machine learning group, will be taking over as senior vice president of Google’s search efforts at the end of February 2016,. The current Senior VP, Amit Signal, announced his retirement this week after 15 years with Google. Gianandrea’s background in AI (he was CTO of Metaweb Technologies before its acquisition by Google in 2010) is more evidence of Google’s intents on boosting AI in its search capabilities. In a November interview with Popular Science, Giannandrea stated,

“There’s no world in which Google doesn’t want to have better speech recognition, language translation, language understanding — so these frontiers of research in computer science are things we invest in all the time.”

Analysts at IDC see the move helping to improve both Google’s search and machine learning capabilities.

(Read the full article on CIO Today)

3 – Energy-Friendly Chip Can Perform Powerful Artificial-Intelligence Tasks

MIT researchers have developed a new chip that is 10 time more efficient than a mobile GPU. The Electrical Engineering and Computer Science group, led by Assistant Professor Vivienne Sze, presented the chip and their paper at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week. The new chip, dubbed “Eyeriss”, harbors powerful artificial intelligence algorithms that could allow for local analysis of raw personal data, with networked devices only required to present conclusion  to the Internet. This deep learning technology could make a sizable impact on the “IoT”, with networks built into vehicles, appliances, civil engineering structures – even livestock – that report information to networked servers, allowing for better and more efficient decisions in maintenance and task coordination.

(Read the full article on MIT News)

4 – Microsoft Gives Accelerator Treatment to 10 Startups

This week, Microsoft selected 10 out of 720 Seattle-based startups to participate in its four-month accelerator organization, its fourth year doing so since its original 2012 partnership with Techsters accelerator (Microsoft now runts its own). Each of the chosen companies specializes in some area of machine learning and/or the computer science algorithms that support related software. All startups receive a grant with access to Microsoft’s machine-learning engineers and other experts. The Director of Microsoft’s Seattle accelerator, Hanan Lavy, explains that the program not only gives Microsoft a front seat to emerging trends in the industry, but also brings competitors into the technology market who are using Microsoft’s programs.

(Read the full article on The Seattle Times)

5 – Carnegie Mellon Joins IARPA Project To Reverse-Engineer Brain Algorithms

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is spearheading a multi-team research project to reverse engineer the human brain. The five-year, $12 million project is led by Tai Sing Lee, a professor in the Computer Science Department and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC) and funded by IARPA through its Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICrONS) program. Lee said,

“MICrONS is similar in design and scope to the Human Genome Project, which first sequenced and mapped all human genes…Its impact will likely be long-lasting and promises to be a game changer in neuroscience and artificial intelligence.”

Lee’s team will collaborate with a team led by Harvard University’s George Church at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, which is also funded by MICrONS and currently working towards developing techniques to reconstruct the circuitry of neurons being recorded in mice at CMU.

(Read the full article on Carnegie Mellon University)

Image credit: MIT News