Last Week in AI #163: AI chip startup funding doubled in the last 5 years, AI saves lives in hospitals, robots brew coffee, robotaxi pulled over by police in SF, and more!
Impressive growth in chip startup funding fueled by AI demand in compute, hospitals are trialing various forms of AI in different applications, Panera Bread adopts AI-powered coffee monitoring tool
Venture funding for chip startups has doubled in the last five years thanks to AI
Venture investments into chip designing startups have hit record highs in recent years. Last year’s $1.8 billion is more than double the amount in 2017, and this year’s investment is on track to beat last year’s as well. This resurgence in semiconductor startup funding is powered by the soaring compute demands of AI applications, which see a 25-fold increase in compute requirements every 2 years, according to Nvidia. New AI chip startups are focused on delivering order-of-magnitude speedups in very specific applications, rather than developing general-purpose chips. These high investments not only reflect the compute demand of AI, but also the high cost of chip development (hundreds of millions for state-of-the-art chips) and that venture firms seem to have become comfortable with the expensive price tag.
Our take: We have not reached the plateau of commercial applications of deep learning, and given recent and continuing advances in large vision and language models, it is likely this pace will continue for some time to come. Whether it is training large, trillin-parameter scale models in data centers or deploying small, kilobyte-sized models in edge devices, new chips and compute platforms will be needed to improve compute speed and power efficiency. These growing investments hopefully mean that bottlenecks of future AI deployments will not be in the lack of compute.
How Hospitals Are Using AI to Save Lives
A number of efforts are underway to utilize AI systems for improving patient care and clinical outcomes. The troves of data in electronic medical records present machine learning algorithms with a wide array of patterns from which they can learn clinically useful information. Examples include predicting whether a patient's condition will reach "Code Blue"--where hospital staff must rush to the patient's bedside to prevent them from needing intensive care--or preventing sepsis. These algorithms are not perfect, and it is well known that incorrect predictions could cause misdiagnoses or recommendations of harmful treatments.
Our Take: According to one of the doctors interviewed in the WSJ article, hospitals are inundated with many different AI models they might use for various clinical purposes. While it's good that there is a lot of effort going into applying AI to healthcare, this might not be the best thing for ensuring the best patient outcomes. Furthermore, the article points out that developers may take a model trained on one patient demographic and use it on another, or not update their model with new data over time. These are critical issues that should be standard for any model used in a clinical setting--health looks different from one another and change over time. Algorithms deployed in medical settings should be held to especially high standards and carefully monitored during their use. It is fortunate that researchers are already monitoring potential causes of failure and seeking mitigation strategies.
Panera Bread is testing automated coffee brewing with Miso Robotics
Panera Bread is piloting Miso Robotics’ new automated coffee brewing system, ‘CookRight Coffee’. This system is a coffee monitoring platform that uses cameras and machine learning algorithms to alert and provide insights into the coffee volumes remaining and the temperature of the coffee. This will eliminate the manual step of repeatedly checking the coffee urns. It will allow the workers to brew a fresh batch of coffee precisely at the right time so that coffee stays hot and fresh for the customers. Panera is trying this solution to support its loyalty program, which allows customers unlimited coffee at a nominal charge. Some of Miso Robotics’ other products include Flippy, the hamburger cooking robot, and Sippy, the automatic beverage dispenser and sealer. Panera Bread joins Chipotle Mexican Grill and CaliBurger in the list of customers of Miso Robotics.
Our Take: Given that fast-food chains are only growing in number and all fast-food chains are investing in automated solutions to further enhance the idea of ‘assembly line’ in their respective kitchens, it does not come as a surprise that Panera Bread is doing the same. However, it is important to note that while ‘CookRight Coffee’ system is marketed as a coffee brewing platform, it is really not brewing or serving coffee to customers and its role is limited to monitoring the coffee levels and temperatures and alerting the workers when a fresh brew is required. It is true that most tasks in a fast-food kitchen are mundane and repetitive, so automating them sounds promising. This could also help restaurants weather current and future labor shortages. However, to really revolutionize the fast food industry, robotics systems need to do more than just monitoring. Finally, the real test for these systems will be when customers can vouch for food quality and if not better, a comparable user experience.
Deep Learning Poised to ‘Blow Up’ Famed Fluid Equations - "For centuries, mathematicians have tried to prove that Euler’s fluid equations can produce nonsensical answers. A new approach to machine learning has researchers betting that “blowup” is near."
Google AI Researchers Propose a Meta-Algorithm, Jump Start Reinforcement Learning, That Uses Prior Policies to Create a Learning Curriculum That Improves Performance - "In the field of artificial intelligence, reinforcement learning is a type of machine-learning strategy that rewards desirable behaviors while penalizing those which aren’t."
MIT AI Hardware Program Aims To Lead in Artificial Intelligence Technology Development - "MIT AI Hardware Program launches with five inaugural companies to advance AI technologies for the next decade."
Analog A.I.? It sounds crazy, but it might be the future - "Forget digital. The future of A.I. is … analog? At least, that’s the assertion of Mythic, an A.I. chip company that’s, its own words, taking “a leap forward in performance in power” by going back in time. Sort of."
Deep Science: Combining vision and language could be the key to more capable AI - "new research shows signs of encouraging progress, from robots that can figure out steps to satisfy basic commands (e.g., “get a water bottle”) to text-producing systems that learn from explanations."
DALL-E 2, the future of AI research, and OpenAI’s business model - "Since switching from non-profit to a “capped profit” structure, OpenAI has been trying to find the balance between scientific research and product development. The company’s strategic partnership with Microsoft has given it solid channels to monetize some of its technologies, including GPT-3 and Codex."
AI and infrared spectroscopy identify the age and species of mosquitoes – Physics World - "Researchers in the UK and Africa have developed a quick and cost-effective way to determine the age of malaria mosquitoes using mid-infrared spectroscopy. This is important for assessing the effectiveness of control interventions as only older mosquitoes can transmit the parasite."
Researchers Gain New Understanding From Simple AI - "Language processing programs are notoriously hard to interpret, but smaller versions can provide important insights into how they work. In the last two years, artificial intelligence programs have reached a surprising level of linguistic fluency."
How artificial intelligence helps students learn - "Educators in the U.S. state of California are using AI technology to help students reach their learning goals. Learn more."
AI Helps Teachers Spot Students With Learning Difficulties - "Artificial intelligence helps teachers identify which of their students have learning difficulties, according to a new study."
Now You Can Search On Google With Text And Images At The Same Time Using Google’s New AI-Powered MultiSearch Feature - "Google began rolling out a new Search tool on Thursday that will allow users to search for information using both text and photos at the same time."
What's next for AlphaFold and the AI protein-folding revolution - "DeepMind software that can predict the 3D shape of proteins is already changing biology."
Engineering team develops new AI algorithms for high accuracy and cost effective medical image diagnostics - "Medical imaging is an important part of modern healthcare, enhancing both the precision, reliability and development of treatment for various diseases. Artificial intelligence has also been widely used to further enhance the process."
Sorry, developers: Microsoft's new tool fixes the bugs in software code written by AI - "Microsoft's Jigsaw can automate the process of checking and editing code outputted by a machine."
How a Polish Film’s Use of AI to Create an English Version Could Bolster the Foreign Movie Market - "”It’s not a deepfake,“ Darryl Marks tells TheWrap of Holocaust drama ”The Champion,“ which he believes represents a new lifeline for global films"
A deep-learning algorithm could detect earthquakes by filtering out city noise - "The model could uncover quakes that would previously have been dismissed as human-generated vibrations."
AI-Generated Characters Are Here, They’re Just Not Evenly Distributed - "The Mona Lisa and Albert Einstein make a little joke about what the letters M.I.T. stand for. It’s not what you think, it’s Make It Tougher, apparently."
GM Cruise autonomous taxi pulled over by police in San Francisco without humans, ‘bolts’ off (U: Cruise responds) - "Last week, a GM Cruise-converted Chevy Bolt without a driver was pulled over by San Francisco Police. In an unexpected turn, the car “bolted” …to a safe spot. Cruise responded below."
Nurse-assisting robotics firm Diligent raises $30M - "We’ve seen robotics applied to just about every other field of late, so why not nursing — a field that will require one million new faces to keep up with demand in the U.S. alone?"
Observe.AI Raises $125M Series C to Usher in AI-Empowered Era for Contact Centers - "Observe.AI, an Intelligent Workforce Platform that transforms contact centers through AI, today announced it has raised $125M in Series C funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 with participation from Zoom Video Communications, Inc. This brings Observe."
Home Service Platform Jobox Raises $42M - "Jobox, a company that provides marketplace infrastructure for home service professionals, has raised $42 million in a Series B funding round. Now, the company is planning to expand, founder and CEO Shay Bloch wrote in a blog post Tuesday (April 12)."
The Miserable Lives of Cyborg Truck Drivers - "How AI and automation can make a job worse than before"
FDA Issues Advisory on Use of AI and Machine Learning for Large Vessel Occlusion in the Brain - "Suggesting that some radiologists may not be aware of the intended use of computer-aided triage and notification (CADt) devices, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on the use of the imaging software for patients with suspected large vessel occlusion (LVO) in the brain."
Turning point for artificial intelligence, which may or may not be dominated by the large cloud providers - "Artificial intelligence and machine learning requires huge amounts of processing capacity and data storage, making the cloud the preferred option. That raises the specter of a few cloud giants dominating AI applications and platforms."
Deleting Ill-Gotten Algorithms Defangs Dodgy AI - "New regulatory tactic of deleting ill-gotten algorithms could have bite"
AI can be creative, ethical when applied humanly - "Artificial intelligence can be trained to think ethically and be creative, even composing poems and music, but humans cannot be removed completely from the equation, which still requires intuition and morality."
Learning to think critically about machine learning - "A multidisciplinary team of graduate students helps infuse ethical computing content into MIT’s largest machine learning course."
House lawmakers launch investigation of face-scan contractor ID.me - "The House probe marks an escalation of years of controversy over the government’s growing reliance on facial recognition, which boiled over earlier this year after the IRS said it would require Americans to scan their faces in order to access their IRS tax accounts."
Biden administration takes step forward on AI policy - "The Department of Commerce has appointed more than two dozen experts to a committee that will advise President Joe Biden on artificial intelligence policy."
Elon Musk’s TED Talk: AI, Tesla & The SEC, His Love For Humanity - "Tesla & SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sat down with Chris Anderson this week, head of TED, for an interview where his love for humanity shone brightly."
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