AI weekly news roundup (Jan 8-14, 2017)

By | January 13, 2017

The second week of January is now behind us, so here is a brief look at some AI related stories as we are heading into the second half of the new year’s first month.

  • Microsoft acquired Canadian deep learning startup Maluuba partly in order to get deep learning pioneer Yoshua Bengio onboard. Professor Bengio has declared in the past that he wants to remain in academia so he will only be involved at the advisor capacity for the young company (BTW, you can learn all about deep learning by reading Yoshua’s new book.) Maluuba was a company founded by University of Waterloo students with big ambitions. Their goal was to develop general artificial intelligence. So far, they have only managed a few incremental improvements on existing methods but their expertise in deep learning caught Microsoft’s attention. Good luck to them! Microsoft blog has the scoop here.
  • Pinterest announced the use of deep learning for recommending related pins. They trained a feed forward network to propose new pins based on a user’s past activity. The network, Pin2Vec, projects a pin-related feature vector with millions of dimensions down to 128 dimensions. The new, lower dimensional vector is then used to suggest similar pins using a nearest neighbor approach. Pinterest engineers claim that the related pins recommended by the new algorithm increase user engagement by 5 percent. Not bad! Read the details of how Pinterest is using deep learning in product here.
  • Udacity will now offer a new foundation program deep learning nano-degree with Siraj Raval. Udacity is also offering self-driving car and artificial intelligence nano-degrees. The addition of this 3rd nano-degree they now have the market covered for three of the most exciting technologies of the day. The course will cost you $399. Registrations are open until January 20, but unless you already know some programming don’t bother. This is not an intro to programming degree. Details at Udacity blog post here.
  • On the self-driving cars front, Japan’s Nissan announced this week that they will begin testing their self-driving car technology in London. Trials will begin as soon as next month but don’t expect that you will be able to buy this new tech for a few more years. Car makers are still trying to fine tune their self-driving AI. They also have to convince most people that a self-driving car is a better option than a human-driven one. The Financial Times has the scoop on Nissan’s new initiative here.