Article | January 4, 2021
2020 has been an unprecedented year where we have seen more downs than ups. COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives. But when it comes to digitisation and Artificial Intelligence, we have seen some impactful developments and achievements. As we approach the end of 2020, it is worth to look back at these AI stories to highlight the truths and discuss what it means for AI future direction.
The Great Truth:
Artificial intelligence played a crucial role in the detection and fight against COVID-19.
Indeed, we have seen the emergence of the use of AI at hospitals to evaluate chest CT scans. With the use of deep learning and image recognition, COVID patients were diagnosed thus enabling the medical team to follow the necessary protocols. Another application was the triage of COVID-19. Once a patient has been diagnosed with COVID, AI has been used to predict the likely severity of the illness so the medical staff can prioritize resources and treatments.
COVID has highlighted the need to deploy intelligent autonomous agents. As a result, we have seen both robots used at hospitals to diagnose COVID-19 patients and drones deployed to monitor if the public is adhering to social distancing rules.
Another major AI contribution in the fight against COVID-19 is in the area of vaccine and drug discovery. Moderna’s vaccine that has been approved by US Food and Drugs Administration has used machine learning to optimise mRNA sequencing.
The above is a proof that AI can make great contribution to mankind if it is used for “good”.
The Glowing Truths:
Some impressive AI results have been achieved. However, to leap forward a holistic and sustainable approach is needed.
2020 has seen some great AI achievements and leaps forward. The first example is Deepmind’s AlphaFold. The model scored highest at the Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction competition. The algorithm takes genetic information as inputs and outputs a three-dimensional structure. The model has impressively addressed a 50-year-old challenge of figuring out want shapes proteins fold into known as the “protein folding problem”.
While Deepmind’s AlphaFold is a great achievement, it is noted by some scientists that it is unclear how the model will work with more real-world complex proteins. Thus, more work is needed in this area.
The second example is OpenAI’s GPT3. The model is a very large network composed of 96 layers and 175 billion parameters. The model has shown impressive results for several tasks such as NLP questions & answering and generating code.
However, it is noted that the model does not have any kind of reasoning and does not understand what it is generating. Furthermore, its large size makes it very expensive. It is also unsustainable carbon footprint wise; its training is equivalent to driving a car to the moon and back.
While both AlphaFold and GPT3 models are both impressive achievements, there are some philosophical challenges/ questions that need to be addressed/ answered. The first question is about games/ simulated worlds vs. real world examples. Most often algorithms/models succeed in simulated world but fail in real world as the environment is more complex. How can we close the gap? How can we make the AI models succeed with complex tasks? I guess the first step is to apply AI to a real-world example with varied complexity levels.
The second question is about the structure and the size of AI models. Do models have to be big? Can we come up with a new generation of algorithms/ models that are smaller is size and have more efficient computations? Well to answer this question we have to take a pause on deeplearning and explore new venues.
The Gross Truths:
Ethics and bias remain the main drawbacks of Artificial Intelligence.
Over the last year, we had several prominent examples of AI ethics and bias issues. The first example relates to facial recognition: after several calls against mass surveillance, racial profiling and bias, and in light of Black Lives Matter movement starting in the United States, several tech companies such as Microsoft banned the police from using its facial recognition technology.
The second example relates to the use of an algorithm to predict exam results during COVID-19 period: after accusations and protests that the controversial algorithm was biased against students from poorer backgrounds, the United Kingdom government was forced to ditch the algorithm.
In the absence of regulations and tightened frameworks, ethics and bias will continue to be the main concerns surrounding the use of artificial intelligence.
Looking into the future, AI adoption will continue to accelerate, and we will probably see more breakthroughs achieved by only if we start looking at the subject in a holistic and sustainable view. Focusing models on real world problems and reducing the models carbon footprint will be a major step forward. We need to move away from thinking that “more” is always “more”. Sometimes “more” is “less”.
Article | February 27, 2020
What would you call a machine that looks like a human? Obviously a Robot! Robots are machines or mechanical human beings that are designed to assist humans with laborious and complex tasks. However, such robots are no more just mechanical design rather they have become smarter with time and advancement of technologies. AI developments have induced evolution and better capacity in robots. Even robotics and AI together can revolutionize almost any industry for the greater good. As the industry is realizing the combined potential of both the technologies, will we see the combination anytime soon?
Article | September 22, 2021
Humanity is ready for the next technology step – an interactive virtual world, where everyone can hang out with games, adventures, shopping, and the best new virtual identities. A parallel universe, if you may!
Take a look at the first promotional video of the first virtual world and avatars. Circa 1986.
Enter – The Metaverse – the tech world’s latest obsession that traces its origins to a dystopic sci-fi novel. Sounds like science fiction? It is not. Through the years, the journey from Habitat to a fully functioning metaverse has come together piece by piece, supported by gaming, social media, and a vibrant digital economy.
We are in the Metaverse now!
The Metaverse is a shared, virtual space akin to a digital mirror of the natural world, without any constraints. In a recent earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg shared his vision to turn Facebook into a metaverse company, describing it as “an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it.”
The Metaverse literally means ‘beyond universe’ since it combines a physical reality with a virtual space only limited by our imagination. If you google the term, you’ll find numerous definitions. It has been called the Mirror World, the AR Cloud, the Magic Verse, the Spatial Internet, or Live Maps. But, one thing is sure – it’s coming and it is a big deal.
Like “cyberspace,” a term coined by fiction writer William Gibson, “metaverse” also has literary origins. The term first appeared in the novel “Snow Crash,” written by Neal Stephenson in 1992. It spoke of a new space where humans, as avatars interact with each other and software-generated entities, in a three-dimensional space that uses the natural world metaphor
Twenty-six years later, “Ready Player One” provided a glimpse of our possible future in the year 2045, where the world is faced with multiple crises. To escape this reality, people go to an alternate virtual universe called the OASIS. It functions as a virtual society, with its currency, own set of rules, and all. The movie could be a prototype of a future Metaverse.
The video game Second Life, released in 2003 by Linden Lab, created a virtual world where users could wander, building their structures; people bought land there for either U.S. dollars or Linden Dollars’ in-game currency.
With some cooperation between technology companies and futurists, the Metaverse could be just around the corner. Companies like Facebook, NVIDIA, Huawei, Microsoft, and others seem very clear of their intent to create a metaverse (their Metaverse?). The target? Compounding the size of the addressable market manifold by fusing the digital economies of the physical world with the virtual. FB is investing billions of dollars in creating devices that would make this a reality, starting with a smart wristband and VR goggles that project the wearer’s eyes. FB’s acquisition of Oculus in 2014 seems to be a step towards “getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow.”
Microsoft is equipped with enough AI and mixed reality tools in their Metaverse tech stack to be a worthy contender. Satya Nadella has already declared their intention to build an ‘enterprise metaverse” using digital twins, mixed reality, and what they call Metaverse apps. FYI – Microsoft already owns Minecraft, which has its own virtual ecosystem.
Gaming companies like Epic Games have already released simulation software and VR services. Epic Games (Fortnite) has raised USD 1 billion for its metaverse plans; Roblox and computing giant, Nvidia, is also working in this direction.
The idea isn’t new. People have toyed with the idea of living in a virtual world for ages. A lot of money has been spent (and lost) in virtual economies like Second Life and EVE Online.
Brands and retailers are already trying to create new customer engagement channels in this new world. FinTechs are attempting to seize the opportunity to capitalize on unique financial needs in the virtual world, while a battery of startups is creating new virtual products entirely, from avatars to crypto-collectibles.
But the question stays, is a metaverse possible? Is it real? What does it mean for the general population – both as individuals and businesses? Will there be one Metaverse to rule them all?
No single company can or should own or run the Metaverse. However, it requires cooperation to create consistency. For example – assets that one acquires in the Metaverse will need to be portable, with digital rights preferably moving between platforms owned by different corporations.
Silicon Valley is a great proponent of this new world. However, critics are more guarded – they believe the Metaverse could easily become a catch phrase – like “artificial intelligence” and “blockchain” – an attempt by start-ups to woo venture dollars.
Whatever form the Metaverse ultimately takes, its wider adoption will require a revolution across technologies across infra, consumer-facing devices, platforms, content, and more.
Till then, we have the Marvel parallel universes to revel in – the Multiverse where the God of Mischief reigns, lives, and perhaps dies!Enable GingerCannot connect to Ginger Check your internet connection
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Article | August 12, 2020
Get to know Klas and his story! With strong background in change and product management in IT, Klas Erikson started at Nordcloud as a Cloud Advisor and is nowadays heading Nordcloud’s delivery and operations in Sweden, Norway and Denmark from our Stockholm office. Where are you from and how did you end up at Nordcloud? I am from Stockholm, Sweden and have been working most of my career in Telia here in Stockholm. I left Telia after the organisation had, yet another time, changed and I felt I needed to try something completely different. I had already started talking with my old colleague working for Nordcloud and was fascinated by a company in such fast growth.