Virtual Agents/Virtual Reality.
A virtual agent is nothing more than a computer agent or program capable of interacting with humans.
The most common example of this kind of technology are chatbots.
Virtual agents are currently being used for customer service and support and as smart home managers.
Some of the companies that provide virtual agents include Amazon, Apple, Artificial Solutions, Assist AI, Creative Virtual, Google, IBM, IPsoft, Microsoft and Satisfi.
Virtual reality has been promised for decades, but in my conversations with the top developers in the field, it quickly became clear that never before have so much money and talent bet on its imminent arrival. Headsets will start going on sale this year, and competition will increase dramatically through 2016. At first they'll be bought by hardcore gamers and gadget geeks. They'll be expensive--as much as $1,500 with all the accoutrements. And just as with cell phones, everyone else will mock the early adopters for mindlessly embracing unnecessary technology with no useful purpose. At first.
A good place to start that mocking would have been AT&T Park. In April, a group of virtual-reality entrepreneurs are wearing huge bright red plastic sunglasses, walking on the field where the San Francisco Giants play. Venture capitalist Mike Rothenberg, 30, rented the stadium so the 360 guests he's invited can see the 20 virtual-reality companies that his firm, Rothenberg Ventures, has funded. They can also take batting practice, drink cocktails, pet adoptable dogs and build their own goody bags.
For each VR demo, I put on a clunky pair of goggles, most of which have a smartphone slipped into a slot in front of my eyes, which does most of the work.
These machines are not as complex as what Luckey developed, but they provide a cheap, effective rendition. The screen, when it's that close to your face, fills your field of vision--the first frameless visual medium. The sense of depth is far more realistic than 3-D, with everything stretching out to infinity, scaled perfectly. And I can look all around, whipping my head to see above, below and behind me, which gives me brief moments of what virtual-reality pioneers longingly call "presence"--when you really feel like you're inside a fake environment. It's an amazing technical achievement. I'm psyched I got to try it, but it's not something I'm going to choose over watching TV. The graphics are clunky, and I can see individual pixels, so I'm pretty far from fooled into thinking I'm not inside a ballpark. It's like the coolest version of the 1970s View-Master toy I could imagine.
It's also close enough to The Matrix to excite all these people. Xavier Palomer Ripoll has come from Spain to work for three months at Rothenberg Ventures' VR accelerator. He's created a bunch of animated situations that allow therapists to use immersion therapy with clients who have anxiety disorders, letting them virtually sit on a plane or ride in an elevator, for example. "They currently use imagination. They hold a picture of a plane, and they say, 'Imagine you're in a plane.' What the f---, man?" he asks.
Everyone here is equally aghast that we're stuck in a pre-virtual-reality world: Ryan Holmes paid $15,000 to put a camera on the International Space Station so he can one day charge people $10 a month to see space in virtual reality; Ashley Granata is creating Pendnt, which allows people to try on clothing virtually; Howard Rose had me use a joystick to shoot VR balls hanging from VR landscapes to distract me from the pain of having my free hand submerged in ice-cold water.
On the deck of the stadium, wearing a Founder Field Day baseball jersey and sunglasses, Rothenberg says his firm has already secured enough money to invest in a second round of virtual-reality companies this fall. "It's hard for people to write checks for virtual reality until they try it. Then, not that hard," he says. He likens this opportunity to the Internet in 1995. "No one calls a company an 'Internet company' anymore. In 10 years, everyone will have VR as part of their company."
It's already starting. Lately, I've been bombarded by virtual reality. At a party in Los Angeles in May, Patrón launched a virtual tour of the hacienda in Mexico where its agave is distilled. Birchbox announced that this month its men's subscription box will include a virtual-reality viewer and app allowing its subscribers to surf or fly a helicopter. And at North Face stores, you can see virtual video of dudes climbing a rock face in the company's gear. James Blaha, a game developer with severe lazy eye--a condition that affects about 2% to 3% of the world's population--has used virtual reality to basically cure the disease in 30-minute sessions over three to four weeks; he's sold 1,000 copies of the system to optometrists already. And Hollywood is putting nearly as much money as Silicon Valley into the concept.
Nearly every week, there's a virtual-reality convention. Standing in line with 1,500 other people for the sold-out Virtual Reality Los Angeles spring expo in March to visit the booths of more than 50 companies, I am asked to sign a contract. It is not, like other tech releases, about me not telling anyone about anything I saw or thought I might have seen here. Instead, it says, "I am aware that some people experience nausea, disorientation, motion sickness, general discomfort, headaches or other health issues when experiencing virtual reality." The final platform is not making a great first impression.
Luckily, I don't barf. The nausea caused by virtual reality is the inverse of car sickness: your eyes see motion but your middle ear feels nothing. This challenge has largely been solved by faster screen-refresh rates--the final version of Oculus will allow only 20 milliseconds between a head turn and visual change; an eyeblink takes about 300 milliseconds. VR companies are also shying away from putting viewers on virtual roller coasters and Formula One tracks. But they are creating everything else. In a speech in a packed auditorium, Jens Christensen, CEO of Jaunt, which makes high-end VR cameras, says building actual flying cars and jet packs is now irrelevant. The only question, he says, is how soon we can "simulate our own personal Tomorrowlands."
So, we are working on technologies that will place you in the scene with other people.
Some of the gaming systems that are out right now. Your children can be playing these games with someone across the world.
Revelation 13:15 (NKJV)
15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
Natural Language Generation
Natural language generation is an AI sub-discipline that converts data into text, enabling computers to communicate ideas with perfect accuracy.
It is used in customer service to generate reports and market summaries and is offered by companies like Attivio, Automated Insights, Cambridge Semantics, Digital Reasoning, Lucidworks, Narrative Science, SAS, and Yseop
Siri is just one of the systems that can understand you.
Every day, more and more systems are created that can transcribe human language, reaching hundreds of thousands through voice-response interactive systems and mobile apps.
Companies offering speech recognition services include NICE, Nuance Communications, OpenText and Verint Systems.
Machine Learning Platforms
These days, computers can also easily learn, and they can be incredibly intelligent!
Machine learning (ML) is a subdiscipline of computer science and a branch of AI. Its goal is to develop techniques that allow computers to learn.
Deep Learning Platforms
Deep learning platforms use a unique form of ML that involves artificial neural circuits with various abstraction layers that can mimic the human brain, processing data and creating patterns for decision making.
It is currently mainly being used to recognize patterns and classify applications that are only compatible with large-scale data sets.
Deep Instinct, Ersatz Labs, Fluid AI, MathWorks, Peltarion, Saffron Technology and Sentient Technologies all have deep learning options worthy of exploring.
By providing algorithms, APIs (application programming interface), development and training tools, big data, applications and other machines, ML platforms are gaining more and more traction every day.
They are currently mainly being used for prediction and classification.
Some of the companies selling ML platforms include Amazon, Fractal Analytics, Google, H2O.ai, Microsoft, SAS, Skytree and Adext.
This last one is particularly interesting for one simple reason: Adext AI is the first and only audience management tool in the world that applies real AI and machine learning to digital advertising to find the most profitable audience or demographic group for any ad. You can learn more about it here.
Intelligent machines are capable of introducing rules and logic to AI systems so you can use them for initial setup/training, ongoing maintenance, and tuning.
Decision management has already been incorporated into a variety of corporate applications to assist and execute automated decision, making your business as profitable as possible.
Check out Advanced Systems Concepts, Informatica, Maana, Pegasystems, and UiPath for additional options.
This technology can identify, measure and analyze human behavior and physical aspects of the body’s structure and form.
It allows for more natural interactions between humans and machines, including interactions related to touch, image, speech and body language recognition, and is big within the market research field.
3VR, Affectiva, Agnitio, FaceFirst, Sensory, Synqera and Tahzoo are all biometrics companies working hard to develop this area.
Knowledge Worker Aid
While some are rightfully concerned about AI replacing people in the workplace, let’s not forget that AI technology also has the potential to vastly help employees in their work, especially those in knowledge work.
In fact, the automation of knowledge work has been listed as the #2 most disruptive emerging tech trend.
The medical and legal professions, which are heavily reliant on knowledge workers, is where workers will increasingly use AI as a diagnostic tool.
There is an increasing number of companies working on technologies in this area. Kim Technologies, whose aim is to empower knowledge workers who have little to no IT programming experience with the tools to create new workflow and document processes with the help of AI, is one of them. Kyndi is another, whose platform is designed to help knowledge workers process vast amounts of information.
This technology allows software to “read” the emotions on a human face using advanced image processing or audio data processing. We are now at the point where we can capture “micro-expressions,” or subtle body language cues, and vocal intonation that betrays a person’s feelings.
Law enforcers can use this technology to try to detect more information about someone during interrogation. But it also has a wide range of applications for marketers.
There are increasing numbers of startups working in this area. Beyond Verbal analyzes audio inputs to describe a person’s character traits, including how positive, how excited, angry or moody they are. nViso uses emotion video analytics to inspire new product ideas, identify upgrades and enhance the consumer experience. And Affectiva’s Emotion AI is used in the gaming, automotive, robotics, education, healthcare industries, and other fields, to apply facial coding and emotion analytics from face and voice data.
Image recognition is the process of identifying and detecting an object or feature in a digital image or video, and AI is increasingly being stacked on top of this technology to great effect.
AI can search social media platforms for photos and compare them to a wide range of data sets to decide which ones are most relevant during image searches.
Image recognition technology can also be used to detect license plates, diagnose disease, analyze clients and their opinions and verify users based on their face.
Clarifai provides image recognition systems for customers to detect near-duplicates and find similar uncategorized images.
SenseTime is one of the leaders in this industry and develops face recognition technology that can be applied to payment and picture analysis for bank card verification and other applications. And GumGum’s mission is to unlock the value of images and videos produced across the web using AI technology.
Your mobile phone can give away your location, even if you tell it not to
February 6, 2018 6.37am EST
Author: Guevara Noubir
Professor of Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University
U.S. military officials were recently caught off guard by revelations that servicemembers’ digital fitness trackers were storing the locations of their workouts – including at or near military bases and clandestine sites around the world. But this threat is not limited to Fitbits and similar devices. My group’s recent research has shown how mobile phones can also track their users through stores and cities and around the world – even when users turn off their phones’ location-tracking services.
The vulnerability comes from the wide range of sensors phones are equipped with – not just GPS and communications interfaces, but gyroscopes and accelerometers that can tell whether a phone is being held upright or on its side and can measure other movements too. Apps on the phone can use those sensors to perform tasks users aren’t expecting – like following a user’s movements turn by turn along city streets.
Most people expect that turning their phone’s location services off disables this sort of mobile surveillance. But the research I conduct with my colleagues Sashank Narain, Triet Vo-Huu, Ken Block and Amirali Sanatinia at Northeastern University, in a field called “side-channel attacks,” uncovers ways that apps can avoid or escape those restrictions. We have revealed how a phone can listen in on a user’s finger-typing to discover a secret password – and how simply carrying a phone in your pocket can tell data companies where you are and where you’re going.