Wednesday, December 26, 2018

"7 Predictions for AI in 2019"

From the electronics mavens at EE Times, Dec. 26:

Artificial Intelligence is a vast field with many unknowns, but it's not hard to predict a few things that will or should happen in 2019 with the part of it that is deep learning.
We’ve gotten sloppy in our language. It’s convenient to use AI as a short hand for deep learning — and it gets good hits in headlines. But these days general AI — machines learning on their own like curious humans browsing in a book store — is still more science fiction than science.

What’s spreading like wildfire through the Internet these days are deep neural networks, a special case of AI based on processes typically initiated by people. The ability of deep-learning techniques to recognize patterns in images, speech and other areas — often faster than people can — has opened a door to a whole new direction in computing. Where this goes long term is anyone’s guess.

What’s clear is over the last year or two lots of people have boarded this train, where ever it’s bound.  For what it’s worth, it’s not too hard to see a handful of the next few stops this train likely will make.

1. Accelerators will get traction
As we reported in September, at least four of the new accelerators for training deep learning neural networks are now sampling. Web giants have been hungry for these chips for some time. As Baidu research Greg Diamos told us in late 2016, the job of training machine learning models “is limited by compute, if we had faster processors we’d run bigger models.”
So, it’s no big stretch of the imagination to expect in 2019 some of the top data center operators will start buying these chips in volume. It’s not realistic to expect to see the crowded field of startups here winnowed out in the coming year, but we will see some early winners crowned with sockets and real revenues.

2. Valuations will get scrutinized
Some of the startups getting traction in deep-learning accelerators are also getting huge cash infusions. I predict this autumn’s spending spree will cool in 2019 as investors start to sharpen their pencils over exactly how much ROI they will see and when they will see it.

The deep-learning boom already has attracted tens if not hundreds of millions around an expanding school of about 50 startups. In the last few weeks, there was a new burst of holiday spending.
Habana Labs closed a $75 million round in November, bringing its total raised to $120 million. Wave Computing topped it with an $86 million round and a total of $200 million to date. Its flush principals used some of the money to buy veteran MIPS and announce plans to make its cores open source.
But Graphcore, hot off news Dell designed a system with its chips, raised a whopping $200 million Series D and a total $312 million to date. There may be more bursts of irrational exuberance in deep learning, but there certainly will be many hard and soft landings as business managers start plugging real revenue numbers into their spreadsheets....MUCH MORE