Daily Review: Cloud is the Way to Democratize AI

The democratization of advanced technologies holds a promise of unimaginable value for businesses. But some companies are much more aggressive in the race for dominance over the sphere than others. And the dominance in cloud technologies will feed into the race for a leading place in the AI development space.

Pick #1. China & the US Are Bracing for an AI Showdown – In the Cloud

Cloud computing companies are all racing to deploy increasingly sophisticated services featuring machine learning and AI. What’s at stake is the opportunity to become the dominant player in what promises to be the next big computing paradigm.

Currently, running experiments on AI requires huge computer resources, Animashree Anandkumar, Principal Scientist at Amazon Web Services, said. The cloud is a way to democratize AI because anyone can access that compute power. Anandkumar also dropped a hint of Amazon’s international ambitions for its AI services. The other aspect of democratizing AI is globalizing it, she said. How do we enable everybody to innovate locally, and have equally good support across languages and cultures?

The expansion of AI services in the cloud could have other ramifications as well. Jian Wang, President of Alibaba’s technology committee and a senior figure at the company, predicted, for instance, that the rush to deliver and tap into cloud AI would use huge amounts of energy. It will consume a lot of computing resources, which may not have been seen before in history, he said.

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Pick #2. What Happened to Initial Coin Offerings in China?

Why did China ban ICOs?

In September last year, the People’s Bank of China reported that 90% of the ICOs launched in the country were fraudulent. It pronounced ICOs illegal and ordered operators to return money to investors. As well as fears that fraud could lead to social problems, authorities were wary of virtual currencies and coin offers being used by corrupt officials to transfer money out of the country.

What happened after the ban?

Many ICO operators offered to return money to investors and have since switched their target markets to overseas, which they are currently allowed to do so long as they do not appear to be targeting investors in mainland China. But the marketing of ICOs domestically was stopped and virtual-currency-related events were either canceled or moved outside China.

What now for ICOs?

There is still a huge demand for fundraising using ICOs in China, and as of Tuesday, some ICO sites in China were still accessible without going through a virtual private network. But it remains unclear how long such sites will be able to remain in operation. Meanwhile, NEO has begun hosting its own ICOs for companies based outside China.

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Pick #3. Amazon India Announces Integration of UPI as a Payment Option on Mobile Platform

Amazon India has announced the integration of Unified Payment Interface (UPI) as a payment option on its mobile website as well as apps. With this, customers will now be able to make payments for purchases via UPI.

Acquired by Flipkart in April 2016, the UPI app reportedly processed over 1 million daily transactions worth over $15.4 million daily in November 2017, less than a month after it raised a massive 500-million-dollar investment from its parent entity. Having achieved a total payments volume (TPV) annual run rate of $6.1 billion within 14 months of its launch, it is now aiming to double this metric by March 2018.

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Pick #4. KrisFlyer to Launch World’s First Blockchain-Based Airline Loyalty Digital Wallet

The SIA Group’s KrisFlyer frequent-flyer program is to launch a world-first blockchain-based airline loyalty digital wallet capability that will help unlock the value of KrisFlyer miles to enable everyday spending at retail partners. The first-of-its-kind lifestyle digital wallet app for an airline loyalty program will be enabled through blockchain technology, using an SIA-owned private blockchain involving only merchants and partners.

A new KrisFlyer digital wallet app utilizing blockchain technology is expected to be rolled out in about six months. It will allow KrisFlyer’s membership base to use ‘digital KrisFlyer miles’ for POS transactions at participating retail merchants.

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