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Car Makers Are Expanding & Diversifying Self-Driving Business

Synced Global AI Weekly March 17th

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Uber’s Self-Driving Car Unit Was Burning $20 Million A Month
Uber thought it would have 75,000 autonomous vehicles on the roads this year and be operating driverless taxi services in 13 cities by 2022. To reach those ambitious goals, the ridesharing company, which hopes to go public later this year, was spending $20 million a month on developing self-driving technologies.

SoftBank, Other Investors in Talks to Invest $1 Billion in Uber’s Self-Driving Unit
A consortium that includes SoftBank Group is in late-stage talks to invest $1 billion or more in Uber Technologies Inc.’s self-driving vehicle unit, according to people familiar with the negotiations, a move that would help the ride-hailing firm make its pitch to investors ahead of its eagerly anticipated IPO.
(The Wall Street Journal)

Report: Google’s Waymo Seeks Outside Investment And A Sky-High Valuation
Alphabet’s self-driving vehicle subsidiary Waymo  may raise outside capital for the first time at a valuation “at least several times” that of Cruise, the General Motors-ownedautonomous vehicle business worth nearly $15 billion.

GM’s Cruise Unit to Double Headcount
General Motors Co’s self-driving car subsidiary, Cruise, said it plans to hire 1,000 more people over the next nine months, as the No.1 U.S. carmaker aims to launch a robotaxi service by the end of 2019.


OpenAI Establishes For-Profit Company
San Francisco-based research organization OpenAI was launched in 2015 as a non-profit company with the overarching goal of achieving a safe and socially beneficial AGI (artificial general intelligence). Amid great fanfare, high-profile investors including Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Reid Hoffman pledged over US$1 billion with no strings attached to support OpenAI’s ambitious plan.

Facebook Releases A Trio of New AI Hardware Designs
It’s been a busy 24 hours for Facebook, which in a blog post this afternoon announced a trio of new AI-related application-specific hardware designs. Zion is the company’s next-generation, large-memory unified training platform; Kings Canyon is an integrated circuit optimized for AI inference; and Mount Shasta is a specialized ASIC for video transcoding.

An All-Neural On-Device Speech Recognizer
Google AI announced the rollout of an end-to-end, all-neural, on-device speech recognizer to power speech input in Gboard. In their recent paper, “Streaming End-to-End Speech Recognition for Mobile Devices”, they present a model trained using RNN transducer (RNN-T) technology that is compact enough to reside on a phone.
(Google AI)

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GTC Preview & NVIDIA AI Research Recap
GTC 2019 runs next Monday through Thursday (March 18–21), and while we can only speculate what surprises NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang might have in store for us, we can get some sense of where the company is headed by looking at what it’s been up to for the last 12 months.

New Google Program Applies Technical Writers to Open Source Documentation
Google yesterday announced a new program, Seasons of Docs, that aims to make a substantive contribution to open source software development. The eight-month project will assemble a team of technical writers to work on improving documentation development for various open source projects.

Global AI Events

March 17~20, ACM IUI Los Angeles, United States

March 19~20, RE-Work Deep Learning in Finance Summit London, United Kingdom

March 17~21, NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) in San Jose, United States

March 25-26,MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Digital in San Francisco, United States

Global AI Opportunities

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