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AI faces these obstacles

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By Jim Holland, Country Manager at Lenovo Data Center Group Southern Africa

The furore around Artificial Intelligence (AI) is understandable. When adopted correctly, it is a true enabler for achieving a business life without limits, and it has the potential to power future success. AI promises the possibilities of the future, and with it comes the opportunity to win the race to become ‘digital’. That’s why there is an expected 37.3% compound annual growth rate for the 2017 – 2022 period in global spending on cognitive and artificial intelligence (AI) systems.

However, as more businesses turn their attention to the AI hype, they need to be aware of the challenges ahead. AI, despite the frenzy, is still nascent and there is no one-size-fits-all recipe for success.

AI certainly has the ability to open monumental business opportunities, and it’s easy to see why so many businesses are jumping on the bandwagon. But all businesses striving for adoption need to forge their own path, away from the traditional strategies that hold others back. This ‘different’ line of thinking is the only way to emerge as a digital winner.

With great possibilities comes great obstacles

It is in understanding how to utilise AI that we see many businesses struggle. Many want to adopt AI as soon as possible, but are struggling to know how AI can be used to benefit their business or optimise a specific task because of the sheer IT complexity.

AI is broader than just an IT initiative, ownership of it needs to spread across a company. Therefore businesses should look to find forums for discussions and places to test ideas. For example, at Lenovo we recently opened three innovation centres for our customers to discuss, test and innovate. 

Those who successfully hurdle the obstacles in adopting AI technology will see dramatic business growth as their IT initiatives flourish.

The need for expert counsel

With AI and machine learning (ML) technology becoming more mainstream, a number of industries are already seeing big benefits. Agriculture, science and healthcare are among the multitude of industries using the technology to provide better quality services and products. From improving drought management to enhancing radiology practices, AI is the driver in optimising these solutions.

Behind these initiatives is a software-defined data centre, built to harness the power of AI. However, enterprises still need to have the flexibility to adapt. And this means the ability to operate without technology hampering their business. Therefore, it’s vital businesses work with partners who invest in the AI and ML space to get the most out of their initiatives. That’s why we are accelerating our AI initiatives to generate new and actionable insights in the business and science sectors.

AI driving the possibilities of the future

To reap AI rewards, businesses need to have strong foundations in place and an understanding of the technology. This starts with a flexible, future-defined and AI-optimised data centre, which is the only pillar capable of handling the vast amount of data vital for all AI models.

The right infrastructure, combined with a different line of thinking, will enable today’s businesses to stand out from the rest of the competition. 

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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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