Mar 18, 2019
| 5 min read


How AI Powers Tech Giants, And What it Means: Part 2

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have become one of, if perhaps the most strategic area of technology development and investment. It’s clear that tech has become one of the most important drivers of shareholder value, with tech companies increasingly dominating the largest US stocks by market cap. In the past two years, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon have each held the position as most highly valued company in the world.  

The application of AI and machine learning has become a central strategic push for the leading tech companies, and in Part 2 of this post we explore the relative initiatives, investments and offerings from several of the most prominent companies – Amazon, IBM and Facebook. Have a look at Part 1 featuring Microsoft, Apple and Google.

Leveraging AI up and down Amazon

Amazon employs AI across most of its businesses from recommendation engines, to fraud detection, to warehouse robots to logistics. Following the acquisition of Kiva Systems in 2012, Amazon’s warehouse robotics systems have become a source of competitive advantage in logistics. The Alexa virtual assistant uses neural networks for natural language processing that analyzes voice requests to deliver an appropriate response. AI is also powering Amazon Go, an AI-powered cashier-less convenience store that monitors products that leave the shelves and which customer took them. Shoppers are charged for items as they leave the shop via an app.

Amazon offers a range of machine learning services on Amazon Web Services available to developers. Lex can be used to build conversational interfaces, Polly transforms text into speech, Rekognition adds images analysis to applications, Comprehend finds insights and relationships in text, and SageMaker builds and trains machine learning models.

IBM targets AI for the enterprise

IBM has been one of the early investors in AI research, and the company continues to be one of the global leaders in patents issued every year. IBM’s Deep Blue system was the first program to defeat world chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, and in 2011 IBM’s Watson system defeated Ken Jennings, the all-time champion of quiz game Jeopardy! IBM has been an active investor in analytic technologies and applications, from the acquisitions of Informix, Cognos, SPSS, Algorithmics and many other analytics based companies. The company’s Watson AI Platform has been applied to multiple vertical including healthcare, finance, retail, legal and other industries. Despite some execution and sales challenges around Watson, the company’s depth of research capabilities and technology achievements remain best in class for enterprise AI.

Social AI drives the Facebook

According to Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, the head of Facebook's Applied Machine Learning group, "Facebook today cannot exist without AI…Every time you use Facebook or Instagram or Messenger, you may not realize it, but your experiences are being powered by AI." Facebook’s News Feed content selection, photo-tagging and ad targeting software are all powered by AI. The company started the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) group in 2013. AI also powers other applications – such as providing blind people with audio descriptions of photos, mapping global Internet access, identifying signs of suicide risk, identifying nudity in images and to flag "fake news".


Want to gain insights from companies transforming through AI? Join Ed Maguire and featured speakers from Senseye and RevTwo for our next webinar, AI: The Next Wave in Productivity in Connected Industry on March 21st.

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