NVIDIA is one of the world’s best-known manufacturers of computer graphics cards. Since their invention of the GPU in 1999 not only have they revolutionised modern computer graphics but their disruptive and hugely powerful GPU deep-learning technology has put them at the forefront of AI computing.
We are reaching the end of Moore’s law, which took us through the last 50 years of the computer industry and can’t increase the performance of transistors anymore. Deep learning and the use of GPUs is a new approach to computing, and NVIDIA’s GPU allows incredible computing feats thanks to a large number of transistors. The latest NVIDIA Volta GPU packs a staggering 21 bn GPUs and is slightly larger than a smartphone.
Artificial intelligence comprises a number of cutting-edge machine-learning techniques, from deep neural networks to decision trees, churning through an enormous amount of data, which requires equally powerful microprocessors.
Nvidia has launched a series of technology conferences, with the main European NVIDIA GPU conference having taken place in Munich – GTC Europe.
GTC is Europe’s only dedicated conference on AI, autonomous vehicles, and VR and this year the conference attracted more than 3,000 visitors, including developers, data scientists and senior decision makers.
This event promised to showcase some of the most exciting work in the computing industry today, across a wide variety of industry sectors. Elise Korolev, our Partner in the Strategy and Leadership team, was lucky enough to attend, and I caught up with her to get some insights on the event.
Can you tell me a little more about the NVIDIA GPU conference and why you were there?
First, it was the internet eating the world, then mobile. Now AI computing is the force to reckon with, and NVIDIA is at the forefront of this development.
The NVIDIA GPU conference was a fantastic opportunity to hear from people applying this to a wide range of industries and challenges. There were more than 200 talks, including case studies, academic research projects, demos, and, of course, key product announcements by NVIDIA and its partners.
I went there with 2 objectives:
- To consolidate my understanding of artificial intelligence applications and value from real-life examples, to be able to advise our clients.
- To meet professionals in the field and other specialists who could be DWG partners or help our clients.
The GTC conference sounds like an exciting place to be! I am sure there were lots of demos, what was the most unusual thing you saw being demoed?
Isaac, the artificial intelligence learning virtual robot was the most mind-blowing demo.
It can learn a variety of tasks by itself, in a simulated environment; the only input being whether the task was completed or failed. The virtual robot can be multiplied, practically without any limit, and once the learning is perfected, this can be transferred to a physical instrument such as a robot or car.
What do you think are the most important developments and innovation that you saw at the conference?
The most exciting innovation is the ability to access the machine learning resources in the cloud through cloud providers, which will be detailed further at the end of the month by NVIDIA.
This potentially gives any company access to the most powerful GPUs, including start-ups, without the need of buying expensive hardware. This is a significant development, and some of my clients are looking forward to it.
There were some striking use cases of how this machine learning hardware massively accelerates business models. For example, while digital help records data points and connects databases, the addition of machine learning hardware and software helped make sense of data in real time, identifying outliers as well as patterns, thus accelerating decision making.
AI, machine learning and big data are all extremely hot subjects right now, but what, in your opinion, are the biggest opportunities they are providing to businesses who are not yet familiar with this new technology?
First and foremost, there are significant efficiency savings to be had; in automation of software development, automation of business processes and ultimately automation of decision-making processes in a company.
The biggest opportunity and change is having access to data, recreating its dependencies and therefore unlocking understanding.
As an example, drone mapping for big construction projects helped cut KPIs from several hundred to 18 and ensured the right people had access to real-time information and analysis from which they could take decisions straight away. It translated directly into faster decision times, lower costs, better use of equipment and material, and dramatically reducing accidents on site.
Other examples include:
- Training chatbots for customer service from real customers interactions as opposed to pre-defined scripts.
- Powering search through image recognition, or using Natural Language.
- Processing to deliver a natural and compelling experience.
- Intelligent eCommerce, whereby the AI can offer a personalised experience at each point of the buying cycle, maximising conversion rates.
- Predictive analytics, to help you understand which customer is likely to leave and when way before it happens.
- Identifying efficiency in project management via better estimation of completion-time and resources forecasting.
The conference is a great networking opportunity, did you meet any interesting new companies?
I met fascinating companies and passionate people, from well-established organisations such as Cisco through to start-ups.
Keeping my current clients in mind, I focused on companies with solutions for video analysis, chatbot development, mining information out of text, handwriting and speech recognition solutions.
The conference provided lots of networking opportunities – for instance, I met the CEO of a video analysis company called Valossa whose product would considerably boost the product development of one of my clients’, and they are now discussing practical steps.
I was also able to make new contacts such as the internal IT security operation of a major commercial European bank, which uses advanced data and machine learning technologies to monitor business activities inside the bank. They have difficulty in communicating the value created by their work to the management, which I could articulate, so we are now discussing engagement to support their activity.
There were also several start-ups interested in DWG business acceleration support.
GTC is an excellent forum for innovative early-stage AI start-up’s to pitch their ideas. Which ones caught your eye and why?
NVIDIA has created a start-up programme, called Inception. 5 start-ups were selected to pitch their ideas to a panel, here is a short review: https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2017/10/11/inception-awards-highlight-european-tech-talent/
AI is touching many sectors. Are there any sectors which, in your opinion, are starting to reap the benefits right now?
NVIDIA has created an AI computing platform linking developers, researchers and commercial leaders across any industry, allowing cross-fertilization and knowledge-share. The industry sectors that are first to embrace this new computing include consulting, martech solution development and applications, autonomous cars, design (architecture, clothing, graphics), finance.
Basically, in the AI world, digital means smart, so anyone can reap the benefits.
During his keynote speech, Jensen Huang announced their new supercomputer would enable the highest level of automated driving. Will we be jumping into a Robotaxi anytime soon?
The technology is basically there. The elements that will prevent a widespread availability and use of autonomous cars are regulatory and our resistance to change.
AI Keynote speech
During the conference, NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang delivered a keynote speech that shared many of the amazing advancements and breakthroughs in AI.
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