Microsoft PowerPoint gets an AI presentation coach

Source: Microsoft more

Love it or hate it, Microsoft’s PowerPoint is a ubiquitous tool in the corporate world. Over the course of the last few years, Microsoft started to bring some of its AI smarts to PowerPoint to help you design good-looking slides. Today, it’s launching a number of updates and new features that make this even easier. Even the best-designed presentation isn’t going to have much of an impact if you’re not a good public speaker. That’s a skill that takes a lot of practice to master and to help you get better, Microsoft today also announced Presenter Coach for PowerPoint, a new AI tool that gives you feedback while you’re practicing your presentation in front of your computer.

Microsoft’s AI can’t tell you if your jokes will land, of course, but the new coaching feature gives you real-time feedback on your pacing, for example, tell you whether you are using inclusive language and how many filler words you use. It also makes sure that you don’t commit the greatest sin of presenting: just reading the slides.

After your rehearsal session, PowerPoint will show you a dashboard with a summary of your performance and what to focus on to improve your skills.

This feature will first come to PowerPoint on the web and then later to the Office 365 desktop version.

As for the visual design, Microsoft today added new features like Designer theme ideas, which automatically recommends photos, styles and colors are you write your presentation. This feature is now rolling out for Office 365 subscribers on Windows, Mac and on the web.

If you work in a large corporation, then chances are you have to use your brand’s house style. With Designer for branded templates, companies can now define their brand guidelines and logos so that Design Ideas takes these into account as PowerPoint suggests new designes. This feature is now rolling out to to Office 365 Insiders subscribers on Windows 10 and Mac.

No announcement is complete without some vanity metrics, of course, so today, Microsoft announced that PowerPoint users have now used Designer to create and keep 1 billion slides since it launched in 2016 (and surely, they created quite a few more but discarded them for various reasons). Hopefully, that means the world has seen fewer bad presentations in the last few years and with today’s launch of the new coaching features, maybe that means we have to hear fewer bad presentations soon, too.


Microsoft PowerPoint gets an AI presentation coach

RealityEngines.AI raises $5.25M seed round to make ML easier for enterprises

Source: Tech News – Enterprise

RealityEngines.AI, a research startup that wants to help enterprises make better use of AI, even when they only have incomplete data, today announced that it has raised a $5.25 million seed funding round. The round was led by former Google CEO and Chairman Eric Schmidt and Google founding board member Ram Shriram. Khosla Ventures, Paul Buchheit, Deepchand Nishar, Elad Gil, Keval Desai, Don Burnette and others also participated in this round.

The fact that the service was able to raise from this rather prominent group of investors clearly shows that its overall thesis resonates. The company, which doesn’t have a product yet, tells me that it specifically wants to help enterprises make better use of the smaller and noisier datasets they have and provide them with state-of-the-art machine learning and AI systems that they can quickly take into production. It also aims to provide its customers with systems that can explain their predictions and are free of various forms of bias, something that’s hard to do when the system is essentially a black box.

As RealityEngines CEO Bindu Reddy, who was previously the head of products for Google Apps, told me the company plans to use the funding to build out its research and development team. The company, after all, is tackling some of the most fundamental and hardest problems in machine learning right now — and that costs money. Some, like working with smaller datasets, already have some available solutions like generative adversarial networks that can augment existing datasets and that RealityEngines expects to innovate on.

Reddy is also betting on reinforcement learning as one of the core machine learning techniques for the platform.

Once it has its product in place, the plan is to make it available as a pay-as-you-go managed service that will make machine learning more accessible to large enterprise, but also to small and medium businesses, which also increasingly need access to these tools to remain competitive.


RealityEngines.AI raises .25M seed round to make ML easier for enterprises

Oh no, there’s A.I. whiskey now

Source: Microsoft more

Forget all those whiskey brands from musicians and celebs — there’s A.I. whiskey now. Microsoft this week announced it has teamed up with Finnish tech company Fourkind and Sweden-based distillery Mackmyra Whisky to create the “world’s first whisky developed with artificial intelligence.”

Oh no!

Here’s how it will work.

As part of the distillation process, whiskey first spends time — typically years — sitting in charred wooden casks. This turns the clear liquor a darker color, and gives it a unique flavor. How long it stays in the casks, and what the casks held before — like bourbon, wine, sherry, etc. — helps create a specific recipe. Master distillers tweak all these variables along with the different ingredients used to create the whiskey in the first place to come up with a variety of blends.

Until now, this entire process is done by humans with a specialized set of skills. For the A.I. blend, Mackmyra is turning part of the job over to the machines.

The distillery is feeding its existing recipes, sales data and customer preferences to machine learning models, so the A.I. can suggest what recipes it should make next.

The A.I., Mackmyra says, is capable of generating over 70 million different recipes. And it will highlight those it predicts will be most popular and of the highest quality, based on the cask types that are currently on hand.

These models are powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and Azure cognitive services. Fourkind developed the A.I. algorithms involved, explains Microsoft in its announcement.

However, the distillery notes it’s not actually replacing its Master Blenders with A.I. Instead, it’s using the A.I. to create the recipes which are then curated by the (still human) experts.

“The work of a Master Blender is not at risk,” insists Angela D’Orazio, Mackmyra’s Master Blender. “While the whiskey recipe is created by A.I., we still benefit from a person’s expertise and knowledge, especially the human sensory part, that can never be replaced by any program. We believe that the whiskey is A.I.-generated, but human-curated. Ultimately, the decision is made by a person.”

Microsoft says this is the first time A.I. has been used to augment the process of making whiskey. The finished product will be available in Autumn 2019.

Despite not knowing how the juice turns out, Fourkind wants to turn its algorithms to other industries where complex recipes are involved — including those for other beverages, and also things like perfumes, sweets, or sneaker designs.

This would not be the first time that A.I. has been put to work in a more artistic field.

For example, at Google’s I/O developer conference this month, the company showed off how A.I. could be used in artistic endeavors — including music, visual art, and even fashion.

Of course, when A.I. is tasked with making art, the end results tend to be strange, unworldly and sometimes a little frightening.

Which begs the question: how the hell will an A.I. whiskey taste?

(via TNW

 


Oh no, there’s A.I. whiskey now

LogMeIn acquires chatbot and AI startup Nanorep for up to $50M

Source: Tech News – Enterprise
 LogMeIn, the company that provides authentication and other connectivity solutions for those who connect remotely to networks and services, has made another acquisition to expand the products it offers to customers, specifically in its new Bold360 CRM platform, launched in June. The company has picked up Nanorep, a startup out of Israel that develops chatbots and other AI-based tools to… Read MoreLogMeIn acquires chatbot and AI startup Nanorep for up to M