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How Amazon’s Cloud arm AWS is democratising Machine Learning for all



Amazon Web Services

Las Vegas, Nov 30:  While tech giants are busy developing Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) models to deliver enhanced customer experiences, retail giant Amazon’s Cloud arm Amazon Web Services (AWS) is busy dealing with a humongous task — democratising ML for all and protecting it from “bad actors”.

Some industry watchers say AWS CEO Andy Jassy is overspending on building ML models and services, but for him giving the technology so much time, energy and money is meant to open the doors of companies and developers to the gigantic possibilities ahead once they figure out what exactly is to be done with ML.

Jassy knows what Machine Learning can do when it comes to big and small enterprises and, most importantly, to the differently-abled via enhanced computer vision, brain signal processing, speech recognition systems, voice-based features and other related tools.

However, not many businesses and developers know yet how to fully utilise ML models.

“The problem with ML today is that most companies do not know what they want to do with it. Also, it is equally difficult to find people who know how to build right and ethical ML models and train, tune and deploy those.

“That is why you see us spending so much time, energy and investment in the ML and AL space,” Jassy told the gathering at the company’s annual flagship “ReInvent 2018” conference here.

In the last one year, AWS has released nearly 200 ML services and features.

“We know there is real thrust and hunger from builders to be able to do it more easily, and this is what we want to enable them to do,” said Jassy.

According to him, ML can solve plethora of everyday problems but the real task is to safeguard the algorithms and models from bad actors who have the tendency to harm the world.

“Even though we have not heard any abuse in our ML models and services so far, we are aware that people will be able to do bad things with these services, the way they do with any technology that can harm the world,” Jassy told a packed house.

One solution, he added, is that ML models and algorithms have to be benchmarked by the industry so that they remain as accurate as possible.

“You have to be clear how you recommend people using those services,” said the AWS CEO as the company announced 13 new ML services and capabilities, including a custom AI chip.

One such ML service is SageMaker that has been given a fresh makeover, to make it easier for customers to build, train and deploy models.

SageMaker “Ground Truth” capability produces high-quality labelled training data; SageMaker RL delivers Cloud’s first managed service for reinforcement learning algorithms and simulators; and a new ML Marketplace offers more than 150 new models and algorithms to developers via SageMaker.

“Over 10,000 customers are currently using Amazon SageMaker. Developers can now sell their ML models and algorithms on AWS Marketplace. It is a great place for developers and customers,” informed Jassy.

Other AI services include Amazon “Textract” that extracts text and data from virtually any scanned document; Amazon “Personalize” and Amazon “Forecast” bring the same technology used by Amazon to developer, with no Machine Learning experience required; and Amazon “Comprehend Medical” tool provides Natural Language Processing (NLP) for medical information.

GE Healthcare is training computer vision models with Amazon SageMaker that are then deployed in its MRI and X-Ray devices.

“By applying reinforcement learning techniques, we are able to reduce the size of our trained models while achieving the right balance between network compression and model accuracy,” said Keith Bigelow, Senior Vice President of Edison Portfolio Strategy, GE Healthcare.

Amazon Comprehend Medical is an NLP service for medical text which uses Machine Learning to extract disease conditions, medications and treatment outcomes from patient notes, clinical trial reports and other electronic health records.

Comprehend Medical requires no Machine Learning expertise, no complicated rules to write, no models to train, and it is continuously improving.

Jassy is confident that irrespective of the challenges ahead, AWS will help democratise ML for all.

“We are not overspending on ML. It is a gigantic area and we are investing right. If you look at the advent of ML and its potential to solve problems, it is huge,” said Jassy.

BY Nishant Arora

(Nishant Arora is in Las Vegas at the invitation from AWS. He can be reached at [email protected])



Markets open on positive note



Sensex Nifty Equity

Mumbai, Feb 20: The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) on Wednesday opened on a positive note during the morning session of the trade.

The BSE Sensex opened at 35,564.93 before touching a high of 35,581.14 and a low of 35,520.21.

It was trading at 35,528.69 up by 176.08 points or 0.50 per cent from its Tuesday’s close at 35,352.61.

On the other hand, the broader 50-scrip Nifty at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 10,655.45 after closing at 10,604.35.

The Nifty is trading at 10,656.25 in the morning.


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PF funds’ investment in IL&FS bonds have no government guarantee: Finance Ministry



IL&FS Financial Service

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) The provident and pension fund trusts that invested in the IL&FS bonds now fear loss of money as the debt-ridden company’s bonds are unsecured debt, and the Finance Ministry says superannuated bonds do not carry any government guarantee and all such instruments have to face all market-related risks.

“Since these are investments in bonds, the government does not ensure any guarantee on them as such and if these are invested in stock markets, they carry the market risks as applicable. It is between the bond issuer and bond holders…,” the Finance Ministry said in response to IANS queries.

Thousands of crores of money of more than 15 lakh employees of both public and private sector companies have exposure to IL&FS bonds.

However, queries sent to the EPFO Commissioner and Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar remained unanswered.

Over 50 funds that manage retirement benefits of over 15 lakh employees have exposure to IL&FS. PF trusts of state electricity boards, public sector undertakings (PSUs) and banks are among them. The provident and pension fund trusts have filed intervening applications in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) stating that they stand to lose all the money since the bonds are under unsecured debt.

Usually, retirement funds have a low-risk appetite and invest in “AAA” rated bonds (which IL&FS bonds used to be once upon a time) and get assured returns with low interest rates.

The worries of pension and provident fund trusts come from the classification of IL&FS profiling its companies as to which can meet the dues obligations. Many important trust managing funds of PSUs like MMTC, IOC, Hudco, SBI and IDBI are among those filing petitions. From private sector, HUL and Asian Paints are among the petitioners.

IL&FS is currently under resolution process at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The process will decide under Section 53 of the IBC the order of priority for distribution of proceeds of the process.

The beleaguered company has informed the NCLT that of the 302 entities in the group, 169 are Indian companies, out of which only 22 are emerging as those which can meet all obligations (green), while 10 firms can pay to only secured creditors (Amber). There are 38 companies of IL&FS (red) which cannot meet any obligations of payment, and 120 entities are still being assessed.

These PF and provident funds trusts are worried that if payment is limited to secured creditors, then only financial creditors like banks will receive the dues while unsecured bond-holders will be get any payments.

IL&FS bonds attracted investments by PF trusts as it had the shareholding of SBI and LIC giving its bonds the comfort factor.

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Sachin Bansal invests Rs 650 crore in Ola




Bengaluru, Feb 19 (IANS) Internet entrepreneur and Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal has invested Rs 650 crore, or about $92 million, in ride-hailing platform Ola in his personal capacity as investor, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

This investment is part of Ola’s larger Series J funding round. It is also the largest investment by an individual in Ola to date, it said.

“Ola is one of India’s most promising consumer businesses that is creating deep impact and lasting value for the ecosystem. On one hand, they have emerged as a global force in the mobility space and on the other, they continue to build deeper for various needs of a billion Indians through their platform, becoming a trusted household name today,” Bansal said.

He further said he has known Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal as entrepreneur and friend over the years and that he has great respect for what he and the team at Ola have built in 8 years.

“We are extremely thrilled to have Sachin onboard Ola as an investor. Sachin is an icon of entrepreneurship and his experience of building one of India’s most respected businesses ground up, is unparalleled,” Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said.

Ola integrates city transportation for customers and drivers onto a mobile technology platform ensuring convenient, transparent, safe and quick service fulfilment, the statement added.

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