The Researcher Who Wants to Bring AI to Factories


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Gargantuan Taiwanese producer Foxconn employs greater than 1 million individuals and tens of 1000’s of robots making iPhones and different electronics. It has a status for value reducing, together with on the expense of its employees. Now, it’s teaming up with an artificial-intelligence researcher who helped set off Google’s reorientation round machine studying with the intention to make its personal factories extra environment friendly.

Andrew Ng was a Stanford professor when he joined Google in 2011 to work on a mission that created software program capable of acknowledge cats—and a brand new company emphasis on AI at Google. He later led AI analysis at Chinese language search engine Baidu. Thursday, he disclosed his first main mission since placing out on his personal in March. It’s a startup known as aimed toward serving to producers make use of AI know-how. Foxconn is amongst its first shoppers.

Ng says his firm is required as a result of the manufacturing sector can’t but make use of latest developments in machine studying. Experience within the area is scarce, and coveted by web corporations like his former employers. “Exterior the IT world virtually nobody has entry to the know-how or expertise,” Ng says, carrying a varsity jacket with “AI is the brand new electrical energy” in cursive script over his coronary heart.

Touchdown says its software program can spot flaws in merchandise.

Touchdown will work consultant-style with shoppers to supply the experience they lack—not not like new companies from Google and Amazon which were availed by corporations equivalent to USAA and the NFL. Ng says his workforce is constructing instruments it may well apply throughout many various shoppers. An organization video exhibits software program recognizing flaws on circuit boards and digital camera lenses, a tedious activity Ng says is commonly completed by people. His workforce of round 20 can also be tapping machine studying to regulate the configuration of kit equivalent to injection-molding machines to enhance high quality, or use of supplies.

Touchdown’s preliminary shoppers will probably be in China and Japan, Ng says. Foxconn, the one one named thus far, is a giant get. Except for its astounding dimension and deep relationships with premium manufacturers like Apple, the corporate has proven an intense curiosity in utilizing automation to chop prices.

In 2011, Foxconn CEO Terry Gou instructed the Chinese language authorities’s information company that it was planning to deploy 1 million robots over the following three years to exchange employees and enhance effectivity. However in July 2016, the final supervisor of Foxconn’s automation know-how division committee instructed the South China Morning Publish that the corporate had slowed the deliberate rollout, partially due to technical limitations, and at that time had deployed solely 40,000 industrial robots.

Foxconn didn’t reply to a request for touch upon its plans with Touchdown. Ng mentioned he had not too long ago visited Wisconsin, the place Foxconn is constructing a brand new plant, however declines to say precisely what he’ll be constructing for the corporate.

No matter it’s, Ng claims that his startup received’t go away manufacturing unit employees worse off. “AI could make a society the place all the things is a lot better and people are free of psychological drudgery,” he says. Ng claims society can modify to extra highly effective computer systems in trade by investing in training—and is well promoting each the illness and the treatment. He cofounded on-line training startup Coursera, the place he’s now cochair of the board, and launched a brand new mission with the corporate to unfold AI expertise this summer time.

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