Alibaba, specifically its research institute – the Alibaba DAMO Academy, just published their top 10 tech trends in 2020.
Here are the highlights from those top 10 tech trends that they are predicting will go big in 2020!
Here Are The Top 10 Tech Trends In 2020 From Alibaba!
Tech Trend #1 : AI Evolves From Perceptual Intelligence To Cognitive Intelligence
Artificial intelligence has reached or surpassed humans in the areas of perceptual intelligence such as speech to text, natural language processing, video understanding etc; but in the field of cognitive intelligence that requires external knowledge, logical reasoning, or domain migration, it is still in its infancy.
Cognitive intelligence will draw inspiration from cognitive psychology, brain science, and human social history, combined with techniques such as cross domain knowledge graph, causality inference, and continuous learning to establish effective mechanisms for stable acquisition and expression of knowledge.
These make machines to understand and utilize knowledge, achieving key breakthroughs from perceptual intelligence to cognitive intelligence.
Tech Trend #2 : In-Memory Computing Addresses Memory Wall Challenge In AI Computer
In Von Neumann architecture, memory and processor are separate and the computation requires data to be moved back and forth.
With the rapid development of data-driven AI algorithms in recent years, it has come to a point where the hardware becomes the bottleneck in the explorations of more advanced algorithms.
In Processing-in-Memory (PIM) architecture, in contrast to the Von Neumann architecture, memory and processor are fused together and computations are performed where data is stored with minimal data movement.
As such, computation parallelism and power efficiency can be significantly improved. We believe the innovations on PIM architecture are the tickets to next-generation AI.
Tech Trend #3 : Industrial IoT Will Power Digital Transformation
In 2020, 5G, rapid development of IoT devices, cloud computing and edge computing will accelerate the fusion of information system, communication system, and industrial control system.
Through advanced Industrial IoT, manufacturing companies can achieve automation of machines, in-factory logistics, and production scheduling, as a way to realise C2B smart manufacturing.
In addition, interconnected industrial system can adjust and coordinate the production capability of both upstream and downstream vendors.
Ultimately it will significantly increase the manufacturers’ productivity and profitability. For manufacturers with production goods that value hundreds of trillion RMB, If the productivity increases 5-10%, it means additional trillions of RMB.
Tech Trend #4 : Large Scale Collaboration Between Machines Become Possible
Traditional single intelligence cannot meet the real-time perception and decision of large-scale intelligent devices.
The development of collaborative sensing technology of Internet of things and 5G communication technology will realise the collaboration among multiple agents – machines cooperate with each other and compete with each other to complete the target tasks.
The group intelligence brought by the cooperation of multiple intelligent bodies will further amplify the value of the intelligent system:
large-scale intelligent traffic light dispatching will realise dynamic and real-time adjustment,
warehouse robots will work together to complete cargo sorting more efficiently,
driverless cars can perceive the overall traffic conditions on the road, and
group unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) collaboration will get through the last-mile delivery more efficiently.
Tech Trend #5 : Modular Chiplet Design Makes Chips Easier & Faster To Create
Traditional model of chip design cannot efficiently respond to the fast evolving, fragmented and customised needs of chip production.
The open source SoC chip design based on RISC-V, high-level hardware description language, and IP-based modular chip design methods have accelerated the rapid development of agile design methods and the ecosystem of open source chips.
In addition, the modular design method based on chiplets uses advanced packaging methods to package the chiplets with different functions together, which can quickly customise and deliver chips that meet specific requirements of different applications.
Tech Trend #6 : Large Scale Blockchain Applications Will Gain Mass Adoption
BaaS (Blockchain-as-a-Service) will further reduce the barriers of entry for enterprise blockchain applications.
A variety of hardware chips embedded with core algorithms used in edge, cloud and designed specifically for blockchain will also emerge, allowing assets in the physical world to be mapped to assets on blockchain, further expanding the boundaries of the Internet of Value and realising “multi-chain interconnection”.
In the future, a large number of innovative blockchain application scenarios with multi-dimensional collaboration across different industries and ecosystems will emerge, and large-scale production-grade blockchain applications with more than 10 million DAI (Daily Active Items) will gain mass adoption.
Tech Trend #7 : A Critical Period Before Large-Scale Quantum Computing
In 2019, the race in reaching “Quantum Supremacy” brought the focus back to quantum computing. The demonstration, using superconducting circuits, boosts the overall confidence on superconducting quantum computing for the realisation of a large-scale quantum computer.
In 2020, the field of quantum computing will receive increasing investment, which comes with enhanced competitions. The field is also expected to experience a speed-up in industrialization and the gradual formation of an eco-system.
In the coming years, the next milestones will be the realization of fault-tolerant quantum computing and the demonstration of quantum advantages in real-world problems. Either is of a great challenge given the present knowledge. Quantum computing is entering a critical period.
Tech Trend #8 : New Materials Will Revolutionise Semiconductor Devices
Under the pressure of both Moore’s Law and the explosive demand of computing power and storage, it is difficult for classic Si based transistors to maintain sustainable development of the semiconductor industry.
Until now, major semiconductor manufacturers still have no clear answer and option to chips beyond 3nm. New materials will make new logic, storage, and interconnection devices through new physical mechanisms, driving continuous innovation in the semiconductor industry.
For example, topological insulators, two-dimensional superconducting materials, etc. that can achieve lossless transport of electron and spin can become the basis for new high-performance logic and interconnect devices; while new magnetic materials and new resistive switching materials can realize high-performance magnetics Memory such as SOT-MRAM and resistive memory.
Tech Trend #9 : Growing Adoption Of AI Technologies That Protect Data Privacy
The compliance costs demanded by the recent data protection laws and regulations related to data transfer are getting increasingly higher than ever before.
In light of this, there have been growing interests in using AI technologies to protect data privacy. The essence is to enable the data user to compute a function over input data from different data providers while keeping those data private.
Such AI technologies promise to solve the problems of data silos and lack of trust in today’s data sharing practices, and will truly unleash the value of data in the foreseeable future.
Tech Trend #10 : Cloud Becomes The Center Of IT Innovation
With the ongoing development of cloud computing technology, the cloud has grown far beyond the scope of IT infrastructure, and gradually evolved into the center of all IT technology innovations.
Cloud has close relationship with almost all IT technologies, including new chips, new databases, self-driving adaptive networks, big data, AI, IoT, blockchain, quantum computing and so forth.
Meanwhile, it creates new technologies, such as serverless computing, cloud-native software architecture, software-hardware integrated design, as well as intelligent automated operation.
Cloud computing is redefining every aspect of IT, making new IT technologies more accessible for the public. Cloud has become the backbone of the entire digital economy.
The Hanguang 800 chip will be used exclusively by Alibaba to power their own business operations, especially in product search and automatic translation, personalised recommendations and advertising.
According to Alibaba, merchants upload a billion product images to Taobao every day. It used to take their previous platform an hour to categorise those pictures, and then tailor search and personalise recommendations for millions of Taobao customers.
With Hanguang 800, they claim that the Taboo platform now takes just 5 minutes to complete the task – a 12X reduction in time!
Alibaba Cloud will also be using it in their smart city projects. They are already using it in Hangzhou, where they previously used 40 GPUs to process video feeds with a latency of 300 ms.
After migrating to four Hanguang 800 NPUs, they were able to process the same video feeds with half the latency – just 150 ms.
Can We Buy Or Rent The Hanguang 800?
No, Alibaba will not be selling the Hanguang 800 NPU. Instead, they are offering it as a new AI cloud computing service.
Developers can now make a request for a Hanguang 800 cloud compute quota, which Alibaba Cloud claims is 100% more cost-effective than traditional GPUs.
Are There No Other Alternatives For Alibaba?
In our opinion, this is Alibaba’s way of preparing for an escalation of the US-Chinese trade war that has already savaged HUAWEI.
While Alibaba certainly have a few AI inference accelerator alternatives, from AMD and NVIDIA for example, it makes sense for them to spend money and time developing their own AI inference chip.
In the long term, the Chinese government wants to build a domestic capability to design and fabricate their own computer chips for national security reasons.
At the Apsara Conference 2019, Alibaba Cloud announced that they will be introducing the 3rd Gen X-Dragon Architecture for their cloud servers!
Here is a quick PRIMER on the new 3rd Gen X-Dragon Architecture!
What Is X-Dragon?
X-Dragon – Shenlong in Chinese – is a proprietary bare metal server architecture developed by Alibaba Cloud for their cloud computing requirements.
Built around a custom X-Dragon MOC card, it delivers what Alibaba Cloud calls Elastic Compute Service (ECS) capability in a bare metal server.
The ECS bare metal instances it offers combine the benefits of bare metal servers, and virtual machines.
For example, it offers direct access to CPU and RAM resources without virtualisation overheads that bare metal servers offer, with the instant deployment and image migration capabilities of virtual machines.
The downsides? ECS bare metal instances, once deployed, cannot be upgraded or downgraded. In addition, if there is a hardware failure, a failover occurs and the data remains stored in the instance’s storage drives.
What’s New In The 3rd Gen X-Dragon Architecture?
Basically – SPEED.
According to Alibaba Cloud, the 3rd Gen X-Dragon architecture is able to increase Queries Per Second (QPS) by 30% and decrease latency by 60% in e-commerce scenarios.
In tandem, they also announced the 6th Gen ECS instance, which delivers a 20% boost in computing power, a 30% reduction in memory latency, and a 70% reduction in storage IO latency.
Not new, but also important is the fact that because it is cloud-native by design, it eliminates power wastage from idle bare metal servers. Alibaba Cloud claims that alone reduces the unit computing cost by 50%.
3rd Gen X-Dragon Architecture Availability
Alibaba Cloud will start rolling out the 3rd Gen X-Dragon architecture upgrade to millions of their cloud servers around the world from 2020 onwards.
The recent case of a Chinese driver getting fine for scratching his face is a funny example of current AI surveillance technology. Yet it is also a wake-up call on the dangers of pervasive AI surveillance by the state.
Fined For Scratching Nose By AI Surveillance System!
A Jinan resident, Mr. Liu, was driving his car in the eastern Shandong province, when he raised his hand to touch his face. Most of us unconsciously do that 2 to 5 times per minute!
Unbeknownst to him, one of the many AI surveillance cameras in the city noticed his action, and issued him a fine of 50 yuan* and 2 demerit points for “driving while holding a phone“.
* Approximately $7.25 / £5.70 / €6.50 / RM 30
The Jinan AI surveillance system also sent him this screenshot of his traffic violation, as captured at 7:20 AM on 20 May 2019.
Just like many automated systems (looking at you, Facebook and Google!), there was no way to dispute the charge. Mr. Liu tried to sort out the situation over the phone, but “no one would help him“.
He only got justice by appealing to the court of public opinion on Sina Weibo, where his post went viral. Only then did the Jinan traffic police department take notice and investigate his complaint.
Two days later, they cancelled his ticket after confirming that he was only touching his face, and not actually using a phone while driving.
AI Surveillance In Chinese Cities
China has been working hard at developing smart cities, as part of their social engineering efforts to quell political dissent and encourage Chinese citizens to “behave properly”.
There are already over 170 million surveillance cameras across China, with a projected 400 million surveillance cameras installed by next year. And they are all controlled by AI surveillance systems.
Such extensive surveillance coverage has allowed the Chinese government to detect crimes and punish their citizens for them. It also feeds the new Social Credit System – a national reputation system that assess the economic and social reputation of every Chinese citizen and business.
However, such pervasive surveillance has led to serious privacy implications for the Chinese citizenry. Anyone who wants to understand the power, allure and dangers of AI surveillance should watch the TV series, Person of Interest.
The Dangers Of AI Surveillance
While AI surveillance technology is now quite incredible, this case has exposed its vulnerabilities and limitations.
Human oversight is still necessary, because AI surveillance is not accurate enough to detect false positives.
It may be tempting to make the AI surveillance system the judge, jury and executioner, but such systems need to implement the principle of “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt“, and that means ignoring anything that is not close to a 99.9% match.
There should be an appeal system in place. It took a viral social media post to alert the Jinan traffic police department to the mistake.
There is also the question of personal data security. Can the government securely store the data, without unsanctioned or illegal access? How long should they store the information before they are deleted?
Alibaba Cloud + The Malaysia City Brain
Alibaba Cloud is one of the chief architects of Chinese smart city initiative and AI surveillance capabilities with their ET City Brain that runs on their Tianchi Platform.
The first phase of the Malaysia City Brain will kickstart with 382 AI traffic cameras at 281 traffic light junctions in Kuala Lumpur.
Although the Malaysian government is ostensibly implementing the Malaysia City Brain to “optimise the flow of vehicles and timing of traffic signals“, it is really a short step to the Chinese model of population and crime surveillance.
At the MDEC-Alibaba Cloud announcement of their collaboration to implement the Malaysia City Brain, Dr. Min Wanli gave a quick overview of the ET City Brain and the Tianchi platform for crowd intelligence.
Who Is Dr. Min Wanli?
Dr. Min Wanli (also known as Dr. Wanli Min) is the Chief Scientist of Machine Intelligence at Alibaba Cloud.
He holds a Ph.D in statistics from the University of Chicago, was a researcher at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center and a senior statistician at Google. He now oversees Alibaba Cloud’s artificial intelligence projects.
ET City Brain & The Tianchi Platform
ET is an Alibaba Cloud designation that refers to artificial intelligence services that “can be broadly applied to different areas in society”. It accomplishes this by leveraging the crowd intelligence capabilities of the Tianchi platform.
Dr. Min Wanli showcased how the Hangzhou City Brain master plan eases traffic congestion in the city, using an ambulance as an example. The Hangzhou City Brain will predict the traffic conditions for the next 30-60 minutes and determine the most efficient route for the ambulance.
It also synchronises the traffic signals so that they will turn green 10 seconds before the ambulance arrives, allowing it to pass without stopping. This not only cuts the ambulance’s arrival time, it also reduces risk of accidents.
The Malaysia City Brain
Dr. Min Wanli was here as part of the Alibaba Cloud delegation to announce their collaboration with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to introduce the Malaysia City Brain.
In the first phase of implementation, the Malaysia City Brain will be used in Kuala Lumpur’s traffic management. It will begin with a base of 382 cameras, and input from 281 traffic light junctions – all located in central Kuala Lumpur.
Using cloud computing and big data processing capabilities, the Malaysia City Brain will be able to optimise the flow of vehicles and timing of traffic signals.
It will also be able to generate structured summaries of data like traffic volume, and speed according to lanes, which can be used to facilitate other tasks, including traffic accident detection.
The Alibaba Group is taking their Dingtalk enterprise communication and collaboration platform worldwide. DingTalk CTO, Hugo Zhu and their Head of Global Business Development, Chris Wang, flew in to demonstrate how DingTalk will help businesses small and large improve their staff communication and collaboration.
What Is DingTalk?
Alibaba created DingTalk in January 2015 as a proprietary enterprise communication and collaboration platform that enables text, photo, voice and video communication, workflow management and collaboration among team members and enterprises of various sizes. More than 5 million companies and organizations are currently using it in China.
As a Chinese app targeted at enterprises, Alibaba is eager to assure users of the security of the DingTalk platform. It features end-to-end 256-bit AES encryption over SSL/TLS connections. It is also one of the first Chinese apps to have obtained the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 standard.
Enterprises that require additional security can opt for third-party encryption services that will provide assurance that the messages and data sent or shared on DingTalk cannot be accessed, even if their servers are compromised in any way.
DingTalk Communication Features
Phone / Chat: DingTalk can support up to 3,000 members in a single group chat.
Voice Conferencing: Multi-party participation with ease of clicking a button on the group chat for up to 50 people. Voice service is currently only available via VoIP for users outside of China.
Video Conferencing: High-definition video conferencing equipment for up to 16 parties, view conference status at a glance and easily switch between training and discussion mode, supports both desktop and file sharing. Video services is currently only available via VoIP for users outside of China.
Ding Mail: Effective email messaging and receive email notifications in chats. Ding Mail makes email messaging more like chats instead of threads.
Organization Chart: View organization’s structure in a glance, find people and contacts with ease.
Read/Unread Status: All types of messaging display read / unread statuses for improving communications efficiency.
Secret Chat: Send a traceless secret message for ultimate privacy and protection. Once read, the message automatically delete itself after 30 seconds. No Copy& Paste is allowed during Secret Chat mode. Both profiles within the Secret Chat are masked, hence the identities remain concealed.
DingTalk Office Automation Features
Attendance: User-friendly and smart Clocking-In and Out system, automatically generates attendance reports, approvals for business trips and leave are automatically.
Approvals: all your workplace tools in one place – requests for leaves, applications for business trips or reimbursements at the convenience of your phone. Recommended process templates are provided for each industry. Approval functions lets you view pending applications, keep track of all your approved applications and submit your own applications for approval.
Ding Drive: quick and easy file collaboration, integrated company chats, making sharing files between colleagues even easier. Easy and sharable files between companies through your external contacts or keep files only accessible to employees. Free storage for every registered organizations. Different permission settings available in regular chars, private chats or organization chats.
Check-In: More of a field-force feature. NO setup is required and it captures all check-in records in one report.
Log: View work reports from previous days, weeks or months to help identify problems
Announcement: Announcements can be made within your department / organization. Members will receive notifications once announcement has been posted.
DingTalk Collaboration Features
DING Message: Send important messages via SMS, phone or in the app ( DING message via phone is only available for a few customers and the function is available only to a “White List” of users and is not available to the general public)
DING Tasks: create and assign work tasks in seconds
DING Meetings: Book offline meetings, video conferences and conference calls (voice and video services are currently only available via VoIP for users outside of China)
External Contacts: Batch add from Phone Contacts / import from PC, Add manually or Scan Business Card to add external contacts to your DingTalk. Under the Scan Business Card function, all you need to do is scan the business card and all information will be automatically extracted and saved under External Contacts.
Hot Line: Local hotline number for customers in Malaysia is +603 20929588
Field Support: When required, DingTalk’s local team will provide onsite deployment service or training for organizations and companies.
DingTalk Smart Office Devices
Enterprises, small and large, can further leverage the capabilities of DingTalk with the addition of these DingTalk Smart office Devices :
With the C1 Smart Wi-Fi Router, users can complete the 4-step configuration in 5 minutes. With one-click setup and seamless roaming, the router enables smart network traffic control and supports up to 256 devices.
Besides screen sharing between offices powered by DingTalk, users can also use D6 Wireless HD Projector or V1 Wireless Portable Projector for presentation.
DingTalk enables enterprises to conveniently record attendance in the workplace and at external meetings with the M1 Finger Print Attendance Machine and M2 Facial Recognition Smart Receptionist.
DingTalk Price & Availability
Originally designed as a Chinese app, DingTalk is now available as an English app in Google Play Store, and the Apple App Store. It is also available on the desktop for Windows and Mac systems.
The native features of DingTalk are FREE for all enterprises to use, irrespective of their size. Optional third-party, or value added services (e.g. additional Ding Drive storage) may be applicable.
Singapore, April 4, 2016 — NVIDIA today announced that the three keynote addresses at its upcoming GPU Technology Conference (GTC) will be webcast live on the NVIDIA blog.
GTC 2016 Keynote Schedule
Day 1: Jen-Hsun Huang, NVIDIA co-founder and CEO, April 6, 12 to 2am (Singapore) Day 2: Rob High, IBM Watson CTO, April 7, 2 to 3am (Singapore) Day 3:Gill Pratt, Toyota Research Institute CEO, April 8, 2 to 3 am (Singapore)
GTC 2016 will showcase the vital role GPU technology plays in some of the industry’s biggest trends, including artificial intelligence, virtual reality and self-driving cars. This year’s event will feature more than 500 sessions with speakers from Alibaba, Audi, Baidu, Boeing, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Pixar, Raytheon, Samsung, Siemens, SpaceX and Twitter, among many others.
GTC 2016 also includes a day-long event, the Emerging Companies Summit, on April 6, focused on GPU-based startups. Nearly 100 startups will participate this year, including an onstage competition among a dozen companies vying for US$100,000. Many more startups will show VR, drones, robots, and other advanced technologies in the GTC Expo Hall.
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