So Ali Farhadi, founder and CEO of Xnor, said if AI is so easy, why isn’t there any in this room?” and there seems to be some truth in it. despite a handful of displays, phones and other gadgets, the only things really capable of doing any kind of AI-type work are the phones each of us have set on the table.
Yet we are always hearing about how AI is so accessible now, so flexible, so ubiquitous. And in many cases, even those devices that can aren’t employing machine learning techniques themselves, but rather sending data off to the cloud where it can be done more efficiently. Because the processes that make up “AI” are often resource-intensive, sucking up CPU time and battery power. The team achieved that, and Xnor’s hyper-efficient ML models are now integrated into a variety of devices and businesses. As a follow-up, the team set their sights higher — or lower, depending on your perspective.
Answering his own question on the dearth of AI-enabled devices, Farhadi pointed to the battery pack in the demo gadget they made to show off the Pi Zero platform and explained: “This thing right here. Power.”
Power was the bottleneck they overcame to get AI onto CPU- and power-limited devices like phones and the Pi Zero. So the team came up with a crazy goal: Why not make an AI platform that doesn’t need a battery at all? Less than a year later, they’d done it. The device Farhadi and hardware engineering head Saman Naderiparizi showed, is very simple — and necessarily so. A tiny camera with a 320×240 resolution, an FPGA loaded with the object recognition model, a bit of memory to handle the image and camera software and a small solar cell. A very simple wireless setup lets it send and receive data at a very modest rate.
This is sure a next gen chip.
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