Cogitai, Sony’s Investment in AI
Sony announced its plans to build up on its artificial intelligence (AI) business. They plan to turn it into a major revenue source starting by investing in a U.S startup. Sony has invested a sum yet unknown in a company called Cogitai to focus on next-generation artificial intelligence (AI). Cogitai was only founded last year, but has some of the brightest brains in the business with the aim to develop technology “that empowers machines to learn continually from interaction with the real world, enabling everyday things that sense and act to get smarter, more skilled, and more knowledgeable with experience”.
Cogitai was founded in September 2015 by three leading AI researchers, Mark Ring (CEO of Cogitai, and a pioneer in continual learning and reinforcement learning), Peter Stone (President and COO of Cogitai, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and a leader in reinforcement learning, multiagent systems and robotics), and Satinder Singh Baveja (Chief Scientist and CTO of Cogitai, a professor at the University of Michigan, and a leader in reinforcement learning, intrinsic motivation, and the combination of deep learning and reinforcement learning). The company aims to develop AI technology that empowers machines to learn continually from interaction with the real world, enabling everyday things that sense and act to get smarter, more skilled, and more knowledgeable with experience. In addition to its distinguished founders, Cogitai has also assembled a “Brain Trust” consisting of a number of the world’s best academics in AI, who will be actively engaged in technology development.
Sony, of course, has a long pedigree in this area such as the AIBO robot dog that first appeared in 1999. Existing Sony AI technologies include Augmented Reality within the Xperia “AR Effect” app and activity recognition used in the Lifelog app. More recent developments include the Xperia Agent, which responds to user’s voice and provides useful information.
Then in March 2016 Sony’s Future Lab Program unveiled Project N, a neckband-style wearable device that provides a totally hands-free interactive interface for accessing music and audio information, without the need for an earpiece. It will be fascinating to see how Sony develops this technology in future products.
“From an objective perspective, we are lagging behind,” Chief Executive Hiroaki Kitano at Sony Computer Science Laboratories said in an interview.
“But there are still unexplored areas – some in cyberspace but vastly more in the physical world,” Kitano said. “And we have a number of products in the physical world. We make hardware. That’s our strength.”
Dr. Hiroaki Kitano further said “We believe that AI will be incorporated into numerous products and will eventually become commonplace. From this perspective the collaboration between Cogitai and Sony is a major milestone for the next wave of AI”