vor 11 Monaten

Berlin to go, english edition, 01/2019

  • Text
  • Intelligence
  • Berlin
  • Artificial
  • Amazon
  • Digital
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  • Germany
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IN PURSUIT OF INTELLIGENCE EFFICIENCY Dr. Ralf Herbrich heads a research team at Amazon tasked with forecasting customer wishes If you’ve ever noticed Alexa’s uncanny ability to play the perfect music to fit your mood, or if you’ve ever been shopping for a reading lamp on Amazon and suddenly had your favorite author’s latest book recommended to you, then it’s highly likely you’ve come into contact with the work of Dr. Ralf Herbrich and associated international development teams. Herbrich is a 44-year-old German with a doctorate in computer science from TU Berlin who – after studying at universities in Berlin and Cambridge and holding various positions at Microsoft and Facebook – is now director of Machine Learning at Amazon. As a globally renowned expert for artificial intelligence (AI), he is responsible for teaching computers how to see, hear and speak. He aims to achieve something that seemed impossible only a few years ago; the ability to predict the probability of future events. MR HERBRICH, WHEN YOU COMPLETED YOUR DOCTORATE IN MACHINE LEARNING 20 YEARS AGO AT TU BERLIN, THE SUBJECT WAS STILL CONSIDERED OF SECONDARY IMPORTANCE. WHAT CAPTIVATED YOU ABOUT AI? I carried out my university studies based on a vision of the future that didn’t exist at the time. Back then, I had to dream up all the things that were going to happen. And now those things are actually becoming a reality. The greatest hurdle we faced 20 years ago was the limited processing power of computers; today, we have that power in unlimited supply thanks to the cloud. Amazon currently has thousands of researchers and developers working on AI all over the globe. Each one of them is a specialist in the field, which shows how popular and important AI is at Amazon. This is one of the key things I like about Amazon’s DNA. It’s the drive to invent and develop something new, something once considered impossible. This never stops fascinating me. YOU ONCE SAID IN AN INTERVIEW: “THE EXCITING THING ABOUT MACHINE LEAR­ NING IS THAT IT ALLOWS YOU TO APPLY SCIENCE DIRECTLY.” HOW EXACTLY IS IT BEING APPLIED AT AMAZON TODAY? Artificial intelligence and in particular machine learning are an integral part of many products and services at Amazon. In fact, it’s probably easier to count the number of products and services that operate without artificial intelligence at Amazon than those that already use the technology. For example, machine learning allows us to generate precisely forecast the demand. Amazon has developed algorithms that can make predictions for the next season. This is a key factor in being able to order the right goods in the right amount in stock and to deliver them in time to customers. 11

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