Nvidia CroppedNvidia Poised to Make Largest Acquisition in its History

Nvidia announced this week that it will buy Mellanox, a maker of advanced tech equipment, for nearly $7 billion.

“It is easily the largest acquisition in Nvidia’s two-decade-plus history as a public company,”writes Jeremy C. Owens, technology editor at MarketWatch. Nvidia and Mellanox have collaborated on projects in the past, working together on two of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

“Nvidia will use Mellanox’s gear to boost its server business. Nvidia has developed its graphics chips into workhorses for machine learning, stacking them into data centers that offer artificial-intelligence power in the cloud,” writes Owens. “Now it will be able to offer customers even more gear for those data centers, and potentially be able to combine the technologies in new ways.”

Us v China Technology CroppedDARPA Aims to Keep U.S. Ahead of China Tech Innovation

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) offered the public a tantalizing glance at some of the innovative new projects its working on to push the boundaries of AI and keep the U.S. ahead of China in technology development.

The DARPA projects include innovation in machine learning and new chips that reconfigure themselves to adapt to new situations. But will DARPA’s efforts be enough? The projects mentioned are part of a $2 billion plan that will unfold over five years.

“Since DARPA’s inception in 1957, it’s had something of a mixed track record, with many projects failing to deliver big breakthroughs. But the agency has had some notable successes. In the ’60s, it developed a networking technology that eventually evolved into the internet. More recently, it funded a personal-assistant project that led to Siri, the AI helper acquired by Apple in 2011,” writes Will Knight in the MIT Technology Review.

Antitrust Laws RoundedTim Wu Pushes for Tougher Antitrust Enforcement

Legal scholar Tim Wu has joined the rising chorus of voices calling for stricter enforcement of U.S. antitrust laws. The antitrust movement is gaining traction as more people question the commitment of large tech firms to safeguard personal data privacy.

“Today, judges evaluating antitrust claims tend not to look at how many competitors a company has, or how much influence it has over the economy, but simply at whether a company's business practices have raised prices for consumers. That left companies like Google and Facebook, which offer their main services for free, largely free from oversight even as they acquired competitors and amassed enormous power over the information people see,” writes Klint Finley in Wired.

Finley’s article is definitely worth reading. I predict that discussions about data privacy will become louder and more divisive the next two years leading up to the elections in 2020.

Pentagon Project Maven RoundedSecretive Project Maven is Back in the Headlines

Project Maven returned to the spotlight with the revelation that Anduril Industries, a tech firm founded by entrepreneur Palmer Luckey, won a bid to work with the Pentagon on the secretive initiative.

Maven’s goal is helping the U.S. military leverage AI techniques developed in the private sector. From my perspective, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea, but it has sparked heated debate in the tech community.

“Last year, Google’s involvement with Project Maven stirred a controversy inside the tech giant. The company had signed a contract with the Defense Department to develop artificial intelligence that could interpret video images in order to improve drone targeting. But after the contract’s disclosure sparked an internal rebellion among employees, Google allowed its contract to expire. The Google flap and the wider military drive to adopt commercial artificial intelligence technology unleashed a fierce debate among tech companies about their role in society and ethics around advanced computing,” writes Lee Fang in The Intercept.