We’re Now in the Age of AI, NVIDIA’s Ian Buck Says

by Brian Caulfield

AI has broken out of the lab. It’s transforming industries. It’s changing how we get to work and how doctors diagnose disease. And now it promises to help prevent illnesses and speed up relief efforts after natural disasters.

Kicking off the Washington edition of our GPU Technology Conference Tuesday — our fourth such show in just over a month — NVIDIA Vice President for Accelerated Computing Ian Buck announced a partnership between NVIDIA and Carnegie Mellon University to create AI technologies that can help during disasters.

“We’re now in the age of AI, where every industry will be enabled and powered by AI,” Buck told an audience of more than 2,000 developers, entrepreneurs and federal employees at the start of the two-day GTC DC event. Buck dug deep into examples ranging from autonomous vehicles to mortgage finance to medical images.

In an hour-long talk punctuated with news, Buck also announced a partnership with the Scripps Research Institute to accelerate AI applications using genomic and digital health sensor data, and that Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux operating system and Kubernetes platform are now available on the NVIDIA DGX-1 supercomputer.

Buck made it clear AI continues making big leaps forward in everything from image processing to language processing to decision making. And it’s an open opportunity, too, he said, inviting conference attendees to learn more about how to apply AI to solve important challenges in their fields.

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In image processing, for example, AI has moved from being able to do classification, detection and segmentation, to being able to enhance pixelated or blurry images. “This is basically the magical enhance button we’ve seen in Hollywood,” Buck said. “Neural networks can do this today.”

This is technology that, put to work in medicine, can save lives. Buck showed how AI can enhance scans of the inside of the body to show the lungs, liver, and blood vessels in stunning detail. “We’ll be in the world of Star Trek where you can be in the same room with your doctor as he looks inside you,” Buck said drawing applause from the crowd.

NVIDIA’s also working to broaden the use of GPUs — already common in scientific computing and deep learning — by bringing them to data analytics with RAPIDS, an open-source platform that promises to dramatically accelerate the work of the world’s data scientists.

Buck walked through a powerful example of how this works, showing how the GPU-powered open source analytics system can quickly crunch through more than 145 million mortgages to create a stunning visual map of the United States highlighting markets where mortgages might be most at risk.

“This is an area where a mortgage company can go in and, perhaps, proactively offer refinancing,” Buck said, potentially saving borrowers — and lenders — money.

Power Players Learn About Power of AI

Buck’s talk comes ahead of a keynote Wednesday from U.S. Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent. Her talk promises to be another highlight for a conference packed with representatives from federal agencies — among them, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and DARPA.

These agencies are major global players in science and technology. To name one example, Summit and Sierra, a pair of GPU-powered machines completed this year, represent an investment of $325 million. Summit is easily the world’s fastest supercomputer.

The latest edition of GTC — following gatherings in Tokyo, Munich, Tel Aviv, and others — brings together leaders from the public and private sectors for panel discussions about AI policy, and 150 talks about applying AI to a wide range of applications, from healthcare and cybersecurity to self-driving cars and autonomous machines.

In addition to Buck and Kent, notable speakers include:

  • Heidi King, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • James Kurose, assistant director for computer and information science and engineering at the National Science Foundation
  • Derek Kan, undersecretary of transportation for policy at the Department of Transportation
  • Elizabeth Jones, acting director for radiology and imaging sciences for the National Institutes of Health
  • Missye Brickell from the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
  • Bakul Patel, associate center director for digital health at the Food and Drug Administration
  • Melissa Froelich, chief counsel of at the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Leaders from the public and private sector will participate in panel discussions to discuss policy issues for:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
  • American Leadership in AI Research
  • The Keys to Deploying Self-Driving Cars
  • How AI Can Improve Citizen Services
  • AI for Healthcare
  • Transforming Agriculture with AI