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AI Acquisitions by Big Tech Firms Are Happening at a Blistering Pace: 2019 Recent Data by CBI Insights

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

Recent report from CBI Insights shows the rapid pace at which the biggest tech firms (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon) are acquiring artificial intelligence (AI) startups, potentially confounding the AI talent shortage that exists.

The link to the report and free download is given here at https://www.cbinsights.com/research/top-acquirers-ai-startups-ma-timeline/

Part of the report:

TECH GIANTS LEAD IN AI ACQUISITIONS

The usual suspects are leading the race for AI: tech giants like Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, & Apple (FAMGA) have all been aggressively acquiring AI startups in the last decade.

Among the FAMGA companies, Apple leads the way, making 20 total AI acquisitions since 2010. It is followed by Google (the frontrunner from 2012 to 2016) with 14 acquisitions and Microsoft with 10.

Apple’s AI acquisition spree, which has helped it overtake Google in recent years, was essential to the development of new iPhone features. For example, FaceID, the technology that allows users to unlock their iPhone X just by looking at it, stems from Apple’s M&A moves in chips and computer vision, including the acquisition of AI company RealFace.

In fact, many of FAMGA’s prominent products and services came out of acquisitions of AI companies — such as Apple’s Siri, or Google’s contributions to healthcare through DeepMind.

That said, tech giants are far from the only companies snatching up AI startups.

Since 2010, there have been 635 AI acquisitions, as companies aim to build out their AI capabilities and capture sought-after talent (as of 8/31/2019).

The pace of these acquisitions has also been increasing. AI acquisitions saw a more than 6x uptick from 2013 to 2018, including last year’s record of 166 AI acquisitions — up 38% year-over-year.

In 2019, there have already been 140+ acquisitions (as of August), putting the year on track to beat the 2018 record at the current run rate.

Part of this increase in the pace of AI acquisitions can be attributed to a growing diversity in acquirers. Where once AI was the exclusive territory of major tech companies, today, smaller AI startups are becoming acquisition targets for traditional insurance, retail, and healthcare incumbents.

For example, in February 2018, Roche Holding acquired New York-based cancer startup Flatiron Health for $1.9B — one of the largest M&A deals in artificial intelligence. This year, Nike acquired AI-powered inventory management startup Celect, Uber acquired computer vision company Mighty AI, and McDonald’s acquired personalization platform Dynamic Yield.

Despite the increased number of acquirers, however, tech giants are still leading the charge. Acquisitive tech giants have emerged as powerful global corporations with a competitive advantage in artificial intelligence, and startups have played a pivotal role in helping these companies scale their AI initiatives.

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Intel, and Amazon are the most active acquirers of AI startups, each acquiring 7+ companies.

To read more on recent Acquisitions in the AI space please see the following articles on this Open Access Online Journal

Diversification and Acquisitions, 2001 – 2015: Trail known as “Google Acquisitions” – Understanding Alphabet’s Acquisitions: A Sector-By-Sector Analysis

Clarivate Analytics expanded IP data leadership by new acquisition of the leading provider of intellectual property case law and analytics Darts-ip

2019 Biotechnology Sector and Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

Forbes Opinion: 13 Industries Soon To Be Revolutionized By Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence and Cardiovascular Disease

Multiple Barriers Identified Which May Hamper Use of Artificial Intelligence in the Clinical Setting

Top 12 Artificial Intelligence Innovations Disrupting Healthcare by 2020

The launch of SCAI – Interview with Gérard Biau, director of the Sorbonne Center for Artificial Intelligence (SCAI).

 

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Amazon.com and their Top 1000 Reviewers

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

VIEW VIDEO

There Are No Free Lunches When it Comes to Reviewing

Filip Kesler, a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur, and Trevor Pinch of Cornell University’s Department of Science and Technology Studies, completed a systematic study of Amazon.com and their top 1000 reviewers. Their research focuses on a baffling notion that Amazon, essentially, has people working for them for free.  How is it that Amazon, in its immensity, could be receiving a “free lunch” from all of the individuals that write reviews for the website? We’ve all been told countless times, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch!” So, what’s the catch? Pinch and Kesler found that reviewers are indeed receiving something in return, although it might not be what you expect.

Amazon.com: Humble Beginnings

What started in a garage in 1994, as a email store for retailing books, has grown into one of the largest online retailers in the world of online commerce.  Amazon now offers consumers much more than books, evolving from exclusively being an online literary-style book seller to the largest electronic retailer on the internet. Their goals these days is to sell everything and encourage product reviews of, literally, everything. Initially, Amazon hired editors to write features and reviews but discovered that people would review for free. After trying to fix glitches in the review system, such as total reviewer anonymity, flaws still exist in a model that many businesses view as the Gold Standard. Customer reviews are being plagiarized, fake reviews are popping up everywhere. According to the study, anyone who is a registered customer can write a review without any obligation from Amazon to have bought the item that’s under review.

Do Good, Feel Good

A copious amount of time is being spent behind a keyboard writing reviews, Pinch and Kesler report. The average time spent reviewing is 9 years. One Amazon reviewer reported having reviewed consistently for 13 years. With this, specific methodologies have been formulated in regards to review writing. Reviews must be honest and fair, the respondents report. A reviewers job “is to help people make a decision, not make it for them” through justifying an opinion with facts instead of quickly stating a personal one.

In sum, 166 of the top reviewers responded to the study, each taking great pride in their reviews. Surprisingly, their responses lent a different return upon investment than expected in the “free lunch” conversation. “Self expression” and “enjoyment” were ranked highly when respondents were asked why they chose to write reviews. “Altruism” and developing a “sense of community” followed close behind. Along with the sense of community comes an overwhelming care about their rank and reputation as a reviewer. Admittedly, in the “real world” reviewer recognition “is not a big deal, but it is an important deal in a community.” Features such as Amazon Friends have brought reviewers closer and have begun to influence their reasons and techniques for reviewing.
A sense of self accomplishment is given to some reviewers. “I like the fact that I rank high, I don’t rank much higher anywhere else in life.” said one respondent. Another admitted, “I have often said that Amazon ‘saved me’ because it gave me back my passion for writing. In all honesty my Amazon rank has become the foundation of my self worth. I work at a library, but I consider myself a reviewer first and foremost- and that badge tells me that I am accomplishing something.”

Someone’s Getting Free Merchandise?

In addition to self-fulfillment, respondents also reported being offered free merchandise in exchange for reviews. According to the study, 85% of respondents report being sent free

books or other products to review by publishers, authors and the like. A large number of reviews by higher-ranked reviewers are indeed for books they have been given free. “The fact is that most readers of these reviews do not know that there is any relationship at all, never mind a direct one, between the producer of the product and the reviewer” the study states.

Overwhelmingly, Amazon.com reviewers “really care about books (and music and movies) and reviewing them. It’s a form of work that can on occasions become frustrating and even addictive. It’s a form of work that can bring rewards beyond the activity itself in terms of utilitarian benefits that can accumulate to some top reviewers.”

Our Take on the Conversation

The truth of the matter is this: putting so much emphasis on being a reviewer is scary. Instead of being a tool for businesses, the review is morphed into a payback for a free lunch, and sometimes the need for a massive chocolate cake for dessert. Too much emphasis on identity and self-fulfillment breaks the fundamental reason for reviewing: having both informed consumers and informed businesses.

The practice of sending reviewers free merchandise to review, although not against Amazon’s online review guidelines, is questionable. According to the study reviewers, after having read a book or tried a product, usually don’t post negative reviews, or they give authors the option of what they want done. Overwhelmingly, authors are choosing to refuse to have the negative review out in public. The study found that more than 80 percent of the reviews on the site were positive all because 85 percent of these reviewers receive free product to review. Many
reviewers thus are only posting positive reviews, even when negative ones should be transparent. It’s indisputably true that online reviewers are indeed being influenced by outside factors. Without diving to the bottom of the ethics pool and opening a whole new can of worms, in essence, this can’t be a good thing.

Whether the reward is tangible or intangible, the age old adage holds true. There really is no such thing as a free lunch. Amazon.com and its reviewers are living proof.

To view Trevor Pinch’s delivery of this study at Cornell’s ILR Conference Center in Midtown Manhattan click here.

http://www.trureview.com/blog/2013/10/theres-no-such-thing-as-a-free-lunch/

 

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Our FIRST e-Book on Amazon

(Biomed e-Books) [Kindle Edition]

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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DINFFYC

Perspectives on Nitric Oxide in Disease Mechanisms

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DINFFYC

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Report: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

 

What’s the truth? The money behind online reviews

Updated: Monday, 20 May 2013, 11:30 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 20 May 2013, 11:15 PM EDT

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Online reviews are gaining in popularity, but users may not always be getting the truth when they click on a link.

24-Hour News 8 investigated an underground economy where people are paying for online reviews.

Indiana University researchers Minaxi Gupta and Robert Hoyle recently conducted a study on fraudulent reviews.

“There is a whole economy behind writing fraudulent reviews, and people paying these review writers,” explained Gupta, an assistant professor of computer science.

The researchers pointed out a website called fiverr.com , where everything sells for five dollars: including fraudulent reviews.

One post says, “I will buy your Amazon product and write your review for five dollars.”

Another states, “I will do post two nice and attractive Amazon reviews.”

For their study, Gupta and Hoyle bought 55 reviews for different products they found on Amazon.

“We took all their fraudulent reviews, and then we studied their characteristics,” explained Gupta.

They found the people who were writing the reviews for money were from all over the world: from the U.S, to Ireland, to India, to Bangladesh.

“In general, it is getting harder to distinguish good from the bad on the web,” said Gupta.

They say there are clues to help consumers understand what’s real and what’s fake.

Gupta and Hoyle recommend looking on Amazon for a label on reviews: “Amazon Verified Product.” That means the reviewer actually bought the product, and the review is more likely real.

They recommend looking at what else the reviewer has written. Hoyle found one reviewer copy and pasted the same review on multiple CDs.

Another potential warning sign: If a reviewer gives all five-star reviews within a short period of time. They may be getting paid to post positive reviews.

“You have to use a lot more judgment, and increasingly the notion of reputation will become more and more important,” said Gupta. “We are starting to see this.”

In Gupta and Hoyle’s study, they estimate 257,000 reviews on Amazon (or about 1 percent) are fraudulent. Their goal long-term is to develop a program to entirely eliminate fake reviews.

Researchers at Cornell University recently published a paper on their research that created a computer program to find fake reviewers. Click here to see that paper.

Rob Slaven reviews books — not for the money, but for the love of reading. He gets to keep every book he reviews.

“The books I’ve reviewed, I’ve tried to be devastatingly honest,” said Slaven.

If you look at all of his reviews, you’ll see a line he adds, disclosing he got the book for doing the review. He also gets feedback — positive and negative — for each review he posts.

He knows not everyone is as honest as he is, but says he’ll keep up his side of the bargain.

“I’m not going to say something that’s not true,” explained Slaven. “It would be me misleading people. Me, misleading people like me.”

Review sites say they’re fighting fraud. Yelp representatives say they’ve always had a review filter to keep fake content out. They also recently started posting a giant red “consumer alert” sign on businesses that tried to mislead people. Amazon also has a flagging system.

But, researchers say not all fake reviews are caught. It’s a disappointing, but not surprising, revelation for honest reviewers.

“Customers go on Amazon in order to get trustworthy reviews, and to get candid opinions,” said Slaven.

Federal Trade Commission spokeswoman Betsy Lordan tells 24-Hour News 8 that paying for online reviews is legal,  as long as the reviewer explains they’ve been compensated.

Of course, with the reviews 24-Hour News 8 discovered, there’s been no disclosure.

Lordan says that means the advertiser isn’t complying with federal advertising law, and could face charges from the FTC. The charges would be civil, so they would face a fine or bans against certain online behavior. Click on this example to see what happened to one company that used its employees to write reviews.

http://www.wishtv.com/dpp/news/indiana/whats-the-truth-the-money-behind-online-reviews

 

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