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Artificial intelligence (AI) has had a tremendous impact on many areas of computing. As the technology matures, its influence continues to expand in the cloud computing world. AI is used by providers both to manage their resources and to offer advanced services to their customers. It is being woven into the fabric of computing services at a consistently increasing pace.

The symbiosis between AI and cloud computing promises to elevate the functionality and diversity of the products available from cloud providers. New solutions based on AI are being researched and developed that will result in major benefits to the scientific, healthcare, and business communities. Let’s look at a few of the ways AI and the complementary technology of machine learning (ML) are being used in cloud computing today and what developments lie just beyond the horizon.

Microsoft and FedEx Surround

Logistics giant FedEx has partnered with Microsoft to build a system for predicting package delivery delays. The platform, known as Surround, uses the artificial intelligence capabilities of Microsoft Azure to predict issues that may impact the ability of commercial shippers using the FedEx network to deliver goods to retailers. The system also promises to offer a more transparent method of tracking packages.

Surround can benefit organizations by allowing companies to move more merchandise. The tool enables a company to identify where demand for their products exist so that inventory can be moved to those locations. It also has demonstrated utility for streamlining the delivery of time-sensitive shipments such as those of medical equipment.

Amazon’s Lex and Polly

Amazon is using its cloud infrastructure and AI expertise to offer two innovative communication solutions. Amazon Lex leverages the advanced deep learning functionality of its trademark Alexa virtual assistant to build conversational interfaces that can be incorporated into applications using voice and text. Solutions using Lex can process and understand human speech so they can intelligently respond to user requests. Chatbots fulfilling a variety of roles have been developed with Lex including those used by call centers and banking applications.

Amazon Polly takes the opposite approach and enables applications to turn text into lifelike speech. AI and machine learning are responsible for improved speech quality and the ability for customers to use a newscaster or conversational speaking style so it meshes with their applications. Polly offers real-time streaming of high-quality voice output in male and female voices in a wide range of languages.

Indiana University and Jetstream 2

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Indiana University a $10 million grant to deploy a distributed cloud computing system that uses AI to power on-demand research and data analysis. The system offers researchers an easy to use supercomputing platform that will enable smaller academic institutions to access previously unavailable resources. Jetstream 2 was constructed to provide AI to every research initiative regardless of the project’s scale. With the increased focus of research intended to stem the COVID-19 virus, the additional resources available to scientists are sorely needed.

These are just a few examples of how AI and cloud computing are working together to solve problems across many market sectors and disciplines. The pace of innovation shows no signs of slowing down and promises a steady stream of cutting-edge solutions.

Last modified on Monday, 22 June 2020
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 Robert Agar

I am a freelance writer who graduated from Pace University in New York with a Computer Science degree in 1992. Over the course of a long IT career I have worked for a number of large service providers in a variety of roles revolving around data storage and protection. I currently reside in northeastern Pennsylvania where I write from my home office.

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