AI Talk: Cloud kitchen, AI poet, street view to insurance

May 10, 2019 / By V. “Juggy” Jagannathan, PhD

This week’s AI Talk…

Google Street View

A few years ago, researchers from Stanford and other institutions published a study that made use of Google Street View images. They showed that the images can predict the income level of the household, whether they voted Democratic or Republican and various other attributes simply by looking at the cars people owned! Two years later, a different group of researchers, this time from Stanford and University of Warsaw in Poland, used similar data from Poland and managed to predict who was likely to have an accident claim by analyzing the type of house the policy holder owned. The insurance company provided the address, the maps and images from Google Street View. Deep learning algorithms are  added to the recipe and you get pretty decent predictions on who is likely to be involved in an accident, all without knowledge of the person they are investigating! It is possible they are running afoul of some GDPR provisions in Europe if the insurance company starts doing this type of analysis, but in the U.S. all bets are off. If your insurance rate goes up, you can blame it on where you live!


Who said AI is only used for solving real-world problems? It can also be used to entertain and amuse! Ms. Devlin, a poet, collaborated with Google to create a language model for poems. They have parlayed this model into an app that creates your own personalized poem fashioned after 19th century poets. This is the same technology (predictive typing) which we use in a variety of apps we have developed in speech and NLP. You provide the app with a word and it takes a picture of you and generates a few lines of poetry and overlays it onto the picture. I typed in “laugh.” You can see the result below. Interesting!

Cloud kitchen?

I was having breakfast in Bangalore, India with a colleague and friend, and he mentioned that now having a “cloud” kitchen is a big deal in India. I immediately had visions of a kitchen in a space station and people saying “beam me a pizza.” Well, the reality is much more grounded. And, as this article points out, there are literally half a dozen business models around this concept of cloud kitchens. The idea of the cloud kitchen is that it separates the space where food is prepared from where it needs to be delivered for consumption. With that separation, location is no longer a concern. The kitchen can be in a low-rent district in a city. In one of the models, food ordering is handled by a smartphone app and food delivery handled by traditional means. In another model, if a chain has multiple outlets, the cooking happens in a central location and is delivered to the other sites. This model has clearly taken off in India. It’s only a matter of time before it comes here as well. Perhaps it already has, and I am just unaware of this concept!


My colleague, Dan Walker pointed me to the articles in Technology Review related to the use of Google Street View. My colleague in Bangalore, Kishen Rai, informed me about the concept of a cloud kitchen.

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V. “Juggy” Jagannathan, PhD, is Vice President of Research for M*Modal, with four decades of experience in AI and Computer Science research.