Intel and Microsoft Promote Security Standard for AI

Last week, Intel and Microsoft brought together nearly 100 security and Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts to discuss new standards for Homomorphic Encryption (HE), which is emerging as a leading method to protect privacy in machine learning and cloud computing. The HE standards workshop took place on Intel’s Santa Clara, California campus. Following the first meeting in October, 2018, Intel and Microsoft initiated the founding of the HomomorphicEncryption.org group.

As more data is collected and used to power AI systems, concerns about privacy are on the rise. Casimir Wierzynski from the office of the CTO of AI Products Group at Intel, said that Intel is collaborating with Microsoft Research and Duality Technologies on standardizing HE, “to unlock the power of AI while still protecting data privacy.”

Fully homomorphic encryption, or simply homomorphic encryption, refers to a class of encryption methods envisioned by Rivest, Adleman, and Dertouzos already in 1978, and first constructed by Craig Gentry in 2009. Homomorphic encryption differs from typical encryption methods in that it allows computation to be performed directly on encrypted data without requiring access to a secret key. The result of such a computation remains in encrypted form, and can at a later point be revealed by the owner of the secret key.

It allows AI computation on encrypted data, thus enabling data scientists and researchers to gain valuable insights without decrypting or exposing the underlying data or models. This is particularly useful in instances where data may be sensitive – such as with medical or financial data.  Homomorphic encryption also enables training models directly on encrypted data, without exposing its content. Such encryption would enable researchers to operate on data in a secure and private way, while still delivering insightful results.

Walmart Acquired Natural Language Startup Aspectiva

Walmart adopts Artificial Intelligence software to enhance the end-to-end shopping experience. The company announced that it has acquired Aspectiva, an Israeli-based start-up from Tel aviv, for an undisclosed sum of money. Aspectiva will be joining Walmart’s Store N8, the incubation arm launched by the retailer in 2017 to uncover the ideas that will transform the future of commerce.

Aspectiva has built an Artificial Intelligence software suite to analyzes consumer opinions and turning them into valuable insights in order to help eCommerce visitors to make informed decisions resulting in increased online conversion rates. By applying deep Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning, Aspectiva surfaces what people say about any product and understands what they feel about it. The software automatically identifies product attributes shoppers talk about by analyzing massive volumes of user generated content.

Aspectiva was founded in 2013 by Ezra Daya, Eyal Hurwitz and Yoad Arad. Prior to founding Aspectiva, The CEO Ezra Daya managed the global Text Analytics group at NICE Systems. The CTO Eyal Hurwitz is also a veteran of NICE Systems where he served as a senior scientist and led innovative initiatives, including international collaborations. Yoad Arad, VP Business Development, held senior sales roles at Clicktale, McAfee (Intel Security) and ECI.

“Aspectiva has developed incredibly sophisticated machine learning techniques and natural language processing capabilities, which are areas we believe will have profound impact on how customers will shop in the future,” said Lori Flees, Principal of Store N8. This is not the first activity for Walmart with Israeli-based technology companies. It has also made a strategic investment in Team8, an Israeli think tank and tech incubator, launched a joint venture with Eko, an interactive media and technology company with offices in Tel Aviv and New York, and recently joined The Bridge, a technology accelerator connecting global companies with the start-up community in Israel.