Silicon Valley, the most significant hub in the U.S. and home to leading innovations in the technology, has gone through a roller coaster ride since its inception. 2017 was no exception. Though many innovations sprung up from the Silicon Valley in 2017, they were overshadowed by the issues such fake news and complaints about sexual misconduct by female employees. One of the most significant hubs came under scrutiny and politicians due to these issues. These incidents have casted a shadow on all the innovative things taking place in the hub. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) along with increase in startups were good things taking place in the hub.
Major tech giants made significant breakthroughs in the field of AI. The top priority was given to development of AI systems and various initiatives were taken to make a mark. Google launched TensorFlow Lite, which is a lightweight version of its open-source machine-learning program. This helped in speeding up adoption of AI among companies. Facebook launched its own AI software, ParlAI, to enable companies build their own conversational AI systems.
There were advancements in AI hardware as well. Nvidia launched various GPU chips to enable companies develop machine learning applications. Moreover, the company launched AI-focused products to outline its creative applications. Google also revealed a machine learning chip, Cloud Tensor Processing Unit. Then it linked these TPUs in the cloud through high-speed connections to make powerful AI supercomputers.
There were major advancements in self driving vehicles and augmented reality. Alphabet-owned Waymo, Uber, Lyft, and other leading automobile companies unveiled their plans in the autonomous driving industry. While some of those companies conducted tests on public roads. In the augmented reality field, Google and Apple launched their own AR software development kits in an effort to bring technology to mass market. On the other hand, number of startups founded in the Silicon Valley in 2017 were more than ever before, according to the National Venture Capital Association and PitchBook.
Though there were many good news in the Valley in last year, there were bad news too. The Russian meddling in 2016 presidential elections was the highly debated topic. Though leading social media giant executives rejected the possibility of manipulation by Russian through advertising on their platforms, the ongoing investigation would reveal the truth. Moreover, these platforms have been receiving a lot of criticism over not being able to stop content that entices violence and spreads hate speech. In the wake of criticism, YouTube announced that it will increase its employee strength scrutinizing content that do not follow their guidelines.
Another important issue the tech hub faced was discrimination against women. Susan Fowler’s decision to stand up against the discrimination brought this issue to the notice of the world and it gained a lot of criticism. The post outlining culture at Uber resulted in an uproar and consequently, disbarring of Travis Kalanick from the chief executive of Uber. Along with the issue of sexism, there was an issue of sexual misconduct with female entrepreneurs from male venture capitalists and prominent figures in Silicon Valley.
2018 presents a huge challenge to the Valley to increase number of innovations and make breakthroughs in the field of AI and AR. In addition, it needs to keep a check on issues regarding sexism, sexual harassment, and fake news.