While writing my post the other day about tech companies and government contracts for AI., I started to realize how it’s a strange situation. The brands don’t seem to mix with the goals of the contracts.
Microsoft is the most normal seeming of the bunch, they are more of a B2B company that has probably been powering government for ages now. The Hololens is a way for them to be the computing platform of the future and make a play for being the dominant OS again. I would guess it’s the most brazen military use they’ve gone after, but they’re really just looking to become the military’s computing platform in the field. It fits.
Amazon and Google though. Those seem a bit…off.
Google’s involvement in Project Maven fits in that Big G dabbles in everything. They probably saw some interesting AI problem that could potentially be solved by a massive amount of compute and realized they could be paid for it. Also, identifying objects in an image via computer vision is basically a search problem. And search is kind of Google’s thing.
Amazon’s facial recognition efforts and push is really strange for a consumer retail and logistics company. But it makes a bit more sense if you view it as an AWS project. Even still, it just seems like a strange choice. Amazon is all about owning all aspects of the customer experience and positioning themselves as the only resource a consumer needs when it comes to shopping. Even AWS could be seen as a platform to power other companies in their serving of customers. Essentially getting a cut of any consumer activity that doesn’t happen on their platform. Rekognition is a weird fit. And for a company so focused on its reputation and having positive associations for customers, it seems like more of a potential liability than a win.
Ultimately these tech giants are becoming the new GEs. We may know them for a few specific things, but they appear to have designs on making money in every feasible way possible. Of course, that hasn’t worked out so great for GE in the long run so this could get interesting.