AT&T's Gilbert on the hunt for AI solutions through a contest co-sponsored with Tech Mahindra

AT&T is teaming up with Tech Mahindra and the Linux Foundation to sponsor an AI contest. (Pixabay)

In this Q&A, AT&T's Mazin Gilbert talks about his company's sponsorship of an artificial intelligence contest and how the telco is using AI.

AT&T and Tech Mahindra are working with the Linux Foundation to sponsor the Acumos AI Challenge, which is an open source developer contest that seeks to spur the growth of artificial intelligence solutions.

The AI competition is open to students, developers and data scientists who wish to submit their AI solutions for the opportunity to win cash prizes and industry recognition. AT&T and Tech Mahindra plan to award $100,000 in prizes and the finalists will have the chance to travel to San Francisco to pitch their potential winning AI solutions on Sept. 11.

The top three teams will each win $25,000 in cash while the team that wins the final will take home an additional $25,000 grand prize for a total score of $50,000.

The finalists could also land meetings with AT&T and Tech Mahindra executives. All of the eligible AI entries will be available as open source in the Acumos Marketplace. The AI solutions can be entered in the following categories; 5G and SDN, media and entertainment, security, and enterprise.

While AI is red hot, unfortunately, AI developers don't grow on trees, which might be why AT&T and Tech Mahindra are sponsoring a competition. AT&T and Tech Mahindra are sponsoring the competition in hopes of speeding up the adoption and innovation of AI, but sowing the fields for more AI developers can't hurt. Huawei released a study on Wednesday that said the lack of AI developers could hamper its growth.

AT&T and Tech Mahindra announced in October of last year that were teaming up on the AI and machine learning Acumos platform with the goal of putting it in to open source.

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Acumos, which is hosted by the Linux Foundation's LF Deep Learning Foundation, was created to simplify the development of AI while also providing a marketplace for accessing, using and enhancing AI apps. Acumos went live in March in conjunction with the Open Networking Summit.

Gilbert, vice president of advanced technology, AT&T Labs, answered a few questions about the competition via email.

FierceTelecom: What area are you looking forward to judging the most?

Mazin Gilbert: We are really looking forward to reviewing innovative solutions across all use cases, and don’t want to limit developer creativity. We are particularly interested in AI solutions around 5G, networking, enterprise analytics, and media and entertainment. However other areas of AI and ML will be welcomed.

FierceTelecom: Enterprise solutions is a broad topic, do you think most of the entries will be around IoT?

Gilbert: It wouldn’t surprise us if there are a large number of AI solutions for IoT, as there’s been a large developer focus on IoT over the past few years. However, we envision that there will be interest across other domains such as automotive, home automation, infrastructure, manufacturing, real estate, retail, travel, transportation and logistics.

FierceTelecom: What AI solution would you like to see for security?

Gilbert: We’re really open to any interesting application, but obvious areas of interest are related to threat analytics and cybersecurity.

FierceTelecom: What has changed since AT&T and Tech Mahindra put Acumos into open source?

Gilbert: It’s a fast-moving project. Acumos triggered the start of a Linux Foundation umbrella where we have over 10 company members already. The Acumos project has been fast at work in expanding the marketplace, extending the platform and user experience, and planning for a first open source release later this year.

FierceTelecom: How is AT&T currently implementing AI?

Gilbert: We are using AI across all platforms in AT&T. We have already demonstrated the ability of Acumos to connect with ONAP and ECOMP to support closed loop automation of an operational use case. We continue to drive AI across all other businesses to support Indigo, 5G, and SDN, among others.