Hyatt Hotels appoints new Global Head of Digital
Chicago-based multinational hospitality company Hyatt Hotels has announced the appointment of Julia Vander Ploeg as its new Senior Vice President (SVP) and Global Head of Digital.
“Julia is a dynamic and reputable leader in the digital space and will play a critical part in helping re-imagine Hyatt’s digital capabilities and increase the frequency and depth of engagement with our guests,” said Mark Vondrasek, Global Chief Commercial Officer of Hyatt Hotels.
Vander Ploeg has held a number of similar roles throughout major organisations previously, most recently standing as the SVP of Digital and Business Transformation at Volvo, whilst also having been appointed in leadership positions at McDonalds, Ticketmaster, United Airlines and the Chicago Tribune.
“Her proven track record of creating high-quality digital experiences across all touchpoints, particularly mobile, makes her an ideal fit for the role and will advance our ability to build meaningful, direct guest relationships,” Vondrasek continued.
In her new role, Vander Ploeg will be responsible for overseeing the company’s digital strategy that will aim to enhance the firm’s technological capabilities and accelerate its transformation initiative.
This will include managing the revenue obtained from Hyatt’s digital channels and further enhancing customer experience using advances in technology and other investments.
“I am thrilled to be joining the team at such an important time in Hyatt’s digital evolution,” said Vander Ploeg. “By accelerating digital platforms and channels, we will grow the value of Hyatt brands.”
Google AI Designs Next-Gen Chips In Under 6 Hours
In a Google-Nature paper published on Wednesday, the company announced that AI will be able to design chips in less than six hours. Humans currently take months to design and layout the intricate chip wiring. Although the tech giant has been working in silence on the technology for years, this is the first time that AI-optimised chips have hit the mainstream—and that the company will sell the result as a commercial product.
“Our method has been used in production to design the next generation of Google TPU (tensor processing unit chips)”, the paper’s authors, Azalea Mirhoseini and Anna Goldie wrote. The TPU v4 chips are the fastest Google system ever launched. “If you’re trying to train a large AI/ML system, and you’re using Google’s TensorFlow, this will be a big deal”, said Jack Gold, President and Principal Analyst at J.Gold Associates.
Training the Algorithm
In a process called reinforcement learning, Google engineers used a set of 10,000 chip floor plans to train the AI. Each example chip was assigned a score of sorts based on its efficiency and power usage, which the algorithm then used to distinguish between “good” and “bad” layouts. The more layouts it examines, the better it can generate versions of its own.
Designing floor plans, or the optimal layouts for a chip’s sub-systems, takes intense human effort. Yet floorplanning is similar to an elaborate game. It has rules, patterns, and logic. In fact, just like chess or Go, it’s the ideal task for machine learning. Machines, after all, don’t follow the same constraints or in-built conditions that humans do; they follow logic, not preconception of what a chip should look like. And this has allowed AI to optimise the latest chips in a way we never could.
As a result, AI-generated layouts look quite different to what a human would design. Instead of being neat and ordered, they look slightly more haphazard. Blurred photos of the carefully guarded chip designs show a slightly more chaotic wiring layout—but no one is questioning its efficiency. In fact, Google is starting to evaluate how it could use AI in architecture exploration and other cognitively intense tasks.
Major Implications for the Semiconductor Sector
Part of what’s impressive about Google’s breakthrough is that it could throw Moore’s Law, the axion that the number of transistors on a chip doubles every five years, out the window. The physical difficulty of squeezing more CPUs, GPUs, and memory on tiny silicon die will still exist, but AI optimisation may help speed up chip performance.
Any chance that AI can help speed up current chip production is welcome news. Though the U.S. Senate recently passed a US$52bn bill to supercharge domestic semiconductor supply chains, its largest tech firms remain far behind. According to Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research, “the faster and cheaper AI will win in business and government, including with the military”.
All in all, AI chip optimisation could allow Google to pull ahead of its competitors such as AWS and Microsoft. And if we can speed up workflows, design better chips, and use humans to solve more complex, fluid, wicked problems, that’s a win—for the tech world and for society.