Interview with Bill Pearson, Vice President, Internet of Things Group, Intel

Bill Pearson, Vice President, Internet of Things Group, Intel about how their customer obsession has helped developers bring optimized AI solutions to the market

1. Tell us about your role at Intel’s DevCloud for Edge.

I am responsible for ensuring developers receive the very best experience Intel has to offer by supporting the amazing team of engineers and business managers who bring you the Intel Devcloud for the Edge.

2. Can you elaborate on your career in the tech industry?

Technology and working with people are both super important to me. Technology is always evolving, so the taking time to learn new things and explore new ideas always leads me to interesting places. I try to work with passionate and smart people, and enjoy the creativity that comes when my colleagues are empowered to do their best work. I’ve worked on computer systems in airplanes, helped establish content protection technology for the PC, ran validation for an app store, managed teams developing products, and worked with developers around the world. It has been a rewarding and fun journey so far.

3. How do you think deep learning is transforming cloud computing?

Deep learning, as a subset of AI, is an essential technology that serves as a stepping stone for the widespread application of AI across multiple markets. We see DL and cloud computing interacting most predominantly during the formation of AI applications, which require model training with both powerful compute and large datasets. However, at Intel, we recognize that a cloud infrastructure can also be leveraged to bridge the gap between DL model formation and AI solution deployment.

Let me give you an example. Largely speaking, an embedded AI solution today consists of an AI application, some kind of market vertical specific enabling software and the right hardware to efficiently run the AI application. Given there are multiple, seemingly similar solutions to each one of those three variables, our industry has very quickly run into a multiple factorial problem when trying to identify which AI application to pair with which enabling software on top of which processor.

The core capability of the Intel DevCloud for the Edge is leveraging the advantages of the cloud, to enable developers to solve that very complicated problem. With our DevCloud, developers can upload their AI application of choice and test performance with pre-installed software on a vast array of Intel processors and AI accelerators of varying power and performance levels. Developers then receive the testing data side by side for simple comparison, depending on what performance, latency and power envelope they desire.

This is just one of the capabilities of the DevCloud, but you can see how it very clearly leverages advantages of cloud computing to “close the gap” developers are running into when trying to get to market with an optimized AI solution, in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

4. What impact do you think cloud-based solutions have on the global edge computing market?

I hesitate to even separate the two so dogmatically. The Edge and the cloud are inextricably linked. I think we will see a future where both the developers’ flows and solution flows run seamlessly from the cloud to the Edge. I see a lot of efforts going into ensuring the advantages of the cloud are properly leveraged by Edge computing deployments. Overall, I see the economies of scale and efficiencies that exist in the cloud being combined with new, more capable edge computing processors helping to drive down the cost and effort to create extraordinary solutions spanning from the sensor to the datacenter.

5. How does DevCloud for the Edge help developers to test a variety of configurations?

DevCloud for the Edge is best suited for any developer looking to deploy an AI solution, not just those testing a variety of configurations. It’s just so easy to use. Why guess or lean on out of date publications to tell you the performance of a solution on a particular processor, when you can have hyper-customized, real-time quantitative data to compare. Six months or even three months is an eternity in this market. The Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit updates every quarter on the DevCloud, and there are always significant improvements with each update. I would say don’t guess, if you are building a solution, get the most current data to make an informed decision. It is completely free and we continue to add features and capabilities every quarter. These new features extend beyond developers too. Our partners have told us their salespeople are leveraging the DevCloud environment as a sales aid, to clearly articulate the AI capability of the Intel processor powering their own company’s solutions.

6. Can you tell us about the Intel AI: In Production partner program in detail?

Intel AI: In Production is a global community of world-class experts and comprehensive resources, focused around delivering the future of AI at the Edge. Members can access exclusive assets and find experienced partners to rapidly deliver solutions at scale and unleash the power of data at the edge, accelerated by AI. A typical partner experience includes access to the best of Intel’s AI technologies and tools to accelerate solution development, exclusive trainings, workshops, and co-creation opportunities to help members enhance their AI expertise, and a broad ecosystem of experienced partners with a portfolio of commercially ready solutions to quickly develop and deploy powerful edge inference solutions. In addition, membership also includes cross-market matchmaking, an array of joint marketing opportunities, and directed community collaboration to amplify our partners’ go-to-market scale efforts. No matter if you are creating your prototype or want to accelerate your production scale, Intel AI: In Production can help you. 

7. We recently read about Intel partnering with Udacity. Can you tell us what does that mean for the upcoming developers?

Intel is striving to close the AI skills gap by collaborating with great partners like Udacity to offer developers AI career-building opportunities. Education programs like our Intel Edge AI for IoT Developers nanodegree are crucial to helping developers skill up and adapt to the evolving AI landscape. Globally there is a shortage of experienced AI developers, despite growing demand; the Edge AI market is forecasted to grow to $1.15 billion by 2023, at 27% annually. The Intel Edge AI for IoT Developers nanodegree was designed with Udacity to upskill developers and get them project-based hands-on experience with state-of-the-art Intel AI hardware. By offering developers on-demand skill-based learning, mentorship, community support and career development services, we are one step closer to closing the gap and democratizing AI.

8. What differentiates OpenVINO Toolkit from its competitors?

The power of AI continues to shift from potential to reality, driving a sea change in nearly every major industry. The Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit was designed specifically to help developers deploy AI-powered solutions across the heterogeneous landscape – combinations of Intel Xeon Scalable processors, GPU, Movidius VPU, FPGA – with write-once-deploy-anywhere flexibility. Intel offers a powerful portfolio of scalable hardware and software solutions to meet the various performance, power, and price requirements of any use case. OpenVINO is how developers harness the power of deep learning across Intel’s portfolio. In addition, it democratizes cutting-edge AI technologies with easier-to-use tools and testing capabilities that could seamlessly integrate into developers’ workflows.

9. What digital innovation in the tech space do you think will make its mark in 2020?

Remote collaboration tools like Zoom, WebEx, and Teams are enabling many of us to work effectively from home. The technology itself isn’t new, but the wide-scale adoption is unprecedented.

10. How do you keep pace with the rapidly developing AI tech space?

Listening and asking questions are habits I continue to develop. People are great at sharing their knowledge and perspective. I learn a lot by listening and trying to understand. The other way is through online learning platforms. There are so many courses out there, like our Udacity certification. I make it a point to regularly use these resources.

11. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?

My team is a collection of smart, driven people who know how to work together and get things done. We have people all over the world and consistently spend time with developers, partners, and customers. I’d like to think I support them rather than the other way round. We are passionate about helping developers solve problems and build solutions using Intel products. We each have a role to play.

12. What movie inspires you the most?

The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies, but it’s hard to say it is inspiring. It makes me laugh though. Inconceivable!

The movie that inspires me the most is Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. There’s a line where Captain Kirk responds to an offer to take away his pain. He says, “Damn it Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with the wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!”

>We all have had painful experiences, things that didn’t go the way we hoped they would. Learning from those experiences makes us better. Those experiences help us learn and grow.

13. We would love to get a sneak peek into Intel’s much-talked-about chic and fabulous work culture! Could you share some pictures of get-togethers and office fun activities?

Culture is something we are spending a lot of time talking about these days. One of my favorite parts of our culture is customer obsession. Working with developers to help our customers succeed is why we are here.

Lately, our fun activities are being done remotely. Here’s an example of a team getting together virtually to sew masks for their local community.

Bill J. Pearson

Bill J. Pearson, Vice President, Internet of Things Group, Intel is responsible for enabling developers and applications on Intel’s Internet of Things products. He and his team deliver developer tools and solutions and engage developers globally to drive strategic application enabling, architecture conversions, porting and optimization supporting the Intel IoT product portfolio. He’s worked on a wide range of applications throughout his tenure at Intel including AI, Computer Vision, Edge Inference, and a variety of other technologies.

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