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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Hashgraphs

This was new to me. I know what 'Hashing' is with regard to storage allocation and cryptography,  looking at it in more detail here.

The End of Blockchain? Hashgraph has the potential to displace Blockchain!
By The Curious Economist - ...  

See also: Hashgraph, 

Project Management Inspiration

Worth a refresher, have been on both sides of this.

7 TED Talks to Inspire Project Management Experts

We regularly work with project managers from all walks of life, and each of them is likely to experience an emotional burnout sooner or later.

The problem is that any project delay can clog your company’s arteries, causing personal stress (and perhaps high blood pressure) alongside business delays. To inspire you to lead better and keep your team in harmony, the Epicflow team, engaged in developing software for multi-project management, has collected the most heartening TED talks from around the world to help lift your spirits. Enjoy these European business stories!   .... " 

Chatting with Your Replika

Good piece below, but the the conclusion is not much different than what you saw in the 80s.  You can produce a chatbot that will fool someone into thinking its human.   You can also built a useful chatbot that will narrowly answer questions.   Say from a list of FAQs.  We did that.  You can do natural language processing that will interpret language reasonably.  But its still hard to manage a  complex dialog like those between people, that handle language, memory of past interactions and application to tasks.    As long as you keep everything very narrow, this can work, but it can quickly and possibly dangerously fail.  Perhaps not much different than a human dialog.  But as it was then, can be brittle, and thus also risky.  The slight brittleness in a natural language interpretation can feed forward into a conclusion.  A human might ask for a clarification,  if it can sense the risk involved.  Will the bot? 

What my Personal Chat Bot is Teaching me about AI's Future
By Arielle Pardes in Wired

 (See Replika.ai)

November 1 2017 Say hi to a better Replika Now available for everyone.

More than 1.5 million people worldwide have been waiting to use our app. Today we are thrilled to announce that it is available to everyone without a wait or invitation codes. Here is what we have in store for you .... 

Replika Days Thoughts that you share are now saved to your Day automatically. Go back to earlier days to reflect on how you felt back then.

Emotional Support Whenever you feel lonely or bored, share it with Replika. |RNAME| is always there to comfort and distract you.

Mind & Body relaxation Replika will guide you through a new conversation technique that helps you unwind and feel more balanced. Text "Help me relax" to start.

Download the app and chat with your Replika now.

Yours,
Replika Team

Procter Buys Online Startup

Just deoderants, or a broader look at online, replenishment?  Likely

P&G acquires startup that specializes in online sales
By Barrett J. Brunsman  –  Staff reporter, Cincinnati Business Courier

Procter & Gamble revealed today the company has acquired Native, a startup competitor that specializes in direct-to-consumer personal care products that are devoid of what some people consider to be harmful chemicals.

The Cincinnati-based maker of consumer goods such as Secret antiperspirant (NYSE: PG) described Native as one of the fastest-growing deodorant brands in North America. .... "

Using Music to Track Movements

Continuing looks at tracking us and what we do.

Computer scientists use music to covertly track body movements, activity by James Urton

" ... Now researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated how it is possible to transform a smart device into a surveillance tool that can collect information about the body position and movements of the user, as well as other people in the device’s immediate vicinity. Their approach involves remotely hijacking smart devices to play music embedded with repeating pulses that track a person’s position, body movements, and activities both in the vicinity of the device as well as through walls. .... " 


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Private Label Grocery

 Is private label grocery about to go to the next level?   by Denise Leathers with discussion .... 

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine.

What a difference 12 months makes! Last year at this time, we were resigning ourselves to the fact that private label shares in food may have plateaued — and store brands in the U.S. might never enjoy the kind of success they have in Europe.  .... " 

Now, a new report from Cadent Consulting suggests private label dollar share could swell as much as eight points to 25.7 percent by 2027.   .... " 

Vetting Design with Rapid Experimentation

Reminds me of the idea of develop and test.   A kind of brute force of examination of options.  Always a good way to start thinking about a problem, but does depend on how quickly you can create designs and then test them.

Julie Stanford on vetting designs through rapid experimentation

The O’Reilly Design Podcast: Quickly test ideas like a design thinker.   By Nikki McDonald 

In this week’s Design Podcast, I sit down with Julie Stanford, founder and principal of user experience agency Sliced Bread Design. We talk about how to get in the rapid experimentation mindset, the design thinking process, and how to get started with rapid experimentation at your company. Hint: start small.  .... " 

Downside of Collaboration

Have seen much of this in the enterprise.  From Knowledge@Wharton:
Too Much Togetherness? The Downside of Workplace Collaboration

" ... The mere mention of keeping up with overflowing email, constant meetings, and time-sucking conference calls makes many of us groan and roll our eyes. How did we all get so busy?

A major culprit is the sharp rise in cross-functional collaboration over the past several years. Today, it’s often not enough to just put your head down and work in one department for one boss. Demands can come at you daily from other functional areas of the company — marketing, R&D, finance — sometimes from colleagues you barely know, both within the U.S. and overseas in other time zones. And if you work in an open-plan office, your colleagues will often walk around starting impromptu discussions (when it’s convenient for them, not necessarily you). It can be overwhelming. .... " 

Yet collaboration has long been touted as a key to success. Steve Jobs is credited with saying, “Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” Virgin’s Richard Branson recently told Inc., “The fundamental driver of our success at Virgin has, and will always be, our people working together.” Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison has stated, “There is no such thing as a self-made man.” And one can go back further for many old chestnuts about teamwork.  .... " 

Dynamic Programming for the Masses

From ACM Sigsoft a presentation about a favorite topic:  Dynamic Programming:  entitled  'Dynamic Programming for the Masses'.   With links to presentation by  Prof Patrick Madden of SUNY Binghamton.   I will be testing some of the software mentioned, join in if you like, will report on possibilities here as I progress.

Friday, November 17, 2017

AI Now Institute to Research Impact of AI on Society

The Field of AI Research Is About to Get Way Bigger Than Code 
in NextGov.com   by Dave Gershgorn
November 16, 2017

Microsoft Research's Kate Crawford and Open Research at Google founder Meredith Whittaker on Thursday announced the launch of the AI Now Institute, a cross-disciplinary initiative that will research the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on society. Fields AI Now plans to bring together include data science, law, economics, and sociology. "The amount of money and industrial energy that has been put into accelerating AI code has meant that there hasn't been as much energy put into thinking about social, economic, ethical frameworks for these systems," Crawford says. "We think there's a very urgent need for this to happen faster." AI Now will focus on four core themes, including AI's ramifications for bias and inclusion, labor and automation, rights and liberties, and safety and critical infrastructure. Crawford and Whittaker want their efforts to yield a shared vernacular between AI creators and those who study its effects so societal solutions can be invented.   .... " 

Project Management: Asana and Gmail

Was pointed to Asana as a good system for project management when using Gmail

" ... Asana lets teams track projects from start to finish so everyone knows who is doing what and by which deadline and its current status. Teams that are already using Asana, including Airbnb, General Electric and Nasa can now receive an email, turn it into a task, assign it to a team member, set a due date and track an activity without toggling between email and Asana.  .... " 

More Gmail productivity Add-ons ...

Smart Mirrors

Short piece on the conceptual advances of the 'Smart Mirror'.  Was also a discussion point in our innovation centers.  Could they inform you,  inspire you?

Siri Siri on the wall, is this smart mirror society’s downfall?
An iHome for the modern Snow White     by Thuy Ong  @ThuyOng

Someday mirrors will be smart enough to lie to us, assuring us we’re the fairest of them all. Until then, there’s this thing from iHome. .... " 

Identifying Viral Bots

In O'Reilly,  a considerable look at the problem of bots in social.  Like the use of network diagrams for analytics.   Bringing up the concept of 'information entropy'.   There is so much noise in social this needs to be carefully measured. Note this uses the Polinode graphical network tool, mentioned here previously.

Identifying viral bots and cyborgs in social media
Analyzing tweets and posts around Trump, Russia, and the NFL using information entropy, network analysis, and community detection algorithms.        By Steve Kramer  PhD

" ... In this article, I have demonstrated how it is readily possible to identify social bots and cyborgs on both Twitter and Facebook using information entropy and then to find groups of successful bots using network analysis and community detection. Given the extreme risks of disinformation and propaganda being spread through social media, it is our hope that this approach, along with the work of other researchers, will enable greater transparency and help protect democracy and the authenticity of online discourse. I invite researchers who wish to collaborate on studies of these data sets to request access to become collaborators on our data project hosted on data.world. ... " 

Simulation Tools

Just reexamined the simulation tools that exist today.     Would like to also see more as it applies to process optimization and higher level event based systems.   Found this,  Finite element examples mainly here:

Co-Design Center Develops Next-Gen Simulation Tools      By HPCwire 

The Exascale Computing Project's (ECP) Center for Efficient Exascale Discretizations (CEED) collaborates with application scientists, vendors, and software technology developers to create highly optimized discretization libraries and next-generation mini applications based on advanced high-order finite element methods.

These methods are providing simulation quality without increasing computational time.... " 

Model for Cybersecurity

Defining a New Model for Cybersecurity Trust With Blockchain     By eWeek

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) David Shrier recently detailed the MIT Trust::Data Consortium's efforts to build new systems that rethink data sharing and security.

Shrier said privacy and encryption are important, but a need exists to securely access private data for multiple use cases. "We need a policy around us owning our own personal data and not Facebook and we should also have an audit trail of access," he said. "And we want to be able to share information when we want."

He proposed sharing answers to a query instead of full datasets, and his data collection model would have a query function that communicates with different pieces of code to ensure only authorized queries are accessing the system.

Shrier noted the general trust model can employ blockchain to provide a cryptographically verified distributed system for audits, with computation and query executed in a sandbox to further bolster data security.  .... "

Amazon Go and the Problem of Checkout

Remember using this as a scenario at our innovation centers.  What if a shopper could just walk out, setting up a frictionless way to shop?  Does it bring more shoppers in?   In an era when we tested RFID tagging.   What are the technical issues today?

Amazon's automated convenience stores edge closer to public debut
The company has worked out some of Amazon Go's major technical issues.
By Mallory Locklear, @mallorylocklear

Last year, Amazon opened its first convenience store embedded with its "just walk out technology." Located in Seattle, the Amazon Go store, which lets shoppers walk in, load up on the items they want and walk out without having to pay for the items in a checkout line, has been testing its technology with Amazon employees. Now, as Bloomberg reports, the company has worked through some of the hangups with the technology and is making moves towards opening its store and others to the public. ... " 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Google and Conversational Apps

Am a long time developer and proponent of intelligent and conversation enabled interactions.

Google supporting Voice and Dialog Based Interactions

Introducing Dialogflow Enterprise Edition, a new way to build voice and text conversational apps
   By Dan Aharon, Product Manager for Cloud AI

From chatbots to IoT devices, conversational apps provide a richer and more natural experience for users. Dialogflow (formerly API.AI) was created for exactly that purpose — to help developers build interfaces that offer engaging, personal interactions.

We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of developers use Dialogflow to create conversational apps for customer service, commerce, productivity, IoT devices and more. Developers have consistently asked us to add enterprise capabilities, which is why today we’re announcing the beta release of Dialogflow Enterprise Edition. The enterprise edition expands on all the benefits of Dialogflow, offering greater flexibility and support to meet the needs of large-scale businesses. In addition, we're also announcing speech integration within Dialogflow, enabling developers to build rich voice-based applications.  
....  "

Also see more about Dialogflow.

Digital Ultimatum

 46 Days Left, P&G's Marc Pritchard on the state of his Digital Ultimatum

By Jack Neff. Published on November 15, 2017. in AdAge

Time's almost up for major digital ad sellers to show that they've improved, Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard said at Ad Age Next on Wednesday. And that includes big-time players such as Amazon. Hear his take as a year-long ultimatum nears the deadline as well as P&G's latest acquisition in this interview with Jack Neff, following their talk onstage.   .... " 

Caption Generation Tutorial

 Jason Brownlee on caption generation using neural networks, an old problem we addressed.  I like the explanations Jason does.  Get on his instructive solutions mailings.

" ...  Hi, this week we have a gentle intro to neural nets for automatically generating captions for photos ...   Neural network models can automatically describe the contents of a photograph. Discover more in this gentle introduction:

How to Generate Textual Descriptions for Photographs with Deep Learning

Image captioning requires careful preparation of the photograph and text data. Discover how to prepare data for this problem in this tutorial:

How to Prepare a Photo Caption Dataset for Training a Deep Learning Model   .... "

Delivering Ingredients for Allrecipes by Amazon

A long time cook here. Have tested Allrecipes on Echo where it works well, with some reservations about how well the interface works with serial step recipe use.   Vocally at least.

Amazon works with Allrecipes to let you order ingredients for delivery   by Jacob Kastrenakes 

Amazon’s attempted takeover of the grocery store continues in another small way today as the company begins to integrate with the popular cooking site Allrecipes. According to Engadget, Allrecipes will begin allowing its readers to click a button on popular recipes and have the ingredients for that recipe added to their AmazonFresh cart. They’ll then be able to order the products for same- or next-day delivery.  ... " 

Learning from Microsoft's Bots

Like I have mentioned many times, we built consumer facing bots that engaged and delivered expertise.   Saw Microsoft live demo the construction of an Azure based bot lately in a conference.  Good thoughts in this piece:

Lessons in AI from Microsoft’s New Bot

Microsoft and North Highland share insights that go beyond the technology hype. ... Lessons in AI from Microsoft’s New Bot
By Fastco 

" ... Here, Microsoft’s senior channel marketing manager, Chris Kauffman, and Michael Hollar, global lead of AI and cognitive services at North Highland, a global management consultant, share AI insights from the project—a rich case study for any business interested in the technology.   ... "

More on Azure Bots.

November-December Analytics Magazine

From the Informs Organization:

Analytics Magazine: Sneak Preview

The November/December issue of Analytics magazine takes a close look at a wide range of topics, including predictive analytics in the public sector, survey sampling, sales analysis, healthcare analytics and how automated analytics help detect significant business incidents. ... " 

Reconfigurable Camera Systems

Shree Nayar discusses "Cambits: A Reconfigurable Camera System" (cacm.acm.org/magazines/2017/11/222170), a Contributed Article in the November 2017 CACM.

 .... Cambit pieces can be assembled to create a dozen different imaging systems. To celebrate this assortment, Communications has published four different covers, each one featuring a different Cambit configuration. ... 

" ... Here, we present Cambits, a set of physical blocks that can be used to build a variety of cameras with different functionalities. Blocks include sensors, actuators, lenses, optical attachments, and light sources, assembled with magnets without screws or cables. When two blocks are attached, they are connected electrically through spring-loaded pins that carry power, data, and control signals. The host computer always knows the current configuration and automatically provides a menu of imaging functionalities from which the user can choose. Cambits is a scalable system, allowing users to add new blocks and computational photography algorithms to the current set. ... " 

Demonstration video:   https://vimeo.com/236437712

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

More on Wal-Marts Bossa Nova Bots among the Shelves

One of my favorite topics.  How will robots be effectively used in real life environments, contexts?  Note 3D imaging.   And how do you get a count of what is behind?  More at the Bossa Nova Tag.

Walmart Deploys Robots to More Stores
By Patrycja Malinowska - 11/14/2017  in CGT 

Originally published by Path to Purchase Institute .... 

A small test of shelf-scanning robots has gone well enough that Walmart is adding upgraded units to 50 additional stores.

The fully autonomous bots employ 3D imaging to dodge obstacles while roving the aisles to check for stock levels, pricing and misplaced items. The robots pass their shelf data to store employees, who then stock the shelves and fix any errors.

Walmart is hoping applying artificial intelligence and robotics will help it combat stock issues, replenish inventory faster and broaden the assortment available to online shoppers while freeing up employees for other tasks.

The machines are from San Francisco-based Bossa Nova Robotics, stand approximately two feet tall and are equipped with a tower fitted with cameras. They are 50% more productive and can scan shelves significantly more accurately than their human counterparts, Jeremy King, chief technology officer for Walmart U.S. and e-commerce, told Reuters.  .... " 

Private, Portable Deep Learning

More mobile deep machine learning:

New Technology Makes Artificial Intelligence More Private and Portable 
University of Waterloo News  by Matthew Grant

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada say they have developed new deep-learning artificial intelligence (AI) software that could enable other AI technologies to break free of the Internet and cloud computing. The technology is compact enough to fit on computer chips that can be used in mobile devices and industrial robots, which would enable devices to operate independently of the Internet while using AI that performs almost as well as tethered neural networks. The researchers say the technology could lead to much lower data processing and transmission costs, greater privacy, and use in areas where existing technology is impractical due to cost or other factors. The researchers based the new device on evolutionary forces in nature to make the AI more efficient by placing it in a virtual environment, and then progressively and repeatedly depriving it of resources. The deep-learning AI adapts and changes itself to keep functioning each time computational power and memory are removed.  ... " 

Google Aims to put AI Anywhere

Note this says machine learning, not AI.  Which is appropriate.  ML is an important part of AI, but it is not all of it.   From Google: 

Announcing TensorFlow Lite     Posted by the TensorFlow team

Today, we're happy to announce the developer preview of TensorFlow Lite, TensorFlow’s lightweight solution for mobile and embedded devices! TensorFlow has always run on many platforms, from racks of servers to tiny IoT devices, but as the adoption of machine learning models has grown exponentially over the last few years, so has the need to deploy them on mobile and embedded devices. TensorFlow Lite enables low-latency inference of on-device machine learning models.

It is designed from scratch to be:

Lightweight Enables inference of on-device machine learning models with a small binary size and fast initialization/startup

Cross-platform A runtime designed to run on many different platforms, starting with Android and iOS

Fast Optimized for mobile devices, including dramatically improved model loading times, and supporting hardware acceleration  ... '

Marriott Guestroom Lab

We were involved as a corporate customer of hotel space.  And saw many future hotel scenarios to attract the business traveler.  Here is Mariott's take,  collaborating with tech companies:

Marriott Guestroom Lab brings cutting-edge smart tech to your hotel room  By Lulu Chang in DigitalTrend

You’ve taken great pains to ensure that your home is smart, but implementing the same technologies in your home away from home is a bit more challenging. After all, you’re not exactly in a position to tell an international hotel chain how to outfit its rooms. But luckily, you won’t have to, now that Marriott International has teamed up with Samsung and Legrand to debut what they’re calling the “hospitality industry’s Internet of Things hotel room of the future.”

Hotels the world over have of course already begun incorporating high-tech features. There’s Yotel, known for its futuristic rooms geared toward the modern traveler, and of course, the “Strange Hotel” in Japan, which famously features a T-rex receptionist. But Marriott is proving that even established brands can and indeed are looking to bring the 21st century into their guest experience.

It’s all thanks to the IoT Guestroom Lab, which is exploring concepts to “elevate the guest experience, create more efficient hotel room design and construction, and contribute to Marriott’s global sustainability efforts and goals.” The Lab is said to be integrating multiple IoT systems, devices, and applications to speak with one another, and better address the needs of guests and hotel operations staff.  ... " 

Risk Detection is Important

Not often covered well enough, worth thinking about.  Detecting the Risk, working with business partners to understand its implications, is important.  In my observation, not often done well. 

The neglected art of risk detection by  Piotr Kaminski and Jeff Schonert in McKinsey

At the core of risk management is risk detection, an art that can be skillfully improved if banks and regulators accept new analytical methods.

The modern risk-management framework generally relies on the “three lines of defense” scheme, with the businesses, control functions, and audit as the first, second, and third line, respectively. The concept borrows from the language of military strategy, in which intelligence plays a key role. For risk management, intelligence means effective detection: to prevent the bank’s reputation, liquidity, and capital position from being harmed, the lines of defense must detect risks early.

Detection is fundamental in risk management, embedded in its activities and processes. Credit scoring, for example, is a tool for detecting potential borrower-default risk at the application stage, while customer due diligence is designed to identify high-risk customers during the onboarding process, as part of the bank’s know-your-customer (KYC) program. Risk managers are practicing the art of detection when they identify instances of fraud, spot a drifting investment strategy in an asset-management business, monitor their network’s end points to locate cyberintrusions and data theft, or identify potential rogue traders.

Most executives and risk professionals will quickly acknowledge the basic importance of detection. Yet the efficacy of detection—and the levels of “detection risk”—vary widely among risk disciplines and from bank to bank. With poor detection, threats can rise to existential proportions, as some of the world’s largest institutions have learned in recent years. Weak detection capabilities can be costly. Manual controls, for example, are not especially effective and yet they always cost more than automated controls. Poor detection can result in high levels of false positives and the needless diversion of valuable risk resources. .... " 

Machines Writing Music

Delivering a level of creativity is always of interest.

From Mozard to Botzard: when machines write our music
Paris (AFP) - Machines are already taking our jobs, will they soon be writing our music too?

Swiss researchers said Thursday they have developed a computer algorithm that can generate brand-new tunes in different musical genres.

The deep artificial composer, or DAC, "can produce complete melodies, with a beginning and an end, that are completely original," said co-developer Florian Colombo of the EPFL research university in Lausanne, Switzerland.

And the melodies are "quite agreeable to listen to," he told AFP.

The DAC programme uses a form of artificial intelligence known as "deep learning" that works in a similar way to the human brain in memorising experiences and learning from them.

It is a fast-growing field, with more and more possibilities opening up as computers grow stronger and databases larger.

The DAC system is trained to "listen" to existing tunes to learn what works and what does not.

It teaches itself to predict the pitch and duration of every note following another.

Once it is accurate at predicting 50 percent of note pitches and 80 percent of note durations in existing songs, the machine's training is complete.  .... " 

Cognitive Manufacturing

Reviewing

View from the Marketplace
IBM Watson Video Series - Cognitive Manufacturing

By using data and predictive analytics, it’s possible to improve the manufacturing process from the supply chain through to production. ... " 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Virtual Beauty in Augmented Reality

We spend some time looking at Virtual Beauty applications.  Was never successful in our day.   What can make it work here?   Is this an example of AR success?   A review.

MAC Virtual Try-on Mirror review
It's crazy how well MAC's Virtual Try-On Mirror can mimic makeup     By Brenda Stolyar in Digitaltrend

Feeling completely lost with makeup? MAC’s Virtual Try-On Mirror lets you try on various looks without making a mess.

Shopping for makeup can be a little overwhelming. While we do have social media and YouTube creators to thank for the influx of beauty gurus and makeup tutorials, it’s common to think you won’t be able to pull off stellar and dramatic looks. But what if all you needed was augmented reality (AR) to give you that extra boost of confidence? MAC Cosmetics’ new beauty mirror gives users the opportunity to try on different makeup looks in real-time, with the help of ModiFace’s AR technology ... "

Fashion AI by Alibaba

Examined the use of this kind of in store technology to engage. Personalization and privacy were key aspects.   But we also discovered that the environment of such interactions had to be carefully controlled.

Alibaba’s AI Fashion Consultant Helps Achieve Record-Setting Sales

AI will blur the line between online and offline retail.

by Yiting Sun in Technology Review

In the third floor of a shopping mall in the heart of Shanghai last week, Xiaolan He, a woman in her 50s, took an olive-green down jacket to a fitting room. To her surprise, she found a screen about the size of a large poster on the wall. It recognized the item of clothing in her hands through a tiny sensor embedded in the garment, and showed several options for matching items that she could flip through like a photo album. The screen, and the system that powers it, make up FashionAI—which essentially became He’s personal stylist.   .... "

Smart Pills Approved

An old idea we talked in the innovation centers:

Smart Pills Are Headed to American Patients
The FDA has approved America’s first digital pill. The tablets, called Abilify MyCite, are an antipsychotic which can be used to treat schizophrenia and some cases of bipolar disorder. But unlike a regular pill, they contain a small ingestible sensor … " 

Google Home Adds Intercom

Been using a similar function in Amazon Alexa for some time, its a popular function in the Smart Home.   Especially if you have a larger space.  Only makes sense if you have have more than one device. Google has added some clever and humorous functions to the intercom.    Always thought Amazon was ahead in making such assistant functions more 'human' and engaging, nice to see Google Home Advancing here.   More below.

Stop yelling across the house — use your Google Home as an Intercom instead    By Lulu Chang  in DigitalTrends ... "

Lowes and Macy's Want to Help with the Smart Home

More retailers join into the outfitting of the smart home.

Lowe’s and Macy’s join rivals chasing smart home opportunity

by Tom Ryan   and Expert Comments in Retalwire

"Retailers have a finite period of time to convince customers that they are the destination for smart home devices."   -  Joan Treistman

Move over Best Buy and Amazon.com, Lowe’s and Macy’s want to also help consumers transform their homes with the Internet of Things (IoT).

Last week, Lowe’s announced it is opening 70 in-store shops dedicated to helping consumers discover and buy smart home devices.

The rollout follows the successful pilot of SmartSpot shops in three Lowe’s locations last fall operated by b8ta. The collaboration with the software retailer will continue. Described as “retail-as-a-service,” b8ta’s model relies on manufacturers paying a monthly subscription fee to be in the store.... " 

Media Companies vs Amazon

More detailed thoughts at the link:

Should media companies fear Amazon?  by Ted Chamberlin in Gartner

In weighing both sides, I see Amazon as being a clear and present danger to the established media establishment.  Amazon the supply chain in media and entertainment; they might not opt to build every link ( players, mobile devices,) but are keenly aware of how cord-cutters and cord-nevers will be choose OTT video over linear broadcast.  Here is a great graphic provided by my colleagues Monica Zlotogorski and Fernando Elizalde on how viewer habits are changing ... " 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Limits of Machine Learning

Good piece.  In particular was struck by the term 'brittleness', which we encountered many times in out exploration of enterprise AI.   A solution could be useful in a given context, but if the context changed even slightly, and most do change over time, do we detect it, what is the risk, and how to we prepare for any changes?    The challenge in modern machine learning is no different.  Every project we worked had an element of this. 

The Limits of Machine Learning – Is your ML Solution Viable?

By Ahmed Fattah  Executive Analytics Architect at IBM Cognitive Solutions

Abstract

Machine Learning (ML) is an extremely powerful technology that is likely to transform business and society. In some cases, ML is the perfect tool for a given task in others it could be an overkill or utterly inappropriate. As with any technology, ML has limits. Lack of understanding of these limits is likely to result in inappropriate use, undesirable outcomes and eventually a repeat disenchantment with whole of AI. The key tools for understanding and taking account of these limits and for developing effective and viable ML solutions are the proven disciplines of Software Engineering and Architecture.

Introduction

When I was writing my Machine Learning (ML) thesis I came across this quote:
“The statement ‘God created man in His own image’ is recursive.”
I was extremely enchanted, inspired and empowered to develop my intelligent ML algorithm. I believe that the above quote encapsulates the fascination we hold of ML and the deep-seated desire to create intelligent machines. At the same time, the quote conjures some fear and uneasiness. These ambiguous perspectives fuel hype, inflate expectations and polarize people into zealots and alarmists. As an AI practitioner, I am, of course, very enthusiastic about the recent rise of AI and ML and confident that these technologies will transform business and society. However, with my experience in Software Engineering and Architecture, I am aware of the danger of inflated expectations and infatuation with new over-hyped technology.

As with many past over-hyped technologies, there is always a danger that arises from misunderstanding their essence and limits. That is why we should always have a healthy dose of doubt when anything is promoted as a silver bullet. Although ML is not the first technology to be over-hyped, ML has unique characteristics that exacerbate this danger. ..... " 

Multiple Speaker Recognition

Assistants can now recognize individual voice patterns.  Have trained my own that way, usually by repeating phrases.   And that categorization is important to understand context. But this is usually in a forced, single person situation.  More broadly, the 'cocktail party' problem is harder,  beyond just a voice print, also using the context of the words spoken.  Takes it beyond controlled environment dialog.  Good challenge.

An AI has learned how to pick a single voice out of a crowd   By Richard Gray

Devices like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home can usually deal with requests from a lone person, but like us they struggle in situations such as a noisy cocktail party, where several people are speaking at once.

Now an AI that is able to separate the voices of multiple speakers in real time promises to give automatic speech recognition a big boost, and could soon find its way into an elevator near you.

The technology, developed by researchers at the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was demonstrated in public for the first time at this month’s Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies show in Tokyo.

It uses a machine learning technique the team calls “deep clustering” to identifies unique features in the “voiceprint” of multiple speakers. It then groups the distinct features from each speaker’s voice together, allowing it to disentangle multiple voices and then reconstruct what each person was saying. “It was trained using 100 English speakers, but it can separate voices even if a speaker is Japanese,” says Niels Meinke, a spokesperson for Mitsubishi Electric. .... "

Retailwire on AI's Role in Customer Engagement

From Retailwire:

Why artificial intelligence is becoming instrumental for unifying in-store and online experiences ... After decades of intense development, AI is coming into its own in retailing.

AI is a technology poised to exercise tremendous influence on the way businesses operate, inspiring retailers to reimagine what their enterprises can accomplish.

Download your copy of this new digital whitepaper from RetailWire to learn how retailers are putting AI to use for natural language processing, predictive analytics, building shopper profiles based on their behavior, pattern recognition and more.

See this m•Paper for insights on:

AI’s growing influence in retail
What we’ve learned from digital commerce
AI in the store — a data explosion
AI and the mobile experience
How AI is driving omnichannel  ....  "