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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Microsoft is Selling Alexas

Just started looking at updated Cortana and how it integrates with Echo. Still minimally.  Makes sense for Cortana to be the ecosystem wing to best support Office solutions. 

Microsoft is selling Amazon Echo speakers in its stores in Engadget
It's continuing to shift away from Cortana as a mainstream assistant.  by Jon Fingas, @jonfingas

Microsoft's deepening relationship with Amazon's Alexa now extends to its stores. WalkingCat and others have noticed that Microsoft is carrying both the new Echo Dot and the regular Echo in its online and retail stores. The company isn't just supporting Alexa, then -- it's encouraging you to buy into Amazon's ecosystem.   ... "

Use Weight Regularization to Reduce Overfitting of Deep Learning Models

Overfitting is a classic problem with all models.  It means you are finding the solution to a particular set of data, rather than a generalized problem.  This should be found afterward in testing against new data,  but can be dangerously misleading.   Jason Brownlee discusses approaches to reduce overfitting.   Follow Jason, lots of good nuggets.

Use Weight Regularization to Reduce Overfitting of Deep Learning Models   by Jason Brownlee  in Better Deep Learning

Neural networks learn a set of weights that best map inputs to outputs.
A network with large network weights can be a sign of an unstable network where small changes in the input can lead to large changes in the output. This can be a sign that the network has overfit the training dataset and will likely perform poorly when making predictions on new data.

A solution to this problem is to update the learning algorithm to encourage the network to keep the weights small. This is called weight regularization and it can be used as a general technique to reduce overfitting of the training dataset and improve the generalization of the model.

In this post, you will discover weight regularization as an approach to reduce overfitting for neural networks. .... "

McKinsey on Digital Strategy

Digital strategy: The four fights you have to win  By Tanguy Catlin, Laura LaBerge, and Shannon Varney   in McKinsey

Yesterday’s tentative approaches won’t deliver; you need absolute clarity about digital’s demands, galvanized leadership, unparalleled agility, and the resolve to bet boldly.

If there’s one thing a digital strategy can’t be, it’s incremental. The mismatch between most incumbents’ business models and digital futures is too great—and the environment is changing too quickly—for anything but bold, inventive strategic plans to work.

Unfortunately, most strategic-planning exercises do generate incrementalism. We know this from experience and from McKinsey research: on average, resources don’t move between business units in large organizations. A recent book by our colleagues, Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick, seeks to explain what causes this inertia (strategy’s social side, rooted in individual interests, group dynamics, and cognitive biases) and to suggest a way out (understanding the real odds of strategy and overhauling your planning processes to deliver the big moves that can overcome those long odds).

All this holds doubly true for digital strategy, which demands special attention. Leaders in many organizations lack clarity on what “digital” means for strategy. They underestimate the degree to which digital is disrupting the economic underpinnings of their businesses. They also overlook the speed with which digital ecosystems are blurring industry boundaries and shifting the competitive balance. (For more on why companies often fall short, see “Why digital strategies fail.”) What’s more, responding to digital by building new businesses and shifting resources away from old ones can be threatening to individual executives, who may therefore be slow to embrace (much less drive) the needed change. .... " 

Smart Cities and Blockchains

Never thought of this particular kind of approach.  Security of Why versus good database architectures?     Intriguing  thought. 

10 Ways Blockchain Is Revolutionizing Smart Cities
By Sergio.  (Excerpt) 

Blockchain will transform smart cities of the future. #p3smartcity
Blockchain technology is boosting the bottom line of private and public sector

It’s touted as the “secret sauce” that will transform smart cities of the future, establishing trust and transparency in government through an immutable digital record — one that’s able to connect sky’s-the-limit endpoints while being virtually hack proof.

Blockchain technology took the digital world by storm in 2009, when it debuted as a digital ledger book for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Since then, it is being used to reshape the way business is done in industries ranging from finance and healthcare to manufacturing — and, of course, government.

In a nutshell, blockchain is a new kind of encrypted database that is decentralized, distributed, and unassailable. It creates a digital record that is amazingly secure and is easily accessible to the public.

Smart cities worldwide are using blockchain as the foundation of plans to enhance urban living. Headlines are filled with innovations from locations like Dubai, which aims to cement its status as a global leader in the smart economy as the first blockchain-powered government, and Moscow, which recently became the first city to use blockchain in an e-voting system designed to eliminate corruption and voter fraud.

But the public sector isn’t the only segment of a smart city that stands to benefit from blockchain technology. The private sector is also realizing its potential to reimagine key business processes and help companies of all sizes compete on a more level playing field and therefore advancing their ability to be strategic partners to smart city projects.   ....  "

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Update-AI Chemical Reaction Prediction

Missed this, well worth a look

Talk by Teodoro Laino (Chemistry, Technical)

"Artificial Intelligence for Chemical Reaction Predictions: IBM RXN for Chemistry”   from IBM ... Exploring the nearly  endless chemical space  Chem. Sci., 2018, 9, 6091-6098v  ... 

" ...  Organic synthesis is one of the key stumbling blocks in medicinal chemistry. A necessary yet unsolved step in planning synthesis is solving the forward problem: given  reactants and reagents, predict the products. We treat reaction prediction as a machine translation problem between SMILES strings of reactants-reagents and the products. We show  that a multi-head attention  ... " 

Freely available now:  research.ibm.com/ai4chemistry
The first, FREE AI web service for predicting chemical reactions. ... "



Mindmap for Managers about Data Science

Nicely done,   Though would have liked more connection from the map to details.  But worth a scan.

Intro to Data Science for Managers [Mindmap]  Posted by Igor Bobriakov in DSC

Data science has become an integral part of many modern projects and businesses, with an increasing number of decisions now based on data analysis. The data science industry is experiencing an acute shortage of talents, not only of data scientists but also of managers, having some understanding of analytics and data science. As a manager, you can ultimately become the company's expert in data usage, creating opportunities for the evolution of your organization. Whether you are working with a team of data scientists, as a part of a data-driven business, or you are interested in implementing data science solutions — you shall have some data knowledge and understand its organizational capabilities.   ... " 

Predicting Crime

Course we have long been able to predict likelihood,  its very close, but when does it flip over to making a decision, what are the broader implications of that decision and what is the risk of that decision?

Can we predict when and where a crime will take place?     By Mark Smith in the BBC

The new crime-fighting weapon of choice for a growing number of police forces around the world isn't a gun, a taser or pepper spray - it's data. But can computer algorithms really help reduce crime?

Imagine a gang of bank robbers arriving at their next heist, only to find an armed response unit already waiting on the corner.

Or picture walking down a dark alley and feeling afraid, then seeing the reassuring blue lights of a police car sent to watch over you.

Now imagine if all of this became possible thanks to mathematics.

Ever since the Philip K Dick novel The Minority Report, which was later turned into a Tom Cruise blockbuster, was published in the 1950s, futurists and philosophers have grappled with the concept of "pre crime". ... " 

Autonomous Cars will Upend Transportation

A podcast and transcript at the big question:  What will our personal transportation look like in a decade or less?


How Autonomous Vehicles Will Upend Transportation
Nov 14, 2018 Books Business Radio Law and Public Policy Podcasts  North America driverless cars

The former vice president of research for GM outlines how robotic driving technology will entirely reshape transportation.

Supports K@W's 
Innovation Content

The Quest to Build the Driverless Car -- BurnsAutonomous vehicle technology is advancing rapidly, and hard-core promoters contend that driverless cars could soon be the norm rather than the exception. Many other knowledgeable analysts, however, say widespread adoption of fully autonomous cars is many years — perhaps decades — away. The chief reason for the delay is the years it will take to generate the vast amount of data required to make self-driving cars fully safe. But whenever it finally takes over, driverless technology will do much more than ease daily commutes: It will also have a profound impact on the world’s economy, notes Lawrence Burns, a former corporate vice president of research, development and planning for General Motors who supervised and encouraged GM’s development of robotic driving technology. His new book with Christopher Shulgan is titled, Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car — And How It Will Reshape Our World. He joined the Knowledge@Wharton show on SiriusXM to talk about how a driverless world will map out. .... "

Digital Transformation

And I had just posted about Predictive maintenance.   Here elevator maker Thyssenkrupp AG talks about the technology and how it links to their own experience in digital transformation.   See my previous notes on Thyssenkrupp tag below.   Good piece here:

An elevator maker reveals the ups and downs of digital transformation  By Paul Gillin in SiliconAngle

A list of the 10 large companies that have most successfully transformed their businesses through technology published in the Harvard Business Review last year included many of the usual suspects – and one that many people probably wouldn’t even recognize.

Thyssenkrupp AG, a German materials giant that can trace its roots back more than 200 years, made the list on the strength of the 47 percent of its total sales that now come from new growth areas. .... " 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Nissan to invite Google onto Car Dashboards

A step forward on automotive driver/occupant interaction.   The rolling channel.  Closer than this, I think.   How will driverless vehicles effect/change this?

Nissan will invite Google into its cars’ dashboards starting in 2021 By Ronan Glon in Digitaltrends

Nissan and its major partners, Renault and Mitsubishi, have turned to Google for help in developing a brand-new infotainment system. The yet-unnamed software will begin booting up in dashboards all around the world in 2021 and help the Alliance reach its goal of building more connected vehicles by 2022. …. "

Can AI Fix Disaster Relief?

Visuals are interesting here in the linked article below.  Another example of where there needs to be strong, real-time collaboration with human interactions.

Disaster Relief Is Dangerously Broken. Can AI Fix It? 
By Katharine Schwab in FastCompany

The use of artificial intelligence in disaster relief is gaining favor as weather-related catastrophes grow in frequency and severity. For example, a startup founded by Stanford University's Ahmad Wani has launched a machine learning platform to help cities respond to floods with specialized maps that update in real time so emergency crews can determine where aid is most needed. Wani said a key challenge was enabling rapid, city-wide analysis of structural engineering to better predict damage. The Flood Concern risk map was based on an earlier algorithm that digests building construction and retrofitting data, integrated with information on building materials and surrounding soil properties, to predict earthquake damage. Flood Concern crunches vast data volumes based on water-flow physics, previous flood data, and satellite imagery to approximate water depth, direction, and speed and localize areas at most risk; demographic data is layered atop the prediction so emergency planners can anticipate areas with the most likely at-risk residents. .... " 

Which Data Science Project?

We  dealt with exactly this, with AI projects and with and any new tech projects.    Below article very nicely put piece worth reading.    Even more straight forwardly put:  Start simply, where you have data, know your goals, can define current process and measures.   Increase credibility to leverage new projects.

How to Decide Which Data Science Projects to Pursue   By Hilary Mason in the HBR

In 2018, every organization has a data strategy. But what makes a great one?

We all know what failure looks like. Resources are invested, teams are formed, time goes by — but nothing comes of it. No one can necessarily say why; it’s always Someone Else’s Fault.

It’s harder to tell the difference between a modest success and excellence. Indeed, in data science they can they look very similar for perhaps a year.  After several years, though, an excellent strategy will yield orders of magnitude more valuable results.

Both mediocre and excellent strategies begin with a series of experiments and investments leading to data projects. After a few years, some of these projects work out and are on their way to production.

In the mediocre strategy, one or two of these projects may even have a clear ROI for the business. Typically, these projects will be some kind of automation for cost savings, or applying machine learning to an existing process to improve its efficiency or performance. This looks a lot like success, and it may suffice, but it’s missing out on the unique advantages of an excellent data strategy.

In an excellent strategy, more data projects have worked out, and they were surprisingly cost-effective to develop. Further, the process of building the first few projects inspires new project ideas. In an excellent strategy, the projects will include automation and efficiency and performance improvements, but they will also include projects and ideas for new revenue generation and entirely new businesses driven by your unique data assets. The data teams work well together, build on each other’s work, and collaborate smoothly with their business partners. There’s a clear vision of what the machine-learning driven future of the business can look like, and everyone is working together to achieve it.  .... "

Digital Health Ecosystems in Japan

We spent sometime trying to understand Japan's needs, and noted their particular emphasis on eldercare solutions.  Impressive work in robotic solutions:

Building digital ecosystems in Japan  From McKinsey.

Two Merck Healthcare digital specialists explain their company’s transformation and the impact it has had on patients.... " 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Smart Connected Consumer Products

A topic we often worked on in in the innovation center, excellent infographic overview when connected
to the smart city.  Smart at all sorts of levels.  (full clickable graphic at the link)

Reimagining Smart Cities with the Arrival of Smart Connected Consumer Products  Posted by Aarti Sharma in IOT Central

We are fast moving towards a future where cities will feature hundreds and thousands of smart connected objects, talking to each other, exchanging and producing meaningful data and insights, basically reshaping the urban landscape into intelligent and autonomous systems. Internet of Things will be at the heart of this technological transformation, as sensors and digital tags will find their way into various physical city infrastructure, monitoring traffic, weather, crime and even rat infestations! However, it’s not just hardware IoT and sensors that will provide city planners and authorities to gain more visibility into the working and management of a city. Smart connected products or ordinary consumer products tagged with digital ID’s and digital twins can open up new dimensions in how we imagine Smart Cities to function.

For the sake of painting a picture of the role of connected products within Smart Cities, let’s consider a pharmaceutical company supplying critical drugs to a city. Enabling every drug product at batch and serial item level to have a digital twin of its physical self will allow for exchange of product related data to happen between manufacturer, the supply chain, the city authorities, end consumers and the products themselves. Read on to see how the pharmaceutical industry could look like in the not so distant future.     ....   "  (excerpt, much more at the link)  .... ' 

Reducing Customer Friction

Nicely put.   Would add, personalized for this particular customer ....  Read the whole thing

How to Reduce Friction    By Shep Hyken

As most of you (hopefully know), my latest book, The Convenience Revolution, is all about making the customer experience as frictionless as possible. In the book, there are six Convenience Principles with plenty of examples, and many of our followers have read my articles and watched my videos on these powerful concepts. The other day I was interviewed and asked, “How does one get started?”
My flippant answer could have been, “Read the book and find out,” but instead I gave an answer that was simple and applicable to any type and any size business. Now, this is a very basic explanation of the process. It’s simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s where you want to start.  : ... ' 

Benford's Law and Data Science

Used it from the very beginning in enterprise data science.  well worth understanding,  especially for anomaly cases in finance or research fraud.   Even in finance we found relatively few people that had heard of it or how to use it.  Good, mostly non technical overview.

What is Benford’s Law and why is it important for data science?

By Tirthajyoti Sarkar
Sr. Principal Engineer | Ph.D. in EE (U. of Iilinois)| AI/ML certification (Stanford, MIT) | Data science author | Open-source contributor| AI in Simulations

We discuss a little-known gem for data analytics — Benford’s law, which tells us about expected distribution of significant digits in a diverse set of naturally occurring datasets and how this can be used for anomaly or fraud detection in scientific or technical publications.

We all know about the Normal distribution and its ubiquity in all kind of natural phenomena or observations. But there is another law of numbers which does not get much attention but pops up everywhere — from nations’ population to stock market volumes to the domain of universal physical constants.

It is called “Benford’s Law”. In this article, we will discuss what it is, and why it is important for data science. 

What is Benford’s law?

Benford’s Law, also known as the Law of First Digits or the Phenomenon of Significant Digits, is the finding that the first digits (or numerals to be exact) of the numbers found in series of records of the most varied sources do not display a uniform distribution, but rather are arranged in such a way that the digit “1” is the most frequent, followed by “2”, “3”, and so in a successively decreasing manner down to “9”.  ... " 

Bob Herbold on Tech Talent

My former boss makes the case about retaining tech talent.  Link to interview

Former Microsoft COO Concerned About US Universities vs. China: ‘The Big Risk for Tech is Talent’

Former Microsoft COO Bob Herbold discussed in an interview (below) the fact that computer science and engineering schools are now competing strongly with US universities. He says that even though the US tech sector continues to be strong, the big risk is talent and China has significantly strengthened their universities:

We (the US tech sector) continue to be strong, but the big risk is talent, frankly. What’s happening in China is that they are pouring a ton of money into these massive research centers. Secondly, they significantly strengthened their universities. So today, if you rank the top ten engineering schools in the world, such as U.S. News & World Report just did, you get five of them basically in Asia which is a real surprise compared to ten years ago.   ... "

Shared Machine Learning Mistakes

You can always learn from mistakes.   Especially in the case of technologies where the methods are still evolving.   And what is the inherent risk involved in wrong answers?  And naturally any ML project integrates several technologies.  Also good to see multiple cases and industries.

Machine learning lessons: 5 companies share their mistakes
Machine learning can also go terribly wrong, making you regret that enthusiastic rush to adopt
Bob Violino By Bob Violino
Contributing Writer, InfoWorld

Machine learning is one of those hot technology categories that has lots of business and technology executives scrambling to see how their organizations can get in on the action. Done right, machine learning can help you create more effective sales and marketing campaigns, improve financial models, more easily detect fraud, and enhance predictive maintenance of equipment—to name a few.

But machine learning can also go terribly wrong, making you regret that enthusiastic rush to adopt. Here are five ways machine learning can go wrong, based on the actual experience of real companies that have adopted it. They’ve shared their lessons so you can avoid the same failures. ... " 

Ford Working on Robot Delivery

More self driving delivery.   Ford it seems is a new player.  The customer process of retrieving goods from a driverless vehicle should be interesting.  But likely inevitable.

Ford teaming up with Walmart and Postmates on robot deliveries
Self-driving vehicles delivering groceries in Miami
By Andrew J. Hawkins   @andyjayhawk

Ford is joining forces with Walmart and Postmates to create a grocery delivery service using self-driving vehicles in Miami, the companies announced Wednesday.

Ford has been using Miami as a test bed for its self-driving vehicles since earlier this year. And more recently, the auto giant joined with Postmates to see how people ordering takeout food would interact with an autonomous delivery van.

Now Ford is moving to the next stage: grocery delivery. The company says it will experiment with different vehicle types, as well as modifications to those vehicles needed to keep perishable food items fresh. It will also experiment with a variety of scenarios, such as multiple deliveries on one trip and the user experience of retrieving delivery items from a fully driverless vehicle. ... " 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

New Technology Enabling Alibaba to Sell $30.8 Billion

Impressive combination of tech being used to provide sales volume.   AI, Blockchain, Cloud,  Cooling, Supply Chain, Energy consumption  ...  So leading edge tech is not all hype, given the right problem.

" ... The technology enabling Alibaba to sell $30.8 billion in Double 11 goods ... From artificial intelligence to datacentre cooling, machine learning, and blockchain, Alibaba used new technology to surpass its record 11.11 Global Shopping Festival sales figure set last year by 45.3 billion yuan.  ... 

The Technology Enabling Alibaba to Sell $30.8B in Double 11 Goods
in ZDNet    by Asha McLean via CACM

Alibaba used artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and other technologies to rack up $30.8 billion in gross merchandise volume through its 24-hour Global Shopping Festival on November 11 (11/11, or “double eleven”). The company employed AI to enhance the shopping experience for buyers and sellers, and pushed the envelope of its cloud infrastructure to process a high volume of transactions. Alibaba optimized the performance of the global Internet data centers (IDCs) hosting its online stores with the DC Brain intelligent operating platform, which uses machine learning to forecast electrical consumption and power usage effectiveness for each IDC in real time, controlling each to lower overall energy consumption. Also used by Chinese shoppers was Mobile Taobao, a global tracking system app that uses the Internet of Things and blockchain to confirm products bought by consumers via dual authentication and two-way encryption. The app tracks the real-time location of items through location-based services and global positioning systems.  .... "

Here Come the New Neural Sticks

This was brought up before, but the idea seems to have advanced.    A trained 'stick' that contains the AI needed for Edge applications.   Faster now it implies to deliver the network needed.  Somewhat narrow?  Like they said for Drones and IOT.    Or say if you wanted packaging to be smart? I like the direction.

Intel Aims to Simplify AI with ‘Neural Stick’ Update   By Alex Woodie in Datanami

Intel today unveiled an upgraded Neural Compute Stick that it claims will dramatically simplify the roll-out of neural network inference applications in drones, IoT, and edge devices.

It may look like a standard USB thumb drive, but the Neural Computer Stick 2 (NCS2) that Intel unveiled today at its AI conference in Beijing is much more than that. In fact, the little device boasts a Myriad X vision processing unit (VPU) manufactured by Intel’s subsidiary Movidius, which powers a neural network used for predictive applications.

Intel’s NCS devices are designed to simplify the roll-out of AI technologies in edge devices. A data scientist equipped with a laptop can convert pre-trained deep learning models onto the NCS device, which plugs into any standard USB 3.0 port.

The NCS is designed primarily (but not solely) for computer vision and related applications. The neural network running in the NCS enable developers to build applications that can identify and classify objects at a high level of accuracy.  

Intel says that since it launched the original NCS in 2017, more than 10,000 developers have used the technology — along with the associated Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit — to build AI applications that tackle real world challenges.  ... " 

Report on Watson Health

Did IBM overhype Watson Health's AI promise?
IBM's Watson Health division has been under fire for not delivering on its promise to use AI to enable smarter, more personalized medicine. But IBM officials maintain that hospitals are seeing benefits.  ... "
             By Lucas Mearian  in ComputerWorld

Microsoft Buys XOXCO for Chatbot Design

Last year saw a live demo of Microsoft quickly building a chatbot from the framework of a FAQ data base in Azure.  Was impressive.  But of course doing this well is still some task,  engineering the design of behavior, needs and interaction.   Now they are diving deeper.  Certainly Chatbots are the most understandable implementation of 'AI',  so this can be a good entry point for much more

 Microsoft buys chatbot company to juice its AI projects
The tech giant wants to help businesses leverage artificial intelligence.

By Rachel England, @rachel_england in Engadget

Research company Gartner believes that by 2020, conversational AI -- or chat bots -- will be the predominant go-to for customer support in large organizations. So if you've got a question or a problem, chances are you'll be talking to a computer about it. Tech companies will need to make sure their capabilities are on point, then, which is likely why Microsoft has just acquired software design and development studio XOXCO.... " 

Botkit Creator XOXCO.  Created https://howdy.ai/   for Slack.

Overview of Google Home Assistant Ecosystem

Good overview, largely non technical.   Good point about motivation of the typical consumer.  But it may ultimately lead to expectations that this is now a common part of the typical home.    I have both Alexa and Google systems in place and continue to look at how the system supports the intelligence needed in the home.

The Google Assistant smart home ecosystem is slowly starting to take shape    Can the Home Hub be part of a multiplier effect?
By Dieter Bohn      @backlon  in theVerge

At an event in San Francisco yesterday, Google gave the press a tour of a smart home featuring its Google Assistant products. Notably, the new Google Home Hub was there. It was, in many ways, pretty typical: here’s how you can turn on the lights, command a TV to play Stranger Things on Netflix (it’s always Stranger Things on Netflix), and start or stop a Roomba. But Google also showed off a handful of new features for both Assistant and its Google Home products.

On their own, none of these new features are particularly revolutionary. Taken together, they certainly don’t add up to a compelling case for why somebody who is already enmeshed in Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem should switch over. What they did do, however, was begin to present a coherent idea of how Google thinks its Assistant should work in a smart home and across its own products. .... " 

See also Google's Holiday oriented positioning of the Google Assistant :

Create your smart home for the holidays with the Google Assistant
By Lilian Rincon
Product Management Director, Google Assistant

Published Nov 14, 2018  ... "

Statistics for Machine Learning Models

Nicely done look at the problem, by the always  useful Jason Brownlee.   Follow his writing subscribe to his tutorials.

 Statistics for Evaluating Machine Learning Models  by Jason Brownlee  

Tom Mitchell’s classic 1997 book “Machine Learning” provides a chapter dedicated to statistical methods for evaluating machine learning models.

Statistics provides an important set of tools used at each step of a machine learning project. A practitioner cannot effectively evaluate the skill of a machine learning model without using statistical methods. Unfortunately, statistics is an area that is foreign to most developers and computer science graduates. This makes the chapter in Mitchell’s seminal machine learning text an important, if not required, reading by practitioners.

In this post, you will discover statistical methods recommended by Mitchel to evaluate and compare machine learning models. .. " 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Wal-Mart's In-store AI Lab

Useful to do this in a real operating store.   Many of details of  technology and analytics delivery are best seen in the messy operating world of retail.  We tried to quickly move our laboratory tests to real stores.   Also makes sure you get it right for both associates and shoppers and physical context.   The 'low stocks on shelves' detection was a common challenge.

Walmart puts AI to the test in an in-store lab    by Tom Ryan in Retailwire with expert comment.

Walmart is opening a laboratory inside a small Walmart in Levittown, NY to test artificial intelligence (AI) applications for both associates and shoppers.

The Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL), according to TechCrunch, will see how AI can be used to identify low stocks on shelves, when items are on the wrong shelf and spillages. Walmart is also looking for a better understanding of when shopping carts are running low near the store’s entrance, according to the report. 

Hardware, software and other equipment have been installed, but the lab is not yet operational. IRL is part of Walmart’s incubator Store No. 8. and being led by the Kepler Project. The Kepler team, according to past reports, is also testing computer vision and cashier-less technologies similar to the Amazon Go experience.

In late October, Sam’s Club said it was opening a cashier-less concept in Dallas that enables shoppers to use its Now app to not only pay for purchases, but access smart shopping lists, store maps and augmented reality tech to access product information. Like IRL, some features support store operations.   ... " 

Coaching Networks: Humanity's Fighting Chance

The recent look at the concept of the Nudge Theory and Nudge Engines led me to a reference about 'Coaching Networks'.  Term was new to me.   Can it be that AI itself will keep us from being automated out of job?  Seems to be the premise.  Like the idea.  Examining.

Coaching Networks / AI
Coaching Networks: Humanity’s Fighting Chance
Artificial intelligence is about to give humanity a fighting chance to win the race against automation.
By Gordon Ritter, Founder + General Partner

" ... We don’t view artificial intelligence as a threat that replaces us, but as an asset that helps us unlock our full potential as people. Our prediction: the consumer internet is about to radically transform into a framework that rescues us from passive addiction and places human creativity, productivity, and brilliance firmly at the forefront of the future.  ... " 

Watson and VMWare

Some really technical points being made about the ease of constructing and maintaining virtual architectures. How much does this contribute to architectures for intelligence?  To the extend that these will be complex, need to be delivered broadly and easy to maintain in context. 

IBM and VMware Advance Partnership to Accelerate Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Adoption and Digital Transformation    By GlobeNewswire,   

More than 1,700 global businesses, including Banca Carige and CNH Industrial adopt IBM Cloud and Services for VMware solutions

BARCELONA, Spain, Nov. 06, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today at VMworld® Europe 2018, IBM (NYSE: IBM) and VMware, Inc. (NYSE:VMW) announced new offerings to help accelerate enterprise hybrid cloud adoption. This includes a new IBM Services offering to help migrate and extend mission-critical VMware workloads to the IBM Cloud, and new integrations to help enterprises to modernize applications with Kubernetes and containers.

To date, the IBM and VMware partnership has helped more than 1,700 enterprises including Banca Carige and CNH Industrial adopt IBM Cloud for VMware solutions.

According to research from Ovum, while 20 percent of business processes have already moved to the cloud, 80 percent of mission-critical workloads and sensitive data are still running on-premises because of performance and regulatory requirements [1]. Businesses need an open, hybrid cloud approach to developing, running and deploying applications in a multi-cloud environment. IBM and VMware are delivering new solutions to help enterprises accelerate hybrid cloud adoption without incurring the cost and risk typically associated with retooling operations, re-architecting applications and re-designing security policies.

As part of today's news, IBM is enabling a fully automated, highly available managed global cloud architecture for mission-critical VMware workloads designed to help enterprises prevent downtime for cloud applications and automate failovers within an IBM Cloud region. This architecture will be managed by IBM Services and can be deployed across IBM Cloud's 18 availability zones in the U.S., Europe and Asia-Pacific. ... " 

7-Eleven Implements Scan and Go

Yet another example of the No-Checkout concept, now being tested at some 7-Eleven convenience stores.  As it suggests this creates not so much a clear convenience advantage,  but a strong brand interest for these stores.  Where one often expects to wait.   Will  the idea soon take over retail as it becomes an expectation? The adoption seems to be speeding up.

7-Eleven to Launch Scan-and-Go at 14 Dallas Stores 
USA Today  By Zlati Meyer

7-Eleven is rolling out a scan-and-go transaction option at 14 stores in Dallas, with a planned expansion to other U.S. cities next year. The Scan & Pay feature is available for customers using the chain's smartphone app, allowing them to scan in their intended purchases as they walk through the store. Scan & Pay also ties into the 7Rewards loyalty program, so customers can learn about deals and promotions. Emory University's Ryan Hamilton said the addition of scan-and-go technology is a "major branding advantage" that could make more consumers favor 7-Eleven over other convenience stores, since "The biggest complaint about retail shopping is waiting in line and checking out." ... "

Monday, November 12, 2018

AI for Chemical Reaction Predictions

CSIG (Cognitive Systems Institute Group) Talk — Nov 15, 2018 - 10:30 AM ET
Talk Title: Artificial Intelligence for Chemical Reaction Predictions - IBM RXN for Chemistry 

Speaker: Dr. Teodoro Laino, IBM Research - Zurich   10:30-11am US Eastern 

Abstract: Organic synthesis is one of the key stumbling blocks in medicinal chemistry. A necessary yet unsolved step in planning synthesis is solving the forward problem: given  reactants and reagents, predict the products. We treat reaction prediction as a machine translation problem between SMILES strings of reactants-reagents and the products. We show  that a multi-head attention MolecularTransformer model outperforms all algorithms in the literature, achieving a top-I accuracy above 90% on a Common benchmark dataset. Our  algorithm requires no handcrafted rules, and accurately predicts subtle chemical transformations. Crucially, our model can accurately estimate its own uncertainty, with an uncertainty  score that is 89% accurate in terms of classifying whether a prediction is correct. I will present the underlying model as well as the free online platform for reaction predictions, named  IBM RXN for chemistry, http://rxn.res.ibm.com 

Bio: Teodoro Laino received his degree in theoretical chemistry in 2001 (Universityof Pisa and Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa) and the doctorate in 2006 in computational  chemistry at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Italy. His doctoral thesis, entitled "Multi-Grid QM/ MM Approaches in ab initio Molecular Dynamics" was supervised by Prof. Dr.  Michele Parrinello. From 2006 to 2008, he worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the research group of Prof. Dr. Jürg Hutter at the University of Zurich, where he developed  algorithms for ab initio and classical molecular dynamics simulations. Since 2008, he has been working in the department of Cognitive Computing and Industry Solutions at the IBM  Research - Zurich Laboratory (ZRL). The focus of his research is on complex molecular dynamics simulations for industrial-related problems (energy storage, life sciences and nano-  electronics) and on the application of machine learning/artificial intelligence technologies to chemistry and materials science problems. 

Zoom meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/7371462221; Zoom Cailin: (415) 762-9988 or (646) 568-7788 Meeting id 7371462221 
Zoom International Numbers: https://zoom.us/zoomconference 
Check http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update/for recordings & slides, and for any date & time changes 
Join Linkedin Group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/6729452/ (Cognitive Systems Institute) to receive notifications 
Thu, Nov 15, 10:30am US Eastern https://zoom.us/j/7371462221 

More Details Here : http://cognitive-science.infb/commun;ty/weekly-update   (slides and recording will be posted here)    @sumalaikä 

 @teodorolaino of @IBMResearch on #ArtificialIntelligence for Chemical Reaction Predictions - IBM RXN for Chemistry in weekly talk series: cognitive-science.info/community/week…  #CSIGnews #opentechai #issip #MachineLearning  @KarolynSchalk @mattganis

Kroger Making Cinci a High Tech Hub

Good information and details here.  Have followed Kroger's efforts since we collaborated with our innovation center. Very impressed at what Kroger is doing now.   I make it a point to visit every demonstration store and report on the tech here.  My clients often comment on what is going on.  Consider also the University centers here as well.  Keep it moving!

 ... If anyone wants to collaborate with me and my blog in helping drive the hub forward,  connect with me on Linkedin and lets talk. ... Franz Dill

Kroger Is Intent on Making Cincinnati a True Tech Hub    By Randy Hofbauer -  in Progressive Grocer

The Kroger Co.'s technology arm is partnering with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber to attract top technology talent from across the globe and turn the city into a true tech hub.

The effort begins with CincyisIT.com, which is powered by Kroger Technology. The portal will reach new markets through digital outreach, national conferences, career fairs and special events, all while introducing a new audience to Kroger's technology arm and businesses throughout the Cincinnati area.

"CincyisIT.com invites technology talent from our city and around the world to explore career opportunities, engage with regional training events and discover our vibrant community," said Denise Haskamp, manager of human resources for Kroger Technology. "Kroger Technology is committed to partnering with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber through exciting initiatives like this program to continue designing a region with endless opportunities."

Kroger has been furthering its technological prowess and working hard to put Cincinnati on the map as a major tech hub. Recently, it announced a planned innovation lab within the University of Cincinnati’s 1819 Innovation Hub. Housed within the Uptown Innovation Corridor, the 1819 Innovation Hub serves as a “beacon of community innovation and impact in partnership with higher education,” and is claimed to be the region’s newest destination for “thinking, making, doing, discovery and delivery.” ... "  ... ' 

Amazon and Apple Collaborate in Retail?

The two teaming up could further yet create a yet more powerful retail power.  Plus consider the deeper AI capabilities in combination.   Or are the naturally just competitors?

Amazon and Apple get co-opetitive
by Matthew Stern in Retailwire  more detail and expert retail opinion at the link.

More Apple products are getting the stamp of approval from Amazon, which will officially enable the sale of a range of new devices on-site from the tech brand.

Amazon is approving the sale of the latest iPad Pro, iPhone and Apple Watch models by authorized resellers rather than just through the third-party marketplace, according to TechCrunch. Independent sellers will, in fact, have their listings removed. Amazon already allows the official sale of some products, such as laptops and Beats headphones.

The change in the trade partner relationship raises questions about the extent to which Amazon considers Apple to be a competitor and what Amazon’s long-term plan might be for the device market. The two companies have been involved in an ongoing push/pull over their competitive devices, with Amazon sometimes removing Apple products from its site or Apple refusing to play ball with Amazon in some other manner.  .... "    

SAP Acquires Qualtrics

Long time user of SAP in our enterprise.  Note the $8 Billion cost, seems quite steep.  I see them as a Customer Feedback Platform, see also here for comparison to other players.  In things of the complexity of SAP it is all about the customer experience, and especially as new tech is blended in.

 SAP Aquiries Qualtrics, Propel It Forward In The AOC?

By Faith Adams, Analyst,    Forrester

Yesterday, SAP announced that it is acquiring Qualtrics for a hefty $8 billion in cash.  https://www.qualtrics.com/

For SAP, this does make some sense. SAP is often perceived as being a legacy provider that struggles to play in the consumer space, and this acquisition may be able to help it make a larger data play. It may also enable SAP to close the loop when it comes to some of the VoC gaps in its C/4HANA CX suite that was announced earlier this year. But all of this is to be determined.  ... " 

Where are Voice Assistants Succeeding?

Considerable interesting statistics in this article.  What skills can drive new behaviors?  New or just a more efficient channel and location based play?

Voice tech like Alexa and Siri hasn’t found its true calling yet: Inside the voice assistant ‘revolution’
Until we invent something that wouldn’t be possible without voice, we’re just repurposing online content for our ears. 

By Rani Molla   @ranimolla in ReCode ..."

Dynamic Programming

We did lots of work in this space for certain kinds of business problems, following some new developments.   This kind of problem could in the future be addressed by Quantum Computing.   Technical:

Prof Patrick H. Madden  SUNY Binghamton   CSD  pmadden@acm.org, explanatory slides from talk last year:

and an introductory article that is unconnected with the above:

Dynamic Programming vs Divide-and-Conquer  Or Divide-and-Conquer on Steroids

In this article I’m trying to explain the difference/similarities between dynamic programing and divide and conquer approaches based on two examples: binary search and minimum edit distance (Levenshtein distance).

The Problem
When I started to learn algorithms it was hard for me to understand the main idea of dynamic programming (DP) and how it is different from divide-and-conquer (DC) approach. When it gets to comparing those two paradigms usually Fibonacci function comes to the rescue as great example. But when we’re trying to solve the same problem using both DP and DC approaches to explain each of them, it feels for me like we may lose valuable detail that might help to catch the difference faster. And these detail tells us that each technique serves best for different types of problems.

I’m still in the process of understanding DP and DC difference and I can’t say that I’ve fully grasped the concepts so far. But I hope this article will shed some extra light and help you to do another step of learning such valuable algorithm paradigms as dynamic programming and divide-and-conquer. ...