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Friday, August 18, 2017

WorkFusion

Continue to look at means to automate the specific process of business. Making it better, faster, cheaper. And ultimately include intelligent and cognitive elements to streamline and have these systems adapt to context.  I see that Deloitte is a partner.

Brought to my attention: WorkFusion.

NEW YORK, July 18, 2017 — WorkFusion today released Intelligent Automation 2017 Sunbird, a comprehensive product update that enables WorkFusion customers to automate more work with less effort and easily scale the benefits of automation across a business. Sunbird brings more of WorkFusion’s vision of low-code RPA and cognitive automation into reality and makes its flagship product, Smart Process Automation (SPA), faster, simpler, more scalable and more secure.

“We created Intelligent Automation 2017 Sunbird update in collaboration with our customers,” says WorkFusion’s Head of Product, Mikhail Abramchik. “Their feedback inspired us to build features and improvements to make our product easier to use and more efficient.”

Key customer-driven benefits of the Sunbird update release include:
• Cognitive bots that learn 8 times faster, delivering automation quicker
• More out-of-the-box use cases for faster, easier deployment
• RPA recorder to create bots without coding
• RPA API and universal driver means 50% less effort for surface and Excel automation
• Best-in-class password vault for enterprise-grade security
• Load balancing to eliminate redundancy, which reduces infrastructure cost

These improvements translate to a better experience for WorkFusion’s customers across the boardfrom business users to developers to the C-suite. A simpler process for setting up cognitive bots allows business users to automate more with less coding, while enhanced developer tools and OCR plugin reduce the time and resources developers spend on RPA coding. From an executive perspective, all these enhancements help to scale Intelligent Automation across an entire operation to meet pressing transformation goals, which means increased ROI and better service delivery.

Says Abramchik: “We’re proud to say that Intelligent Automation 2017 Sunbird offers more possibilities to transform and reinvent businesses than any other RPA or cognitive automation product on the market today.”

About WorkFusion
WorkFusion Intelligent Automation empowers enterprise operations to digitize. WorkFusion delivers the quick wins of robotic process automation (RPA) and the longer-term transformation and ROI of AI-powered cognitive automation through products purpose-built for enterprise operations. The world’s leading global banks, insurance, healthcare companies, and BPO firms use WorkFusion Intelligent Automation to become leaner, more productive and agile.  .... " 

Disruption is not the Measure

Sometimes all I hear is disruption, but it is not all there is, and itself is not a measure.  We made money for many years on improvement alone.  So look for disruption, but include hints to value along the way.  By Deloitte in the WSJ:

Disruption Is Not the Key to Winning
Companies can create competitive advantage by leveraging digital technologies to provide exceptional experiences for customers. Six enablers can help.

“Disruptor” is a term used frequently to describe successful modern companies. Airbnb is often credited with disrupting the lodging industry, Uber is cited as a disruptor of the transportation business, and Amazon is widely seen as disrupting retail. Yet while these companies have certainly transformed their industries through innovative business models, disruption isn’t the yardstick for measuring success.  ... " 

Stats on Privately Funded Drone Companies

CBInsights: A look at privately funded drone companies.   " ... .While the US accounts for nearly two-thirds of all drone investment activity, there are at least 11 other countries making bets in the space  ....  Since 2012, private drone companies have raised over $1.6B across 300+ equity investments. Drones make up the second largest sub-category in IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) and account for roughly 20% of total deal activity.

Three of the earliest private drone companies and largest in terms of total funding are 3D Robotics, Airware, and RedZone Robotics. While they lead in the US, expanding internationally has been a challenge because of the complex international regulatory environment, both at country and local levels.  ... " 

Mixed Reality Partner Program

Received:

Introducing the Mixed Reality Partner Program

If your company is a digital agency, systems integrator, or solution provider, the Mixed Reality Partner Program can equip your company with the skills to successfully drive commercially-focused mixed reality solutions for your clients. .... " 

Georgia Institute of Technology Robotarium

Magnus Egerstedt, executive director for the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in the new Robotarium. Been a while since I have been to Ga Tech's lab spaces, we visited while I ran tech in our company's innovation centers.  Impressive then, and they continue to improve.   Had seen the remote lab idea suggested before, but did not know they were doing this.   Need to get there.

This Robot Lab Has No Idea What Its Robots Are Doing    By The Wall Street Journal 
Magnus Egerstedt, executive director for the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in the new Robotarium. 

In the Robotarium, a 10-square-foot table inside the Atlanta laboratory of Magnus Egerstedt, executive director of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, up to 50 ground bots and 20 aerial copters can be remotely controlled by researchers often from other schools, or even foreign countries ....

The Georgia Institute of Technology's (Georgia Tech) Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines supports the Robotarium, an arena where scientists can run experiments on remote-controlled machines.

Georgia Tech's Magnus Egerstedt says unpredictability is a regular feature of the Robotarium, where swarms of ground and airborne robots are put through their paces. Researchers use these swarms to test search-and-rescue scenarios, model flight formations for the U.S. Department of Defense, and predict the interactions of fleets of autonomous cars. Cameras located throughout the arena record the trials so the researchers conducting them can see the results of their experiments.  ... " 

Fingerprint Analysis Scoring

Recall seeing this problem as a classic pattern recognition issue,  closer to being solved.  Note this addresses knowledge content in a pattern, where else might this be used? Anywhere you might want to prioritize an action.

Scientists Automate Key Step in Forensic Fingerprint Analysis
By U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology 

Researchers at Michigan State University and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology have developed an algorithm that automates the fingerprint-analysis process.

The researchers trained the machine-learning algorithm on data from 31 fingerprint experts who had analyzed 100 latent prints each, scoring the quality of each on a 1-to-5 scale. The prints and their scores were used to train the algorithm to determine how much information a latent print contains.

The researchers tested the algorithm by having it score a group of new latent prints. The team submitted those scored prints to Automated Fingerprint Identification System software connected to a database of more than 250,000 rolled prints. The researchers found the scoring algorithm performed slightly better than the average of human examiners involved in the study.

They next want to test the system on a larger dataset, which will enable them to improve the algorithm's performance and more accurately measure its error rate.

From U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology

(More details at the link)

Every Possible Song Has Some Non-Zero Streaming Value

When looking at the streaming concoctions of smart speakers. I quickly noticed the increase of so called 'mood' music playlists, aimed at providing backgrounds for sleeping, studying, working, concentrating, cooking, vanity, etc.   Unclear if any of this works.  But the user, including myself, is quick to bite and try.  And a slightly manipulated search can quickly get you there.   I was not the first to notice this.  Even giants like Spotify can create such 'fake' music.

One company is already commissioning  a version of 'Happy birthday to your name', for every possible given name.  Starting with the most common.  The one for 'Matthew' has already been included in 400,000 playlists.  What is 'fake' is debatable.  Perhaps written by machine and performed by studio artists.   Or created out of bits and snippets of real music.  Or created in its entirety by AI.   Regardless, cheaper to license than music by real artists, and much less expensive than from real, famous composers and artists.   Will we ultimately have to specify detect and specify 'real' music?

The accusation against Spotify in particular is written about in the NYT.  And an article about related efforts in Vulture.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

1,600 Alexas put in AZ State Engineering Dorm Rooms

This could be a very big deal, if loaded with the right software.  And for prompting potential forward looking skill development.   Think smarter.  Will continue to follow what come out of that.  Anyone from the AZ State project, please do contact me.

Amazon will put 1,600 Echo Dots in Arizona State University’s engineering student dorms ... Talk about real-world application   By Dani Deahl on August 17, 2017

This year, students at Arizona State University will have the opportunity to live in college housing with Echo Dots in a program that encourages engineering students to practice voice user interface development skills on consumer hardware.

ASU has built a new work / live space for first-year engineering students called the Tooker House, and those moving into its residence hall will be able to opt in to the program and receive an Echo Dot for their dorm room. The school says Amazon has donated 1,600 Echo Dots and is also providing developer kits to help add the technology to ASU’s existing engineering curriculum.

Outside of Tooker House, any student in ASU’s engineering school can enroll in one of three upcoming fall courses that teach concepts like voice user interface development, which includes Alexa skills. The students will be encouraged to independently build Alexa skills outside the classroom using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), which can ideally be incorporated into student project programs, or solve needs in the local community. ... " 

Respecting Absurd Ideas

Always liked the idea of exploring the edge of possibilities.  Here a look at how to exploit absurd suggestions.   Which break down into Respect the idea, and Play with it.   I would add,  always use the promoter of the idea as the 'expert' in its application .... they can school you in its application, or even why it won't work in context.   Stretch it.  Explore with analogies.   Absurdity can be good.

strategy+business: Corporate Strategies and News Articles on Global Business, Management, Competition and Marketing
 Two Simple Concepts for Getting the Most from Absurd Ideas ... " 

Classifications

We all like to classify things,  its efficient.   Mathematicians just like to classify more formally.  And we use that in data science so we can make use of the results.  It is learning.  An article in Quanta Mag talks this:  Why Mathematicians Like to Classify Things.

Agile in the C-Suite

In Bain & Company:

How to Make Agile Work for the C-Suite   By Eric Garton, Andy Noble

Many companies are attempting a radical — and often rapid — shift from hierarchical structures to more agile environments, in order to operate at the speed required by today’s competitive marketplace. Companies like ANZ, the Australian-based banking giant, have made explicit commitments to adopt agile principles, while others like Zappos, are on the bleeding edge of organizational transformation. Many stopping points exist along the continuum from hierarchy to holacracy. To successfully transform to a more agile enterprise, companies must make conscious choices about where and how to become agile. They have to decide where to adopt agile principles and mindsets, where to use agile problem-solving methodologies to dynamically address strategic and organizational challenges, and where to more formally deploy the full agile model, including self-managed teams.

At Bain & Company, we do not believe that companies should try to use agile methods everywhere. In many functional areas, such as plant maintenance, purchasing, sales calls, or accounting, more traditional structures and processes likely will deliver lower cost, more repeatable outcomes and more scalable organizations. Sorting through every function and every part of your company’s operating model to determine which parts of the agile playbook to adopt requires some deep thinking. It also means you have to figure out how to make the agile and traditional parts of your organization effectively operate with one another. This takes time. .... " 

Inc Looks at Skillz

I see that former colleague Andrew Paradise's game company continues to grow.  An article in Inc has lots of detail:

How the No. 1 Fastest-Growing Company in America Turned Video Games Into a $54 Million Cash Cow    How did America's fastest-growing company learn the skills to conquer? Countless hours of e-sports..... "    By David Whitford  Inc Editor-at-large@davidwhitford

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Facebook Messenger's M

Been asked to go back and look at some of the AI/Assistant components of Facebook M, just launched in the UK after some time in the US.  Facebook's work in the AI and machine learning space continues to expand.

In particular look at their work on dialog research,  covered in the tags below. Ultimately handling dialog intelligently will be key in assistance.  The operationally multilingual approach is also rare.

Everything You Need to Know About Facebook Messenger's M Assistant
Facebook's M assistant can now suggest video or voice calls   By Christian de Looper in DigitalTrends. 

Notice a little "M" logo near the textbox in Facebook Messenger? It's the social media network's artificially intelligent assistant that's meant to offer suggestions in your conversations -- similar to how Google Assistant can jump in to help in conversations via Allo. With the assistant officially rolled out across the U.S., it is now available in both English and Spanish to all Messenger users in the country.  

M is now able to provide suggestions in Spanish -- like sending payments or sharing your location -- and the feature is gradually rolling out in Mexico for iOS and Android, Facebook told Digital Trends. If you'd like to receive M Suggestions in Spanish, you can change the preferred language to Spanish.

M itself is powered by Facebook-built AI, and so far works by popping up in your chats when it detects that it can help with something. For example, if you mention going somewhere, M can detect this and will offer up a quick way to book a ride with Uber or Lyft (you can set your preference) -- all without leaving the Messenger app.

Before diving into what Facebook's M can do, there are a few things to keep in mind. Most importantly, Facebook is still working on M and it's likely the assistant will evolve a lot over the next few months and years. It will also roll out globally at some point as Facebook says users across the globe will "start seeing a redesigned way to compose messages." If you want nothing to do with this AI revolution, or if you think M makes your conversations too cluttered, you can mute it by heading to Messenger's settings -- tap on the person icon on the top-right of Messenger's main page, then tap M settings and toggle Suggestions off.   ... ." 

My coverage of this and many other personal assistants.

Making Calls with Google Home

I just complained about this, and to be clear it has still not rolled out to me.  But apparently is on its way.    Some of the apparent differences are described.    Have been using the Amazon Echo for this since the start of this year,  most often using it as an in-house intercom, which it does well. This for me most useful aspect of Echo calling is not mentioned in the article below.  GHome does not permit specific device intercom or two way service,  just outgoing  phone calls.     The Verge talks the specifics of trying this, will be doing that:

How to make phone calls with Google Home
It’s more flexible than making calls with Amazon’s Alexa  by Chris Welch 

Google’s smart speaker can now pull double duty as a phone for voice calls. The company just confirmed that it’s rolling out Google Home’s calling feature in the US and Canada beginning today. Users can dial anyone in their contacts and local businesses for free — so long as the call recipient is in one of those two countries. The calling feature was first announced back in May.

In turning its speaker into a phone, Google is taking another step to challenge Amazon and its Echo devices, which introduced calling and messaging features earlier this year. But the two companies take a significantly different approach in how the feature actually works and who you’re able to communicate with.   ... " 

See also: Google Home calling support page.

Amazon Pays for Popular Skills

One time small payment, it seems,  so does not seem sustainable.  The incentive is to get you to go back to the device.  Classic engagement.   While I have been impressed by the number of skills available, their quality and interest still seems low.  A stronger memory of your visits ... personalization ... gamification...  Competition ....   real surprise in results.     Would all seem to be better suited to generate an ongoing repeat experience.

Amazon will pay more developers who make popular Alexa skills
Payment is being expanded into more categories
by Thuy Ong@ThuyOng   In the Verge

Gartner Ranks AI as top Tech to Watch

No surprise, Gartner ranks AI as the top technology to watch in coming years.  Includes their time-hype graph of many other technologies.  Via SiliconAngle.      By Mike Wheatley

Machine Teaching

Out of Microsoft Research.  O'Reilly Summarises.

Machine Teaching: A New Paradigm for Building Machine Learning Systems
Patrice Y. Simard, Saleema Amershi, David M. Chickering, Alicia Edelman Pelton, Soroush Ghorashi, Christopher Meek, Gonzalo Ramos, Jina Suh, Johan Verwey, Mo Wang, John Wernsing

The current processes for building machine learning systems require practitioners with deep knowledge of machine learning. This significantly limits the number of machine learning systems that can be created and has led to a mismatch between the demand for machine learning systems and the ability for organizations to build them. We believe that in order to meet this growing demand for machine learning systems we must significantly increase the number of individuals that can teach machines. We postulate that we can achieve this goal by making the process of teaching machines easy, fast and above all, universally accessible.

While machine learning focuses on creating new algorithms and improving the accuracy of "learners", the machine teaching discipline focuses on the efficacy of the "teachers". Machine teaching as a discipline is a paradigm shift that follows and extends principles of software engineering and programming languages. We put a strong emphasis on the teacher and the teacher's interaction with data, as well as crucial components such as techniques and design principles of interaction and visualization.

In this paper, we present our position regarding the discipline of machine teaching and articulate fundamental machine teaching principles. We also describe how, by decoupling knowledge about machine learning algorithms from the process of teaching, we can accelerate innovation and empower millions of new uses for machine learning models.

QR Codes in China

Have not been using or reading about the use of QR codes of late, interesting how they are being used in China. See also links to previous pieces on QR.    Some good, straight forward examples. Key too is how ready the customer base is willing to scan them.

16 Ways QR Codes are Being Used in China
by Connie Chan,   In Andreessen Horowitz Blog

We’ve talked a lot about the rise of QR codes in Asia, but they may now finally be moving from being a “joke” to being more widely adopted in other places as well. Simply put, QR codes let you hyperlink and bookmark the physical world. Just as UPC barcodes allow machine-readable scanning of data (e.g., price) on items in stores, QR codes are a barcode-like vector between online and offline information. And unlike NFC (near-field communication), which is used for reading smart cards, keycards, and contactless payments, QR codes can be easily accessed by any phone in the world that has a camera. They enable everything from online to offline (O2O) marketplaces, which are huge in China, to augmented reality.

Some of the more obvious use cases for them include things like adding a WeChat friend in real life (IRL); subscribing to a WeChat official account (often representing media, stores, people, and others); paying a street vendor or at a convenience store; connecting to wi-fi in a shop; getting additional content from a magazine article; and learning more about styling or the brand from a clothing label. But there are also a number of less-obvious (or not as well covered) uses in China, which I share below, because they show the range of what’s possible everywhere when QR codes disintermediate existing use cases… and enable new ones.  .... 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Assistants Using Wikipedia

A conversation at Wikipediocracy discusses how personal assistants like Alexa, Google Home and Siri use and attribute (or not)  knowledge from the Wikipedia.   Back to the complicated world of licenses and copyrights.   Was also re-introduced to the considerable undercurrent of WP authors complaining about how their work is used.

Autonomous Video for the Home

IEEE Spectrum on 'friendly'  home robotics.   Still awaiting some more detailed looks at its in home use. Continue to cover this, but given the cost will likely not dive in without some convincing.

Kuri Robot Brings Autonomous Video to a Home Near You
Mayfield Robotics improves its home robot, Kuri, adding track wheels, structural updates, and “Kuri Vision,” an autonomous home video program

Most home robots are designed primarily for convenience and function. Not Kuri. Silicon Valley startup Mayfield Robotics designed Kuri specifically to be an adorable home companion. And that means it needed to have one quality you won’t find in most robotic vacuums and other home bots: cuteness. 

Mayfield introduced Kuri earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Since then, the Mayfield team has made several updates to the robot. The most significant one is the home video feature called “Kuri Vision,” which allows Kuri to take video autonomously.

To do that, Kuri has two high definition 1080p cameras, one behind each eye. These cameras take videos intermittently throughout the day, capturing candid moments. You can then review those clips through the app, which runs on iOS and Android, and choose which ones you like best. Then Kuri’s machine learning and image processing kicks in: Based on which images you favorite or delete, Kuri learns to take videos that you’ll like. .... " 

The Dataset that Transformed AI Research

As in the emergence of Big Data, it has been pointed out that the large amount of the right kind of data can make the difference.  And it has, opening an entire industry of image recognition and understanding, by sculpting algorithms to interpret them.  Re opening the idea of AI, that had slumbered since the 80s.

It's not about the Algorithm  

The data that transformed AI research—and possibly the world  In QZ by Dave Gershgorn   @davegershgorn

In 2006, Fei-Fei Li started ruminating on an idea.

Li, a newly-minted computer science professor at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, saw her colleagues across academia and the AI industry hammering away at the same concept: a better algorithm would make better decisions, regardless of the data.

But she realized a limitation to this approach—the best algorithm wouldn’t work well if the data it learned from didn’t reflect the real world.

Her solution: build a better dataset.

“We decided we wanted to do something that was completely historically unprecedented,” Li said, referring to a small team who would initially work with her. “We’re going to map out the entire world of objects.”

The resulting dataset was called ImageNet. Originally published in 2009 as a research poster stuck in the corner of a Miami Beach conference center, the dataset quickly evolved into an annual competition to see which algorithms could identify objects in the dataset’s images with the lowest error rate. Many see it as the catalyst for the AI boom the world is experiencing today. ... " 

Google View of AI: Intelligence and Scale

Via O'Reilly: 

Jeff Dean is a Google senior fellow in the Research Group, where he leads the Google Brain project. Here is a video (and slides) of a talk he gave, "Intelligent Systems with Large Scale Deep Learning." It's a decent intro to AI, with some hints about how Google expects AI to move forward. ....

Monday, August 14, 2017

Identifying Plant Species

Another example of using many images to train via AI.   Also describes the data needs for such a process, done via Deep Learning neural methods.

From the CACM: 
Digitizing plant specimens is opening up a whole new world for researchers looking to mine collections from around the world.

Computer algorithms trained on the images of thousands of preserved plants have learned to automatically identify species that have been pressed, dried and mounted on herbarium sheets, researchers report. ....  " 
Artificial Intelligence Identifies Plant Species for Science  In Nature 
" .... Bonnet's team had already made progress automating plant identification through the Pl@ntNet project. It has accumulated millions of images of fresh plants — typically taken in the field by people using its smartphone app to identify specimens.

Researchers trained similar algorithms on more than 260,000 scans of herbarium sheets, encompassing more than 1,000 species. The computer program eventually identified species with nearly 80% accuracy: the correct answer was within the algorithms’ top 5 picks 90% of the time. That, says Wilf, probably out-performs a human taxonomist by quite a bit. .... " 

Infinite Pool Tables

We actually used this idea for solving cleaning coverage problems.   A rare case where advanced topology math principles came into play in industry.  This was the kind of math that I always liked, not too abstractly symbolic, but visually interesting.

New Shapes Solve the Infinite Pool-Table Problem

NASA and Virtual and Augmented Realities

NASA has been known for experimenting in this space, I have played with a few of their published capabilities.  Here is an overview of their future plans.

NASA’S Next Spacecraft  may launch from virtual and augmented realities.     By Dyllan Furness in Digital Trends.  ..... "

Time Series Insights in Azure

Time Series Insights PREVIEW
Instantly explore and analyze time-series data in IoT solutions
Azure Time Series Insights is a fully managed analytics, storage, and visualization service that makes it simple to explore and analyze billions of IoT events simultaneously. It gives you a global view of your data, letting you quickly validate your IoT solution and avoid costly downtime to mission-critical devices by helping you discover hidden trends, spot anomalies, and conduct root-cause analyses in near real-time.  .... " 

(Start for free at link, taking a look at the root cause example, always a great analytics place to start, because it concerns everyone) 

Cortana Predicting Future Travel Plans

Been watching virtual assistants for some time.    The key appears to be getting as many as possible out there,  on many kinds of hardware,  keep them cheap and for attentive use with voice,  something you use every day,  but not as part of your phone and computer,  link it to a few key common entertainment functions (like music), open them to external skill development and keep coming out with new capabilities.  

Cortana has been available for some time now, but I remain unimpressed.  Note I am a satisfied Windows 10 user, always up to date, so it should be an easy sell. It should be linking to all my office functions, building intelligence into their use, but does not.  I spend more time shutting Cortana off than using it.  Still awaiting its implementation on a stand-alone on what looks to be a premium price  a Harman-Kardon device.

Now word is out that Cortana will predict your future travel plans.    Nice idea, but still not something I do every day,  will try it, but suggest you would be better to get it out in many users and developers hands.   Soon.

More of my coverage of personal assistants. 

Video Detecting Infection Patterns

Looking for patterns in healthcare using video that lead to infection.

Researchers use AI to monitor hospital staff hygiene
The technology could be used to reduce rates of hospital-acquired infections.

By Mallory Locklear,   @mallorylocklear  in Engadget. 

Hospital-acquired infections are a pesky problem and around one in 25 hospital patients have at least one healthcare-associated illness at any given time. To combat this issue, a research team based at Stanford University turned to depth cameras and computer vision to observe activity on hospital wards -- a system that could be used to track hygienic practices of hospital staff and visitors in order to spot behaviors that might contribute to the spread of infection. The work is being presented at the Machine Learning in Healthcare Conference later this week.  ... " 

Text Summarization

A good AI challenge that has useful applications.

An Algorithm Summarizes Lengthy Text Surprisingly Well
Training software to accurately sum up information in documents could have great impact in many fields, such as medicine, law, and scientific research.

by Will Knight  May 12, 2017  in Technology Review.

Who has time to read every article they see shared on Twitter or Facebook, or every document that’s relevant to their job? As information overload grows ever worse, computers may become our only hope for handling a growing deluge of documents. And it may become routine to rely on a machine to analyze and paraphrase articles, research papers, and other text for you.

An algorithm developed by researchers at Salesforce shows how computers may eventually take on the job of summarizing documents. It uses several machine-learning tricks to produce surprisingly coherent and accurate snippets of text from longer pieces. And while it isn’t yet as good as a person, it hints at how condensing text could eventually become automated .... " 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Exoskeleton Controlled by Voice

Adding the voice to being reactive to movements is an interesting approach, another case of multi channel interaction and control.

This exoskeleton can be controlled using Amazon’s Alexa
‘Alexa, let’s go for a walk’     by James Vincent   @jjvincent

Amazon’s Alexa is available on a lot of devices, from lamps to alarm clocks to fridges. But robotics company Bionik Laboratories says it’s the first to add the digital assistant to a powered exoskeleton. The company has integrated Alexa with its lower-body Arke exoskeleton, allowing users to give voice commands like “Alexa, I’m ready to stand” or “Alexa, take a step.”

Movement of the Arke, which is currently in clinical development, is usually controlled by an app on a tablet or by reacting automatically to users’ movements. Sensors in the exoskeleton detect when the wearer shifts their weight, activating the motors in the backpack that help the individual move. For Bionik, adding Alexa can help individuals going through rehabilitation get familiar with these actions.   ... "

On a Bias about First Impressions

A first impression knowledge Bias?

Why our brains lead us astray when we take things at face value   Article by Diana Gitig 
A new book looks at how we overestimate what we can tell from a first impression.

" ... Professor Alexander Todorov’s new book, Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions, is about much more than 19th-century pseudoscience. It’s about first impressions more generally. We all form them instantly—within 30-40 milliseconds, before we can consciously register even seeing a face. And we start exceptionally early on, probably at around seven months of age. We also seem to agree on these impressions, which makes the physiognomists’ promise so appealing.  .... " 

Addressing the Analogy Gap

Reminiscent of using humans as a peripheral, here determining high level relationships, then having the deep learning sort out the lower level patterns.  Points to Mechanical Turk, which we used this way.  At what point are the results general?  The comment about scale is key.  Also the mapping involved, very useful for generalizing and testing.

Crowdsourcing may have just helped close the "analogy gap" for computers    It's vexed computer scientists for decades, but a huge roadblock for true AI is falling    By Greg Nichols for Robotics

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel have used crowdsourcing to teach computers to generate analogies so they can mine datasets to address new challenges by repurposing old concepts. "After decades of attempts, this is the first time that anyone has gained traction computationally on the analogy problem at scale," says CMU professor Aniket Kittur. The researchers hired participants via Amazon Mechanical Turk, tasking them to look through products on an innovation website and find analogous products from the same source. The participants noted which words caused them to link disparate products, mapping each pathway. Computers with deep-learning algorithms used these insights to analyze additional product descriptions and find new analogies. The researchers say this strategy can be used to customize computer programs to identify analogies between patent applications and literature on global problems.  ... " 

China and AI

In the NYT, word on China investments in AI: 

" ... China has laid out a development plan to become the world leader in artificial intelligence (AI) by 2030, with the goal of surpassing its rivals technologically and establishing a domestic industry worth nearly $150 billion. The policy, released by the State Council, is a statement of intent from the upper levels of China's government that the country will be investing heavily to ensure its companies, government, and military jump to the forefront of AI technology. The plan comes while China prepares a multibillion-dollar national investment initiative to support "moonshot" projects, startups, and academic research in AI.  ... "

Saturday, August 12, 2017

IFTTT and Honeywell

Continue to be impressed about how companies are working with IFTTT data streams, most recently brought to my attention:  Honeywell.  Plus other methods using the IFTTT Open Platform.  I have several examples in operation.

From our partners: 
“IFTTT’s network of partners is so extensive that that one connection allows us to get a lot of connections to third-party devices… IFTTT gave us a way to get there very quickly and very inexpensively.”          Scott Harkins   VP, Honeywell Connected Home

Video

Multivariate Regression

In DSC, a good piece explaining multivariate regression.  Not very technical, addresses both the data and the results.  Every manager should understand this simple approach.   A very common kind of problem you run into.   A good thing to walk through with decision makers and their real data.   Also leads you naturally to the next question, how do I determine which variables create the best predictive model?   The next step.

Bikes Existing Among Cars

Troublesome thought that bicycles might need to become so complex to exist in an ecosystem with automobiles.

Bikes May Have to Talk to Self-Driving Cars for Safety's Sake     by Margaret J. Krauss

Researchers envision bicycles communicating with autonomous vehicles so the latter can predict cyclists' movements. Waymo's self-driving autos have honed their predictive abilities over many simulated and actual driven miles, notes Waymo's Nathaniel Fairfield. Waymo's vehicles are programmed to pass bikes in compliance with state laws, or to wait if such action is impossible. Carnegie Mellon University professor Anthony Rowe wants bikes to feed data to cars. "We're trying to...put as much instrumentation on a bike as we can to see if we can predict how it's going to move in the future, so that it could, for example, signal a collision-warning system on a car," Rowe says. His team wants to collect as much information as possible to determine the precise and constant position of a bike in the world, and then determine the least amount of data a car requires from a cyclist for it to trigger an automatic braking system .... " 

Handbook of Neural Computation

Handbook of Neural Computation - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128113189, 9780128113196Below book looks good, but very pricey.    Consider a free version via MIT, also being continually updated, don't have a copy to compare its coverage.    In general today, a book on 'Deep Learning' would cover similar topics than one on 'Neural Computing',  but that is not necessarily implied by the titles.   Artificial neurons do learn by computing,  but the neural computing by itself does not mean learning, yet likely does today.

Handbook of Neural Computation 1st Edition,   Elsevier,2017
Posted by Sanjiban Sekhar Roy 

Handbook of Neural Computation explores neural computation applications, ranging from conventional fields of mechanical and civil engineering, to electronics, electrical engineering and computer science. This book covers the numerous applications of artificial and deep neural networks and their uses in learning machines, including image and speech recognition, natural language processing and risk analysis. Edited by renowned authorities in this field, this work is comprised of articles from reputable industry and academic scholars and experts from around the world. .... " 

Debating Statistical Significance

A considerable look, both technical and non-technical about statistical significance. Have it has been used, and how that is being re-considered.    The original title says this is a nerdy debate, I disagree, it is very important.  Having replicable significance is essential.

The case for, and against, redefining “statistical significance.” 
Updated by Brian Resnick

 There’s a huge debate going on in social science right now. The question is simple, and strikes near the heart of all research: What counts as solid evidence?

The answer matters because many disciplines are currently in the midst of a “replication crisis” where even textbook studies aren’t holding up against rigorous retesting. The list includes: ego depletion, the idea that willpower is a finite resource; the facial feedback hypothesis, which suggested if we activate muscles used in smiling, we become happier; and many more.

Scientists are now figuring out how to right the ship, to ensure scientific studies published today won’t be laughed at in a few years.

One of the thorniest issues with this question is statistical significance. It’s one of the most influential metrics to determine whether a result is published in a scientific journal.  .... " 

Telepresence Robots

These robots should be called 'minimal presence portable robotics',  we looked at them to test the idea of having someone who was very remote introduced to a team in a unique way.   They have lots of problems.  We discovered most of these in our tests.  The article is quite good and complete, covering several devices, and exposing many of their issues.

In particular that the remote person has to be trained on the device and wastes most of their time just navigating and engaging.  And people don't engage well with them, end up just hiding.  Unless there is a very clear need to move about, like oberserving some detailed experience,  like a store layout, you are better off just having a stationary video camera somewhere.   This might seem like a cute idea, but test carefully before you buy a fleet.

The Best Telepresence Robot
After spending 20 hours researching telepresence robots and testing two of the most promising models in office and home settings, we don’t think these devices are ready for prime time. But if you want a telepresence robot to give remote employees a physical presence in your office, the Suitable Technologies Beam Enhanced is the only bot that’s reliable and user-friendly enough to consider. .... "