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Friday, August 17, 2018

Google to Deliver Assistant with a Screen

Google is bringing forward a speaker with a display capability to compete with Echo Show.    Google has the advantage of having the huge content supply called Youtube, while Amazon only have much lesser content to display without access to Youtube.    Have had a test Echo Show in place for some time,  and we have found the visual display to be largely useful in support, rather than as the key interface.  Like best the voice/sound/device interaction in both directions.  Note too the Asian competitors.  Good detail in article below:

Google to debut display-equipped AI speaker before holidays  In Asia Nikkei
Taiwan suppliers told to prepare for hardware blitz to challenge Amazon
CHENG TING-FANG and LAULY LI, Nikkei staff writers

TAIPEI -- Google is preparing to release a smart speaker equipped with a display for this year's holiday season, sources have told the Nikkei Asian Review, escalating the competition with rivals like Amazon.com and Alibaba Group Holding in the market for voice-activated gadgets.

The new product, which is likely to be similar to the Amazon Echo Show, would round out the Google Home range of smart speakers running the artificially intelligent Google Assistant, akin to Amazon's Alexa..... " 

Democratizing Data Access

Note enough is done to link such data with your own, in particular as metadata to support, clarify and validate decisions.  Why not?  Often because the data's existence is not known.

How Data.World Wants to Unify the Data World  in K@W

Most organizations today know that data has value, but they are unable to extract its full potential. Typically, data is buried deep in organizations, in silos, and accessible only to a few people. Brett Hurt and Matt Laessig, co-founders of data.world, want to change all that.

They believe that a unifying and collaborative platform could make data accessible to people within an organization, across organizations and around the globe. This democratization of data and a collaborative approach, they say, can not only help companies become more efficient and more competitive, it can also help solve big global problems such as climate change. In a recent conversation with Knowledge@Wharton, Hurt, CEO, and Laessig, COO, discussed their vision for data.world and why they believe it can change the world.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows:

Knowledge@Wharton: You announced the launch of data.world in July 2016. What was your original vision? Two years on, how has that changed?

Brett Hurt: Our vision was to create the most meaningful, the most abundant, and the most collaborative data resource on the planet. This is one of those “100-year missions.” It’s very ambitious. We want to change the world. [In the two years since we started,] we have become the world’s largest collaborative data community. We’ve launched a tremendous amount of enterprise functionality for our clients. We’ve grown faster than GitHub [a leading software development platform] grew at this stage, which is really exciting, especially given the fact that Microsoft recently announced that it will buy GitHub for $7.5 billion. .... " 

Streaming Low Power Video on IOT

The ideahas been being talked for some time, low power will likely be important.

Researchers’ low-power video streaming breakthrough could boost the IoT  By  Maria Deutscher in SiliconAngle

University of Washington researchers have developed a method of transmitting video using up to 10,000 times less power than existing techniques that could enable the development of much more capable connected devices.

To demonstrate the breakthrough, the team built a prototype implementation (pictured) that was announced on Wednesday. They also shared details about the system’s power savings approach, which is based on a communications method known as backscattering. .... "

Ethics via Science Fiction

A way to stretch thinking beyond the realm of current science and into its evolution.

How to Teach Computer Ethics through Science Fiction
By Emanuelle Burton, Judy Goldsmith, Nicholas Mattei

Communications of the ACM, August 2018, Vol. 61 No. 8, Pages 54-64
10.1145/3154485
Computer science faculty have a responsibility to teach students to recognize both the larger ethical issues and particular responsibilities that are part and parcel of their work as technologists. This is, however, a kind of teaching for which most of us have not been trained, and that faculty and students approach with some trepidation. In this article, we explore the use of science fiction as a tool to enable those teaching artificial intelligence to engage students and practitioners about the scope and implications of current and future work in computer science. We have spent several years developing a creative approach to teaching computer ethics, through a course we call "Science Fiction and Computer Ethics."7,8,9,18,28 The course has been taught five times at the University of Kentucky and two times at the University of Illinois at Chicago and has been successful with students, as evidenced by increasing and full enrollments; high teaching-evaluation numbers; positive anonymous comments from students; nominations and awards for good teaching; and invitations to speak about the course on conference panels and in talks. .... " 

Scientists Favorite Algorithms

Have never thought of algorithms this way ... but we all have favorites.  What we learned first, is easiest to use, is most useful, has the fewest cautions.  Course that is also a bias. So the fact that a scientist has one is not necessarily a good thing.   But with that caution in mind, hearing the reasons why the method is their favorite is instructive.

World class AI experts share what their favorite algorithm is   By Jim Stolze in TNW

From keeping our inboxes free from SPAM to mining your favorite cryptocurrencies, algorithms are all around us. While we feel like we’re drowning in an ocean of big data, clever algorithms are actually helping us to make sense of it all. And although these algorithms are ruling the world, we seem to know very little about them. How do they work? By whom were they created?

I decided to ask the top experts (professors and professionals) which algorithms they think made the biggest contribution to artificial intelligence and science in general. All answers will be at display at the official Algorithm Hall of Fame, but for now we’re giving you the exclusive. ... "

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Wal-Mart Soars, Plus Big Online Jump

The online move is a big deal.

Walmart soars with fastest sales growth in a decade, big online jump   By Marianne Wilson in CSA

Walmart showed its might in the second quarter, with earnings and sales that topped the Street amid surging digital sales and a jump in store sales.

The discount giant’s revenue rose 3.8% to $128.03 billion in the quarter ended July 31, beating analysts’ estimates for $125.97 billion. Same-store U.S. sales increased 4.5%, led by grocery, apparel and seasonal; foot traffic was up 2.2%. Grocery sales rose the most in nine years, helped by improved fresh-food offerings. Same-store sales at Walmart’s Sam’s Club rose 5%, the biggest increase in five years.

Walmart has been making significant investments online — from its improved e-commerce site to expanded grocery delivery options — and the results appear to be paying off. Online U.S. sales jumped 40% during the second quarter, and the retailer reiterated it is on track to increase U.S. e-commerce sales by 40% for the full year.   ... "

Kroger Rolls out Autonomous Delivery Test

Not completely driverless, and not using the Nuro autonomous 'shelf' (at the right)   But still it shows the seriousness of Kroger about the idea.  Still think a completely autonomous system will  get in the way of regulations and roadway management  issues, so it may take some time to have this concept happen.  But at least now you can go and see this mockup of the idea.   I live just across and down the street from a Kroger, so I volunteer to manage a local test and publicity. 

Kroger starts testing self-driving grocery delivery in Arizona in Engadget

You can try it at one store in Scottsdale.

You now have a chance to try Kroger's self-driving grocery delivery... if you happen to live in the right part of Arizona. The chain has launched its driverless delivery pilot at a single Fry's Food Stores location in Scottsdale, giving you a chance to receive foodstuffs courtesy of Nuro's autonomous vehicles. Order through the Fry's website or app and the robotic courier can deliver either the same day or next day for a $6 flat fee. You'll have to live in the same 85257 ZIP code, so you can't make them drive across town just to satisfy your curiosity.

Sadly, you won't see Nuro's custom R1 vehicle (above) roll up to your home in the earliest stages of the pilot -- it'll be a modified Toyota Prius instead, and the very first phase will include a just-in-case driver. The purpose-built machines will only start delivering your goods sometime in the fall, after they've completed certification and testing. ... "

Alibaba Looks at Shopping Experience with VR

Have been asked to take a closer look at this.   The extent to which it engages consumers,and the type of products being sold will be essential. Video at the link.

Alibaba Is Using AR To Change The Shopping Experience   by Bobby Carlton in VRScout

Alibaba is launching Taobao Buy, a new shopping experience that uses AR technology to bring 3D versions of products into the real world.

E-commerce supergiant, Alibaba Group, recently announced Taobao Buy, an AR infused shopping experience that reimagines how you shop online with an interactive experience that looks and feels futuristic, but is also easy to use.

Alibaba’s new AR infused shopping app perfectly blends the real-world with 3D images for a result that looks like something straight out of big budget science fiction movie.

To bring this experience to life, a 3,200-square-feet ‘futuristic shopping district’ will be assembled inside a building along scenic West Lake in Hangzhou, which is an area known for having influenced poets and painters throughout Chinese history, as well as being a location for reflecting an idealized fusion between humans and nature; something the designers behind Taobao Buy wanted to be sure to capture.  .... "

L'Oreal and Augmented Reality

We worked on beauty applications that used aspects of augmented reality to market.   Had not heard of Facebook Camera Products.   Note L'Oreal's acquisition of Modiface.

L’Oreal Teams with Facebook on AR Initiative  By CGT 

L’Oréal has partnered with Facebook to develop augmented reality experiences through Facebook Camera products. The effort will be driven by ModiFace, the beauty AR specialist that L’Oréal acquired in March.

Through direct, seamless connections between the two platforms, ModiFace and Facebook will let worldwide consumers “try on” cosmetics from L’Oréal brands including Maybelline, L’Oréal Paris, Lancôme, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Urban Decay and Shu Uemura. The first experience will be launched by the NYX Professional brand at the end of August.

“Facebook and L’Oréal share the vision that AR is becoming key for product and brand discovery and purchase,” said Lubomira Rochet, chief digital officer at L’Oréal.“We’re at that magical moment when technologies have matured enough and consumer appetite is growing. One fascinating aspect of this partnership is that it keeps us innovating the beauty user experience. After having adapted our creatives and contents to a mobile-first world, it will be interesting to see how AR is going to change the creative playbook of our industry." .... " 

Question Database for Assistants

Useful to have a benchmark dataset of context and questions. 

New Data Could Help Siri, Alexa Know When They're Being Unhelpful
in Quartz      By Dave Gershgorn

A new dataset from Stanford University is designed to train artificial intelligence (AI) systems to understand how to answer questions more effectively by knowing when they lack sufficient information to answer them accurately. The update to the Stanford Question Answering Dataset (SQuAD 2.0) upgrades a dataset companies often use to tout the question-answering precision of their language-understanding AI systems. Earlier datasets operated by providing a paragraph of text to the algorithm, and then asking it to answer some questions. Those datasets usually assumed the answer actually existed in the text, but SQuAD 2.0-trained AIs must decide either how to answer the question correctly or whether it is answerable. SQuAD 2.0 has about 50,000 unanswerable questions that loosely relate to the subject matter of the reference text. The first attempt to train question-answering systems on the dataset yielded 66% accuracy. The publishing of SQuAD 2.0 will enable other scientists to train algorithms to improve their question-answering capability. ... "

AI Use Cases

Useful, based on a study of 400 use examples.  Still speculative, since it depends on the complexity of these use cases.  In what was needed to solve the problem and the nature and stability of the data involved, and the support from decision makers.  Still a proponent of finding simpler problems for quick wins, to learn the context.  Follow the  most attention, which is often driven by money.  Or risk or disruptive competition.

Most of AI’s Business Uses Will Be in Two Areas
By Michael Chui, Nicolaus Henke,Mehdi Miremadi in HBR

While overall adoption of artificial intelligence remains low among businesses (about 20% upon our last study), senior executives know that AI isn’t just hype. Organizations across sectors are looking closely at the technology to see what it can do for their business. As they should—we estimate that 40% of all the potential value that can created by analytics today comes from the AI techniques that fall under the umbrella “deep learning,” (which utilize multiple layers of artificial neural networks, so-called because their structure and function are loosely inspired by that of the human brain). In total, we estimate deep learning could account for between $3.5 trillion and $5.8 trillion in annual value.

However, many business leaders are still not exactly sure where they should apply AI to reap the biggest rewards. After all, embedding AI across the business requires significant investment in talent and upgrades to the tech stack as well as sweeping change initiatives to ensure AI drives meaningful value, whether it be through powering better decision-making or enhancing consumer-facing applications.

Through an in-depth examination of more than 400 actual AI use cases across 19 industries and nine business functions, we’ve discovered an old adage proves most useful in answering the question of where to put AI to work, and that is: “Follow the money.”  .... " 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

More on Kroger and Alibaba


More and expert comments on this.   Also notice the assistant augmented Tmall platform, testing for US application?  Large CPG's now getting private label competition from abroad in new markets?

Kroger teams with Alibaba to sell private labels to half-a-billion Chinese consumers
Who doesn’t want to access a billion-plus people who are much further along on the digital adoption journey than the U.S.?

by George Anderson in Retailwire

Kroger is looking to make its first overseas move a big one. America’s largest operator of supermarkets announced yesterday that it will test an online store selling its private label goods in China using Alibaba’s Tmall platform.

The pilot program will initially test sales of Kroger’s Simple Truth natural and organic private label. Last year, sales of Simple Truth products exceeded $2 billion, making it the largest natural and organic brand in the U.S., according to Kroger. Simple Truth is the second largest label in Kroger’s private brands portfolio. .... " 

DefCon Reports on Whats Hackable

Wired reports on the Defcon hacker conference.  As usual fairly scary, and I am not that paranoid.

A weekend of security updates from the DefCon conference has confirmed what the most paranoid of us already knew: Pretty much anything is hackable. From Macbooks to Androids, pacemakers to hotel systems, this list may terrify you but—as your internet friend—we felt you needed to know. ... " 

Cortana and Alexa are Talking

Always been intrigued by this, and how it would work.   How will the work be handed off?  Just by a choice of their users?   I like to think of this as a conversation between two agents, that could cooperate to provide value.  Look forward to see a clear example, and a look at the future.  Includes video announcement.   And could this also include other Azure based chatbots?    I have both assistants in place, so if they want to test it ....

After a long delay, Amazon’s and Microsoft’s bots are finally talking  By Daniel Terdiman in Wired

Nearly a year ago, Amazon and Microsoft said they had worked out a deal to integrate their two digital assistants, Alexa and Cortana. You’d be able to get your Amazon Echo device to do things like check your Exchange email or set or check calendar appointments, while also being able to use Cortana to get Alexa to do things like turn on the lights, play Jeopardy, place orders on Amazon.com, access Alexa skills, and so on....."

Follow a Tuna on the Blockchain

An example of the most straightford use of blockchains.  Follow a Tuna on the Blockchain.  From Fiji to Brooklyn.   from a post in Wired. By Jeffrey Rotman

Seeking Cognitive Infrastructures for Process ML

Have been reviewing work we did with machine learning as far back as 1998.  We initially installed and used inductive techniques to learn and adapt rules from data.  This was useful, but not for big data applications.   At the time we also chatted with SOAR which was working on the problem as well.  Our efforts ended.  But now I am reexamining the problem of general machine learning.

Convolutional Neural nets and their variants have been very successful for solving difficult, data greedy pattern problems.   But are not necessarily useful for dealing with complex business process  where the operations that need to be learned consist of many steps, and depend on complex context defined by data.

I also discovered that while most AI oriented companies we worked with then no long exist.  A  SOAR applying company still exists: (https://soartech.com). A quick scan of the work they mention seems to indicate much of what they are working on is for DOD and Government applications.

Wikipedia provides an overview of SOAR
The SOAR architecture still exists and is posted at a U of Mich site: https://soar.eecs.umich.edu/

Anyone have experience with SoarTech as a means of machine learning in process?  Willing to talk?  Collaborate in learning or use?  Contact me.   On Linkedin.   Will be diving deeper.

" ... At SoarTech, our focus is in the development of intelligent software that reasons like humans do, to automate complex tasks, simplify human-machine interactions, or model human behaviors. Our philosophy is three-fold: to be an augmentation to, not a replacement of, the human; to think “top-down, not bottom-up;” and to be transparent so that decisions and processing are communicated to the human and in human-like terms.  ... " 

( note that some of their efforts deal with drone swarms, also mentioned here.  I also note there is not much mention of 'learning' in the applications they mention)

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Kroger Teams with Alibaba in First International Venture

Big news.   Getting Kroger's premium private label into China. Will there bean exchange of technology as well?   See Alibaba's Tmall effort.

Kroger teams with Amazon rival Alibaba to sell groceries in China
By Alexander Coolidge, Cincinnati Enquirer

In a bold move against Amazon, Kroger is teaming with internet giant Alibaba to sell groceries in China.

The move will be the Cincinnati-based supermarket chain's first-ever international venture and focus on selling dietary supplements and private label goods, including natural and organic foods. Kroger characterized the venture as a "pilot" that will showcase its house brands.

"E-commerce enables Kroger to quickly scale to reach new customers and markets where we don't operate physical stores, starting with China," said Yael Cosset, Kroger's chief digital officer. 

Kroger's products will appear on Alibaba's Tmall Global platform, China's largest business-to-consumer marketplace. Launched in 2014, Tmall targets China consumers who want premium products. The platform provides brands and retailers without operations in China to build virtual storefronts and ship products into China.  ... " 

AI Hasn't Happened Yet

A thoughtful piece.   We have experienced much of this.   It has not happened, but we have achied some new hints as to directions.

Artificial Intelligence — The Revolution Hasn’t Happened Yet  By Michael Jordan in Medium

Michael I. Jordan is a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and the Department of Statistics at UC Berkeley.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the mantra of the current era. The phrase is intoned by technologists, academicians, journalists and venture capitalists alike. As with many phrases that cross over from technical academic fields into general circulation, there is significant misunderstanding accompanying the use of the phrase. But this is not the classical case of the public not understanding the scientists — here the scientists are often as befuddled as the public. The idea that our era is somehow seeing the emergence of an intelligence in silicon that rivals our own entertains all of us — enthralling us and frightening us in equal measure. And, unfortunately, it distracts us. ... " 

Potential of Drone Swarms

We examined, and here Wired debunks their current capabilities.  Teleoperation is not an autonomous swarm.  But if cars can be autonomous, how soon can swarms?

Drone Swarms as you Know them are Just An Illusion - For now.   By Liam Cobb in Wired

" ... It’s an evocative word, swarms, and innocuous enough when applied to one of Intel’s drone light shows. But it’s tinged with alarm—if drones can dance at twilight, they can also attack. Sure enough, a gang outside Denver sent a small fleet to harass FBI agents on a raid earlier this year. In Syria, rebels reportedly sicced a squadron of quadrotors on a Russian base. To the media, both events were swarms.... 

Take comfort, then, in this buzzkill: “The swarm is really an illusion,” says Mac Schwager, an assistant professor at Stanford who studies multi­robot systems. Schwager, along with many of his colleagues, resists the word. Too entomological, conjuring as it does frillions of bugs surging as a single superorganism through the air. (Flocking birds, in fact, were the field’s original inspiration—though the occasional roboticist does try studying insects.) When drones “swarm,” on the other hand, they’ve been choreographed in advance, or else are being controlled by human minders with joysticks. Even the DOD’s recent military demos have required teleoperators. ... "

50 Plus Examples of Business Blockchains

Interesting to see the breadth,   here the descriptions are not consistent, but instructive.  'Taking over' is an overstatement.  'Showing they can be useful' would be more accurate.  I see only one example clearly to use a 'smart contract', one by AIG in the Insurance domain.

50+ Examples of How Blockchains are Taking Over the World
Posted by Kelly Quintana in DSC
Article written by Matteo Gianpietro Zago.
An infographic and text.... " 

Books only Physical Media with Growing Sales

Found this remarkable since I have been radically downsizing my own physical library.

PwC's Entertainment and Media Outlook in Strategy+Business 

Why books are the only form of physical media whose sales are growing.

The media and entertainment industry has a long history of embracing disruptive innovations, from the printing press to the personal computer. But the rapid shift from physical to digital over the past decade or so has been truly revolutionary. In general, physical media has suffered a great deal. Printed newspapers and magazines have migrated to online versions, while DVDs and CDs have been supplanted by film- and music-streaming services.

But the oldest form of physical media is actually holding up quite well. According to PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2018–2022, the consumer market for physical, printed books is holding its own in an increasingly digital world (see “Print Presses On”). Between 2018 and 2022, sales of physical video games, home video, and music are expected to decline each year, in some instances by double-digit percentages. By contrast, sales of physical books are expected to grow modestly, by about 1 percent annually, every year. By 2022, PwC expects consumers around the world will spend US$50.3 billion on books in physical or audio (i.e., non-electronic) form, compared with $47.8 billion in 2017. ... " 

Virtualitics

 I had previously mentioned Virtualitics here.  Currently examining.  Here is a new short presentation:

Michael Amori, Virtualitics' CEO presents at Fintech Innovation Lab NYC demo day.

Fintech Innovation Lab NY Presents: Virtualitics

" ... In SiliconAngle:  Virtualitics offers a data visualization platform that combines artificial intelligence, Big Data and virtual reality to create interactive 3D data models. Virtualitics’ platform is a VR application that allows users to generate complex data models composed of up to 10 dimensions of data, all in a shared virtual office where users can collaborate and analyze the data together. Using machine learning, Virtualitics’ platform is also able to recommend optimal visualizations that gives users a better understanding of the whole picture for their data. ... "  

Online Overview and Documentation.   Continuously being updated.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Modeling User Journeys

Have had a few explorations into 'User Journey's.  Its a trace of how people travel through coded interaction. From where they begin, what choices they make and where they end up. Ideally measuring how much the journey results in value.  Its a kind of business process model based on a path of interactions.  It can be used to plan, construct and even optimize user interactions.  Here an example by the marketplace Etsy.  with considerable detail regarding integration of machine learning.

Modeling User Journeys via Semantic Embeddings  Posted by Nishan Subedi in O'Reilly

Etsy is a global marketplace for unique goods. This means that as soon as an item becomes popular, it runs the risk of selling out. Machine learning solutions that simply memorize the popular items are not as effective, and crafting features that generalize well across items in our inventory is important. In addition, some content features such as titles are sometimes not as informative for us since these are seller provided, and can be noisy.

In this blog post, I will cover a machine learning technique we are using at Etsy that allows us to extract meaning from our data without the use of content features like titles, modeling only the user journeys across the site. This post assumes understanding of machine learning concepts,  specifically word2vec. ... " 

A good Tensorflow Tutorial on Word2vec.

Health Wristband

Have heard of a number of related applications, gets back to the applications that run on these to provide value.   Most notable recent Apple monitors via a watch interface.  The picture included  made this one look primitive.

Smart Wristband With Wireless Link Could Monitor Health, Environmental Exposures  By Rutgers Today 

   Rutgers University–New Brunswick researchers say they have created a smart wristband with a wireless connection to smartphones that will enable a new era of personal health and environmental monitoring devices.

The university’s Mehdi Javanmard said, “It's like a Fitbit but has a biosensor that can count particles, so that includes blood cells, bacteria, and organic or inorganic particles in the air.”

The wristband includes a flexible circuit board and a biosensor, as well as a circuit to process electrical signals, a microcontroller for digitizing data, and a Bluetooth module to transmit data wirelessly.

Information from the biosensor is sent to a smartphone, where an app processes and displays the data. ... " 

Animating Sprites

We worked with very early versions of this idea to animate prototypes of advertisements.

AI-driven animations will make your digital avatars come to life
You've never seen sprites move like this.
Andrew Tarantola, @terrortola

Even with the assistance of automated animation features in modern game-development engines, bringing on-screen avatars to life can be an arduous and time-consuming task. However, a recent string of advancements in AI could soon help drastically reduce the number of hours needed to create realistic character movements.

Take basketball games like the NBA2K franchise, for example. Prior to 2010, the on-screen players -- be it Shaq, LeBron, KD or Curry -- were all modeled on regular-sized people wearing motion-capture suits. ... " 

More on Ford Exoskeletons

Not only that we will use Robots, but that we will become robots.

Exoskeletons Debut at Ford Factories 
in ZDNet  By Charlie Osborne

Ford plans to offer exoskeleton technology to its factory employees worldwide. The EksoVest exoskeleton is designed to elevate a worker's arms during overhead tasks, both allowing wearers to move their arms freely and also delivering 15 pounds of assistance and support for each arm; the higher a user reaches, the more support the exoskeleton offers. The automaker’s assembly line workers lift their arms during overhead tasks about one million times per year, creating substantial risk for fatigue and upper-body injuries. EksoVests will reduce the physical stress experienced by staff working on overhead tasks. Ford's Bruce Hettle says ergonomics research, assembly improvements, and lift-assist technologies have helped the company design safe and efficient assembly lines “while maintaining high vehicle quality for our customers.”... " 

Intelligent Automation Starting Simply

ts not general intelligence, its intelligence that augments and automates business process.  Including the design of that process.  RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is a useful start.  It may include advanced machine learning capabilities to address specific subproblems, but it is often useful to start with simpler elements.

Opinion Looking beyond RPA to intelligent automation     By Wayne Butterfield

The automation journey can be long and arduous for many organizations. Beginning with robotic process automation allows organizations to immediately find opportunities to increase productivity and accuracy in the back office. This is, however, just the first stage of a process that can increase operational efficiency and create even more value across the organization.

This stage is defined by technologies that build on RPA: intelligent automation. These technologies provide a structured output, which is exactly what RPA bots require in order to be at their most efficient.

Intelligent automation technologies provide the following features:  ... "

Research on Sound in Shopping

We researched the idea of how sound changed shopping behavior,  in laboratory and real store environments.  Ambient background music can create mood.  Focused multidimensional sound can influence interest in specific areas of a shelf.  Sound can be mixed with visual cues to change attention.   More on this topic can be found here at the 'Sound' and "Senses" tags.  Note how this is a means of augmented reality.    Here is more recent research with expert comments at the link.

What’s the ideal soundtrack for grocery shopping?    by Tom Ryan in Retailwire.

A new study from the University of South Florida finds that loud music in a restaurant or grocery store leads to more unhealthy food choices, while quieter music leads to heathier ones.

Ambient music can influence healthy or unhealthy food buying, according to the researchers, because it directly impacts heart rate and arousal. Softer music has a calming effect, making people more mindful of what people order in a restaurant. Louder environments increase stimulation and stress, leading to less-mindful choices.

Beyond restaurants, the research offers insights into how grocers can influence in-store buying behavior.  ..... " 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Survey: Understanding the Agile Workplace

McKinsey Survey.  Definitions and Organzations.

The agile manager     By Aaron De Smet in McKinsey
Who manages in an agile organization? And what exactly do they do?

The agile workplace is becoming increasingly common. In a McKinsey survey of more than 2,500 people across company sizes, functional specialties, industries, regions, and tenures, 37 percent of respondents said their organizations are carrying out company-wide agile transformations, and another 4 percent said their companies have fully implemented such transformations. The shift is driven by proof that small, multidisciplinary teams of agile organizations can respond swiftly and promptly to rapidly changing market opportunities and customer demands. Indeed, more than 80 percent of respondents in agile units report that overall performance increased moderately or significantly since their transformations began.  ... "

The IOT and Smart Factories

Notes on IOT, AI and Smart Factories     - Franz

Draft Outline for an upcoming presentation to a global company ....

In the earliest days of AI our management come to us and asked:   How will these methods allow us to manufacture, market and deliver our goods in new and much more efficient ways?  The term 'Lights out' manufacturing was brought up.  Manufacturing operations that would adjust themselves, repair, ingest raw materials, work with minimal human labor and deliver goods.

In the early 1990s the technology was not yet ready to make this happen, though we had some narrow, limited successes.   But things have changed now.   How much more can we do today?   And in the coming years, how will we advance to the goals expressed then? 

The piece mentioned below starts to address this.    About leveraging IOT infrastructure, Embedded analytics, AI, Machine learning, Robotics, Human/Machine Collaborative systems, Process Models,  .... and more .... Thoughts?
---------------------------------------

The Internet of Things in Manufacturing: Integration of Smart Factories  Posted by Diana M , in IOT Central 

From smart devices and home automation systems to smart cars and smart buildings, the Internet of Things brings important innovations in our life. In the next years, IoT solutions will continue to take the center stage in the tech environment.

With huge investment in this technology, the global IoT spending is expected to reach $1.29 trillion by 2020 and $1.4 trillion by 2021 (IDC report).

For now, manufacturing industry is still the main investor in the Internet of Things. According to recent surveys, 66% of manufacturers say that the use of IoT solutions is essential for staying competitive and resolving various issues.  .... "

Replacing Apps with Neural Nets

Well perhaps some of them.  We wrote neural nets from the ground up before they existed in conveniently usable libraries, and they are good for some things, but not others.    I don't see how the straight logic coding, also a part of an OS,  would be best done with nets.

Google Has Begun Replacing Apps With Neural Networks from Psfk
Google is advancing its AI capabilities to give 'ambient awareness' to the Pixel 2 phone   By Jennifer Passas

Google is making phones smarter with machine learning—and essentially replacing apps with a more advanced operating system. Now Playing, a new feature for the Pixel 2 phone, is essentially a new-and-improved Shazam: it is constantly listening and able to match 70,000 songs without help from the internet.

Instead of users having to ask what song is playing in the background, Now Playing shows the answer immediately on the phone’s locked screen. Google is calling this anticipatory technology “ambient awareness,” which took years of development. Since the audio matching is done on the phone rather than the cloud, a database is needed. In order to ID a song, it must match an audio fingerprint stored in the phone’s database.

The researchers who created Now Playing first built a database of 70,000 sound fingerprints that are a snapshot of a song’s waveforms. To do so, they used a neural net that transformed audio fingerprints into recognizable and unique tiny files. This was difficult because the audio fingerprint had to have enough data to be useful with distorted samples. ... "

What is Machine Learning?

Straightforward introduction.

How to Think About Machine Learning    by Jason Brownlee 
Machine learning is a large and interdisciplinary field of study.

You can achieve impressive results with machine learning and find solutions to very challenging problems. But this is only a small corner of the broader field of machine learning often called predictive modeling or predictive analytics.

In this post, you will discover how to change the way you think about machine learning in order to best serve you as a machine learning practitioner.

After reading this post, you will know:

What machine learning is and how it relates to artificial intelligence and statistics.
The corner of machine learning that you should focus on.
How to think about your problem and the machine learning solution to your problem.

Let’s get started. ... ." 

Leveraging Social Determinants of Health

As I understand this,  the high ROI comes from decreasing unnecessary costs.   Which shows sometimes simple data analysis can provide value.  Just make sure to continue to measure these results.

What Montefiore's 300% ROI from social determinants investments means for the future of other hospitals ...   in Healthcarefinance  via Ryan Doherty of MidMark

By Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Montefiore Health System in the Bronx has tackled the social determinants of health by investing in housing, a move that has cut down on emergency room visits and unnecessary hospitalizations for an annual 300 percent return on investment.

"The lowest I've seen is 300 percent ROI, some years it's higher," said Henie Lustgarten, consultant and president of the Bronx Health & Housing Consortium, an organization Montefiore helped to develop.

Investing in the social determinants of health is becoming more commonplace even as hospitals and physicians ask whether it is their place to step outside of traditional care to not only look at, but try to fix, other reasons that keep patients from getting better.

Value-based care and managed care has spurred many to realize that food insecurity, isolation, lack of housing and other factors must be addressed in their populations for continuity of care to succeed as a real goal.

For many hospitals, buying food and investing in housing becomes less expensive than having a patient return to the emergency room numerous times a year. 

The big opportunity for any hospital 

America's Health Insurance Plans has shown that payers support social determinants issues. By collecting information from members about their social determinants and running that up against claims and other data, insurers can get a more complete picture of members' health, and opportunities for improvement, AHIP said in blog posted Monday.

Addressing social determinants has led to a 26 percent decrease in emergency spending, AHIP said, citing a recent U.S. News op-ed by Ken Burdick, CEO of WellCare Health Plans.

The WellCare findings saw an additional 10 percent reduction in healthcare costs – equating to more than $2,400 in annual savings per person – for people who were successfully connected to social services compared to a control group of members who were not.  ...  "

Watson and Healthcare

IBM responds to recent suggestions that they have not made enough progress on Watson for Healthcare.   And that the bet on Watson has not been successful.   Interesting information and links to more:

Watson Health: Setting the Record Straight
August 11, 2018 | Written by: Dr. John E. Kelly,  IBM

We at IBM have a lot to be proud of, including our pioneering work with Watson Health. Unfortunately, some media reports, including an August 11th story published by The Wall Street Journal, distort and ignore facts when suggesting IBM has not made “enough” progress on bringing the benefits of AI to healthcare.  I feel it is imperative to set the record straight.

First, let’s level set.  It is true, as the article reports, that we at IBM have placed a big bet on healthcare.  We have done this for two reasons: 1) Most importantly, we know that AI can make a big difference in solving medical challenges and supporting the work of the healthcare industry, and 2) We see an enormous business opportunity in this area as the adoption of AI increases.

Our focus at IBM Watson Health is in applying next-generation AI technology to cancer care and other major healthcare challenges so people around the world can live better, healthier, longer lives. We have built three distinct cancer tools that help physicians around the world treat patients: ... " 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Data as Capital Asset

Looked at this in some depth, with an aim to measure it. And consider also its element of risk.

Data will be a ‘capital asset’ in the future; companies must monetize, capitalize now   By Teryn O'Brien in SiliconAngle.

As the economy begins to become increasingly digitized, big data is becoming a crucial asset for companies and organizations moving forward. It is the currency that will move and influence customers, and companies are wrestling through many questions and challenges as they move forward into a digital transformation in order to capitalize on big data growth.

“We actually are starting to call data a capital asset. It’s not very different from the other things that you have on your balance sheet — there just isn’t a scientific method or an agreed-upon method to really value it yet,” said Varun Chhabra (pictured), senior director of product marketing, storage and analytics, at Dell EMC. “But I am sure that 10 years from now or maybe earlier, just like we have stock exchanges, you could probably have data exchanges where you have data be traded. It’s monetized; it’s valued.”  ... "

Chhabra spoke with Lisa Martin (@LuccaZara), host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, and guest host Keith Townsend (@CTOAdvisor), principal at The CTO Advisor, at the Dell Technologies World event in Las Vegas. They discussed the increasingly digitized economy and big data challenges. (* Disclosure below.)   .... "

Augmenting Humans with Exoskeletons

Course we have been augmenting people with tools for ages.  But the idea of more directly augmenting the body with exoskeletons is interesting too.  Ford is now doing this more generally, which will be interesting to watch, will all physical workers soon have exoskeletons?  To add strength, to limit injury?  Is this a step towards general robotics? 

Ford thinks exoskeletons are ready for prime time in its factories
Automaker hopes to reduce injuries with mechanical help.

Roberto Baldwin, @strngwys in Engadget via O'Reilly Newsletter
08.07.18 in Transportation  ... "

Tutorial for Genetic Algorithms

A code up via of GA's here for a traveling salesman problem.  I would use existing tested codes for this, but laying this out is instructive.

By Eric Stoltz

" ...Evolution of a salesman: A complete genetic algorithm tutorial for Python
Drawing inspiration from natural selection, genetic algorithms (GA) are a fascinating approach to solving search and optimization problems. While much has been written about GA (see: here and here), little has been done to show a step-by-step implementation of a GA in Python for more sophisticated problems. That’s where this tutorial comes in! Follow along and, by the end, you’ll have a complete understanding of how to deploy a GA from scratch. .... "