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Friday, July 03, 2020


I often follow university and lab work of interest that matches my long problem solving experience.  Sometimes I mention it for my own future purposes, or if I know someone else could find it useful.  We had many  people visit our innovation centers.  and I said the blog would be a place to follow new advances.   I do not get paid to place particular posts here,   but always glad to use or discuss the ideas involved. 

Manufacturing Cost Predictor

Overall a good idea, especially if a process model of existing manufacturing systems are maintained and this can be used to price out changes.

Manufacturing Cost Prediction

Purdue University News
Chris Adam
May 26, 2020

Researchers at Purdue University and the Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center (IN-MaC) have developed software that can help manufacturers better predict and adjust their costs. The software tool provides a drag-and-drop palette of process steps that allow the user to change the manufacturing process line with different configurations, such as equipment, robots, and employees. Users can see how each change affects the final cost of the product, as each process step is characterized by cost parameters that can be adjusted to study the effects on overall manufacturing costs. Said IN-MaC's Ben Haley, "This software helps manufacturers strategically plan their operations and then evaluate changes, all within the scope of understanding how everything affects the total cost."   .... '

Measuring Network Effects

Had mentioned this once before, the topic has come up again, so I repeat it again.  Good overview.  The 16 ways are specified at the link.

Andreessen Horowitz
16 Ways to Measure Network Effects
by Li Jin and D'Arcy Coolican

Network effects are one of the most important dynamics in software and marketplace businesses. But they’re often spoken of in a binary way: either you have them, or you don’t. In practice, most companies’ network effects are much more complex, falling along a spectrum of different types and strengths. They’re also dynamic and evolve as product, users, and competition changes.

For founders, it’s important to understand the nature of your company’s network effects — including deciding on the set of metrics that help you understand what’s working or not. So, building on our previous metrics lists (here and here), we’ve compiled a list dedicated to measuring and teasing apart network effects in particular. We share them below, divided into 5 main categories to measure network effects: acquisition, competitors, engagement, marketplace, and economics-related metrics.

Every single network effect business is different depending on the particular product, audience, and environment, so there’s no-one-size-fits-all list of measures. In general, however, for two-sided marketplaces matching supply and demand, pay special attention to the marketplace and unit economics sections; for social networks (including workplace ones), what matters most is engagement and activity. In the end though, it all comes down to the very definition of network effects: whether your product becomes more valuable as more people use it. Because only then can you go about creating and growing that value for users, and for your business.  ... " 

IBM Launches Watson Works

Addressing return to work challenges

IBM launches Watson Works to address the challenges of returning to the workplace
Provides data-driven insights to help employers make informed decisions on workplace re-entry and safety
ARMONK, N.Y., June 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced Watson Works, a curated set of products that embeds Watson artificial intelligence (AI) models and applications to help companies navigate many aspects of the return-to-workplace challenge following lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Returning people to the workplace during the continuing global pandemic demands new approaches to promote the health, safety and productivity of workers in a privacy-preserving way. Watson Works provides data-driven insights to help employers make informed decisions on workplace re-entry, facilities management, space allocation and other COVID-related priorities.

"We've designed Watson Works to help businesses navigate the workplace with the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis as effectively as possible," said Bob Lord, Senior Vice President, Cognitive Applications, Blockchain and Ecosystems, IBM. "Applying AI models and applications is especially useful in this context, where there are so many different sources of information businesses must consider, and every aspect of the situation is in flux."

Watson Works is designed to help companies with these elements of returning to the workplace as they respond to COVID-19 related challenges:  ... " 

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Towards a Software Defined Power Grid

Definition and value of a software defined power grid.

The Software-Defined Power Grid Is Here in IEEE Spectrum
It’s time to move away from our antiquated, hardware-dependent power grid to a modern, digital software-based grid
By Patrick T. Lee

My colleagues and I have been spending a lot of time on a project in Onslow, a remote coastal town of 850 in Western Australia, where a wealth of solar, wind power, and battery storage has come on line to complement the region’s traditional forms of power generation. We’re making sure that all of these distributed energy resources work as a balanced and coordinated system. The team has traveled more than 15,000 kilometers from our company headquarters in San Diego, and everyone is excited to help the people of Onslow and Western Australia’s electric utility Horizon Power.

Like other rural utilities around the world, Horizon faces an enormous challenge in providing reliable electricity to hundreds of small communities scattered across a wide area. Actually, calling this a “wide area” is a serious understatement: Horizon’s territory covers some 2.3million square kilometers—about one and a half times the size of Alaska. You can’t easily traverse all that territory with high-tension power lines and substations, so local power generation is key. And as the country tries to shrink its carbon footprint, Horizon is working with its customers to decrease their reliance on nonrenewable energy. The incentives for deploying renewables such as photovoltaics and wind turbines are compelling.  ... " 

Activ Surgical Joins with Qualcomm Smart Cities

Intriguing connection for healthcare in the smart city.

Activ Surgical Joins Qualcomm Smart Cities Accelerator Program
Participation to include a collaboration with Innominds to develop next generation surgical sensing capabilities that will reduce preventable surgical errors and complications across the U.S. and globally ... 

BOSTON, June 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Activ Surgical, a digital surgery pioneer, today announced that it has joined the Qualcomm® Smart Cities Accelerator Program and is collaborating with Innominds on the development of next generation surgical sensing capabilities that will usher in a new era of visibility and insights for surgeons around the world. As part of the Qualcomm® Advantage Network, the Qualcomm Smart Cities Accelerator Program is designed to connect cities, municipalities.... '

Thoughts on AI in the Future of Work

How much and in what context will the human touch be most important? Ultimately an important aspect.  Seeing some testing of that now.

Does the Human Touch + AI = The Future of Work?
By Bryan Becker  In Datanami

Artificial intelligence has long caused fear of job loss across many sectors as companies look for ways to cut costs, support workers and become more profitable.  But new research suggests that even in STEM-based sectors like cybersecurity, AI simply can’t replace some traits found only in humans, such as creativity, intuition and experience.

There’s no doubt, AI certainly has its place.  And most business leaders agree that AI is important to the future success of their company. A recent survey found CEOs believe the benefits of AI include creating better efficiencies (62 percent), helping businesses remain competitive (62 percent), and allowing organizations to gain a better understanding of their customers, according to Ernst and Young.

And AI is already having a real impact across many industries including healthcare, financial services, retail, automotive, and critical infrastructure. According to a recent report by KPMG, AI improves access to medical care in healthcare, detects fraud in financial institutions, mitigates customer service issues in retail and improves traffic management systems in transportation.  .... "

Google Does Smart Home Virtual Summit

Does this mean more emphasis on 'Smart Home' from Google?   Will like to hear about their plans for ecosystem for the home. Hope to attend virtually.

Google I/O Replaced with “Hey Google” Smart Home Virtual Summit
By Eric Hal Schwartz
Google is replacing its annual conferences with a virtual presentation that will stream live on July 8. The “Hey Google” Smart Home Virtual Summit will provide Google Assistant developers a look at recent and upcoming changes in the voice assistant’s abilities related to smart homes.

The virtual summit is Google’s response to canceling its usual events due to the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. Google’s I/O, Global Developer Summits, and EMEA Smart Home Summit have all been removed from this year’s calendar. The July 8 event is scheduled for 1 p.m. Eastern but is set to stream at different times in different regions of the globe.

“Over the past year, we’ve been focused on building new tools and features to support our smart home developer community,” Google said in its announcement. “Join us for a discussion with some of the biggest names in smart home and hear their view on the impact of Covid-19 on their business, and a glimpse at the Smart Home industry in general.”

The virtual conference will be relatively brief compared to the multi-day extravaganzas of the standard tech conferences. The conference will begin with a keynote speech by Michele Turner, the product management director for Google’s Smart Home Ecosystem. She will discuss some of Google’s ongoing smart home projects and new products, specifically with how developers can leverage those new features and better apply their ideas to Google Assistant. She will be followed by a panel discussion led by Vera Tzoneva, Google’s head of assistant distribution partnerships. ... " 

Harnessing Graphs in a New Business Climate

Of interest, upcoming:

Tuesday, July 14    8:00 a.m. PT | 11:00 a.m. ET

Harnessing Graphs in a New Business Climate

Hi Franz,
As economies continue to reopen across much of Europe and North America, many organizations turn to graph technology to help rapidly reconfigure and reset operations.

Graphs are perfectly suited for handling connected data, like tracing connections through complex networks. Graphs can also identify complex relationships faster than human-only efforts by combining multiple isolated datasets and identifying missing data points.

Join us for this panel discussion with key Neo4j partners who are using graph technology to help organizations balance efficiency and innovation in today’s challenging times.


Dr. Alessandro Negro, Chief Scientist, GraphAware
Demian Bellumio, Global Vice President of Augmented Intelligence, NEORIS
Weidong Yang, CEO, Kineviz
Axel Morgner, Founder and Managing Director, Structr
Martin Preusse, Founder at Kaiser & Preusse
Lance Walter, CMO, Neo4j


Hope to see you there,     Lance Walter    Neo4j

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Cough Detection for IOT

Fascinating little application for real-time IOT, potentially as an inexpensive detector on a mobile phone.  Quite considerable and instructive detail at the link.

Cough Detection with TinyML on Arduino  in IOTCentral 
Posted by Zach Shelby on June 26, 2020 at 2:30am in Programming, Devices, and Data AI

There is a huge need for inexpensive, easily deployable solutions for COVID-19 and other flu related early detection. Together with the UN, Hackster, Edge Impulse and many others we recently launched the UN Covid Detect & Protect Challenge aiming to create easily deployable solutions for the prevention and detection of flu in developing countries. In this tutorial we show how to use Edge Impulse machine learning on an Arduino Nano BLE Sense to detect the presence of coughing in real-time audio. We built a dataset of coughing and background noise samples, and applied a highly optimized TInyML model, to build a cough detection system that runs in real time in under 20 kB of RAM on the Nano BLE Sense. This same approach applies to many other embedded audio pattern matching applications, for example elderly care, safety and machine monitoring. This project and dataset was originally started by Kartik Thakore to help in the COVID-19 effort.  ... " 

See also https://www.tinyml.org/home/index.html

Google and SmartReply in YouTube

Been following the use of replies on YouTube, which are very good overall, here a new extension.  More from the Google AI blog.  This has some interesting implications for the support of conversational interaction. Conversation with a goal can be seen as a series of questions and answers.

Google brings its AI-powered SmartReply to YouTube   By Kyle Wiggers

Google today brought SmartReply, its AI technology that suggests responses to messages, to YouTube. From within YouTube Studio, creators can now use SmartReply to respond to users who comment on their videos in English and Spanish. SmartReply will only make suggestions when it’s “likely to be useful,” Google says.

“[SmartReply for YouTube] helps creators engage more easily with their viewers,” Google Research scientist Rami Al-Rfou wrote in a blog post. “This model learns comment and reply representation through a computationally efficient [AI model], and represents the first cross-lingual and character byte-based SmartReply.”  ....  '

Book: Data Preparation for Machine Learning

Just saw this announcement from Jason Brownlee. Have read some of his previous works, nicely done.   This intro starts where it should, at data preparation and understanding.   Much more,  including examples at the link.

Data Preparation for Machine Learning
Data Cleaning, Feature Selection, and Data Transforms in Python
Data Preparation for Machine Learning
By Jason Brownlee
$37 USD

Data preparation involves transforming raw data in to a form that can be modeled using machine learning algorithms.

Cut through the equations, Greek letters, and confusion, and discover the specialized data preparation techniques that you need to know to get the most out of your data on your next project.

Using clear explanations, standard Python libraries, and step-by-step tutorial lessons, you will discover how to confidently and effectively prepare your data for predictive modeling with machine learning.

About this Ebook:

Read on all devices: English PDF format EBook, no DRM.
Tons of tutorials: 30 step-by-step lessons, 398 pages.
Foundations: intuitions feature selection, scaling, more.
Working code: 168 Python (.py) code files included.
Clear, Complete End-to-End Examples.
Click to jump straight to the packages.  ... " 

Necklace Reminds You not to Touch Your Face

Clever idea, in a long ago virus example we looked at, we estimated that approximately 75% of transfer opportunities were initiated by face touches. 

NASA Necklace Fights Coronavirus by Reminding You Not to Touch Your Face
By Alexandra Garrett

Researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory have developed a three-dimensionally (3D)-printed necklace containing a proximity sensor that vibrates when wearers are about to touch their face. Developed in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the vibrations emitted by the Pulse pendant get stronger as the wearer's hand comes closer to their face. NASA said the necklace is affordable and easy to make. Assembly instructions and a list of parts required to assemble the pendant are open source and free for public use.

Math Aware Search

Interesting  idea, and in some cases could be useful.  Perhaps search for similar math stated algorithms as starting points for analysis?

RIT Researchers Create Easy-to-Use Math-Aware Search Interface
Rochester Institute of Technology
By Scott Bureau
June 23, 2020

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) researchers have developed MathDeck, an online search interface that allows anyone to easily create, edit, or look up complex mathematical formulas. MathDeck users can enter and edit formulas in multiple ways using the scientific markup language LaTeX, including handwriting, uploading a typeset formula image, and text input. The math-aware interface can identify formula images and hand-drawn symbols via image processing and machine learning. MathDeck also features an auto-complete function for formulas and keywords; users looking for a popular symbol or formula will likely find an entity card displaying the formula, the name of its associated concept, and a brief description. MathDeck is a component of the multi-institutional MathSeer project, which RIT's Richard Zanibbi said aims "to produce new technologies to provide 'math search for the masses.'"   ... '

Reduced Attack Surfaces

Quite a term: ... Attack Surfaces ... so government .... but a real issue now.   A former connection, 'Recorded Future' does a good job of talking it in the article pointed to below:

Reducing the Remote Education Attack Surface With Security Intelligence

This year, stay-at-home mandates issued by U.S. states and countries across the world for K-12 schools and higher-ed institutions created major challenges for educators, students, and families. Moving the entire education process online also opened a Pandora’s Box for security teams at education institutions.

This shift dramatically expands the attack surface for threat actors to go after — with ed-tech platforms, e-learning environments, video conferencing, email accounts, and websites managed by schools all presenting appealing targets. The amount of time students, teachers, and administrators spend connected to these environments will continue to be high in the coming months.  ... " 

Robot Adoption in a New Retail World

Was pointed out to me this was posted and updated:

Robot Adoption Trends in a New Retail World

The Retail Analytics Council (RAC) recently hosted a roundtable discussion regarding the state of robot adoption trends in this new retail world. 

Eight panelists were asked to respond to a series of questions. Generally, the questions probed the participants’ thoughts on the opportunities and challenges of robot adoption.

Read the roundtable transcript: Robot Adoption Trends in a New Retail World.

Panelists included:

Christopher Blum, Mechanical Engineer, Kroger Technology
Chris Daniels, Technology Engineer, Kroger Technology
Dr. Don High, Former Chief Scientist, Walmart
Gerry Hough, Senior Expert, Store Innovation, McKinsey & Company
Dr. Todd Murphey, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering and of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
Wesley Rhodes, VP, R&D and Technology Transformation, Kroger
Dr. Adam Rigby, Senior R&D Scientist, Kroger Technology
Dan Whitacre, Senior Director, R&D and Technology Transformation, Kroger
Steven Keith Platt, Research Director, RAC and Adjunct Professor, Northwestern University and moderator of this roundtable discussion ... "

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

On Contact Tracing Apps

Intriguing piece I have only scanned so far.  What got me most interested is that the tracing aspect included a considerable human element, at least if you were not willing to do lots of sharing of location information that could well be seen as very privacy invasive, her a considerable, non-technical look at the challenge.   

Everything You Have Read About Contact Tracing Apps Is Wrong  in Knowledge@Wharton

Technology sounds like an attractive solution to contact tracing, but apps are at best a minor supplement to a large effort. In this opinion piece, Lyle Ungar writes that “we should be taking best practices from call centers, where human callers are supported by chatbots and information systems, supplemented with privacy-respecting apps on people’s phones that allow them to share information more easily and accurately. In the end, contact tracing is not an app, but a combined effort between technology, human tracers, and the general population.” Ungar is a machine learning researcher and professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Contact tracing is key to reopening society. Best estimates put widespread vaccination in the U.S. more than two years in the future, and we can’t safely resume public life until we can identify who has been exposed to COVID-19, test them for the disease, and isolate them if they are sick. The U.S. has far too few human contact tracers, with states planning to hire only a tiny fraction of the estimated 180,000 contract tracers needed. Contract tracing apps have been proposed as one way to mitigate this problem. People are worried about their privacy; they should be even more worried about whether the apps will help. Even expert articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), underestimate the challenges.

Most of the discussion of contact tracing focuses on exposure notification apps (i.e., TraceTogether, PwC), which use Bluetooth signals to identify individuals who may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus. The most widely supported protocols (by Google and Apple) respect privacy; they broadcast and receive random numbers from your phone, but don’t reveal your name or phone numbers. Google and Apple do not allow the apps to share geolocation or other private information. Such apps are only effective in relatively tight communities, such as universities, where high adoption rates can be achieved. In a general community, where adoption is voluntary, adoption rates are vastly lower (the highest adoption rates are 32% in Australia and 38% in Iceland) and so the apps are virtually useless.  ... "

Seeing Around the Corner

The general idea has been brought up a number of times.  Bouncing radar and cooperative systems can get more data, and if we interpret it to detect dangers, we can react.   Even to things around the corner. Back to the better sensors and smarter reactions to get better results.   As suggested much work to do to get all the data and reactions  in place

Radar Allows Cars to Spot Hazards Around Corners
Princeton University
John Sullivan
June 25, 2020

Researchers at Princeton University, Germany's Ulm University and University of Kassel, Mercedes-Benz, and Canadian software firm Algolux have developed an automated radar system that will enable cars to look around corners and spot oncoming hazards. The system employs Doppler radar to bounce radio waves off surfaces at an angle to detect occluded objects and determine if they are moving or stationary. Radar's spatial resolution is relatively low, but the researchers think they could design algorithms to read the data to allow the sensors to operate. The team used artificial intelligence techniques to refine processing and interpret the images, focusing on background noise rather than usable information to distinguish objects. Princeton’s Felix Heide said, “In terms of integration and bringing it to market, it requires a lot of engineering. But the technology is there, so there is the potential for seeing this very soon in vehicles.”  .. " 

Banning Facial Recognition

What I have been thinking.  Specifically, not generally accountable.   Even if the major players stop doing this, others quickly will.

Bans on Facial Recognition Are Naïve. Hold Law Enforcement Accountable for Its Abuse
by Osonde A. Osoba and Douglas Yeung

June 17, 2020

The use of facial recognition technology has become a new target in the fight against racism and brutality in law enforcement. Last week, IBM announced it was leaving the facial recognition business altogether, and its CEO questioned whether it was an appropriate tool for law enforcement. Within days, Microsoft and Amazon each announced that they would—at least temporarily—prohibit law enforcement agencies from using their facial recognition software. The Justice in Policing Act, also introduced in Congress last week, would specifically ban facial recognition analysis of officers' body camera footage.

Facial recognition technologies—with the assumptions of their developers embedded in their code—often perform poorly at recognizing women, older people, and those with darker skin. There's little question that these flaws exist. But banning facial recognition isn't necessarily the best response. ...

Smart Columbus Connects Everyday Vehicles

Yet another example of using more sensors and connections to build intelligent management of vehicles within large systems.   Just underway.

Pilot Test Begins for Tech to Connect Everyday Vehicles
IEEE Spectrum
Sandy Ong
June 19, 2020

Columbus, OH, will launch a connected-vehicle pilot program in July, with up to 1,800 public and private vehicles fitted with special onboard units and dashboard-mounted head-up displays. These vehicles will be able to receive messages from traffic lights at 113 intersections. The goal of the project is to study the impacts of connectivity on safety and traffic flow. The pilot is part of the Smart Columbus initiative, which was rolled out after the city was awarded $40 million through the U.S. Department of Transportation's 2015 Smart City Challenge. The University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute's Debra Bezzina said connected-vehicle technology could save billions a year by preventing as much as 80% of unimpaired car crashes. It also could result in more efficient traffic management and greener commuting.  ... "

Quantum Computers, Quantum Sensors

Sensors gather measurement data, which is crucial to learning hypothesis about complex systems.  Here an introduction to the concept of a quantum sensor.

Quantum sensor technology
“From quantum sensors to quantum computers”
Fraunhofer Research News / June 02, 2020

Prof. Oliver Ambacher, head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF in Freiburg, on the potential applications of quantum sensor technology and the role it plays in quantum computing.

Prof. Oliver Ambacher, head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics in Freiburg.
Components based on diamond plates don't rely on extensive cooling: they will enable future quantum computers to be used at room temperature.

Mr. Ambacher, your institute is conducting extensive research in the field of quantum sensor technology. What’s so special about this technology?

Ambacher: Quantum sensors are very small and sensitive, so they can measure the tiniest of signals with extreme spatial resolution. This is important, for example, for testing nanoelectronic circuits in the semiconductor industry. Currently, it can be very difficult to troubleshoot circuits that don’t work. We are developing diamond-based quantum sensors, which additionally have the advantage that they function at room temperature. This is an important prerequisite for market acceptance of quantum sensors.

In what other areas might quantum sensors also be of interest?
Quantum sensor technology can also be used in medicine. Currently, brain waves are measured with the aid of superconductors, which require complex cooling with liquid helium and very large machines. With quantum sensors, it could one day be possible to perform these measurements using only a thin sensor film on the head instead of a bulky cap. This would not only put less strain on patients, but the procedure would also be more cost-effective for hospitals.

When might we see large-scale use of quantum sensors?
Superconducting sensors are already being used in medicine to detect brain injuries or brain tumors, or to measure brain activity following a stroke. Quantum sensor technology has already caught on in nanoelectronics, too, for performing fault analysis on modern electronic circuits. We are actually already in the second generation of quantum technology, and now we are asking ourselves things like: Where is there still room for additional improvement? What does industry need? What other applications can we develop? ..."

Monday, June 29, 2020

IOT Devices in the Hotel Room

Intriguing aspects of IOT in hospitality.   Has been less in the area of assistants than I expected.

Shedding Light (and Sound) on Hidden IoT Devices in Your Next Hotel Room

Carnegie Mellon University Human-Computer Interaction Institute  By Daniel Tkacik

A study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)'s Human-Computer Interaction Institute and CyLab Security and Privacy Institute, working with colleagues from China’s Xi'an Jiaotong University, explored methods for detecting hidden Internet of Things (IoT) devices, using light and sound. The authors considered three locator/detector designs—placing a light-emitting diode (LED) on a device; placing an LED and beeping mechanism on a device; and a contextualized picture that showed the device in position, taken by the hospitality host. Participants pinpointed devices much faster with locator designs than without them, and about two-thirds of participants preferred the LED-plus-beeper design. CMU's Jason Hong said, "Our hope is that the findings in this paper can help industry and policymakers in adopting the idea of locators for IoT devices ... " 

A Consortium for Confidential Computing

Intriguing new effort:

The Confidential Computing Consortium (CCC) brings together hardware vendors, cloud providers, and software developers to accelerate the adoption of Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) technologies and standards.

Join the Consortium as a Member

A common, cross-industry way of describing the security benefits, risks, and features of confidential computing will help users make better choices for how to protect their workloads in the cloud. Of the three data states, “in use” has been less addressed because it is arguably the most complicated and difficult. This is a major change to how computation is done at the hardware level and how we structure programs, operating systems and virtual machines. This cross-industry collaboration will accelerate this transformation in security in the enterprise. To get involved, please email us info@confidentialcomputing.io. ..." 

SiliconAngle gives some perspective:

Accenture, AMD, Facebook and Nvidia sign up to advance ‘Confidential Computing’  By Mike Wheatley in SiliconAngle

An industry group called the Confidential Computing Consortium, which aims to standardize the way that data is encrypted while in use, said today it’s adding 10 more members to its community.  ...
The consortium is working to standardize on a method for ensuring that data can be encrypted while it’s being processed in-memory, without exposing it to other parts of a computer system. Although methods for encrypting data at rest and data in transit have already been widely adopted in the technology industry, there’s still no reliable way to secure information as it’s actually being used.

That may soon change, though, as the consortium is advancing the development of an open-source framework called the Open Enclave Software Development Kit. It’s used to build Trusted Execution Environments for applications that can run on multiple kinds of computing architectures.   .... "

Building Brain-Like Synapses

And related to the last post, some work is progressing on doing functional mimicry:

Engineers design a device that operates like a brain synapse
Ion-based technology may enable energy-efficient simulations of the brain’s learning process, for neural network AI systems.   By David L. Chandler | MIT News Office

Teams around the world are building ever more sophisticated artificial intelligence systems of a type called neural networks, designed in some ways to mimic the wiring of the brain, for carrying out tasks such as computer vision and natural language processing. ...."

Artificial Neural Nets More similar to Brains than we thuoght

In our earliest uses of neural methods we actually worked with some brain scientists.  And they were quick to point out that neural methods, though inspired by the brain, were nothing like them.   So our thoughts of biomimicry were dangerous.    But it seems this idea has changed some,  but in a glance at this non technical piece, there is still much we do not know.  But is the brain a reasonable place to start for general AI?

Artificial neural networks are more similar to the brain than they get credit for  By Ben Dickson in BDTechtalks

This article is part of our reviews of AI research papers, a series of posts that explore the latest findings in artificial intelligence.

Consider the animal in the following image. If you recognize it, a quick series of neuron activations in your brain will link its image to its name and other information you know about it (habitat, size, diet, lifespan, etc…). But if like me, you’ve never seen this animal before, your mind is now racing through your repertoire of animal species, comparing tails, ears, paws, noses, snouts, and everything else to determine which bucket this odd creature belongs to. Your biological neural network is reprocessing your past experience to deal with a novel situation.

Our brains, honed through millions of years of evolution, are very efficient processing machines, sorting out the ton of information we receive through our sensory inputs, associating known items with their respective categories. ... " 

Amazon Honeycode: Nocode App Builder

Expect to see more NoCode and visual app building to drive more applications.

AWS Launches a No-Code Mobile and Web App Builder in Beta: Amazon Honeycode   by Steef-Jan Wiggers in Infoq

Recently, AWS announced the beta release of Amazon Honeycode, a fully managed service allowing customers to build mobile and web applications without writing any code quickly. With Amazon Honeycode, customers can build applications that are tailored specifically for tasks that involve tracking data over time and notifying users of changes, routing approvals, and facilitating interactive business processes.

For over a year now, the tech company has been working on the no-code service Honeycode. Earlier, the service had the project name 'AWS for Everyone' intending to allow anyone with little to no software development experience in an organization build simple business applications without the dependency of the IT department. Now the service is available in AWS as a managed service with the name Honeycode, where users can leverage a visual application builder to create interactive web and mobile applications backed by a powerful AWS-built database. Moreover, the applications users build can range in complexity from a task-tracking application for a small team to a project management system that manages a sophisticated workflow for multiple teams or departments.

Within the Honeycode service there is a visual builder accessible once a user logs in. Inside the visual builder, the user can choose to import a CSV file (data) into a blank workbook or use one of the pre-defined templates or start from scratch. When selecting a pre-defined template in the visual builder, the data model, business logic, and applications are pre-defined and ready-to-use out of the box.    ..."

Blockchains for Clinical Data

Example of blockchain use in healthcare data applications.

South Korean Government Turns to Blockchain Tech to More Reliably Store Clinical Diabetes Data
Jun 29, 2020 at 08:46 UTC in Coindesk

The South Korean government wants to develop a blockchain registry to help analyze, anonymize and store clinical data for diabetes.

Blockchain startup Sendsquare has been selected by the government to develop a proof-of-concept project for the nation, which has around 3.6 million people with diabetes, the company announced on Friday.

The startup will team with clinical experts and practitioners from Seoul’s KyungHee University Medical Center to begin analyzing nine years-worth of diabetes clinical data previously collected by the center.

“Storing and collaborating work across a large volume of data using centralized services has proven unwieldy and subject to issues of data loss, duplication and manipulation,” according to KyungHee Medical Center’s Professor Suk Chon.  ... "

Robot Disinfecting a Food Bank

Would seem to be a very efficient use of robotics.  Considerable detail and video about the process at the link.

CSAIL robot disinfects Greater Boston Food Bank
Using UV-C light, the system can disinfect a warehouse floor in half an hour — and could one day be employed in grocery stores, schools, and other spaces.
Watch Video

By Rachel Gordon | MIT CSAIL

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Amazon Wants a Big Piece of Self-Driving/Hailing

Been watching the extension of the smart home to the car by Amazon, interesting, but still weakly done.   Now are they really seeing 'self driving' as a means of selectively delivering the customer to the product, as opposed the the other way around?  A kind of ultimate 'smart-market'.  Will follow.

Amazon Shakes Up the Race for Self-Driving—and Ride-Hailing in Wired
The ecommerce giant is buying Zoox, which is designing autonomous robotaxis. Beware Uber and Lyft. 

UBER CEO DARA Khosrowshahi says his company wants to be the “Amazon for transportation.” Friday, Amazon made clear that it intends to be the Amazon for transportation.

The ecommerce giant said it had agreed to acquire Bay Area–based autonomous vehicle company Zoox, a deal reportedly worth more than $1 billion. (Amazon did not respond to WIRED's queries.) Since its founding in 2014, Zoox has been known for its technical chops, its secretiveness, and its sky-high ambition. While Alphabet's Waymo is focusing on self-driving tech and leaving the car building to places like Detroit, Zoox has stuck to its plan to design a robotaxi from the ground up—and operate a ride-hail service. In 2018, it showed off its first prototype vehicles, which look like sensor-laden golf carts on steroids. The company has also been testing its software on more conventional-looking Toyota Highlanders in San Francisco, where it is learning to handle chaotic city streets. ... " 

Knowledge Management

Important thoughts, though I think it is still rarely done very well.

Lauren Trees identifies trends in enterprise knowledge sharing and collaboration, researches cutting-edge ways to improve knowledge flow, and shares the findings with APQC’s members and the knowledge management community at large.

A knowledge management strategy is useful because it gives your KM effort a concrete purpose and target to work toward. Many organizations set well-meaning but elusive goals for KM such as “to break down siloes” or “to build a more collaborative culture.” These are good intentions, but they’re too vague to craft a meaningful initiative around—after all, what does it really mean to have a collaborative culture, and how do you know when you have one? A KM strategy makes you document the step-by-step actions that will help the organization achieve its expansive KM vision, along with the inputs required and the measures that will indicate success.

Given the volatility we’re currently experiencing, you may be tempted to throw up your hands in despair with it comes to plans and targets. What’s the point, when everything will just change again anyway? But ironically, a well-defined KM strategy is more important than ever.  ... " 

If you articulate what you want to achieve with KM, you’re less likely to get blown off course by every storm. You simply adjust your tools and tactics in line with current reality while chipping away at your established goals. For example, if your communities of practice must transition to all-virtual operations, their overarching mission hasn’t changed—they’re just using different means to get to the same end. And even if communities need to assume new duties, having the strategy laid out makes it easier to shift gears without losing focus.    ... "

Synthetic Data to Support Research

In a much less complex sense we used a method, connected to real sensors on systems, to construct sample datasets.  The resulting ML could then be used as a testbed for proposed solutions.   We were not worried in this case about the security of the data, but I can see how that could be effectively used.

Producing Data Synthetically to Help Treat Diseases Like Covid-19
Aalto University
June 25, 2020

Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence (FCAI) researchers have developed a machine learning-based method that can synthetically generate research data and help in designing better treatments for diseases like Covid-19. The team based a newly released application on the technique, allowing academics and companies to exchange data while maintaining the privacy of individuals involved in the research. Researchers enter the original dataset into the app, which produces a synthetic dataset that can be shared securely with other scientists and companies. FCAI investigators are currently using synthetic data to construct a model that anticipates whether a subject's coronavirus test is positive or negative, based on certain biomarkers.  ... " 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Misconceptions about the Use of RPA

NIcely put, nontechnical piece.  In particular I liked the comments about its difference between BPM modeling models.   All users considering its use should follow up on these modeling ideas:

Robotic Process Automation: 6 common misconceptions
By Daniel Schmidt of Kofax

What false expectations are raised using RPA in companies?

The advantage of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is that it automates repetitive, remedial tasks and frees employees to work on higher value tasks. But many companies believe RPA will enable them to automate even the most complex Business Process Management (BPM) activities, although there are much more suitable solutions available. The following overview shows which other misconceptions companies frequently use to counter RPA solutions.  .. " 

Verified, Intentified Phone Calling is Advancing

Will we soon get the inferred reason for a phone call?  Its getting a start already, in IOS I get already get 'likely spam', and who it is likely to be from, but why not inferring reasonable intent?

Really a kind of machine learning, from calls, texts and Contact info, and call message text, the data is there and growing.

Verified Calls for the Google phone app will let you know why a business is calling

Another addition to make calls more simple and seamless  By Caleb Potts in Android Police

Even though we don't generally use our phones for calling as much these days, the actual phone part of your phone is still important. Google has long worked to make phone calls less annoying with features like automatic call screening and spam detection. Now, it looks like a new Verified Calls feature is rolling out to help consumers know why a business is calling them before they pick up.

According to Google's support page, Verified Calls is a feature that helps users learn more about incoming calls before answering. Unlike call screening, which can be initiated by the user on any incoming call, Verified Calls only come from businesses that have gone through Google's approval process. When a call that meets the criteria is placed from an approved business, the user will see the business name and logo, as well as the reason for the call.  ... "

A Way to Consider and Onboard AI

Thoughtful results from a survey from multiple countries.  A look at AI in the form of Assistant, Monitor, Coach and Teammate.  Reasonable ways to think of their use and implications.

A Better Way to Onboard AI   by Boris Babic , Daniel L. Chen , Theodoros Evgeniou and Anne-Laure Fayard in the HBR

In a 2018 Workforce Institute survey of 3,000 managers across eight industrialized nations, the majority of respondents described artificial intelligence as a valuable productivity tool.
t’s easy to see why: AI brings tangible benefits in processing speed, accuracy, and consistency (machines don’t make mistakes because they’re tired), which is why many professionals now rely on it. Some medical specialists, for example, use AI tools to help make diagnoses and decisions about treatment.

But respondents to that survey also expressed fears that AI would take their jobs. They are not alone. The Guardian recently reported that more than 6 million workers in the UK fear being replaced by machines. These fears are echoed by academics and executives we meet at conferences and seminars. AI’s advantages can be cast in a much darker light: Why would humans be needed when machines can do a better job?  ... "

Platt Retail Institute on Robot Adoption in Retail

Some new thoughts about robotics being used a changed context.

Via Platt Retail Institute by Northwestern 

There has been growing interest in robotic automation in retail and supply chain for some time. COVID-19 will accelerate adoption. The Retail Analytics Council recently hosted a roundtable discussion regarding the state of robot adoption trends in this new retail world.   Eight panelists were asked to respond to a series of questions. Generally, the questions probed the participants’ thoughts on the opportunities and challenges of robot adoption.

Read the roundtable transcript: Robot Adoption Trends in a New Retail World.  

Panelists include:

Christopher Blum, Mechanical Engineer, Kroger Technology
Chris Daniels, Technology Engineer, Kroger Technology
Dr. Don High, Former Chief Scientist, Walmart
Gerry Hough, Senior Expert, Store Innovation, McKinsey & Company
Dr. Todd Murphey, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering and of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
Wesley Rhodes, VP, R&D and Technology Transformation, Kroger
Dr. Adam Rigby, Senior R&D Scientist, Kroger Technology
Dan Whitacre, Senior Director, R & D and Technology Transformation, Kroger
Steven Keith Platt, Research Director, Research Director, RAC and Adjunct Professor, Northwestern University and moderator of this roundtable discussion ... '

Alphabet Buying North Glasses

Somewhat Unexpected perhaps,  but some indication of seriousness on the ultimate wearable. Had heard from others that North Glasses were good.

Report: Alphabet looking to buy smart glasses startup North for $180M   By  Maria Deutscher

Google LLC parent Alphabet Inc. is reportedly in advanced talks to acquire North Inc., a Canadian smart glasses startup, for about $180 million.

The discussions were first reported by Canada’s The Globe and Mail on Thursday evening. The publication’s sources indicated that Ontario-based North is in the “final stages” of hammering out an agreement with Alphabet.

Founded in 2012, North is backed by about $160 million from investors that include Intel Corp.’s venture capital arm and Salesforce.com Inc. founder Marc Benioff. The startup offers a smart glasses product called Focals that’s touted as less bulky than many other products in the category, closely resembling a regular pair of glasses. Users can view mobile notifications without looking at their phone and perform certain other tasks such as ordering an Uber ride.  ..."