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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Alibaba Cloud ET Medical Brain

Chinese Advances in Healthcare AI

How Alibaba Cloud ET Medical Brain Is Transforming Healthcare with Artificial Intelligence
Developments in medical sciences have improved average human life expectancy over the years. Technological improvements have also made a significant improvement in processing, storage, and distribution of life-saving medicines. However, very few of the developing countries offer universal health care. Furthermore, healthcare services is not evenly distributed to the public and access to quality healthcare comes with high costs.

Why Artificial Intelligence Is Crucial for Healthcare
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to cut-down treatment costs by as much as 50%, and improve medical treatment outcomes by 30% to 40%, according to a report by Frost and Sullivan. But, before we start discussing AI advancements in the healthcare industry, it is important to understand what the technology is and why it is making so much hype. For the uninitiated, AI is an umbrella term for a range of technologies such as machine learning, cognitive computing, deep learning, neural networks, and natural language processing. The end goal of all these technologies is to impart “smartness” to computers so that they can behave in a manner akin to humans, or even better.

It is common knowledge that computers are adept at mathematical calculations. However, AI takes this ability to the next level. AI makes computers capable of complex human tasks such as understanding facial expressions, reading information in visuals/images, and using heuristics to find approximate solutions.

So how does all this help doctors? Let’s take the example of machine learning. Machine learning is a branch of AI in which computers analyze vast of amounts of data to learn and improve from experience. Researchers are now using different machine learning approaches to create systems that can predict, prevent, or even cure diseases. Unlike traditional software systems, machine learning attempts to do all this with minimal human intervention. This not only reduces manual work but also reduces human errors and biases. ..... "

Toolkit for Deep Learning Vision

Was pointed to this. for potential use for an application:

GluonCV — Deep Learning Toolkit for Computer Vision

Author: Mu Li, Principal Scientist at Amazon Translated from: https://zh.mxnet.io/blog/gluon-cv
Apache MXNetMay 16 ... "

Morse Code is still Here

Remember being trained on Morse, then it seemed to go away ... but no,  it still has assistant applications beyond being a (now) obscure point on mystery theater.  Now yet more inspirational!

Making Morse code available to more people on Gboard ...   in the Google Blog

Earlier this year, we partnered with developer Tania Finlayson, an expert in Morse code assistive technology, to make Morse code more accessible. Today, we’re rolling out Morse code on Gboard for iOS and improvements to Morse code on Gboard for Android. To help you learn how to type in Morse code, we’ve created a game (on Android, iOS, and desktop) that can help you learn it in less than an hour! We’ve worked closely with Tania on these updates to the keyboard and more—here, she explains how Morse code changed her life:

My name is Tania Finlayson, and I was born with cerebral palsy. A few doctors told my parents that I probably would not amount to anything, and suggested my parents put me in an institution. Luckily, my parents did not take the advice, raised me like a normal child, and did not expect any less of me throughout my childhood. I had to eat my dinner first before I could have desserts, I had to go to bed at bedtime, and I got in trouble when I picked on my older brother.

The only difference was that I was not able to communicate very effectively; basically, I could only answer “yes” and “no” questions. When I was old enough to read, I used a communication word board with about 200 words on it. I used a head stick to point to the words. A couple of years later, my dad decided that I should try a typewriter and press the keys with the head stick. Amazingly, my vocabulary grew. My mom did not dress me in plaid any more, I could tell on my brother, and I finally had the chance to annoy my Dad with question after question about the world. I am quite sure that my Dad did not, in any way, regret letting me try a typewriter. Ha! ..."

RapidMiner Embeds Machine Learning

Over the years we actively used RapidMiner for analytics.   Good to see them advancing their connected capabilities.  Will followup to examine.

Press Release:
RapidMiner announces new program to embed machine learning

New partner program allows partners to embed machine learning into applications

BOSTON, July 19, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- RapidMiner, the data science platform for analytics teams, today announced the launch of the RapidMiner Embed ML partner program. Independent software vendor (ISV) and managed analytics service provider (MASP) solutions can now easily embed prescriptive analytics into business applications to drive revenue, reduce costs, and avoid risks.
RapidMiner is a software platform for analytics teams that unites data prep, machine learning, and predictive model deployment. Enterprises can build machine learning models and put them into production faster than ever, using RapidMiner's lightning-fast visual workflow designer and automated modeling capabilities.... " 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Stanford AI Recreates Periodic Table

Fascinating example.   Could this kind of structure be sought elsewhere?  Thinking it.

Stanford AI recreates chemistry’s periodic table of elements
In a first step toward generating an artificial intelligence program that can find new laws of nature, a Stanford team created a program that reproduced a complex human discovery – the periodic table.  By Ker Than

It took nearly a century of trial and error for human scientists to organize the periodic table of elements, arguably one of the greatest scientific achievements in chemistry, into its current form.
A new artificial intelligence (AI) program developed by Stanford physicists accomplished the same feat in just a few hours.

Called Atom2Vec, the program successfully learned to distinguish between different atoms after analyzing a list of chemical compound names from an online database. The unsupervised AI then used concepts borrowed from the field of natural language processing – in particular, the idea that the properties of words can be understood by looking at other words surrounding them – to cluster the elements according to their chemical properties  ... " 

Description of Enterprise Blockchain

To the point and non-technical.

The blockchain beyond bitcoin

Taking blockchain technology private for the enterprise.   By Jim Scott in O'Reilly

Check out Jim Scott’s session “Using the Blockchain in Enterprise” at the Strata Data Conference in New York City, Sept. 11-13, 2018. Early price ends July 27.

Blockchain technologies have been made popular by the creation of bitcoin, but how exactly can a blockchain benefit an enterprise? A blockchain provides an immutable store of facts. This model delivers significant value in the face of regulatory oversight by providing irrevocable proof that transactions occurred. Some even refer to these uses of a blockchain as enterprise resource planning (ERP) 2.0.  ... " 

" ... The concept of smart contracts  .... 
While the initial blockchain implementation (bitcoin) wasn't intended to deliver a smart contract platform, it inherently contained a mechanism for keeping track of ownership of bitcoins. The expansion of this concept within a blockchain was exposed by Ethereum. But what exactly is a smart contract? To put it as simply as possible, it is a mechanism for ensuring that software can be executed, audited, and prove what it did. Fundamentally, a smart contract can be created with nothing more than a microservice with a trigger event, otherwise known as function-as-a-service (FaaS) or a serverless model. .... " 

Superminds and the Nature of Work

Interesting piece which uses my alma mater Procter & Gamble, as an example.  We struggled with some of these problems, linking human capabilities and artificial augmentation.  Early on we talked to Tom Malone on related topics.

Thomas W. Malone (@twmalone) is the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management, a professor of information technology, and a professor of work and organizational studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as the founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. He is the author of Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together (Little Brown, 2018), from which this article is adapted.

How Human-Computer ‘Superminds’ Are Redefining the Future of Work in Sloan

Virtually all human achievements have been made by groups of people, not lone individuals. As we incorporate smart technologies further into traditionally human processes, an even more powerful form of collaboration is emerging.

The ongoing, and sometimes loud, debate about how many and what kinds of jobs smart machines will leave for humans to do in the future is missing a salient point: Just as the automation of human work in the past allowed people and machines to do many things that couldn’t be done before, groups of people and computers working together will be able to do many things in the future that neither can do alone now.

To think about how this will happen, it’s useful to contemplate an obvious but not widely appreciated fact. Virtually all human achievements — from developing written language to making a turkey sandwich — require the work of groups of people, not just lone individuals. Even the breakthroughs of individual geniuses like Albert Einstein aren’t conjured out of thin air; they are erected on vast amounts of prior work by others.  

 (article can be subscribed to at link) ...."

The Breadth of Machine Learning

Some useful and in my experience correct ideas.   Its still hard to produce and learn general intelligence.  What worked for us was to be as narrow as possible, with rules or by neurons.   Narrow is also useful too for maintenance, as context expands over time.   You start to lose good understanding of what data must be learned.  Learning about changing scope is important. The example area,  culinary knowledge, is an area of interest of mine.

The AI revolution will be led by toasters, not droids

It’s far easier for software to learn to do one thing well than to be a digital jack of all trades   By Janelle Shane in Fastcompany

Will the intelligent algorithms of the future look like general-purpose robots, as adept at idle banter and reading maps as they are handy in the kitchen? Or will our digital assistants look more like a grab-bag of specialized gadgets–less a single chatty master chef than a kitchen full of appliances?

If an algorithm tries to do too much, it gets in trouble. The recipe below was generated by an artificial neural network, a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that learns by example. This particular algorithm scrutinized about 30,000 cookbook recipes of all sorts, from soups to pies to barbecues, and then tried to come up with its own. The results are, shall we say, somewhat unorthodox:  ... " 

Retail Supply Chains

Useful examples, more detail would be useful.  We note that CPG company Unilever's was best.

In  Supply Chain Digest

Another View of the Best Supply Chains   by Dan Gilmore

Different Methodologies of Course Lead to Different Results in Gartner and Kantar Top Supply Chain Lists

I recently summarized both the results and the method used by Gartner to compile the Top 25 Supply Chain list for 2018, an approach first started by the former AMR Research in 2004. Gartner acquired AMR in 2009.

The list of course much interest, and companies that make it naturally tout that honor. As I noted in my column, I occasionally get calls from companies looking for advice on how to make the top 25.

Let me first say that I do not have a better way to compile a top supply chain list than the way Gartner does it. Only limited information is available for analysis – no one is sharing cost information, as just one example.  .... "

Friday, July 20, 2018

Deep Mind and Abstract Thought

 What is abstrsact thought, and how do IQ tests track that?   Closer to what we might call common sense, or really uncommon?

DeepMind AI Takes IQ Tests to Probe Its Ability for Abstract Thought 

in New Scientist  By Jacob Aron

Google DeepMind researchers are challenging artificial intelligences (AIs) to solve abstract reasoning puzzles similar to those used in IQ tests. One particular puzzle involves looking at sets of abstract shapes and selecting which should come next in a given sequence. DeepMind's David Barrett says the researchers evaluated neural-network AIs on whether they could learn more general concepts. Standard networks performed poorly on these tests, with scores as low as 22%. However, a new neural network specifically engineered to infer relationships between different parts of a puzzle scored 63%. "While these structures help specifically with this task, we believe they can also be applied to other problems involving abstract relationships and taking decisions between possible courses of action," says DeepMind's Felix Hill. ..." 

PwC Looks at the Job Market under new AI

AI Won't Kill the Job Market but Keep It Steady, PwC Report Says 
In  Forbes   By Parmy Olson

A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) researchers of wide-ranging economic trends to better predict how artificial intelligence (AI) will affect the U.K. job market predicts that, although automation in trucks, plants, and other sectors could facilitate the loss of about 7 million existing jobs by 2037, the advent of robots and machine learning software will boost production by 2% annually over the next 20 years. The study predicts 7.2 million jobs will be created subsequently, balancing out the workforce. PwC's John Hawksworth says about 22% of the new jobs will be in health and social work, while demand will increase in other areas "that require a human touch and aren't so easy to automate." The U.K. government last year announced a national retraining program that will prime the workforce to better withstand the job shifts to be brought about by AI.... " 

D-Wave Models a Quantum System

Had a brief connect with DWave for applications in business.  Continue to think possible applications areas.   Especially combinatorially complex possibilities.  Good to see an apparent move forward.  See more on D-Wave Systems.

D-Wave’s quantum computer successfully models a quantum system
System lets researchers explore phase transitions in a quantum system.
By  John Timmer in ArsTechnica

New research from D-Wave Systems describes a quantum computer model with a close resemblance to the bits used in the hardware itself, enabling analysis of quantum phase transitions. This milestone gives researchers complete control over the physical limits of a relevant quantum system as it experiences these transitions. The current D-Wave system can support up to 2,048 individual orientation-flipping magnets and associated control hardware governing which magnets are connected and the strength of their connections. A solution to the problem can be encoded into the system's minimal-energy state, an arrangement called a "transverse-field Ising model," or a cubic configuration of magnets that can flip. An anti-ferromagnet forms if the magnets are ordered into alternate orientations as the system moves in any of the three dimensions, but also possible are disordered "spin glasses" boasting well-defined energies, including a low-energy state. .... "

Let's Try to See Clearly on Blockchain for Advertising

Have been asked to examine this.  Of interest.

Blockchain is simply too slow to work for the real-time aspects of our programmatic trading world,  
By Jaisimha Muthegere

The release of the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Blockchain for Video Advertising white paper has the digital ad industry abuzz. The emerging technology, best known for powering cryptocurrencies, is apparently coming to save us! Forget that much of the conversation last year revolved around AI as the solution to our transparency and fraud woes. Now, we see a raft of claims that it's blockchain, with decentralized power and public ledgers, that will reinvent financial systems and disrupt every industry, including advertising.

Much like the talk of AI, today's conversation around blockchain includes a good amount of hyperbole. Still, today's wishful thinking is driving tomorrow's solutions, so it's worth toning down the enthusiasm to see where the real potential of blockchain for advertising lies.   ... " 

Jaron Lanier on Behavior Modification

We connected with Lanier long ago on and in virtual worlds.  He does not like it when people he doesn't agree with seem to be keen on altering his behavior.  Or are not part of his tribe.   Don't disagree we should all consider it.   As marketers we were always interesting in influencing behavior.

Delete your account  in FastCompany
It’s a “great shame,” says Silicon Valley insider Jaron Lanier, that so much of big tech’s AI has been aimed at manipulating you. .... 

" ... His new book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, examines how a technology designed to bring people together (remember Mark Zuckerberg’s ongoing dream of “connecting” the world) has instead helped tear apart humanity’s delicate social fabric. People, he argues, are becoming angrier, less empathetic, more isolated yet tribal, and sadder, crazier even. With every post and scroll, users feed a system built to influence behavior, in a sort of reward feedback loop. And as the 2016 elections demonstrated, the same system that’s used to sell you deodorant online can also be hijacked to wreak havoc on your political system. Lanier, who hasn’t been on social media for years, now likes to refer to Facebook and Google as “behavior modification empires.”  ... " 

Microsoft Piviots to Deep Learning

I doubt if Microsoft is playing this wrong.  I agree though that other forms of intelligence are also worth investing in, like better ways of providing intelligent conversations and linking that to knowledge infrastructure. 

Why Microsoft’s big bet on deep learning could go bad
Deep learning is the hottest branch of A.I., but it might not be all that deep.    By Preston Gralla
When Microsoft looks into the near and far future, it sees artificial intelligence, particularly the hottest branch of it, called deep learning. The company has spent billions on A.I., including a spate of acquisitions such as the deep-learning startup Bonsai in late June and Semantic Machines in May. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said that A.I. is the "defining technology of our times." He also said at an investor’s conference this spring: “It's going to be A.I. at the edge, A.I. in the cloud, A.I. as part of SaaS applications, A.I. as part of in fact even infrastructure.”

But there’s a chance that the big bet on deep learning could go bad if Microsoft fails to invest in other branches of A.I. that could be more useful. The issue isn’t that deep learning isn’t important — it certainly is. But there’s a chance it’s also been oversold and is already up against the limits of its capabilities.  ....  "  

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Emotional Marketing Driving Growth

Something we looked at in some detail, starting long ago.

How Emotional Marketing Can Drive Business Growth  in K@W

An image of an elegant Vermicular-brand Japanese rice cooker flashed on the screen at the Wharton Customer Analytics Conference. The speaker, Ridhima Raina, asked the audience how much they thought it cost.

After several guesses were ventured — most around a couple of hundred dollars — Raina said, “I’m from India and I eat a lot of rice. I would spend maybe $300 or $500. But on eBay, I checked this morning and it was $1,000.”

A leader in customer strategy and marketing practice at Bain & Company, Raina asserted that the main reason Vermicular can charge so much for its rice cooker compared to other brands is that the product spikes on what she called “elements of value.” It reflects two elements in particular, she said: sensory appeal, and design and aesthetics. By Bain’s calculations, these elements contribute an eye-opening 40% to the product’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), an index that measures how willing consumers would be to recommend a product to others. NPS is widely considered a key customer metric associated with customer lifetime value and revenue growth.

There might be additional value-based reasons for someone to pay top dollar for a rice cooker, Raina said. Investing that much money could be a motivation to prepare meals at home more often and to eat healthier. The product could provide a sense of well-being.

Identifying and putting numbers around how customers perceive the value of products is an ongoing project at Bain, said Raina. “Understanding value is hard,” she noted. Although the science of pricing has progressed greatly, our grasp of value hasn’t caught up, she said. While firms certainly are aware that customers have feelings and opinions about their products, there’s no established way to translate those often hard-to-define attitudes into what customers will be willing to pay, and ultimately into business success. .... "   (Later gets to the emotion point ... )


Have an idea? plug it into a Cloud.  Anything that simplifies things is good.

DigitalOcean: Very interesting idea, pointed out to me  ... 

Meet DigitalOcean

We're on a mission to simplify cloud computing so developers and their teams can spend more time building software that changes the world.
Tell your friends about the DigitalOcean story ... 

Their Blog:  https://blog.digitalocean.com/

ISSIP Speaker Series: Digital Workers and Role of Meta in Digital Services

Via Sorin Ciornei, Series Chair, Cisco Systems
The digital worker and technological implications: The critical role of "meta" in digital services innovation and employment

Speaker:  Stephen F Heffner,

When:  Wednesday, July 25, 4:30pm - 5:15pm (UTC+01:00) Amsterdam, Berlin, Bern, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna  10:30 AM ET

Background:    An Expert witness, with report, deposition, & court testimony experience, in legal cases involving Enterprise & IT Architecture, software development & engineering, forensic analysis of code / data / text, Intellectual Property issues involving software, and contractual fulfillment / performance failure issues involving software.

Talk Overview Description: 

As a software inventor on the leading edge of automating software engineering, He has observed that the overall trend in technology is toward "meta" -- information about information.  Meta represents a level of abstraction thatprovides great power when dealing with any kind of pattern in manufacturing, scientific, commercial, and especially IT processes.  It is at the heart of all automation, and is a prerequisite for success in the application of Artificial Intelligence.

The implications for employment are profound.  It means that lower-level, repetitive tasks will be automated.  (As the creator of an Expert System that automates software engineering, He is one of the change agents in that process.) Those who can't handle the necessary abstraction to raise their level on the "meta" spectrum will lose out.

The implications for education are equally profound.  The educational establishment has seriously damaged our educational system; in particular, the ability to think clearly, analyze problems, and solve them has been virtually eliminated in favor of ideological indoctrination.  The result is that workers who can handle the new requirements of a "meta" economy will be harder and harder to find.

Zoom meeting Link:   https://zoom.us/j/314764585

Small Robotics for DARPA

Continue to watch the robotics of the very small.  These were predicted long ago, and now emerging.

DARPA's insect-sized SHRIMP robots could aid disaster relief
Meet the tiny, versatile robots built to navigate high-risk environments.   By Katrina Filippidis in Engadget

DARPA's efforts to propel military technology forward often manifest in a diverse fashion, spanning everything from drone submarine development to a biostasis program that aims to buy more time to rescue soldiers on the battlefield. The SHRIMP program, short for SHort-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms, is another potentially life-saving initiative that is being designed to navigate through hazardous natural disaster zones.

What differentiates SHRIMP from microrobotics limited by SWaP (size, weight and power) constraints is its size. DARPA has managed to shrink the tech down to the size of an insect -- a scale of mm-to-cm. Program manager Dr. Ronald Polcawich says the smaller scale is what gives SHRIMP robots an advantage over larger robots -- which are too large to inspect damaged environments. ... " 

SIGAI: ACM Updates its Code of Ethics

ACM has updated its code of ethics, and published this on their newsletter/blog.    Of considerable length, breadth and depth.   Below a short heading excerpt, continued at the link.

AI Matters

AI Matters: A Newsletter of ACM SIGAI

ACM Code of Ethics and USACM’s New Name

ACM Code of Ethics

Please note the message from ACM Headquarters and check the link below: “On Tuesday, July 17, ACM plans to announce the updated Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. We would like your support in helping to reach as broad an audience of computing professionals as possible with this news. When the updated Code goes live at 10 a.m. EDT on July 17, it will be hosted at https://www.acm.org/code-of-ethics.

We encourage you to share the updated Code with your friends and colleagues at that time. If you use social media, please take part in the conversation around computing ethics using the hashtags #ACMCodeOfEthics and #IReadTheCode. And if you are not doing so already, please follow the @TheOfficialACM and @ACM_Ethics Twitter handles to share and engage with posts about the Code.  ACM also plans to host a Reddit AMA and Twitter chats on computing ethics in the weeks following this announcement. We will reach out to you again regarding these events when their details have been solidified.

Thank you in advance for helping to support and increase awareness of the ACM Code of Ethics and for promoting ethical conduct among computing professionals around the world.” .... " 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Managing Teams of Robots with Brainwaves and Hand Gestures

Is this the way we will control and work with teams of robots?    In the MIT News.

How to control robots with brainwaves and hand gestures

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory system enables people to correct robot mistakes on multiple-choice tasks.    By Adam Conner-Simons | CSAIL 

Getting robots to do things isn’t easy: Usually, scientists have to either explicitly program them or get them to understand how humans communicate via language.

But what if we could control robots more intuitively, using just hand gestures and brainwaves?

A new system spearheaded by researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) aims to do exactly that, allowing users to instantly correct robot mistakes with nothing more than brain signals and the flick of a finger.

Building off the team’s past work focused on simple binary-choice activities, the new work expands the scope to multiple-choice tasks, opening up new possibilities for how human workers could manage teams of robots.

By monitoring brain activity, the system can detect in real-time if a person notices an error as a robot does a task. Using an interface that measures muscle activity, the person can then make hand gestures to scroll through and select the correct option for the robot to execute. .... " 

Microsoft Releases all US Building Footprints

Reported in Flowingdata, fascinating dataset.   Architectural and building industry studies?  An Exmple of open data

Details in Microsoft Github.

" ... This dataset contains 124,885,597 computer generated building footprints in all 50 US states. This data is freely available for download and use.

This data is licensed by Microsoft under the Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL)


What the data include:
Approximately 125 million building footprint polygon geometries in all 50 US States in GeoJSON format.  .... " 

Doorstep Photography

Another example of transparency in the supply chain.

Are photos of packages on doorsteps helpful?    by Tom Ryan in Retailwire

Amazon’s drivers are increasingly taking pictures of where they put the packages they deliver and even including the images in delivery notifications sent to customers.

The snapshots help in three ways:

Theft reduction: Drivers can let the recipient know where to find packages that they hide behind shrubs or flower pots to make a package less visible to thieves

Further proof of arrival/condition for consumers: While notifications are one step, an image provides further proof to consumers of when the package arrives and in what condition. The recipient can even show another household member an image of the package in case they grabbed it by mistake;

Internal lost-package resolution: With the images, drivers can prove they dropped off the package at the correct address in good condition. On its website, Amazon Logistics said it “may look at delivery photos to troubleshoot what happened to a package. ..... ”

Detecting Bots

Not very useful, but an interesting look at how Twitter bots might be detected.  This implies you will very carefully consider every tweet and its context.   Most people do not do that.   So not sure this works for casual scanning.    In some of these cases a machine can, but the bot machines are also adjusting to provide the right level of human-ness.

How to tell if you’re talking to a bot
The five best ways to detect fake social-media accounts.
By Will Knight in MIT Technology Review ... "

Grocers Partner for Digital Growth

Some interesting data on the value of digital in grocery.  In particular big investments in leading edge technologies.    Also the relatively rare use of the term ROI as welll.

Grocers Partner For Digital Growth
Ananda Chakravarty,  Senior Analyst

Grocers Are Partnering For Digital Growth
The last few months have been a watershed of new deals around grocery fulfillment.  Walmart is partnering with DoorDash, Kroger is investing in Ocado, Target is acquiring Shipt, and Amazon is delivering groceries to consumer vehicles.  Fulfillment has become the key parameter for grocers to grow their digital business.  Why?  Digital grocery is still small, and grocers are unable to justify fulfillment costs.  Digital grocery is growing at a CAGR of 17% globally but remains less than 3% of the US retail grocery market.[1]  The lack of comparable ROI data in the small digital grocery market has made it difficult for grocers to make the case to invest in digital expansion, especially since grocers expect rapid payback on investments. With the exception of large grocers like Walmart or Kroger, most grocers have little ability to invest in broad scale digital initiatives given average net margins for retail grocery of 1.62%.[2]  Tiny margins, combined with delivery costs and cold chain requirements for perishables, make profitable eCommerce solutions for grocers very difficult. To make eCommerce investments economical, grocers are:  ... "

Causality and Data Science

Of interest, reviewing.

Causal Data Science  By Adam Kelleher
Physicist; Data @ BuzzFeed; Adjunct Prof. at Columbia

I started a series of posts aimed at helping people learn about causality in data science (and science in general), and wanted to compile them all together here in a living index. This list will grow as I post more:  ... " 

Announcing Chatbox for Talking to the Customer

Pointed out to me. Closer to a real continued, intelligent conversation with the customer.  What we hoped to gain in past approaches.

Chatbox launches messaging ecosystem for personalized customer experiences at scale
Chatbox Instant Apps facilitate the dynamic exchange of rich, structured data within messaging streams and can be deployed to any channel, carrier or hardware

SEATTLE, July 18, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Chatbox announced the launch of its new integrated messaging ecosystem. The Chatbox platform helps businesses deliver hyper-personalized, messaging-based customer experiences at scale across texting, chat and social channels.

Today's consumers are less and less willing to waste time when interacting with companies. They want to get questions answered, make purchases, or get the service they need -- all on their timeline, preferred channel and with no loss of context from their previous conversations. A recent study by Oracle shows that 75 percent of consumers perceive an enhanced experience enabled by modern engagement capabilities in more-personal scenarios. And according to Facebook, the channel of choice is mobile applications: 67 percent of people expect to use messaging apps more to talk to businesses.  .... "

How to Come up with Great Ideas

Broadly useful thoughts.  Still think there is use for a 'startup' inside a company.

How to Come Up with Great Ideas
Think like an entrepreneur.   By Kate Matsudaira in Queue
"I would love to do a startup, but I don't have any ideas."

I started my career working in big companies but always dreamed of starting my own. I would read online forums and articles about successful entrepreneurs. I was enamored with the idea of doing a startup. The problem was I didn't have any ideas.

Fast forward 10 years and I have so many ideas that choosing the right one is the challenge. I am constantly coming up with ideas and opportunities that could turn into a product, or a whole company. There is no shortage of things that I could do.

The key is you have to learn to think like an entrepreneur.

Why You Should Want to Be More Entrepreneurial

At this point, you might be thinking, "But I am a software engineer and happy in my role; why do I need to think like an entrepreneur?" Even if you don't see yourself doing a startup with one idea, being able to come up with new ideas (especially good ones!) will make you even better at your current job.

As a programmer, most of your time is probably spent understanding the technical nuances of what you are creating. As you grow in your career and experience, however, you are expected to contribute more than just code.

For example, if you work on a product, you may have the chance to collaborate with its designers to create a new customer experience. When there are bugs or issues, your time is spent diagnosing the symptoms to find root problems and exploring options that may serve as possible solutions. As you build your expertise, you may even create your own modules, systems, or libraries to help solve problems.  ...."

Conversation with J Doyne Farmer

I recall following the work of J Doyne Farmer when we were interested in economic models that included arguments about complexity, at the Santa Fe Institute.  Here is a conversation with him that is a good update on what he is working on.  Note the mention of the Prediction Company, which I recall hearing about.  And the link to BiosGroup, which received $5 Million from P&G for Supply Chain modeling

Collective Awareness
A Conversation with J. Doyne Farmer [7.17.18] in the Edge

J. DOYNE FARMER is director of the Complexity Economics Programme at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, professor in the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford, and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He was a co-founder of Prediction Company, a quantitative automated trading firm that was sold to the United Bank of Switzerland in 2006. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Oracle Rolls out a Blockchain Service

Everybody is looking to get involved with Blockchains.   With mention of Smart Contracts.

Oracle rolls out its own blockchain service
Oracle joins IBM, SAP, and Microsoft in offering blockchain-as-a-service for companies hoping to deploy the distributed ledger technology without the expenses associated with embracing the technology in-house. ... 
By Lucas Mearian in Computerworld ... "

Sensors for Earthquakes

We did a short test in this area:

Tiny Sensors May Help Avert Earthquake Damage, Track Sonar Danger, 'Listen' to Pipelines
Simon Fraser University
Marianne Meadahl

Engineers at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Canada have developed ultra-sensitive accelerometers that are capable of capturing the most minuscule seismic activities. The new devices measure how tiny "seismic mass" comprised of silicon is displaced, due to external vibrations. The sensor can measure seismic mass displacements in the order of 1/10,000th of the diameter of a hydrogen atom. "The sensitivity of these devices is such that they can pick up the pressure waves produced by an earthquake before it strikes," says SFU's Behraad Bahreyni. The SFU team started out developing the accelerometers as a solution to make underwater sonar systems more compact and cost-efficient. However, they quickly realized that the high-performance, micro-machined accelerometers could have additional applications in detecting sound waves. ... " 

Need for More than Autonomy

Fascinating piece on installing better integration of business process and discovery into devices and systems we build.   Then driving the autonomy with interim findings.   It like building creativity into that process with being better aware of goals and resources.  Can we use this same thing in business? I think we can.

To make Curiosity (et al.) more curious, NASA and ESA smarten up AI in space   ... The future of deep-space exploration? "We can't deal with it without autonomy.”
 By Jacek Krywko    ... 


And on the same topic.  How much is it augmenting, diminishing, replacing jobs and how much is the replacement of component skills?

On AI and Jobs, We Are All Augmentarians Now:
Tom Davenport writes in Forbes:

For a couple of days this week, I attended the EmTech NEXT conference at MIT, which is organized by MIT Technology Review. The focus of the event was that fabled idea “The Future of Work,” and if you are on the side of the humans, the future seems pretty bright. Virtually every speaker (MIT folks, AI and robotics leaders) came out in favor of augmentation over automation. They say that AI and robots won’t take our jobs, but rather augment them by doing the things we humans don’t do so well..

I must say that I was a bit surprised that augmentation has become the consensus view among experts. That wasn’t the case three years ago, when Julia Kirby and I were writing the book that became Only Humans Need Apply. At that time, most of the bets were on automation eliminating lots of human jobs. The Oxford researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne had just published their study on “The Future of Employment,” which predicted that “47% of total U.S. employment is at risk.” Martin Ford had published the book Rise of the Robots, which basically suggested that human workers were toast. The McKinsey Global institute did a similar analysis to the Oxford researchers, and concluded that the “number”—the percentage of automatable jobs —was 45%. This was the heyday of automation fearmongering, and it all received a lot of publicity  .... "

Skills that are Hard to Automate

A thoughtful piece, that also creates a challenge for those looking at these kinds of things.I found myself thinking in each case.  Why and then How?  Think also about the demand for each skill in changing contexts.

7 Skills That Aren’t About to Be Automated
By Adam J. Gustein, John Sviokla  in the HBR

Today’s young professionals grew up in an age of mind-boggling technological change, seeing the growth of the internet, the invention of the smartphone, and the development of machine-learning systems. These advances all point toward the total automation of our lives, including the way we work and do business. It’s no wonder, then, that young people are anxious about their ability to compete in the job market. As executives who have spent our lives assessing and implementing digital technology in every type of organization, we often get asked by them: “What should I learn today so that I’ll have a job in the future?” In what follows we’ll share seven skills that can not only make you unable to be automated, but will make you employable no matter what the future holds.  ... " 

Cameras Detecting Emotions and Implying Threat

Good piece in the BBC on detecting emotions and implying threat.    Background and current state.  Here again an algorithm will deliver a likelihood level of threat   So accuracy implications.  Privacy of emotions.  Risk of false positives.  Very likely this will be broadly implemented in a world of greater dangers. 

The cameras that know if you're happy - or a threat  By Daniel Thomas in the BBC

Facial recognition tech is becoming more sophisticated, with some firms claiming it can even read our emotions and detect suspicious behaviour. But what implications does this have for privacy and civil liberties?

Facial recognition tech has been around for decades, but it has been progressing in leaps and bounds in recent years due to advances in computing vision and artificial intelligence (AI), tech experts say.

It is now being used to identify people at borders, unlock smart phones, spot criminals, and authenticate banking transactions.

But some tech firms are claiming it can also assess our emotional state.

Since the 1970s, psychologists say they have been able to detect hidden emotions by studying the "micro expressions" on someone's face in photographs and video .... " 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Keeping Intelligence Fresh

From Recorded Future, Podcast of interest. 

How to Keep Finished Intelligence Fresh     By Amanda McKeon  

Our guest today is Storm Swendsboe. He’s an analyst services manager at Recorded Future, leading a team of intelligence analysts providing on-demand reports for their customers. In our conversation he explains the different types of reports his team provides, with a focus on finished intelligence. Swendsboe answers questions like, where does finished intelligence fit into an organization’s threat intelligence strategy, how it can be customized for specific audiences, and how to make sure a report doesn’t quickly become out of date the moment it’s published. ... " 

Model for Large-Scale 3D Facial Recognition

Can information in other dimensions include other useful business components of an image?

New Model for Large-Scale 3D Facial Recognition
By University of Western Australia 

University of Western Australia researchers have developed a three-dimensional (3D) facial recognition system based on the analysis of 3.1-million 3D scans of more than 100,000 people.

The team trained its FR3DNet system to learn the identities of a large dataset of "known" persons and then match a test face to one of those identities.

The research demonstrates that recognition performance on 3D scans is getting “better and more robust,” says the University of Western Australia's Syed Zulqarnain Gilani.

FR3DNet can identify faces in any pose, wearing glasses or a face mask, laughing or smiling, says Gilani, adding, “We hope that this research will help improve security on devices that use facial recognition to grant access to networks and systems.” ... " 

From University of Western Australia 

Byron Reese: The Fourth Age, Smart Robots, Conscious Computers and the Future of Humanity

Currently reading, especially interesting regards the influence of smart systems on jobs and work.  What will be out new role in this new age be?   Should we embrace or feat the age?  Nicely done

 The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity   by Byron Reese  They write: 

Our world up to recent times has been a Third Age world. While incredible innovation has occurred along the way, such as the development of steam and electric power and the invention of movable type, these were not fundamental changes in the nature of being human the way language, agriculture and writing were. With the exceptions of computers and robots, the innovations that we have observed have been evolutionary more than revolutionary. This is not to diminish them in the least. Printing changed the world profoundly, but it was simply a cheaper way to do something that we already could do. Detailed schematics of a biplane would have made sense to Da Vinci. But computers and robots are different. If we use them to outsource thought and motion, the very essence we are, then that is a real change, a Fourth Age.

“Reese frames the deepest questions of our time in clear language that invites the reader to make their own choices. Using 100,000 years of human history as his guide, he explores the issues around artificial general intelligence, robots,  consciousness, automation, the end of work, abundance, and immortality. As he does so, Reese reveals himself to be an optimist and urges us to use technology to build a better world.”  — Bob Metcalfe, UT Austin Professor of Innovation, Ethernet inventor, 3Com founder

“In The Fourth Age, Byron Reese offers the reader something much more valuable than what to think about Artificial Intelligence and robotics—he focuses on  HOW to think about these technologies, and the ways in which they will change the world forever. If you only read just one book about the AI revolution, make it this one.”  — John Mackey, co-founder and CEO, Whole Foods Market  .... " 

Microsoft Open Data

Brought to my attention:  Microsoft Open Data.  Their blog post about it.

A collection of free datasets from Microsoft Research to advance state-of-the-art research in areas such as natural language processing, computer vision, and domain specific sciences. Download or copy directly to a cloud-based Data Science Virtual Machine for a seamless development experience. ... "

Potentially very useful.  https://msropendata.com/

Concept and History of Algorithms

In my executive interactions since the beginning,  the definition of algorithm is often brought up.    Somehow it always seems mysterious.  Her a look at the definition and history of the idea. Its just a description of the statement of 'how do you do that?'   Which has been around for a long time.   Ever since someone has asked "How do you do that?"   With the implication its a good way, but that still depends on the author of the process.  Perhaps we chose a too complicated name.

Algorithms Have Been Around for 4,000 Years  By Herbert Bruderer 
A basic concept of computer science is the algorithm. An algorithm can be described as:

instructions for solving a task; a method for solving a problem; calculation rule, or, more precisely,
a finite sequence of generally (valid), unique, executable instructions (steps).
The technical term is named after the Persian mathematician Muhammad Ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, author of a work on calculation rules (who lived around 780 to 850 AD). Examples from everyday life are recipes, handicraft instructions, rules of the game, instructions for use, score, pattern. .... "

Impact of Digital Life

Have seen several stark examples of this of late. And the integration of smart things will make this more important yet.

Stories From Experts About the Impact of Digital Life
By Pew Research Center

Over the years of canvassings by Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center, many technology experts and scholars have been anxious about the way people's online activities can undermine truth, foment distrust, jeopardize individuals' well-being when it comes to physical and emotional health, enable trolls to weaken democracy and community, compromise human agency as algorithms become embedded in more activities, kill privacy, make institutions less secure, open up larger social divisions as digital divides widen, and wipe out untold numbers of decent-paying jobs. ... " 

Amazon is Convenience

Convenience and consistency of results.  And over a relatively short period of time, re-setting expectations of delivery and immediate gratification.

How Amazon Delivers on Its Core Product: Convenience
Wharton's Katja Seim discusses her research on Amazon's fulfillment center network.


Amazon sells more goods than any one person could count – but the e-commerce giant’s true “core product” is convenience, and how quickly it can get an order from customers’ virtual shopping carts to their real-life doorsteps.

Part of what makes it so easy for Amazon to offer two-day or even same-day shipping to customers is its vast network of distribution centers, which are located across the U.S. and store and ship products to their final destinations. New research from Wharton business economics and public policy professor Katja Seim takes a closer look at how significantly expanding that distribution center network over the past decade has been key to Amazon’s growth strategy.

Seim recently spoke to Knowledge@Wharton about her paper, “Economies of Density in E-Commerce: A Study of Amazon’s Fulfillment Center Network,” which was co-authored with Cornell’s Jean-Francois Houde and Penn State’s Peter Newberry. .... "