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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Buying Through Your Car Dashboard

Automobile as a channel.

GM thinks you'll buy stuff through your car's dashboard
Its on-board marketplace lets you purchase items you'll still have to wait in line for.

Rachel England, @rachel_england in Engadget

As more cars roll off production lines with WiFi and LTE capabilities as standard, brands are falling over themselves to find ways to monetize this connectivity. Jaguar and Shell have partnered for in-car fuel payments, while BMW and Ford are bringing Alexa to your dashboard. Now, General Motors (GM) has unveiled a new on-board marketplace where drivers can buy coffee and gas, and make restaurant and hotel reservations, without getting out of their car. ... " 

New and Dynamic Category Management

Spent a big part of a whole career in the analytics of this space.     How new and dynamic are the changes?    Considerable.    Excellent in further discussion in link below.

The next logical step for category management  by Mark Heckman  in Retailwire.

"The reality is that category management has become increasingly complex based upon omnichannel consumer expectations."

Comment by: Chris Petersen, PhD.President, Integrated Marketing Solutions

Recent radical changes in shopper behavior are putting pressure on category management practices to further adapt to the new dynamics of retail. .... 

Amazon.com and other online retail players are now undeniably on brick-and-mortar stores’ competitive radar. Further, new smaller and more efficient physical store competitors — from limited-assortment grocers to dollar stores — are on the march with aggressive growth plans. So how do these new competitive dynamics affect category management practices? .... " 

Exoskeleton Being Tested by Ford

The ultimate integration of people and robotics.

Ford Pilots New Exoskeleton Technology to Help Lessen Chance of Fatique

Ford Pilots New Exoskeleton Technology to Help Lessen Chance of Worker Fatigue, Injury.   Called EksoVest, the wearable technology elevates and supports a worker's arms while performing overhead tasks. Ford assembly line workers are testing new upper body exoskeletal technology ... " 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Google Experiments with Photography

This effort was new to me.  Some of the Apps are available on just on Android, and some on IOS.  Particularly interested in new kinds of mobile based object recognition. 

Google tests experimental technology with three new photography apps  by Colin Kriel in Siliconangle

 Google Inc. Monday launched three new photography apps, part of the company’s new “appsperiments” program.

The new apps are called Storyboard, Selfissimo! and Scrubbies and, according to Google, they’re the first installment of mobile photography experiences that are built on experimental technology.

The “appsperiments” program is inspired by Google’s Motion Stills app, introduced last year, which provides video stabilization for Apple Inc.’s Live Photos. The three new apps and future ones rely on technologies in development at Google, including object recognition, person segmentation, stylization algorithms, efficient image encoding and decoding technologies.  ... " 

Coexisting with Robots

We are starting to see the earliest issues about how we will work with robots.   And the first step will be how can even coexist with them in our streets and walkways.   San Francisco is worried about them and starting with some very specific regulation.

San Francisco to robots: Don’t crowd our sidewalks
By Carolyn Said and Benny Evangelista

Robots that trundle along sidewalks R2D2-style to deliver takeout food or packages are still in early test phases. Few even exist.

But San Francisco is cracking down on them, and that may stem from mounting concerns about automation gobbling up jobs. On Tuesday night, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed tough new regulations that will limit companies to three robots each; limit the city to nine robots total; and confine robots to industrial areas where almost no one lives — all of which makes it hard to test their basic function of delivering goods to consumers. The robots can’t go faster than 3 mph and must have a human monitor, the new law says.  .... " 

Watson IoT Platform

Starting to work on a project that utilizes IOT applications.   Here is an excerpt of Watson IoT's latest overview that we will be working with.   Includes Videos and more.  Will be reporting on some of that here in the coming weeks.  Any ideas or questions, pass them along.

The Internet of Things becomes the Internet that thinks with Watson IoT

The power of IoT is the insight, intelligence and innovation to transform your business and industry

Industry solutions at a glance.

Watson IoT™ Platform understands the language of your industry. Explore how your unique needs become competitive differentiators.

Automotive, Electronics, Energy and utilities, Insurance, Manufacturing, Retail

Transform your industry using data, Watson IoT and AI

ABB is bringing its industry leading digital offering together with Watson IoT cognitive capabilities to unlock new value for customers in utilities, industry, transport and infrastructure. .... " 

IOT Value vs Trust Survey

In the Cisco blog, results from a survey  of interest, with details.

Cisco survey finds consumers like IoT devices but don’t trust their security  by Duncan Riley

 Consumers see great value in “internet of things” devices but lack trust in them because of security concerns, according to a survey recently undertaken by Cisco Systems Inc.

The “IoT Value/Trust Paradox” survey of 3,000 consumers found that 53 percent of respondents believed that IoT devices make their life easier, but only 9 percent have a high level of trust that their data collected and shared via IoT is secure. Despite the low levels of trust, 42 percent of respondents said they were not willing to disconnect their IoT devices because they bring sufficient value to them. ... " 

Computers, Cognition and Perspective

Intriguing thoughts.   Why do we always use human descriptive terms to tag computer 'Apps',  skills, and what are the implications?  Pretty obviously we start with existing understanding.

Human Acts and Computer Apps   By Robin K. Hill

In the discussion of recent decades concerning the relationship between human cognition and machine computation, one perspective predominates—starting from the point of view of the computation, we probe the possible applications to cognition. That is, we describe cognition in computational terms. My own view, outlined in previous blog posts, is that computation fashions artifacts that the philosophy of computer science can view in the terms of human affairs and humanities perspectives. Hence, I interrogate the ontology of algorithms [Hill 2016a], ask whether nature uses data [Hill 2016b] and whether fiction is model theory [Hill 2016c].

Recently, in Communications, we've seen a couple of articles that elaborate the human-computer analogy from this latter point of view, sketching a computing phenomenon (narrower than computation itself) and then interpreting it in quotidian human affairs, as literally as possible. While these ideas are not new, the way these works pose the concepts aligns with my view—for which the authors cannot be held responsible, of course.     .... "

Monday, December 11, 2017

Byte Sized Deep Learning Tutorials

There seems to be quite a bit to learn in The AI Workbox.  We often learn best by example rather than rules.

Bite-size video tutorials for Deep Learning Developers

Learn the latest cutting-edge tools and frameworks  Level-up, accomplish more, and do great work ... 

And one particular example (there are many more):

Visualize Training Results With TensorFlow summary and TensorBoard ....

AI is Still not Broadly Impressive

Or is that we are not as intelligent as we thought?  Are we fooled by the very implications in the term:  AI.  Seems this happened once before.   Hype and Bubble?   Ok, some of us have taken to using the term Machine Learning (ML) to try to make the point more precise.   But its not really general learning either, its carefully scrubbed and selected data, manipulated with selected algorithms.   Impressive results,  increasingly useful,  but is it intelligence?    Or Creative.  Or have we been fooled by ourselves? 

Progress in AI isn’t as Impressive as You Might Think

A new report gauges how far we’ve come, dampening ideas that machines are approaching human-type intelligence.

In Technology Review, by Will Knight   Which has a link to the original piece below. 

With so much excitement about progress in artificial intelligence, you may wonder why intelligent machines aren’t already running our lives.

Key advances have the capacity to dazzle the public, policymakers, and investors into believing that human-level machine intelligence may be just around the corner. But a new report (PDF), which tries to gauge actual progress being made, attests that this is far from true. The findings may help inform the discussion over how AI will affect the economy and jobs in the coming years. .... "

CPG, Unilever Big Data and Digital Twins

Always good to see interesting examples in the CPG industry, where I spent a good part of my career.   Save digital twin applications at GE.  Several useful concepts to be learned here.

CPG Industry Levels Playing Field with Power of One   Posted by Bill Schmarzo   in DSC.

Special thanks to Brandon Kaier (@bkaier) for his research and thoughts on the Digital Twins concept.

Unilever, one of the Consumer Package Goods (CPG) industry’s titans with over 400 brands and annual sales greater than $60B, recently bought Dollar Shave Club for $1B. Now normally I would not think twice about such an acquisition, peanuts in the world of mergers and acquisitions. ....

It seems that Unilever could have easily created their own subscription model without having to pay $1B for customers with whom they already have a relationship. So I don’t believe that Unilever just bought a subscription model. Instead, I think Unilever bought a capability; a capability to capture and mine individual customer product purchase behaviors – the frequency, recency, intensity, magnitude and monetary value of purchase behaviors at the level of the individual consumer – and to eventually apply this analytic capability across more of their brands.

Think about the purchase behavior details Dollar Shave Club has on each of its individual subscribers. Unilever has no similar behavioral knowledge or insights at the level of the individual consumer; they only know how much product they push through retailers and distributors like Walmart, Kroger and Target.

To be actionable, Big Data must get down to the level of the individual – the “Power of One.” Big Data enables capturing customers’ individual tendencies, propensities, behaviors, patterns, associations, and relationships in order to monetize the resulting customer, product and operational insight .... " 

IBM Providing Free App Software

Taking a closer look at this.  Worth a look, more details at the link.  A free, code asset exchange.

IBM courts developers with ready-to-use software packages for bots and more    By Robert Hof in SiliconAngle.

Hoping to get more software developers to use its cloud services, IBM Corp. today announced more than 100 packages of software code that can be used to create chatbots, application containers, blockchain applications and more.

IBM noted that the proliferation of open-source software has made it more complex for developers to figure out which code to use and how to wade through all the documentation. The so-called Code Patterns are intended to help developers hit the ground running with free code, easily accessible repositories on GitHub and documentation for a wide variety of use cases such as AI, cloud, big data and blockchain..... " 

Translating Predicting Language of Chemical Reactions

Intriguing, trying to convert this idea into my firmer experience in an internship in chemical engineering research.

A Translation Algorithm Can Predict the “Language” of a Chemical Reaction  in Technology Review.

By thinking of organic chemistry as words and sentences instead of atoms and molecules, researchers have found a way for artificial intelligence to predict chemical reactions.

In a paper published on arXiv by researchers at IBM and being presented at this week’s Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference, the researchers demonstrate that by treating reaction predictions as a translation problem, they could come up with the correct reaction more often than was possible with previous models.

“Intuitively, there is an analogy between a chemist’s understanding of a compound and a language speaker’s understanding of a word,” the researchers write.  .... " 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Baidu and AI Voice Enablement

Voice continues to push forward, here with the Baidu Duer solution.   Expect for more to emerge.   Towards more intelligent assistant solutions on a number of platforms, like the Snapdragon mentioned below.  See the Duer tag below for more on this.

Qualcomm, Baidu form AI partnership to optimize DuerOS for Snapdragon

Qualcomm's collaboration with Baidu will bring AI for voice enabled solutions to the new Snapdragon 845 mobile platform   By Jake Smith for Between the Lines   ....  "

IOT Security with Microsoft's Sopris

Security is important for devices that have to be safe in the wild.

A Tiny New Chip Could Secure the Next Generation of IOT

By Lily Hay Newman in Wired

The Internet of Things security crisis persists, as billions of inadequately secured webcams, refrigerators, and more flood homes around the world. But IoT security researchers at Microsoft Research have their eye on an even larger problem: the billions of gadgets that already run on simple microcontrollers—small, low-power computers on a single chip—that will gradually gain connectivity over the years, exponentially expanding the internet of things population. And that connected electric toothbrush needs protection, too.

The challenge with internet of things security so far has been the cost of implementing hardened features. It's cheaper and faster to develop a product without spending time and resources on security. Devices rush off the line without adequate protections, often riddled with bugs, and rarely have a mechanism for manufacturers to distribute patches. An attacker who penetrates those IoT devices can potentially steal data, rope the unit into a botnet, or even use it as a jumping off point to infiltrate other parts of a network. .... "

Report on Quick Draw

Report from the Google Blog:   An example of how to get data with a game. A data game.

Since November 2016, people all around the world have drawn one billion doodles in Quick, Draw!, a web game where a neural network tries to recognize your drawings.

That includes 2.9 million cats, 2.9 million hot dogs, and 2.9 million drawings of snowflakes. .... 

By Jonas Jongejan
Creative Technologist, Google Creative Lab

Saturday, December 09, 2017

McKinsey on the Chinese Consumer

A considerable look at the China consumer.   Much more in the article.

Double-clicking on the Chinese consumer
By Wouter Baan, Lan Luan, Felix Poh, and Daniel Zipser

 The rising post-90s generation is emerging as a strong engine of consumption, in one of four important new trends in the Chinese consumer landscape.

If you’re looking for evidence that Chinese consumers are confident, look no further than the one-day online-sales phenomenon known as Singles Day, which falls every year on November 11. Singles Day has morphed from being a day dedicated to lonely singles to becoming the largest e-shopping day globally. With an estimated $25 billion in sales, or over $1 billion in transactions per hour, Singles Day this year easily bested last year’s sales by close to 40 percent, and was larger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States combined. .... " 

AI to Replace Coders

Seeing indications of this, perhaps not so soon, but inevitable.  The implications?   Transparency perhaps the major issue.

AI Will Replace Coders by 2040, Warn Academics    By V3.co.uk 

Coders and programmers could find themselves becoming marginalized by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, with humans being replaced in these jobs by 2040, according to a study from academic researchers published by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The report predicted by 2040, machine learning and natural language processing technologies will have become so advanced they will be able to write better software code faster than the best human coders.  .... " 

Paper  Abstract—Programming trends suggest that software development will undergo a radical change in the future: the combination of machine learning, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and code generation technologies will improve in such a way that machines, instead of humans, will write most of their own code by 2040. This poses a number of interesting challenges for scientific research, especially as the hardware on which this Machine Generated Code will run becomes extremely heterogeneous. Indeed, extreme heterogeneity may drive the creation of this technology because it will allow humans to cope with the difficulty of programming different devices efficiently and easily. ... 

Unsupervised Decision Trees

Nicely done piece.   Big supporter of decision trees in general, since they have a basic element of transparency.

Have You Heard About Unsupervised Decision Trees

By William Vorhies in DSC

Summary: Unless you’re involved in anomaly detection you may never have heard of Unsupervised Decision Trees.  It’s a very interesting approach to decision trees that on the surface doesn’t sound possible but in practice is the backbone of modern intrusion detection.

I was at a presentation recently that focused on stream processing but the use case presented was about anomaly detection.  When they started talking about unsupervised decision trees my antenna went up.  What do you mean unsupervised decision trees?  What would they split on?
It turns out that if you’re in the anomaly detection world unsupervised decision trees are pretty common.  Since I’m not in that world and I suspect few of us are, I thought I’d share what I found. .... "


A piece that looks at the history and math background of modern cyber security.    Not overly technical video.

Cybersecurity, Nuclear Security, Alan Turing, and Illogical Logic
Martin E. Hellman discusses "Cybersecurity, Nuclear Security, Alan Turing, and Illogical Logic" (cacm.acm.org/magazines/2017/12/223042), a Contributed Article in the December 2017 CACM.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Better Recommendation Engines

Researchers Devise Better Recommendation Algorithm 
Improved recommendation algorithm should work especially well when ratings data are “sparse.”

MIT News  By Larry Hardesty

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new recommendation algorithm based on a theoretical analytic framework using cosine similarity, which they say should work better than current algorithms. The researchers note the algorithm should be especially effective when ratings data is "sparse." Sparse data means there may be so little overlap between users' ratings that cosine similarity is rendered meaningless, making it necessary to aggregate the data of many users. MIT professor Devavrat Shah says the framework assumes the relative weight a user assigns to ratings remains the same, and each user's function is running on the same set of features. Shah notes this yields sufficient consistency to extrapolate statistical inferences about the probability that one user's ratings will predict another's. The team used the framework to demonstrate that, in instances of sparse data, their "neighbor's-neighbor" algorithm should return more accurate predictions than any known algorithm.... " 

Document Classification with Deep Learning

Once again, a good introduction.  And demonstration of how these systems can be constructed.

Best Practices for Document Classification with Deep Learning   by Jason Brownlee

Text classification describes a general class of problems such as predicting the sentiment of tweets and movie reviews, as well as classifying email as spam or not.

Deep learning methods are proving very good at text classification, achieving state-of-the-art results on a suite of standard academic benchmark problems.

In this post, you will discover some best practices to consider when developing deep learning models for text classification.

After reading this post, you will know:

The general combination of deep learning methods to consider when starting your text classification problems.

The first architecture to try with specific advice on how to configure hyperparameters.

That deeper networks may be the future of the field in terms of flexibility and capability.

Let’s get started. .... ".

Ultimate PDF Converter

Always interested in making things more productive.   I was told about this method and giving it a try.   Remember having some messy experiences with the problem of OCR conversion from PDFs, especially in varying contexts when I needed data from scanned information.   They have recently made parts of it free:

" ... This transcendent PDF converter has proven to be our most revolutionizing app so far. Easily convert PDFs to Text, Word, Excel, JPG, PowerPoint, AutoCAD files, and back to PDF. PDF Converter Ultimate enables you to import files from Dropbox, Google Drive, Gmail, and other cloud services. Our OCR technology makes it possible to convert even scanned files. All conversions are done online on our servers, so this app will make best of your processor and RAM memory as well as save battery life.

• No limits on file size or number of converted files. Conversions are fast and accurate.
• Scanned and complex PDFs can be converted due to our leading OCR technology.
• You can convert Gmail attachments and files from Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, Box, and OneDrive directly from our app. .... "

See it on Apple in ITunes.  They write: 

We’ve recently launched a new improved version of PDF Converter Ultimate, after listening to our users’ feedback. So what’s new?

- You can now convert files from online services such as Gmail, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive for free!
- From now on, you can convert files from iCloud, also for free
- Top of the line OCR engine which is improved once again   ....  "   

Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble

Glad to have contributed to innovation and co-innovation at these companies for many years. Lets keep it all moving along. 

Technology Innovation Isn’t Just for Tech Companies
Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble make the top 20 for innovation in the Drucker Institute’s Management Top 250 rankings    ... in the WSJ.

Electronic Health Data And Drugs

Fascinating thought.  Like the leveraging of 'public' data like the Wikipedia too.  Taking a look.

Mining electronic health records and the web for drug repurposing

Kira Radinsky describes a system that mines medical records and Wikipedia to reduce spurious correlations and provide guidance about drug repurposing.     By Kira Radinsky in O'Reilly

This is a keynote highlight from the Strata Data Conference in Singapore 2017. Watch the full version of this keynote on Safari. .... 

You can also see other highlights from the event. .... " 

Satellites for Business

The ultimate large scale sensory play.   At an early time we looked at them for supply chain data, to support decisions, modeling and analytics.  I continue to follow advances.

This Company Has the Largest Fleet of Orbiting Satellites in Human History. Here's What it Plans to Do Next

Planet Labs' fleet can photograph all the land on earth every day--and it's just getting started.
By Kevin J. Ryan in Inc. .... "

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Walmart Enters Meal-Kit Fray

Good margin I assume,  but is this really worth the effort?   Going to Wal-mart or an App versus ordering online?

Walmart sells meal kits to challenge Amazon and Blue Apron
Conveniently, it also sells the kitchenware you need to make those meals.

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas  in Engadget

Walmart's never-ending quest to beat Amazon has it venturing into unfamiliar territory: meal kits. The big-box retailer has started selling just shy of 30 meal kits (such as a Thai crab curry) from multiple brands. How much you'll pay varies, but it's not uncommon to pay $35 for a meal for four. There are also bundles, such as a $60 Everyday Supper pack that serves three meals for two people. The brands themselves fulfill the orders. This isn't a subscription service like Blue Apron, but it's helpful if you'd like a fanciful meal without hunting down ingredients. And importantly, Walmart will soon compete more directly with Amazon's meal kits through an app tie-in. ... " 

Customer Service via Cognitive Solutions and BPM

Found this customer service example to be interesting ... in particular that it uses Business Process Modeling (BPM)  and Watson.    I believe any such problem should include a BPM analysis.

 " ... Customer insight gathered from unstructured data can lead to new business opportunities, improved customer satisfaction, and a greater competitive edge in the industry. Outthink your competitors by becoming a Cognitive Business. .... 

With Princeton Blue’s Cognitive Customer Service solution, you can benefit from the combined capabilities of BPM and IBM Watson

Princeton Blue, founded in 2006, is a leading provider of digital automation services and solutions delivered via Business Process Management (BPM), Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies .....  " 

MIT: An Ink that is a Sensor

Possible packaging applications.

MIT researchers made a living ink that responds to its surroundings
The 3D-printed, bacteria-loaded gel can be used as a sensor.

By Mallory Locklear, @mallorylocklear

Researchers at MIT have developed a 3D printable hydrogel that can sense and respond to stimuli. The hydrogel is loaded with bacteria that can be genetically programmed to light-up when they come in contact with certain chemicals and, therefore, could be used as living sensors.

To demonstrate the living ink's abilities, the researchers printed the hydrogel in a tree pattern with different sections of the tree's branches containing bacteria sensitive to different types of chemicals. They then smeared those chemicals on a person's skin and put the 3D-printed tree-shaped "living tattoo" on top. When the branches came in contact with those chemicals, the bacteria were triggered to fluoresce. .... " 

Kaiser Fung on the Limitations of AI

Colleague Kaiser Fung  on on hype and limitations of AI today.   Some useful thoughts.  In his always interesting Junkcharts blog.  I too have lived through several waves of AI hype, seeing it from an enterprise perspective.   Points to a number of studies.  In part this does depend on your definition of AI.

Primer on the limitation of current AI

Today, I turn attention to another Technology Review article in the same special AI issue, the important article by Rodney Brooks on the limitation of the current AI systems, driven by the "deep learning" "revolution." Brooks was the head of MIT's CSAIL lab, and an expert in AI who has lived through several waves of AI hype.

Brooks frames his content differently, titling the piece "The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions." He opens with the breathless forecasts published by various media outlets, predicting that AI (computers) would wipe out the job market for human beings in a broad range of industries, in some cases, in a matter of 10 or 20 years. He then describes seven fallacies that have led these hype-meisters astray. Read the whole article here. Some of these dire forecasts: Oxford/Yale, McKinsey. [PS. I do not understand why those technology leaders who claim to believe in these forecasts do not immediately stop their AI programs for the public good.]

Brooks calls these predictions "ludicrous." He points out that there have been zero realistic demonstrations of robots that can take over grounds and maintenance work even though the forecasters claim that 90% of such jobs would disappear in 10 to 20 years. For the rest of us, who are not knee-deep in AI research, it's simple to validate Brooks's viewpoint: just make a call to your favorite service provider (your bank, your credit card provider, your health insurer, for example); subject yourself to the AI "chatbot" for even five minutes. 

In debunking the hype, Brooks outlines several key limitations of the current AI systems, built on the deep learning revolution (discussed in the prior post).   .... " 

( See also his previous piece on this, pointed to in the above)