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Monday, January 22, 2018

Drone Swarms Don't Need a Break

Powerful, yet also scary scenario.    At least now they run out of power.  Note the solution here is in the process of using a swarm this way by collaborating.   The realm of our original research.

Energy Neutral Drone Swarms Can Spy on You Without Taking a Break   in Motherboard by Michael Byrne

Researchers at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. and Koc University in Turkey propose an Energy Neutral Internet of Drones (enIoD) as a swarm of aerial surveillance robots that operates continuously because charging and data transfer tasks are integrated nearly seamlessly into its function. They note the enIoD would use a hybrid energy harvesting system that does not tap the power grid, with each drone equipped with a solar cell or wind turbine, while the drones themselves serve as the grid connecting each charging station. The researchers also say wireless power transfer systems combined with wireless charging docks distributed across a wide area would enable the drone swarm to fly more or less without interruption. The team says the purpose of this network is to keep track of amateur drones, which they see as a vector for terrorists and other malefactors to attack civilians.  .... " 

AI and Auto Companies

Further, Considering automotive as a channel for goods and services

Artificial intelligence as auto companies’ new engine of value
What opportunities does AI open up for mobility, and how can OEMs capture them in the short and long run?    From McKinsey Insights   By Matthias K√§sser, Asutosh Padhi, Andreas Tschiesner, and Dominik Wee ... 

Virtual Dash Buttons

Recently sent to me, an announcement that Amazon dash buttons were going 'virtual', and have been for some time.  And I was sent virtual buttons for a number of things that I had ordered in the past.  Not quite the same thing as physical buttons that make their presence on the frig, but if you reside on the Web, as many workers do, its quick and easy. 

And how is this really changing my retail behavior, when they are not physical buttons?  May depend on how organized I am online.   Would like to have  a reminder too of the relative deal I am getting.  Is it just convenience?

Dear Amazon Customer,

You can now use Dash Buttons online to instantly reorder your favorite products, just like you do with the Dash Button devices in your home. Our new virtual Dash Buttons are available for tens of millions of products that ship with Prime, and they’re free, so you can add as many as you want. We’ve automatically added buttons for products you’ve purchased in the past. Check them out today.  ....   further described here.

Cheaper Chrome Devices

Was reminded once again of the $100 laptop push of a decade ago that was aimed at schools.  Chrome Laptops are a natural next step, with much of the function needed for productivity online.   And, of course,  Microsoft plans to add cheaper mixed reality through Hololens.

Windows 10 laptops for schools. And a big education push for 2018
By Tom Warren @tomwarren in TheVerge ... "

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Supervised, Unsupervised and Reinforcement Learning

Nicely done piece, relatively non technical,  with comparison of approaches and visualizations.

Machine Learning Explained: Understanding Supervised, Unsupervised, and Reinforcement Learning - Data Science Central by Ronald Van Loon  ... 

Amazon Go Opening to Public

Don't plan to get to this anytime soon, but continue to follow automatic sensing and payment systems in detail here.   Would like to better understand the behavioral details of the interaction.  An outcome of our lab's experiments with the idea.

Amazon’s Checkout-Free Grocery Store Is Opening to the Public
At Amazon Go, you grab your milk and leave. It might take some getting used to.   by Rachel Metz  in Technology Review,
In the shadow of Amazon’s offices in downtown Seattle, people enter a tiny grocery store, take whatever they want, and then walk out. And nobody runs after them screaming.

This is what it’s like to shop at Amazon Go, the online retail giant’s vision for the future of brick-and-mortar stores. There are no checkout clerks, or even checkout stands. Instead, a smartphone app, hundreds of regular and infrared cameras on the ceiling (black on black, so they blend in), computer-vision algorithms, and machine learning work together to figure out what you’re picking up and charge you for it on a credit card connected to your Amazon account.  ... " 

Fake News Detection with AI?

We connected with Enterra a few years ago about supply chain AI. Saw their ideas presented by Stephen DeAngelis , which were impressive for the application .  See my tags on Enterra.   Now some of their work on 'Fake News' detection in Forbes:   Potential for misuse is potentially high, but worth the examination.  Also, consider how these same methods might be used to automatically detect the validity of advertising claims.  Would that radically change marketing and advertising?   Lead to an arms war between claims and detection?  No technical detail in the article.  Looking deeper.

Can Enterra's Advanced AI Systems Stop The Fake News Epidemic?
By Alan Wolk , Contributor Forbes  .... " 

And further:

 " ... For DeAngelis, the benefit to Hollywood will be the ability to apply sophisticated data-driven insights to augment the creative process. Enterra’s Enterprise Cognitive System could take a vast number of variable inputs—production schedules, star power, budgets, cultural trends, media consumption rates, and box office grosses, as well as advertising campaigns, audience targeting, and political climate—and interpret them in a way that allows for more informed executive decision making and investment.  “The ability of an AI system to think and to reason while ingesting and analyzing data from all these sources—that’s going to prove to be very powerful for media companies,” he notes.  ... " 

(Update) More on this on Enterra site.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Challenges for AI Redesigning Healthcare

Six Challenges To Tackle Before Artificial Intelligence Redesigns Healthcare in Medical Futurist

The potential of artificial intelligence for making healthcare better is indisputable. The question is how to integrate it successfully into our healthcare systems. For doing so, we have to overcome technical, medical limitations, as well as regulatory obstacles, soothe ethical concerns and mitigate the tendency to oversell the technology. The very first step should be to familiarize with what A.I. truly means. In our latest e-book, A Guide to Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare, we summarized everything you need to know, so now, let’s look at the second step: the challenges to overcome! 

The transformative power of A.I. in healthcare

We have written extensively about the potential of artificial intelligence for redesigning healthcare. How it could help medical professionals in designing treatment plans and finding the best-suited methods for every patient. How it could assist repetitive, monotonous tasks, so physicians and nurses can concentrate on their actual jobs instead of e.g. fighting the tread-wheel of bureaucracy. By what means A.I. could prioritize e-mails in doctors’ inboxes or keep them up-to-date with the help of finding the latest and most relevant scientific studies in seconds. How its transformative power makes it as important as the stethoscope, the symbol of modern medicine, which appeared in the 19th century.

There are already great examples for its use in several hospitals: Google DeepMind launched a partnership with the UK’s National Health Service to improve the process of delivering care with digital solutions. In June 2017,  DeepMind expanded its services – first of all, its data management app, Streams, to another UK hospital. IBM Watson is used at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital as part of a science and technology facilities council project being run by the Hartree Centre. We asked the first experiences of physicians with the technology and gave an overview of the ever-expanding line of companies who are extensively investing in the development of the technology recognizing its transformative capability in healthcare.

However, the question we always have to face is how we translate the vast potential of artificial intelligence into everyday life. After the very first step – getting to know the most possible about A.I. in healthcare -, we should get a clearer picture of the obstacles.

Get the e-book here to read about the best companies, the way A.I. will redesign healthcare, the practical examples and ethical challenges! .... "

Visualizing Uncertainty

Much of this is well known in the data visualization space, but like to see it in one place.  Should be taught this way.  Uncertainty should always be included in early analysis of data.   Includes pros and Cons of approaches.

Visualizing the Uncertainty in Data  by Nathan Yau

Lifeguards, Dogs and Light

About models and the need to create transparency through understandable models.    With yet  another tip of the hat to Phyicist Richard Feynman.   To Save Drowning People, Ask what Light Would do.  In Nautilus.

Robomart Brings an Autonomous Store to You

Unlikely I think except for narrow markets.  Interesting follow though.

Will retailers go on the road with self-driving mobile stores?   by Matthew Stern in Retailwire with expert comments.

While legislators in some cities have been trying to keep autonomous robots off sidewalks, a new startup wants to enable any big box retailer to get a full wing of its operation rolling around on city streets.

Santa Clara, CA-based startup Robomart purports to be in talks with big box retailers and wholesalers to implement its mobile autonomous grocer platform, according to TechCrunch. The company plans to allow partner retailers to use its fully-autonomous, full-sized delivery vehicles to serve as auxiliary, mobile storefronts. ... " 

Friday, January 19, 2018

New Tech Altering Business Organization

Interesting claim, though don't quite agree yet.   The tech is still valuable procedural and operational augmentation,  and not structural change.   Can see it leading to that though to drive more value.

AI, VR And AR Are Transforming Business Organisation
New research from CompTIA suggests that AI, blockchain, VR and AR are instrumental in the modernisation of global businesses.  By Kevin Joyce   in VRFocus

Amid a wave of hype around emerging technologies, three specific trends are showing the potential to help businesses transform the way they operate, according to a series of research briefs published by CompTIA. To varying degrees, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are becoming a more prominent technology in the digital operations of organisations, the publications reveal.   .... " 

Baidu China's Alexa

More on the elusive indications of what Baidu is up to.

China Has Its Own Alexa, But It’s No Mere Knockoff  in Fastcompany
Unlike Amazon and Google, Baidu’s DuerOS avoids competing with its hardware partners.

Baidu’s Raven H smart speaker is meant to be noticed. Whereas Amazon and Google chose to dress their speakers in neutral tones and fabric materials, the Raven H resembles a stack of green, blue, red, and orange blocks, with a partially coiled power cord that would look at home on a rotary phone. .... " 

IBM and Salesforce

For AI Style applications you must connect with experts in the domain area.    Here is an example of doing that,

IBM expands AI partnership with Salesforce    By Mike Wheatley
 IBM Corp. and Salesforce.com Inc. are expanding their partnership on all things artificial intelligence by integrating Big Blue’s Cloud and Watson services with the Salesforce’s Quip and Service Cloud Einstein products.

The company’s alliance was struck last March, when the pair announced they’d be integrating Watson with Salesforce’s relatively newer Einstein AI tech. At the time, analysts said the partnership effectively meant IBM was becoming a kind of AI consulting partner for Salesforce, allowing it to sell new services across both Einstein and Watson. .... " 

Intel RealSense 3D Camera

Had heard of Intel's Realsense project some time ago, an unusual hardware play, when they were proposed for retail signage application.  Now the devices are out and deserve a look:

Intel's new cameras add human-like 3D vision to any machine
They're ready-to-use devices meant for makers and educators.
By Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon in Engadget .... "

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Journies in Wikipedia

Here I was less interested in the fact that people spent large amounts of time linking around the Wikipedia,  I knew that,  than the particular journies they took.  Now if only they accepted advertising.

Wikipedia explains how those late-night reading binges happen
Most people visit another link when they look up a topic on Wikipedia. .... " 

By Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon in Engadget

Expanding the Dash Button

During our early work on an 'ordering button' we imagined them integrated into consumer products, right next to the point of need.  Most of my own Dash Buttons are on the frig after early concept and operations testing.   These can also detect patterns in ordering that can drive other replenishment behaviors. I would also like easier price comparison.  A Moment of truth that combines use and selection?

Amazon ramps up Dash Button integration for super-quick ordering     By Trevor Mogg in Digitaltrend 

" ... Amazon already has a number of manufacturers working the technology directly into their products, and this week it announced that more makers are getting on board.

New devices offering automatic ordering via Dash include printers from HP and Epson so you never run out of ink, a range of home appliances from Kenmore, smart air filters from 3M that automatically reorder replacement filters, coffee machines from illy that track capsule usage, and Wi-Fi “pet camera” maker Petcube that’ll automatically reorder animal treats.

Amazon this month also announced the Virtual Dash Button Service (VDBS) that allows third parties to offer virtual Dash Buttons on their screened devices — think smart washers and refrigerators.

“Virtual Dash Buttons are shortcuts that allow Prime members to quickly find and reorder their favorite products from a selection of millions of eligible products,” Amazon explains. “Virtual Dash Buttons launched on Amazon’s mobile application and website in January 2017, expanded to Echo Show in October, and now can be available on third party devices via VDBS.”

The system enables you to quickly bring up multiple items on the display — so for your washer it might be different brands of detergent and fabric conditioner — and order in a couple of taps. While the ordering is manual rather than the automatic system employed by many Dash devices, this method allows you to select from multiple products associated with a particular machine. .... " 

Google ML Automation Service

We will continue to see more automation in driving machine learning problems.   Here the training aspects for some kinds of problems are addressed, like image recognition. 

Cloud AutoML Alpha   by Google
Train high quality custom machine learning models with minimum effort and machine learning expertise

Train Custom Machine Learning Models

Cloud AutoML is a suite of Machine Learning products that enables developers with limited machine learning expertise to train high quality models by leveraging Google’s state of the art transfer learning, and Neural Architecture Search technology.

AutoML Vision is the first product to be released. It is a simple, secure and flexible ML service that lets you train custom vision models for your own use cases. Soon, Cloud AutoML will release other services for all other major fields of AI.   ....  "

Google’s AutoML lets you train custom machine learning models without having to code   by Frederic Lardinois (@fredericl)  in TechCrunch

Google today announced the alpha launch of AutoML Vision, a new service that helps developers — including those with no machine learning (ML) expertise — build custom image recognition models. While Google plans to expand this custom ML model builder under the AutoML brand to other areas, the service for now only supports computer vision models, but you can expect the company to launch similar versions of AutoML for all the standard ML building blocks in its repertoire (think speech, translation, video, natural language recognition, etc.).  .... " 

Hospitality Robotics

Clear that robotics will increasingly do labor intensive tasks with robot helpers.   Flexibility will be needed.   Indoor location and navigation solutions will be needed.

The Relay hotel delivery robot will soon spot Wi-Fi dead zones and mingle with guests   By Paul Miller  @futurepaul in TheVerge

 Directly adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center is a Renaissance hotel with a pair of special staff members: robots. Savioke’s Relay robots have been on the job for three months, helping out the concierge by delivering items to guests during peak hours. The two robots, named “Elvis” and “Priscilla” by the hotel, pick up orders from the front desk, call and ride the elevators without help, and call the guest’s room phone when they’ve arrived. They navigate autonomously, based on a pre-generated map, so there’s no problem if they lose Wi-Fi or LTE signal. I got to watch a delivery in action (to a demo room), and it was a seamless experience. ,,,, " 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Kodak and Blockchain to Control Photos

We visited Kodak innovation just before the digital revolution completely flattened and changed the film business.  So their history of innovation is interesting to me. Also later worked on the business of monetizing photographs, so this particular application is instructive.   This could also be a way to demonstrate and familiarize the idea of Blockchain to the consumer.

Kodak’s stock doubles after camera and film pioneer boards blockchain bandwagon  By Emily Bary in Marketwatch

CEO says blockchain is more than a ‘buzzword’ and will help photographers assert control over their work  ... "

Kroger to Expand Kroger Edge

We studied many kinds if shelf based technologies, below seem to be the outcome of many of these ideas tested.    It is mentioned in the article that it was developed with Microsoft technologies like Azure, and  that Kroger plans to sell it to other retailers.

Kroger is rolling out a new technology to nearly 200 stores that could change grocery shopping as we know it  By Hayley Peterson in Business Insider

Kroger is rolling out a new technology that will communicate with customers' smartphones and highlight products on their shopping lists. Kroger

Kroger is rolling out a new technology, called Kroger Edge, to nearly 200 stores by the end of 2018, the company told Business Insider.

The technology digitally displays pricing and nutritional information, as well as video ads and coupons for various products.

It will eventually communicate with customers' smartphones and highlight products on their shopping lists as they walk down store aisles — helping them to quickly select items in a sea of identical-looking items.

It will also highlight items that match customers' dietary needs if they have allergies or other dietary restrictions.   .... " 

Windows Insider on Mixed Reality

Been following Microsoft's interest in 'mixed reality' aka augmented reality for a client.  Just discovered Microsoft insider podcasts, which looks at near future directions in Windows operating systems,  applications and their potential use in the enterprise.  Most recently they have just featured a considerable podcast on mixed reality that is worth a look.  Quote:

Alex Klipman:  (from video):  Now we're standing together at the threshold of the next revolution of computing.  Now, the thing that excites me about this revolution is that computers will empower us to renegotiate our very contract with reality, giving us the capability to transcend time, space, and devices

In this revolution we will immerse ourselves in virtual worlds of our choosing, and we'll be able to accomplish impossible things.  And we'll be able to do all of this while creating lasting memories with the people that we love

Our very sense of reality is set to be transformed as we enter this new era of computing, the era of mixed reality .... " 

Stewart Brand Speaks at Long Now

I was introduced to the Long Now Foundation soon after its inception, and used to mention its efforts often in the predecessor of this blog.  Also Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, and The Welloften met with us at the Institute for the Future.  Not much in recent years, but just recently:

Stewart Brand Gives In-Depth and Personal Interview to Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss, who wrote the The Four Hour Work Week and gave a Long Now talk on accelerated learning in 02011, recently interviewed Long Now co-founder Stewart Brand on his podcast, “The Tim Ferriss Show”. The interview is wide-ranging, in-depth, and among the most personal Brand has given to date. Over the course of nearly three hours, Brand touches on everything from the Whole Earth Catalog, why he gave up skydiving, how he deals with depression, his early experiences with psychedelics, the influence of Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller on his thinking, his recent CrossFit regimen, and the ongoing debate between artificial intelligence and intelligence augmentation. He also discusses the ideas and projects of The Long Now Foundation. ... "

Roomba Beta Advances

iRobot Launches Beta Program to Test Smarter Home Features for Roombas  By Evan Ackerman  in IEEE Spectrum

Robots like the 900 series Roomba, which have the ability to make detailed maps of your home while they do chores, are poised to become much more useful than they've ever been. These maps are in the process of enabling all kinds of new features, most of which we can only guess at, but iRobot will be giving us a peek at what they're working on with a late Christmas present: a new beta program for Roombas.

In a next step to make the smart home smarter, iRobot today announced a new Beta feature that allows customers to view a Wi-Fi Coverage Map created by Roomba. The Wi-Fi Coverage Map feature is the first to be available as part of iRobot Beta, a program that enables a limited number of iRobot customers to trial unreleased product features for the company’s consumer robots. iRobot Beta is accessed through the iRobot HOME App and will be available in mid-January (US only).

WiFi Map
Wi-Fi Coverage Mapping is a Beta feature that enables Roomba 900 Series vacuums to detect WiFi signal strength throughout a user’s home to highlight areas that may have poor connectivity. Users can then work to determine ways to fix Wi-Fi issues, resulting in an improved customer experience when using connected devices within the home. Users simply start a Roomba cleaning job, and the robot will collect Wi-Fi signal information as it cleans. Upon completion, users will receive a notification to view the Wi-Fi Coverage Map that was generated. The user will be able to toggle between the familiar Clean Map™ Report, which shows where Roomba cleaned, and the Wi-Fi Coverage Map. ... "

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Drone Swarms Flying without GPS

Brought up in a recent challenge for Drone Swarms and Drones indoors.

This Autonomous Quadrotor Swarm Doesn't Need GPS    By Evan Ackerman in IEEE Spectrum

UPenn's autonomous quadrotor swarm doesn't need GPS or external localization to fly indoors or outdoors. .... "

CES: More Assistants in the Car

CES: Amazon's Alexa Making More Inroads Into Vehicles
David Kiley , Contributor.   Providing insights and news about the global auto business.

For all the talk about Google and Apple getting into the auto business, it is tech giant Amazon that is making headway getting into the car business as more car companies integrate the online retailer’s Alexa voice-activated personal assistant into their in-car connected services.

The latest automaker to join forces with Amazon is Toyota, which will start adding Alexa connectivity to some of its vehicles starting this year. Alexa will enable drivers and passengers to get directions, control in-car infotainment services and perform all the other ask-and-answer functions Alexa delivers in the home application. ... "

Maersk, IBM Launch Blockchain

Good to think about the value proposition here,  how it is beyond a simple ledger database approach.  The stated value is to have controlled data sharing among those shippers and other parties that sign up for the service.  Back to the idea of verified transparency which should lead to better data and thus analytics.  No mention of Smart Contracts, but seems to be a logical next step.

Maersk, IBM to launch blockchain-based platform for global trade  By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Reuters

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The world’s largest container shipping firm A.P. Moller-Maersk is teaming up with IBM to create an industry-wide trading platform it says can speed up trade and save billions of dollars. ... " 

In Home Delivery Expands

There seemed to be quite a bit of push back about giving retailers the ability to open your home door and drop a package inside.  Some horror stories emerged.  But the idea seems to be continuing to grow. With more details and Expert discussion:

Smart home partnership opens doors to more in-home delivery  by Matthee Stern in Retailwire

" ... August Homes, a smart home locks startup, which partnered with Walmart on its initial in-home delivery initiative, is now working to enable the service for customers of delivery startup Deliv, according to CNBC. Deliv’s retail accounts include Macy’s, Plated, Kohl’s, Best Buy and Walgreens. As with the Walmart service, a Deliv employee who is making a smart home delivery will be given a unique code that gives them one-time access to the residence. August Homes is planning relationships with other delivery services as well. .....  " 

Alibaba Claims to Beat Humans in Reading Test

More examples of advanced AI in China.

Alibaba's AI Outguns Humans in Reading Test    By Robert Fenner in Bloomberg

Alibaba has developed an artificial intelligence model that scored better than humans in a Stanford University reading and comprehension test.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. put its deep neural network model through its paces last week, asking the AI to provide exact answers to more than 100,000 questions comprising a quiz that’s considered one of the world’s most authoritative machine-reading gauges. The model developed by Alibaba’s Institute of Data Science of Technologies scored 82.44, edging past the 82.304 that rival humans achieved.

Alibaba said it’s the first time a machine has out-done a real person in such a contest. .... " 

Neural Network Zoo Updated

Kirk Bourne writes that the useful  'Neural Network Zoo' now contains links to the original papers for each network type AND a poster version of the full infographic.

In the Asimov Institute, post by Fjodor Van Veen

" .... With new neural network architectures popping up every now and then, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Knowing all the abbreviations being thrown around (DCIGN, BiLSTM, DCGAN, anyone?) can be a bit overwhelming at first.

So I decided to compose a cheat sheet containing many of those architectures. Most of these are neural networks, some are completely different beasts. Though all of these architectures are presented as novel and unique, when I drew the node structures… their underlying relations started to make more sense.  ... " 

Imposter Syndrome and the Turing Test

How a Famous Robot Test Can Help You Beat Impostor Syndrome  by Kelton Reid in Copyblogger

Points to a 2012 Atlantic article on using the Turing Test to discern (or fool) people, or even ourselves into determining who we are.   Fascinating piece,  especially with regard to how an intelligent dialog is considered part of the test process.  Which is different than just asking a question and determining if people can answer it correctly.  Its not just what you know, but how you can adjust that knowledge to contextual needs.    Also harder for AI to reproduce.

" ... In the words of sociologists, what they're now studying is called "interactional expertise." The easiest way to understand what interactional expertise entails is to contrast it with a more common idea, contributory expertise. Contributory experts are the typical array of professionals (physicists, chemists, lawyers, economists, musicians etc.) who develop specialized knowledge and skill through formal education and long experience. ... "