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Monday, June 24, 2019

Game Builder to Build Your Serious Games?

Took a quick look, and the approach is set up for non-serious games.  But could such a method be used to construct special purpose games that would interact with their context to achieve serious goals?  Always thought you needed much better control of the context and meta-game and goals to make that happen.  Is that here?

Google's Game Builder Turns Building Multiplayer Games into a Game 
in TechCrunch
By Frederic Lardinois

Google's Area 120 team has developed Game Builder, a free tool for PC and macOS users who want to build their own 3D games without having to learn to code. The overall design aesthetic is at least partially inspired by Minecraft, but users are free to create whatever kind of game they want. Game Builder can create first-person shooter games, a platformer, and a demo of the tool's card system for programming more complex interactions. Building a 3D level is like playing a game itself, and users can build multiplayer games and even create games in real time with other users. In addition, players can use JavaScript to go beyond some of the pre-programmed features. Google is also relying on Poly, its library of 3D objects, to give users lots of options for creating and designing different levels. ... '

NASA Aluminum Fraud Causes Sat Failures

Looking at how fraud and scams exist in different parts of contract processes.  Here is one we are examining as a case study.   Any input?

An Oregon aluminum manufacturer has admitted to falsifying critical tests on aluminum sold to NASA over a 19 year period, agreeing to pay a $46 million fine to the Department of Justice.

NASA says the scam was at the heart of two failed missions—2009’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory, which carried equipment designed to take the most precise measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide to date, and 2011’s Glory, which was also meant to aid in climate research—where the Taurus XL rockets protective nose cones failed to separate on command. Both rockets plummeted back to earth. ... " 

EBay Personalizes

We had a corporate short connection and interaction with EBay, been a user since the beginning, so continue to watch their efforts.  Noticed recently a change in their messages and marketing orientation. 

Ebay is pushing ahead on making its marketplace more personalized as customers shop not just by selection, but convenience.   By Hilary Milnes In ModernRetail

On Thursday, the company announced it was releasing 10 new features that use artificial intelligence and machine learning to learn and then adapt to customer preferences in search, product suggestions and ads, as well as on the homepage and through customer service.

Ebay’s simultaneously trying to improve the experience for guests — users that haven’t signed up for Ebay accounts, in an effort to attract more customers — and longtime eBay shoppers through the new tools. To target new users, it’s building personalized recommendations into their searches based on past search history and shopping behavior through Facebook and Google login, and tailoring search results for unaccustomed Ebay shoppers by prioritizing items available to purchase now (rather than bid). For frequent shoppers, the platform has rolled out options to get alerts and updates on an item’s availability they’re likely to want to bid on, as well as a “buy again” option ... " 

Alexa Expands the Ability to 'Announce'

At first this seemed like a trivial thing, you can send information to a group of people.  Or other internal devices, or external things.  So this is like a specific form of communications,  I can reply, or wait for more information.   A means to effect crowd sourcing.   Crowd sourcing  about specific needs?   We do it in conversation all the time.   Something here that could be expanded.

Alexa's intercom-like broadcasts come to more non-Echo devices
You could send announcements through your thermostat.

By Jon Fingas, @jonfingas in Engadget

Amazon has slowly been expanding the circle of devices that can use Alexa Announcements, but now it's throwing the gates wide open. The company has made the intercom-like feature available to any device with Alexa support built-in -- you could use your thermostat or fridge to tell the kids that dinner is ready. In theory, you won't have to visit a specific room like you might today.

The feature requires device makers to implement it, and not every product will necessarily qualify. They'll have to support converting MP3 files 45 seconds or longer to an Alexa-ready format. There may still be gaps in Announcements support even if your home is full of Alexa devices. Still, this could make the broadcasting tool far more flexible in the long run. ... " 

Disruptive Flywheels as Business Model

The idea of disruptive flywheels, new term to me, but worth a look.  Reading further.

How to build disruptive strategic flywheels
Gaming, artificial intelligence, and deep learning are paving the way for dynamic and resilient 21st-century business models.  by Sundar Subramanian and Anand Rao  In Strategy-Business

A large auto manufacturer asked a consulting firm to evaluate its competitive position in relation to ride-sharing startups building autonomous vehicles. Instead of viewing this as a classic strategy project, with a business case, PowerPoint decks, and five-year projections, the firm created a “game” that the automaker could “play” against its competitors. An artificial intelligence (AI) system modeled the voluminous individual choices available to customers, companies, and other entities as digital twins (a digital twin is a computerized replica of a physical asset, process, consumer, actor, or other decision-making entity). The hundreds of thousands of simulations suggested many strategic bets, option-value bets, and “no-regret strategies,” or moves that made strategic and financial sense in a multitude of situations. The selection of those strategies, in turn, made the AI system smarter through learning mechanisms called reinforcement learning, which then further empowered humans to make better decisions. As time progressed, the company was able to choose precise market approaches, pricing, advertising, and customer strategies for multiple cities and communities.

Taken together, these actions created a flywheel, a concept borrowed from the power industry to describe a source of stabilization, energy storage, and momentum, and that was popularized in the strategy context by the author Jim Collins. Executives, instead of trusting instincts and prior assumptions, were able to harness the power of this strategic flywheel to verify hypotheses in simulation and in the real world. Doing so exponentially expanded the array of strategic choices and reduced the cost of experimentation. Rather than paralyzing decision makers with the abundance of options they created, the simulations produced clarifying insights. The result for this auto manufacturer has been a multibillion-dollar valuation of its new services, achieved in less than two years.

Games. AI. Continuous execution and adjustment. Thousands of scenarios to consider. This is not how strategy at blue-chip companies has been done in the past. But it is how business leaders are starting to do strategy now, and how we will need to do strategy in the future — that is, if we are to develop strategies that can both withstand and adapt to the increasing pace of change and disruption that is evident in all industries. .... "

Sunday, June 23, 2019

AI Studying Human Learning

Seen the basic idea proposed before, and not disssimilar to neuromarketing, but fMRI still messy to implement in general.

AI could study your brain to help teachers improve their courses
Machine learning can determine if you understand a concept.

By Jon Fingas, @jonfingas in Engadget
1h ago in Medicine

Teachers don't always know how well their methods work. They can ask questions and hand out tests, of course, but it's not always clear who's at fault if the message doesn't get through. AI might do the trick before long, though. Dartmouth College researchers have produced a machine learning algorithm that measures activity across your brain to determine how well you understand a given concept.

The team started out by having rookie and intermediate engineering students both take standard tests as well as answer questions about pictures while sitting in an fMRI scanner. From there, they had the algorithm generate "neural scores" that could predict a student's performance. The more certain parts of the brain lit up, the easier it was to tell whether or not a student grasped the concepts at play.    .... " 

Quantum Random Numbers

A long time interest of mine, especially as it relates to creating realistic process simulations.  But now important to do well in many areas.   A mostly non technical article:

How to Turn a Quantum Computer Into the Ultimate Randomness Generator in Quanta Mag  By Anil Ananthaswamy

Pure, verifiable randomness is hard to come by. Two proposals show how to make quantum computers into randomness factories. .... " 

Build a Skill with Cake Walk

Amazon continues to add ways to ease the creation of Alexa Skills.  Here the latest:

Alexa Blogs

New Alexa Skills Training Course: Build an Engaging Alexa Skill with Cake Walk

Best Practices to Create a Delightful Voice Commerce Experience for Your Customers    Alexa Auto: Finalist for the TU-Automotive Best Auto Mobility Product/Service Award

How to Write Engaging Dialogs for Alexa Skills .... " 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

New Book: Artificial Intelligence in Practice

Just starting to read Bernard Marr's just released: Artificial Intelligence in Practice: How 50 Companies used AI and Machine Learning to Solve Problems..   A company by company view of how they are using AI today. I will follow with more comments as I see more.  Most of the companies mentioned here are of interest to me.

So far nicely done, but relatively little detail about use of technology.  Useful in its sense of what has has been done.  Certainly worth examining for why these methods are being used.  Not too dissimilar that to what we did in the 80s, but here directly using new, very focused techniques developed in the last few decades.  No mention of Robotic Process Automation or Process analysis or Knowledge management?   Nor Data in the index?  Nor Chatbots or conversation management in the index?  Good breadth of links in the 'notes' sections that point to detailed papers, will be following up on some of these, especially in some industries.    Worth a careful scan.

Artificial Intelligence in Practice: How 50 Successful Companies Used AI and Machine Learning to Solve Problems 1st Edition   by Bernard Marr  (Author), Matt Ward (Contributor)
5.0 out of 5 stars    1 customer review  ..... 

They write: 

Cyber-solutions to real-world business problems

Artificial Intelligence in Practice is a fascinating look into how companies use AI and machine learning to solve problems. Presenting 50 case studies of actual situations, this book demonstrates practical applications to issues faced by businesses around the globe. The rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence has expanded beyond research labs and computer science departments and made its way into the mainstream business environment. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are cited as the most important modern business trends to drive success. It is used in areas ranging from banking and finance to social media and marketing. This technology continues to provide innovative solutions to businesses of all sizes, sectors and industries. This engaging and topical book explores a wide range of cases illustrating how businesses use AI to boost performance, drive efficiency, analyse market preferences and many others.

Best-selling author and renowned AI expert Bernard Marr reveals how machine learning technology is transforming the way companies conduct business. This detailed examination provides an overview of each company, describes the specific problem and explains how AI facilitates resolution. Each case study provides a comprehensive overview, including some technical details as well as key learning summaries:

Understand how specific business problems are addressed by innovative machine learning methods.

Explore how current artificial intelligence applications improve performance and increase efficiency in various situations

Expand your knowledge of recent AI advancements in technology
Gain insight on the future of AI and its increasing role in business and industry

Artificial Intelligence in Practice: How 50 Successful Companies Used Artificial Intelligence to Solve Problems is an insightful and informative exploration of the transformative power of technology in 21st century commerce.    ... "  

Serious Games Grad Program

Key areas mentioned are of interest.  Good to follow for new developments.

UC Santa Cruz Launches First Graduate Program in Serious Games
University of California, Santa Cruz
Tim Stephens; James McGirk

The University of California, Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz) Baskin School of Engineering is launching the first professional master's degree program in serious games offered in the U.S. Serious games are designed to accomplish a purpose other than pure entertainment, aiming to impact measurable social goals. The serious games program, which will begin accepting students this fall, builds on existing expertise at UC Santa Cruz in assistive technologies, games and playable media, digital art and new media, psychology, and other related disciplines. The new program will train students over five academic quarters in six key areas: game design, game technology, eliciting and integrating subject matter knowledge, designing and conducting efficacy measures, effective teamwork, and career planning.  ... " 

Playing the Odds in Quantum Games?

These scenarios make me worry about quantum computing and other uses of entanglement.   What's a poor dice thrower to do?  How do we understand entanglements?  Are they just another kind of context we need to detect, measure, plan for?   The following is an overview, but technical.

In Quantum Games, There’s No Way to Play the Odds in

These games combine quantum entanglement, infinity and impossible-to-calculate winning probabilities. But if researchers can crack them, they’ll reveal deep mathematical secrets.
 By Kevin Hartnett


Quanta Magazines Abstractons blog:  https://www.quantamagazine.org/abstractions/

Negatives on Assistants

It's been a fast uptake.  They seem to be used by most everyone.   In the home and moving to the store and the office the car.  Yet there are still some real problems.   Trust and security issues still linger.  Voice interpretation is still not near perfect.  Control of the details of an interactive  conversation in context is still not done well.   Integration of multiple skills to create intelligence is primitive.  Integrating the abilities of machine and humans to get things done needs to be improved.   When a machine should lead or follow?  Can humans take nudging from a machine?

The downfall of the virtual assistant (so far) in ComputerWorld
Services like Google Assistant and Alexa are growing more capable by the minute — but there's one big, fat lingering problem.... " 

RPA Scaling Operations

Thoughts on 'Robotic Process Automation' , which reminds me of the considerable effort we did with 'knowledge systems' to improve process and results in the enterprise.  Trouble was, the approach became unwieldy to create and hard to maintain.    RPA is a better place to start, especially if you choose the domain and goals and processes involved carefully.

How is RPA Assisting Businesses in Scaling Operations?   By Mitul Makadia   

It is estimated by McKinsey & Co. that automation systems could well and truly, undertake the work of up to 140 million jobs by 2025.

Everest Group reports that Robotic Process Automation is likely to lead to a cost reduction of close to 65% with its potential to register data at the transactional level, thereby enabling decision-making which is swift, precise and predictive. Organizations that stick to a watertight RPA implementation strategy will soon outpace those who still depend on human capital for all their processes.

RPA in Business

RPA is gaining tons of traction for its promise of improving business efficiency, making employees more productive, and leading to an overall increase in profit. In spite of the benefits of RPA in enterprises for those who were the pioneers in implementing it, there are still some decision makers on the fence whether or not RPA is worth their time and effort.

Robotic process automation is a step by step undertaking that enables companies to automate routine, repetitive tasks and free their employees to focus on more fundamental ones. Besides this, there are numerous benefits to implementing it.

To separate the wheat and the chaff, we have compiled a comprehensive list of advantages businesses may enjoy as a result of using RPA.

How does RPA help enterprises? .... '

NVidia Announces AI Edge Platform

Just starting to take a closer look at this:

Nvidia announces its first AI platform for edge devices    By Mike Wheatley

Nvidia Corp. is bringing artificial intelligence to the edge of the network with the launch early Monday of its new Nvidia EGX platform that can perceive, understand and act on data in real time without sending it to the cloud or a data center first.

Delivering AI to edge devices such as smartphones, sensors and factory machines is the next step in the technology’s evolutionary progress. The earliest AI algorithms were so complex that they could be processed only on powerful machines running in cloud data centers, and that means sending lots of information across the network. But this is undesirable because it requires lots of bandwidth and results in higher latencies, which makes “real-time” AI something less than that.  ... "

Friday, June 21, 2019

MIT Tech Review Chain Letter on Facebook and Libra

MIT's Blockchain newsletter takes a good look at Facebook and their activity with the Blockchain Libra.   Also a pointer to Facebook's 29-page paper on the topic.  Reading now.  More is sure to follow.   Again I recommend signing up for this newsletter to follow the rapidly evolving area.

MIT Technology Review
Chain Letter 

Blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and why they matter
06.20: Move fast and break things

Welcome to Chain Letter! Great to have you. Today we'll be taking a good long look at Facebook's much-hyped foray into the digital currency realm. 

We have lots of questions about Facebook’s new digital currency. What did Facebook just do? Officially, it launched a test network for its own digital currency, called Libra coin. But nobody—not even Facebook—seems to be sure what that fully means.

In a new white paper (PDF) describing the project, Facebook tells us that the goal is to build a “financial infrastructure that can foster innovation, lower barriers to entry, and improve access to financial services.” Beyond that, however, the situation is quite unsettled.  .... "

Google Streetview AI to Inventory Infrastructure

This came to mind once as a means to check our business locations for infrastructure regulation and compliance.   Though it was noted that we would be reliant on Google for updates of the images involved.  Still a good thought to build on top of existing data gathering means.

New AI system manages road infrastructure via Google Street View   by RMIT University

Geospatial scientists have developed a new program to monitor street signs needing replacement or repair by tapping into Google Street View images.

The fully-automated system is trained using AI-powered object detection to identify street signs in the freely available images.

Municipal authorities currently spend large amounts of time and money monitoring and recording the geolocation of traffic infrastructure manually, a task which also exposes workers to unnecessary traffic risks.  .... " 

Fraud Detection with AI

And even the predictive risk of the exposure to financial crimes.

How AI Can Help with the Detection of Financial Crimes
Paige Dickie develops artificial intelligence (AI) and digital strategy for Canada’s banking sector at the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Toronto. She began her career in management consulting — much to the disappointment of her father, an engineer — because she had earned advanced engineering degrees in biomedical and mechanical engineering. Dickie initially worked at McKinsey, the global consulting firm, helping multinational financial institutions across a range of fields from data strategy and digital transformation to setting up innovation centers. She recently joined Vector to lead what she describes as “an exciting project with Canada’s banking industry. It’s an industry-wide, sector-wide, country-wide initiative where we have three different work streams — a consortium work stream, a regulatory work stream, and a research-based work stream.”

Knowledge@Wharton interviewed Dickie at a recent conference on artificial intelligence and machine learning in the financial industry, organized in New York City by the SWIFT Institute in collaboration with Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business.

According to Dickie, AI can have a significant impact in data-rich domains where prediction and pattern recognition play an important role. For instance, in areas such as risk assessment and fraud detection in the banking sector, AI can identify aberrations by analyzing past behaviors. But, of course, there are also concerns around issues such as fairness, interpretability, security and privacy.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.  ... " 

Robots in a Store Near You

Including interesting statement from Wal-Mart, which has now emerged as the leader in brick and mortar grocery robotics ....  Talk and link to transcription:

Groceries And Gadgets: The Robots Coming To A Supermarket Near You    in WBUR via O'Reilly

With Meghna Chakrabarti

Much more at the link, including a positioning statement by Wal-Mart.

There are robots roaming the aisles of Walmart and other grocery stores. Monitoring inventory, cleaning up spills and potentially replacing workers. Automation is coming to a supermarket near you.

Want more from the show? You can get messages from our hosts (and more opportunities to engage with the show) sent directly to your inbox with the On Point newsletter. Subscribe here.

Guests:
Andrew McAfee, co-director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. Associate director of the Center for Digital Business at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Co-author of "Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing our Digital" and "The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies." (@amcafee)

David Pinn, vice president of strategy for Brain Corp, which creates the software for Walmart’s autonomous floor scrubbers. Walmart is adding the floor scrubbers to 1,500 stores. (@braincor)

Erikka Knuti, communications director for The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery stores, retail and other industries. (@erikkaknuti)
... "

Planning Cities of the Future with AI

Like to see much more about this.... planning is tough, and rarely done completely.    Analytic and AI methods require considerable attention to detail and process.  Doing planning well with these methods is probably difficult.  Visualization does help.

AI, Robots, Data Software Helping Create New Approach for Planning Cities of the Future 
Purdue University News in ACM
By Chris Adam

Purdue University researchers have developed a unique strategy to plan future cities, by streamlining building information modeling software through new approaches to data. Purdue's Jiansong Zhang said the methodology facilitates full software development based on data from industry foundation classes, "for any task in the life cycle of an [architecture, engineering, and construction] project." Zhang added that the researchers created a visualization program deployed via the new technique. Said Zhang, "The new method can help eliminate missing or inconsistent information during software development." The data encompasses all sectors, functions, and life-cycle stages of software development for construction projects. .... "

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Real time Drone detection of Forest Fires

More extension of sensors, with direct connection to humans. 

Drones for Early Detection of Forest Fires 
Universidad de Carlos III de Madrid
June 17, 2019

Researchers at Universidad de Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) in Spain are collaborating with researchers at Telefonica, Divisek, and Dronitec, on a sustainable innovation pilot project for early detection and prevention of forest fires using drone technology. The researchers developed a complete automatic flight system for a drone, as well as an interface that allows users to access what the drone is seeing in real time. The drone is equipped with a thermal camera, an optical camera, and four sensors that allow users to identify the temperature of the device in the environment. The drone's controllers tell users the internal state of the equipment, and communication towers can detect the origin of a fire within a perimeter of 15 kilometers (about nine miles). Said UC3M professor Fernando Garcia, "It's a totally novel solution, based on robotics and automation, which won't remove anyone's job, but will instead offer a new tool for emergency services, providing added value and allowing them to operate more safely and to control the situation." .... "

Wal-Mart Tests Autonomous Vans for Middle-Mile

Not fully autonomous, and with fixed routes,  will this simplify the approach and make it safe enough to decrease on-road issues in the early days of on road autonomy?

Will autonomous vans help Walmart win the middle mile logistics race?
by George Anderson in Retailwire  with further expert comment.

It’s pretty common to hear retailers talking about the need to own the last mile, with many taking a variety of approaches to effectively and efficiently handle the transfer of purchased goods to the customer. You can safely count Walmart among that group, but in an interesting twist, the retailer is taking part in a test of autonomous vans to transfer goods from one warehouse to another or to a store or other pickup point. The goal is to reduce costs in the so-called middle miles while moving packages to their ultimate destination.

The robo-vans being used by Walmart, according to Bloomberg’s reporting, follow fixed routes to reduce the risk of accidents and to keep operating in continual service. Human drivers are currently still behind the wheel on many of the test routes, so new processes for loading vehicles or navigation are not yet needed.

Walmart is working with Gatik, a two-year-old startup focused on short-haul logistics for business-to-business operations. Earlier this month, the company announced it had secured $4.5 million in funding and brought Walmart on as a customer.... " 

Modernizing Marketing

And even poorly understanding the current processes being used to utilize markets and data.

Six governing considerations to modernize marketing  in McKinsey

Legacy structures and operations are keeping companies from taking full advantage of technology. ...  

Most chief marketing officers (CMOs) understand that the utilization of data, analyses, and algorithms to personalize marketing drives value. Concept tests are becoming more efficient, customer approaches are being accelerated, and revenues are quadrupling in certain channels (Exhibit 1). All the evidence suggests that marketing functions should invest in, collect, and analyze available data to support their decision making.  ... " 

Driverless Services in Japan and France

Continuing to gather information on the use and greater implications of driverless.  My experience is mostly in the supply chain space, but the changes this will produce will be very broad.  Consider too the required data generation and transmission involved, what else will ride on these new channels?

Waymo is developing driverless services with Renault and Nissan
The services will be designed to transport people and goods in France and Japan.

By Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon in Engadget
1h ago in Transportation   .... "

IKEA as a delivering Foodchain

Never thought of the nearby IKEA as a food chain.   Although have always known about the meatballs.

Ikea is now the world’s 6th largest food chain, and it’s testing delivery to your door

Call it GrübHüb: The Swedish giant is reportedly testing delivery of its menu in Paris.  By Mark Wilson in  Fastcompany

The piles of Ikea’s meatballs, cinnamon rolls, and herring that hungry shoppers grab in Ikeas around the globe really add up—so much so that Ikea claims to be the world’s sixth largest food chain. After the Spanish publication El Confidencial reported that Ikea is thinking about expanding its food footprint even further into home deliveries, the company confirmed to Co.Design that it is current testing delivery in Paris.

The trial includes delivery of its Swedish foods—which include salads, salmon, beets, and cabbage—which are distributed out of its two-story, 58,000-square-foot urban store located centrally in the city. If the pilot is successful, Ikea may bring the idea to Spain and other European markets in the future. ... " 

AI and Wireless Spectrum

Technical view of controlling spectrum.  A broad and technical look at the history and future of the use of electromagnetic spectrum to communicate and now directly deliver capabilities anywhere.

If DARPA Has Its Way, AI Will Rule the Wireless Spectrum
DARPA’s Spectrum Collaboration Challenge demonstrates that autonomous radios can manage spectrum better than humans can  ... "    By Paul Tilghman  in IEEE 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Zero Knowledge Proofs

A good explanation of Zero Knowledge Proofs, starting with simple examples.  Examples of usage at the link. At the tag below there is also a Python implementation example.

Zero-knowledge proof
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In cryptography, a zero-knowledge proof or zero-knowledge protocol is a method by which one party (the prover) can prove to another party (the verifier) that they know a value x, without conveying any information apart from the fact that they know the value x. The essence of zero-knowledge proofs is that it is trivial to prove that one possesses knowledge of certain information by simply revealing it; the challenge is to prove such possession without revealing the information itself or any additional information.[1]  .... "

Towards Engaging Packaging

Recall being pitched a similar idea for product packaging, this seems to take it further.  Now could deeper information be communicated this way?

Creating 3-D images, with regular ink
MIT startup Lumii helps manufacturers replicate the visual effects of holograms on their printed materials.

By Zach Winn | MIT News Office 

This month, 5,000 distinctive cans of Fuzzy Logic beer will appear on local shelves as part of Massachusetts-based Portico Brewing’s attempt to stand out in the aesthetically competitive world of craft beer.

The cans feature eye-catching arrays of holographic triangles that appear three dimensional at certain angles. Curious drinkers might twist the cans and guess how Portico achieved the varying, almost shining appearance. Were special lenses or foils used? Are the optical effects the result of an expensive, holographic film?

It turns out it takes two MIT PhDs to fully explain the technology behind the can’s appearance. The design is the result of Portico’s collaboration with Lumii, a startup founded by Tom Baran SM ’07 PhD ’12 and Matt Hirsch SM ’09, PhD ’14.

Lumii uses complex algorithms to precisely place tens of millions of dots of ink on two sides of clear film to create light fields that achieve the same visual effects as special films and lenses. The designs add depth, motion, and chromatic effect to packages, labels, IDs, and more.  ... " 

Smart Contracts Explained

An almost completely non-technical description of blockchains, and in particular smart contracts and their value and limitations.     Using as an example the Ethereum Blockchain:

Waking up to New Risks

In some ways we saw this coming,  risk was increasing, and that risk was coming from within in things we had specifically built.   Our internet of things

Deep Insecurities: The Internet of Things Shifts Technology Risk
By Samuel Greengard
Communications of the ACM, May 2019, Vol. 62 No. 5, Pages 20-22
10.1145/3317675

It is human nature to view technology as a path to a better world. When engineers and designers create devices, machines, and systems, the underlying premise is to deliver benefits. The Internet of Things (IoT) is certainly no exception. Smartphones, connected cars, automated thermostats, smart lighting, connected health trackers, and remote medical devices have made it possible to accomplish things that once seemed impossible. Everything from toothbrushes to tape measures are getting "smart."

However, at the center of the tens of billions of connected devices streaming and sharing data lies a vexing problem: cybersecurity. It is no secret that hackers and attackers have broken into baby monitors, Web cameras, automobiles, lighting systems, and medical devices. In the future, it is not unreasonable to assume that cybercriminals could take control of a private citizen's refrigerator or lighting system and demand a $1,000 ransom in bitcoin in order to restore functionality. It is also not difficult to fathom the threat of a vehicle that won't brake, or a pacemaker that stops working due to a hack. Hackers might also weaponize devices and take down financial systems and power grids.

The thought is chilling, and the repercussions potentially far-reaching. "All these devices, which now have computing functionality, affect the world in a direct physical manner—and that just changes everything," observes Bruce Schneier, an independent computer security analyst and author of Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World (W. W. Norton & Company, 2018). "Today, computers can actually kill you."

Adds Stuart Madnick, John Norris Maguire Professor of Information Technologies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, "We are entering a dangerous period. We have to wake up to the risks." .....

Machines Like Me: Novelist Ian McEwan

More comments on the directions of AI

Machines Like Me

A Talk By Ian McEwan [4.16.19] in The Edge.

I would like to set aside the technological constraints in order to imagine how an embodied artificial consciousness might negotiate the open system of human ethics—not how people think they should behave, but how they do behave. For example, we may think the rule of law is preferable to revenge, but matters get blurred when the cause is just and we love the one who exacts the revenge.

A machine incorporating the best angel of our nature might think otherwise. The ancient dream of a plausible artificial human might be scientifically useless but culturally irresistible. At the very least, the quest so far has taught us just how complex we (and all creatures) are in our simplest actions and modes of being. There’s a semi-religious quality to the hope of creating a being less cognitively flawed than we are.

IAN MCEWAN is a novelist whose works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He is the recipient of the Man Booker Prize for Amsterdam (1998), the National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award, and the Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction for Atonement (2003). His most recent novel is  

Video and Transcript  ....


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

More on MIT Open Source AutoML: ATMSeer

More on the topic, and some additional background information and links.  Very powerful concept that that should continue to expand.  Automation is the word,   See also Google AutoML, at tag below.

MIT Researchers Open-Source AutoML Visualization Tool ATMSeer    by  Anthony Alford   ... 

A research team from MIT, Hong Kong University, and Zhejiang University has open-sourced ATMSeer, a tool for visualizing and controlling automated machine-learning processes.
Solving a problem with machine learning (ML) requires more than just a dataset and training. For any given ML tasks, there are a variety of algorithms that could be used, and for each algorithm there can be many hyperparameters that can be tweaked. Because different values of hyperparameters will produce models with different accuracies, ML practitioners usually try out several sets of hyperparameter values on a given dataset to try to find hyperparameters that produce the best model. 

This can be time-consuming, as a separate training job and model evaluation process must be conducted for each set. Of course, they can be run in parallel, but the jobs must be setup and triggered, and the results recorded. Furthermore, choosing the particular values for hyperparameters can involve a bit of guesswork, especially for ones that can take on any numeric value: if 2.5 and 2.6 produce good results, maybe 2.55 would be even better? What about 2.56 or 2.54?

Enter automated machine learning, or AutoML. These are techniques and tools for automating the selection and evaluation of hyperparameters (as well as other common ML tasks such as data cleanup and feature engineering). Both Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure provide commercial AutoML solutions, and there are several open-source packages such as auto-sklearn and Auto-Keras.  ...."

Trust and Sponsoring Currencies and Contracts

In just a few hours there has been a considerable pushback on Facebook being trusted with cryptocurrencies:

Facebook’s cryptocurrency has a trust problem
Libra isn’t as decentralized as a normal cryptocurrency
By Russell Brandom in The Verge ...

Spells out some of the technical and management issues, existing around the notion of decentralization ....  "

Wal-Mart Overhauls Jet Management

An indication of less attention to direct online ordering?

Walmart in big overhaul of Jet.com  In ChainStoreAge    By CSA STAFF

Walmart is making some big changes at the online retail startup it bought for $3.3 billion in 2016.

The discount giant is merging Jet.com’s retail, technology, marketing, analytics and products teams into the rest of its digital business. The role of president of Jet will be eliminated, and Simon Belsham, who currently holds the title, will leave the company in early August. Walmart announced the changes in a blog post.

“Bringing together talent from Jet and Walmart into joint teams has created more opportunity for our business and our people,” said Marc Lore, founder of Jet.com and president and CEO of Walmart eCommerce U.S. “With the teams creating synergy and Jet becoming even more focused, we don’t have the same need for a dedicated leader.”

Moving forward, Jet’s team leaders will report to Kieran Shanahan, who oversees Walmart’s online food, consumables and health-and-wellness categories. Jet will continue to operate as a standalone site.  ... "

Facebook Teams to Produce Cryptocurrency

Whats the ultimate of this?  Payment/Procurement angle?  Examining.  Note the broad number of participants.  And will also include the ability to integrate secure smart contracts.

Facebook launches cryptocurrency with Visa, MasterCard, Uber, and others  Facebook plans to bring payments to Whatsapp and Messenger in 2020.   By Timothy B. Lee in  ArsTechnica

Facebook is leading a broad coalition of companies and organizations launching a new cryptocurrency, the company announced on Tuesday. The cryptocurrency, called Libra, will be backed by a basket of conventional currencies and other stable assets, preventing the wild price swings that have plagued bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies.

The new cryptocurrency will serve as the foundation for a new payment feature for Facebook Messenger and the Facebook-owned Whatsapp. Facebook says it is creating a new subsidiary called Calibra to oversee its payment initiatives. This is partly to reassure people who are concerned about Facebook's privacy record. .... 

 .... Facebook and the Libra Association released a lot of information on Tuesday morning, and I haven't read it all. There's a new programming language called Move that's optimized for secure smart contracts. There's an in-depth explanation of the Libra blockchain. And there's more information about how Libra's peg to conventional currencies will work. Stay tuned for a much deeper dive into Facebook's ambitious new platform in the coming days. ... ' 

Automated Machine Learning

Bill Vorhies reports on Gartner and Forrester's look at automated machine learning.  Ultimately a key advance for AI and its broad use.  List and analysis of major players.    Click through for outline of advances and Bill's take.

Automated Machine Learning (AML) Comes of Age - Almost   Posted by William Vorhies in DSC

Summary:  Forrester has just released its “New Wave™: Automation-Focused Machine Learning Solutions, Q2 2019” report on leading stand-alone automated machine learning platforms.  This is our first good side-by-side comparison.  You might also want to consider some who were not included.

You know you’ve come of age when the major review publications like Gartner and Forrester publish a study on your segment.  That’s what’s finally happened.  Just released is “The Forrester New Wave™: Automation-Focused Machine Learning Solutions, Q2 2019”.

This is the first reasonably deep review of platforms and covers nine of what Forrester describes as ‘the most significant providers in the segment’.  Those being Aible, Bell Integrator, Big Squid, DataRobot, DMway Analytics, dotData, EdgeVerve, H2O.ai, and Squark.

I’ve been following these automated machine learning (AML) platforms since they emerged.  I wrote first about them in the spring of 2016 under the somewhat scary title “Data Scientists Automated and Unemployed by 2025!  ... " 

GM Thinks new Brain for its Cars

Recently had a software update performed on my one year old MAzda, took too long and required too much testing to verify its correctness.

GM thinks up new electronic brain for its cars, allowing over-the-air updates    By Stephen Edelstein in Digitaltrends   @SAEdelstein

The array of infotainment and driver-assist features in new cars makes their electrical systems as important as engines, transmissions, and other mechanical bits. That’s why General Motors is giving its cars’ electronics a major overhaul, with a new “digital vehicle platform” designed to support more tech. The new electronics platform debuts in the 2020 Cadillac CT5, and should roll out to most other GM vehicles by 2023. .... "