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Monday, December 05, 2016

Amazon Go Tests Effort-less Buying

In the isle, without checkouts.   But tracking I am sure.   So this can detect aspects of movement and context that take us to purchase.  What are the patterns that make us buy?  We tested similar approaches which modeled all activity in a physical store.   See the BlueEyes tab below.

Amazon Go lets you trade your privacy for a cashier-less lunch buying experience

 Amazon has launched a shop that will make you feel like a shoplifter but will actually be tracking your every move. 

Amazon Go arrives in the form of an 1800-square-foot retail space located in the company's hometown of Seattle and is described by the firm as a "new kind of store" without checkouts. 

Instead of making small talk with cashiers or battling a self-service checkout that refuses to recognise your shopping in the bagging area, Amazon Go lets you waltz in, pick up a sandwich, and walk straight out. 

Naturally, that doesn't mean you're getting a free BLT on Amazon. Not only will you be charged once you've left the shop courtesy of the Amazon Go app that you'll need to install on your smartphone, you'll also have sacrificed your privacy for a speedy sandwich shopping experience. 

"Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning," Amazon explains.

"Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt."  .... " 

Standardizing Predictive Influence Measures

Determining influence is a very frequent need for analytics in business.  It can often guide us towards data collection.   It is often a prelude to further analysis.  Always thought it would be useful to have a more standard way of measuring this.   Now the I-Score.  Reading the paper and plan to follow.

In PhysOrg News:  Researchers at Princeton, Columbia and Harvard have created a new method to analyze big data that better predicts outcomes in health care, politics and other fields.

The study appears this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  (Abstract of technical paper) 

In previous studies, the researchers showed that significant variables might not be predictive and that good predictors might not appear statistically significant. This posed an important question: how can we find highly predictive variables if not through a guideline of statistical significance? Common approaches to prediction include using a significance-based criterion for evaluating variables to use in models and evaluating variables and models simultaneously for prediction using cross-validation or independent test data.

In an effort to reduce the error rate with those methods, the researchers proposed a new measure called the influence score, or I-score, to better measure a variable's ability to predict. They found that the I-score is effective in differentiating between noisy and predictive variables in big data and can significantly improve the prediction rate. For example, the I-score improved the prediction rate in breast cancer data from 70 percent to 92 percent. The I-score can be applied in a variety of fields, including terrorism, civil war, elections and financial markets.  ... " 

Socially Adaptive Electronic Partners

Via Jim Spohrer of the Cognitive Systems Institute.  Covers the still many issues behind assistance and partnership.     What is it like to be autonomous in this respect?

Creating Socially Adaptive Electronic Partners   Academic paper.

 ....  van Riemsdijk, M.B.; Jonker, C.M.; Lesser, V. Creating Socially Adaptive Electronic Partners: Creating Socially Adaptive Electronic Partners: Interaction, Reasoning and Ethical Challenges . Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, Bordini, Elkind, Weiss & Yolum, ed., IFAAMAS. 2015.”

Thoughts on the Value of New Accessibility

New innovation starts with sensors and their integration.  With data and analytics.  A kind of accessibility.   So you can look to accessibility for innovation.  AI is a form of accessibility, accessing the symbolic power of logic and math, which in the past was something unique in brains.   No longer.

Was reminded of this thought reading about Microsoft's plans for new accessibility in 2017.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Salesforce Will do AI with Einstein

Been much rumor about what Salesforce would do with AI style capabilities for customer management.    Now their solution, Einstein, has been announced.   Individual conversational assistance? Bot observation of activity?  Or platform integrated intelligence.    When I hear AI now I think about its value approach and integration with current process.  And what the risk of its use might be in context

Salesforce Aims to Revolutionize CRM with AI-Powered Einstein By Virginia Backaitis

Salesforce officially unveiled its artificial intelligence (AI) capability called Einstein yesterday — just hours before Oracle kicked off OpenWorld.

Constellation Research analyst Doug Henschen said it was no coincidence that Salesforce made a point of introducing its AI capabilities just ahead of Oracle's big user conference. 

"And likewise, it's no coincidence that we'll hear AI announcements from Oracle this year. Its work has been stealthy while Salesforce has very publicaly been loading up on machine learning and AI-related acquisitions,” he said.

Salesforce promises Einstein will forever change customer relationship management (CRM). It is a lofty goal, but one but that doesn’t seem unattainable: Salesforce has both purchased and hired the technology and the people needed to make it happen. 

Salesforce: We Have the Smartest CRM: 
John Ball, General Manager, Salesforce Einstein, told reporters at a virtual press conference last Thursday that the company has created “the world’s smartest CRM” by marrying data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing and deep data discovery1 with its business applications.     .... " 

Futuretext for Machine Learning

Brought to my attention.   Has some excellent tutorial material.


" ... futuretext applies machine learning techniques to complex problems in the IoT (Internet of Things) and Telecoms domains. We aim to provide a distinct competitive advantage to our customers through application of machine learning techniques ...  

Created by industry thought leader Ajit Jaokar in 1999  ... " 

Watson Social Media Analytics

Interesting, but not very detailed view of IBM social  media analytics with Watson.   Analyzing the global reach of the UK retailer John Lewis.

" ... Is TV advertising dead? Given that these days most of us consume our media via the internet, that’s not such a strange question to pose. And at this time of year, does the impact of expensive Xmas TV commercials by big retail chains justify their high cost?

Or have we all become too media-savvy to be taken in by scenes of snow and happy families? Yes and no, it appears, if we look at the results of a Watson Analytics for Social Media exploration. .... " 

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Bank and Financial Products

The Death of Bank Products has been greatly under-exaggerated   by Brett King
This is an excerpt from my new book Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane
Since 2005 I’ve been predicting the decline of branch banking. For almost 10 years I fought bankers who decried my assessment that branches would cease to be the most important channel in banking, to be replaced by far more efficient mechanisms for revenue generation and relationship. Today the discussion is increasingly resorting to a sort of desperate plea — “but branches aren’t going to die completely, are they?” No one is saying branches will grow.

The United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, and a host of other countries are seeing the lowest number of bank branches in decades. For the UK you’d have to go back 60 years to find lower numbers of bank branches than we have today, and 2014 saw the use of bank branches fall 6% in a single year — the biggest reduction ever. In the US banks like BofA, Chase and Wells have cut more than 15% of their branches in just the last 4 years, bring their branch levels back to that of the early 1980s. While the US has only seen declines of 1–2% per year in branch numbers, branch footprint may be a much better indicator of the waning support for branches. Wells Fargo has reduced their branch square-footage by 22% in just 6 years, and for BofA it’s one-fifth of their branches that have 
already disappeared in just the last 5 years. .... 

How Bayesian Inference Works

Out of KDnuggets, nice non-technical view of Bayesian inference. by Brandon Rohrer.  In the enterprise I collected pieces like this for use with execs or decision makers.   I found that while many people had learned frequentist statistics in school, and understood their use for applications like regression,  few understood Bayesian methods.

And to take it further:  Doing Bayesian Stats with R.

On Smart Homes

PostWaves (Beta).   A collection of blog posts.  In this case all about Smart Homes.

About Postwaves.

Knowledge Engineering Book for Cognitive Assistants

So how do you actually engineer knowledge to integrate into an assistant system? Its a mix of knowledge architecture, reasoning and effective delivery.  Many of our early attempts struggled with the idea. This book takes a look at approaches.  I will be reviewing.  From GMU.

Knowledge Engineering: Building Cognitive Assistants for Evidence-based Reasoning    Authors: Gheorghe Tecuci, Dorin Marcu, Mihai Boicu, David A. Schum
Hardcover: 456 pages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (September 2016)
ISBN: 9781107122567

This book presents a significant advancement in the theory and practice of knowledge engineering, the discipline concerned with the development of intelligent agents that use knowledge and reasoning to perform problem-solving and decision-making tasks. It covers the main stages in the development of a knowledge-based agent: understanding the application domain, modeling problem solving in that domain, developing the ontology, learning the reasoning rules, and testing the agent. The book focuses on a special class of agents: cognitive assistants for evidence-based reasoning that learn complex problem-solving expertise directly from human experts, support experts, and nonexperts in problem solving and decision making, and teach their problem-solving expertise to students. A powerful learning agent shell, Disciple-EBR, is included with the book, enabling students, practitioners, and researchers to develop cognitive assistants rapidly in a wide variety of domains that require evidence-based reasoning, including intelligence analysis, cybersecurity, law, forensics, medicine, and education.  .... " 

Discussion in Cognitive Systems Institute,  Linkedin.

Chicago Merchantile Exchange Trading Challenge

Brought to my attention via Columbia connections.  Details at the link.

CME Group Trading Challenge
CME Group's Trading Challenge is a complimentary four-week electronic trading competition where teams of undergraduate and graduate students can trade a variety of CME Group products from multiple asset classes in a simulated trading environment on a real-time professional trading platform provided by CQG.

Top ranking students will be eligible for cash prizes and exclusive CME Group experiences.
This annual competition has grown each year - with 200 schools from 30 countries and nearly 500 teams competing in 2016. The Trading Challenge is a unique chance for students to learn hands-on techniques for trading futures. Teams must consist of 3 to 5 members from the same university and each must elect a student leader. Teams can participate on a student-led team or in cooperation with a faculty advisor. Advisors will have early registration access to register their teams. Please note, advisors are not permitted to participate as a member of the team during the Challenge and are ineligible to receive a prize if their team is a winner.  .... " 

Apple Building Better Maps

Seems to have been some time since I have heard of Maps mentioned with Apple.  Now movable sensors like drones are in play.

Apple Said to Fly Drones to Improve Maps Data and Catch Google
by Mark Gurman  and Alan Levin

Company gets FAA approval to use drones for data collection
Apple acquired startup Indoor.io for interior mapping project
Apple Inc. plans to use drones and new indoor navigation features to improve its Maps service and catch longtime leader Google, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Cupertino, California-based company is assembling a team of robotics and data-collection experts that will use drones to capture and update map information faster than its existing fleet of camera-and-sensor ladened minivans, one of the people said.

Apple wants to fly drones around to do things like examine street signs, track changes to roads and monitor if areas are under construction, the person said. The data collected would be sent to Apple teams that rapidly update the Maps app to provide fresh information to users, the person added.

Apple is also developing new features for Maps, including views inside buildings and improvements to car navigation, another person familiar with the efforts said. The people asked not to be identified talking about private projects. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.  ,,,, " 

Knowledge Based Drug Discovery

Discovery has been a favorite topic of mine.  We have so much knowledge stored digitally, how can we use that to discover more value in many business contexts?  Here I am continuing to track an example.

How Knowledge-Based Analytics Can Drive Drug Discovery for Life Sciences
December 2, 2016 | Written by: Louisa Roberts

Data-driven analytics is far from a new concept in healthcare. From improving population health and disease management, to advancing precision medicine initiatives, data-driven analytics have laid the foundation for more targeted care for decades. But in today’s information-overloaded environment, where the data is only as powerful as the insights generated from it, the key actually lies in the application of the cognitive as well.   ... " 

Friday, December 02, 2016

Yet More Home Entertainment, Advice and Smart Home

And yet again.    Less a standalone device, but more of a feature of Windows 10?   Seems to be wiser move to have these be stand-alone.   Which gets you out of the platform Fan-boy world,  yet Cortana by itself still seems quite inadequate.  Would make sense for Microsoft to integrate augmented reality and games. Speculation.

Microsoft's Home Hub ambitions aim to crush Google Home and Amazon Echo  By Zac Bowden 

Microsoft's connected home ambitions with Home Hub lay far beyond just competing with Amazon and Google.

Rumors regarding a new Windows 10 feature called "Home Hub" have been making the rounds on the internet recently. At first, it was thought that Home Hub would be some sort of Amazon Echo competitor, and although that's not entirely true, it isn't entirely false either.

So just what is it, then? Our sources have confirmed that Home Hub is a Windows 10 feature designed to make your PC the center of your home, by making shared PCs more communal and bringing the connected home to Windows.

We've been speaking with various sources to piece together everything planned for Home Hub — it's a really big project for Microsoft. So much so that not everything detailed here will likely make the initial release, and may even get cut before it ever reaches Insiders. With that in mind, settle in for a detailed look at what Microsoft has envisioned for Home Hub. .... " 

Intelligence Analysis

New Book of Of interest.  How are these kinds of structure embedded into AI?

Intelligence Analysis as Discovery of Evidence, Hypotheses, and Arguments: Connecting the Dots
by Gheorghe Tecuci, David A. Schum, Dorin Marcu, Mihai Boicu 

This unique book on intelligence analysis covers several vital but often overlooked topics. It teaches the evidential and inferential issues involved in "connecting the dots" to draw defensible and persuasive conclusions from masses of evidence: from observations we make, or questions we ask, we generate alternative hypotheses as explanations or answers; we make use of our hypotheses to generate new lines of inquiry and discover new evidence; and we test the hypotheses with the discovered evidence. 

To facilitate understanding of these issues and enable the performance of complex analyses, the book introduces an intelligent analytical tool, called Disciple-CD. Readers will practice with Disciple-CD and learn how to formulate hypotheses; develop arguments that reduce complex hypotheses to simpler ones; collect evidence to evaluate the simplest hypotheses; and assess the relevance and the believability of evidence, which combine in complex ways to determine its inferential force and the probabilities of the hypotheses. .... " 

A Map of What's Connected to the Internet

I remember when the Internet predecessor was just connected to the Pentagon, defense contractors and some bases.   In Gizmodo: 

" .... This map was made on August 2 by John Matherly, the founder of Shodan, a search engine for internet-connected devices. Matherly, who calls himself an internet cartographer, collected the data to put it together by sending ping requests to every IP address on the internet, and storing the positive responses. A ping is a network utility that sends an echo-request message (known as a packet) to an IP address—the internet's version of "hey, are you there?"

That part was relatively easy compared to the visualization process, says Matherly. "It took less than five hours to gather the data, and another 12 hours or so to generate the map image." For that, he used the matplotlib plotting library in the programing language Python.  ... " 

Watson Analytics Tutorials

Of interest.  Good tutorial demonstration of the application of Watson to 'automated'  analytics that I am investigating further.   This or something like it, may be the future of analytics.

Watson Analytics for Students How To Videos
The following videos will help you to get started. They have been produced by Miroslav Spiridenkov.
Below you will find relevant Watson analytics tutorials and attached documentation. Relevant documentation with links will be at the bottom of each video. You will need to create a watson analytics account and login to view documentation.

1. Introduction Video for Watson analytics

This video will guide you through and introduce you to Watson analytics and what the UI looks like as well as the expected workflow.  ....


Thursday, December 01, 2016

Asia's AI Agenda

My recent interaction with the Asian components of this have left me impressed.  The below is an abstract with links to the complete report.  And beyond to link to managing change in the analytics and machine learning  world, which relates to my Columbia course.   Will be reading.

Asia’s AI Agenda: Executive Summary
This synopsis offers highlights from a recent survey of senior executives about trends in artificial intelligence and robotics are affecting Asian businesses. by MIT Technology Review Custom, International Markets December 1, 2016  in partnership with  ADP

Asia-based senior executives at global companies believe that the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics on their business performance in Asia will be profound and positive—and will be felt sooner than we may think.  ...  " 


My former colleague and leader, Andy Walter, is now on the board of Digimarc,  a company we talked to for advanced digital watermarking ideas.   More on Digimarc. 

Linking Echo to Business Data Queries

Does get back to when is a voice interaction with your data most useful?  An added human channel to data.    Another means to deliver business intelligence beyond the dashboard.

Sisense-Amazon Echo integration lets you ask Alexa questions about your business data  by Ron Miller (@ron_miller)

Sisense, a company which helps customers link multiple data sources and summarize them in a single dashboard view, has been working on ways to understand the data outside of the context of a computer.

Today, the company announced an initiative called Business Intelligence Virtually Everywhere. That could involve asking questions to a voice-driven system like the Amazon Echo or linking important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to an intelligent lightbulb that changes colors to represent the current state of the KPI — for example, green for meeting the metric, orange for being in danger of falling short, or red for missing it.   ... " 

World Needs Smart Cities

A good article by a former collaborator  of Enterra Solutions.

The World Needs Smart Cities    by Stephen DeAngelis 

Where Big Data Projects Fail

A now somewhat dated, but useful piece in Forbes by Bernard Marr,  useful for any analytics project, big or small.    Bottom line, its about the business, and communicating the solution to the decision makers involved.    Before, after and during the period when the work is done and being validated.

Asay, M. (2014, August 7). 8 Reasons Big Data Projects Fail. InformationWeek

Laskowski, N. (2012, August 12). Seven big data failures to watch out for. TechTarget

Kaushik, A. (2011, January 10). I Wish I'd Known That.  [Digital Analytics Edition.]. Kaushik Blog

Silverman, R. (2015). Can Statheads ‘Shut Up and Look’? The Daily Beast

Arup on Robotic Coworkers

What will it be like to work with robotic co-worker?  UK engineering design firm Arup talks about it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Amazon Delivers Serious AI Services

   More tools being added to the box.  Previously some from IBM and Google.  Can remarkable AI be far behind?  In Computerworld.

AWS comes out swinging with A.I. services
Trying to entice enterprises and catch up with cloud rivals, AWS releases three artificial intelligence services   By Sharon Gaudin  

 .... At its re:Invent conference today, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy announced three artificial intelligence (A.I.) services that will be available to enterprise users this year, with more expected in 2017.

The three services being rolled out are Amazon Rekognition for image recognition; Amazon Polly for text-to-speech services; and Amazon Lex, the technology inside its smart device Alexa, offering speech recognition services.

Now enterprise AWS customers can use A.I. to, for example, search for images that show a mountain next to a lake, or a city with specific architecture. ... " 

via Walter Riker. 

Deep Learning and Optimization

Technical point about deep learning, diagrams at the link:

The hard thing about deep learning
Deeper neural nets often yield harder optimization problems.  By Reza Zadeh

At the heart of deep learning lies a hard optimization problem. So hard that for several decades after the introduction of neural networks, the difficulty of optimization on deep neural networks was a barrier to their mainstream usage and contributed to their decline in the 1990s and 2000s. Since then, we have overcome this issue. In this post, I explore the “hardness” in optimizing neural networks and see what the theory has to say. In a nutshell: the deeper the network becomes, the harder the optimization problem becomes. ... " 

Key New AI Deals

In Inc:  Some key acquisitions in AI that are worth examining:

Artificial Intelligence Deals Top $1 Billion
Apple, Google, Intel, Salesforce and Samsung are among the most aggressive acquirers   By Lisa Calhoun  .... " 

Service Innovation Talk: Emotional Intelligence

Intriguing ...

" ... Eric J. McNulty’s presentation for the ISSIP Service Innovation Weekly Speaker Series.
Title of his presentation is “Integrating Human Factors into Incident Command: Emotional Intelligence and Beyond”.

Eric is a Harvard-affiliated writer, speaker and educator with a passion for purpose-driven leadership. He uses his deep experience and expertise to help build adaptive capacity, trust-based cohesion, and resilience in leaders and their organizations. Eric works to increase the leadership capacity and capability in individuals, organizations, and communities to advance positive change. He is an author, speaker, and educator drawing inspiration from nature, the complex environments of cities, and the seemingly endless creativity of his fellow humans. His goal — and satisfaction — is tangible impact. http://ericmcnulty.com/about/who-is-eric/

ISSIP Service Innovation Weekly Speaker Series
Wed 7:30 am pacific time (San Francisco time zone)/ 10:30am EST
Co-hosts: Haluk Demirkan, Jim Spohrer, Yassi Moghaddam, DJ Christman, Heather Yurko

Join WebEx meeting
Meeting number: 927 413 167
Meeting password: innovation

Join by phone +1-415-655-0002 US Toll
Access code: 927 413 167   ...  "

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Genes, Games, Randomness and the Power of Algorithms

In the CACM:  Sex as an algorithm.   Fascinating piece.  Not really technical, but a conceptually dense description.  Reminds me of some of our own experiments with genetic algorithms to solve complex corporate problems.  More in the tag below.  These were not really successful,  but why?

Probably because we were not successful in creating the right representation of the problem to work with.  Never obvious.    Even less so for this kind of solution method.   Also such genetically found algorithms are by their nature 'black boxes' whose operation cannot be directly explained.    Worth the scan or read for broad insight into the idea of genetically finding useful solutions.

IOT and Marketing

A fairly broad look at what IOT is, but interesting statistics on adoption.

Among Marketers, IoT Is Seen as Critical Emerging Technology
More businesses are in mature deployment stages this year  ...    "

Pitfalls in the Internet of Things

Video and Transcipt from Bain.

Ann Bosche: Avoiding Common Pitfalls in the Internet of Things

Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things continues to grow—already, leading vendors have made $75 billion in M&A investments. While many customers are excited by the opportunities the IoT presents, they still struggle with early solutions from vendors. Ann Bosche, a partner with Bain's Technology practice, discusses the most common mistakes made by vendors and the critical opportunities that will position them to win.   ... " 

Rain and Echo for Voice Driven Marketing

Interesting view of how skills are being built for voice channels.  I note that it repositioned some of the expertise for Tide stain detective, which is now available as an Echo Skill

How This Agency Built Its Own App Using Amazon Echo Voice skills have become big business for Rain By Lauren Johnson

Rain has picked up a few new clients with its voice expertise. Amazon
Last October, New York-based digital agency Rain worked with Campbell's to find a new way to push out the CPG giant's library of recipes, creating one of the first branded "skills" for Amazon's voice-controlled Echo device, which helped consumers find dinner recipes on demand.

While the agency expected a bit of a PR boost from the Campbell's work, voice and the so-called Internet of Things has actually become a big growth area for Rain over the past year, as more agencies look for ways to tap into emerging devices for brands. Shortly after creating the Campbell's skill, Rain became one of a handful of Amazon's go-to developers tasked with building "skills"—voice apps that let consumers ask questions to Amazon's AI platform named Alexa.   .... 

In the past year, Rain has signed 1-800-Flowers, P&G's Tide, Yahoo Fantasy Football and Liberty Mutual-owned Safeco as clients, helping to build branded skills that dole out information and entertainment to consumers. For Safeco, the agency built a glossary of insurance terms so that consumers can ask Alexa questions like, "What is umbrella insurance?" or "What does liability mean?" For 1-800-Flowers, users can automatically place flower orders to their friends or family members.  .. " 

Getting More Insights from Data

Good piece from Tableau:  Find hidden insights in your data: Ask why and why again by Andy Cotgreave.     I will add, always check with your business process context.  Some why's should always come from that context.