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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Digital Twin Technology

Mostly about hardware,   saw it well described by GE Digital at our recent meeting.   Gets closer to understanding the process.  But how do you include the actions of human actors?

Via Bernard Marr in Forbes:

" ... While the concept of a digital twin has been around since 2002, it’s only thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) that it has become cost-effective to implement. And, it is so imperative to business today, it was named one of Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017.

Quite simply, a digital twin is a virtual model of a process, product or service. This pairing of the virtual and physical worlds allows analysis of data and monitoring of systems to head off problems before they even occur, prevent downtime, develop new opportunities and even plan for the future by using simulations.

Thomas Kaiser, SAP Senior Vice President of IoT, put it this way: “Digital twins are becoming a business imperative, covering the entire lifecycle of an asset or process and forming the foundation for connected products and services. Companies that fail to respond will be left behind.”  ... "  

Deep Algo Visualizes Code Process

Always thought there should be a easy way to better visualize the process of code.  There have been attempts.  Is this finally it?   Much like the idea,  transparency for decision makers.  Consider the potential savings.  Extracting business from the code.

Deep Algo offers simple code visualization for people who don’t know how to code
Posted May 19, 2017 by Brian Heater (@bheater)

Deep Algo was one of the more fascinating companies on display in Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt this week. The French team aims to make coding languages more accessible for the masses with SaaS (software as a service) offering that promises to do for languages like C++, C Sharp and Javascript what WYSIWYG does for HTML.

It’s a pretty bold claim, but the company is confident that its system is robust enough to handle the complexity of coding languages, even in the hands of coding newbies.

“We make non-IT people understand code,” CEO Xavier Lagarrigue told TechCrunch at the event. “The technology uses the code as an input and then everything is automatic. We extract the business concepts first from the code and then build questions. And as a user, you select the question and find the answer in the code. If you are a non-coder, you will understand the format.”  ..... "

Algorithmic Gastronomy and Beyond

Fascinating look about how to morph recipes.  Might this be used to rewrite other process + ingredient kinds of decisions?  We were influenced in coffee blending and roasting decisions by recipe style approaches.  There is something here.

Deep Learning Algorithm Rewrites Traditional Recipes for New Regions, Ingredients
by Michael Byrne

 Algorithmic gastronomy is here.

Imagine your favorite go-to recipe mutated to conform to the traditional methods and ingredients of any number of diverse regional food cultures. Consider, say, lasagne, but a sort of lasagne that's instead a naturally occurring part of Japanese or Ethiopian cuisine. Not "fusion," but something deeper—a whole rewriting of what a lasagne even is according to the culinary traditions of some other place.

It's not necessarily an easy or natural thing to do, but a new machine learning algorithm developed by a team of French, American, and Japanese researchers offers an automated solution based on neural networks and large amounts of food data. The result, which is described in a paper published this month to the arXiv preprint server (via I Programmer), is a system that can take a given recipe and shift it into an alternative dietary style—sushi lasagne, say—as well as parse a recipe for its underlying style components.  .... " 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Andreessen Horowitz's AI Playbook

New, examining.

AI Playbook   by the Andreessen Horowitz VC firm

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a set of computer science techniques that, as Stanford professor Andrew Ng is fond of saying, gives your software super powers.

Building on our Primer on Artificial Intelligence, this microsite is intended to help newcomers (both non-technical and technical) begin exploring what's possible with AI. We've met with hundreds of Fortune 500 / Global 2000 companies, startups, and government policy makers asking: "How do I get started with artificial intelligence?" and "What can I do with AI in my own product or company?"

This site is designed as a resource for anyone asking those questions, complete with examples and sample code to help you get started. ....  " 

Considering the Data Science Behind AI

Nicely done piece from DSC by William Vorhies,  an overview.  Good exec and introductory piece.  Like in general the way this is presented.  Would add that I have started to call it Augmented Intelligence (AI),  which tempers the expectations involved.

The Data Science Behind AI    Posted by William Vorhies  

Summary:  For those of you traditional data scientist who are interested in AI but still haven’t given it a deep dive, here’s a high level overview of the data science technologies that combine into what the popular press calls artificial intelligence (AI).

We and others have written quite a bit about the various types of data science that make up AI.  Still I hear many folks asking about AI as if it were a single entity.  It is not.  AI is a collection of data science technologies that at this point in development are not even particularly well integrated or even easy to use.  In each of these areas however, we’ve made a lot of progress and that’s caught the attention of the popular press.

This article is not intended to be a deep dive but rather the proverbial 50,000 foot view of what’s going on.  If you’re a traditional data scientist who’s read some articles but still hasn’t put the big picture together you might find this a way of integrating your current knowledge and even discovering where you’d be interested in focusing.  .... " 

Nestle and Startup Innovation

Via former P&Ger and colleague, Pete Blackshaw.

Nestle takes cues from Silicon Valley to boost innovation

Despite having thousands of product lines in its portfolio, Nestle uses a startup mindset adapted from Silicon Valley firms like Google to keep its innovations fresh and on-trend, said Pete Blackshaw, vice president of digital and social media. The company has created a digital acceleration team to develop new ideas internally, and uses alliances with other firms to forge external innovations, such as its recent Amazon partnership, which marries Alexa voice automation technology with Nestle recipes. ... " 

Assistants Understanding Accents

Quite a long article with many links in Language Log, on research that has been done on understanding accents.  And how this may influence our work with assistants.   It has intrigued me as to how we adapt to foreign accents in our own language.

" .... Wired.com has some perfect linguaphile clickbait: “Watch People With Accents Confuse the Hell Out of AI Assistants.”  By “accents” they mean, non-American ones (e.g., Irish English). The AI Assistants were Siri, Amazon Echo, and Google Home. I’m curious about how well the voice recognition systems in these devices work with varieties of spoken English, so I clicked. Sucker! Can’t tell anything from the video except that it’s fun to say “Add Worcestershire sauce to my shopping list” to a machine.  This definitely beats asking Siri “What is the meaning of life?”

Mainly I was impressed by how poorly I understood the speakers.  I have a bad time understanding other people’s accents  but that’s only one data point.  How well do people understand speech that is in the same language as their own but spoken with a different accent?  .... " 

Jobs and Technologies

Seems an odd premise, is it the underlying responsibility of companies to create jobs?   Or allow the market to do that?  Starting in the 60s, many jobs have been replaced by technologies.    In the HBR:

As Machines Take Jobs, Companies Need to Get Creative About Making New Ones
by Darlene Damm

Jobs in retail, transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture are highly vulnerable to technological change. Retailers such as Macy’s and The Limited are closing hundreds of stores and cutting tens of thousands of jobs as people buy more and more products online, and others are testing robotic assistants or planning for autonomous stores. Over 33 companies are now working on autonomous vehicles, which will soon replace transport jobs. Robots have probably taken about 85% of the 5 million manufacturing jobs that have disappeared from the United States since 2000. Automated farming is also quickly advancing.

While our first instinct might be to help employees find new jobs, what we really need to do is help companies shift into new markets focused on human services and adopt new business models that will allow employees, customers, and communities to benefit from technological change. ... " 

Wal-Mart E-Commerce Surge

In Adage:
Walmart's E-Commerce Surge and Other Takeaways for Brands
By Jack Neff.

Walmart reported fiscal first-quarter earnings today that showed a huge spike in e-commerce sales as it slightly beat analyst expectations on the bottom line and slightly missed on revenue. Should Amazon be worried? Maybe. Should brand marketers be worried? Definitely.  .... "

Home Automation Virtual Agent

Interesting approach that I had not seen .... highlighting the Watson conversation service.

Build a Home Automation Virtual Agent on Bluemix

With the home automation trend growing, have you wondered how you could build your own home automation virtual agent on Bluemix? Check out this blog post to see how a PubNub developer used PubNub BLOCKS and Watson Conversation to do it.
 by: Shyam Purkayastha

Man’s desire to be a part of the social ecosystem has led to the invention of many communication and information sharing tools. This trend is now morphing to include use cases where we interact with non-living things, as well. Let’s look at one such application where we can communicate with our things through chat, just like way we would Whatsapp our family and friends.

Home automation is an ubiquitous application. We talk to our appliances, and they obey our orders. That is so cool! But let’s take it a step further. We’ll want to make it a bit more seamless, so that we talk to our home in a natural conversation. But how do we do it? Machines talk in binary code which is cumbersome for humans. In this blog article, we will show you how to build a home automation app. So follow along and check out the demonstration provided later in this article to help you understand how to build a virtual assistant for your home. .... 

Watson Conversation service provides a drag and drop dialog builder. This dialog builder is the key to designing dialogs that are intuitive for human users and, at the same time, can be deciphered by machines.

A typical human-to-machine conversation is very different from human-to-human conversation. Machines do not usually engage in a conversation flow like we humans do. They take commands and respond with an action. The Watson Conversation service allows us to build specific dialogs that convey commands and actions between humans and machines. The image below illustrates how this is achieved via intents and entities:  .... " 

Most Powerful Quantum Computer

IBM unveils its most powerful quantum processor yet
And the company is seeking your algorithms and experiments to run on it.  .. Andrew Dalton, @dolftown

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Whats Next in AI and Automation

Excellent overview, with useful detail:

What’s now and next in analytics, AI, and automation

Innovations in digitization, analytics, artificial intelligence, and automation are creating performance and productivity opportunities for business and the economy, even as they reshape employment and the future of work. ... " 

Examining the Drone Economy

Drones go to Work   by Chris Anderson in the HBR.  Excellent piece.
The disruptive economics of unmanned vehicles are taking hold. Here’s how to think about the drone economy and your place in it.  .... " 

Plus:  Drone challenges  deals with the underlying regulation and related complexities.

Cortana as a Bot Channel

I like thinking of it in this way.  Saw it demonstrated by MSFT using Cortana this week.   Still means the architecture, operations, context and memory of the bot have to be developed and work well and seamlessly.   Still a challenge for dialog in a Bot.

Cortana, as a new Microsoft Bot Framework Channel   by Aram Koukia 

In Build 2017, Microsoft announced several updates to the Bot Framework which are great, and as I was expecting, this great bot framework is here to stay!

One of the features that made me really excited, and something that will push me to think about bot use-cases even more, is the Cortana channel.  .... " 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Amazon and Pharma

Discussion.  In Retailwire.

Is the $400B prescription drug business ripe for an Amazon disruption?
by George Anderson

CNBC reported yesterday that Amazon.com is hiring an executive to lead its entry into the pharmacy business. Two unnamed sources familiar with Amazon’s plans told CNBC of the planned hire as well as annual meetings the e-tail giant has held in recent years to explore a potential entry into retail prescription medicine sales.  .... " 

Flash Organizations

Useful idea, now link it to right data.

Stanford Researchers Develop Crowdsourcing Software to Convene Rapid, On-Demand 'Flash Organizations'

Researchers at Stanford University have developed software that integrates crowdsourcing's flexibility and the benefits of on-demand specialists to form "flash organizations." The researchers presented their work last week at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017) in Denver, CO, detailing tests of their flash organization model. The team supported the model using the Foundry Web platform to help with generating the organization, hiring, task-tracking, and in-group communication. Foundry also featured a tool enabling members to request new roles or tasks as needed. To implement alterations, Foundry has an organizational chart that is used for all reconfigurations, including revising timelines of tasks, redefining roles, and hiring new workers. "By allowing anyone with an idea to go to an online marketplace, recruit all sorts of different experts on-demand, and bring their idea to life in a very short period of time, we're making innovation more feasible," says Stanford's Daniela Retelny.  .... " 

Looking for a long Chat

Interesting goal.  Length of a chat implies some engagement, but not necessarily value to the human involved.   If the goal is to get a useful answer I want it to be short and without error. Scripting should do this, but has a high risk of an error that could lose your customer. Think and map process, and include risk of error.   The big goal for Alexa is a nice, long chat, says Alexa's chief scientist
By Jefferson Graham ... .

Interview with Vint Cerf

Non technical view of the history and future of the Internet.  I should note that this piece contradicts another piece quoting him regarding AI I recently posted.  You have to always be wary of the context of these pieces. He is not an alarmist on the use of AI.

CW@50: Vint Cerf on his 'love affair' with tech and what’s coming next
The father of the internet looks back at the last 50 years and ahead to what faces IT
               
Sharon Gaudin By Sharon Gaudin ... " 

Text Mining Memes Online

Interesting progress in text mining that includes repeated memes and context.   Technical.

A system for extracting and comparing memes in online forums

Héctor Beck-Fernandeza, , David F. Nettletonb, , , Lorena Recaldeb, , Diego Saez-Trumperb, , Alexis Barahona-Peñarandaa, 

Highlights

Automatic extraction of top memes (key concepts, relations) from unstructured text.
Sophisticated meme construction and matching algorithm.
System with default/customizable control parameter set.
No preprocessing of text or manual intervention between steps is necessary.
Results show a better information retrieval F-score than other methods.

Abstract
From their origins in the sociological field, memes have recently become of interest in the context of `viral' transmission of basic information units (memes) in online social networks. However, much work still needs to be done in terms of metrics and practical data processing issues. In this paper we define a theoretical basis and processing system for extracting and matching memes from free format text. The system facilitates the work of a text analyst in extracting this type of data structures from online text corpuses and n performing empirical experiments in a controlled manner. The general aspects related to the solution are the automatic processing of unstructured text without need for preprocessing (such as labelling and tagging), identification of co-occurences of concepts and corresponding relations, construction of semantic networks and selecting the top memes.  .... "  

Basic Attention Token

The BAT, just brought to my attention, the basic attention token, quite an interesting play, with a browser and a blockchain.  Makes sense, but what will the advertisers think?   Rollout soon.  They describe, more at the link:

" ... Digital advertising is broken. It is a market filled with middlemen and fraudsters, hurting users, publishers and advertisers. The Basic Attention Token (BAT) was developed to address this. BAT, an ERC20 token built on top of Ethereum, will be the unit of exchange in a new, decentralized, open source and efficient blockchain-based digital advertising platform. 

In the ecosystem, advertisers will give publishers BATs based on the measured attention of users. Users will also receive some BATs for participating. They can donate them back to publishers or use them on the platform. This transparent system keeps user data private while delivering fewer but more relevant ads. Publishers experience less fraud while increasing their percentage of rewards. And advertisers get better reporting and performance. 

The first part of the solution, the Brave browser, is already operational. Brave is a fast, open source, privacy-focused browser that blocks ads and trackers, and contains a ledger system that anonymously measures user attention aggregate to accurately reward publishers. The next step is introducing BAT.  ... "  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Podcast: Amazon v Traditional Retail

Podcast from Knowledge@Wharton:

Why Amazon Is Leaving Legacy Retailers in the Dust?

Wharton's Barbara Kahn and Columbia's Mark A. Cohen discuss what's behind Amazon's continuing success.

What is the secret to the unparalleled success that keeps Amazon growing while so many traditional retailers are shutting their doors? Wharton marketing professor Barbara Kahn, director of the School’s Baker Retailing Center, and Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia University, recently joined the Knowledge@Wharton Show on Sirius XM channel 111 to discuss what’s driving Amazon’s success. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.) Following are key takeaways from the conversation.  .... "

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Google's VPS uses Tango and Lens

Google's new Visual Positioning System takes learning, Navigation to new Levels.
By Brad Bourque

Google has unveiled its Visual Positioning System, which could usher in new ways for navigating the world and learning 
As Google rolls out a slew of new features for Android and Daydream, one stood out as a triumphant convergence of a number of projects from parent company Alphabet, including Project Tango, Google Maps, and Lens. It’s called the Visual Positioning System, or VPS, and it uses internal sensors and cameras to help you navigate the world around you.

The practical use is simple, even if the underlying technology isn’t. Users can walk into a store and point their phone’s camera in front of them. After identifying what it is you’re looking for, VPS will kick in, using visual data and previous sessions to point you in the right direction. Google showed it off in a hardware store, but it’s not hard to imagine how the technology could be extended to malls, large stadiums, theme parks, or museums. .... "

Google Lens

An impressive next step for machine vision on the phone. Which then permits you go perform tasks that have as an element the recognition of an image.

Google Lens Will Bring Vision-Based Object Identification to Your Phone
Posted on May 18, 2017 by Paul Thurrott 

" ... Google has also announced a new “initiative” called Google Lens. Yes, I know this sounds like Office Lens at first, both because of the name and its vision-based functionality. But Google Lens is actually a lot more like Samsung’s Bixby Vision, and provides general purpose visual recognition. (It’s also sort of a successor to Google Goggles.) .... " 

More on Lens.

Google Assistant on iPhone

In Computerworld:   With some cautions.

Google Assistant for iPhone: An enterprise perspective
What you need to know ... 

" .... You can use it to make calls, send messages and emails, set reminders and events, play YouTube music, get navigation advice, and search for the answers to questions.

It is an app, which means you need to activate it to use it just as you do any app on iOS. That's different from Siri on iOS, which is built inside the operating system so you can access it without needing to open the app. Curiously, Assistant can do one thing Siri inexplicably cannot do -- which is to turn on your flashlight. .... " 

Brian Christian:The Computer Science of Human Decisions

From the UC Analytics Summit Tomorrow

Keynote 1  Friday,  9:15 AM - 10:15 AM  Title: Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

Abstract: Many of the decisions we face in our everyday lives run deeply parallel to some of the canonical problems in computer science and operations research. Brian Christian will discuss both how we can leverage insights from these fields to develop better intuitions in our own thinking, as well as how our human values and principles might translate into an era of increasingly automated decision-making.

Brian Christian
Brian is the co-author of Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions, a #1 Audible bestseller, Amazon best science book of the year and MIT Technology Review best book of the year.  He also is the author of The Most Human Human which was named a Wall Street Journal bestseller and a New Yorker favorite book of the year. ....   " 

Facebook Research Understanding Dialog

Pointing towards Facebooks interest in AI and chatbots.  Dialog understanding is hard.

The long game towards understanding dialog
By: Alexandre Lebrun, Antoine Bordes, Leon Bottou, Marco Baroni

Building an effective dialog system
At Facebook AI Research (FAIR), understanding dialogue is an ambitious and long-term AI research goal.

A truly effective dialogue system will be an assistive technology that will likely include a chatbot-type of system being able to interact with people through natural language communication. This could help people better understand the world around them and communicate more effectively with others, effectively bridging communication gaps. Researching and developing these kinds of technologies will only become more important as the amount of digital content continues to grow.

The attempt to understand and interpret dialogue is not a new one. As far back as 20 years, there were several efforts to build a machine a person could talk to and teach how to have a conversation. These incorporated technology and engineering, but were single purposed with a very narrow focus, using pre-programmed scripted responses.

Thanks to progress in machine learning, particularly in the last few years, having AI agents being able to converse with people in natural language has become a more realistic endeavor that is garnering attention from both the research community and industry.

However, most of today’s dialogue systems continue to be scripted: their natural language understanding module may be based on machine learning, but what they execute or answer is in general dictated by if/then statements or rules engines. While they are improvement on what existed decades ago, it is in large part due to the large databases of content used to create and script their responses.  .... " 

Facebook Research.

Forecasting and Machine learning

Very nice piece on the SAS blog.   Which naturally points out a number of SAS tools and their connection to what are now called AI.   Am a long time practitioner of forecasting methods.

Straight talk about forecasting and machine learning  

By Charlie Chase on SAS Voices May 18, 2017 Advanced Analytics | Analytics | Machine Learning
Are you caught up in the machine learning forecasting frenzy? Is it reality or more hype?  

There's been a lot of hype about using machine learning for forecasting. And rightfully so, given the advancements in data collection, storage, and processing along with technology improvements, such as super computers and more powerful software. There's no reason why machine learning can't be used as another forecasting method among the array of existing forecasting methods.

At SAS we're fortunate to have some of the top domain experts in forecasting, predicative analytics and machine learning. As the leaders in predictive analytics and machine learning, according to the recent The Forrester Wave™: Predictive Analytics and Machine Learning Solutions, Q1 2017, SAS domain experts were working with multilayer neural networks 30 years ago. .... " 

See also related, a free 41 page paper, the Evolution of Analytics,  ... "  Opportunities and Challenges for Machine Learning in Business ... "   a SAS publication.


Vulnerability of the Electric Grid

A long time interest, both regard to cyber attack, and Solar events.    Which is more dangerous?

Patching the Electric Grid
Our electric supply is increasingly vulnerable to cyberattack, and new technologies aim to sound the alarm earlier.  .... " 

by Rachel Layne in Technology Review.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Making AI Work for Everyone

Attended the Google I/O conference today.  Very well done.  Their CEO talks about how  they hope to make AI work for everyone.  From mobile first to AI first.   A big challenge.  A long article from their blog.

Making AI work for everyone
Sundar Pichai CEO

I’ve now been at Google for 13 years, and it’s remarkable how the company’s founding mission of making information universally accessible and useful is as relevant today as it was when I joined. From the start, we’ve looked to solve complex problems using deep computer science and insights, even as the technology around us forces dramatic change.

The most complex problems tend to be ones that affect people’s daily lives, and it’s exciting to see how many people have made Google a part of their day—we’ve just passed 2 billion monthly active Android devices; YouTube has not only 1 billion users but also 1 billion hours of watchtime every day; people find their way along 1 billion kilometers across the planet using Google Maps each day. This growth would have been unthinkable without computing’s shift to mobile, which made us rethink all of our products—reinventing them to reflect new models of interaction like multi-touch screens.

We are now witnessing a new shift in computing: the move from a mobile-first to an AI-first world. And as before, it is forcing us to reimagine our products for a world that allows a more natural, seamless way of interacting with technology. Think about Google Search: it was built on our ability to understand text in webpages. But now, thanks to advances in deep learning, we’re able to make images, photos and videos useful to people in a way they simply haven’t been before. Your camera can “see”; you can speak to your phone and get answers back—speech and vision are becoming as important to computing as the keyboard or multi-touch screens.  .... " 

AI for Marketing

I like the point made about data.   AI (aka Augmented Intelligence).  Is just a better way to make decisions based on data.   Difficult problems in changing contexts need lots of data to tease out patterns.  Thus new analytical methods, that require lots of data,  are starting to succeed. Implementing the results also need knowledge of the process involved.

Everyone Is Talking About AI, but What Does It Mean for Marketers Right Now?  By Stuart Feil

Artificial Intelligence may be the most bandied about term of 2017. For consumers, AI is powering everything from virtual personal assistants and real-time translation to GPS navigation and self-driving cars. In business, AI is under the hood of everything from ride-sharing fleets to aerial analysis of shopping malls to credit scoring.

Ad and marketing tech, of course, are no exception. As the CMO’s role grows to include everything from ad tech to customer relations and corporate strategy, it becomes clear that unique and valuable insights—the kind analyzed by AI from mountains and mountains of data—are key. “The term AI is really fraught with multiple definitions,” says Wilson Raj, global director of SAS, “but I think what’s really happening is the data revolution. ”  .... " 

Why Quantum Computing is Useful for Business

A long time interest of mine.    We re getting closer.

It’s time to decide how quantum computing will help your business
As the tech advances and investments grow, what seemed out of reach is now possible
By Sharon Gaudin   .... " 

Facebook Platform for Dialog Research

Brought to my attention.   Facebook is doing lots with dialog and hybrid interactions, so its a natural place for this kind of research.  Essential for chatbots.  Have yet to see their Facebook M.   Note the use of Mechanical Turk for examples.

ParlAI: A new software platform for dialog research
Jason Weston  Alexander Miller  Will Feng

One of the long-term goals in AI is to develop intelligent chat bots that can converse with people in a natural way. Existing chat bots can sometimes complete specific independent tasks but have trouble understanding more than a single sentence or chaining subtasks together to complete a bigger task. More complex dialog, such as booking a restaurant or chatting about sports or news, requires the ability to understand multiple sentences and then reason about those sentences to supply the next part of the conversation. Since human dialog is so varied, chat bots must be skilled at many related tasks that all require different expertise but use the same input and output format. To achieve these goals, it is necessary to build software that unifies these tasks, as well as the agents that can learn from them.

Recognizing this need, the Facebook AI Research (FAIR) team has built a new, open source platform for training and testing dialog models across multiple tasks at once. ParlAI (pronounced “par-lay”) is a one-stop shop for dialog research, where researchers can submit new tasks and training algorithms to a single, shared repository. Integration with Mechanical Turk for data collection, training, and evaluation also allows bots in ParlAI to talk to humans. This works toward the goal of unifying existing dialog data sets with learning systems that contain real dialog between people and bots.

ParlAI complements existing FAIR text research efforts like FastText, our quick and efficient text classification tool, and CommAI, our framework for developing artificial general intelligence through increasingly complex tasks. .... " 

Further: Facebook Research blog

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Amazon Alexa will Deliver Skill-Based Notifications

This does not sound like much, but it is a considerable thing.   You still have to ask for the notification. Which could cause a problem depending on how many notifications you have.  It seems it would also be useful to allow a skill to take the initiative and directly notify you by voice,  or ask for information. With your opt-in permission of course.

Imagine Alexa asking for some key information that might drive an analytical model.  And inserting that into a process flow.  That's real assistance.  Connect to an IFTTT?   In CNet:

"Alexa, what did I miss?" Amazon introduces voice notifications
Soon, Alexa users will be able to turn on notifications for Amazon shopping updates and select skills, including the Washington Post and AccuWeather.

Tuesday, Amazon announced that it's giving Alexa the ability to notify you of shopping updates or alerts from your favorite skills. When a new notification comes in, the light ring at the top of your Amazon Echo or Amazon Echo Dot will turn green and you'll hear a chime. To hear the notification, just say "Alexa, what did I miss?"   .... ' 

For links to my coverage of many virtual assistants.

Wal-Mart Next Gen Stores

In Retailwire, with discussion.  Not too different from our own retail store labs.  Except,  the testing of much stronger connection to online ordering.

Will Walmart’s next-gen store fly with shoppers?  by Matthew Stern

 Once Walmart learns from the pilots and makes any needed adjustments, predict a broad roll-out.  - Michael Day

" ... The new store layout is being piloted in two supercenters, one in Texas and another in Florida, according to Walmart’s blog. The stores feature such technological enhancements as:

* Interactive technology that projects images onto tables and walls, allowing customers to get product information;

* In-store touchscreens that allow shoppers to buy online-only items, pay for them along with the rest of their order and then pick up the online-ordered items two days later;

* Touchscreens at the deli that allow for scheduling of orders so that customers can shop and return when their food is ready;

* Wi-Fi connected call buttons to page store associates. .... " 

See also, the Wal-Mart blog containing their description of the next gen stores, with pictures.


Drone Economy

Particularly interested in the data collection and autonomous, sensor driven  aspects of drones.

Join HBR and Chris Anderson as we look at the world of unmanned Aerial Vehicles In:

The Drone Economy
This isn't just about little helicopters dropping off packages. Drones are going to work in swelling numbers as low-cost, high-value data collectors. You need a strategy for this disruptive platform.

Starting on 05.16.17

Something new every day, beginning with a feature article by Chris Anderson: Drones go to work.

also including   Interview: Helen Greiner, cofounder of iRobot and founder of a drone company.
Q&A: Ask a drone lawyer
Case: How AT&T is disrupting itself with drones

And more coming soon …

An Executive Guide to Machine Learning

Good,  well written, non-technical, also a bit dated (from mid 2015)  as to current influences this tech is having.  An executive's view, with a number of useful points.  From McKinsey quarterly.   Via DSC.

An executive’s guide to machine learning
By Dorian Pyle and Cristina San Jose

It’s no longer the preserve of artificial-intelligence researchers and born-digital companies like Amazon, Google, and Netflix.

Machine learning is based on algorithms that can learn from data without relying on rules-based programming. It came into its own as a scientific discipline in the late 1990s as steady advances in digitization and cheap computing power enabled data scientists to stop building finished models and instead train computers to do so. The unmanageable volume and complexity of the big data that the world is now swimming in have increased the potential of machine learning—and the need for it.

In 2007 Fei-Fei Li, the head of Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, gave up trying to program computers to recognize objects and began labeling the millions of raw images that a child might encounter by age three and feeding them to computers. By being shown thousands and thousands of labeled data sets with instances of, say, a cat, the machine could shape its own rules for deciding whether a particular set of digital pixels was, in fact, a cat.1 Last November, Li’s team unveiled a program that identifies the visual elements of any picture with a high degree of accuracy. IBM’s Watson machine relied on a similar self-generated scoring system among hundreds of potential answers to crush the world’s best Jeopardy! players in 2011. .... " 

(Update)  Forbes has something similar:
What Is Machine Learning - A Complete Beginner's Guide In 2017 
by Bernard Marr

Collaborative Robotics: CoBots

The term is not much used, but makes the point.  All computing systems are collaborative in some way.  We have accepted the assistance of computers for a long time.  But actual android helpers are still not common, and our reactions may be very different.

These collaborative robots work alongside human employees, sending productivity sky-high. But IT teams must be prepared to take on complex programming, deal with connectivity issues and get used to sharing work space with 6-foot-tall machines. .... "

 By Cindy Waxer

Synthetic Sensors

 Most interesting development to make implementing sensors more efficient.  Creating synthesized sensor results using machine learning.

Internet of Things Made Simple: One Sensor Package Does Work of Many 
Carnegie Mellon News (PA)

CMU's plug-In "Synthetic Sensor" transforms any room into smart environment .... 

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's (CMU) Human-Computer Interaction Institute have developed a plug-in sensor package that tracks multiple phenomena in a room, collecting insights via machine-learning methods. "The idea is you can plug this in and immediately turn a room into a smart environment," says CMU's Gierad Laput. He notes the raw feeds from the package's nine sensors can be integrated and read by machine-learning algorithms in ways that can perceive numerous phenomena, including sounds, light, heat, temperature, and electromagnetic noise. Laput says the synthetic sensors can monitor the state of a device, while even more advanced sensors can deduce human activity. Plugging the units into a regular power socket makes batteries or special wiring unnecessary, although each room will likely require its own sensor platform. The researchers presented their "Synthetic Sensors" project last week at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017) in Denver, CO.  ... " 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Watson for Cyber Security

Good example in these days of increasing cyber security risk.  Watson for Cyber Security. This appears to be a less quantitative and more semantic domain than most.  So might be an interesting for other domains that need to capture and leverage knowledge.  Perhaps closer to the use of process logic?   Also how will such knowledge be updated?   A classic issue with knowledge based systems. Look forward to seeing its implementation more closely.   Many more details at the link:

Cognitive Security Helps Defend Against Cybercrime
May 10, 2016  |  By Marc van Zadelhoff

On any given day, cybersecurity analysts investigate ongoing incidents that could potentially impact their enterprise. They sift through mountains of data, false positives and ever-morphing malware and exploits to identify the few security events that are most likely to be problematic and require fast action. ....

Our experts are currently teaching IBM’s cognitive system, Watson, the language of cybersecurity by annotating and feeding thousands of documents into the system to build up its corpus of knowledge. In turn, the system will be able to recognize and automate connections between millions of pieces of data at a scale and speed like never before.

Introducing Watson for Cyber Security  (video) 

Today, we are announcing Watson for Cyber Security, which will consist of:

A new cloud-based version of IBM’s cognitive analytics solution using core Watson technology trained in the language of security to help analysts gain more precision, speed and accuracy in stopping cyberattacks.

A collaboration with universities in which students will be working with IBM experts to greatly expand the corpus of security data in the system.  ...... " 

GE Digital Industrial Transformation Playbook

Good information about GE's efforts.

GE Draws Up Playbook for Digital Transformation
GE spent several years trying to effect its own digital transformation; now it's issued a playbook on how it's done.

Everybody talks about digital transformation, but GE has actually done it. Or rather, GE is still in the process of doing it. And it's put out a white paper, GE's Digital Industrial Transformation Playbook, on what the process is like. ... "   

GE Digital will be speaking at our May 19, Analytics Summit about this and other topics.  More about that conference here.


Personal Assistants Come to the Fridge

Assistants spreading out through the home.   Note again that Samsung owns Harman-Kardon, which is embedding Cortana in a future smart speaker.   This is getting complex.

Samsung’s Bixby assistant is coming to smart fridges
by Ashley Carman    @ashleyrcarman

Samsung announced yesterday that it’s now preloading its Bixby virtual assistant on its Family Hub 2.0 refrigerator. The company will also roll it out via an over-the-air update for units that have already shipped, according to Pulse News Korea. The assistant will let users search for recipes and weather information with their voice. This definitely makes more sense than having to rely on the 21.5-inch LED touchscreen while in the kitchen.

Bixby launched with the new Galaxy S8 but is still only partially active in the US. Phone owners have only been able to use Bixby Vision augmented reality, Bixby Home, and the Reminders features. The full voice commands aren’t available, and we don’t know when they will be. Still, Samsung envisions its assistant being implemented in all its products, including TVs and wearables. The fridge is just the start. .... " 

For links to all my coverage of virtual assistants.

Manipulators of the Mind

Was brought up in this same age of of behavioral economics and advertising tricks. But they never came of age until there was technology interactive enough to deliver them.   Good or bad?

In News from the Edge:  https://www.edge.org/    5/1/2017

Invisible Manipulators of Your Mind     By Tamsin Shaw  

In 2007, and again in 2008, Kahneman gave a masterclass in “Thinking About Thinking” to, among others, Jeff Bezos (the founder of Amazon), Larry Page (Google), Sergey Brin (Google), Nathan Myhrvold (Microsoft), Sean Parker (Facebook), Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla), Evan Williams (Twitter), and Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia). At the 2008 meeting, Richard Thaler also spoke about nudges, and in the clips we can view online he describes choice architectures that guide people toward specific behaviors but that can be reversed with one click if the subject doesn’t like the outcome. In Kahneman’s talk, however, he tells his assembled audience of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs that “priming”—picking a suitable atmosphere—is one of the most important areas of psychological research, a technique that involves offering people cues unconsciously (for instance flashing smiley faces on a screen at a speed that makes them undetectable) in order to influence their mood and behavior. He insists that there are predictable and coherent associations that can be exploited by this sort of priming. If subjects are unaware of this unconscious influence, the freedom to resist it begins to look more theoretical than real.

The Silicon Valley executives clearly saw the commercial potential in these behavioral techniques, since they have now become integral to that sector.…..

Invisible Manipulators of Your Mind
Tamsin Shaw APRIL 20, 2017 ISSUE
The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds
by Michael Lewis .... " 

Future of Artificial Intelligence

An interesting discussion in Infoq:

The Future of Artificial Intelligence  (Recorded talk):

Participants: 
  
Carrie Solinger is Industry Analyst, IDC. Michael Natusch is Global Head of AI, Prudential. Bhairav Mehta is Manager, Apple. Rashad Moataz is CEO, DeepVu. Bill Reichert is Managing Director, Garage Technology Ventures. Jessica Groopman is Industry Analyst, Tractica - Moderator.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Machine Learning for Summarizing Text

Accurately and efficiently summarizing text has been a classic goal of AI systems, of interest that Salesforce, known for doing AI experimenting in this space, is working on it:   In TheVerge:  (with demo):

Salesforce created an algorithm that automatically summarizes text using machine learning  by Andrew Liptak   @AndrewLiptak   .... " 

Extracting Knowledge from Job Descriptions

Below was brought to my attention, no so much as to aid HR, but to better understand the nature of jobs and their component tasks.  And how that links to augmentation and replacement.  An ongoing study. In KDNuggets:

" ... We present a deep learning approach to extract knowledge from a large amount of data from the recruitment space. A learning to rank approach is followed to train a convolutional neural network to generate job title and job description embeddings. .... " 

Google Reader Agreement Update

Have followed Google book scanning project for years.  Why not create the universal library? Full text would be available free only for the huge numbers of books that are out of print.   Google Books exists today.  https://books.google.com/   The agreement between authors and Google,  looked like it had been worked out as class action.   Has been stalled by Google's competitors and Antitrust law.

Now it seems that the whole idea is awaiting the amending of copyright law.  With little likelihood of proceeding.  50-60 Petabytes on disk and 25 million volumes,  content inaccessible to anyone.   The Atlantic article linked to below has considerable detail on the status of this.  But probably not enough for lawyers.

Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria
“Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them.” .... ' 

Procter Uses Simple Text for Razor Reorder

Addressing  the Razor blade club competition.  Procter's Gillette is using a simple text for order and replenishment.  How does this compare with approaches like Amazon Dash?  Other automated replenishment methods?

In Bizjournals:
Procter & Gamble Co. revealed today that it has launched Gillette on Demand, which will enable consumers to order razor blades with a one-word text message.

The Cincinnati-based company (NYSE: PG) said Gillette On Demand is the brand’s first direct-to-consumer service. Orders are shipped straight from Gillette facilities to men’s doorsteps in about two to three business days  .... " 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Where is AI Making an Impact?

Nicely done overview, from CBInsights:

Emerging AI: 7 Industries Including Law, HR, Travel And Media Where AI Is Making An Impact

We take a look at categories where AI startups are beginning to emerge. A majority of them are in the early stages of funding.

Artificial Intelligence is being hailed as the new linchpin of the tech industry. Although machine learning algorithms have been around for decades, the advances in hardware processing capabilities and access to big data have ushered in a new era of AI applications. Areas like healthcare, IoT, and cybersecurity, where there are a massive number of data points available, were quick to adopt and experiment with AI algorithms. But deals are slowly emerging in other verticals like legal tech, travel tech, real estate, and media & entertainment. From established law firms investing in AI startups to smart money VCs backing AI companies in the gaming industry, newer possibilities are emerging every day.  ...... "

UC Analytics Summit next Week!

I will be speaking at the below summit on the future of analytics and AI.   Join us.     - Franz

" ... Analytics Summit 2013  will be held on May 31, 8:15AM-5:00PM at the University of Cincinnati. Analytics Summit 2013 is the premiere analytics event of the year sponsored by the Center for Business Analytics in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati. The theme of the event is "Real-World Impact from Business Analytics." 

The Summit will feature a keynote presentation by renowned thought-leader Tom Davenport, best-selling author of Competing on Analytics. The event also includes day-long tracks in the specialized areas of Consumer/Retail Analytics, Finance & Insurance Analytics, Healthcare Analytics, HR Analytics and Supply Chain & Logistics Analytics. Track speakers include representatives from Procter & Gamble, Fifth Third Bank, dunnhumby, Kroger Co, Mercer, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, and many more. 

To register for this event, please visit: http://www.regonline.com/analyticssummit2013. The website includes details on location, lodging options, agenda, etc. 

For more information, please see the website linked above or contact Tricia Burger at tricia.burger@uc.edu or (513) 556-7140.

Fluent Design System

Had head this term being used recently.  In Engadget:

Microsoft's design rules push Windows 'beyond mere rectangles'
Exploring the core tenets of the Fluent Design System

by Sean Buckley, @seaniccus

Microsoft's Fall Creators Update for Windows 10 might have an ironically uncreative name, but the upgrade itself is flush with artistic potential and useful features. It will give users a timeline to manage complex work sessions, APIs that tie all of Microsoft's services together and, notably, a new design paradigm intended to radically overhaul the flat-rectangle user interface it's known for. Microsoft's Fluent Design System focuses on five tenets to help developers build more creative and engaging user interfaces: depth, material, light, scale and motion..... " 

Loyalty Cards

In Customer Think.   Are loyalty cards dead?  A discussion.  Hardly dead because I have several in my wallet.  But the only ones that work are connected to some significant and periodic, but not annoying,  promotional message online.

Watson Paths

Was reminded of Watson Path, and its use of Sankey Diagrams to communicate with medicine domain experts.  Nice idea, though the term for this kind of visualization is never mentioned.  Yes, that's a criticism.

 " ..... The projects known as “WatsonPaths” and “Watson EMR Assistant” will create technologies that can be used by Watson in the domain of medicine. .... 

With the WatsonPaths project, IBM scientists have trained the system to interact with medical domain experts in a way that’s more natural for them, enabling the user to more easily understand the structured and unstructured data sources the system consulted and the path it took in offering an option. The Watson EMR Assistant project aims to enable physicians to uncover key information from patients’ medical records, in order to help improve the quality and efficiency of care. .... " 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Video Content Recognition by Microsoft

As part of Microsoft Build Meetings.  Following and looking for more details.

Microsoft Takes Aim at Google and Amazon With a New Recognition Tool  Reuters

Microsoft on Wednesday turned up the heat on other technology giants by launching new image and video recognition products, which could help it court businesses worried about running ads next to offensive content.

The Redmond, Washington-based company said its new Video Indexer can identify faces, voices, and emotions in moving pictures. Separately, its Custom Vision Search lets companies build apps that recognize images with just a few lines of code.  ... " 

More:   A preview.    Use Cases,     Identifying emotions.

Vint Cerf Criticizes AI

In Nextgov:   Some of the cautions mentioned are noted.

" ... Vint Cerf is often called the “father of the internet” and he frequently speaks about technology to large groups of people as Google’s chief internet evangelist.

He isn’t a big fan of artificial intelligence though. At least not yet.

“AI stands for artificial idiot,” he said Tuesday, speaking before a largely federal audience at AFCEA’s Internet of Things Tech Summit in Washington, D.C. .....  " 

Building Behavioral Models of People

Intriguing behavioral modeling approach.

Computers Learn to Understand Humans Better by Modeling Them
Aalto University

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland, the University of Birmingham in the U.K., and the University of Oslo in Norway have developed a method that could help computers learn psychologically plausible models of individual people by observing them. The researchers showed that by observing how long a user takes to click on menu items, a program can infer a model that reproduces similar behavior and accurately estimates some characteristics of that user's visual system, such as fixation durations. 

The method is based on Approximate Bayesian Computation, which was developed to deduce very complex models from observations. The researchers say the method clears a path for automatic inference of complex models of human behavior from naturalistic observations. "The benefit of our approach is that much smaller amount of data is needed than for 'black box' methods," says Aalto's Antti Kangasraasio. The method could be useful in human-robotic interaction, or in automatically assessing individuals' capabilities.  ... " 

Microsoft Cortana Everywhere

In the Build conference Microsoft stated that they want to be everywhere, and with everyone as a partner. I have had Cortana on a Windows 10 device for some time, but have found little use for it. They have finally launched the skill set for Cortana to let developers get creative.  Needs more creative intelligence.  I look forward to that.   Its not only being everywhere, its people noticing you are there.

Microsoft's dream of owning the living room hinges on Cortana
Alexa had better watch her back.

In Engadget by Nicole Lee, @nicole

When Microsoft unveiled Cortana three years ago, it was positioned as the company's response to Siri and Google Now. But as Windows Phone faltered, Microsoft wisely shifted Cortana over to other mobile platforms and Windows PCs, where it could hook into your calendar and email to offer even more personalized assistance. Now, it appears that Microsoft wants Cortana to take over yet another space -- the living room.

At Build, Microsoft's annual developer conference, the company revealed that it was working on several Cortana-powered smart speakers that would take on Amazon's Echo. Aside from the Harmon Kardon Invoke that was leaked earlier this week, both HP and Intel are working on their own Cortana-powered speakers. What's more, Microsoft also launched a Cortana Skills Kit so developers can teach the personal assistant new skills or at least convert them from Alexa.  ... " 

Automation and Creativity

 The Art of Algorithms: How Automation Is Affecting Creativity
in VentureBeat    by Paul Sawyers

There is increasing cross-fertilization between art and computers, with machine intelligence and automation likely to disrupt the creative fields. For example, the Prisma application employs deep-learning neural networks to render smartphone photos in an artistic style selected by the user. Automation also is making inroads into the design field, with an artificial intelligence (AI)-based do-it-yourself Web design service from Wix one of many products. 

Music is another area in which machine intelligence is progressing, with an emphasis on AI-augmented music writing that could blur the line between amateur and veteran composers and musicians. Constantly improving algorithms also are composing readable journalistic articles, with one scientist anticipating a machine will eventually win a Pulitzer while others expect assistive AI tools for human journalists. Language translation could benefit from algorithms, with 100-percent automation used in some cases and human-computer collaboration in others. Ultimately, artistically-inclined computers could be excellent teachers or mentors to human artists.  .... " 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Training a Final Machine Learning Model

Been enjoying some of Jason Brownlee's straightforward instructional material.  Here is an example of perhaps one of the most important steps, how do I predict on new data?  Read at the link:

How to Train a Final Machine Learning Model
by Jason Brownlee in Machine Learning Process

The machine learning model that we use to make predictions on new data is called the final model.

There can be confusion in applied machine learning about how to train a final model.

This error is seen with beginners to the field who ask questions such as:

How do I predict with cross validation?
Which model do I choose from cross-validation?
Do I use the model after preparing it on the training dataset?
This post will clear up the confusion.

In this post, you will discover how to finalize your machine learning model in order to make predictions on new data.  ..... " 

Value of Alexa Assistants placed Everywhere

Certainly seems they are.  You can make a good argument that Google and Microsoft have better AI in their labs.   But is it ultimately the quality of intelligence that is most important,  or just that you have a little box in so many places, ready for being adapted to purpose by an army of developers, using open source capabilities?  Buying intelligence as you need it.  How will MS, Apple and Google ... or Samsung or Baidu catch up?   Of course, as emphasized by Microsoft this week, the intelligent cloud will drive this as well.

Why Amazon is putting Alexa everywhere

The head of Amazon’s Alexa business explains why the company is investing heavily in voice services for manufacturers of various device types.   In CIO:   By Matt Kapko

NEW ORLEANS -- Amazon has quickly built a commanding lead on voice-enabled digital assistants, but the company’s vision for bringing Alexa to connected devices as diverse as light switches, automobiles and household appliances is just getting underway. Amazon’s plans for Alexa are more widespread than any device category or the constraints of Amazon’s own hardware aspirations, Steve Rabuchin, vice president of Amazon Alexa, said at last week’s Collision conference.

“We have this vision of Alexa everywhere,” he said. “We can’t do it all ourselves. There’s no way we’re going to build every smart home device and every wearable… so we opened that up.” Voice-controlled technology is a “significant new interface that humans will use. It’s very convenient and it makes hard things simple.”  .... " 

For links to all my coverage of virtual assistants.

GPU Technology Conference

The keynote of the GPU Tech conference was brought to my attention. Truncated from Engadget, below.  It has long been known that GPUs could be used for analytics, its only most recently that the application has exploded.  There might be a similar effect with quantum computing as it matures. Could that drive us to more intelligence?

Watch the highlights of NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference keynote
Deep learning, self-driving cars and GPU processors galore.  ... " 

Generative Networks

Its all about learning.  But learning does not just mean saving away information.  Its about constructing an architecture that allows that information to be accessible and and used in context. Ontologies are one such approach.   Generative methods are another.  Ultimately a big challenge for advancing AI.

How generative artificial networks are accelerating AI learning  By Larry Alton  In VentureBeat:
 
" ... One of the biggest limiting factors of artificial intelligence (AI) systems is that they can’t think or conceptualize the world the way humans can. .... 

Google’s GANs

Google researcher and AI expert Ian Goodfellow is working on AI that belongs to a group of “generative models,” which are designed to create images and sounds comparable to those you’d find in the real world. This is a deceptively difficult task, as AI programs must first conceptually understand what it is they’re trying to replicate, a leap forward in intuitive thinking that has historically been reserved for human beings.

Goodfellow is attempting to accomplish this using something called generative artificial networks, or GANs, which are sets of two dueling, semi-competing AI algorithms designed to continuously one-up each other. For example, one AI may be programmed to generate imagery that looks realistic, while the other AI will be programmed to distinguish real images from machine-generated ones. Over time, the image generator will get better at generating realistic images, and the “judge” will get better at discerning them.  .... " 

Computers Predicting Smell

An area we worked in for years when in the coffee business.  Were pitched a number of solutions to replace human abilities to taste and smell.  None were ever successful.   Is this finally the solution?  I continue to follow.

Computers That Can Smell
Teams of modelers compete to develop algorithms for estimating how people will perceive a particular odor from its molecular characteristics.
By Kerry Grens | May 1, 2017 .... " 

Excel 2016 Cheat Sheet

More like a good description of what is new, and even what is old and interesting.  A cheat sheet should be glanced at, not read. They have done a good job of hiding the complexity.  And there is lots of that.   Finding the right thing can be hard, especially if its new to you.  No doubt its powerful, the new data viz forms alone are worth the exploration.  Don't overplay it,  or try to build a user interface with it, but you should know it enough to munge your data with.

Excel 2016 cheat sheet
Are you getting the most from Microsoft Excel 2016? Get to know the key new features.
By Preston Gralla,  Contributing Editor, Computerworld  .....   " 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Harman-Kardon Announces Invoke Virtual Assistant

HARMAN Reveals the Harman Kardon Invoke™ Intelligent Speaker with Cortana from Microsoft (Samsung Owned) Harman-Kardon releases many more details of the Cortana-Powered  assistant Invoke with partner Microsoft speaker.

What does this mean regarding Samsung's Bixby assistant?  Perhaps that Bixby will remain on Samsung phones only?

In a press release: " ... STAMFORD, CONN. – HARMAN International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics C o., Ltd. focused on connected technologies for automotive, consumer and enterprise markets; today announced new details of the Harman Kardon Invoke™, an elegant voice-activated speaker featuring the intelligence of Cortana, your personal digital assistant, from Microsoft.

Combining Harman Kardon’s rich audio heritage with Cortana’s intelligence, Invoke is developed for busy people balancing the competing demands of work and home. This sophisticated device is perfect for those who want to make the most of every moment of their day.

“We’re excited to work with Microsoft to develop a premium speaker that will deliver an exceptional experience to every customer using 360-degree Harman Kardon sound and the intelligence of Cortana,” said Michael Mauser, President, Lifestyle Audio Division at HARMAN. “Voice-enabled technology is the future; by teaming up with Microsoft, we’re delivering on our promise of elevating a connected life through smart technology, superior sound and the stunning design that is Harman Kardon’s hallmark.” .... " 

For links to all my coverage of virtual assistants.

Google, Linked Data and Ontologies

Very good piec,  have spent a long time thinking about getting the semantics of data arranged for search and analytics.

Via Dean Allemang
Principal Consultant at Working Ontologist, LLC
One of the best short articles on this subject I have seen. Advice about how we should organize ontologies. 

Google, Linked Data and The Needle In The Haystack
 By Jan Voskuil   CEO at Taxonic

Modern search engines rely heavily on structured metadata for high precision. Unbeknownst to many, Linked Data plays a quintessential role in this. In fact, many people seem to think that modern search engine technology has obviated the need for assigning keywords to content items, such as journal articles, either manually or through an automated process. The opposite is true. I will illustrate this by showing how Google finds needles in a haystack, using a simple do-it-yourself experiment to make a complex point.  .....  " 

Pricing Bots

 Saw this experimented with.    With electronic shelf labels.

Are pricing bots a boon or bane for consumers?  by George Anderson   and Discussion.

It’s a common plot twist — a scientist invents a new medicine or technology intended to help humankind, but in the end its original intent is perverted to cause harm. Such may be the case with so-called pricing or shopping bots.

The idea behind the tech is pretty straightforward: an application is created that automates price checks of competitive websites. This allows a retailer to respond almost instantly to price changes made by rivals that could put the company at a competitive disadvantage. ....  "

AI Strategy

Useful piece, but not sufficiently practical.

strategy+business: Corporate Strategies and News Articles on Global Business, Management, Competition and Marketing

A Strategist’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence

As the conceptual side of computer science becomes practical and relevant to business, companies must decide what type of AI role they should play.

by Anand Rao

Realtime Powerpoint Translation

Saw this live, impressive capability in real-time.  In Engadget:

Microsoft PowerPoint adds real-time presentation translation

The new add-in shows off the company’s Cognitive Services AI tools.
If you were impressed by Skype's real-time translation feature, you'll likely be wowed by Microsoft's new PowerPoint "Presentation Translator" add-in. Despite the name, it's not focused on making your slides multilingual. Instead, it'll translate your voice in real-time as you go over your presentation. The add-in also generates a link that viewers can use to view translations in their own language. There are also iOS, Android and Windows apps you can use to follow along. .... " 

Markable Content Placement

Commercializing all Visual Content
Markable.AI
powered by computer vision AI technology.  We help you place Your Products  in popular content across digital platforms, achieving branding and marketing in the most beautiful way.  ... "

AI Replacing, Restructuring Professionals

Very likely that the basic research and analysis work will be done by systems within a few decades.   How this restructures professional jobs is still unclear.  See some of our work on O*Net regarding this structure.

Gartner Says Artificial Intelligence Could Turn Some Skilled Practices Into Utilities
By 2022, Smart Machines and Robots May Replace Highly Trained Professionals in Tasks Within Medicine, Law and IT

CIOs have a major role to play in preparing businesses for the impact that artificial intelligence (AI) will have on business strategy and human employment, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner predicts that by 2022, smart machines and robots may replace highly trained professionals in tasks within medicine, law and IT.  ... " 

GE on Digital Industrial Transformations

Considerable detail at the link, including a blog.   Looking forward to see their talk relating to this next Friday.   Considerable detail at the link below:

Digital industrial transformation is a process – a road we travel on our journey to reduced downtime, higher productivity, culture change, and new business models and revenue streams. In that vein, I think of Minds + Machines this year as a stop on the road – a place to consult the map, compare notes with friends, and then get back in the car and keep on truckin’.

Minds + Machines also got me thinking about what’s on the road ahead. Here are some trends that I picked up in my conversations with customers, partners, industry luminaries, and innovators at our conference, which I believe will accelerate in 2017.

Customers showing the way forward

Our customers work with us because we help them improve productivity, with Predix, our operating system for industry, as the foundation. But the benefits flow both ways. We’re increasingly seeing our customers adapt the cloud-based platform-as-a-service to their needs and create new apps and solutions that can benefit the entire ecosystem. Their feedback as they ascend the digital maturity curve even helps us refine our own ongoing transformation.

By partnering with companies like the elevator and mobility solutions giant Schindler Group, for example, we see Predix optimize a whole new world of industrial machines. And with the new Predix Edge System, which puts apps on the machines themselves so they can self analyze more quickly, we can introduce apps to all kinds of machines. That means we could have apps running on every elevator in Schindler’s fleet, constantly optimizing their operation at the point of service. I’m excited to see where the technology is going to go next.  .....  "

Linux Foundation Develops Blockchain

Continued interest in implementing blockchain:

Linux Foundation to develop tool for building blockchain business networks
The open-source project would enable smart contracts to be developed for any number of industries
               By Lucas Mearian ... 

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Note taking Alternatives

Been looking at alternative note taking and syncing services on multiple devices.  For example have been trying Google Keep,  which I much like for being visual, but it is just the basics,  like a very advanced sticky notes systems.   Not much formatting capture allowed.   But you can point to documents and links, and capture images.    Now:

Microsoft Invites Insiders to Discover what's New in OneNote for Windows 10   By Mark Coppock    .... 

Which shows some of the improvements.

Amazon Show Adds a Screen

Includes video calling capabilities.  And adding the ability to provide image data beyond what is in the Alexa App.   Note the point made about the speed of delivery made by Andrew Ng.

Amazon’s Touch-Screen Smart Speaker Solves a Big Problem with AI Assistants
And it also reasserts the company’s dominant position in that sector.  by Jamie Condliffe  In Technology Review:

Amazon has added a screen to the latest iteration of its Echo smart speaker—a move that acknowledges some of the limitations of voice-only smart devices and will allow users to discover content more easily.

The new $230 Echo Show is far larger than the smaller speakers that have gone before it, because it features a seven-inch touch screen positioned above its speaker panel. The concept is pretty simple: the voice assistant Alexa will now show you how it’s responding to questions, rather than just telling. That means it will, say, show you the weather forecasts for the coming week, display a recipe, or offer up related music suggestions.

It solves a problem that others have already pointed out. Earlier this year, Andrew Ng, who was then chief scientist at Baidu, explained to MIT Technology Review that while speech input is three times quicker than typing on mobile devices, “the fastest way for a machine to get information to you is via a screen.” By displaying search results, for instance, Alexa will be able to impart information to a user far faster, rather than reading long lists out loud or simply not providing the information at all. ... " 

What Does the Next Virtual Assistant Need to do?

I agree with the three innovations needed for new assistants, like the rumored Apple/Siri:

Easy giving/taking/managing phone calls.
Have true conversations /  interactions  with your knowledge (probably the hardest to do well)
Be able to summarize/manage email, text interactions  (Likely combined with Phone)    .....

And I add:  Be able to insert an intelligent and analytic assistant for your industry.  That solves problems, Scours data Sources, and makes proactive suggestions of value.

More in this blog on assistants.

Marketer as Technologist

Its not a perception,  at least in recent years.  More likely is that the technologists don't know marketing.  Or you insert the business process at hand.  But in general that is easier to remedy. But is that done?

The Marketer as Technologist   Maria Marinina   In Customerthink:

There is a misperception, especially among IT resources, that marketers are airheads that need to be provided data that only specialists, like data scientists, can provide. This ignores the fact that some marketers saw the possibilities of GIS and shopping basket data many years ago. They built comprehensive spatial knowledge bases of gravity groupings and their buying behavior that could be used to plan the best location for shopping malls, or predict the need for a new product across a particular demographic. These experienced (but soon to retire) marketers will find it simple to take advantage of the avalanches of new data available.  .... "

How to Build an Alexa Skill

Another good example of what an Alexa skill means, both its abilities, its limitations and the underlying architecture.  Instructive even if you don't build one.    In VentureBeat:

" ... Who knew it would be an online retailer that would introduce one of the most exciting coding opportunities to come along in a while? With Amazon’s Alexa — the voice recognition software that powers Amazon.com’s physical devices Echo, Dot, and Tap — Bezos and Co. have given third parties the tools they need to expand what this technology can do.

Now, just about anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of coding — or anybody who’s willing to learn — can invent and publish add-ons for Alexa to make it an even more capable, competent household assistant.) ... " 

Monday, May 08, 2017

Recrafting the Pharma Journey

Like the attention to the Journey.  Its a key part of process

Has CVS crafted a promising new drugstore shopping journey?  By Tom Ryan

While announcing plans to expand healthier offerings, CVS revealed it is adding more in-store informational signage and “discovery” displays to help customers explore new offerings and health solutions on their own.

“We did a lot of research to understand how to best serve our customers as we began to reimagine our store experience and we found that people are thinking about their health differently and taking a more proactive approach to staying well,” said Judy Sansone, SVP, front store business and chief merchant, in a statement. “With that in mind we crafted a new shopping journey, all in the name of better health.”  ... "

Harman-Kardon and Cortana

More details, but still some time before release.  Will Siri also participate?

Harman Kardon’s Cortana-powered speaker leaks ahead of launch

Microsoft wants in on the Google Home and Amazon Echo party. This Echo-lookalike is made by Harman Kardon and it’s powered by Microsoft’s Cortana voice platform. The device apparently launches this fall and could be officially revealed later this week.

Update: Microsoft and Harman Kardon have now confirmed this. The device will go on sale in the fall of 2017.

Called the Invoke, the product page for the unannounced product was discovered by Thurrott.com before it was pulled. According to Thurrott’s report the cylinder speaker has a light ring on top, 360 degree sound and supports Skype calling and the ability to ask Cortana questions.

by Matt Burns (@mjburnsy  .... " 

For links to all coverage of virtual assistants.

Microsoft Reveals Hololens Progress

VRFocus on Upcoming applications to be shown at the Microsoft Build Event.  Good indication of what is being worked on

Microsoft Build 2017 Sessions Revealed
The conference takes place later this week.  May 10.
 By Peter Graham  Last updated May 8, 2017 

HoloLensMicrosoftMicrosoft Build 2017
For virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) tech enthusiasts and developers this week is quite a big one. Starting today and finishing Wednesday is the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference (2017) featuring the latest immersive news and insights from the company. Wednesday also sees the start of Microsoft Build 2017, set to include even more of the very latest tech, and today the sessions have now been unveiled.

As VRFocus readers may expect, Microsoft Build 2017 will be far more focused on MR and AR than VR, with sessions revolving around HoloLens and the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). .... " 

( At link, session titles of work underway)  .....

Gartner on Performance

Yes, we are fallible.   Worth understanding how.

Optimize Performance through a Positive Interplay of Cognition, Emotion and Creativity
by Manjunath Bhat  |  April 21, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

It has long been said that technology is not a cure for human fallibility. In this blog post, I delve upon one of the leading causes for human fallibilities in the digital age – the overheads associated with emotional “buffer overflow” and “context switch”.  ... " 

Real Time Aviation Data Analytics

More and more data is being gathered and acted upon in real time. Here is a nice example where students are participating, from the SAScom Blog.  With video.

Students visualize aircraft data in real time using SAS  0
By Katie Howard on SAS Voices May 8, 2017 Data Visualization 

What do you get when you combine analytics, aviation and the Internet of Things? A learning experience that leaves everyone flying high! .... "

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Examining Digital Advertising

In Technology Review.    Read the complete thing.

Digital Advertising Takes a Hit
Big-name advertisers have begun to question whether they’ve placed too much faith—and money—in targeted advertising.   by Kate Kaye   

Since its infancy in the 1990s, the digital advertising industry has trumpeted the special power of digital ads. Unlike newspaper or television ads, online advertising can be aimed precisely at the very people a company wants to reach, so businesses won’t waste money by showing ads to those consumers outside predetermined parameters.

Then last year Procter & Gamble’s chief marketing officer, Marc Pritchard, declared that the company would pull back on ad targeting on Facebook. One of a number of recent announcements by Pritchard regarding P&G’s dissatisfaction with digital advertising, the news led some to question the value of digital advertising’s distinguishing characteristic: its capacity to target narrow segments of the population.

P&G’s reëvaluation of its approach is part of a trend that appears to be growing among advertisers, says Tom Riordan, special operations consultant at Adobe Advertising Cloud, a platform that helps advertisers manage ad strategy and measurement (see “The End of Internet Advertising as We Know It”) .... "