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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tracking, Measuring AI Research

Very good effort.  Much more detail at the link.  Putting it on my alert list. From the EFF: Electronic Frontier Foundation,  which I have little watched lately.   Plus also see Algorithmia.

This pilot project collects problems and metrics/datasets from the AI research literature, and tracks progress on them.

You can use this Notebook to see how things are progressing in specific subfields or AI/ML as a whole, as a place to report new results you've obtained, as a place to look for problems that might benefit from having new datasets/metrics designed for them, or as a source to build on for data science projects.

At EFF, we're ultimately most interested in how this data can influence our understanding of the likely implications of AI. To begin with, we're focused on gathering it.

Original authors: Peter Eckersley and Yomna Nasser at EFF. Contact: ai-metrics@eff.org.

With contributions from: Gennie Gebhart and Owain Evans .... " 

Apple and Cisco in the Enterprise

Worked with Cisco in the innovation space, they are impressive for infrastructure.   Saw this same goal for companies to take a look at their digital operations at a recent talk by GE.

With Cisco, Apple weaves itself into enterprise infrastructure

" ... Apple and Cisco confirmed the two firms are working together in lots of ways, including the new announcement around Cisco Security Connector, which should appear late this year.

Cisco says this system lets enterprises take a deep look at what is happening on enterprise-owned mobile devices. .... " 

Analog Brains

We tend to think of 'analog' as an ancient technology,  long superseded by digital.  So businesses are constantly figuring out how to 'go digital'.   And thus become better, faster, smarter.  I learned analog computing before digital, but that is only rarely done today.   We first went digital in the 40s because it turns out that many things we like to do fast,  like arithmetic, are easier to codify that way. That's good.

 But most of the nature that we depend upon remains analog.  Our brains, our sensors, our muscles, our neurons.  So why shouldn't we think of our models of complex systems that way?  Most recently, deep learning, using models of 'neurons', turn to be very successful as perception engines.   Still digital, but analogs of some very analog forms.

Building a Brain May Mean Going Analog    By Neil Savage 
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 60 No. 7, Pages 13-15 ... "

3D Printing and Retail

Most interesting for the examples and discussions here.  As I have suggested, still a niche market.

How will 3-D printing take hold at retail?   by Tom Ryan

According to a survey from Interactions, 95 percent of shoppers are looking forward to purchasing products created through 3-D printing. And nearly 80 percent are inclined to spend more at a retailer that can help create their own products through 3-D printing. .... 

Yet the technology, around since the late 1980s, continues to take a slow path to retail. ... " 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Note Taking

Have been reexamining note taking systems.  Had only briefly looked at OneNote before.    Nicely done.  The basic ideas should be fundamental, and easily connected to the many channels now online. Would also be useful to think forward to how this knowledge can be gathered online, annotated and maintained.

Microsoft wants OneNote to be the go-to classroom app
Take that, Evernote..... 

Rob LeFebvre, @roblef

Models of China Ambitions and Directions

Wharton has published a special, multi segment piece on new China Strategy and Economics.  We did lots of work trying to understand the direction of China using advanced agent models.  Often touched upon in this blog.     This article touches on many of our interests, including infrastructure, retail, manufacturing, supply chain strategy and beyond.   At a high level, but valuable for its setting the stage.   The below piece is one example, lots more pointed to at the link:

China: New Ambitions, New Directions

" ... China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, for example, would stitch together roads, ports, railways and other links from East China through Southeast, and South and Central Asia over to Europe. It exceeds in scope the Marshall Plan that rebuilt post-war Europe. Beyond that, China is by far the biggest source of financing for many of its neighbors. The Export and Import Bank of China alone lent $80 billion in 2015, compared with $27 billion from the Asian Development Bank. All this expands China’s economic and geopolitical sway across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. .... " 

Who Does Selfies?

Or perhaps the nature of derived meta data about self imagery.

Selfies: We Love How We Look and We're Here to Show You

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology say they have analyzed 2.5 million selfie posts on Instagram to determine what kinds of identity statements people make by taking and sharing selfies. The researchers found nearly 52 percent of all selfies fall into the appearance category, meaning pictures of people showing off things such as their makeup, clothes, and lips. In addition, the team found that pictures about looks were twice as popular than the other 14 examined categories combined, which included social selfies, ethnicity pictures, travel, and health and fitness.

The researchers also note the prevalence of ethnicity selfies as an indication that people are proud of their backgrounds. Overall, 57 percent of selfies were posted by 18- to 35-year-olds, while the under-18 age group posted about 30 percent of selfies, and the 35-and-up group posted only 13 percent of selfies. In addition, most selfies are lone pictures, and are not taken with a group.

From Georgia Tech News Center  .... "

A Chat Bot for Company Knowledge

I got a note recently that I should try Obie as a chat bot based on corporate knowledge provided in Slack.  I have now used Slack for several projects,  fine as a chat space for team projects,  somewhat quirky,  hard to integrate with typical and existing knowledge streams.    One of our AI goals had been to figure out how to link AI with corporate knowledge streams, old and new, static and dynamic, internal, supplier and public knowledge, structured and unstructured.    A remembrance engine we called it.  Perhaps a Knowledge Graph?   Is that what we are approaching here.?  Back to the wall we ran into:   How will it be maintained?   Just by updates in chats?   Back to the general problem of intelligent dialog.

Q&A With the Developers of Obie: A Chatbot for Company Knowledge  by Roland Meertens 

 Tasytt launched Obie: a Slack chatbot for company knowledge. Teams can ask "what, how, or where" questions such as "What is our computer policy". Obie either finds the answer in one of your documents or will ask you to provide him with the answer so he can give it next time someone asks the same questions.

Obie has integrations with several existing services: Google Docs, Confluence, Google sites, Evernote and Dropbox. This means companies don't have to start from the ground up with training Obie. Giving Obie access to this existing knowledge ensures a short training period for Obie.

InfoQ reached out to founder and CEO Chris Buttenham to ask him some questions about Obie.

InfoQ: We tried Obie a little bit in our Slack, but had the idea that it did not analyze our previous conversations. Is this a feature that will be added in a future version?

You could probably imagine you’re not the first to ask this question! Although it would seem that content living in Slack would be a natural place Obie would start, we actually feel that most conversations are fairly unstructured and somewhat useless when it comes to organizing team knowledge. We’re definitely considering adding content that lives within Slack as something Obie can reference, but we feel the low hanging fruit is the rich content scattered across multiple sources within an organization.    ... " 

Closer Look at Amazon Echo Show

A closer review of the Amazon Echo Show, essentially a full Amazon Echo with a screen added.    As skills are built for it,  should add a visual dimension to assistance.  Google Home has this already through 'casting', but I have yet to see it well used.  Of course adding a visual element adds value to the sometimes awkward voice interface, which is great for hand-free interactions,  but thinner bandwidth creates limitations for description,  requiring the need to change channels.     The longer term outcome for general interfaces will be interesting.  Will these be specialist or replace the keyboard and screen?

In Engadget: 
Amazon Echo Show review: Seeing is believing
The virtual assistant Alexa has a 'face' for the first time.  ... "

Another look in Digital Trends. .... "

Bots Making up Languages

How might we be able to use this to teach and learn from Bot communications?   As suggested below, this is probably not a formal language, as we understand it.  But any stream of data from any sensor is a language of sorts,  which we seek to interpret, first in an obvious sense, and then to look for more complex patterns that we can use for leverage.  I like the general idea here.  Can we find deeper patterns in these kinds of communications?

What an AI's Non-Human Language Actually Looks Like    In The Atlantic
 Researchers at the Facebook Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research lab have found that bots they were training to negotiate with each other began conversing in a non-human language without human supervision. Although visually the bots' language appears completely nonsensical, a lab spokesperson says Facebook's data shows that sometimes such dialogues ultimately lead to successful negotiations.

Other AI researchers have reported witnessing machines developing their own languages, including languages with a coherent organization, defined vocabulary, and syntax, although they do not always communicate meaning that is comprehensible to humans. For example, scientists from OpenAI describe bots learning to talk in an abstract language and resorting to non-verbal communication when language communication is unavailable.

University of Pennsylvania professor Mark Liberman doubts the Facebook bots' language will have longevity — partly because it is completely textual as opposed to human language's basis in speech and gestures, and partly because they will likely be outdated by future machine-learning algorithms. ... " 

Scalable Data Unification

Have not read yet, but starts at some of the right issues.

The Seven Tenets of Scalable Data Unification
by Michael Stonebraker, Chief Technology Officer, Tamr Inc.

Executive Summary

This paper defines the concept and process of data unification and compares different technical approaches to achieving the desired end-state of clean, accurate, consolidated data sets. It then proposes seven tenets that must be considered by data management practitioners who seek to unify large volumes and varieties of data. .... " 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Theory of Agile Constraints

Newly discovered in InfoQ:

Evan Leybourn of IBM on the Theory of Agile Constraints ... 
Business Agility in general   ..... 

He defines (full interview at the link): 

I wrote about this in my article on, and with apologies to Eliyahu Goldratt, “Evan’s Theory of Agile Constraints”.
"An organisation can only be as agile as it's least agile division!"   ... 

Very basically, the Theory of Constraints is that there is a constraining factor in any process. More importantly, that there will always be a constraining factor. The Theory of Agile Constraints is that, in an organisation, there will always be a constraint to business agility. 20 years ago, that was IT. That was your software team. And that’s why it was logical for Agile, capital “A” Agile, to emerge in that domain. Today the constraint to agility isn’t IT, but rather it’s the PMO, HR, finance, or legal department.   .... " 

Turing Award at 50

Twitter Stream from ACM's 'Turing Award at 50' meeting this week.  Watched small part of it, inspirational and am glad to see it will be made available on going, details at the link.

ACM Marks 50 Years of the ACM A.M. Turing Award and Computing's Greatest Achievements

Since its inauguration in 1966, the ACM A. M. Turing Award has recognized major contributions of lasting importance in computing. Through the years, it has become the most prestigious technical award in the field, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of computing.”

During the next several months, ACM will celebrate 50 years of the Turing Award and the visionaries who have received it. Our aim is to highlight the significant impact of the contributions of the Turing Laureates on computing and society, to look ahead to the future of technology and innovation, and to help inspire the next generation of computer scientists to invent and dream.

ACM’s Celebration of 50 Years of the ACM Turing Award will be livestreamed during the event on June 23 – 24, and available for viewing on demand afterwards. ... "  

Saturday, June 24, 2017

New Origami Folding Algorithm

A favorite and surprisingly useful topic.  Heard of this being developed.  'Any structure' is an interesting statement,  but will the folding itself be usefully practical?   Even so a remarkable result.

New Algorithm Generates Folding Patterns to Produce Any 3-D Origami Structure   By TechXplore 

In a 1999 paper, Erik Demaine—now an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science, but then an 18-year-old PhD student at the University of Waterloo, in Canada—described an algorithm that could determine how to fold a piece of paper into any conceivable 3-D shape.

It was a milestone paper in the field of computational origami, but the algorithm didn't yield very practical folding patterns. Essentially, it took a very long strip of paper and wound it into the desired shape. The resulting structures tended to have lots of seams where the strip doubled back on itself, so they weren't very sturdy.

At the Symposium on Computational Geometry in July, Demaine and Tomohiro Tachi of the University of Tokyo will announce the completion of a quest that began with that 1999 paper: a universal algorithm for folding origami shapes that guarantees a minimum number of seams. .... " 

Snap Getting Better Store Sale Measures

Snap acquires Placed to better measure in-app ads to in-store sales
Placed is able to attribute brand’s digital, TV and out-of-home campaigns to store visits and in-store sales.
Tim Peterson on June 5, 2017 at 9:10 pm
Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, has acquired location analytics firm Placed, a company spokesperson said on Monday, confirming a GeekWire report published earlier in the day.

The spokesperson declined to say how much Snap paid for Placed — Bloomberg reported the price to be $125 million — but it’s easy to see how buying Placed — which measures store visits and offline revenue generated by digital, TV and out-of-home ads — could pay off for Snap.

Advertisers like Procter & Gamble and Unilever are pressuring digital ad sellers like Google, Facebook and Snapchat to prove that the money brands spend on ads results in people spending money on the brands’ products. As a result, Google, Facebook and Snapchat have stepped up their measurement capabilities, especially when it comes to measuring if a digital ad led to a real-world purchase. .... " 

Getting Direct to Consumer Right

From CustomerThink, detailed piece on how Gillette is doing direct to consumer, followiing un a number of moves to deliver quality razor blades with new pricing and replenishment models.
Gillette Shows How to Get It Right When Going Direct to Consumer (DTC).  Will continue to see new approaches  like this.

Procter Captures Flying Insects

Not a thing normally in their space.  No IOT dimension indicated.

Procter & Gamble Introduces Zevo™ Flying Insect Trap for 24/7 Flying Insect Protection in Your Home without Chemical Insecticides

Business Wire Business WireJune 20, 2017

As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports the ending of the United States’ 8th warmest and 11th wettest spring on record, entomologists are predicting the beginning of an increase in flying insects this summer for homes across most of the country. To combat the nuisance of these insects, Procter & Gamble (PG) has made limited quantities of Zevo™ available to US consumers. Zevo™ is a new in-home insect control product that continuously eliminates flying insects without chemical insecticides.    .... " 

This Smart News Release features multimedia. View the full release here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170620006063/en/

SiriusXM Now Streams on Amazon Echo

Full subscriptions or streaming individual shows from SiriusXM are now accessible via voice on Echo.  Trial subscriptions available.

Shopping with AR

What the best way to shop using Augmented Reality?   Apple and IKEA team up.  Planning for the advanced AR capabilities in future I-Phones.

Apple Team Up With IKEA To Create AR Shopping App

Apple users will soon be able to see what furniture from IKEA fits their home using augmented reality.   By Rebecca Hills-Duty in VRFocus:

Apple have begun making a push towards augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology recently. With news that SteamVR would be supporting Mac platforms, and the iPhone 8 expected to have advanced AR capabilities, Apple have teamed with well-know furniture store IKEA to create an AR shopping app to show off some of Apple’s new focus.

The app is designed to help customers in choosing what kind of furniture and accessories they wish to buy for their home. By using an iPhone camera to view the customer’s home, and overlaying the image of the furniture in question over the top, it is possible to get an impression of what the sofa, or table or lamp would like like when placed in the home, allowing customers to make more informed buying decisions. .... "

Google to Stop Reading Your Email for Targeting

Somewhat surprised at this.  Probably the most obvious thing, after search,  that Google does that is the base of much of its considerable revenue.  It has been often criticized.  At the same time so much indicative data has been gathered on us by now, and other behavior, like search is still being tracked to note and maintain our knowledge graphs.   May be no additional value to continue to do it.  Or perhaps Google has discovered it can infer it from its AI?

Google Will Stop Reading Your Email to Target Ads  In Extremetech
One of Google’s most controversial practices over the years has been the automated scanning of email contents. Google used that data to target ads inside Gmail, which it places at the top of the list in your social and promotions tabs. Google now says it will end the practice of targeting ads based on email text, but the decision was not made by the Gmail or advertising teams. It comes from Google’s cloud unit, which is responsible for selling G Suite business subscriptions. ....  " 

Also from Adage.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Watching How the Giants Buy AI

Below reminds me of our own attempts to buy AI during the last explosion.  And we did, buying some considerable equity positions.  Of course the scale was far less than Google's acquisitions.   Ultimately these investments lost money.   Still, it was the way then , as it is now, to understand what had real value in the marketplace.  Also, specifically, what Algorithmia is doing, was brought up at the time as a good idea to establish. develop and market needed ideas.  Watching now.

Google’s secretive AI fund makes first public investment in Algorithmia   By Maria Deutscher

 In May, word leaked that Google has set up a venture capital fund run by engineers rather than professional investors and focused exclusively on backing artificial intelligence startups. The existence of the fund received official confirmation today after it was named as the lead contributor to a $10.5 million round into Seattle’s Algorithmia Inc.

The four-year-old startup is on a mission to ease the deployment and use of AI models. To that end, it offers two platforms aimed at reducing the massive amounts of manual work normally involved in the task.

The first is a marketplace through which researchers and developers can share their algorithms without the logistics of the delivery posing an obstacle. On the provider’s side, Algorithmia offers analytics features for monitoring model usage along with a monetization option geared towards submitters that wish to sell their algorithms on a commercial basis. These capabilities are joined by programming interface that enables buyers to embed solutions from the marketplace into their applications. Algorithmia runs models in the cloud to spare users the trouble of operating them on their own.  .... " 

Secret Algorithms and Rule of Law

Challenges posed in Technology Review.  Slightly different from what was posed in the 80s.   But unsolved.

Very broadly, if we don't know what an algorithm does,  how do we know that it obeys laws?   And in what context of data?

Sending people to jail because of the inexplicable, unchallengeable judgments of a secret computer program undermines our legal system.

Imaginary People

We are not far from generating very convincing faces of people.  Even making them dynamic.  And if you put these on humanoid robots?   Give them Generative AI?   In the Verge: 

" .... As we get better at making, faking, and manipulating human faces with machine learning, one thing is abundantly clear: things are going to get ~freaky~ fast.

Case in point: this online demo hosted (and, we presume, made) by web developer AlteredQualia. It combines two different research projects, both of which use neural networks. The first is DeepWarp, which alters where subjects in photographs are looking, and the second is a work in progress by Mike Tyka dubbed Portraits of Imaginary People. This does exactly what it says on the tin: feeding a generative neural network with a bunch of faces and getting it to create similar samples. .... "

Intelligent Edge Computing

HPE and GE Digital try to break IT/OT silos for intelligent edge computing   by R. Danes  

" ... an interview at HPE Discover in Las Vegas, Nevada, Anthony Rokis (pictured, right), vice president of software engineering, Predix, at GE Digital, agreed that the edge must get smarter to fulfill IoT’s promise.

GE and and HPE are converging on IoT edge and compute strategies, Rokis told John Furrier (@furrier) and Dave Vellante (@dvellante), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile live streaming studio ... " 

Home Furnishing

I examined some early attempts at using online methods for buying home furnishing, usually with online camera interaction.  The idea of selling furnishing online is reemerging.  How does the Browser-Buyer change occur?   Piece in Think with Google.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Value Delivery Modeling Language (VDML)

Brought to my attention again.   Should this be the place to start for any project that claims to generate value?  Even doing a simplified model can act as a prototype from which to build from.  To test prototypes with people and other systems.  We used other BPM methods, but these were not as focused as was necessary.  Has anyone done this?  Point me to some examples.  Reconsidering.

Has been used with Watson and other AI/Expert systems for Smart Service Systems

http://www.omg.org/spec/VDML/       Also search in GitHub  …

Value Delivery Modelling Language
Value Delivery Modeling Language (VDML) is a standard modeling language for analysis and design of the operation of an enterprise with particular focus on the creation and exchange of value.

In 2009, the Object Management Group (OMG) launched a Request for Proposal (RfP) to develop a standard for value modeling. The goal of this RfP is to integrate the different existing value models and give a complete overview of the business logic of an organisation. To reach this goal, the standard has to satisfy nine requirements .... "

Purpose, use, examples of VDML  VDMBee

Use in Cognitive Computing and Watson Discover.

IFTTT Public Access Data Project

Very nice idea from  IFTTT about giving access to public data across devices.  I am an active IFTTT user.  Plan to test with public data.

IFTTT's Data Access Project Seeks to make Public Data More Accessible  By Kyle Wiggers 
You might not be familiar with IFTTT (short for If This Then That), but chances are you have seen it in action. The web-based service acts as a middleman between apps and hardware that would not otherwise talk to each other. Using IFTTT, you can trigger a Philips Hue bulb to turn blue when it begins to rain or have Facebook sync your status with Slack. IFTTT makes linking devices easier with improved developer program. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

On Thursday, IFTTT announced the Data Access Project, a program that seeks to make public data from more than 35 federal and state agencies more accessible, manipulable, and shareable across devices.

It builds on the foundation of IFTTT’s partnerships with ProPublica and the city of Louisville, Kentuck, and IFTTT’s native integration with RSS feeds. Starting Thursday, it is flipping the switch on hundreds of public data sources across wide-ranging categories, including the Library of Congress, National Science Foundation, Energy Information Association, and more.  .... " 

Examples in TechCrunch

Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN)

Similar in type to 'generate and test' methods.
GAN network   Generative adversarial network    Imitative.
      for creating new things that are like another.


are a type of artificial intelligence algorithms used in unsupervised machine learning, implemented by a system of two neural networks competing against each other in a zero-sum game framework. They were first introduced by Ian Goodfellow et al. in 2014.[1]

This technique can generate photographs that look authentic to human observers.

 ..... One network is generative and one is discriminative.[1] Typically, the generative network is taught to map from a latent space to a particular data distribution of interest, and the discriminative network is simultaneously taught to discriminate between instances from the true data distribution and synthesized instances produced by the generator. The generative network's training objective is to increase the error rate of the discriminative network (i.e., "fool" the discriminator network by producing novel synthesized instances that appear to have come from the true data distribution). These models are used for computer vision tasks.[1][3]. ..... 

AI Combing Through Your Data

An approach we worked on.   A kind of dynamic data mining approach.  Find the best leverage, estimate value.   Look for new combinations of data and analytic value.   The computing power is here now.

AI Can Comb Through Your Data to Create More Compelling Customer Experiences
by Blake Morgan in the HBR

The world has more data than ever before. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2020, we’ll produce 44 zettabytes every day. That’s equal to 44 trillion gigabytes. One gigabyte can hold the contents of enough books to cover a 30-foot-long shelf. Multiply that by 44 trillion. That’s a lot of data — too much for most companies to process. And yet front-line employees are still often left operating with data that’s “too little, too late.”

Most organizations are challenged to extract meaningful insights from their customer data when they’re drowning in so many data feeds. Data is not always shared efficiently. Many of the world’s biggest companies operate in silos — for example, their customer service and sales departments do not share a customer relationship management (CRM) database, and employees don’t collaborate around the customer to ensure a powerful customer experience. More often than not, employees in one department don’t even know the employees in other departments, let alone use data that spans the organization. This often results in wildly inconsistent customer experiences that make companies look disconnected and unfocused.

Organizations need to create easy and elegant customer experiences; how can they overcome their data challenges to satisfy increasingly fickle customers? ....

Machine learning offers one solution, if organizations can overcome their silos enough to implement it correctly. Each new customer action feeds back into the analytics engine, which helps inform the next best steps for a positive customer experience. For example, if a customer indicates through her online browsing habits that she’d prefer an Android phone instead of an iPhone, she’ll immediately start seeing an Android upgrade offer the next time she goes on Facebook.

Granted, some customers find it a bit creepy that brands can make their way into personal social media feeds in this way, so it’s important to make it easy for customers to opt out of social media targeting. However, companies can earn customers’ trust simply by being relevant and providing value. Just like in any relationship, a business can earn trust and loyalty by being a good listener and being there for the customer at a point of need. By leveraging automated analytics, customer interactions can fuel a continuous feedback loop that adapts in real time to add value at every touch point. .... "

Update on Kuri Robot

An update on the Kuri in home traveling 'friendly' robot  by Mayfield, and camera.   Says it can learn a space.  Now at 1080p.   Now can distinguish between dogs and people. Still, I think overpriced at $699 for the average home, smart or not. Indications it will be out by fall.  Had thought this might be best positioned as a security tool that can move to motion or noise.  No indication about how it can might be upgraded with skills or linked to databases.

Kuri home robot can tell your pets from people
The cute bot's camera 'eye' is also getting a 1080p upgrade .... 
By Jon Fingas, @jonfingas  in Engadget.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Teaching Cognitive Computing

" .... This a reminder about our Cognitive Systems Institute Speaker Series, on Thursday, June 22, 2016 at 10:30 am ET US (7:30 am PT).  Our speaker is Ralph Badinelli from Virginia Tech, who will be presenting "Teaching Cognitive Computing with IBM Watson."

Please point your web browser to https://apps.na.collabserv.com/meetings/join?id=2894-8491 password=cognitive.   Use audio on computer or dial 855-233-7153  PIN Code: 43179788   Non-IBMers please use the "guest" option instead of entering your email.  

Please find the schedule of presenters here for the next several calls.   A link to slides and a recording of each call should be available on the CSIG website (http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update/).   We encourage those who join the calls to add questions and comments to the LinkedIn Discussion Group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Cognitive-Systems-Institute-6729452 and please ask questions at the end of the call.  .... "

Thank you!
Dianne Fodell, IBM Global University Programs

KD Nuggets Observer

Newly brought to my attention.  Easy to scan.  News and updates.

The KDnuggets Observer
What's Interesting in Data Science and Machine Learning ...

Amazon Dash Wand with Alexa

Another way to scan, talk, ask, buy  as part of a commercial process in your own home.  Link to extensive recipe system.   Includes the Alexa voice engine.  Performs other smart home functions by voice.  (but no music, and more oddly, no timers) The Amazon Dash Wand.  Yet another commercial and semi-ambient idea offered by Amazon.   Feed shopping list or order a delivery directly. Will Amazon ever stop with new AI based smart home ideas?   $20 cost refunded with purchase.  Demo Video:

Microsoft and AI

During the last AI go around, we worked with Microsoft.  They were a natural partner, because they were also providing all the fundamental things to get work done.  And get it done more intelligently.   We were early experimenters with advisory systems like 'Paperclip', a form of Ambient computing.

Then they did seem to fade. And Apple, IBM, Google and even Amazon have taken over.    Is Microsoft coming back?  How and what parts should we pay attention to?   How should we use them? Integrate their methods with our own developments?   And use their data and communications integrations like Linkedin, Skype and Cortana?

Inside Microrosft's AI Comeback  Jessi Hempel in Wired:

" ... Yes, Microsoft. His bet is that the former kingdom of Windows alone has the capability to establish itself as AI’s third giant. It's a company that has the resources, the data, the talent, and—most critically—the vision and culture to not only realize the spoils of the science, but also push the field forward. In January, in a move noted throughout the industry, Bengio agreed to be a strategic advisor to the company. This gives Microsoft a direct line to one of AI’s top resources for ideas, talent, and direction. And it’s a strong sign that Microsoft actually has a shot at making the ruling AI duo into a trio. ... " 

2D Materials

The super materials that could trump graphene
A wave of innovative flat materials is following in the wake of graphene — but the most exciting applications could come from stacking them into 3D devices. ...    by Elizabeth Gibney

Physicists have used almost every superlative they can think of to describe graphene. This gossamer, one-atom-thick sheet of carbon is flexible, transparent, stronger than steel, more conductive than copper and so thin that it is effectively two-dimensional (2D). No sooner was it isolated in 2004 than it became an obsession for researchers around the world. .... " 

Even 2D Magnets. ...

Decision Makers or Data Clerks?

Having had more interactions with physicians in later life, I see this all the time.   Seems they spend half their time looking for data and refilling the printer paper.

Culture and Technology
By Ajai Kapoor     Partner at Goldratt Consulting

"We've turned physicians into data entry clerks     - Representative (Dr) Tom Price ...... 

Anybody who has spent time with business hears a form of Dr Price's complaint from lawyers, engineers, sales professionals or supervisors. On the other hand it is not unusual for managers to be blind to what is happening while drowning in oceans of data. Projects are way late right after everybody thought things were on track; production orders miss delivery and need last minute expediting; inventory is missing or in surplus despite the ability to see down to the SKU level at the last retail location; getting a fully loaded laptop to a new employee can take 1 month; company data is stolen all the time despite best efforts. What gives?  .... "

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

PC as a Deep Learning Machine

Interesting direction. Applicability to real world problem?

Google can turn an ordinary PC into a deep learning machine
You can speed up AI training without having to use a supercomputer. ...."
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas .... "

Embedding AI in the Enterprise

Steps in getting AI in the enterprise.  In Forbes. " ... In the context of contemporary applications, it's hard to think of an application that doesn't use a database. From mobile to web to the desktop, every modern application relies on some form of a database. Some apps use flat files while others rely on in-memory or NoSQL databases. Traditional enterprise applications interact with large database clusters running Microsoft SQL, Oracle or DB2. Irrespective of the kind of database, the fact is that every app needs it. ....      Like databases, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is moving towards becoming a core component of modern applications. In the coming months, almost every application that we use will depend on some form of AI. .... Artificial Intelligence is all set to become the new database for the next generation applications. ... " 

AI Can Take Your Job

'All' is a very inclusive word.

AI may take your job - in 120 years
A global survey of experts in machine learning suggests it will be 120 years before all human jobs are automated.

In 45 years' time, though, half of jobs currently filled by humans will have been taken over by an artificial intelligence system, results indicate.   The report, When will AI exceed human performance?, says AI will reshape transport, health, science and finance.

The study was compiled by the Future of Humanity Institute (FHI), at the University of Oxford.

It asked three keys questions about AI:

How will high-level machine intelligence affect economic growth?
What are the chances this will lead to extreme outcomes?
What should be done to help ensure AI progress is beneficial? .... " 

Microsoft and Accenture Build Blockchain Platform

Microsoft and Accenture team up to build a blockchain-based global ID platform  By Duncan Riley

Microsoft Corp. has teamed up with management consulting firm Accenture PLC to design a blockchain-based platform that provides identification services to people worldwide. .... 

Robotics Acquisitions

In IEEE Spectrum.  Robotics continue to advance.

SoftBank Acquires Boston Dynamics and Schaft
By Erico Guizzo and Evan Ackerman

SoftBank's massive robot collection now includes Pepper, Boston Dynamics' BigDog and Handle, Schaft's S-One, and many more.

We knew that Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of telecom giant SoftBank, loved robots. Now the Japanese billionaire is about to significantly expand his collection.

Minutes ago, SoftBank announced that it will be acquiring Boston Dynamics and Schaft from Google parent Alphabet for an undisclosed sum, in order to “collaborate in advancing the development of smart robotics technologies.”

Boston Dynamics and Schaft were two of the nine robot companies that Google bought in 2013 to form the core of its robotics division, headed by Android founder Andy Rubin. As far as anyone could tell, not much happened after all those companies became part of Google, and not much continued to happen through 2016, much to the frustration of roboticists everywhere.

Boston Dynamics, led by legendary robot builder Marc Raibert, just kept on doing its own awesome thing, unveiling ever more agile and capable quadrupeds and humanoids, and Schaft, founded by a team of University of Tokyo engineers, quietly improved its bipedal robots, with a surprise sneak peak at a new dual-legged machine last April. .... " 

Crowdflower with AI Augmentation

We spent considerable time using crowd sourcing techniques, and now follow some of the methods of Crowdflower.  Could have used the methods in the enterprise.   In SiliconAngle:

AI-augmented crowdsourcing company CrowdFlower raises $20M for enterprise push  by Kyt Dotson

" ....  People power and machine learning go hand in hand at San Francisco-based CrowdFlower, which uses data and training from large groups of people – a practice known as crowdsourcing – to train machine learning algorithms to do tedious data science work.

Robin Bordoli, chief executive at CrowdFlower, believes that AI applications within the enterprise is on the verge of a “Cambrian explosion.” This is a reference to a point in the biological history of life on Earth when a huge variety of different body designs begin to appear in the fossil record. In short, “living thing” applications began to try out a lot of different ideas.

With CrowdFlower’s approach to crowdsourcing AI training, Bordoli said, enterprise data science could find its killer app. “The bottleneck for the large-scale adoption of machine learning still remains the availability of high-quality training data and human-in-the-loop workflows to handle the failure states,” he said.

The crowdsourced labor works by applying simple tasks to individual workers, such as transcribing text seen in an image, determining the sentiment of a sentence, statement or forum post, annotating images and other work that humans do well. These are processes that can be broken down into thousands of small tasks, and each individual task is executed by a small group of people. .... " 

Indoor Smart Garden

I am a long time gardener, nursery planner and amateur botanist,  and a practitioner of 'smart', so this was intriguing.   Seems impractical for any reasonable and useful volume of results.   Still,  makes me think about what might work.

Indoor Smart Garden uses Artificial Intelligence to Grow Real Plants   By Lulu Chang 

No one will know if you lack a green thumb so long as you have a smart garden. No matter how agriculturally dumb you may be, artificial intelligence is here to help. It comes in the form of AVA Byte from AVA Technologies. Heralded as the first indoor smart garden to combine AI technology, including machine learning, and a straightforward user experience, you can have a farmer’s market right in your own home.

By leveraging “continuously optimized” algorithms, the AVA Byte purports to be able to sustain year-round plant cultivation. Whether you’re interested in growing vegetables, micro-greens, fruits, or even mushrooms (apparently, AVA is among the first indoor gardening device to offer fungus support), you can do it with this garden.

The AVA Byte depends on LED lights that emit a mixture of red, white, and blue light to encourage growth, fruiting, and flowering regardless of your home environment. Its hydroponic irrigation system allows you to water every few weeks instead of every few days, and a companion app will keep you updated on your plants’ progress. .... " 

Bot Asks Questions to Test Understanding

Bots test understanding by questioning.  

" ... In New Scientist By Matthew Reynolds   

Inquisitive artificial intelligence that asks questions about things it reads could be used to quiz students in class. The question-asking ability would also help chatbots with the back and forth of human conversation.

AI is usually on the receiving end of queries, says Xinya Du at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Du and his colleagues have turned the tables by building a system that has learned to ask questions of its own.

This is something that people have been wanting to do for a long time, says Karen Mazidi at the University of Dallas in Texas. Previous attempts by other people using hand-coded rules haven’t been particularly successful.

The machine-learning algorithm can read a passage of text and come up with the kind of questions you might ask to check someone’s understanding of a topic. Du’s team used a neural network – software that loosely mimics the structure of the brain – and trained it on more than 500 Wikipedia articles and 100,000 questions about those articles sourced from crowdworkers. For example, a sentence about different types of crop grown in Africa might be paired with the question “What is grown in the fertile highlands?” ... ' 

Monday, June 19, 2017

What Will Smart Mean?

Bottom line, its about how well you can augment yourself.  A form of innovation.   In the HBR, via Accenture:

In the AI Age, “Being Smart” Will Mean Something Completely Different   by Ed Hess

Andrew Ng has likened artificial intelligence (AI) to electricity in that it will be as transformative for us as electricity was for our ancestors. I can only guess that electricity was mystifying, scary, and even shocking to them — just as AI will be to many of us. Credible scientists and research firms have predicted that the likely automation of service sectors and professional jobs in the United States will be more than 10 times as large as the number of manufacturing jobs automated to date. That possibility is mind-boggling.

So, what can we do to prepare for the new world of work? Because AI will be a far more formidable competitor than any human, we will be in a frantic race to stay relevant. That will require us to take our cognitive and emotional skills to a much higher level.

Analytics are critical to companies’ performance.
Many experts believe that human beings will still be needed to do the jobs that require higher-order critical, creative, and innovative thinking and the jobs that require high emotional engagement to meet the needs of other human beings. The challenge for many of us is that we do not excel at those skills because of our natural cognitive and emotional proclivities: We are confirmation-seeking thinkers and ego-affirmation-seeking defensive reasoners. We will need to overcome those proclivities in order to take our thinking, listening, relating, and collaborating skills to a much higher level.  .... '

Being Charismatic on a Conference Call

Sounds useful.

On a Conference Call, You Have to Act Charismatic (Even If You're Not). Here's How
By treating your conference calls as performances, you can make them not just bearable (though that would be great), but actually enjoyable and productive. .... "
By Cathy Salit    Founder and CEO, Performance of a Lifetime. in Inc.

Anti Showrooming Patent

Wondering various aspects of this.

In ChainStore Age, requires registration.

Amazon granted anti-showrooming patent
Despite the many sales that showrooming has afforded Amazon over the years, the retailer surely doesn't want to become a victim going forward. ... " 

(UpDate) More in Retailwire on this Amazon Patent, with discussion.

Cortana Price Comparisions

Would have thought that Amazon would have tried this as well.  Ideal idea for an assistant.  I note that it works only on Windows 10,  on the not commonly used Edge Browser,  not on common mobile devices at this time.   So quite a few restrictions.

Cortana can now do price comparisons when you’re shopping online

Posted by Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa)

Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana will now be able to save you money when you’re shopping online. The company announced today that it will begin a pilot test of a new Cortana feature that will pop up the best price and availability of similar products, when you’re shopping the websites of over a dozen top retailers in the U.S., including Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Best Buy, Home Depot, and others.

The savings feature will only work when you’re shopping online using Microsoft’s Edge web browser, and have the Windows 10 Creators Update installed. ...."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Reasoning About the World

DeepMind’s neural network teaches AI to reason about the world   By Matt Reynolds

THE world is a confusing place, especially for an AI. But a neural network developed by UK artificial intelligence firm DeepMind could help bring it into focus by giving computers the ability to understand how different objects are related to each other.

Humans use this type of inference – called relational reasoning – all the time, whether we are choosing the best bunch of bananas at the supermarket or piecing together evidence from a crime scene. The ability to transfer abstract relations – such as whether something is to the left of another object or bigger than it – from one domain to another gives us a powerful mental toolkit with which to understand the world. It is a fundamental part of our intelligence, says Sam Gershman, a computational neuroscientist at Harvard University.

What’s intuitive for humans is very difficult for machines to grasp, however. It is one thing for an AI to learn how to perform a specific task, such as recognising what’s in an image. But transferring know-how learned via image recognition is a big challenge. Machines capable of such versatility will be one step closer to general intelligence, the kind that lets humans excel at so many activities.... "

Saturday, June 17, 2017

GE and BlockChain to Provide Predix Solutions

As energy markets change, GE, blockchain hope to provide economic solutions
New additions to the Predix platform are targeted at energy traders and grid managers.  By Megan Guess

Energy traders are a less visible part of the market compared to retail and wholesale power suppliers. They exist in certain markets to bid on the constantly fluctuating price of electricity, which is useful for owners of power-generating plants to help, for example, lock in a price for electricity in the day ahead.

As more and more renewable energy comes onto the grid, energy traders, utilities, and power-generating companies have to grapple with a much more complex electricity market. Intermittent resources like wind and solar will be sold at certain times of the day, and fossil fuel-based power will be sold at other times of the day. Because some larger fossil fuel-based plants can’t just shut off at a moment’s notice and many renewable sources depend on weather, balancing supply and demand is an increasingly complicated issue. That balance is further complicated by how most markets don’t have vast energy storage resources to draw on, and electricity has to be consumed as soon as it’s made. ... " 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Implications of Amazon Buying Wholefoods

Discussion in Retailwire:

Amazon Jeff Bezos John Mackey Mergers/Acquisitions Online Retail Supermarkets Whole Foods Market     by George Anderson

It seems like just yesterday — actually, it was just yesterday — that reports were published saying John Mackey had called the people behind Jana Partners, a hedge fund with a nine percent stake in Whole Foods, “greedy bastards” intent on ruining his reputation and forcing a sale of the company he co-founded to make a quick profit. As it turns out, it appears Mr. Mackey and the “bastards” have both won after it was announced this morning that Amazon.com was acquiring Whole Foods in a deal valued at $13.7 billion.

Whole Foods will continue to operate its business under its own banner and Mr. Mackey will remain as CEO of the company. Whole Foods’ headquarters will remain in Austin, TX.

“Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, in a statement announcing the deal. “Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades — they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.” ... ' 

And in the Bain&Company:
The Amazon–Whole Foods Deal Means Every Other Retailer’s Three-Year Plan Is Obsolete

by Darrell K. Rigby

Utilizing the Data Lake

Clearly, use the data you already have.   All business assumes valid prediction.   How good the prediction is, for a given business model. is key.

Drowning in the data lake, companies seek out predictive analytics tools  by Mark Albertson

Interview with Arun Murthy:  (At the link above)

 “One of the best ways to get value out of the data is this notion of predicting what is going to happen in your world, with your customers and with the data you already have,” said Arun Murthy founder and vice president of engineering at Hortonworks Inc.

Murthy visited theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s mobile live-streaming studio, and answered questions from hosts Lisa Martin (@Luccazara) and George Gilbert (@ggilbert41) during DataWorks Summit in San Jose, California. They discussed how clients who are using Hortonworks are able to meet data management challenges and add value at the same time.  .... "

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Procter Patents Smart Home System

In BizJournals.com  You don't often think of a CPG company innovating in this space.   See other posts here on reordering systems.

P&G invents smart home system ... 
Procter & Gamble Co. has patented a method of forming a wireless network of connected consumer devices within a smart home, which could include products such as an air freshener dispenser that could detect when the reservoir of fluid was low and automatically reorder more  .... "

Full article, requires subscription. 

Also in Fortune on patent.   
" ... Home network of connected consumer devices ... "
Patent Description.

More on P&G and the Smart Home.

The Thread Networking Protocol.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wheel of Retailing?

Admit I had not heard the term 'Wheel of Retailing'.   HBS talks this.  I will include the explanation, more at the link below.  Comments also interesting at link.  Implications for Amazon v Wal-Mart?

In HBS Working Knowledge.

Can Amazon Do What Walmart Couldn’t, Stop the 'Wheel of Retailing'?
Walmart couldn't do it. Now it's Amazon's turn to break the theory of the "wheel of retailing." Can Amazon succeed? Is the wheel model even a helpful concept anymore? asks James Heskett. .... 

" ... The wheel of retailing was first described by Malcolm McNair, a distinguished faculty member at HBS beginning in 1920 who, after completing work in Shakespeare and English, became fascinated with the retailing field. In 1958, he described what was happening in the world of retail after the Second World War.

He observed that new retailing concepts typically begin with low-price strategies with the goal of attracting customers. As the number of customers and the volume of sales increase, the retailer gains a dominant position in the market. The goal gradually shifts from attracting more customers to increasing prices and margins in order to achieve higher profits. That subjects retailers to new competition from low-priced, low-service startups, thus spinning the wheel of retailing again.

The concept fell out of favor with the ascendancy of big box retailers, especially Walmart. Walmart gained such a dominant share, driving so many higher-priced, higher-margin competitors out of business, that it was believed that the only limit on the company’s growth and profit was the size of the global retail market itself. No competitors could successfully undercut such a retail phenomenon. The wheel of retailing had been stopped!   .... " 

Extracting Tagging Data from Imagery

An example of how advanced deep learning methods can be used to extract information from image data.   The image data is already captured and stored.  And its dynamic.   Could also be used with other imagery, like from store shelf images.   Note the common existence of noise in such recordings.  Also the integrated normalization included in the tagging.  Thinking other possibilities.  

Enhancing Google Maps with Deep Learning and Street View  by Srini Penchikala
" ... The deep learning model also automatically labels new Street View imagery, normalizes the text to be consistent with the naming conventions and ignores extraneous text that's not relevant for the data analytics. This allows the team to create new addresses directly from images without even knowing the name of the street or the location of the addresses. For example, when a Street View car drives on a newly built road, the model can analyze the captured images, extract the street names and numbers, and properly create and locate the new addresses automatically on Google Maps. .... " 

Furniture Creates Activity Goals

We worked with Herman Miller on testing advanced furniture. This seems like the simplest idea for office furniture.  If you still spend most of your time in the office.

Herman Miller debuts new smart office furniture that sets activity goals
Like a Fitbit for your desk  by Dani Deahl  @danideahl

Also in Wired:  The Maker of the Most Iconic Chair Wants You to Stand Up.

Eye Tracking and Virtual Reality

More developments in the use of biometric capabilities to better understand human reactions.  Its natural to think about how VR methods technology could be linked to these.  This then points to better measurement of cognitive reactions.   The reactions are to virtual environments, which can be readily changed to test hypotheses.

Sensor Tracks Eye Movements in Real Time to Enhance Virtual Reality

The Engineer (United Kingdom)    by Helen Knight

A team of researchers from Belgium and the Netherlands has developed a sensor that can detect eye movements in real time using an array of electrodes. The researchers say the technology could enable videogamers to interact with the screen by controlling cursors with their eyes to navigate through menus and select different options, or to open and close applications. In addition, the technology could provide feedback to the game on how the user is reacting to their virtual surroundings, according to Carlos Agell at the Belgium-based IMEC innovation center. The team developed a system based on four electrodes, which are built into the glasses around each lens, at points where the frames touch the skin in order to collect electrical impulses emitted by the eye. Agell says the algorithm translates the signals into a position, based on the angle the eye is making with its central point of vision. ... " 

Consumer Stories for Digital Marketing

Seems obvious, but the details of how and why in the research may be interesting.  Sign in for complete article access.

The Power of Consumer Stories in Digital Marketing
Research Highlight May 18, 2017   
Renée Richardson Gosline, Jeffrey Lee, and Glen Urban

New research finds that sharing consumers’ positive stories about a brand can be a highly effective online marketing strategy. .... "

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Mathematical Corporation

Have not read yet, but brought to my attention because of the title.  We considered our large enterprise a mathematical corporation, powered by the mathematics of analytics.   Driven by intelligence of AI.   Linked to the ingenuity of operational managers.

The Mathematical Corporation: Where Machine Intelligence and Human Ingenuity Achieve the Impossible,   Hardcover – June 6, 2017
by Josh Sullivan, Angela Zutavern 

Their words: 

The most powerful weapon in business today is the alliance between the mathematical smarts of machines and the imaginative human intellect of great leaders. Together they make the mathematical corporation, the business model of the future.

We are at a once-in-a-decade breaking point similar to the quality revolution of the 1980s and the dawn of the internet age in the 1990s: leaders must transform how they run their organizations, or competitors will bring them crashing to earth--often overnight. ... " 

Sky Robots

Sky Robots

From the HBR ... 

If you have a robotic vacuum, thank Helen Greiner, a cofounder of iRobot. And Greiner has moved on to think about what it would mean if that robotic vacuum could fly. After leaving iRobot, she founded CyPhy Works, a drone company. One of its first products was a tethered drone—one that’s connected to a ground power source and can transmit data across wire constantly. Tethered drones can hover indefinitely, and their hardwire connection makes them more secure than free-flying drones, which transmit data wirelessly. A tether limits a drone’s range but opens up a host of apps that the untethered type are less suited to. HBR senior editor Scott Berinato spoke with Greiner about those apps, the emergence of commercial drones, where she sees the industry going, and why she can’t think of any industry whose leaders don’t need to think about a drone strategy. .... " 

Smart Homes Reprogramming You

Have seen bit of this in my own tests, but not to the extent it implies.

Your smart home is trying to reprogram you
 Murray Goulden  Research Fellow, University of Nottingham

A father finds out his daughter is pregnant after algorithms identify tell-tale patterns in the family’s store card data. Police charge suspects in two separate murder cases based on evidence taken from a Fitbit tracker and a smart water meter. A man sues Uber for revealing his affair to his wife.

Stories such as these have been appearing in ever greater numbers recently, as the technologies involved become ever more integrated into our lives. They form part of the Internet of Things (IoT), the embedding of sensors and internet connections into the fabric of the world around us. Over the last year, these technologies, led by Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home, have begun to make their presence felt in our domestic lives, in the form of smart home devices that allow us to control everything in the house just by speaking.

We might look at stories like those above as isolated technical errors, or fortuitous occurrences serving up justice. But behind them, something much bigger is going on: the development of an entire class of technologies seeking to remake the fundamentals of our everyday lives.  ... " 

Battle of the AI Giants

The AI fight is escalating: This is the IT giants' next move
Google, IBM, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services are all piling artificial intelligence capabilities onto their software stacks.... " 
By Peter Sayer    IDG News Service - Paris bureau chief, IDG News Service in CIO.

Quantum Computing and AI

Intriguing piece.   A major change in computing architecture should be carefully watched.  Implications for an approach to more intelligent systems?  Very important issues brought up here.

" ... How Do the Capabilities of Quantum Computing Align with Deep Learning? ... " 

Quantum Computing, Deep Learning, and Artificial Intelligence   Posted by William Vorhies  

Summary:  Quantum computing is already being used in deep learning and promises dramatic reductions in processing time and resource utilization to train even the most complex models.  Here are a few things you need to know.

So far in this series of articles on Quantum computing we showed that Quantum is in fact commercially available today and being used operationally.  We talked about what’s available in the market now and whether it’s a good idea to get started now or wait a year, but not too long because it’s coming fast.  We also talked about some of the pragmatic issues such as how do you actually program these devices and how faster they really are.

Now we want to explore exactly where and how these can be used in today’s data science, and frankly to focus on Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence.  These after all are the fastest growing areas with the most technical challenges where we could use the most help.

We demonstrated that although these machines are expensive and difficult to maintain that, with IBM in the lead, these capabilities will be available via subscription and API in the cloud.  Cost and complexity should not hold us back.  ... " 

Creating Caricature Stickers from Selfies

The Allo messaging capability from Google is now capable of creating caricature image stickers from selfies.  These are mostly for use within Allo, but you can snip them off and use them elsewhere.   Whats most interesting is how this was done, and the care to make it work well and not insult anyone,  even considering things like 'Uncanny Valley' effects.   Which hardly seems important in cartoon images,  since they don't  get close to images you would mistake for photos.

In general the results  are flattering caricatures of the cartoon style.   And you can play with the images to get them to your liking. The article about how this was done is in the Google Research Blog.   Allo is free from Google, so anyone can try.    It links to Google Assistant to make the messaging smart, in ways I am still trying to understand.  More on my examination of Allo.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hashing and All that

This piece from Rice.edu is interesting.   It shows how the method of 'Hashing' can be used to reduce computations in deep learning neural networks.   This is probably understandable only to those with a degree or training in the details of Computer Science.   'Hashing' is a well known,  well understood technique in databases and cryptography.    How this is used for Deep Learning computation is fascinating.   Also covers a number of the issues that come up when you need to learn and retrieve learning in very large databases.  Worth reading.

Wal-Mart right about AR being a Sure Thing?

In RetailWire. With an interesting, ongoing discussion.  Do we have ubiquity of AR coming? Replacing smartphones in five years?

Is Walmart’s innovation leader right that the AR revolution is a sure thing?   by Matthew Stern

Pokémon Go may have come and gone, but big names in the retail world are making serious investments in the future of augmented reality (AR) and believe that mass adoption of the technology is soon forthcoming. That was the main takeaway from a session last week at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago given by Imran Ansani, principal manager of innovation at Walmart Labs.

“Earlier this week Apple had their worldwide developer’s conference,” Mr. Ansani said. “The big revelation was not some new iPad or a Mac Book Pro or anything fancy like that. It was [an augmented reality developer’s kit] called the ARKit. That kind of gives you an understanding of how important augmented reality is to some of these bigger players, and what we can start expecting to see in the future.”

Despite the current lack of a “killer app” or point of critical mass, Mr. Ansani sees AR as reaching ubiquity in the next five years. In fact, he believes the smartphone will become obsolete in favor of AR-enabled devices that allow people to interact with computers in a “more natural” way.  ... " 

See recent article on ubiquity of AR. 

AI, Marketing and Sales

In the HBR,

How AI Is Streamlining Marketing and Sales    by Brad Power

"  ... CenturyLink is one of the largest telecommunications providers in the United States, serving both small and large businesses nationwide. The collects thousands of sales leads from the businesses it serves, and it wishes to interact with them in the intimate, personal manner consumers have come to expect. Pursuing those leads more effectively would accelerate the company’s growth, and converting and upselling a larger percentage of hot leads (people who have expressed interest in the company’s services by filling out a form, clicking on an ad, or emailing the company) would boost the company’s bottom line. ... 

  Accordingly, in the latter half of 2016, CenturyLink made a small investment in an AI-powered sales assistant made by Conversica to see if it could help the company identify hot leads without hiring an expensive army of sales reps to comb through the leads. The Conversica AI, a virtual assistant named Angie, sends about 30,000 emails a month and interprets the responses to determine who is a hot lead. She sets the appointment for the appropriate salesperson and seamlessly hands off the conversation to the human. ... " 

HomePod Meets HomeKit in Apple Ecosystem

Lengthy speculation of how Apple HomePod will interact with HomeKit, and compete with the flurry of assistants in the home already.   Will it be mostly a speaker or smart home or Siri station?  Not available until late in the year.  Meanwhile Echo and Google Home continue to install.  And get skills built by third parties.

Apple’s HomeKit Was A Band With No Frontman. Then HomePod Took The Mic
At three years old, Apple’s HomeKit faces some tough challenges, but the addition of ambient natural language interface may help it win your connected home.    By Mark Sullivan in Fastcompany

Consumers and accessories makers have been somewhat slow to adopt the platform known as HomeKit since its debut three years ago. There are several reasons for that, and one of them is that HomeKit just isn’t a very sexy product. It’s no Apple Music. It’s hard to visualize. When you think of “HomeKit” what do you see? How do you think about a tech framework that ties together a bunch of rather bland home accessories?

But the new HomePod smart speaker, which Apple announced on Monday, could finally light a fire under the platform.

The $349 device, equipped with Siri, won’t become available until late this year, but Apple has already confirmed that HomePod will provide a much-needed natural language interface for HomeKit. HomeKit users will be able to speak commands to devices all over their home as if they were talking to another person in the room. HomePod owners won’t have to dig out their iPhone to order to get HomeKit to “open the drapes.”  ... " 

Supply Chain and the New Connectivity

This is very clear, transparency has been known to be important in the supply chain for a very long time.   Now IOT concepts can connect the many things (and kinds of things)  that will make up the connected supply chain.  This will happen, but how is still to be determined.  And how this connectivity can be made the best use of using analytical methods.   Plus how this exposed mega network will need to be protected.  Get ready.

Why Connected Devices Are Going to Power Supply Chain’s Future    By Joe Tillman  in APQC

Inspecting Algorithms for Bias

Bias is incorrectness, and bears with it risk.  Understanding that risk is important.  Good non technical, descriptive piece.

Inspecting Algorithms for Bias
Courts, banks, and other institutions are using automated data analysis systems to make decisions about your life. Let’s not leave it up to the algorithm makers to decide whether they’re doing it appropriately. .... "      
by Matthias Spielkamp,   In Technology Review

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Boosting the Quantum Experience

IBM Has An Unusual Strategy For Advancing Quantum Computing
We're entering a new technological epoch     By Greg Satell  In Inc.

Building A Community of Users ... 

"... IBM has long been a pioneer in quantum computing, a key technology for the next phase of computing. Yet much like in the early days after the development of the ENIAC, very few people understand the technology. So it was with that in mind that the company created its Quantum Experience program last year.  

The idea of the program was to give anyone who wanted access to IBM's 5-qubit prototype so they could begin to experiment with the technology. Quantum computing, it should be noted, has unique capabilities and operates according to a very different logic than classical machines. So getting offered a chance to get some hands on experience is invaluable.  ... " 

Future of Innovation is Open

In CustomerThink, a well put overview:

Why The Future Of Innovation Is Open     By Jacob Morgan  

With the growth of technology and new ways of working, innovation is playing a huge role in the workplace. The most successful organizations are those that can prep for the future and push the envelope creatively to find the next innovative idea. But what if how we have been thinking about innovation is all wrong? Open innovation is a newer idea that is spreading across industries and changing how companies work together and plan for the future.

What is open innovation?

The traditional way of thinking about innovation has been to create the best ideas for your individual company and then keep them to yourself so you can sustain value. If your organization creates a new way of manufacturing a certain product, tradition has said that your group needs to be the one to own it and continue developing and distributing it. .... " 

What if Augmented Reality is Everywhere?

During innovation sessions we came up with a number of AR scenarios.  Location aware AR allows you to place content in any space.      So imagine if you walked into a restaurant wearing VR glasses, observing through a camera, or even soon with eye implants.   This could overlay on your perception, for example, ads about another restaurant, hung on the walls.   Like today in sports bars,  where you can see ads for other sports bars on TVs.  This would take it much further.  

Pokemon Go was another recent example, where players could 'see' things placed in a space,  for the purposes of a game,  sometimes with chaotic or dangerous results.    Then who owns public spaces that can be manipulated constantly and dynamically by augmented reality?   Every wall, every space and surface, open for augmentation, graffiti,  ads?

" ... what the world will be like when Augmented Reality is ubiquitous. Of particular interest is the potential for legal battles over Augmented Reality space. ... "

This has even led to a US lawsuit   Augmented reality lawsuit provides augmented view of 1st Amendment   “They’re passing two dimensional laws in a three dimensional world.” ... 

See for example Augnite:

" ... Full service Augmented Reality app development projects, managed teams and optimisation ... Augnite works with blue chip clients to deliver high performance AR apps for Microsoft Hololens and Daqri. With offices in Dundee and London, Augnite enable clients across multiple industry sectors, to develop and optimise world class AR apps that generate new revenue streams and streamline costs. ... " 

They write about the implications:

They suggest this might look like the below:

Digitizing Customer Journeys

In McKinsey.  Recently took a broader look at this method.

Digitizing customer journeys and processes: Stories from the front lines
By Chandana Asif, Jiro Hiraoka, Tomas Jones, and Prerak Vohra

A compelling customer experience has evolved from a nice-to-have to a necessity in many industries. Winners use standout experiences to attract and retain business while reducing servicing costs and complaints. The rewards can be substantial, but execution is complex, requiring a complete reinvention of customer journeys and supporting processes.

Radical though this may sound, “reinvention” is no exaggeration, because digitizing existing processes is seldom if ever the solution. Instead, successful transformations begin with a zero-based redesign of the customer experience of a given task, such as opening an account or renewing a service. That involves ignoring everything the company already has in place and asking, “What would be the best possible experience a customer could have when completing this task?” .... " 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

IOT Contactless Payment by Visa

I continued a look into contactless payments by Smartphone,  and found this recent mention of work Visa is doing to make payment even easier.   Making anything IOT a payment system.    Seems that this could quickly be added to the many assistants out there now.

Visa dreams of turning your entire home into a cash register
And your hand into a credit card.      Kris Naudus, @krisnaudus  in Engadget:

" ... In a world where you can pay for goods with the tap of your phone, send money to anyone with an app and do most of your shopping online, credit cards seem a bit long in the tooth. Visa is looking to toss them almost completely, replacing them with a process that makes paying for stuff online as simple as tapping any internet-connected device in your house, no credit card terminals or filling in of forms needed.   ....  "

"  .... Visa has worked to make the technology even smaller and cheaper, putting it into a small plastic sticker that a company rep affixed to the back of my hand for a demo. It's so small and unobtrusive that it feels like we're not far from more-permanent subdermal implants.  .... " 

China's One Belt, One Road

Am not an economist, but have worked with China retail, and noted the difference between western and Sino approaches. So it fascinates me to see this report on their view and approaches toward globalization.  The essence is something very different.  A considerable piece on the approach:

The 'One Belt One Road' Summit and the Chinese Shaping of Globalization  By Dr Jean-Michel Valantin

See also, The Belt and Road Initiative, in the Wikipedia.

Walmart Mobile Pay Success

My question about mobile pay systems got me a note that pointed to this article on the success of Walmart Pay.  And its position behind systems from Samsung and Apple.    But still not ubiquitous. From Engadget:

Walmart Pay will hook new users with instant access to its credit card

A third party study shows more people use Walmart's payment system than Android's.

When Walmart debuted its own in-house mobile payments service last year, the company was not afraid to roll it out quickly. Walmart Pay arrived in 4,600 stores nationwide in under two months, proving the retail giant could still be nimble -- especially if the result meant moving customers through the checkout line faster. And it paid off: according to a third party study, just eight months after launch the QR code-based system was the third most used mobile wallet after Samsung Pay and Apple Pay. Now the company is giving customers even faster ways to part with their cash.  ...." 

Creativity with a Collaborator

Teaching and understanding creativity.   And thinking about the nature of people-machine collaboration.

Want to Understand Creativity?  Enlist an AI Collaborator.  by Nick Stockton

Scientists think artificial intelligence (AI) can be a tool for understanding creativity and its theoretical limits. Lav Varshney at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign says he is developing a mathematical creativity theory defined as "things that are both novel, and of high quality in their domain." Varshney says in one example he trains his AI to quantify the "goodness" of new kinds of food based on molecular characteristics of human flavor perception, while in terms of fashion the algorithm is fed data on properties such as color matching. Varshney notes increasing the value of both quality and novelty makes it increasingly difficult to distinguish a thing's newness and goodness. Another project of Varshney's involves teaching algorithms musical composition by having them learn from other algorithms that introduce constraints progressively. Although this is not pure creativity, the project's success makes Varshney believe algorithms would work well as creative collaborators with human artists.  .... " 

Why Don't We Pay for Everything via our Phones?

Payment via smartphone is still not near ubiquitous?    Heard a presentation nearly ten years ago saying it was about to happen.  I still don't do it.  Don't know many who do.  Should be easy and safe.  Why is the adoption so slow?   Something to learn from that.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Digital Pillars of Change

I taught a class at Columbia University on making change happen ....  This is a digital view:

Evolve Or Die: Why Digital Transformation Is More Important Than Ever  by Mike Bainbridge  

Digital transformation: The four pillars of change:
"Why is digital transformation so important and topical? Quite simply, if your organisation is not modernising then you'll be left behind, and the threat of disruption becomes very real." Here's a clear-eyed look at four pillars of change: customer experience, product digitization, employee engagement, and process optimization. .... "

Will IKEA Sell Through the Amazon Marketplace?

Nothing fixed yet, but rumor is out that IKEA might start test selling through the Amazon marketplace.  But also that Amazon might itself start selling furniture.  Have followed  IKEA for years, though their printed catalogs and online.   Even with VR interaction.   Makes sense, for IKEA to spread its unique goods into a broader field.   And Amazon has legendary fulfillment service.   More and discussion.

Blockchain and ERP Analytic Collaboration

Interesting thought.   It reminds me of a thought presented years ago, that once we had complete detailed and immutable information about what happens in a company and it's suppliers and customers,   we could better improve it operation through analytics.    Seems we approaching this state.  Makes sense for ERP suppliers to drive it.

Blockchain integration turns ERP into a collaboration platform
The combo yields a trusted system of records that can be shared between disparate partner companies
 By Lucas Mearian   Senior Reporter, Computerworld

As the blockchain continues to mature and find adoption in areas other than cryptocurrency, ERP vendors are working to integrate the distributed ledger technology as a trackable, immutable record for everything from shipping manifests and supply chains to equipment maintenance and dispute-resolution systems.

"This is very real and something we're aggressively excited about," said Brigid McDermott, vice president of Blockchain Business Development at IBM. "What blockchain does is provide a trust system of record between disparate companies."  .... "