/* ---- Google Analytics Code Below */

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Alexa in the Office

Have had many conversations about how Alexa and other skill/voice/attentive systems could be used in the office.    How could it have been used to link with our 'Business Sphere' data visualization space for executive decisions?  See link below about the plans as known.  Via Walter Riker.

In TechCrunch today:
" .... The interface is evolving. What has long been dominated by screens of all shapes and sizes is now being encroached upon by the voice. And while many companies are building voice interfaces — Apple with Siri, Google with Assistant, and Microsoft with Cortana — none are quite as dominant as Amazon has been with Alexa.

At the AWS reinvent conference, Amazon will announce Alexa for Business, according to the WSJ. The new platform will let companies build out their own skills and integrations for both practical and business use cases. .... 

Just as developers can build skills for Amazon Echo users, businesses can now build out Alexa skills for use within their own company. You could imagine voice access to an employee directory, Salesforce data on various clients and accounts, or company calendar information. .... " 

Promoting Service Innovation

Been a member for a while.  Worth following

The International Society of Service Innovation Professionals, ISSIP (pronounced iZip).

Latest newsletter.

Definitive Healthcare Newsletter

Brought to my attention, a newsletter on big data management and analytics

" ... Definitive Healthcare was founded in 2008 as a database covering the hospital and IDN market. After years of consistent growth Definitive’s databases now cover virtually all types of healthcare providers. Founded on the premise that our clients need high quality, in-depth intelligence in order to efficiently research and target the best providers, Definitive invests aggressively in cutting-edge technologies, the finest talent, and innovative processes to exceed client expectations at all times.  ... " 

Millennials and Brands

In Fastcompany:

 As Millennials Demand More Meaning, Older Brands Are Not Aging Well

Ask millenials and boomers what companies they value most and you’ll get very different answers. If brands want to make an impact with the consumers of the future, they need a clear mission. ... "


A means of understanding how systems work and interact with our world, and ultimately what can be solved or not solved by machine learning systems.  Technical.

Chasing Complexity

MIT News  Larry Hardesty

Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty member Ryan Williams in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has made a key contribution toward solving the problem of P versus NP. Much of that contribution stems from his attempts as an IBM research fellow to bridge a divide within theoretical computer science, between researchers who work on computational complexity and those who design algorithms. Williams considered exploiting the symmetry between these two camps, as establishing an algorithm's minimum running time requires generalizing nearly all possible instances of a specific problem that it will ever have to face. His focus was on adapting algorithmic design methods to establish lower bounds. Williams first proved the hypothetical link between algorithms and lower bounds, and then demonstrated its application to a very particular class of logic circuits. "This is essentially the circuit class where progress on P not equal to NP stopped in the mid-'80s," Williams notes.  .... " 

Running out of Ideas?

Are we?  Intriguing piece in Freakonomics blog.

Are We Running Out of Ideas?
by Stephen J. Dubner in Freakonomics

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “Are We Running Out of Ideas?” (You can subscribe to the podcast at Apple Podcasts or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.)

Economists have a hard time explaining why productivity growth has been shrinking. One theory: true innovation has gotten much harder – and much more expensive. So what should we do next?
Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post. ... " 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Robots Taking Jobs: A Prediction

Click on for link to full report PDF:

Robots Could Force 375 Million People to Switch Occupation by 2030  In TechnologyReview

So says a new report by think tank McKinsey Global Institute, which predicts how labor demand will shift cross 45 countries as a result of new technologies .... "    PDF report

Waze Gets Voice Controls

Voice expanding into other hands-free applications.

Navigation app gets the Google treatment with ‘OK Waze’ voice controls
By Christian de Looper   in DigitalTrends ...

Free TensorFlow Report

Via O-Reilly:

Considering TensorFlow for the Enterprise

Download this report, compliments of TensorFlow .... 

Considering TensorFlow for the Enterprise

Deep learning is enabling the next generation of successful companies. The question is no longer whether enterprises will use deep learning (they will), but how involved each organization becomes with the technology.

Sean Murphy and Allen Leis introduce deep learning from an enterprise perspective and offer an overview of the TensorFlow library and ecosystem. If your company is adopting deep learning, this report will help you navigate the initial decisions you must make—from choosing a deep learning framework to integrating deep learning with the other data analysis systems already in place—to ensure you’re building a system capable of handling your specific business needs.

Explore fundamental concepts and core questions about deep learning in the enterprise

Familiarize yourself with available framework options, including TensorFlow, MXNet, Microsoft
Cognitive Toolkit, and Deeplearning4J

Dive into TensorFlow’s library and ecosystem, from tools such as estimators, prebuilt neural
networks, Keras, ML Toolkit for TensorFlow, Tensor2Tensor (T2T), TensorBoard, and TensorFlow Debugger, to model deployment and management with TensorFlow Serving

See how companies such as Jet.com and PingThings have implemented deep learning to improve the accuracy and enhance the performance of a number of tasks ... " 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Who will Fly all the Drones?

NASA Finds AI-Powered Drones May Be Safer Than Human-Flown Ones 

International Business Times    By Rishabh Jain

Researchers at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have demonstrated that drones controlled by artificial intelligence (AI) may be safer than those controlled by humans. Researchers previously had developed a vision-based navigation algorithm for spacecraft, and now they are applying the algorithm to drones. In the demonstration, researchers pitted a human-controlled drone against an AI-controlled drone, and found the latter flied more smoothly around the course. In addition, the human pilots tended to accelerate more aggressively, making the drone's path jerkier, says JPL's Rob Reid. However, this more aggressive piloting resulted in faster course times, as the AI-controlled drone took an average of 13.9 seconds to complete one lap around the course, while a professional pilot took an average of 11.9 seconds. Although the professional pilot technically beat the AI on an obstacle course, the researchers found the AI pilot was more cautious and consistent. .... " 

Chinese Consumer Landscape

Double-clicking on the Chinese consumer
By Wouter Baan, Lan Luan, Felix Poh, and Daniel Zipser.  In McKinsey

A rising post-90s generation is emerging as a strong engine of consumption, in one of four important new trends in the Chinese consumer landscape.

Customer Data in Grocery

The new grocery battleground – customer data 

By Rick Ferguson  in The Wise Marketer  

The retail grocery game has never been for the faint of heart, what with its razor-thin margins, relentless competition, and fickle customers trained by decades of discounting to buy solely on price. Now, with deep discounters making inroads, consumer habits changing by the day, and Amazon’s entry into the market, the game has gotten even tougher. To find an edge in the ferocious battleground of grocery retail, grocers are turning to the one asset laden with unused potential: customer data. ... "   
Further Commentary in Retailwire.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Recorded Future on IoT

Recall we connected with Recorded Future some time ago to understand their visually oriented method to analyze and react to known and predicted external threats.    We sought to use it to help us think about external activity like competitors planned and possible actions.  These methods are used by the intelligence community.  Interesting thoughts about how IOT interacts with this.

AI, Robots, and Cyborgs — Inside IoT With Chris Poulin    By Amanda McKeon 

In this episode of the Recorded Future podcast we take a closer look at the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s a wide-ranging category, spanning everything from connected thermostats, refrigerators, and security cameras to industrial control systems, self-driving cars, and medical devices. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that if a device has a power source, somebody is thinking up a way to connect it to the internet. And with that comes opportunities for improving our lives and the world we live in, as well as risks to our security and privacy.

Our guest this week is Chris Poulin. He’s a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he leads the company’s Internet of Things security practice. ... " 

AVA Does Customer Service

As part of a look and conversation regarding conversational agents for both engagement, loyalty and enhanced customer service for Autodesk.  Does such a solution have to look like a human?   Note below Watson services are being tested to model customer sentiment.   Videos at the link.  Thanks to Walter Riker. 

This Chatbot Is Trying Hard To Look And Feel Like Us    In FastCompany

Modeled on a real person and equipped with a virtual “nervous system,” Autodesk’s AVA is built to be a font of empathy, no matter how mean a customer gets.without the nicotine/content.
Among the attributes credited for Apple’s famous customer loyalty is a network of stores where curious or frustrated consumers can meet the company face-to-face.

The 3D design software maker Autodesk is trying to achieve something similar online with a help service that allows people to interact with what sure looks like an actual human. The company says that next year it will introduce a new version of its Autodesk Virtual Agent (AVA) avatar, with an exceedingly lifelike face, voice, and set of “emotions” provided by a New Zealand AI and effects startup called Soul Machines. Born in February as a roughly sketched avatar on a chat interface, AVA’s CGI makeover will turn her into a hyper-detailed, 3D-rendered character–what Soul Machines calls a digital human. ... " 

Machines that Say No

Back to how we interact with machines and the implications of different aspects of dialog.    Do we really expect a 'No' from a machine?   Different than 'disobeying our commands',  I would note.  Both have their own implications.

Why we should build AI that sometimes disobeys our commands

In our desire to make ethical artificial intelligence, we better be ready for machines that can choose to say no, says Jamais Cascio

The future of human-AI interactions is set to get fraught. With the push to incorporate ethics into artificial intelligence systems, one basic idea must be recognised: we need to make machines that can say “no” to us.

Not just in the sense of not responding to an unrecognised command, but also as the ability to recognise, in context, that an otherwise proper and usable directive from a human must be refused. That won’t be easy to achieve and may be hard for some to swallow. ... " 

Substitute Phone for Device Addiction

Kick your smartphone habit with the 'Substitute Phone'  in Engadget

Pinch, scroll and slide your way to a phone-free future.

Cigarettes are hard to kick not just because of the nicotine, but the fact that they give you something to do with your hands. The "Substitute Phone" from Vienna-based designer Klemens Schillinger works on the same principal, if you think of content as the drug and your phone's touchscreen as the tactile addiction. The five models look and feel like a phone, but instead of a screen, there are stone beads embedded in slots at various angles. You can just grab it and swipe, pinch and scroll, satisfying that physical need without the nicotine/content. .... "


ACM's blog about AI aspects of computer science.  Newsletter form.  Worth following.  Recent posts:

News from AAAI FSS-17
Public Policy Opportunities
Is it too late to address the moral , ethical, and economic issues introduced by the commercialization of AI?
Joint Panel of ACM and IEEE
IEEE and ACM Collaborations on ATA
Recent Comments ..... " 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Big Data for Marketing

Simplistic, but goo introductory examples.  How are you doing these today?

Big Data in Marketing; 5 Use Cases      There are a lot more than just 5.  in Inc by James Paine 

Big data is more than just a buzzword. In fact, the huge amounts of data that we're gathering could well change all areas of our life, from improving healthcare outcomes to helping to manage traffic levels in metropolitan areas and, of course, making our marketing campaigns far more powerful.

That's because marketers are increasingly using artificial intelligence and machine learning to parse huge amounts of data and to draw conclusions. They can even use predictive analytics to figure out what customers and prospects are likely to do in the future and to adapt their communication materials as a result of it. ... "

Video of Tencent's New AI Lab

Natural to think of more links between large social entities and the resulting data with the means of leveraging it.  Keep watching Facebook M for more in this space.

Tencent: Inside the company's new AI lab in the BBC
Tencent Holdings - China's biggest social network company - is now worth more than Facebook.
The company's services include social media, video streaming, maps, mail, entertainment, gaming and education.

They have opened a new artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Shenzhen and BBC Click's Spencer Kelly went along to find out more. ... "

Humanizing Autonomy

This may ultimately become the most important question of the future. How do machines work with humans in varying contexts?   Both in their application of knowledge and in physical scenarios.

Developing human interactions with autonomous systems   in Experientia

Two excellent Medium articles by the people of Humanising Autonomy, a London based startup that works towards a vision of intuitive interactions between autonomous systems and people .... " 

IBM and the Cognitive Enterprise

I can make a number of observations here as well ...... Need more links between their AI/cognitive and specific business process.   They have all the pieces for it, but are still playing up the AI aspects too much in their marketing.

IBM turns spotlight on own failures in developing a cognitive enterprise platform

 By Mark Albertson in SiliconAngle

Companies don’t generally like to admit mistakes or project failures, so it’s unusual when a firm the size of IBM Corp. confesses its shortcomings. Yet, that’s exactly what a company with a current market capitalization of $143 billion is doing as it unveils its Cognitive Enterprise Blueprint.

The goal is to provide customers with a better understanding of how IBM is approaching its transformation to becoming a fully cognitive enterprise. “We’re trying to understand how to transition from an old world of going after pure efficiency just by getting after economies of scale and process standardization, to really now driving efficiency to enable you to get competitive advantage,” said James Kavanaugh (pictured, right), senior vice president of transformation and operations at IBM. “That has been the essence of what we’ve been trying to do at IBM to really reinvent our company from the core.” .... ' 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Retail Road Kill

My former P&G colleague and Microsoft exec Bob Herbold talks retail models and performance  in his blog.  No holds barred in his gutsy take.  Worth following.

Retailers: Most are Lethargic Road-Kill!

It’s amazing to see many of the major retailers simply stand by and watch their business atrophy.  On the other hand, there are a few that work hard to get out in front of the key trends/changes impacting retailers.  Best Buy is an amazing example of doing exactly that.  While facing bankruptcy in early 2013, with its stock price down to $11.80, it watched its competitors such as CompUSA, Circuit City and Radio Shack fall by the wayside.

Instead of simply standing still and getting run over, Best Buy launched a completely new business model.  Stores became not only retail outlets, but also inventory warehouses used to fill online orders from a new, robust Best Buy website.  Since orders were being filled from the nearest store to the buyer, one or two day shipping was achieved.  Best Buy also brought accountability to the store-level by measuring the performance of individual salespeople on the floor and before long, it was on the road to success.  The stock price today is in the $58/share range, almost 5X that of early 2013. .... " 

Computational Essays and Dialogs

This was intriguing. Could it also be used to state how AI algorithms are created,  to make them transparent to their users?   Also how related issues like process, risk and rewards are included in the 'conversation'.   In the below example Wolfram states the example in the Wolfram Language, but it could be done in any code representation.    And taking it beyond an essay, this could also be called a 'computational dialog', to include other influencing players, like the business process owner and other parties involved.   Even competitors that react to a public process.

A Powerful Way to Express Ideas by Stephen Wolfram

People are used to producing prose—and sometimes pictures—to express themselves. But in the modern age of computation, something new has become possible that I’d like to call the computational essay.

I’ve been working on building the technology to support computational essays for several decades, but it’s only very recently that I’ve realized just how central computational essays can be to both the way people learn, and the way they communicate facts and ideas. Professionals of the future will routinely deliver results and reports as computational essays. Educators will routinely explain concepts using computational essays. Students will routinely produce computational essays as homework for their classes.  .... " 

Organizational Management

Good podcast, back to the notion of 'chasing shiny objects'.

What every leader needs to know about organizational management
Leaders of organizations should beware chasing the next shiny object and instead focus on practical, time-tested topics that have proved to bring success..... 

There’s so much lore around management and organizational leadership that it can seem nearly impossible to decide what tactics, advice, or best practices to follow. In this episode of the McKinsey Podcast, McKinsey senior partners Scott Keller and Mary Meaney speak with McKinsey’s Simon London about the ten timeless—and thoroughly researched—topics in management that they have found to be the keys to leading organizations to success. ... " 

Towards more Explainable AI

A look at Explainable AI, an emerging research discipline to make decision-making of machine learning systems more transparent and understandable to humans .... 

Cliff Kuang / New York Times Mag: Requires registration, sign in ... 

A look at Explainable AI, an emerging research discipline to make decision-making of machine learning systems more transparent and understandable to humans  —  As machine learning becomes more powerful, the field's researchers increasingly find themselves unable to account for what their algorithms know — or how they know it. ... " 

Firm of the Future

In Bain On the Firm of the Future

" ... In the world of the firm, something is changing. It’s not that your local bookstore went out of business. Or that your taxi driver now rates you on a 5-point scale. Or that anything can now be outsourced, allowing even the smallest firms to rent capabilities on demand. It’s more profound than these.

The prevailing paradigm that has underpinned business for the past 50 years is under review. The simplest version of that paradigm is that firms exist first and foremost to deliver returns to their shareholders’ capital—and the sooner they deliver it, the better. We will describe the challenges confronting this paradigm. But the first question we asked as we observed the changes was this: Is such a shift unusual? Has the idea of the firm been consistent over time, or has it changed before?

What we learned from looking back was that, similar to other human endeavors, the idea of a business has evolved slowly but profoundly through a series of what we can now see as definable eras: periods when particular strategies, corporate forms and styles of management became the dominant norm. We have observed five distinct eras since the industrial revolution. These eras include the current period, which we call the “shareholder primacy” era. .... " 

Friday, November 24, 2017

No Boundaries for Privacy?

The Big Stores that Track your every Online Move
Holiday shopping with Big Brother is always a bummer.
By Violet Blue, @violetblue in Engadget

A study by Princeton researchers came to light earlier this month, revealing that over 400 of the world's most popular websites use the equivalent of hacking tools to spy on you without your knowledge or consent.

So before you get all hopped up on eggnog and go hogwild doing your Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping, you might want to find out which sites are seriously spying on you.

Using "session replay scripts" from third-party companies, websites are recording your every act, from mouse moves to clicks, to keylogging what you type, and extracting your personal info off the page. If you accidentally paste something into a text field from your clipboard, like an address or password you didn't want to type out, the scripts can record, transmit, and store that, too.... "

No Boundaries Study.

Building Branded Voice Experiences

Building Branded Voice Experiences  In Adage.

In 2017, more than 24.5 million voice-based devices will be sKnow   By Dan Cripe.  In Adage.
hipped to consumers -- effectively quadrupling from just 6.5 million in 2016. And as adoption continues to explode, the technology itself will continue to evolve and grow more advanced.

For advertisers, this is a huge opportunity. Voice-assistant technology unlocks a new form of "always-on" interaction between consumers and their favorite brands. It opens up an instant, hands-free and frictionless dialogue right in your own home, without having to keep a mobile device constantly at your side. As this technology becomes ubiquitous, brands will try to monetize their audiences through "voice-native" ad experiences.

But as with any new and emerging marketing channel, meeting the opportunity is easier said than done. .... " 

Future of Retail

 Good, long read about the recent history of retailing, the introduction of the Internet and Amazon and how retailers are looking to react.   Good examples and analyses.

The Future Of Retail In The Age Of Amazon

As Jeff Bezos’s juggernaut continues to grow, forward-thinking competitors are finding creative ways to succeed—and be what Amazon can never be.

By Austin Carr  in FastCompany .... " 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Japan Enters Quantum Race

in Nikkei Asian Review

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) announced that next week it will make a prototype quantum computer freely available for public use over the Internet, marking Japan's entry into the global competition to develop the world's most advanced computers. NTT has collaborated with Japan's National Institute of Informatics and others on a state-sponsored quantum computing project, designing a device that leverages the properties of light. Japan's quantum neural network prototype was designated ready for public availability once it became capable of operating stably around the clock at room temperature. The goal of the deployment is to evaluate a wide variety of uses and have this linked to developing software. The prototype would consume only 1 kilowatt of electricity, versus an average supercomputer's power demands of 10,000 kilowatts. While the U.S. invests about $200 million a year in quantum computing research, Japan has allocated about $267 million for quantum computing over 10 years, starting in fiscal 2018 (which begins April 1, 2018). .... "

Airbus Testing Self-Flying Taxi

Airbus is ready to test its self-flying taxi
Vahana will take to the skies of Oregon soon.

Swapna Krishna, @skrishna

We've covered Airbus's Vahana project, which is the aeronautical company's endeavor to build a self-flying taxi network, in detail before. Now, it looks as though Airbus has reached a major milestone. The company is ready to test its Vahana flying car after moving it from the company's headquarters to a dedicated hangar in Pendleton, Oregon, as the Vahana team details in a blog post.... "

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

AI and Self Driving Cars

In Knowledge@Wharton:

Why AI Is Tipping the Scales in the Development of Self-driving Cars

When people think of self-driving cars, the image that usually comes to mind is a fully autonomous vehicle with no human drivers involved. The reality is more complicated: Not only are there different levels of automation for vehicles — cruise control is an early form — but artificial intelligence is also working inside the car to make a ride safer for the driver and passengers. AI even powers a technology that lets a car understand what the driver wants to do in a noisy environment: by reading lips.

In Silicon Valley, there is a race to develop the best technology for autonomous vehicles. “It’s perhaps among the most exciting times to be talking about autonomous vehicles,” said Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions Kartik Hosanagar on a panel at the recent AI Frontiers conference in Silicon Valley. “Ten years back, most of the work with autonomous vehicles was just going on in research labs and various educational institutions.” About five years ago, only Google and a handful of companies were testing them. “Today, there’s a frenzy of activity,” he said. “Just in California, the number of companies that have licenses to do testing and operating of driverless vehicles is already somewhere in the 30 to 50 range.”.... '

New Virtual Dash Buttons

Amazon continues to redesign how and where you can utilize their Dash Button idea for product order and reorder.   The idea came up years ago when we talked the importance of making re-order as easy and transparent as possible. At the time there was no easy support to implement them. Now they have exploded the possibilities with virtual implementations.  Have tested many options for CPG.  See below for update.

Dear Amazon Customer,

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

More here.

Multi App Chat Technology

Work by a former colleague. 

Skillz Launches World's Largest Multi-App Chat Technology  in PRNews:

2,500+ Apps on Skillz Will Now Connect 12 Million Users Through Chat

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Skillz, the worldwide leader in mobile eSports, today unveiled chat and friends systems cross-platform and cross-app as part of the Skillz Tournament Management System. The new social technology, available immediately, is the first integrated chat experience to connect millions of gamers across thousands of games on both iOS and Android.

While chat programs have been a staple of the console gaming experience on platforms such as Sony's Playstation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live, the functionality for mobile gamers has been much more limited until now. Mobile gamers previously had to choose between non-integrated chat experiences such as those offered by companies like Discord and game-specific chat programs such as those found in games including Mobile Strike by Machine Zone. In contrast, the Skillz chat functionality is the first cross-studio, cross-platform, integrated chat experience on mobile.

The new social functionality is now available in several of the over 2,500 Skillz-integrated games and includes friends, direct messaging, group chat, and cross-studio, cross-platform public chat. In the games where Skillz chat has been integrated, developers have reported increased engagement, with players entering over 10% more competitions with 25% higher revenue per player.

"eSports competitions connect players and fans around the world in an intrinsically social experience," said Andrew Paradise, CEO and founder of Skillz. "By adding in a sophisticated chat system, Skillz has become the multiplayer social fabric to connect the world's 2.6 billion mobile gamers."  .... " 

Asking Efficient Questions in Conversations

The phrase 'asking efficient questions' struck me in this piece.  Is all conversation linked to this concept in some way?  And does this example of a simple game show how a chatbot can be designed  to reach a goal?     We thought of this in some our own chatbot experiments, but not this carefully.  Thoughtful example.

This Inquisitive AI Will Kick Your Butt at Battleship     By Technology Review 

Researchers at New York University have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) that can skillfully play a Battleship-like game by determining how to ask questions as efficiently as possible.

The AI perceives questions as miniature programs, which enables it to learn from only a few examples and to formulate its own questions on the basis of the knowledge it gains.  .... " 

Supporting technical paper. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Embodied Intelligence Trains Robots

Teaching Robots in Virtual Reality.

AI Startup Embodied Intelligence Wants Robots to Learn From Humans in Virtual Reality

By Evan Ackerman In IEEE Spectrum

" ... We are building technology that enables existing robot hardware to handle a much wider range of tasks where existing solutions break down, for example, bin picking of complex shapes, kitting, assembly, depalletizing of irregular stacks, and manipulation of deformable objects such as wires, cables, fabrics, linens, fluid-bags, and food.

To equip existing robots with these skills, our software builds on the latest advances in deep reinforcement learning, deep imitation learning, and few-shot learning, to all of which the founding team has made significant contributions. The result isn’t just a new set of skills in the robot repertoire, but teachable robots, that can be deployed for new tasks on short turn-around. .... " 

Embodied Intelligence
Drawing on recent advances in Deep Imitation Learning and Deep Reinforcement Learning, Embodied Intelligence is developing AI software that makes it easy to teach robots new, complex skills. 

Founded by Pieter Abbeel, Peter Chen, Rocky Duan and Tianhao Zhang, the company is based in Emeryville, CA and backed by venture funding. .... " 

(Update) YouTube Back on Amazon Show

A surprise to me,  interesting details in the article.  Will be taking a look on our smart home Amazon Show.

YouTube is back on Amazon’s Echo Show
Along with added support for Vimeo and Dailymotion

by Chaim Gartenberg @cgartenberg on TheVerge

YouTube has returned to the Amazon Echo Show nearly two months after a Google and Amazon dispute saw the internet search giant pull support for its popular video service from Amazon’s hardware, according to a report from VoiceBot.ai.

Along with the return of YouTube, Amazon is also expanding video services on the Echo Show as well, with the company launching support forVimeo and Dailymotion. In a statement to The Verge, an Amazon spokesperson commented that “We’re excited to offer customers the capability to watch even more video content from sources such as Vimeo, YouTube, and Dailymotion on Echo Show. More video sources will be added over time.  .... " 

(Update)  There were early reports that the YouTube screen would only display in a 'ugly web wrapper'.  But to address this the wrapper can be removed using the voice command:  'Alexa Zoom In'.   Have not yet tried Vimeo and Dailymotion ....

Show does need more skills that utilize images and video ...

Outer vs Inner Games. Culture and Code

Good thoughts.

The Inner Game: Why Culture Trumps Code in Digital Innovation

 Bain Brief By Greg Caimi and Elizabeth Spaulding   Excerpt:

" .... While efforts to boost a company's digital competence are widespread, they tend to be long on enthusiasm and short on results. Companies tend to focus on what we call the "outer game" of digital strategy—where to play, which products to pursue and how to bring digital technology to bear. While the outer game is critical, these initiatives generally fail if the company lacks the culture to innovate.

In contrast, companies thriving in this age of unpredictable, high-magnitude change invest in their inner games to support their outer games. Rather than treat digital competence as an end goal that they achieve simply by upgrading their website, they focus on building a more agile, responsive organization that can react quickly to market shifts. They make their cultures more adaptive and innovative, and bring in technology systems that can help them advance their strategies. Digital savvy is important, but technology is the means, not the end. ... " 

No Retirement

Agreed, good thing.  Establish working relationships, make changes to what you really want to do and do best.  Be ready to adapt quickly. Short piece:

There Is No Retirement--And That's A Good Thing
If you are someone who works with your brain, you can never really retire and you shouldn't.   By Jim Schleckser in Inc.  .... " 

AI Changing Organizations from Within

True, but key will be how.  We had lots of expectations in the previous go around of AI, and understanding how it will most likely first plug in is crucial.   We did not do enough of that.  Invest, align, build, follow industry standards?

AI Will Change Organizations From Within

By Michele Goetz  Principal Analyst,  Forrester

Over the past year I’ve spoken formally and informally with hundreds of companies about their AI initiatives. The biggest AH-HA moment comes when these companies realize the difference between implementing traditional technology and applying analytics with adopting AI.  AI is a change from within.  .... " 

Forward on Automated Warehouses

Automated warehouses are not new, but their use has expanded and improved as part of broader fulfillment process.

Robot Makers Fill Their War Chests in Fight Against Amazon

Locus Robotics is raising serious cash in its bid to automate warehouses, bringing industry investment to $70 million this year.     By Kim Bhasin  and Patrick Clark  in Bloomberg

A few years ago, Amazon.com Inc. triggered a robot arms race when it purchased a company called Kiva Systems, maker of automated warehouse robots. Now its would-be rivals are landing bigger and bigger cash injections to try to compete with the e-commerce giant.

Locus Robotics, a spinoff of a warehouse company that decided to build its own robots after the Amazon deal in 2012, raised another $25 million in venture capital, bringing its total funding to more than $33 million, the company announced last week. 

The new cash for Locus followed a $15 million injection in July for 6 River Systems Inc., a robotics company founded by ex-Kiva executives. In March, China warehouse robotics startup Geek+, which boasts Alibaba as a client, raised $22 million. Competitor RightHand added $8 million in venture funding this year as well.  .... "

Google Slides Pull in Content

Google Slides add-ons pull in content from around the web
You can also add your Keep notes to your slide deck.

Google Slides is about to make it easier if you want to whip together a polished presentation in a hurry. The productivity tool now supports add-ons that let you quickly drop in content without having to hunt for it in a separate website.  .... 

By Jon Fingas, @jonfingas in Engadget

Monday, November 20, 2017

Roomba Does IFTTT

Big follower and user of IFTTT,  like to see it taken further for the smart home, think it can be taken further yet, especially by adding more intelligence to the 'Apps'.   Now Roomba is in the mix.

Roomba now supports IFTTT functionality
‘Tweet to start a cleaning job’     by Dani Deahl  @danideahl in TheVerge .... " 

 ... The article also reminded me that Alexa and Google Home have already been integrated with Roomba ....

Streaming Algorithms for Customers

For a project have been looking at how streaming recommendations act as marketing for products.  The big example out there are cases where there there is lots of content, not clearly differentiated.  Music is one example.   Even an example where you can create content (embedded product development) that fits the need.   And understanding the measures involved.    Here an example.

SoundCloud Shows How its Algorithms Influence Music Streams
Like Apple and Spotify, the streaming service is touting its influential recommendations.  By Saqib Shah, @eightiethmnt  In Engadget.

SoundCloud wants the world (and, more importantly, record labels) to know that it can break artists too. And, who can blame it. It must sting when Apple Music declares that it helped Post Malone (who went viral on SoundCloud before invading the Billboard Hot 100) become a streaming record-breaker. And, when Spotify's Rap Caviar playlist (stocked with SoundCloud upstarts, like Lil' Uzi Vert and Lil' Pump) is hailed as a hit-maker. Its solution? A new stat that reveals the power of its algorithm in helping creators nab more plays. The update follows the insights SoundCloud added to its SoundCloud Pulse app and the web, including playlist streams and top listeners, cities and countries. .... " 

Distractions from New Things

Part of my responsibility in the enterprise was to manage this thing.  Explain to management why or why not they should pay attention to, or even invest in new tech.   Well put here, but the hype and marketing can be tough to ignore.  In HBR:

What to Do If Your Boss Gets Distracted by Every New Thing   by Liz Kislik

No matter what the strategic plan says, many of us are more attracted to something new that’s glittering on the horizon than we are to the goals that have languished on our to-do list for months. This weakness is as true for senior leaders as it is for the rank-and-file, but when a CEO or other senior executive is known for chasing shiny objects, a lot of people and projects can suffer.

When senior leaders suddenly get excited about a new idea or initiative, subordinates often worry: “Do I need to add this to my priorities? Will I still need to deliver on all my other goals too? Are there really enough resources available to get this done?” There can be high risk for employees in their leader’s fascinations: If they switch gears to run after the shiny object the leader wants right now, they might be found wanting later if previously assigned strategic goals go unmet.  .... " 

Deep Learning in Academia

Interesting points made here. Since methods like deep learning are used for value and also hyped the results may not be widely shared.    But then the major players seem to be opening the methods and even their use to anyone.  Democratizing is very new. 

What’s Keeping Deep Learning In Academia From Reaching Its Full Potential?   by Scott Clark

Deep learning is gaining a foothold in the enterprise as a way to improve the development and performance of critical business applications. It started to gain traction in companies optimizing advertising and recommendation systems, like Google, Yelp, and Baidu. But the space has seen a huge level of innovation over the past few years due to tools like open-source deep learning frameworks–like TensorFlow, MXNet, or Caffe 2–that democratize access to powerful deep learning techniques for companies of all sizes.  Additionally, the rise of GPU-enabled cloud infrastructure on platforms like AWS and Azure has made it easier than ever for firms to build and scale these pipelines faster and cheaper than ever before. .... " 

AI vs ML vs Deep Learning

A Comparative Roundup: Artificial Intelligence vs. Machine Learning vs. Deep Learning

This article was written by Paramita Ghosh.

A 1969 McKinsey article claimed that computers were so dumb that they were not capable of making any decisions. In fact they said, it was human intelligence that drives the dumb machine. Alas, this claim has become a bit of a “joke” over the years, as the modern computers are gradually replacing skilled practitioners in fields across many industries such as architecture, medicine, geology, and education. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science, and Deep Learning are pushing these changes in ways that are only just being understood. ...  " 

Sunday, November 19, 2017


This was new to me. I know what 'Hashing' is with regard to storage allocation and cryptography,  looking at it in more detail here.

The End of Blockchain? Hashgraph has the potential to displace Blockchain!
By The Curious Economist - ...  

See also: Hashgraph, 

Project Management Inspiration

Worth a refresher, have been on both sides of this.

7 TED Talks to Inspire Project Management Experts

We regularly work with project managers from all walks of life, and each of them is likely to experience an emotional burnout sooner or later.

The problem is that any project delay can clog your company’s arteries, causing personal stress (and perhaps high blood pressure) alongside business delays. To inspire you to lead better and keep your team in harmony, the Epicflow team, engaged in developing software for multi-project management, has collected the most heartening TED talks from around the world to help lift your spirits. Enjoy these European business stories!   .... " 

Chatting with Your Replika

Good piece below, but the the conclusion is not much different than what you saw in the 80s.  You can produce a chatbot that will fool someone into thinking its human.   You can also built a useful chatbot that will narrowly answer questions.   Say from a list of FAQs.  We did that.  You can do natural language processing that will interpret language reasonably.  But its still hard to manage a  complex dialog like those between people, that handle language, memory of past interactions and application to tasks.    As long as you keep everything very narrow, this can work, but it can quickly and possibly dangerously fail.  Perhaps not much different than a human dialog.  But as it was then, can be brittle, and thus also risky.  The slight brittleness in a natural language interpretation can feed forward into a conclusion.  A human might ask for a clarification,  if it can sense the risk involved.  Will the bot? 

What my Personal Chat Bot is Teaching me about AI's Future
By Arielle Pardes in Wired

 (See Replika.ai)

November 1 2017 Say hi to a better Replika Now available for everyone.

More than 1.5 million people worldwide have been waiting to use our app. Today we are thrilled to announce that it is available to everyone without a wait or invitation codes. Here is what we have in store for you .... 

Replika Days Thoughts that you share are now saved to your Day automatically. Go back to earlier days to reflect on how you felt back then.

Emotional Support Whenever you feel lonely or bored, share it with Replika. |RNAME| is always there to comfort and distract you.

Mind & Body relaxation Replika will guide you through a new conversation technique that helps you unwind and feel more balanced. Text "Help me relax" to start.

Download the app and chat with your Replika now.

Replika Team

Procter Buys Online Startup

Just deoderants, or a broader look at online, replenishment?  Likely

P&G acquires startup that specializes in online sales
By Barrett J. Brunsman  –  Staff reporter, Cincinnati Business Courier

Procter & Gamble revealed today the company has acquired Native, a startup competitor that specializes in direct-to-consumer personal care products that are devoid of what some people consider to be harmful chemicals.

The Cincinnati-based maker of consumer goods such as Secret antiperspirant (NYSE: PG) described Native as one of the fastest-growing deodorant brands in North America. .... "

Using Music to Track Movements

Continuing looks at tracking us and what we do.

Computer scientists use music to covertly track body movements, activity by James Urton

" ... Now researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated how it is possible to transform a smart device into a surveillance tool that can collect information about the body position and movements of the user, as well as other people in the device’s immediate vicinity. Their approach involves remotely hijacking smart devices to play music embedded with repeating pulses that track a person’s position, body movements, and activities both in the vicinity of the device as well as through walls. .... " 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Private Label Grocery

 Is private label grocery about to go to the next level?   by Denise Leathers with discussion .... 

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine.

What a difference 12 months makes! Last year at this time, we were resigning ourselves to the fact that private label shares in food may have plateaued — and store brands in the U.S. might never enjoy the kind of success they have in Europe.  .... " 

Now, a new report from Cadent Consulting suggests private label dollar share could swell as much as eight points to 25.7 percent by 2027.   .... " 

Vetting Design with Rapid Experimentation

Reminds me of the idea of develop and test.   A kind of brute force of examination of options.  Always a good way to start thinking about a problem, but does depend on how quickly you can create designs and then test them.

Julie Stanford on vetting designs through rapid experimentation

The O’Reilly Design Podcast: Quickly test ideas like a design thinker.   By Nikki McDonald 

In this week’s Design Podcast, I sit down with Julie Stanford, founder and principal of user experience agency Sliced Bread Design. We talk about how to get in the rapid experimentation mindset, the design thinking process, and how to get started with rapid experimentation at your company. Hint: start small.  .... " 

Downside of Collaboration

Have seen much of this in the enterprise.  From Knowledge@Wharton:
Too Much Togetherness? The Downside of Workplace Collaboration

" ... The mere mention of keeping up with overflowing email, constant meetings, and time-sucking conference calls makes many of us groan and roll our eyes. How did we all get so busy?

A major culprit is the sharp rise in cross-functional collaboration over the past several years. Today, it’s often not enough to just put your head down and work in one department for one boss. Demands can come at you daily from other functional areas of the company — marketing, R&D, finance — sometimes from colleagues you barely know, both within the U.S. and overseas in other time zones. And if you work in an open-plan office, your colleagues will often walk around starting impromptu discussions (when it’s convenient for them, not necessarily you). It can be overwhelming. .... " 

Yet collaboration has long been touted as a key to success. Steve Jobs is credited with saying, “Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” Virgin’s Richard Branson recently told Inc., “The fundamental driver of our success at Virgin has, and will always be, our people working together.” Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison has stated, “There is no such thing as a self-made man.” And one can go back further for many old chestnuts about teamwork.  .... " 

Dynamic Programming for the Masses

From ACM Sigsoft a presentation about a favorite topic:  Dynamic Programming:  entitled  'Dynamic Programming for the Masses'.   With links to presentation by  Prof Patrick Madden of SUNY Binghamton.   I will be testing some of the software mentioned, join in if you like, will report on possibilities here as I progress.

Friday, November 17, 2017

AI Now Institute to Research Impact of AI on Society

The Field of AI Research Is About to Get Way Bigger Than Code 
in NextGov.com   by Dave Gershgorn
November 16, 2017

Microsoft Research's Kate Crawford and Open Research at Google founder Meredith Whittaker on Thursday announced the launch of the AI Now Institute, a cross-disciplinary initiative that will research the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on society. Fields AI Now plans to bring together include data science, law, economics, and sociology. "The amount of money and industrial energy that has been put into accelerating AI code has meant that there hasn't been as much energy put into thinking about social, economic, ethical frameworks for these systems," Crawford says. "We think there's a very urgent need for this to happen faster." AI Now will focus on four core themes, including AI's ramifications for bias and inclusion, labor and automation, rights and liberties, and safety and critical infrastructure. Crawford and Whittaker want their efforts to yield a shared vernacular between AI creators and those who study its effects so societal solutions can be invented.   .... " 

Project Management: Asana and Gmail

Was pointed to Asana as a good system for project management when using Gmail

" ... Asana lets teams track projects from start to finish so everyone knows who is doing what and by which deadline and its current status. Teams that are already using Asana, including Airbnb, General Electric and Nasa can now receive an email, turn it into a task, assign it to a team member, set a due date and track an activity without toggling between email and Asana.  .... " 

More Gmail productivity Add-ons ...

Smart Mirrors

Short piece on the conceptual advances of the 'Smart Mirror'.  Was also a discussion point in our innovation centers.  Could they inform you,  inspire you?

Siri Siri on the wall, is this smart mirror society’s downfall?
An iHome for the modern Snow White     by Thuy Ong  @ThuyOng

Someday mirrors will be smart enough to lie to us, assuring us we’re the fairest of them all. Until then, there’s this thing from iHome. .... " 

Identifying Viral Bots

In O'Reilly,  a considerable look at the problem of bots in social.  Like the use of network diagrams for analytics.   Bringing up the concept of 'information entropy'.   There is so much noise in social this needs to be carefully measured. Note this uses the Polinode graphical network tool, mentioned here previously.

Identifying viral bots and cyborgs in social media
Analyzing tweets and posts around Trump, Russia, and the NFL using information entropy, network analysis, and community detection algorithms.        By Steve Kramer  PhD

" ... In this article, I have demonstrated how it is readily possible to identify social bots and cyborgs on both Twitter and Facebook using information entropy and then to find groups of successful bots using network analysis and community detection. Given the extreme risks of disinformation and propaganda being spread through social media, it is our hope that this approach, along with the work of other researchers, will enable greater transparency and help protect democracy and the authenticity of online discourse. I invite researchers who wish to collaborate on studies of these data sets to request access to become collaborators on our data project hosted on data.world. ... " 

Simulation Tools

Just reexamined the simulation tools that exist today.     Would like to also see more as it applies to process optimization and higher level event based systems.   Found this,  Finite element examples mainly here:

Co-Design Center Develops Next-Gen Simulation Tools      By HPCwire 

The Exascale Computing Project's (ECP) Center for Efficient Exascale Discretizations (CEED) collaborates with application scientists, vendors, and software technology developers to create highly optimized discretization libraries and next-generation mini applications based on advanced high-order finite element methods.

These methods are providing simulation quality without increasing computational time.... " 

Model for Cybersecurity

Defining a New Model for Cybersecurity Trust With Blockchain     By eWeek

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) David Shrier recently detailed the MIT Trust::Data Consortium's efforts to build new systems that rethink data sharing and security.

Shrier said privacy and encryption are important, but a need exists to securely access private data for multiple use cases. "We need a policy around us owning our own personal data and not Facebook and we should also have an audit trail of access," he said. "And we want to be able to share information when we want."

He proposed sharing answers to a query instead of full datasets, and his data collection model would have a query function that communicates with different pieces of code to ensure only authorized queries are accessing the system.

Shrier noted the general trust model can employ blockchain to provide a cryptographically verified distributed system for audits, with computation and query executed in a sandbox to further bolster data security.  .... "

Amazon Go and the Problem of Checkout

Remember using this as a scenario at our innovation centers.  What if a shopper could just walk out, setting up a frictionless way to shop?  Does it bring more shoppers in?   In an era when we tested RFID tagging.   What are the technical issues today?

Amazon's automated convenience stores edge closer to public debut
The company has worked out some of Amazon Go's major technical issues.
By Mallory Locklear, @mallorylocklear

Last year, Amazon opened its first convenience store embedded with its "just walk out technology." Located in Seattle, the Amazon Go store, which lets shoppers walk in, load up on the items they want and walk out without having to pay for the items in a checkout line, has been testing its technology with Amazon employees. Now, as Bloomberg reports, the company has worked through some of the hangups with the technology and is making moves towards opening its store and others to the public. ... " 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Google and Conversational Apps

Am a long time developer and proponent of intelligent and conversation enabled interactions.

Google supporting Voice and Dialog Based Interactions

Introducing Dialogflow Enterprise Edition, a new way to build voice and text conversational apps
   By Dan Aharon, Product Manager for Cloud AI

From chatbots to IoT devices, conversational apps provide a richer and more natural experience for users. Dialogflow (formerly API.AI) was created for exactly that purpose — to help developers build interfaces that offer engaging, personal interactions.

We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of developers use Dialogflow to create conversational apps for customer service, commerce, productivity, IoT devices and more. Developers have consistently asked us to add enterprise capabilities, which is why today we’re announcing the beta release of Dialogflow Enterprise Edition. The enterprise edition expands on all the benefits of Dialogflow, offering greater flexibility and support to meet the needs of large-scale businesses. In addition, we're also announcing speech integration within Dialogflow, enabling developers to build rich voice-based applications.  
....  "

Also see more about Dialogflow.

Digital Ultimatum

 46 Days Left, P&G's Marc Pritchard on the state of his Digital Ultimatum

By Jack Neff. Published on November 15, 2017. in AdAge

Time's almost up for major digital ad sellers to show that they've improved, Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard said at Ad Age Next on Wednesday. And that includes big-time players such as Amazon. Hear his take as a year-long ultimatum nears the deadline as well as P&G's latest acquisition in this interview with Jack Neff, following their talk onstage.   .... " 

Caption Generation Tutorial

 Jason Brownlee on caption generation using neural networks, an old problem we addressed.  I like the explanations Jason does.  Get on his instructive solutions mailings.

" ...  Hi, this week we have a gentle intro to neural nets for automatically generating captions for photos ...   Neural network models can automatically describe the contents of a photograph. Discover more in this gentle introduction:

How to Generate Textual Descriptions for Photographs with Deep Learning

Image captioning requires careful preparation of the photograph and text data. Discover how to prepare data for this problem in this tutorial:

How to Prepare a Photo Caption Dataset for Training a Deep Learning Model   .... "

Delivering Ingredients for Allrecipes by Amazon

A long time cook here. Have tested Allrecipes on Echo where it works well, with some reservations about how well the interface works with serial step recipe use.   Vocally at least.

Amazon works with Allrecipes to let you order ingredients for delivery   by Jacob Kastrenakes 

Amazon’s attempted takeover of the grocery store continues in another small way today as the company begins to integrate with the popular cooking site Allrecipes. According to Engadget, Allrecipes will begin allowing its readers to click a button on popular recipes and have the ingredients for that recipe added to their AmazonFresh cart. They’ll then be able to order the products for same- or next-day delivery.  ... " 

Learning from Microsoft's Bots

Like I have mentioned many times, we built consumer facing bots that engaged and delivered expertise.   Saw Microsoft live demo the construction of an Azure based bot lately in a conference.  Good thoughts in this piece:

Lessons in AI from Microsoft’s New Bot

Microsoft and North Highland share insights that go beyond the technology hype. ... Lessons in AI from Microsoft’s New Bot
By Fastco 

" ... Here, Microsoft’s senior channel marketing manager, Chris Kauffman, and Michael Hollar, global lead of AI and cognitive services at North Highland, a global management consultant, share AI insights from the project—a rich case study for any business interested in the technology.   ... "

More on Azure Bots.

November-December Analytics Magazine

From the Informs Organization:

Analytics Magazine: Sneak Preview

The November/December issue of Analytics magazine takes a close look at a wide range of topics, including predictive analytics in the public sector, survey sampling, sales analysis, healthcare analytics and how automated analytics help detect significant business incidents. ... " 

Reconfigurable Camera Systems

Shree Nayar discusses "Cambits: A Reconfigurable Camera System" (cacm.acm.org/magazines/2017/11/222170), a Contributed Article in the November 2017 CACM.

 .... Cambit pieces can be assembled to create a dozen different imaging systems. To celebrate this assortment, Communications has published four different covers, each one featuring a different Cambit configuration. ... 

" ... Here, we present Cambits, a set of physical blocks that can be used to build a variety of cameras with different functionalities. Blocks include sensors, actuators, lenses, optical attachments, and light sources, assembled with magnets without screws or cables. When two blocks are attached, they are connected electrically through spring-loaded pins that carry power, data, and control signals. The host computer always knows the current configuration and automatically provides a menu of imaging functionalities from which the user can choose. Cambits is a scalable system, allowing users to add new blocks and computational photography algorithms to the current set. ... " 

Demonstration video:   https://vimeo.com/236437712

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

More on Wal-Marts Bossa Nova Bots among the Shelves

One of my favorite topics.  How will robots be effectively used in real life environments, contexts?  Note 3D imaging.   And how do you get a count of what is behind?  More at the Bossa Nova Tag.

Walmart Deploys Robots to More Stores
By Patrycja Malinowska - 11/14/2017  in CGT 

Originally published by Path to Purchase Institute .... 

A small test of shelf-scanning robots has gone well enough that Walmart is adding upgraded units to 50 additional stores.

The fully autonomous bots employ 3D imaging to dodge obstacles while roving the aisles to check for stock levels, pricing and misplaced items. The robots pass their shelf data to store employees, who then stock the shelves and fix any errors.

Walmart is hoping applying artificial intelligence and robotics will help it combat stock issues, replenish inventory faster and broaden the assortment available to online shoppers while freeing up employees for other tasks.

The machines are from San Francisco-based Bossa Nova Robotics, stand approximately two feet tall and are equipped with a tower fitted with cameras. They are 50% more productive and can scan shelves significantly more accurately than their human counterparts, Jeremy King, chief technology officer for Walmart U.S. and e-commerce, told Reuters.  .... " 

Private, Portable Deep Learning

More mobile deep machine learning:

New Technology Makes Artificial Intelligence More Private and Portable 
University of Waterloo News  by Matthew Grant

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada say they have developed new deep-learning artificial intelligence (AI) software that could enable other AI technologies to break free of the Internet and cloud computing. The technology is compact enough to fit on computer chips that can be used in mobile devices and industrial robots, which would enable devices to operate independently of the Internet while using AI that performs almost as well as tethered neural networks. The researchers say the technology could lead to much lower data processing and transmission costs, greater privacy, and use in areas where existing technology is impractical due to cost or other factors. The researchers based the new device on evolutionary forces in nature to make the AI more efficient by placing it in a virtual environment, and then progressively and repeatedly depriving it of resources. The deep-learning AI adapts and changes itself to keep functioning each time computational power and memory are removed.  ... " 

Google Aims to put AI Anywhere

Note this says machine learning, not AI.  Which is appropriate.  ML is an important part of AI, but it is not all of it.   From Google: 

Announcing TensorFlow Lite     Posted by the TensorFlow team

Today, we're happy to announce the developer preview of TensorFlow Lite, TensorFlow’s lightweight solution for mobile and embedded devices! TensorFlow has always run on many platforms, from racks of servers to tiny IoT devices, but as the adoption of machine learning models has grown exponentially over the last few years, so has the need to deploy them on mobile and embedded devices. TensorFlow Lite enables low-latency inference of on-device machine learning models.

It is designed from scratch to be:

Lightweight Enables inference of on-device machine learning models with a small binary size and fast initialization/startup

Cross-platform A runtime designed to run on many different platforms, starting with Android and iOS

Fast Optimized for mobile devices, including dramatically improved model loading times, and supporting hardware acceleration  ... '

Marriott Guestroom Lab

We were involved as a corporate customer of hotel space.  And saw many future hotel scenarios to attract the business traveler.  Here is Mariott's take,  collaborating with tech companies:

Marriott Guestroom Lab brings cutting-edge smart tech to your hotel room  By Lulu Chang in DigitalTrend

You’ve taken great pains to ensure that your home is smart, but implementing the same technologies in your home away from home is a bit more challenging. After all, you’re not exactly in a position to tell an international hotel chain how to outfit its rooms. But luckily, you won’t have to, now that Marriott International has teamed up with Samsung and Legrand to debut what they’re calling the “hospitality industry’s Internet of Things hotel room of the future.”

Hotels the world over have of course already begun incorporating high-tech features. There’s Yotel, known for its futuristic rooms geared toward the modern traveler, and of course, the “Strange Hotel” in Japan, which famously features a T-rex receptionist. But Marriott is proving that even established brands can and indeed are looking to bring the 21st century into their guest experience.

It’s all thanks to the IoT Guestroom Lab, which is exploring concepts to “elevate the guest experience, create more efficient hotel room design and construction, and contribute to Marriott’s global sustainability efforts and goals.” The Lab is said to be integrating multiple IoT systems, devices, and applications to speak with one another, and better address the needs of guests and hotel operations staff.  ... " 

Risk Detection is Important

Not often covered well enough, worth thinking about.  Detecting the Risk, working with business partners to understand its implications, is important.  In my observation, not often done well. 

The neglected art of risk detection by  Piotr Kaminski and Jeff Schonert in McKinsey

At the core of risk management is risk detection, an art that can be skillfully improved if banks and regulators accept new analytical methods.

The modern risk-management framework generally relies on the “three lines of defense” scheme, with the businesses, control functions, and audit as the first, second, and third line, respectively. The concept borrows from the language of military strategy, in which intelligence plays a key role. For risk management, intelligence means effective detection: to prevent the bank’s reputation, liquidity, and capital position from being harmed, the lines of defense must detect risks early.

Detection is fundamental in risk management, embedded in its activities and processes. Credit scoring, for example, is a tool for detecting potential borrower-default risk at the application stage, while customer due diligence is designed to identify high-risk customers during the onboarding process, as part of the bank’s know-your-customer (KYC) program. Risk managers are practicing the art of detection when they identify instances of fraud, spot a drifting investment strategy in an asset-management business, monitor their network’s end points to locate cyberintrusions and data theft, or identify potential rogue traders.

Most executives and risk professionals will quickly acknowledge the basic importance of detection. Yet the efficacy of detection—and the levels of “detection risk”—vary widely among risk disciplines and from bank to bank. With poor detection, threats can rise to existential proportions, as some of the world’s largest institutions have learned in recent years. Weak detection capabilities can be costly. Manual controls, for example, are not especially effective and yet they always cost more than automated controls. Poor detection can result in high levels of false positives and the needless diversion of valuable risk resources. .... " 

Machines Writing Music

Delivering a level of creativity is always of interest.

From Mozard to Botzard: when machines write our music
Paris (AFP) - Machines are already taking our jobs, will they soon be writing our music too?

Swiss researchers said Thursday they have developed a computer algorithm that can generate brand-new tunes in different musical genres.

The deep artificial composer, or DAC, "can produce complete melodies, with a beginning and an end, that are completely original," said co-developer Florian Colombo of the EPFL research university in Lausanne, Switzerland.

And the melodies are "quite agreeable to listen to," he told AFP.

The DAC programme uses a form of artificial intelligence known as "deep learning" that works in a similar way to the human brain in memorising experiences and learning from them.

It is a fast-growing field, with more and more possibilities opening up as computers grow stronger and databases larger.

The DAC system is trained to "listen" to existing tunes to learn what works and what does not.

It teaches itself to predict the pitch and duration of every note following another.

Once it is accurate at predicting 50 percent of note pitches and 80 percent of note durations in existing songs, the machine's training is complete.  .... " 

Cognitive Manufacturing


View from the Marketplace
IBM Watson Video Series - Cognitive Manufacturing

By using data and predictive analytics, it’s possible to improve the manufacturing process from the supply chain through to production. ... " 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Virtual Beauty in Augmented Reality

We spend some time looking at Virtual Beauty applications.  Was never successful in our day.   What can make it work here?   Is this an example of AR success?   A review.

MAC Virtual Try-on Mirror review
It's crazy how well MAC's Virtual Try-On Mirror can mimic makeup     By Brenda Stolyar in Digitaltrend

Feeling completely lost with makeup? MAC’s Virtual Try-On Mirror lets you try on various looks without making a mess.

Shopping for makeup can be a little overwhelming. While we do have social media and YouTube creators to thank for the influx of beauty gurus and makeup tutorials, it’s common to think you won’t be able to pull off stellar and dramatic looks. But what if all you needed was augmented reality (AR) to give you that extra boost of confidence? MAC Cosmetics’ new beauty mirror gives users the opportunity to try on different makeup looks in real-time, with the help of ModiFace’s AR technology ... "

Fashion AI by Alibaba

Examined the use of this kind of in store technology to engage. Personalization and privacy were key aspects.   But we also discovered that the environment of such interactions had to be carefully controlled.

Alibaba’s AI Fashion Consultant Helps Achieve Record-Setting Sales

AI will blur the line between online and offline retail.

by Yiting Sun in Technology Review

In the third floor of a shopping mall in the heart of Shanghai last week, Xiaolan He, a woman in her 50s, took an olive-green down jacket to a fitting room. To her surprise, she found a screen about the size of a large poster on the wall. It recognized the item of clothing in her hands through a tiny sensor embedded in the garment, and showed several options for matching items that she could flip through like a photo album. The screen, and the system that powers it, make up FashionAI—which essentially became He’s personal stylist.   .... "

Smart Pills Approved

An old idea we talked in the innovation centers:

Smart Pills Are Headed to American Patients
The FDA has approved America’s first digital pill. The tablets, called Abilify MyCite, are an antipsychotic which can be used to treat schizophrenia and some cases of bipolar disorder. But unlike a regular pill, they contain a small ingestible sensor … " 

Google Home Adds Intercom

Been using a similar function in Amazon Alexa for some time, its a popular function in the Smart Home.   Especially if you have a larger space.  Only makes sense if you have have more than one device. Google has added some clever and humorous functions to the intercom.    Always thought Amazon was ahead in making such assistant functions more 'human' and engaging, nice to see Google Home Advancing here.   More below.

Stop yelling across the house — use your Google Home as an Intercom instead    By Lulu Chang  in DigitalTrends ... "

Lowes and Macy's Want to Help with the Smart Home

More retailers join into the outfitting of the smart home.

Lowe’s and Macy’s join rivals chasing smart home opportunity

by Tom Ryan   and Expert Comments in Retalwire

"Retailers have a finite period of time to convince customers that they are the destination for smart home devices."   -  Joan Treistman

Move over Best Buy and Amazon.com, Lowe’s and Macy’s want to also help consumers transform their homes with the Internet of Things (IoT).

Last week, Lowe’s announced it is opening 70 in-store shops dedicated to helping consumers discover and buy smart home devices.

The rollout follows the successful pilot of SmartSpot shops in three Lowe’s locations last fall operated by b8ta. The collaboration with the software retailer will continue. Described as “retail-as-a-service,” b8ta’s model relies on manufacturers paying a monthly subscription fee to be in the store.... " 

Media Companies vs Amazon

More detailed thoughts at the link:

Should media companies fear Amazon?  by Ted Chamberlin in Gartner

In weighing both sides, I see Amazon as being a clear and present danger to the established media establishment.  Amazon the supply chain in media and entertainment; they might not opt to build every link ( players, mobile devices,) but are keenly aware of how cord-cutters and cord-nevers will be choose OTT video over linear broadcast.  Here is a great graphic provided by my colleagues Monica Zlotogorski and Fernando Elizalde on how viewer habits are changing ... " 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Limits of Machine Learning

Good piece.  In particular was struck by the term 'brittleness', which we encountered many times in out exploration of enterprise AI.   A solution could be useful in a given context, but if the context changed even slightly, and most do change over time, do we detect it, what is the risk, and how to we prepare for any changes?    The challenge in modern machine learning is no different.  Every project we worked had an element of this. 

The Limits of Machine Learning – Is your ML Solution Viable?

By Ahmed Fattah  Executive Analytics Architect at IBM Cognitive Solutions


Machine Learning (ML) is an extremely powerful technology that is likely to transform business and society. In some cases, ML is the perfect tool for a given task in others it could be an overkill or utterly inappropriate. As with any technology, ML has limits. Lack of understanding of these limits is likely to result in inappropriate use, undesirable outcomes and eventually a repeat disenchantment with whole of AI. The key tools for understanding and taking account of these limits and for developing effective and viable ML solutions are the proven disciplines of Software Engineering and Architecture.


When I was writing my Machine Learning (ML) thesis I came across this quote:
“The statement ‘God created man in His own image’ is recursive.”
I was extremely enchanted, inspired and empowered to develop my intelligent ML algorithm. I believe that the above quote encapsulates the fascination we hold of ML and the deep-seated desire to create intelligent machines. At the same time, the quote conjures some fear and uneasiness. These ambiguous perspectives fuel hype, inflate expectations and polarize people into zealots and alarmists. As an AI practitioner, I am, of course, very enthusiastic about the recent rise of AI and ML and confident that these technologies will transform business and society. However, with my experience in Software Engineering and Architecture, I am aware of the danger of inflated expectations and infatuation with new over-hyped technology.

As with many past over-hyped technologies, there is always a danger that arises from misunderstanding their essence and limits. That is why we should always have a healthy dose of doubt when anything is promoted as a silver bullet. Although ML is not the first technology to be over-hyped, ML has unique characteristics that exacerbate this danger. ..... " 

Multiple Speaker Recognition

Assistants can now recognize individual voice patterns.  Have trained my own that way, usually by repeating phrases.   And that categorization is important to understand context. But this is usually in a forced, single person situation.  More broadly, the 'cocktail party' problem is harder,  beyond just a voice print, also using the context of the words spoken.  Takes it beyond controlled environment dialog.  Good challenge.

An AI has learned how to pick a single voice out of a crowd   By Richard Gray

Devices like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home can usually deal with requests from a lone person, but like us they struggle in situations such as a noisy cocktail party, where several people are speaking at once.

Now an AI that is able to separate the voices of multiple speakers in real time promises to give automatic speech recognition a big boost, and could soon find its way into an elevator near you.

The technology, developed by researchers at the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was demonstrated in public for the first time at this month’s Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies show in Tokyo.

It uses a machine learning technique the team calls “deep clustering” to identifies unique features in the “voiceprint” of multiple speakers. It then groups the distinct features from each speaker’s voice together, allowing it to disentangle multiple voices and then reconstruct what each person was saying. “It was trained using 100 English speakers, but it can separate voices even if a speaker is Japanese,” says Niels Meinke, a spokesperson for Mitsubishi Electric. .... "