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Monday, June 24, 2019

Game Builder to Build Your Serious Games?

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

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

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

NASA Aluminum Fraud Causes Sat Failures

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

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

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

EBay Personalizes

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

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

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

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

Alexa Expands the Ability to 'Announce'

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

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

By Jon Fingas, @jonfingas in Engadget

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

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

Disruptive Flywheels as Business Model

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 23, 2019

AI Studying Human Learning

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

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

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

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

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

Quantum Random Numbers

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

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

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

Build a Skill with Cake Walk

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

Alexa Blogs

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

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

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

Saturday, June 22, 2019

New Book: Artificial Intelligence in Practice

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

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

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

They write: 

Cyber-solutions to real-world business problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serious Games Grad Program

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

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

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

Playing the Odds in Quantum Games?

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

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

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

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

Negatives on Assistants

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

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

RPA Scaling Operations

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

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

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

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

RPA in Business

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

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

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

How does RPA help enterprises? .... '

NVidia Announces AI Edge Platform

Just starting to take a closer look at this:

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

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

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

Friday, June 21, 2019

MIT Tech Review Chain Letter on Facebook and Libra

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

MIT Technology Review
Chain Letter 

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

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

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

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

Google Streetview AI to Inventory Infrastructure

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

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

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

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

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

Fraud Detection with AI

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

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

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

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

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

Robots in a Store Near You

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

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

With Meghna Chakrabarti

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

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

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

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

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

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

Planning Cities of the Future with AI

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

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

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

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Real time Drone detection of Forest Fires

More extension of sensors, with direct connection to humans. 

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

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

Wal-Mart Tests Autonomous Vans for Middle-Mile

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

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

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

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

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

Modernizing Marketing

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

Six governing considerations to modernize marketing  in McKinsey

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

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

Driverless Services in Japan and France

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

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

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

IKEA as a delivering Foodchain

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

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

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

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

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

AI and Wireless Spectrum

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

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Zero Knowledge Proofs

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

Zero-knowledge proof
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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

Towards Engaging Packaging

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

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

By Zach Winn | MIT News Office 

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

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

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

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

Smart Contracts Explained

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

Waking up to New Risks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Machines Like Me: Novelist Ian McEwan

More comments on the directions of AI

Machines Like Me

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

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

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

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

Video and Transcript  ....

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

More on MIT Open Source AutoML: ATMSeer

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

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

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

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

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

Trust and Sponsoring Currencies and Contracts

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

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

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

Wal-Mart Overhauls Jet Management

An indication of less attention to direct online ordering?

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook Teams to Produce Cryptocurrency

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

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

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

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

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

Automated Machine Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

GM Thinks new Brain for its Cars

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

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

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

Monday, June 17, 2019

Fortnite Gaming Powers Business Technology

We examined examples of game engines for analytic applications early on.  Now seeing the addition of VR and other immersion techniques.   Management still needs some help understanding this.  Best way is to start with currently used analytic methods and then extend from there to show augmentation.  Some good examples in this article of use.

Engine Behind 'Fortnite' Powers Business Technology 
The Wall Street Journal
By Agam Shah

Businesses are tapping the gaming-engine software of "Fortnite" and other videogames for applications ranging from car design to drug discovery. Gaming engines exploit complex calculations performed by hardware like graphics processing units to create photorealistic three-dimensional visualization and simulation, in addition to physics models. In conjunction with virtual reality (VR) technology, gaming engines let designers and engineers invent products, visualize sophisticated designs, and structure worker-training programs. Designers at McLaren Automotive are using Epic Games' Unreal Engine to create, assess, and refine digital car models, expediting a process that formerly relied on drawings and modeling clay. Meanwhile, the U.K.'s C4X Discovery Holdings uses gaming engines to discover new disease-fighting molecules, with chemists employing VR headsets and in-house software to configure virtual molecules for more precise targeting.   ... "

Police Ask for Registration of Doorbell Cameras

Been intrigued by components of the smart home that can collaborate with a neighborhood for security.  Been following the ring Doorbell capabilities in this space for several years.    With an aim to create a 'smart neighborhood' by sharing video among users of the device.  In our area there are video contributions every few days.  Video clips are stored, but no recognition analysis is done.  This US Today article shows how police departments are asking for registration of cameras to aid them as well.  Statistics mentioned are interesting.

Use Your Phone as an ID

Make sense to use an encrypted means to identify oneself with a phone.

Germans can soon use their iPhones as virtual ID cards
iOS 13's expanded NFC support will make it possible.

By Jon Fingas, @jonfingas .... in Engadget

Data Science Behind Top Machine Learning Tools

KDNuggets examines top data science machine learning tools.  With considerable data visualizations at the link.

Tags: Anaconda, Apache Spark, Big Data Software, Deep Learning, Excel, Keras, Poll, Python, R, RapidMiner, scikit-learn, Software, SQL, Tableau, TensorFlow

We identify the 6 tools in the modern open-source Data Science ecosystem, examine the Python vs R question, and determine which tools are used the most with Deep Learning and 
By Gregory Piatetsky, KDnuggets.

Recently we reported the results of 20th annual KDnuggets Software Poll:
Python leads the 11 top Data Science, Machine Learning platforms: Trends and Analysis.
As we have done before (see 2017 data science ecosystem, 2018 data science ecosystem), we examine which tools were part of the same answer - the skillset of the user. We note that this does not necessarily mean that all tools were used together on each project, but having knowledge and skills to used both tools X and Y makes it more likely that both X and Y were used together on some projects. The results we see are consistent with this assumption.

The top tools show surprising stability - we see essentially the same pattern as last year.

First, we selected the tools with at least 20% of the vote. There were 11 such tools - exactly the same list of 11 tools as last year, although the order has changed a little. Keras moved up from n. 10 to n. 8, and Anaconda moved up from n. 6 to n. 5. Tableau and SQL moved down a little.

The cutoff for this group of 11 is a natural one, since there is a big gap between n. 11 (Apache Spark, with 21%) and n. 12 (Microsoft Power BI, 13%).

We used the same Lift measure as in our 2017 analysis and 2018 analysis.
We then grouped together the tools with the strongest association, starting with Tensorflow and Keras, until we arrived to the figure 1 below. We made the patterns easier to see by showing only associations with abs(Lift1) > 15%.     ... "

Penser Analytics

Just saw some demonstrations from Penser Analytics.  Nicely done.  Now integrating AI capabilities.  More to follow.

Penser Analytics

Sherlock is the only analytics platform that meets the needs of business and IT. It empowers organizations to make sense of large data volumes, get answers to their toughest business questions, build beautiful data visualizations, and ensure one version of the truth (1VOT) – at any scale, on any device within a minute.

A powerful, flexible platform
Penser Analytics is built to enable organisations to quickly deploy sophisticated advanced analytics to meet the demands of every user in every organisation.

Natural Language based analysis
Type in your question in plain english

Effortless predictive analytics
Unleash machine learning without any programming

Rapid hypothesis testing
Test various scenarios within minutes before taking decisions.  ... " 

Airbus Tests Hololens

An example of the use of Hololens and VR/Mixed Reality for advanced manufacturing systems.  Most obvious space for this, which we tested .... integrating large quantities of background information such as blueprints and online analyses and metadata for manufacturing compliance specifications. 

Airbus works with Microsoft to trial HoloLens in aircraft manufacturing
Aircraft company Airbus believes mixed reality systems, powered using headsets such as HoloLens, will drive its digital manufacturing strategy .... "

In-Doors Bluetooth Tracking

I note that my bluetooth on IOS is now default on.    Beacons are not new, just their broad use of data acquisition.   You are being watched.

In Stores, Secret Surveillance Tracks Your Every Move
As you shop, “beacons” are watching you, using hidden technology in your phone.
By Michael Kwet

Imagine you are shopping in your favorite grocery store. As you approach the dairy aisle, you are sent a push notification in your phone: “10 percent off your favorite yogurt! Click here to redeem your coupon.” You considered buying yogurt on your last trip to the store, but you decided against it. How did your phone know?

Your smartphone was tracking you. The grocery store got your location data and paid a shadowy group of marketers to use that information to target you with ads. Recent reports have noted how companies use data gathered from cell towers, ambient Wi-Fi, and GPS. But the location data industry has a much more precise, and unobtrusive, tool: Bluetooth beacons.

These beacons are small, inobtrusive electronic devices that are hidden throughout the grocery store; an app on your phone that communicates with them informed the company not only that you had entered the building, but that you had lingered for two minutes in front of the low-fat Chobanis.   ... " 

Future of Mind with AI

The most important direction is the ability to enhance our own capabilities.  Discussion in The Edge.

How AI Technology Could Reshape the Human Mind and Create Alternate Synthetic Minds

A Conversation With Susan Schneider [1.28.19]

I see many misunderstandings in current discussions about the nature of the mind, such as the assumption that if we create sophisticated AI, it will inevitably be conscious. There is also this idea that we should “merge with AI”—that in order for humans to keep up with developments in AI and not succumb to hostile superintelligent AIs or AI-based technological unemployment, we need to enhance our own brains with AI technology.

One thing that worries me about all this is that don't think AI companies should be settling issues involving the shape of the mind. The future of the mind should be a cultural decision and an individual decision. Many of the issues at stake here involve classic philosophical problems that have no easy solutions. I’m thinking, for example, of theories of the nature of the person in the field of metaphysics. Suppose that you add a microchip to enhance your working memory, and then years later you add another microchip to integrate yourself with the Internet, and you just keep adding enhancement after enhancement. At what point will you even be you? When you think about enhancing the brain, the idea is to improve your life—to make you smarter, or happier, maybe even to live longer, or have a sharper brain as you grow older—but what if those enhancements change us in such drastic ways that we’re no longer the same person?

SUSAN SCHNEIDER holds the Distinguished Scholar chair at the Library of Congress and is the director of the AI, Mind and Society (“AIMS”) Group at the University of Connecticut. Susan Schneider's Edge Bio Page  ... " 

AI Chips Surge on the Edge

Methods and needed software innovations still being hashed out.

New Artificial Intelligence Chips Lean Toward the Edge in NAnalyze

What a difference a year makes. Few companies had enjoyed the sort of bull run AI chipmaker Nvidia (NVDA ) had been on, returning more than +1200% between June 2015 and June 2018, eventually hitting a market cap of about $175 billion by September 2018. Then everything went south – literally – as the market took a historic plunge in the fourth quarter, taking Nvidia with it. However, while many companies have bounced back, Nvidia has continued to languish, sitting at a valuation of about $88 billion, pretty much where it was circa May 2017 when we compared its AI chip technology against AMD (AMD). Now, over the last five years, the two chip manufacturers have returned almost identical value to investors, while a number of upstart startups have risen to also challenge Nvidia’s supremacy with new artificial intelligence chips.  ...." 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Florida Allows Self-Driving Cars without Backups

Are we read for this yet?

Florida allows self-driving car tests without backup drivers
It's the latest state to court autonomous driving startups.

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas in Enagdget

Companies that want to test their self-driving cars will have an easier time of it in the Sunshine State. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill allowing companies to test autonomous vehicles without backup drivers. It also lets occupants text, watch video or otherwise enjoy themselves without running afoul of distracted driving rules. They'll need to meet insurance requirements, but that's about as far as it goes.

The measure takes effect July 1st. .... " 

Apple to Implement iPhone Crypto Wallet Payment, Blockchain?

Speculation it seems, but intriguing to get this into the broader consumer use space.   Payment with Cryptocurrencies>

Apple may be prepping to turn your iPhone into a crypto wallet
Apple's CryptoKit is likely the first step in enabling the exchange of private and public keys that will unlock the ability to make purchases using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies stored on your iPhone.
 .... "By Lucas Mearian
Senior Reporter, Computerworld |   ... " 

Implementing Manufacturing Analytics

Good thoughts to start with.   Start simple and obvious.  Does not have to be 'AI'.  There is always fruit to be gathered.

Here’s How To Implement Manufacturing Analytics Today
Here's how to implement manufacturing analytics today, in a world where big data, business intelligence, and artificial intelligence are steadily expanding.

By Megan Ray Nichols ...

Military Needs Explainable AI

Well we all need explainable methods,   and this always means explainable in a context.   Reminds me of the After Action Review ....  AAR ....  We used it to support our results  and their outcome.  And learning about the next outcome.   Its about context and context is about metadata used for specific decisions process involved. 

What Is Explainable AI and Why Does the Military Need It?
Go to the profile of Benjamin Powers    By Benjamin Powers in Medium

Last summer, the Defense Science Board’s report on autonomy found that investing in artificial intelligence (AI) warfare is a crucial part of maintaining the United States’ national security and military capability. As the report reads, “It should not be a surprise when adversaries employ autonomy against U.S. forces.” In other words, AI warfare is likely on the horizon; it’s just a matter of who gets there first.

This immediately sparks dystopian and apocalyptic reactions from most people, who may envision a Terminator-esque system that will at some point choose to overthrow its human masters. But don’t worry. We aren’t there just yet. The report concludes that “autonomy will deliver substantial operational value across an increasingly diverse array of DoD missions, but the DoD must move more rapidly to realize this value.” Meaning that while the value of autonomy is clear from a military perspective, the Department of Defense has to devote more money and time to realize its full potential — and do so quickly.

Those robots would be a result of artificial general intelligence (AGI), which is only a small area of research within AI that works on neural evolution and, perhaps in time, the creation of sentient machines. Much more prevalent, however, is machine learning (a computer’s ability to learn without being explicitly programmed) and neural nets (computer systems modeled on the human brain and nervous system) being drawn upon to augment human decision-making capabilities. Indeed, the Department of Defense is charging ahead with Project Maven, which established an Algorithmic Warfare Cross-Functional Team to have computers and neural nets lead the hunt for Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. The project synthesizes hundreds of hours of aerial surveillance video into actionable intelligence, which is then reviewed by analysts.

The thing is that we often don’t really know why AI makes the decisions or recommendations it does. While the computing capacity of AI expands on an almost daily basis, the study of how to make machine learning explain its decision-making process to a human has languished. So, while AI might recommend a target or offer up what it deems important intelligence footage, it can’t tell the military why. The extent of an explanation currently may be, “There is a 95 percent chance this is what you should do,” but that’s it.

This is why the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched a call last year for proposals as part of its newly created Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) program. The project’s goal is to develop a variety of explainable machine learning models while maintaining their prediction accuracy and to enable human users to understand and trust (while managing) the artificially intelligent partners being developed. After fielding hundreds of proposals, the XAI program settled on 12 that would make up the various areas of focus under the XAI umbrella. (DARPA puts out a call for nascent programs and then funds them for an amount of time under the program umbrella.)  .... " 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Learning from Camera Feeds

Technically interesting.  Learning by seeing, like we do.

Model-Based Reinforcement Learning from Pixels with Structured Latent Variable Models

By Marvin Zhang and Sharad Vikram  in Bair
Imagine a robot trying to learn how to stack blocks and push objects using visual inputs from a camera feed. In order to minimize cost and safety concerns, we want our robot to learn these skills with minimal interaction time, but efficient learning from complex sensory inputs such as images is difficult. This work introduces SOLAR, a new model-based reinforcement learning (RL) method that can learn skills – including manipulation tasks on a real Sawyer robot arm – directly from visual inputs with under an hour of interaction. To our knowledge, SOLAR is the most efficient RL method for solving real world image-based robotics tasks.  ... "

Amazon Seeks to Redefine Itself

A somewhat mysterious report on the BBC, but what this new 'big' will mean is unclear.  Breadth versus depth?  Dangers of major regulatory push backs?

Amazon's next big thing may redefine big    By Dave Lee in BBC Tech  North America technology reporter

"I see Amazon as a technology company that just happened to do retail," begins Werner Vogels, Amazon's chief technology officer.

"When Jeff [Bezos] started Amazon, he wasn't thinking about starting a bookshop. He was really fascinated by the internet.”

Only "mortal humans", he tells me in an interview, ever saw Amazon as merely a retailer. So the question now is: what will Amazon become next? And are mere mortals ready for it?

Its recent Re:Mars event in Las Vegas demonstrated clearly - through presentations about machine-learning, robotics and space - that the firm is going through a transition phase that, if successful, will redefine its relationship with the public.

Amazon's incredible, sophisticated systems are no longer being used just to serve up good deals, fast delivery times, or cheap web storage. Its big data capabilities are now the tool of police forces, and maybe soon the military. In the corporate world, Amazon is positioning itself to be the “brains” behind just about everything.

In short, New Amazon could make today's Amazon look quaint in both scale and power.  ... " 

History and Current State of Teradata

Have encountered Teradata a number of times as it related to retail analyics.  They turn 40 and encounter yet more competition.   A considerable piece on their state and future.

Teradata Turns 40, Takes Off Gloves, Readies for a Fight    By Alex Woodie in DataNami

The past, present, and future of Teradata collided yesterday at the company’s headquarters in San Diego, California, where 1,500 employees and guests – including four of the company’s original founders — gathered to celebrate the company’s improbable 40-year run. And facing tough competition in the analytics ring, Teradata’s CEO vows to go on the offensive.

The odds were stacked against Teradata from the very beginning, when a group of computer scientists gathered in Jack Shemer’s garage in Brentwood, California. It was the summer of 1979, and the future was not what you would call bright.

“All I remember is interest rates were astronomically high,” said Jerry Modes, one of Teradata’s co-founders, in a video that played on a large outdoor screen. “Carter was president….We decided to start a company right in the worst time there was.”

“Between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, the price of gold went from $350 to $850 dollars an ounce,” said Phillip Naches, another co-founder, in the video (which you can view here). “The prime rate went from 8% to 22%, and we knew that there was a big recession was coming on.”

“It was not an environment conducive to being a startup,” Shemer said in the video. “Being a startup, you know you’re going to live or you’re going to die.  You don’t want to fall on your sword or fall on your six shooter. You want to make sure you take a rifle shot and succeed.”

The founders were all technically adept, but they relied on Shemer, Teradata’s original CEO, to shake some money loose from the venture capitalists, which was not an easy task given the economy at the time.

“He could charm the birds out of the trees,” Teradata co-founder David Hartke said in the video. “He went around to many investors and talked them into investing with Teradata.”  .... "

Friday, June 14, 2019

Drug Supply Chain Blockchain Pilot

Useful example of supply chain blockchain pilot with major supporters. More details at the link.

IBM, KPMG, Merck, Walmart team up for drug supply chain blockchain pilot   By Ron Miller @ron_miller  in TechCrunch

IBM announced its latest blockchain initiative today. This one is in partnership with KPMG, Merk and Walmart to build a drug supply chain blockchain pilot.

These four companies are coming together to help come up with a solution to track certain drugs as they move through a supply chain. IBM  is acting as the technology partner, KPMG brings a deep understanding of the compliance issues, Merk is of course a drug company and Walmart would be a drug distributor through its pharmacies and care clinics.

The idea is to give each drug package a unique identifier that you can track through the supply chain from manufacturer to pharmacy to consumer. Seems simple enough, but the fact is that companies are loathe to share any data with one another. The blockchain would provide an irrefutable record of each transaction as the drug moved along the supply chain, giving authorities and participants an easy audit trail.

The pilot is part of a set of programs being conducted by various stakeholders at the request of the FDA. The end goal is to find solutions to help comply with the U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act. According to the FDA Pilot Program website, “FDA’s DSCSA Pilot Project Program is intended to assist drug supply chain stakeholders, including FDA, in developing the electronic, interoperable system that will identify and trace certain prescription drugs as they are distributed within the United States.”  .... " 

Blockchain Foundational

Quite a strong statement, but the examples are worth watching.

FedEx exec: Blockchain will become a foundational layer – for everything

Like the internet, blockchain will eventually underpin new business models – and the movement in that direction has already begun.
By Lucas Mearian in Chomputerworld

BOSTON – While blockchain may never be a panacea for solving all business transaction problems, it will eventually become a foundational technology across industries that will lead to new business models.

Before that can happen, however, proprietary blockchains will have to run their course and be replaced by open software and industry standards that enable distributed ledgers to communicate across competing businesses and borders, according to Dale Chrystie, a FedEx business fellow and blockchain strategist. .... " 

Voices in AI: David Cox

As always an excellent piece, one of 84, read the rest of the GigaOM pieces:

Voices in AI – Episode 84: A Conversation with David Cox   By Byron Reese

Episode 84 of Voices in AI features host Byron Reese and David Cox discuss classifications of AI, and how the research has been evolving and growing

Listen to this one-hour episode or read the full transcript at www.VoicesinAI.com

Transcript Excerpt:

Byron Reese: This is Voices in AI, brought to you by GigaOm and I’m Byron Reese. I’m so excited about today’s show. Today we have David Cox. He is the Director of the MIT IBM Watson AI Lab, which is part of IBM Research. Before that he spent 11 years teaching at Harvard, interestingly in the Life Sciences. He holds an AB degree from Harvard in Biology and Psychology, and he holds a PhD in Neuroscience from MIT. Welcome to the show David!

David Cox: Thanks. It’s a great pleasure to be here.

I always like to start with my Rorschach question which is, “What is intelligence and why is Artificial Intelligence artificial?” And you’re a neuroscientist and a psychologist and a biologist, so how do you think of intelligence?

That’s a great question. I think we don’t necessarily need to have just one definition. I think people get hung up on the words, but at the end of the day, what makes us intelligent, what makes other organisms on this planet intelligent is the ability to absorb information about the environment, to build models of what’s going to happen next, to predict and then to make actions that help achieve whatever goal you’re trying to achieve. And when you look at it that way that’s a pretty broad definition. ...." 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

ACM-IMA Data Science Summit on June 15

Upcoming, will be attending.

Livestream Lets You Virtually Attend ACM-IMS Data Science Summit on June 15

 If you can’t attend the ACM-IMS Interdisciplinary Summit on the Foundations of Data Science in person, access the livestream starting on June 15 at 9 AM PDT.

This event, organized by ACM and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, promises to be a stimulating day of distinguished speakers and panelists addressing topics such as deep learning, reinforcement learning, fairness, and ethics, in addition to discussions about the future of data science:

9:05-9:40 AM Keynote Talk: "Making the Black Box Effective: What Statistics Can Offer," Emmanuel Candès

9:40-10:20 AM Panel: Deep Learning, Reinforcement Learning, and Role of Methods in Data Science

10:35-11:15 AM Panel: Robustness and Stability in Data Science
11:15-11:55 AM Panel: Fairness and Ethics in Data Science
1:00-1:35 PM Keynote Talk: "Deep Learning for Tackling Real-World Problems," Jeffrey Dean
1:35-2:10 PM Keynote Talk: "Machine Learning: A New Approach to Drug Discovery," Daphne Koller

2:20-2:55 PM Panel: Future of Data Science

Managing Moments of Truth

Was a very early user of the concept of MOT, so this struck  me,   Have to be measurable, understandable by decision makers, influence-able as part of a real process.  And then:

Get Scientific about Managing Moments of Truth   By Mitch Belsley in Customerthink

James Dodkins the CX Rockstar recently put out a video detailing the 5 Dimensions of Moments of Truth where he briefly outlined how to manage Moments of Truth (MOT’s) based on 5 simple and measurable dimensions. We wanted to delve deeper into these dimensions to give you a clear line of sight to understanding how effective management of Moments of Truth can lead to delivering world class experiences for your customer and achieving business outcomes.

When a customer enters into a moment of truth, everything is on the line for the company: revenue, loyalty, the entire relationship. We take a scientific approach to managing these moments to align our investments with specific outcomes and generate an optimal return.

Here’s how we manage the 5 dimensions of moments of truth:  .... "

Simplifying the Complex

As does most everyone, as long as it also includes tools needed to create true and complete models that are useful for process.

Microsoft Wants to Simplify Machine Learning

Ahead of its Build conference, Microsoft  today released a slew of new machine learning products and tweaks to some of its existing services. These range from no-code tools to hosted notebooks, with a number of new APIs and other services in-between. The core theme, here, though, is that Microsoft is continuing its strategy of democratizing access to AI.

Ahead of the release, I sat down with Microsoft’s Eric Boyd, the company’s corporate vice president of its AI platform, to discuss Microsoft’s take on this space, where it competes heavily with the likes of Google and AWS, as well as numerous, often more specialized startups. And to some degree, the actual machine learning technologies have become table stakes. Everybody now offers pre-trained models, open-source tools and the platforms to train, build and deploy models. If one company doesn’t have pre-trained models for some use cases that its competitors support, it’s only a matter of time before it will. It’s the auxiliary services and the overall developer experience, though, where companies like Microsoft, with its long history of developing these tools, can differentiate themselves. ... ? 

Rise of Agile Employee

Ultimately what we need.    Else will more easily replaced by autonomous solutions.  Sure we need narrow advanced expertise,  but many more 'hands' to implement, apply and test.   For now agile-adaptable.  Forrester has some good thoughts and video:

The Rise Of The Agile Employee
Alyson Clarke, Principal Analyst Forrester

Digital leaders tell us that they often struggle to find the right people with the right skills, and competition for elite talent is fierce. As their firm becomes more advanced in their digital journey – embracing new technology, evolving their business models, and the skills and talent they need to execute on that becomes even harder to find.

Many already realize that traditional methods of recruiting and acquisition will no longer be enough, and for some – that are really digitally advanced – the supply of skills they need doesn’t even exist.

Watch the video below to learn more about Forrester’s latest report on digital talent, “The Rise Of The Agile Employee” which looks at what digital leaders can do to continuously cultivate the next generation of digital talent, and set themselves up for success with fast, agile skills development. .... "

Categorizing Images on Airbnb

A problem type we worked on for years, for applications like advertising archives and ad and copy re-use.

Categorizing Listing Photos at Airbnb  in Medium
Large-scale deep learning models are changing the way we think about images of homes on our platform.

Authors: Shijing Yao, Qiang Zhu, Phillippe Siclait

Airbnb is a marketplace featuring millions of homes. Travelers around the world search on the platform and discover the best homes for their trips. Aside from location and price, listing photos are one of the most critical factors for decision-making during a guest’s search journey. However until very recently, we knew very little about these important photos. When a guest interacted with listing photos of a home, we had no way to help guests find the most informative images, ensure the information conveyed in the photos was accurate or advise hosts about how to improve the appeal of their images in a scalable way.  .... "

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Making the Road Easier

Seems this kind of assistance would be of value in many domains.

Life on the Road Easier as Truckers Adopt Digital Tech 
The Wall Street Journal
Angus Loten

Trucking, logistics, and supply-chain operators are adopting digital tools, including artificial intelligence (AI), to improve long-haul freight shipping. Fleet operator Hub Group has introduced AI-powered capabilities to ensure more efficient delivery and raise productivity; these capabilities exploit more than 10 million data points gathered by sensors and other equipment the company has been incorporating into its truck fleet over the past two years. Hub CIO Vava Dimond said the initiative hopes to mitigate truckers' paperwork burden with an app that tracks and automatically fills out route logs and proof of delivery notices. Older transportation companies are being pressured to modernize by developing platforms that combine various datasets to track orders, truck locations, and other vital information in real time, and boosting fuel expenditure and scheduling efficiency. ... " 

Cutting Out of Stocks: Reality and Perception

A favorite topic.   Availability is essential to support marketing, else whats a shelf placement for?   Thus too while online works well.

Stores have cut out-of-stocks. Why don’t consumers know that? in Retailwire  by Andrew Blatherwick

Research shows that online retailers have significantly lower service levels when compared to traditional retailers that operate warehouses and stores. Still, the perception persists that Amazon.com can quickly and efficiently deliver any product to your doorstep, while brick-and-mortar retailers constantly run out of stock on items. Why the disconnect and, more importantly for traditional merchants, how do you overcome that perception?

The perception disconnect is rooted in the fact that customers have grown accustomed to high availability as retailers have improved their supply chains and technology over the last 20 years. For physical retailers, an out-of-stock is as clear as the hole on the shelf. It’s tangible, and shoppers experience a time delay in acquiring the out-of-stock item — whether by visiting a competitor’s store or placing an order online.

While ecommerce customers may be unimpressed by poor availability, they are far less inconvenienced because switching to a competing online retailer takes just a moment’s time and a few mouse clicks. The negative impact on long-term loyalty in the ecommerce scenario is lower because it’s easier to shop multiple online retailers than multiple traditional retailers.  ... ."

Brains and Maps

Freeman Dyson, a favorite source, talks brains and maps ......

The Brain Is Full of Maps in The Edge

A Talk By Freeman Dyson [6.11.19]

 I was talking about maps and feelings, and whether the brain is analog or digital. I’ll give you a little bit of what I wrote:

Brains use maps to process information. Information from the retina goes to several areas of the brain where the picture seen by the eye is converted into maps of various kinds. Information from sensory nerves in the skin goes to areas where the information is converted into maps of the body. The brain is full of maps. And a big part of the activity is transferring information from one map to another.

As we know from our own use of maps, mapping from one picture to another can be done either by digital or by analog processing. Because digital cameras are now cheap and film cameras are old fashioned and rapidly becoming obsolete, many people assume that the process of mapping in the brain must be digital. But the brain has been evolving over millions of years and does not follow our ephemeral fashions. A map is in its essence an analog device, using a picture to represent another picture. The imaging in the brain must be done by direct comparison of pictures rather than by translations of pictures into digital form. .... 

FREEMAN DYSON, emeritus professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, has worked on nuclear reactors, solid-state physics, ferromagnetism, astrophysics, and biology, looking for problems where elegant mathematics could be usefully applied. His books include Disturbing the Universe, Weapons and Hope, Infinite in All Directions, and Maker of Patterns. ..... "

Kids Echo

Now, with a 2+ old granddaughter, who has learned to interact vocally with an Echo, an interesting development.  Is it child abuse, as some have suggested?    How should privacy be differently addressed?

Amazon’s new Echo Dot Kids Edition comes in blue or rainbow colors  in TheVerge
Based on the third-generation Echo Dot

By Dan Seifert @dcseifert    .... "

Itunes Shutting Down, History and implications.

A favorite prof at Wharton discusses ITunes.  Long been interested in how the music industry has been changed by tech.

Game-changer to Digital Dustbin: Why iTunes Is Shutting Down

Wharton's Peter Fader and UT-Arlington's David Arditi discuss why Apple is shutting down iTunes. 

[Podcast] and transcript ....

If video killed the radio star, as the old song goes, then iTunes killed the record industry. Now, 18 years after Apple launched the music download store, the company announced that iTunes is shutting down.

During its Worldwide Developers Conference this week in San Jose, California, Apple announced iTunes will no longer exist as a digital jukebox but will be reformed into three separate apps for music, television and podcasts. While the change has been a long time coming —  sales of digital music downloads have dropped for six straight years, according to the Recording Industry Association of America  — it marks a significant shift in the company’s business model and in the kind of consumer behavior that Apple helped shape when it first opened the digital store in 2001. Music lovers were no longer bound to the full purchase of an album that was packaged and sold by a record label; they were free to buy single songs for 99 cents, which ushered in a new era of pick-and-choose consumption.

“iTunes is a cancer for the music industry. This was obvious 15 years ago … Good thing it will finally go away,” Wharton marketing professor Peter Fader wrote on Twitter. When Knowledge@Wharton asked him to explain his tweet on the K@W radio show on SiriusXM, Fader didn’t mince words. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)  ... "

First Kroger - Ocado Fulfillment Center

Continued high tech improvements by Kroger.   Adds a number of jobs here.

Kroger breaking ground on $55M Butler County facility that will bring more than 400 jobs... 

Kroger and Ocado are set to break ground this morning in Butler County for the first-ever U.S. high-tech customer fulfillment center.

Kroger is investing $55 million to build the 335,000-square-foot facility at 6266 Hamilton Lebanon Road in Monroe, which will be the first of 20 in America.It’s expected to create more than 410 new jobs.MORE: Kroger’s robot-powered warehouse to create over 400 jobs in Monroe Kroger purchased the more than 98-acre property along Ohio 63 on March 20 for $3.1 million, according to Butler County Auditor’s Office records.The Ohio Tax Credit Authority voted last December to approve an 8-year, 1.362 percent tax credit for the project. .... " 

More in Forbes with video.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

More on Amazon Air Drone

 More technical details.   Not much yet about the underlying process.  That is which type orders, in which locations and what decisions will be made to decide which deliveries will be made this way.  As I  also mentioned, will this crowd the skies?   Are there further predicted regulations to to consider?

Amazon unveils new Prime Air drone    By Dan Berthiaume in ChainstoreAge

Amazon is aiming for deliveries of small items in less than 30 minutes with its latest drone design.

The e-tail giant publicly debuted the new drone at its re:MARS conference (Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics and Space) in Las Vegas. The new drone features a hybrid design, meaning it can perform vertical takeoffs and landings like a helicopter. However, the drone can also shift to an airplane mode once it is in the air for efficient, aerodynamic flight.

The drone’s wings also serve as shrouds that enclose the device for safety. For additional safety, Amazon designed the drone with six degrees of motion freedom, instead of the standard four for aircraft, which makes it more stable, and capable of operating safely in more gusty wind conditions.

Furthermore, artificial intelligence (AI) technology enables the drone to independently react to changes in its flight environment. While in transit, computer vision and machine learning technology will let the drone detect static and moving objects in its path. Before descending for delivery or ascending after a delivery is complete, stereo vision technology and AI algorithms allow the drone to detect and avoid obstacles such as people, animals, and wires.

Amazon intends the new drones to fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes.  .... " 

Robots Predict Human Movement

Relatively simple but useful idea.   Imagine too its premise being used to predict the interaction of people and drones in a swarm performing tasks?  Or determining nearby resources?

Algorithm tells robots where nearby humans are headed
A new tool for predicting a person’s movement trajectory may help humans and robots work together in close proximity.

Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office 

In 2018, researchers at MIT and the auto manufacturer BMW were testing ways in which humans and robots might work in close proximity to assemble car parts. In a replica of a factory floor setting, the team rigged up a robot on rails, designed to deliver parts between work stations. Meanwhile, human workers crossed its path every so often to work at nearby stations. 

The robot was programmed to stop momentarily if a person passed by. But the researchers noticed that the robot would often freeze in place, overly cautious, long before a person had crossed its path. If this took place in a real manufacturing setting, such unnecessary pauses could accumulate into significant inefficiencies.

The team traced the problem to a limitation in the robot’s trajectory alignment algorithms used by the robot’s motion predicting software. While they could reasonably predict where a person was headed, due to the poor time alignment the algorithms couldn’t anticipate how long that person spent at any point along their predicted path — and in this case, how long it would take for a person to stop, then double back and cross the robot’s path again. .... " 

Supercharging Innovation With Process

Like the approach, and its use for products and processes.   We did it every day.   But I would add innovation should be used with a specific process to address these needs.  Sometime people think that innovation should be non-systematic and brainstorm like.  No, it should follow a process than can be stated, implemented, designed to be agile ... and delivered towards some goals.    Once you have that you can readily insert things like pattern analysis and optimization to improve what you have come up with.    It also makes you think about what parameters your innovations have.

Fusing data and design to supercharge innovation—in products and processes   By Akshay Chhabra and Simon Williams in McKinsey

Fusing data and design to supercharge innovation—in products and processes

While many organizations are investing in data and design capabilities, only those that tightly weave these disciplines together will unlock their full benefits.

Often in business, the biggest breakthroughs come when organizations connect different, and seemingly disparate, ideas and approaches. Diversity of perspective has been shown time and again to foster fresh thinking to solve tough problems. Such is the promise for organizations that can effectively bring together data and design.

Data are often prized for their indifference to intuition, stoic reflection of the facts, and ability to shatter our assumptions—veritable superpowers when put into the hands of decision makers. While data have always been an important business input, recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and other analytics are only increasing the number of organizational arenas in which decision makers can activate data’s superpowers, from hiring to product development to customer engagement.

Separately, design thinking has spread like wildfire across industries after some iconic brands and born-digital companies (think Apple and Google) demonstrated the revenues and customer satisfaction it could drive. Harnessing qualitative insights, creativity, and a relentless focus on end-user needs, the approach is typically aimed at product and service innovation. .... "