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Monday, May 10, 2021

Detecting and Using Emotion in Language Interaction

Interesting ideas implied here, but not proven,   We worked on two kinds of 'emotion'  Detecting emotion in consumer reactions, then classifying and determining its strength.   Also  embedding it in bot style interactions with consumers, in context,  and also classifying that interaction and strength.   Could 'style' be considered a kind of classification of use here?  I like the direction suggested, though hard to see how useful it might be.  Powerful potential idea in sales and marketing. 

Expert.ai adds emotion and style detection tools to natural language API  By Damon Poeter  in Venturebeat  May 10, 2021 

Enterprises and investors are increasingly excited about using natural language (NL) processing to assist in tasks like data mining for sales intelligence, tracking how marketing campaigns change over time, and better defending against phishing and ransomware attacks.

Still, AI products using natural language engines to analyze text have a long way to go to capture more than a fraction of the nuance humans use to communicate with each other. Expert.ai hopes the addition of new emotion- and behavior-measuring extensions and a new style-detecting toolkit for its natural language API will provide AI developers with more human-like language analysis capabilities. The company this week announced new advanced features for its cloud-based NL API designed to help AI developers “[extract] emotions in large-scale texts and [identify] stylometric data driving a complete fingerprint of content,” Expert.ai said in a statement.

Based in Modena, Italy and with U.S. headquarters in Rockville, Md., Expert.ai changed its name from Expert System in 2020. The company’s customers include media outlets like the Associated Press, which uses NL software for content classification and enrichment, business intelligence consultants like L’Argus de la Presse, which conducts brand reputation analysis with NL processing, and financial services firms like Zurich Insurance, which uses Expert.ai’s platform to develop cognitive computing solutions.

Freeing people up for higher-order tasks

Expert.ai’s software platform enables natural language solutions that take unstructured language data from sources like social media sites and emails, transforming it into more digestible, usable intelligence before human analysts look at it. An example of a basic NL capability would be to distinguish between different ways a word like “jaguar” is used contextually—-to signify the animal, the vehicle, or the name of a sports team. This allows for process automation steps to be introduced to text gathering, categorization and analysis workloads, freeing up human analysts to perform higher-order tasks with the data.... " ... ' 

AI's for Art Forgery?

Some good points made here, in their current state these are not really even forgery-perfect.   But they could be.  And not to say they could not do other kinds of counterfeiting that don't require so much testing and identity accounting.   

AI: The Next Great Art Forger

Posted by Stephanie Glen in DSC

AI develops new “art” using image analysis.

GANs do not create, they repaint.

The result is a pastiche, a poor copy of the real thing.

AI art is created with algorithms that enable AI to learn a specific aesthetic by analyzing thousands of images; The algorithm then attempts to generate new images based on that learning [1].  Original pieces can also be created by GANs, which pit two neural networks against each other. The result is “art” that is difficult to differentiate from human-made artwork. One such piece, Portrait of Edmond Belamy, sold for a staggering $432, 500 when it went under the hammer at Christie’s Prints & Multiples sale at Christie’s on 23-25 October last year [2].

But do these AI-generated pastiches qualify as real art? Probably not. Many in the art and AI communities agree that these cannot be called art, at least in the traditional sense. Even if you could stretch the definition of art to include AI-generated images, they are of poor quality and no better than a factory produced knock off.    ..." 

Decision Trees and Random forests

This is fundamental stuff, that every practitioner should know well.  Its the simplest way that machines can be made to learn. And provides a good way to deliver real results.  Nice description... most is quite non-technical.  You should also know when this wont work, the data required, cautions to take .... but this is a great start

How do Decision Trees and Random Forests Work?

Part 1: Decision Trees

By Dick Brown  in TowardsDatascience

 Decision trees and random forests are two commonly used algorithms in predictive modeling. In this article, I’m going to discuss the process behind decision trees. I’m planning to follow this up with a second part that discusses random forests, and then compare the two.

First off: decision trees. A decision tree is named for the shape of the plot that comes out. The image below shows a decision tree for deciding what factors affected survival from the Titanic disaster.  ... " 

Swarm Robotics

 A space we touched on very early ... even before many robots were involved!  But you could see the sensors and 'actors' were needed very quickly.  Had an element of crowdsourcing to it too. Think goals tasks and data gathering.  And how humans interact with the swarm. 

Swarm Robotics: Projects, New Business Models & Technical Challenges

How to improve the scalability of Swarm robotics applications, Collective AI algorithms and hardware limits

By Alexandre Gonfalonieri  in TowardsDataScience

Swarm robotics is a promising recent researching area inspired by swarm intelligence and robotics. The objective is to control a large number of simple robots to solve complex tasks.

Despite the growing number of research papers, scalable applications are still far away, and new business models still need to be found in the context of a Machine-to-Machine economy (M2M).

Recently, I had the chance to collaborate with a team involved with swarm robotics. The goal was to leverage a group of small robots to identify water leaks in a large-scale facility.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

On Clearer Communications in Unclear times

Well done piece in HBR on implied rules of communications.  Have they changed?  Been made more important in hybrid times?  Now that we have a dozen more ways to communicate.   Below link to the broader article in Quester. 

Did You Get My Slack/Email/Text?  by Erica Dhawan    in HBR 

Summary.   We are in the midst of a major transition from remote to hybrid work. As this shift is happening, it’s essential for managers to establish norms around digital communication with their teams. Having a detailed guide will help ensure that everyone on your team is on...more

Back when we were in the office, we all knew the unwritten rules of communication. If someone had large headphones on, they probably were focused on work, and didn’t want to be interrupted to gossip about the latest drama. Or if your team was about to have an important meeting with a client, you would quickly run through last-minute questions before walking into the room.

We all learned these communication norms by observing our colleagues. But now with the rapid shift to hybrid work there is a need to create new rules for digital communication. Somehow it seems that the more platforms we have at our disposal, the more complicated digital communication gets.

I published a research study with Quester this month called “The Digital Communication Crisis” to understand the challenges that we all face in workplace digital communication. Through a survey of almost 2,000 office workers, we found that over 70% experienced some form of unclear communication from their colleagues. This leads to the average employee wasting four hours per week on poor or confusing digital communications, which adds up to an average annual amount of $188 billion wasted across the American economy.  ... ' 

(The additional stats in 'The Digital Communication Crisis', linked to above are interesting, and could help you redesign communications in your workplace. ")

Using AI for Contract Negotiations

Nothing mentioned about 'smart contracts', but surely you can see the possibilities linking from this. ?   They say that Walmart has been a user of the idea. 

How Companies Use AI for Contract Negotiations

For foodies traveling the Baltics, you’ll find Lithuania has some of the best food hands down – kugelis, kapusta, and bundookie buns should be on your to-do list. In second place would be Latvia. Look no further than buffet food chain Lido for some seriously good Baltic fare. Then there’s the black sheep of the bunch, Estonia. Whoever thought putting peaches on pizza was a good idea should be taken out behind the kitchen and shot. This culinary faux pas could be because Estonians spend all their time honing their tech skills instead of messing around in the kitchen.

Another Estonian Startup Making Headlines

Prior to The Rona, our MBAs were scouting tech startups across the globe from Saudi Arabia to Russia. One country we visited last year was Estonia where we met with Skeleton Technologies (ultracapacitors) and Veriff (global identity verification). Recently, both companies raised sizable funding rounds – Veriff raised $65 million a few weeks ago and Skeleton $61 million last month. We also looked at 9 Artificial Intelligence Startups in Estonia, and one company not on that list was Pactum, an AI startup that’s been garnering some attention lately with their AI algorithms that negotiate contracts.

About Pactum AI:     https://pactum.com/

Estonia is often said to be one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world, and her e-residency program attracts tech talent from across the globe. The Founding Managing Director of that program, Kaspar Korjus, is renowned in Estonia for his technical prowess. He was one of three people that founded Pactum AI in 2019 to help companies “unlock value from thousands of suppliers by automatically negotiating contracts on a massive scale.” This foreign fintech firm has quietly snuck into the Silicon Valley Vatican and now sports a Mountain View address along with $15.2 million in funding and the best reference customer you could ask for – dividend growth champion Walmart (WMT) – the largest corporation by revenue globally, and one of Pactum’s most supportive customers.

Pactum’s most recent round of funding was an $11 million Series A which closed just days ago, putting them on the radar of investors and potential customers as they look to offer contract negotiation services to companies with $1 billion of revenues or more. The process starts with two weeks of discovery, after which the algorithms take over and start negotiating tail spend contracts. For most companies, around 80% of their commercial agreements are high volume and low value – tail spend. Pactum can unlock a significant amount of hidden value in tail-spend contracts, reducing spend by 2% to 11% per $100m of tail spend. As for pricing, they only charge for successful deals that add value, essentially guaranteeing an ROI for every project they’re working on. They also offer a “gain share” pricing model which takes 25% of the gain a renegotiation generates. We love AI companies that are so confident in their product they simply take a cut of all the money they’re saving their clients.  ... " 

Examining 3D Customer Experiences

 Nicely put short piece in Customer Think about how customers will be attracted and engagedwith 3D experiences.  And some notable examples like IKEA Place,  which I have worked with.    My current look at LiDAR also edges on the idea.

Reimagining Customer Experiences With 3D Technologies

By Surabhi Ghosh Chatterjee -May 4, 2021 in Customerthink

The new normal is evolving every day, and so are customer expectations. One of the major shifts in consumers’ sentiment today is – ‘If I can do it online, I will.’ This shift is likely to stay in consumers’ lives as they become increasingly comfortable with technology. Today’s consumers seek personalized and engaging experiences that emotionally connect with them. In fact, 86% of customers say they do not mind paying a premium for a great customer experience. A recent IDC report suggests that customer experiences will become a competitive advantage for brands to gain customer loyalty.

Immersive technologies will play a critical role in the way customer experiences (CX) are reimagined. 3D technologies can be the game-changers in building an emotional connection with consumers and redefining the rules of customer experiences for the future.

Here’s how:  ... " 

Google Pushes 2-Factor Authentication

 Am a long time proponent of the idea. Its not perfect security, but is a big step forward.

Google Gets Serious About Two-Factor Authentication. Good!  in Wired

The tech giant wants to push its billions of users—and the rest of the industry—to enable multifactor authentication by default.

“TURN ON TWO-FACTOR authentication” is solid advice, and WIRED has repeated it for years. Doing so ensures that your password isn't the only line of defense against unauthorized access to your accounts. The only problem? The onus was always on you to figure out how to make it happen. Now, Google is taking its first steps toward enabling two-factor by default for all its users—and where Google goes in web security, the rest of the industry often follows.

The company said in a blog post this week that it will begin asking users who already have enabled two-step verification to authenticate by tapping a prompt on their smartphones whenever they sign into their Google or Gmail account. (Gmail has about 1.8 billion users).  .. ' 

Nokia and Claro Chile deploy Private Wireless Network for Minera Gold Fields

Ultimately how to get security, build private networks.  makes sense for gold mining, and most every other business. 

Nokia and Claro Chile deploy private wireless network for Minera Gold Fields

Press Release  GlobeNewswire

Nokia and Claro Chile deploy private wireless network for Minera Gold Fields

The project with Claro Chile will transform Salares Norte into one of most digitalized mines in Latin America, and a benchmark for Industry 4.0

Nokia’s private LTE/4.9G network will help make mining safer, more efficient and productive

Deployment is an example of asset-intensive industry digitalizing as they embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution, expanding the possibilities for industries such as energy, railways, utilities and agriculture

Espoo, Finland – Nokia today announced it is partnering with Claro Chile to equip the new Gold Fields Salares Norte mine with a high-performance private wireless network. The solution will support the automation of mining operations by using different applications, such as remote-controlled trucks, excavators, drills and, in the future, drones.  ... " 

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Kroger Drone Delivery Experiment

 Had not heard much of this, but Kroger is apparently testing at a Centerville Ohio Kroger not far from us. Can someone from there provide some observations?  Some interesting details in the article below. Given the limitations, is this primarily a pharma delivery experiment? 

Kroger takes flight with drone delivery test  in RetailWire, with retail expert comment.

Kroger thinks that drone deliveries have the potential to help transform its e-commerce operations.

The largest grocery chain operator in the U.S. announced yesterday a pilot program testing the use of autonomous drones to deliver online orders from a Kroger in Centerville, OH.

Jody Kalmbach, group vice president of product experience at Kroger, called the test an “evolution” of the company’s seamless shopping ecosystem including pickup, delivery and shipping.

“The pilot reinforces the importance of flexibility and immediacy to customers, powered by modern, cost-effective and efficient last-mile solutions. We’re excited to test drone delivery and gain insights that will inform expansion plans as well as future customer solutions,” Ms. Kalmbach said in a statement.

Kroger’s online sales topped $10 billion in 2020 as the company pushed ahead with a multi-year plan to meet consumers where, when and how they find most convenient.

The pilot program, run with Drone Express, a division of Telegrid Technologies, enables Kroger to identify dropoff points based on the location of a customer’s smartphone. This means that the store testing the drones will be able to bring condiments, sunscreen or other items to a park, for example, if a customer forgets to pack them for an afternoon picnic.

Customers placing orders can get their products within as little as 15 minutes. There are weight limits, however, with each order having a five-pound capacity. Kroger is offering special product bundles, such as child wellness (over-the-counter medications, wipes, etc.) and S’mores, which comes with all the fixings for the gooey, sugary summer delight. Customers at the Centerville store may place orders by going to Kroger.com/DroneDelivery. ... "

(The address at the end provides some public detail from Kroger and media connections I am following)   ... 

McKinsey: How to Get Re-Skilling Right

 Might be just the thing we need post pandemic.

Monthly Highlights, May 2021

Dear Franz,

We know that demands on your time are intense and information overload is a real challenge as all of us inch our way out of this pandemic. My publishing colleagues and I are grateful that you have chosen to let McKinsey research, data, articles, and ideas come to your inbox. We take that privilege seriously, allowing you to fully opt-in to our subscriptions based on your interests from among more than 40 email free-to-read offerings.

We know you find our insights relevant and useful and are hoping you might share them with colleagues and friends who can also benefit from McKinsey content.

May Highlights: Here's how to get reskilling right https://mck.co/33p46Jb

As always, feel free to reach out to me and my audience team at reader_input@mckinsey.com

Thank you for letting us be a part of your reading (and, hopefully, sharing) world.

Regards,  Raju Narisetti,

Publisher, McKinsey Global Publishing

Wolfram Physics: One Year Update: How’s It Going?

With a physics background, always found this somewhat ungraspable, but on it goes.  And now an update.   I have yet to hear that traditional physics is applauding this, so I guess that is still my main objection.   And I don't have the time to do my own fundamental research.   So here it is:

Wolfram Physics:  On Year Update:  How’s It Going?

When we launched the Wolfram Physics Project a year ago today, I was fairly certain that—to my great surprise—we’d finally found a path to a truly fundamental theory of physics, and it was beautiful. A year later it’s looking even better. We’ve been steadily understanding more and more about the structure and implications of our models—and they continue to fit beautifully with what we already know about physics, particularly connecting with some of the most elegant existing approaches, strengthening and extending them, and involving the communities that have developed them.

And if fundamental physics wasn’t enough, it’s also become clear that our models and formalism can be applied even beyond physics—suggesting major new approaches to several other fields, as well as allowing ideas and intuition from those fields to be brought to bear on understanding physics.

Needless to say, there is much hard work still to be done. But a year into the process I’m completely certain that we’re “climbing the right mountain”. And the view from where we are so far is already quite spectacular.

We’re still mostly at the stage of exploring the very rich structure of our models and their connections to existing theoretical frameworks. But we’re on a path to being able to make direct experimental predictions, even if it’ll be challenging to find ones accessible to present-day experiments. But quite independent of this, what we’ve done right now is already practical and useful—providing new streamlined methods for computing several important existing kinds of physics results.

The way I see what we’ve achieved so far is that it seems as if we’ve successfully found a structure for the “machine code” of the universe—the lowest-level processes from which all the richness of physics and everything else emerges. It certainly wasn’t obvious that any such “machine code” would exist. But I think we can now be confident that it does, and that in a sense our universe is fundamentally computational all the way down. But even though the foundations are different, the remarkable thing is that what emerges aligns with important mathematical structures we already know, enhancing and generalizing them.

From four decades of exploring the computational universe of possible programs, my most fundamental takeaway has been that even simple programs can produce immensely complex behavior, and that this behavior is usually computationally irreducible, in the sense that it can’t be predicted by anything much less than just running the explicit computation that produced it. And at the level of the machine code our models very much suggest that our universe will be full of such computational irreducibility.

Accenture: Get a Secure, Trustworthy Internet

Good, considerable piece by Accenture, pointed to below.   Who we worked with in the past.  Have been of late become involved in related efforts and find some their points key.   As has been reported here.   How do we secure the digital internet, and make people trust it for all tasks,  large and small, personal and commercial?   We are slipping here and need to get a better handle on the risks,  included losing our hold.   Else what?  

Securing the foundations

The benefits of a secure, trustworthy Internet economy are clear.

CEOs have an opportunity to drive meaningful change today and develop a foundation of trust for tomorrow’s digital economy. Unfortunately, just one attack is all it takes to damage an organization.

The actions of CEOs—driving above ground and influencing below ground—matter. By joining forces with other CEOs, public sector leaders and regulators, they can develop much-needed guidelines and oversight mechanisms. By protecting their own organization and extending protection through its value chain, they will safeguard the business ecosystem. By embracing and developing technologies that can advance their businesses and enhance digital safety, CEO engagement can drive a trust turnaround for the Internet and secure the future of the digital economy. ... " 

Robot Hair Untangling

This got some rare general press, since it deals with a real concern/chore in the home.  And I do have a general 'hair care' link below from my Consumer package company goods days.    Perhaps they want to pick this up, but I am assuming the robot required is expensive. 

Untangle Your Hair With Help From Robots

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

Rachel Gordon, May 3, 2021

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Harvard University's Soft Math Lab teamed up to develop a robotic arm setup that can comb tangled hair. "RoboWig" features a sensorized soft brush equipped with a camera to assess curliness, so the system can adapt to the degree of hair tangling it encounters. CSAIL's Josie Hughes said, "By developing a model of tangled fibers, we understand from a model-based perspective how hairs must be entangled: starting from the bottom and slowly working the way up to prevent 'jamming' of the fibers." Tests on wigs of various hair styles and hair types helped determine appropriate brushing lengths, taking into consideration the number of entanglements and pain levels.

Neural Nets Used to Rethink Material Design

Somewhat different approach, training from equations.  Closer to the efforts we used during the early uses of neural nets.  Combining learning methods and existing algorithms.

Neural Nets Used to Rethink Material Design

Rice University News, April 30, 2021

A technique developed by researchers at Rice University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory uses machine learning to predict the evolution of microstructures in materials. The researchers demonstrated that neural networks can train themselves to predict a structure's growth in a particular environment. The researchers trained their neural networks using data from the traditional equation-based approach to predict microstructure changes and tested them on four microstructure types: plane-wave propagation, grain growth, spinodal decomposition, and dendritic crystal growth. The neural networks were 718 times faster for grain growth when powered by graphic processors compared to the prior algorithm, and 87 times faster when run on a standard central processor. Rice's Ming Tang said the new method can "make predictions even when we do not know everything about the material properties in a system," and will be useful in designing more efficient batteries.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Wal-Mart All-in on Telehealth

Wal-Mart wants to do Telemedicine.

Walmart is going all in on 24/7/365 telehealth

By George Anderson n Retailwire

Walmart announced yesterday that it has acquired MeMD, a telehealth company offering nationwide virtual medical and mental healthcare services. The move is just the latest in a series of steps that the retailing giant has taken to become a player of significance in the market.

The move will enable Walmart in the months to come the ability to offer virtual care across the country and serve as a complement to the company’s in-person Walmart Health centers. The move is intended to increase lower cost access for the chain’s associates and customers in keeping with Walmart’s strategic branding mission.

“Today people expect omnichannel access to care, and adding telehealth to our Walmart Health care strategies allows us to provide in-person and digital care across our multiple assets and solutions,” Dr. Cheryl Pegus, executive vice president, Health & Wellness for Walmart, said in a statement. “Our Health & Wellness mission is to focus on the consumer’s seamless experience and improved health.” .... ' 

Serverless Computing as the Next Phase of Cloud

What's next? 

 What Serverless Computing Is and Should Become: The Next Phase of Cloud Computing

By Johann Schleier-Smith, Vikram Sreekanti, Anurag Khandelwal, Joao Carreira, Neeraja J. Yadwadkar, Raluca Ada Popa, Joseph E. Gonzalez, Ion Stoica, David A. Patterson

Communications of the ACM, May 2021, Vol. 64 No. 5, Pages 76-84  10.1145/3406011

In 2010, some of us co-authored a Communications article that helped explain the relatively new phenomenon of cloud computing.4 We said that cloud computing provided the illusion of infinitely scalable remote servers without charging a premium for scale, as renting 1,000 servers for one hour costs the same as renting one server for 1,000 hours, and that economies of scale for the cloud provider allowed it to be surprisingly inexpensive. We listed challenges to cloud computing, and then predicted that most would be overcome so the industry would increasingly shift from computing inside local data centers to "the cloud," which has indeed happened. Today two-thirds of enterprise information technology spending for infrastructure and software is based in the cloud.8

We are revisiting cloud computing a decade later to explain its emerging second phase, which we believe will further accelerate the shift to the cloud. The first phase mainly simplified system administration by making it easier to configure and manage computing infrastructure, primarily through the use of virtual servers and networks carved out from massive multi-tenant data centers. This second phase hides the servers by providing programming abstractions for application builders that simplify cloud development, making cloud software easier to write. Stated briefly, the target of the first phase was system administrators and the second is programmers. This change requires cloud providers to take over many of the operational responsibilities needed to run applications well.

To emphasize the change of focus from servers to applications, this new phase has become known as serverless computing, although remote servers are still the invisible bedrock that powers it. In this article, we call the traditional first phase serverful computing. .... "

Speeding New COVID Treatments

Speeding/Improving COVID Treatment with machine learning

Speeding New COVID Treatments with Computational Tool

University of New Mexico, Michael Haederle, May 3, 2021 in CACM

Scientists at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and the University of Texas at El Paso have developed a computational tool to help drug researchers quickly identify anti-COVID molecules before the virus invades human cells or disable it in the early stages of infection. The team unveiled REDIAL-2020, an open source suite of computational models that can help to rapidly screen small molecules for potential COVID-fighting traits. REDIAL-2020 is based on machine learning (ML) algorithms that quickly process massive volumes of data and tease out patterns that might be missed by human researchers. The team validated the ML forecasts by comparing datasets from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences to the known effects of approved drugs in UNM's DrugCentral database.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Google Assistant Now Broadcasts to Phones

 I have been using the similar broadcast by Alexa for some time. Our family is now small, so not needed as much, but still good to have to get to every corner of the house.  Adding to this to phones anywhere is a good idea. 

The Google Assistant is now a Google messaging service   in ArsTechnica  By Ron Amado 

"Broadcast" now works on speakers, displays, and phones for your whole family.

The Google Assistant's "Broadcast" feature has long existed as a way to blast a message to every Google smart speaker in the house. Instead of hunting down every individual family member at dinner time, put those smart speakers to work by saying, "Hey Google, broadcast 'It's dinner time!'"

In a new blog post, Google called Broadcast "one of our most popular Assistant features" and announced that the feature is expanding to show messages on phones, too, even when they're outside the home Wi-Fi network. That means Broadcast is basically turning into a new Google messaging service.  .... " 

Comments on Ransomware Task Force

Some useful comments on the recent announcements about the Ransomware Task force.  Essentially saying good idea, but criticizing its lack of serious global participation.  

Comments  by  Steve Gibson  in   Security Now!    #817 - 05-04-21,     Page 10 -

The Ransomware Task Force

The Wall Street Journal and CNN appear to have been among the first to obtain and report on a US Justice Department memo which discloses the creation of a new task force dedicated responding to the growing threat of ransomware. Given the maturity of the task force's first81-page report, selected parts of which I'll be sharing shortly, this appears to have been on the works for some time. And, needless to say, it's quite needed. The question is, although a “task force” sounds wonderfully proactive, what can a “task force” actually do? CNN explained that the new initiative follows what the memo describes as the worst year everfor ransomware attacks. It highlights how cybersecurity threats in general have become a major focus of the current administration following other recent high-profile network security incidents such as the Russian-backed SolarWinds hacking campaign and the Microsoft Exchange server vulnerabilities that Microsoft has attributed to Chinese hackers. More recently, it is believed that Chinese hackers exploited vulnerabilities in Pulse Secure's VPN to compromise 'dozens' of agencies and companies in US and Europe.

In a memo from Acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin to DOJ department heads, US attorneys and the FBI on Tuesday, he said: “Although the Department has taken significant steps to address cybercrime, it is imperative that we bring the full authorities and resources of the Department to bear to confront the many dimensions and root causes of this threat.” Security Now! #817 10 So, this new task force will pull together and unify efforts across the federal government to pursue and disrupt ransomware attackers. Actions could include everything from "takedowns of servers used to spread ransomware to seizures of these criminal enterprises' ill-gotten gains. In addition, the DOJ plans to devote more resources to training and intelligence sharing, as well as reaching out to the private sector to gain insight into ransomware and extortion threats. As we know, during the past few years, ransomware attackers have increasingly targeted schools, hospitals, city governments and other victims that are perceived to have weak security or an ability to pay. Brian Krebs covered this news too, opening with: “Some of the world’s top tech firms are backing a new industry task force focused on disrupting cybercriminal ransomware gangs by limiting their ability to get paid, and targeting the individuals and finances of the organized thieves behind these crimes.”  ... ' 

"... I’m glad that this Ransomware Task Force exists. But in the absence of full international anti-ransomware cooperation — including those nations that are hostile to the interests of other nations — it’s not clear to me that huffing and puffing is going to amount to much. ..." 

Alexa Provides Show Mode for Lenovo

 Nice idea to provide echo 'show' mode on a laptop.   Work well in a kitchen say for displaying recipes and pix.  Or show people at the front door or on camera.  With voice greeting and interaction.     But only for people that have a Lenovo laptop it seems.   Perhaps limited? 

Amazon Rolls Out Alexa ‘Show Mode’ to Turn Lenovo PCs into Smart Displays  in Voicebot.ai

 By Eric Hal Schwartz on May 4, 2021 

Lenovo and Amazon released Alexa Show Mode this week, which lets certain Lenovo PCs perform a kind of smart display. First introduced at CES this year, Alexa Show Mode enables voice-control from a distance like an Amazon Echo Show.  ... " 

O'Reilly Looks at Trends

Short excerpt below from the O'Reilly  Trends Feature

O'Reilly home Trends.    Do subscribe below at the link, nice overview of what going on. 

By Mike Loukide,  May 3, 2021

Learn faster. Dig deeper. See farther.

Join the O'Reilly online learning platform. Get a free trial today and find answers on the fly, or master something new and useful.


Snorkel is making progress automating the labeling process for training data. They are building no-code tools to help subject matter experts direct the training process, and then using AI to label training data at scale.

There’s lots of news about regulating AI. Perhaps the most important is a blog post from the US Federal Trade Commission saying that it will consider the sale of racially biased algorithms as an unfair or deceptive business practice.

AI and computer vision can be used to aid environmental monitoring and enforce environmental regulation–specifically, to detect businesses that are emitting pollutants.

Facebook has made some significant progress in solving the “cocktail party problem”: how do you separate voices in a crowd sufficiently so that they can be used as input to a speech recognition system?

The next step in AI may be Geoff Hinton’s GLOM. It’s currently just an idea about giving neural networks the ability to work with hierarchies of objects, for example the concepts of “part” and “whole,” in the hope of getting closer to monitoring human perception ..... " 

Bioactive Paper for Food Packaging

for Reducing plastic waste

Bioactive paper coatings to replace plastic for packaging foods

Press Release:  Research News / May 03, 2021

The amount of plastic waste increases every year. Some of this waste is due to plastic packaging used to protect food. As part of the “BioActiveMaterials” project, researchers at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft have developed an eco-friendly coating for paper packaging. With this, not only is plastic saved, but the coating of plant-based proteins and waxes also extends the shelf life of the food. After use, the packaging can be placed in the waste paper recycling bin for disposal.

A resealable bag made of paper with the coating on the inside. After use, the packaging is placed in the waste paper recycling bin with the bioactive materials.

In the coating process, the paper is guided over rolls and provided with the “BioActive Materials”. These are supplied in the form of an aqueous dispersion.

Nowadays, those who shop for food in discount stores will almost always be buying plastic packaging as well. The vast majority of sausage, cheese, meat and fish is pre-packed. Fresh fruit, salad and vegetables too often come in plastic packaging. This method is hygienic and protects the food on its journey to the home. However, mineral oil-based plastics are contributing to the growing waste mountain. In Germany, a total of 38.5 kilograms of plastic packaging waste per capita was generated in 2017 alone. This plastic waste floats on the oceans or is exported to Asian or African countries for disposal. Exposed to environmental factors, these large plastic items break down into microplastics, which eventually make their way into the food chain. Reducing plastic packaging in the food sector as well, then, is a matter of necessity.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV and the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB have now presented an innovative and sustainable solution for food packaging. Just as with conventional packaging, it keeps the food fresher for longer. The new packaging, though, involves no plastic whatsoever. After use, it can be recycled without a problem.

Proteins, waxes and antioxidants extend the shelf life of the food

In the “BioActiveMaterials” project, the researchers use paper as the base material for producing typical and functional packaging materials: resealable bags or wrapping paper. The paper is provided with a special coating using standard processes. The researchers make this coating from proteins and waxes with biobased additives. The special formulation of this coating, which offers long-term stability, performs several functions at the same time. “First, the proteins act as an oxygen barrier layer while the waxes form a water vapor barrier, preventing fruit, for example, from drying out quickly. Second, the biobased additives have an antioxidative and antimicrobial effect. This stops meat and fish spoiling as quickly. Overall, the food has a much longer shelf life,” explains Dr. Michaela Müller, Head of the Functional Surfaces and Materials Innovation Field at Fraunhofer IGB. The proteins in the coating also play specific roles. They prevent mineral oil permeation from the paper to the food. Recovered paper in particular contains residues of mineral oil-containing printer’s ink.

Nokia Launches Blockchain Data Market Place for Data Training and AI Models

Interesting use for blockchain: Secure Data and AI model monetization. 

Nokia launches blockchain-powered Data Marketplace for secure data trading and AI models

GlobalNewswire:  Press Release Nokia launches blockchain-powered Data Marketplace for secure data trading and AI models Designed to enable trusted exchanges and monetization of data via private blockchain Accelerates initiatives in AI and machine learning through   ... " 

P&G Launches iLab 2021

Procter continues to work innovation:

PR NEWSWIRE: P&G launches iLab 2021 in partnership with the Singapore EDB to strengthen Singapore's innovation ecosystem

P&G launches iLab 2021 in partnership with the Singapore EDB to strengthen Singapore's innovation ecosystem

SINGAPORE, May 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), in partnership with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), today launched iLab 2021, a 3-day virtual innovation festival. The festival will see start-ups from Singapore and across the region come together to collaborate with P&G and develop innovations that can overcome real-world challenges faced in the areas of advertising, retail, and supply chain. Held at P&G's i-Singapore Digital Omni-Channel Center (i-SiDOC)  ,... " 

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

eCommerce and AI

 Some good examples of typical uses in the space.

How eCommerce leaders use AI to woo their customers with Personalization

Posted by Kateryna Reshetilo   in DSC

Once upon a time, customers simply walked into stores and met a friendly shopkeeper who helped them out. No one hears you walking the halls of those buildings... not anymore. The world shifted to online shopping.    Unprecedented growth occurred in the eCommerce sector amid the COVID-19 crisis. And Amazon has spoiled us to the point that we expect extreme personalization. If we don’t get it, we just go elsewhere.  

If you don't have a personalization strategy, you are losing 75% of shoppers who leave your website because they get frustrated by irrelevant offers. Website personalization helps to make the purchasing process faster, get better deals, and curb information overload. Before we dive in, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.

What is personalization?

Personalization is the process of creating customized, pleasing experiences for visitors. Every customer sees a slightly different version of your website which is defined by the particular audience segment the shopper falls into. These segments are based on:

        Past purchase history and average order value 

        Demographics (age, ethnicity, location, income level)

        Psychographics (interests, habits, emotions, attitudes)

        Visitor type (new visitors or returning visitors)

        Traffic source (referral sites, social media, direct or from paid link ads)

        Site engagement (browsing time or number of pages viewed)

        Current cart profile  .... 

When a store suggests products that supplement the items in your cart, that’s personalization. It allows you to create unique shopping experiences tailored to each particular user. 

7 brilliant eCommerce personalization examples to boost sales

Ever hopped on a website and thought: “That’s exactly what I was looking for!” There’s a good chance that the retailer knew who you were, why you were visiting, and what you were seeking. Let’s take a look at eCommerce personalization done well. .... '

IBM Helps Customers Adopt a Zero Trust Approach to Security

New security architectures, alliance moves by IBM.  

IBM Helps Customers Adopt a Zero Trust Approach to Security

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) Security today introduced a new Software as a Service (SaaS) version of IBM Cloud Pak for Security, designed to simplify how organizations deploy a zero trust architecture across the enterprise. The company also announced an alliance partnership with leading cloud and network security provider, Zscaler, and new blueprints for common zero trust use cases. For security professionals, zero trust is a framework for modernizing their  ... ' 

Simulate, Constrain, Repeat, Learn

Berkeley Bair posts an interesting look at Reinforcement Learning.   Made me think,  But once you get beyond the paras below this gets quite complicated and technical.   Anyone who has written significant simulation packages can be amazed at what they can accomplish. And embedded with reinforcement learning to provide direction, consider the possibilities.  And suggestions that anything can be a 'simulation'  gives us pause.   But how accurate can it be in real contexts?  Worth thinking it. 

Learning What To Do by Simulating the Past    By David Lindner, Rohin Shah    May 3, 2021,    Berkeley Bair

Reinforcement learning (RL) has been used successfully for solving tasks which have a well defined reward function – think AlphaZero for Go, OpenAI Five for Dota, or AlphaStar for StarCraft. However, in many practical situations you don’t have a well defined reward function. Even a task as seemingly straightforward as cleaning a room has many subtle cases: should a business card with a piece of gum be thrown away as trash, or might it have sentimental value? Should the clothes on the floor be washed, or returned to the closet? Where are notebooks supposed to be stored? Even when these aspects of a task have been clarified, translating it into a reward is non-trivial: if you provide rewards every time you sweep the trash, then the agent might dump the trash back out so that it can sweep it up again.1

Alternatively, we can try to learn a reward function from human feedback about the behavior of the agent. For example, Deep RL from Human Preferences learns a reward function from pairwise comparisons of video clips of the agent’s behavior. Unfortunately, however, this approach can be very costly: training a MuJoCo Cheetah to run forward requires a human to provide 750 comparisons.

Instead, we propose an algorithm that can learn a policy without any human supervision or reward function, by using information implicitly available in the state of the world. For example, we learn a policy that balances this Cheetah on its front leg from a single state in which it is balancing.  ...."

Vocalis Health Determines Health Changes via Voice

An interesting and perhaps very useful direction.    How much is this a diagnosis?

The Doctor Will Hear You Soon   By Gregory Goth, Commissioned by CACM Staff

Tal Wenderow knows what it takes to make it big with a technology startup. Wenderow is CEO of Newton, MA-based Vocalis Health, which is developing an artificial intelligence- and machine learning-based platform capable of discerning changes in health through subtle changes in a person's voice.

His last venture, robotic surgery vendor Corindus Vascular Robotics, was acquired by Siemens in 2019 for $1.1 billion. But it was hardly an overnight success story; "It took 17 years," he said. "People forget how long it takes sometimes."

When he signed up with Vocalis Health   , he said, his wife asked him whether he was certain he didn't want to take a breather. Yet he went ahead anyway; "I liked its disruptive nature."

The disruption is starting to be noticed by the clinical and funding communities. Vocalis Health is about a year removed from receiving $9 million in venture funding, and spent 2020 establishing or cementing research relationships with the Mayo Clinic and the Geisinger Health System in the U.S. Its technology was also the linchpin of an Israeli study of vocal characteristics of congestive heart failure.

Wenderow is not alone in positioning new voice-based analytic technology for wider acceptance. Elsewhere, academic spin-offs and boutique startups are positioning themselves for a remote diagnostic market whose possibilities have rapidly expanded in the socially isolating dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example:   ... '

Argo LiDAR has 400 Meter Range

How much does it add to effectiveness in context? 

 Argo AI says its latest LiDAR sensor has a 400-meter range

The tech could bolster Ford and Volkswagen's self-driving ambitions. In Engadget, Kris Holt @krisholt, May 4th, 2021

Argo AI has made some waves in the autonomous vehicle space over the last few years, with investors Volkswagen and Ford working on cars that use its self-driving tech. The company suggests it's taken a significant step towards bringing autonomous vehicles to roads. Argo created a LiDAR sensor that's said to have a range of 400 meters, which it believes it the longest range of any current LiDAR sensor.   .. "

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Looking for, testing for, Behaviors.

Can this be taken beyond automated driving systems?  We were always looking for behaviors we could predict.  And might be fundamental enough to simulate for broader purpose?  Its what simulations, properly constrained, can do well.   Thinking that.  Do like the fact that this seems to be 'creative' in its direction.

Automated Technique to Discover Simulation Configurations for Behaviors Hard to Test  By National Institute of Informatics (Japan)

Researchers at Japan's National Institute of Informatics (NII) have designed a technique to search automatically for simulation models that evaluate specific behaviors of automated driving systems.

The method iterates trials on simulations using evolutionary computation, in order to identify configurations that lead to specific features of driving behaviors like high acceleration, deceleration, and steering operation.

The technique avoids generating configurations that solely lead to dangerous situations, revealing features of driving behaviors not constrained to emergency situations.

In applying and assessing the method on a path-planning program offered by car manufacturer Mazda, the team learned the technique could produce specific behaviors that were rarely generated randomly.

NII's Fuyuki Ishikawa said the team established a holistic series of testing and debugging methods by adapting techniques for conventional program code, with the goal of finding solutions like "desirable tests" and "desirable fix actions."

From National Institute of Informatics (Japan)  ... 

Tesla Hacked from Drone without a Click

But, It is stated that you cannot get driving control of the car from the hack.

Tesla Car Hacked Remotely From Drone via Zero-Click Exploit

By Eduard Kovacs   in SecurityWeek   Via piece in Schneier  (Which often will contain thoughtful comments) 

Two researchers have shown how a Tesla — and possibly other cars — can be hacked remotely without any user interaction. They carried out the attack from a drone.

This was the result of research conducted last year by Ralf-Philipp Weinmann of Kunnamon and Benedikt Schmotzle of Comsecuris. The analysis was initially carried out for the Pwn2Own 2020 hacking competition — the contest offered a car and other significant prizes for hacking a Tesla — but the findings were later reported to Tesla through its bug bounty program after Pwn2Own organizers decided to temporarily eliminate the automotive category due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The attack, dubbed TBONE, involves exploitation of two vulnerabilities affecting ConnMan, an internet connection manager for embedded devices. An attacker can exploit these flaws to take full control of the infotainment system of a Tesla without any user interaction.  ... 

Catching Counterfeits with AI

Worked on counterfeit identification for CPG Products,would have helped to be be to quick scan products and packaging.

Catching the Fakes

By Neil Savage    Communications of the ACM, May 2021, Vol. 64 No. 5, Pages 13-14    10.1145/3453696

Counterfeiting is a big business. Nearly $509 billion of fake and pirated products were sold internationally in 2016. In that year, the latest for which data was available, counterfeit goods made up 3.3% of international trade, up from 2.5% three years earlier, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

That figure, which does not include domestic trade in fakes, not only means companies are losing revenue and consumers are not getting their money's worth; counterfeiting also helps fund organized crime. It exploits low-wage laborers. Because it skirts safety regulations, makers of counterfeits could use toxic materials or produce unsafe products.

Now, companies are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to help them identify counterfeit products and stanch the flow of faux goods.

Amazon, for instance, launched Project Zero in 2019. Makers of products provide the company with data about their logos, trademarks, and other features, and Amazon's machine learning algorithm scans listings on the company's website and automatically removes those it deems fake.

Other companies have rolled out tools to allow retailers to identify fakes using smartphones with scanning attachments.

"Counterfeit goods are among the leading causes of a lot of bad things," says Lakshminarayanan Subramanian, a professor of computer science at New York University and co-founder and chief scientist at Entrupy, a New York-based company founded in 2012 that uses AI to verify the authenticity of luxury goods.

The company's system works with microscopic images of the goods in question, looking for features that are common to an authentic product but not to a fake. Those features could be in the texture of the material, the stitching, a zipper, or the way a logo has been stamped into an item. The leather of a luxury handbag, for instance, will have what appear to be peaks and valleys when viewed at a microscopic scale.

Entropy trains its AI starting with images of an area of handbags, both authentic and counterfeit, and breaks that image into smaller chunks. It then applies bag-of-words, a technique developed for natural language processing that sorts words by their frequency in a text and uses that to make inferences about the text. In the case of handbags, the "words" are small areas of structural features that might repeat or vary from place to place across the material. The computer creates a histogram showing the frequency of these visual words and how that frequency differs between real and fake goods.  ... " 

SMU ChemGen for Drug Discovery

An example of rigorous prep  work that must be done consistently well. 

SMU's ChemGen Completes Essential Drug Discovery Work in Days

Southern Methodist University,  April 14, 2021

Southern Methodist University (SMU) researchers have developed ChemGen, a set of computer-driven routines that emulate chemical reactions in a laboratory, significantly reducing the time and costs of drug discovery. ChemGen accelerates pharmacological optimization from months to days, using high-performance computers like SMU's ManeFrame II shared high-performance computing cluster. The tool computationally generates molecular variants of the original chemical key, mimicking reactions under various combinations of circumstances. SMU's John Wise said, "A research group or pharmaceutical company need only actually synthesize the molecules with the best chances of being improved, leaving the thousands of unimproved molecules in the computer and not on the lab bench."  ... " 

LiDar and Digital Twins

 From LiDAR News  Home of the LiDAR Industry: 

USIBD Announces White Paper for Facility Owners and Operators Considering Digital Twins

April 22, 2021, Irvine, CA:   The U.S. Institute of Building Documentation (USIBD) is pleased to publish an educational white paper, BIM with the End in Mind. This paper will help facility owners and operators decide whether a digital twin is right for them and help them understand what to consider before recruiting outside support to generate a digital twin.

Though a digital twin is one of the best ways for a facility owner or operator to improve their asset’s data-management strategy, it can be challenging to find the information to get started. We want to help you by defining basic terms and ideas, explaining what facility owners and operators can expect to gain from a digital twin, and showing what it takes to plan and execute a successful digital twin. 

In this paper, you’ll learn:    .... "