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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Bold Bridge Advisors

New Affiliation:  Bold Bridge Advisors

Bold Bridge Advisors 

1. Clarify WHY, WHO, SO WHAT, before technology and solutions are defined.
2. Seek and speak truth, even when it hurts.
3. Assuming nothing. Listen, analyze, reframe, and confirm. 
4. Start small and focused, then scale. 
5. Be essential to every client's success.  ... 

More to follow.  

IBM Develops Cloud Services for Quantum Computers

More on the use and interaction of quantum computing with current needs, like secure cryptography.  Is likely to increasingly become an important issue.  Note the offer of a Quantum Risk Assessment.

From PRNewswire via Cision:

IBM Developing New Cloud Services and Technology to Help Keep Data Secured from Future Fault-Tolerant Quantum Computers

- New quantum risk assessment and subscription services available to clients

- IBM Cloud will begin to provide quantum-safe cryptography services on the public cloud in 2020

- IBM Research demonstrates world's first quantum computing safe tape drive prototype

- IBM donates quantum-safe cryptographic algorithms to open source community   

ARMONK, N.Y., Aug. 23, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today at the Second Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization Conference organized by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), IBM (NYSE: IBM) took a major step towards maintaining the highest level of security of its client's data and privacy in the future from fault-tolerant quantum computers. 

IBM took a major step today towards maintaining the highest level of security of its client’s data and privacy in the future from fault-tolerant quantum computers with the demonstration of the world’s first quantum computing safe tape drive prototype. Credit: IBM Research

IBM took a major step today towards maintaining the highest level of security of its client’s data and privacy in the future from fault-tolerant quantum computers with the demonstration of the world’s first quantum computing safe tape drive prototype. Credit: IBM Research

With today's news, IBM is announcing that it will begin to provide, what the industry would call, quantum-safe cryptography services on the IBM public cloud in 2020 and is now offering a Quantum Risk Assessment from IBM Security to help customers assess their risk in the quantum world. Additionally, IBM cryptographers have prototyped the world's first quantum computing safe enterprise class tape, an important step before commercialization.

IBM is also committed to making quantum-safe algorithms available through the open source community. As an industry, we can only become secure if new quantum-safe algorithms are tested, interoperable and easily consumable in common security standards. To this end, IBM is donating algorithms and support to a number of open source projects such as OpenQuantumSafe.org.   ... " 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Battery-Free Sensors Underwater with Piezoelectricity

Another example of new ways to add power sources.   I recall piezoelectric methods being suggested as gained from customers walking across a floor.  Harvesting electric power.   Too low power in that case, it turned out.   But it continues to be examined, here underwater.

A Battery-Free Sensor for Underwater Exploration
MIT News  By Rob Matheson
August 20, 2019

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a battery-free underwater communication system that uses near-zero power to transmit sensor data. The system makes use of the piezoelectric effect, in which vibrations in certain materials generate an electric charge, along with backscatter, a communication technique that transmits data by reflecting modulated wireless signals off an RFID tag and back to a reader. In the MIT system, a transmitter sends acoustic waves through water toward a piezoelectric sensor that has stored data. When the wave hits the sensor, the material vibrates and stores the resulting electrical charge, which the sensor uses to reflect a wave back to a receiver for decoding. Said MIT’s Fadel Adib, “Basically, we can communicate with underwater sensors based solely on the incoming sound signals whose energy we are harvesting.”  .... '

Russian Fedor Robot Assistant in the ISS

Much in the press this week.    Looks to be of real value based on the description. Unclear here if this is voice driven and other specifics.  Note it is communicating its activities, will be checking on that. Note also the previous post on 'robotic bees' in the ISS.

Russia Sends Its First Humanoid Robot into Space 
Agence France-Presse
August 22, 2019

Russia dispatched an unmanned spacecraft containing a life-size humanoid robot to the International Space Station (ISS), where it will learn skills for assisting astronauts. The robot Fedor (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research) communicates its activities and progress via Instagram and Twitter accounts, and it will test newly-acquired manual skills in the ISS' microgravity environment. The Roscosmos Russian space agency's Alexander Bloshenko said such skills include "connecting and disconnecting electric cables [and] using standard items, from a screwdriver and a spanner to a fire extinguisher." Fedor mimics human movements, which allows it to remotely assist astronauts, and people on Earth, in executing tasks.  .... "

Alexa with Skill Flow Creation. And Beyond?

Alexa Dev announces a way to create skill flow for games, stories.  When I saw this I thought, could this also be used to develop skills based on business process flow?  Thinking that. Your thoughts?  If I think so I will make a proposal in that direction.

Create Story-Based Game Skills Faster with Skill Flow Builder    By Chris Morrow

We've built game skills ourselves, and have met with game studios to understand how we can help with creating game skills faster. Throughout the process, we discovered an opportunity to create a tool that is optimized for game skills with game development cycles in mind. We are excited to introduce Skill Flow Builder (SFB), a new tool that enables you to build story-based game skills faster, including interactive fiction, branching narratives, and role-playing games. Skill Flow Builder is now available to game skill creators in all locales (please note, Hindi isn't supported yet).

SFB complements tools like the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) SDK, and provides an easy-to-use solution for the creation of skill flow and content by separating content creation from skill code. The tool has two components: The editor desktop application for content creators, and the VSCode extension for developers. Both components share a common SFB file format (.abc), which enables more efficient hand-offs between teams.

Superior Collaboration Between the Content and Development Teams:
SFB allows both the content and the development teams to focus on what they do best, and help increase productivity by minimizing dependencies that slow them down. Content teams can focus on quickly prototyping without having to rely on the development team every time they make content changes. In the meantime, development teams can focus on building differentiated features instead of having to change code for every content update.  .... " 

An Analysis of IOTA

Mentioned I was looking at the blockchain IOTA sometime back, was just pointed to this analysis that I had missed:   Has pointers to much more:

Analysis of IOTA   By Marvin Neuefeind in Medium

 One of the most popular coins, which is also dividing the community, is IOTA. IOTA is a Tangle based cryptocurrency which main purpose is to serve the economy, namely Internet of Things. In the following article we are going to conduct a complete Fundamental Analysis, which orientates on the guideline of our book ( Amazon.com: Cryptocurrency — A Trader’s Handbook: A Complete Guide On How To Trade Bitcoin And Altcoins eBook: Marvin Neuefeind, Marcin Kacperczyk: Kindle Store).

We will start by giving you a broad idea what IOTA is all about and then conclude to the core research and the additional research.

IOTA was the first cryptocurrency which utilized the Tangle technology. The Tangle is different from the traditional blockchain in which each block follows another in a certain order. Tangle on the other hand is completely confused as you can see in the picture below.  .... " 

Visions of the Future, Then and Now

Quite a considerable look at how future has been predicted, why were they so accurate? what sources can we look at today?    As a futurist myself, always seeking sources.   Read it:

Futurology: How a group of visionaries predicted today's world a century ago   by Max Saunders, The Conversation in Techexplore

From shamanic ritual to horoscopes, humans have always tried to predict the future. Today, trusting predictions and prophecies has become part of daily life. From the weather forecast to the time the sat-nav says we will reach our destination, our lives are built around futuristic fictions.

Of course, while we may sometimes feel betrayed by our local meteorologist, trusting their foresight is a lot more rational than putting the same stock in a TV psychic. This shift toward more evidence-based guesswork came about in the 20th century: futurologists began to see what prediction looked like when based on a scientific understanding of the world, rather than the traditional bases of prophecy (religion, magic, or dream). Genetic modification, space stations, wind power, artificial wombs, video phones, wireless internet, and cyborgs were all foreseen by "futurologists" from the 1920s and 1930s. Such visions seemed like science fiction when first published.

They all appeared in the brilliant and innovative "To-Day and To-Morrow" books from the 1920s, which signal the beginning of our modern conception of futurology, in which prophecy gives way to scientific forecasting. This series of over 100 books provided humanity—and science fiction—with key insights and inspiration. I've been immersed in them for the last few years while writing the first book about these fascinating works—and have found that these pioneering futurologists have a lot to teach us.

In their early responses to the technologies emerging then—aircraft, radio, recording, robotics, television—the writers grasped how those innovations were changing our sense of who we are. And they often gave startlingly canny previews of what was coming next, as in the case of Archibald Low, who in his 1924 book Wireless Possibilities, predicted the mobile phone: "In a few years time we shall be able to chat to our friends in an airplane and in the streets with the help of a pocket wireless set."  .... " 

Blockchain for Hotel Commissions

Another indication of IBM working strongly in this space.  Had not heard this particular kind of application before.  And also new to the hospitality space.

Travelport, IBM Collaborate on Blockchain for Hotel Commissions

Travelport, a business and consumer travel services provider, announced it is using IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric to guarantee commissions paid to travel agencies.

According to a statement released on August 20, the blockchain was designed with input from IBM, travel management company BCD Travel, and three unnamed hotel chains. The system aims to “put the lifecycle of a booking on the blockchain,” to reduce the amount of payment disputes.

In 2018, Travelport processed over $83 billion of travel spend over $2.4 billion in net revenue.

“Traveler modifications at property, no shows, and complimentary room nights are just a few examples that drive commission discrepancies which in turn generate escalations, cost, and revenue loss,” said Ross Vinograd, Travelport’s Senior Product Director.

“The traveler can modify their booking multiple times, leaving room for information to go missing. For example, if a traveler arrives and then extends a hotel stay, that information might not make its way back to us as booking data,” said Marwan Batrouni, Vice President of Global Hotel Strategy, BCD Travel. Additionally, blockchain will help close the “gaps” made by different payments systems.  ... " 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ultimate ID: Facial Recognition?

Where you would expect it, but the results are still less than perfect.  And where it is mostly likely to be spoofed for direct fraud. 

Facial Recognition Making Its Way in Banking    By AI Trends Staff

Facial recognition technology is making its way into the banking industry, used primarily for physical security and ID recognition.

A handful or startups have emerged to serve the niche, the largest being Yitu Technology, a company with some 200 employees based in Shanghai, according to a report in emerj. Started in 2012 by a founder with a PhD in statistics from the University of California, the company employs a number of machine learning researchers. The company makes the Yitu Dragonfly Eye Intelligent Security System.

Another is Cloudwalk Technology of China, which had raised $507 million as of September 2018. They have contracts with the Bank of China and Bank of Chongqing. The president has a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign. In facial recognition, the company appears to be in startup mode with few data scientists and machine learning researchers employed.

Other startups include IntelliVision, which offers Face Recognizer, which can recognize a customer’s face as shown on a stored image, when the customer is trying to access their bank account from an ATM with a camera, for example. If the customer’s photo is not stored in the bank’s database, the ATM can record the persons face and associate it with the account being accessed. IntelliVision has raised $6 million.

FaceFirst is offering software of the same name for access control using machine vision. The system is able to authorize identities, deliver mobile notifications to the security team, and recognition priority customers so that they receive the appropriate preferences. The companies say clients can integrate the software with existing image databases and with video footage. FaceFirst has raised $9.5 million in investment capital.  ... "

Good Data Science Examples

A number of good inspirational  examples.  Needs more tech details, but still useful.

Remarkable Applications of Data Science
Posted by Sudhanshu Ahuja in DSC

We are living in a time of slow yet steady insurgence of data science and AI in our lives. It spans more industries than we’d expect.

Over the past decade, Data Science has stretched out into almost every industry. Form industries like Automobiles and Healthcare to Finance as well as the Gaming Sector. It plays a significant part in the government sectors.  So here are some instances of the most impactful applications of data science.

Project Soli

One of the most significant technological transitions was the switch from buttons to touch screen. It transformed the operation of phones and computers. However, we're moving on to the next big thing, touch-free phones.

Approved by the federal communications commission (FCC), Google has started working upon "Project Soli”. Project Soli is a system that is designed to track hand movements from a millimetre away by using miniature motion sensor radar. This system will enable people to control devices from TV's to smartphones through gesture control. 

How does it work?

Soli’s sensor technology emits electromagnetic waves in a broad beam. If an object falls within the radius of the beam, it scatters the energy of the electromagnetic waves. This causes a certain amount of the energy to reflect at the radar antenna. Elements such as energy, time delay and frequency shift within the reflected signal capture important information about the characteristics and dynamics of the object. 

The radar technology uses high-frequency radio waves to detect moving objects which, according to Google, is profoundly more accurate than gesture tracking cameras. The sensor chips in Soli are capable of capturing up to 10,000 frames per second. .....  "

Webinar: Driving Business Outcomes with AI

Leaders in the area of machine learning and AI talk goals and workflow:

On-Demand Webinar

Enterprises understand that driving business outcomes with machine learning and AI will soon become a critical driver for success. Yet, many struggle to connect together siloed data pipelines and artisanal data science experiments into agile and repeatable processes to drive scale and impact.

Hear Nielsen’s Chief Research Officer Mainak Mazumdar and Forrester Senior Analyst guest speaker Kjell Carlsson, PhD share experiences and perspectives into unifying data science and engineering with business needs. Learn how teams operationalize machine learning models and AI more rapidly, with insights into:

- Improving model development performance from 1 week to less than 2 hrs 
- Transforming data science workflows and deepening team collaboration
- Accelerating the end-to-end machine learning lifecycle  .... " 

What will Quantum Computing Mean?

A largely non-technical view of what Quantum Computing will mean.  Our own minor investigations looked at how very complex combinatorial problems (problems with many, many solutions) that might then be solved with these methods more easily.   These problems also relate to things like cryptography.

You Won't See Quantum Internet Coming   By Ryan F. Mandelbaum   in Gizmodo.

 The quantum internet is coming sooner than you think—even sooner than quantum computing itself. When things change over, you might not even notice. But when they do, new rules will protect your data against attacks from computers that don’t even exist yet.

Despite the fancy name, the “quantum internet” won’t be some futuristic new way to navigate online. It won’t produce any mind-blowing new content, at least not for decades. The quantum internet will look more or less the same as the internet you’re using now, but scientists and cryptographers hope it could provide protection against not only theoretical threats but also those we haven’t dreamed up yet.

“The main contribution of a quantum internet is to allow encrypted communication in a perfectly secure fashion that can’t be broken in principle, even if in the future we develop a more fundamental theory of physics,” CiarĂ¡n Lee, a researcher at University College, London, explained to Gizmodo. In short, the quantum internet would hopefully protect us from planned new computers, along with every theoretical computer for the foreseeable future.

So what’s the quantum internet? It’s what happens when you apply the weird rules of quantum mechanics to the way computers communicate with one another.  ... " 

Contract Languages of Distributed Ledgers

Quite worthwhile piece in the 'smart contract'  blockchain space,  in Financial industry,  examining:

In ACM Queue: 

  Download PDF version of this article PDF August 19, 2019
Volume 17, issue 3
Case Study
DAML: The Contract Language of Distributed Ledgers
A discussion between Shaul Kfir and Camille Fournier

When Shaul Kfir cofounded Digital Asset in 2014, he was out to prove something to the financial services industry. He saw it as being not only hamstrung by an inefficient system for transaction reconciliation, but also in danger of missing out on what blockchain technology could do to address its shortcomings.

Since then, Digital Asset has gone to market with its own distributed-ledger technology, DAML (Digital Asset Modeling Language). And that does indeed take advantage of blockchain—only not in quite the way Kfir had initially intended. He and Digital Asset ended up taking an engineering "journey" to get to where they are today.

Kfir readily admits his own background in cryptography and cryptocurrency—both as a researcher (at Technion and MIT) and as a cryptocurrency entrepreneur in Israel—had more than just a little to do with the course that was originally charted. As for lessons learned along the way, Camille Fournier, the head of platform development for a leading New York City hedge fund, helps to elicit those here. She brings to the exercise her own background in distributed-systems consensus (as one of the original committers to the Apache Zookeeper Project) and financial services (as a former VP of technology at Goldman Sachs).   .... "

Google Building more Private Web: Privacy Sandbox

Google talks about its approaches to a more private, yet financially sustainable Web.

Building a more private web    By Justin Schuh  Director, Chrome Engineering
Published Aug 22, 2019

Privacy is paramount to us, in everything we do. So today, we are announcing a new initiative to develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web. We’re calling this a Privacy Sandbox. 

Technology that publishers and advertisers use to make advertising even more relevant to people is now being used far beyond its original design intent - to a point where some data practices don’t match up to user expectations for privacy. Recently, some other browsers have attempted to address this problem, but without an agreed upon set of standards, attempts to improve user privacy are having unintended consequences.

First, large scale blocking of cookies undermine people’s privacy by encouraging opaque techniques such as fingerprinting. With fingerprinting, developers have found ways to use tiny bits of information that vary between users, such as what device they have or what fonts they have installed to generate a unique identifier which can then be used to match a user across websites. Unlike cookies, users cannot clear their fingerprint, and therefore cannot control how their information is collected. We think this subverts user choice and is wrong.

Second, blocking cookies without another way to deliver relevant ads significantly reduces publishers’ primary means of funding, which jeopardizes the future of the vibrant web. Many publishers have been able to continue to invest in freely accessible content because they can be confident that their advertising will fund their costs. If this funding is cut, we are concerned that we will see much less accessible content for everyone. Recent studies have shown that when advertising is made less relevant by removing cookies, funding for publishers falls by 52% on average.

So we are doing something different. We want to find a solution that both really protects user privacy and also helps content remain freely accessible on the web. At I/O, we announced a plan to improve the classification of cookies, give clarity and visibility to cookie settings, as well as plans to more aggressively block fingerprinting. We are making progress on this, and today we are providing more details on our plans to restrict fingerprinting. Collectively we believe all these changes will improve transparency, choice, and control.  .... " 

Shape of Data Implies its Uses

Recall hearing about this approach in training we took.    Making it easier to connect key data to analytics.   Shape constraint languages.

Graph Database ‘Shapes’ Data   By George Leopold in Datanami

A semantic graph database technology vendor is supporting a key specification designed to validate graph-based data against a set of conditions that specify the “shape” of data. The goal is a more agile way of analyzing larger volumes of complex, distributed data.

Franz Inc. said this week its flagship AllegoGraph platform now supports SHACL, the SHApe Constraint Language used to describe “the shape that data should have.” The spec was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium.

The language using a concept known as “triples” to describe data properties. Triples refers to the subject (the thing being described), predicate (properties or relationships of the subject) and object (an intrinsic value such as an integer or text).

SHACL also specifies the number of triples required in a repository along with metadata about the object, including a specified subject and predicate.

Oakland-based Franz said support for SHACL would improve the ability of its graph database to validate data and applications from outside sources while improving interoperability. “Adding SHACL to AllegroGraph helps our customers simplify the complexity of enterprise systems through the ability to loosely combine independent elements, while allowing the overall system to function smoothly,” said CEO Jans Aasman.

The 6.6 version of AllegroGraph includes a data-shaping validation engine used to confirm whether data conforms with desired requirements. SHACL allows a data graph, for instance, to specify the corresponding shapes graph used to describe the link between a given shape and targeted data.  .... "

Crowd Sources Autonomous Vehicle Training

From Ideaconnection, offer of sale or licensing of  a US patent:

Crowd-sourced Autonomous Vehicle Training

Definitions: When driving, human drivers encounter non-events (expected events like traffic lights turning red) as well as events (unexpected events like an unaccompanied child standing at the edge of the road).

Events are captured from crowd-sourced participants driving their own cars during their routine lives. The determination that a particular scenario is an unexpected event is carried out automatically (without manual input) by sensing eye, foot and hand positions and movements, and comparing it to a map. This arrangement can not only sense the driver’s actions to change speed or direction in response to such unexpected events, it can also detect the driver’s intentions to do so. It can also determine various driving attributes and mental components of the driver. This in turn allows drivers to be scored and ranked in each geographical region, so that expert drivers can be identified. 

Signatures for events extracted from the driving patterns of such expert drivers are more reliable, and form better training routines for improving autonomous vehicle software. A database of thousands of such signatures, and their variations, are obtained by crowd-sourced expert drivers. These signatures are then used by autonomous vehicles to identify potential or real events, and react to these events in a human-like manner. 

Companies developing AVs need not wait for a history of “millions of miles tested”, but instead can rely on extremely quick, cheap and highly reliable, human-like training sub-routines extracted from crowd-sourced drivers.   .... " 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

GeoThermal Batteries

Never hear of this specifically, but makes sense.

A Novel Thermal Battery Promises Green Power Around the Clock

Japanese scientists have developed a thermal battery that converts heat into electricity when buried in a geothermal zone   In IEEE Spectrum By John Boyd

You can fry an egg on the ground in Las Vegas in August, but try that in Iceland or Alaska and you'll just end up with the stuff on your face—unless you know how to tap into the Earth's vast reservoirs of geothermal energy. 

Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have developed a new kind of battery that can reliably generate electric power from heat in environments with temperatures ranging from 60 degrees C to 100 degrees C—which is low enough to mimic geothermal heat.

In an earlier experiment, the researchers developed sensitized thermal cells (STCs) that employed dye-sensitized solar cells to convert light into electric power. In their latest advance, team leader Sachiko Matsushita, an associate professor at Tokyo Tech, explained that they replaced the dye with a semiconductor to enable the cells to operate using heat instead of light.

Several methods for converting heat into electric power already exist, including redox batteries that employ the flow of hot and cold chemical liquids to create electricity, and thermoelectric batteries that use the Seebeck effect to generate electricity when a temperature gradient is applied along a conductor.

But Matsushita points out that whereas the STC battery can literally be buried in the ground and work as is, the other devices would face major physical and operational issues if required to operate in such a way.  .... "

Epistemic (How we gain secure and manage) Knowledge

Also fundamental.   Really how we manage knowledge, which means lots of things including finding, keeping  and preparing it for use in context.   I would add fear and measurable risk too.   Who would imagine we could fear data and knowledge?   Here more philosophical, but still thoughtful piece:

Talk at link below from The Edge:

Epistemic Virtues
A Talk By Peter Galison [8.21.19]

I’m interested in the question of epistemic virtues, their diversity, and the epistemic fears that they’re designed to address. By epistemic I mean how we gain and secure knowledge. What I’d like to do here is talk about what we might be afraid of, where our knowledge might go astray, and what aspects of our fears about how what might misfire can be addressed by particular strategies, and then to see how that’s changed quite radically over time.

James Clerk Maxwell, just by way of background, had done these very mechanical representations of electromagnetism—gears and ball bearings, and strings and rubber bands. He loved doing that. He’s also the author of the most abstract treatise on electricity and magnetism, which used the least action principle and doesn’t go by the pictorial, sensorial path at all. In this very short essay, he wrote, "Some people gain their understanding of the world by symbols and mathematics. Others gain their understanding by pure geometry and space. There are some others that find an acceleration in the muscular effort that is brought to them in understanding, in feeling the force of objects moving through the world. What they want are words of power that stir their souls like the memory of childhood. For the sake of persons of these different types, whether they want the paleness and tenuity of mathematical symbolism, or they want the robust aspects of this muscular engagement, we should present all of these ways. It’s the combination of them that give us our best access to truth." 

PETER GALISON is a science historian; Joseph Pellegrino University Professor and co-founder of the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard University; and author of Einstein's Clocks and PoincarĂ©’s Maps: Empires of Time. Peter Galison's Edge Bio Page .... '

Understand Variance

Yes, variance fundamental, a primary indication of context and causal influences.

Do You Understand the Variance In Your Data?
Thomas C. Redman in HBR

It is easy enough for managers to see that things in the business world vary. Some marketing campaigns produce great results; similar ones do not. There are times when the supply chain works effortlessly, and other times when every step is snarled. Some days the numbers look fine, and other days they just don’t add up. Variation is a manager’s natural enemy, making it more difficult to sort out what’s really going on, make valid predictions, and be in control.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Sorting out variation provides needed context, points to opportunity, and helps managers maintain their cool when something goes wrong. Managers should learn how to measure variation, understand what it tells them about their business, decompose it, and, when necessary, reduce it.

I advise managers to sort out variation and what is causing it. Doing so provides needed context, points to opportunity, and helps them maintain their cool when something goes wrong. Consider the following example. The figure below depicts the error rates for the first three weeks of an invoicing process .... " 

Intel AI Chip

Have always been interested in what can be done with AI oriented Hardware.  Now Intel has a solution:

Intel unveils first artificial intelligence chip Springhill
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Intel Corp on Tuesday unveiled its latest processor that will be its first using artificial intelligence (AI) and is designed for large computing centers.

The chip, developed at its development facility in Haifa, Israel, is known as Nervana NNP-I or Springhill and is based on a 10 nanometer Ice Lake processor that will allow it to cope with high workloads using minimal amounts of energy, Intel said. .... " 

Customer Experience and AI

On upcoming talk on CX via personalized customer experience using AI:

Buying experience and customer service “changing through AI” – SAP
Liliana Petrova - in CustomerThink

How can companies create personal, one-on-one long-lasting relationships while deploying digital, automated technology that all but eliminates the human factor? Ahead of her session at TFM 2019, Payal Raina explains how businesses can use the latest marketing technologies to deliver powerful, seamless and personalised customer experiences

In 2020, customer experience (CX) will overtake price and quality as the key brand differentiator, according to a Walker Study.

Forward-thinking companies who have invested time, effort and resources into listening, understanding, and anticipating their customers’ future needs are going to be the winners of longer-term client commitment.

Today, consumers expect more from the brands they choose to follow and engage with and are demanding smarter and savvier experiences. Big businesses are using customer insight in elevating the customer experience but, marketing technology (MarTech) presents a unique challenge. How can companies create personal, one-on-one long-lasting relationships with customers while deploying digital, automated technology that all but eliminates the human factor?

The key is to deliver a fully integrated system that intersects marketing and technology to deliver the seamless experience the consumer is already expecting. .... " 

US Air Force Prints Aircraft Parts

Continued increase in use of 3D printing

Air Force certifies first 3-D printed nonstructural aircraft parts
by Louis Briscese, Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Techexplore

The 60th Maintenance Squadron is the first field unit in the U.S. Air Force to be certified with an industrial-sized, 3-D printer that is authorized to produce nonstructural aircraft parts.

The Stratasys F900 3-D printer is capable of printing plastic parts up to 36 x 24 x 36 inches, uses a material called Ultem 9085 that is more flexible, dense and stronger than typical plastic.

The printer, which is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Air Force Advanced Technology and Training Center, offers new opportunities to create needed parts while saving time and money. .... "

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Model Driven Software Development

Brought to my attention.  I like the idea, as long as it does not remove transparency, especially as it relates to real-life process and context.   This is about software, with its inherent sometimes mysterious complexity, and I am always interested in making the software as near to real process as possible.  So I thought:  Can this be reapplied naturally  at a process level?  Examining.

Obscuring Complexity (Using Model Driven Software Development) in InfoQ

Key Takeaways

If done well, Model Driven Software Development can partially obscure some complexity, but you are going to have to treat the source code output as build artifacts and take ownership of the templates. Maintaining code generating templates is a kind of meta-programming that most developers are not used to doing.

Twelve Factor applications can truly achieve lower complexity, but only when integrated with mature or stable (i.e. boring) data stores.

You can lower complexity in microservice orchestration by building in some limited, cross cutting intelligence into the connectors, but you must be careful because too much intelligence creates the opposite effect.

You can write smaller applications when using a heavyweight framework, but beware that efficiency may suffer, that these kinds of services are harder to tune for performance, and that it may take longer to debug certain kinds of issues.

With reactive programming, you end up trading backend complexity for frontend complexity.  .... "

Autonomous Robot Delivery in US Universities

Makes sense to try this in the demographic and relatively contained space of a University.   Autonomous robot deliveries are coming to 100 university campuses in the U.S.   By Luke Dormehl in DigitalTrends

Pioneering autonomous delivery robot company Starship Technologies is coming to a whole lot more university campuses around the U.S. The robotics startup announced that it will expand its delivery services to 100 university campuses in the next 24 months, building on its successful fleets at George Mason University and Northern Arizona University. .... " 

Risk Aware Traffic Engineering

Analysis and use risk measures a favorite approach of mine.  Risk-aware always a good idea.  Especially considering architectures.

Using Wall Street secrets to reduce the cost of cloud infrastructure
“Risk-aware” traffic engineering could help service providers such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google better utilize network infrastructure.

By Rob Matheson | MIT News Office 

Stock market investors often rely on financial risk theories that help them maximize returns while minimizing financial loss due to market fluctuations. These theories help investors maintain a balanced portfolio to ensure they’ll never lose more money than they’re willing to part with at any given time.

Inspired by those theories, MIT researchers in collaboration with Microsoft have developed a “risk-aware” mathematical model that could improve the performance of cloud-computing networks across the globe. Notably, cloud infrastructure is extremely expensive and consumes a lot of the world’s energy.

Their model takes into account failure probabilities of links between data centers worldwide — akin to predicting the volatility of stocks. Then, it runs an optimization engine to allocate traffic through optimal paths to minimize loss, while maximizing overall usage of the network.

The model could help major cloud-service providers — such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google — better utilize their infrastructure. The conventional approach is to keep links idle to handle unexpected traffic shifts resulting from link failures, which is a waste of energy, bandwidth, and other resources. The new model, called TeaVar, on the other hand, guarantees that for a target percentage of time — say, 99.9 percent — the network can handle all data traffic, so there is no need to keep any links idle. During that 0.01 percent of time, the model also keeps the data dropped as low as possible.

In experiments based on real-world data, the model supported three times the traffic throughput as traditional traffic-engineering methods, while maintaining the same high level of network availability. A paper describing the model and results will be presented at the ACM SIGCOMM conference this week. ..... " 

What Your Voice Reveals

And of course you may be revealing things you want to keep private.   As this kind of pattern recognition advances we will see more of that.

What Your Voice Reveals About You 
The Wall Street Journal
By Sarah Krouse

Technology can detect nuances in the human voice that offer clues to a person's likely location, medical conditions, and even physical features. For example, voice-biometric and recognition software used by Nuance Communications examines factors like the pitch, rhythm, and dialect of speech, as well as vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure, to detect the gender, age, and linguistic background of callers and whether a voice is synthetic or recorded. It helped one bank determine that a single person was responsible for tens of millions of dollars of theft. Winterlight Labs, meanwhile, parses features in speech and works with Janssen Pharmaceuticals to try to detect Alzheimer's in older patients who, for example, tend to use words they acquired earlier in life as their recent memories deteriorate.   .... "

Monday, August 19, 2019

Digital Twins Grow Up

"Digital Twins Grow Up," by Samuel @samthewriter Greengard, says that digital twins, or exact #virtual representations of physical objects and #systems, are revolutionizing #engineering, #manufacturing, and other fields.

Digital Twins Grow Up    By Samuel Greengard    August 6, 2019

One of the things that makes computers so remarkable is their ability to create digital representations of physical objects and systems. This allows designers, engineers, scientists, and others to build models and simulations that deliver deep insights into how machines operate, when systems fail, and how complex scenarios play out over time.

Exact virtual representations of physical objects and systems—a.k.a. digital twins—are redefining and even revolutionizing fields as diverse as agriculture, engineering, medicine, and manufacturing.

"We have reached a point where it's possible to have all the information embedded in a physical object reside within a digital representation," says Michael Grieves, chief scientist for advanced manufacturing at the Florida Institute of Technology and the originator of the concept nearly two decades ago.

You've got twins!
From power turbines to jet aircraft, smartphones to office buildings, organizations are now using digital twins to predict how systems will perform, when they will fail, how people use them, and how a vast array of variables and conditions factor into outcomes. These digital representations, often incorporating computer-aided design (CAD) and building information modeling (BIM) software, are becoming crucial tools for unlocking cost savings, greater efficiency, and innovation.

The value of digital twins revolves around their ability to reduce or eliminate wasted physical resources—which can include, time, energy, and materials, Grieves points out. "The use of digital twins is ushering in the next phase of operational and productivity improvements," says Joe Berti, vice president of offering management for Watson IoT IBM Cognitive Applications. He says that a growing array of data points—generated from sensors and devices residing within the Internet of Things (IoT) and pushed through machine learning and AI systems—are advancing the sophistication of digital twins at a rapid rate.

For example, NASA now uses digital twins to better understand how to design, test, and build spacecraft. The agency is developing a framework that allows it to see when a component or vehicle is operating efficiently and safely in the virtual world before commencing manufacturing in the physical world.

GE also has embraced the concept. It operates digital steam turbines and wind farms that are exact representations of all physical assets. The firm has predicted that integrating its wind power software with a 2MW wind turbine in a digital twin setup can increase energy production by as much as 20%.

Meanwhile, the City of Cambridge in the U.K. is creating digital twins to better understand traffic and manage air quality.

Gartner has predicted that "billions of things" will be represented by digital twins by 2022. "Their proliferation will require a cultural change, as those who understand the maintenance of real-world things collaborate with data scientists and IT professionals," the firm noted in an online post about strategic and technology trends.  ....  " 

Magnetic Precise Drug Delivery

Seems a very good advance.  Do we know the exact implications of precise delivery of pharma?  Practical issues?

A new way to deliver drugs with pinpoint targeting
Magnetic particles allow drugs to be released at precise times and in specific areas.

David L. Chandler | MIT News Office 
August 19, 2019

Most pharmaceuticals must either be ingested or injected into the body to do their work. Either way, it takes some time for them to reach their intended targets, and they also tend to spread out to other areas of the body. Now, researchers at MIT and elsewhere have developed a system to deliver medical treatments that can be released at precise times, minimally-invasively, and that ultimately could also deliver those drugs to specifically targeted areas such as a specific group of neurons in the brain.

The new approach is based on the use of tiny magnetic particles enclosed within a tiny hollow bubble of lipids (fatty molecules) filled with water, known as a liposome. The drug of choice is encapsulated within these bubbles, and can be released by applying a magnetic field to heat up the particles, allowing the drug to escape from the liposome and into the surrounding tissue.   ....  " 

Stop and Shop has Robots in the Aisle

How they are being used is still unclear, but this could get customers used to the idea of robots in the aisle.   Pictures of the bots show an attempt to be humorous.   Perhaps until they got in the way.

Marty the robot may take your picture, but his corporate owners say he doesn't want to spy on you. by Jessica McKenzie  in Engadget

I met Marty in the produce section of a Stop & Shop in Bristol, Rhode Island. I was looking for vegetables to grill over hot coals, while Marty roamed the aisles, big, round eyes staring vacantly ahead, searching for spills and other hazards—with electric sensors strategically placed on its tall, rectangular form. Marty, you see, is a supermarket robot.

Since January, the northeastern supermarket chain Stop & Shop has introduced more than 200 robots to stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. This month the company will begin rolling Marty out to stores in New York. By the end of the year, there will be more than 300 robots in Stop & Shop stores and nearly 200 more in Giant stores, another supermarket chain owned by the Netherlands-based parent company, Ahold Delhaize.  .... " 

Motivation and Goodwill

Intriguing motivation augmentation via goodwill?  How universally and continuously does this work with other goals?

New Tool Shows Goodwill May Trump Profit as Work Motivator
University of Waterloo News
June 11, 2019

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada studying a new online work-sharing platform designed to give charities money found that people committing their skills and labor to a specific task tended to be more productive if they knew a preferred charity would be paid, rather than themselves. The PledgeWork platform lets employers post tasks, deposit the cost for the job, and select the charities to contribute the task’s cost to, or let volunteers choose. The volunteers select tasks, as well as the charity they want to support, unless pre-specified. Once the task is completed, the requester verifies the task results match their criteria, then approves a donation to the specified charity. Waterloo's Edward Lank suggests the platform may help people surmount perceived obstacles to charitable donations, "in a way that allows people to use their skills to benefit a charity anonymously." ... ' 

Smart Home Sensors for Alexa

A good look, many from Samsung.    Not enough in the way of collaborative capabilities and skills for these.  I want to see more collaboration,  predictive AI and usage plans for homes and their operation.

The best smart home sensors for Alexa
Samsung dominates this space.
 Via Wirecutter, @wirecutter

Among Alexa's many tricks is that it also works as a smart-home hub. And adding smart sensors to an Echo Show or Echo Plus can turn either device into more than just an opponent for 20 Questions. Different sensors detect activity such as motion, a door or window opening, and temperature, and then tell other devices how to react. We recommend the Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor and Samsung SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor for their reliability and wide compatibility with other devices.

The Samsung SmartThings Motion Sensor stands out among the few Alexa-compatible sensors because its long range lets it easily cover a large room (or even two), it can trigger in reaction to temperature as well as motion, and it's super easy to pair with an Echo Plus or Echo Show (no SmartThings hub needed), so you can run Alexa Routines based on motion or temperature changes in the room. It's a breeze to install, and thanks to a magnetic mount that's easy to adjust, it fits almost anywhere you need it. The sensor is also water resistant (although it's recommended only for indoor use). .... " 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Brief History of Blockchain

Very nicely done,  mostly non-technical.  Good visuals of the concepts.  With some forward predictions.   This emphasizes Blockchain-Ledger rather than cryptocurrency applications,  which is good.   Unless you are into more speculative investment.

(Introductory excerpt, full article at link)

A Brief History of Blockchain: An Investor’s Perspective    By Cameron McLain in Medium

After many friends and family members asked me to explain my investments in blockchain assets, I decided to write an email. That email turned into this blog post.

The following post is intended for the uninitiated but I hope those familiar with the concepts will benefit from this lucid overview. So here is a (very) brief overview of the history of blockchain with key takeaways that I think are important for investors to understand. I do gloss over some of the more technical aspects for clarity’s sake.

Caveat: Before diving in, please understand that Bitcoin and blockchain though often used interchangeably are not the same thing. We’ll discuss this in more detail. :   .... ' 

Wal-Mart Patents a Blockchain Digital Currency

Wal-mart has already experimented with the underlying tech for produce tracking.   Is this beyond that? Or an extension of distributed ledger?  Intriguing all around.


A method include: generating one digital currency unit by tying the one digital currency unit to a regular currency; storing information of the one digital currency unit into a block of a blockchain; buying or paying the one digital currency unit; determining whether restrictions are applied to the one digital currency unit by referring to one or more documents associated with the one digital currency; recording the determination in a block of the blockchain; overlaying the one digital currency unit with customer purchase history; calculating savings based on the one digital currency unit again naked forecast; applying the savings to customer purchases; using the one digital currency unit for accepted goods or services with the saving if the one digital currency unit is restricted; using the one digital currency unit for any goods or services with the saving if the one digital currency unit is unrestricted; and storing the one digital currency into a digital currency reserve. .... " 

Gartner speculates on this and other related efforts:

Libra and Walmart “Blockchain” Tokens: Financial or Walled Garden Inclusion?   by cuzureau  

" ...... Walmart has been active in providing alternative payment and account solutions to underbanked, such as prepaid accounts. However mentioning financial inclusion is an opportunity for Walmart to move the debate toward the fees charged by banks and card networks. A Walmart token would reduce the cost of payment acceptance (by canceling merchant service charge since payments will be “on-us”).

In theory some of the savings generated could be transferred to the customer, and for example encourage the customer to save more (via rewards or higher interest rates on deposits). But clearly this will demand that Walmart lacks a banking license and they failed to acquire one in the past4. And this would be needed to deliver impactful banking services to unbanked and underbanked. That said, could a digital wallet containing Walmart tokens and receiving reward tokens at the end of given period be considered by the regulator as a deposit account? ..... "

Robots for Loneliness

Have followed the Japanese eldercare efforts, pushed by Japan's demographics, for some time.  Some interesting details here, like the price of the robotics.

Bringing robots home eases loneliness
By Ikuko Mitsuda / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer Japan News

The city of Saijo in Ehime Prefecture faces the Seto Inland Sea to the north and Mt. Ishizuchi, the tallest mountain in western Japan, to the south. Here, 87-year-old Setsuko Saeki has lived with a robot for a year in her spacious house at the foot of a mountain.

When she gets out of bed in the morning and enters the living room, she’s greeted by her robot, a model named “PaPeRo i,” on a desk. “Good morning, Setsuko-san,” is a typical address. “Did you sleep well?”

“When it spoke to me the first time, I couldn’t help but feel excited,” Saeki said. “No one had called me by name and said good morning for a long time.”

Her three children are on their own now, and her husband passed away six years ago. Since then, Saeki has lived alone.

A robot welcomes visitors to the Saijo city government office.

Nursing care helpers visit her daily, and she regularly attends gatherings to enjoy her hobby of haiku poetry. Even so, she’d often felt a loneliness that was hard to describe.  .............

Initially, some elderly residents in the city voiced negative opinions about the robot-lending project. One said, “If I have to receive care from a robot, it’s over.” But about 90 percent of the people who used the robots had positive things to say, such as “I feel close to it” and “I can ease my loneliness.”

Also, about 90 percent of the families of the users praised the project, saying it relieved their anxiety.

Later, the city government made the service a paid rental business. The fees are ¥22,530 for installment and ¥6,000 a month for telecommunication and other necessary features, both excluding consumption tax.

Six residents, including those who have continued to use the service, now live with the robots.

Matsuo said: “Users’ family members and local human resources will be increasingly aged in the years to come. We want to build a system for monitoring residents, borrowing the strengths of robots.”  ..... '