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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

CMap Tools Updated

CMap Tools have been significantly updated to version 6.02.  See the site and updates here with lits of use demonstrations.  " .... Cmap software is a result of research conducted at the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC). It empowers users to construct, navigate, share and criticize knowledge models represented as concept maps. ... "   Site and downloads here.   License is free for commercial use.   Easy to use and learn,  Cloud based.   Works on many platforms and iPad.

A Conversation on Smart Shelves

This work by Hitachi covers many of the experiments we did with the smartshelf.  Is it smart enough to make a real difference?  Finding new patterns of use may find better ways to use this data.

Will Smart shelves ever be smart enough for Kroger and other retailers?
by Tom Ryan

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Kroger CIO Chris Hjelm said the supermarket’s test of smart shelves has reached 14 locations.

With Kroger’s mobile app open, sensors detect shoppers in aisles to offer personal pricing and product suggestions. “I can highlight products for you on a high-definition display on the shelf edge,” said Mr. Hjelm.

As examples, he noted how a gluten-free shopper might find relevant products highlighted in the nutrition-bar section. Shoppers might receive their “personal price” or hear a ping to alert them that a bottle of wine from their shopping list is on a nearby shelf, he said.

Smart shelf proponents also tout their ability to facilitate automated pricing changes as a huge labor-saving advance. They also promise on-demand nutritional information updates.

Some smart shelves can measure inventory life or identify when shelves are running low on product or empty. Using a solution from Powershelf powered by Microsoft Azure, Giant Eagle has reduced its out-of-stock replenishment time by two-thirds and cut its out-of-stock SKUs by 50 percent on any given day, according to Microsoft. .... " 

China AI Boom

Fairly weak view,  Chinese students are still flocking to US Universities.  Startups still booming in the US.  Baidu is a good example,  but fairly singular.

China’s Artificial-Intelligence Boom
The country’s universities and tech giants are starting to surpass American ones when it comes to researching and implementing AI.    Sarah Zhang

Cisco: How Digital is Disrupting Transportation

How Digital is Disrupting Transportation  (13 page PDF)

Context for report

Cisco developed this paper to create a starting point for discussions about the digitisation of transportation, and its downstream impact on cities, regions and economies. The report comprises a range of inputs, including discussions with global experts such as those who attended the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in October 2016, as well as contemporary research and insights. Cisco is a global technology company focused on helping organisations prepare for and respond to the impact of digital technologies. By investing in thought leadership, Cisco intends to contribute to the debate and potential solutions, rather than being a passive observer

Purpose of this report

Governments, institutions and companies are experiencing immense disruption. Business and engagement models are being transformed by rising citizen and customer expectations, and fueled by mass connectivity. The transportation sector is poised to move from `human scale’ to machine scale’,

creating a wave of innovation propelled by the ability of humans to connect to machines, or for machines to connect with other machines. The transportation industry is projected to experience more change than most sectors, in large part because it offers solutions to some of the world’s most acute challenges: environmental sustainability and rapid urbanisation.

Digital transportation solutions are forecast to improve safety, energy and operational efficiency, and performance in mass transit, rail, freight and logistics, aviation and road transit. The purpose of this report is to investigate emerging trends in transportation. It is intended to stimulate thought, provoke discussion and raise awareness of the opportunities presented by digital and how to capitalise on those opportunities. The report concludes with the role of digital infrastructure in creating a robust, secure and future-proofed platform for innovation. ... " 

Discovering and Modeling the Correct Networks

I much like the 'correct' aspect, often not considered carefully enough.

 " ... This a reminder about our Cognitive Systems Institute Speaker Series on Thursday, March 2, 2016 at 10:30 am ET US (7:30 am PT).  Our speaker is Nitesh Chawla, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, and Director of the Research Center on Network and Data Sciences (iCeNSA) at the University of Notre Dame, who will be presenting “From complex Systems to Networks: Discovering and Modeling the Correct Network.

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

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

Dianne Fodell

IBM Global University Programs

Press Release on Olay Skin Care Advisor

More on Olay Skin Advisor:

Olay Unveils Global Skin Analysis Platform Olay Skin Advisor – The First-Of-Its-Kind Application of Deep Learning in the Beauty Industry

Olay’s New Mobile Platform Utilizes AI to Help Women Better Understand Their Skin

"Shopping for skincare has never been more overwhelming, as women are faced with thousands of products and promises"

BARCELONA, Spain--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, global skincare brand Olay celebrated its Mobile World Congress debut with the global launch of Olay Skin Advisor, a new platform designed to help women better understand their skin and find the products best-suited to their personal skincare needs. Rooted in a suite of artificial intelligence technologies, Olay Skin Advisor marks the first application of deep learning in the beauty industry, arming women with the knowledge they need to care for their skin and better navigate the often-confusing beauty aisle.

“Shopping for skincare has never been more overwhelming, as women are faced with thousands of products and promises,” said Dr. Frauke Neuser, Principal Scientist for Olay. “Olay’s research shows that browsing the shelf is the #1 purchase influencer for women, yet 1/3 of women do not find what they are looking for. We saw an opportunity to help women understand their skin better than ever, before they even step foot in the store. Our solution is Olay Skin Advisor, which uses artificial intelligence to deliver a smart skin analysis and personalized product recommendation, taking the mystery out of shopping for skincare products.”

- See more at: http://news.pg.com/press-release/pg-corporate-announcements/olay-unveils-global-skin-analysis-platform-olay-skin-adviso#sthash.qQRASriP.dpuf

Monday, February 27, 2017

Alexa Links to Yamaha Multiroom Audio Ecosystem

Continued integration with voice control.    The number speed of such integrations is remarkable.  Getting difficult to keep track of.  Now lets see more examples beyond audio and entertainment.

Yamaha Adding Amazon Alexa Voice Control To MusicCast Multiroom Audio Ecosystem
Firmware update coming this fall

Yamaha is bringing Amazon's Alexa voice control to its MusicCast wireless multiroom audio products beginning this fall with more than 40 A/V products.

The existing components will get a firmware update enabling control using spoken commands through Alexa-enabled devices. An Alexa skill that adds support for the MusicCast commands will simultaneously be made available for Alexa-enabled devices, including the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Tap and Amazon's Fire TV. .... " 

Selfie Skin Analysis by Olay

An interesting advisor approach done by my former employer using advanced deep learning machine learning techniques.

" ... Procter & Gamble Co. today revealed the launch of a global web platform called the Olay Skin Advisor, which enables a woman to have a selfie analyzed via smartphone to determine the P&G products best suited to care for her face.

The Cincinnati-based consumer goods company (NYSE: PG) said the new Olay Skin Advisor platform, which has been piloted in the United States in beta form, is powered by artificial intelligence technologies.

The Skin Advisor provides a woman with precise, personalized skin education and product recommendations on any smartphone or tablet based on the photo submitted.

The goal is to help women better navigate what P&G described as the often-confusing beauty aisle at groceries or other stores. Buying decisions can be complicated because there are so many products from which to choose.  ... " 

We called this general idea 'virtual beauty'.  See tag below for previous work on that.

And more technical technical AI detail in this piece.

Site of Olay Skin Advisor.

More work on the concept of virtual beauty.

HPC and Deep Learning by Baidu

That Baidu opening up here is interesting, read the full article at the link.  Openness of Baidu is intriguing.  See an intro to OpenMPI.

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale   By HPC Wire 

Baidu's Silicon Valley Artificial Intelligence Lab (SVAIL) has released a modified implementation of the ring all-reduce OpenMPI algorithm for the deep-learning community, which will enable faster training of neural networks across graphical-processing unit (GPU) nodes.

Unlike the OpenMPI version, the SVAIL modification avoids making extraneous copies between the central processing unit (CPU) and the GPU.

Although commonplace in high-performance computing, the technique has been underused within AI and deep learning, according to Baidu. Compared with using a single GPU, the ring all-reduce algorithm is about 31 times faster at 40 GPUs.

The algorithm has enabled the SVAIL team to get linear GPU scaling up to 128 GPUs and to parallelize the training of Deep Speech 2, its speech-recognition mode.

Two years after the approach was initially developed, the researchers have issued two non-proprietary implementations, one for TensorFlow and one for more general applications. ... " 

Leadership Playing Games

Interesting take in Chief Learning Officer.  But I would caution that it should be a gamified simulation of some key aspects of their own organization.  Probably with some competition interaction with other managers.   As we see more executives with gaming experience rising through the ranks, or being hired, this may become easier.   Get advice from them about what works.

At very least such simulations should include measures already in use within the company, so they can be compared to reality.   Probably also to include some observers with skills (economists, marketers, forecasters, statisticians, etc.) to make sure the results are realistic.   Have seen some aspects of this working in an enterprise.

Why You Should Encourage Leaders to Play Games
Some say it’s never a good thing when leaders play games. But when development is the goal, gamification has its perks. .... 

February 27, 2017   by John Gillis Jr.

Google Assistant Comes to Android Phones

The battle of the assistants extends.  Google Assistant to come to Android phones and then beyond.  In Computerworld: 

Rebecca Linke: OK Google, when will my phone get Google Assistant?
Google is bringing Assistant to more Android phones starting this week. Will your device be one of them?   For many Android users, very soon. Google will start rolling out its virtual assistant as early as this week for some people -- but the update isn't coming to everyone. So will you be one of the lucky ones? ... 

Starting this week, Google is bringing Google Assistant to all Android phones running Android 7.0 Nougat and 6.0 Marshmallow...it [will] arrive automatically on your phone through the latest Google Play Services update. The rollout may take some time, but many of you are about to gain access to Google Assistant very soon. ... 

Great! Remind us exactly what Google Assistant is again? Aloysius Low has the details:

Google Assistant lets you talk to your phone in a conversational way, providing answers to questions about the weather, flight information and appointments. The assistant can even control your smart home...Besides smartphones, Assistant is already available on the Google Home smart speaker, Android Wear 2.0 devices, and will soon come to TVs and cars. ... " 

Selecting Forecasting Methods

Good, not too technical piece in DSC, on the basic elements of forecasting ....

Selecting Forecasting Methods in Data Science
Posted by Kamala Kanta Mishra  

We are dealing with plethora of data and information in the world today and expectation is to predict and forecast how we can gain competitive advantage based on the information that we have, to act in advance. We look forward to define and furnish various methods based on our gut feel, past historical data, simple mathematical averages, and many more to get an incredibly precise prediction. With advanced analytics and data science, we develop “always-on” forecasting models which enable our clients to take their decisions effectively. From intuition to traditional algorithms to machine learning, phases have been evolving over a period.   ... " 

Fuel Measurement and Security

A big area of security and measurement, could have considerable value ...

RFID-enabled Fuel-Monitoring System Connects to the Internet of Things
Customers in multiple countries report improved fuel accountability after adopting the solution.
By Nathaniel Prince

Feb 27, 2017—Fluid Management Technology Pty Ltd. (FMT), a specialist in fuel tank management, has developed an RFID- and Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled solution for clients that need to accurately monitor their fuel consumption. The backbone of the system is a device that the company calls the SmartFill GEN 2, which helps prevent theft by restricting fuel dispensal only to authorized users.

Waving a card or fob with an embedded Near Field Communication (NFC) tag over the SmartFill unit (which contains a custom-made reader that uses NXP Semiconductors' PN532 chip set) activates the pump .... " 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Do Solution Order Analytics

When I first read the below I did not understand the '2nd order' aspects,  but then I thought, well yes .... it has to be applied.   Like that the application is considered.   But then should it not have been thought of in detail before doing the analytics?  So it is best applied?  Too often I see today the analytics are thrown out there,  and later its seen if they fit.  Lets model and understand the process,  do the right analytics, measure its value, and repeat to get more.    Is that 0-ith order?  Solution-order.  Lets do it.

In DatafloqMoving Beyond Predictions – Second Order Analytics
" ... Identifying The Action Is The Next Step ... 
Once I have a prediction, simulation, or forecast, the next step is to identify what action is required to realize the potential value uncovered. Let’s consider the example of using sensor data for predictive or condition-based maintenance. In this type of analysis, sensor data is captured and analyzed to identify when a problem for a piece of equipment is likely. For example, an increase in friction and temperature within a gear might point to the need to replace certain components before the entire assembly fails. ... " 

Moto Z Phone Embeds Alexa Capability

No experience with this kind of phone and capability.  But an interesting further integration.  Can we expect more of this to compete with other phone systems?

We’re changing the way people use their phones. Moto Mods are the #1 reason why consumers buy a Moto Z. And they’re ready for what’s next.

Amazon Alexa Meets Moto Z
Part of what makes our Moto Mods innovation so rewarding is the partners we work with — like Amazon. Later this year, you can purchase a Moto Mod with Amazon Alexa for your Moto Z.

With our Amazon Alexa Moto Mod, you can easily perform everyday tasks while on the go, like controlling your smart home, checking the news, requesting a ride from services like Uber, and more — using just your voice. For example, when you start your commute home, you can ask Alexa to adjust your home’s temperature so it’s comfortable when you get there. Or, you can add milk to your shopping list without ever picking up a pen.

This is just the beginning for Alexa and Motorola. Later this year, we’ll add Alexa integration into our phones — and you won’t have to unlock the phone first. ... 

We’ll also be launching additional power-focused Moto Mods including a wireless charging Moto Mod, a Turbo Power Moto Mod and a charging adaptor.    ... " 

Social Activity of Editing Bots on the Wikipedia

Do we understand the 'social' aspects of competing bots?   In this case bots that are left to their own directives.   You might think such examples have obscure results, but in this case they influence knowledge many of us access every day.   How must such bots converse?

Bots on Wikipedia Wage Edit Wars Between Themselves That Last For Years
by George Dvorsky   ...

Liability and the Self Driving Car

In the CACM, about the process of self driving, and how that links to specific liability.

Here's Why Self-Driving Cars May Never Really Be Self-Driving
By Computerworld   February 24, 2017

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) are exploring myriad unpredictable issues with autonomous car technology that might be solved with embedded software to avoid accidents.

Their proof-of-concept KeYmarea X software seeks to determine how self-driving cars should reason through all possible accident scenarios, and determine when to switch control over to human drivers.

Regulations governing self-driving vehicle liability currently are lacking, so insurance firms will likely litigate against the automaker for accident claims and not the driver. .... " 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sin Taxes and Behavioral Economics

Do sin taxes change consumer behavior?    In Knowledge@Wharton.  An example of Behavioral Economics.    Can the results be simulated,  used to directly predict measurable outcomes?

A Hololens Update

From Microsoft. An update with some impressive visuals.  Still mostly very specialized things, still looking for some very breakthrough applications in typical business.

Google AI in Game Play

Intriguing example,  like the interaction of intelligence and games

Google's new AI has learned to become 'highly aggressive' in stressful situations
Bec Crew, ScienceAlert

" ... Now, researchers have been testing its willingness to cooperate with others, and have revealed that when DeepMind feels like it's about to lose, it opts for "highly aggressive" strategies to ensure that it comes out on top.

The Google team ran 40 million turns of a simple 'fruit gathering' computer game that asks two DeepMind 'agents' to compete against each other to gather as many virtual apples as they could.

They found that things went smoothly so long as there were enough apples to go around, but as soon as the apples began to dwindle, the two agents turned aggressive, using laser beams to knock each other out of the game to steal all the apples. ... " 

Voice Authorization

I have not had any issues like this, but it makes sense.  Even better would be the ability to differentiate between household members.   No current assistant does this. Must be hard?

Voice-checking device stops hackers hijacking your Siri or Alexa  By Matt Reynolds

Does your digital sistant know who it’s talking to? A wearable device prototype could let voice-controlled assistants like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa recognise their owner so they don’t take orders from anyone else.

The VAuth device, developed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, uses an accelerometer hidden in a pair of glasses or earphones or worn around the neck. The accelerometer measures vibrations created as the wearer speaks. An algorithm then compares those vibrations with the audio signal received by the digital assistant. If the vibrations and the audio match, then the voice command is received as normal. If not, the assistant is blocked from responding.

Computer scientists Huan Feng and Kassem Fawaz at the University of Michigan  tested VAuth with 18 people saying 30 different commands. It was able to match speech vibrations with audio signals 97 per cent of the time, and did not act on commands issued by someone other than the device owner. Although they tested VAuth only with Android assistant Google Now, Feng and Fawaz are confident it could work with other voice assistants if their manufacturers allowed it.  ....  " 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Looking More Closely at a Voice Retail Channel

Is Amazon’s Alexa a threat to rival retailers?
The author starts a conversation remarking on how much her family has taken to voice ordering.     Does every kind of assistant insert their 'voice' into an interaction?  A sales voice is meant to sell. A work voice could be 'focus'.  Other adjustable voices?

In Retailwire: 

  " ... After hearing about the girl who loves Alexa and watching my own kids, I have a feeling the human tendency is going to be to relate to anything that is moderately human as human — even when they know it’s not. I’m also certain that retailers struggling to compete against Amazon need to think a lot more about what kind of personality and trust people are projecting on to services like Alexa. Increasingly, they may find they are not competing against some wacky bald guy and an internet behemoth. They are competing against Alexa, my kids’ favorite disembodied voice. ... " .

 I no longer have children around,  so have not seen this.  We order a bit vocally, but not very much.   But is this aspect of AI,  known since the 70s, to trust the human-like as well.  See the book Media Equation conversation (below)  for more ...

Discussion is interesting there too.

A Doomsday Invention?

Following up on my reading of Bostrom's book:  Superintelligence, this 2015 article.  My take on this is that the dangers are still decades away, but does need to be thought about now.

The  New Yorker, November 23,  2015
The Doomsday Invention
Will artificial intelligence bring us utopia or destruction?
Features work of Nick Bostrum
By Raffi Khatchadourian

New Beacons for Personalized Service

Was recently asked to look at the status of beacon applications, new examples of increased 'intelligence' at play.

New Beacon Company Brings Intelligence to In-Flight Entertainment, Banks

Conichiwa, a spinoff of German hotel app firm conichi, is providing systems that recognize an individual or item based on beacon transmissions, and can thus personalize service or improve efficiency.  By Claire Swedberg  ... 

Zebra SmartSense

This was brought to my attention.  Zebra SmartSense™ for Retail Helps Retailers Execute Successful Omnichannel Fulfillment Strategies.  " ... This innovative solution combines UHF RFID, video and a new micro-location capability — to identify and track the journey and location of merchandise, associates and shoppers in a retail store in real-time. A powerful edge analytics engine analyzes data from these sources to provide intelligent and actionable insights to achieve optimal stocking levels, detect and identify misplaced merchandise or assets, pinpoint theft and enhance store promotions and product placement activities. .. " 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Superintelligence Considered

Quite late, but making my way through the well known Superintelligence book by Nick Bostrom. Some quite fascinating statistics of the futurist kind that are worth looking at.   Will the development of AI being seen today, that uses methods like neural nets and Bayesian methods,  be able to leverage itself to be self-replicating?  And become in a sense 'Super', and go beyond human intelligence?   What are the dangers involved?  As Bostrom asks, what are the paths, dangers and strategies to be considered?

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies  by Nick Bostrom  and his site  http://www.nickbostrom.com/  Lots of new resources at this link.

 They write:

" ... Superintelligence asks the questions: What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? Will artificial agents save or destroy us? Nick Bostrom lays the foundation for understanding the future of humanity and intelligent life. 

The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. If machine brains surpassed human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become extremely powerful - possibly beyond our control. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on humans than on the species itself, so would the fate of humankind depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence. ... " 

What to Expect from AI

What to Expect from AI.  Reasonably good overview from MIT Sloan Review.  An executive overview,  some registration required for the full report.  " ... To understand how advances in artificial intelligence are likely to change the workplace — and the work of managers — you need to know where AI delivers the most value. ... " .  Clear and obvious, avoid hype, implied or otherwise.

Role of Dialog Talk

From Today's talk:

Murray Campbell on  “The Role of Dialog in Augmented Intelligence”   IBM Research

Slides.    Talk recording. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Global Impact of Open Data

Free EBook from O'Reilly. 

The Global Impact of Open Data
Key Findings from Detailed Case Studies Around the World

Open data has spurred economic innovation, social transformation, and fresh forms of political and government accountability in recent years, but few people understand how open data works. This comprehensive report, developed with support from Omidyar Network, presents detailed case studies of open data projects throughout the world, along with in-depth analysis of what works and what doesn’t.   ... " 

On the Future of TV

Walt Mossberg looks at the future of TV,   from cable driven to TV as an intelligent service  A thoughtful and frustrating view of progress.  I am ready to try something new here, my estimate is that 90% of what we are paying for we don't use.   So we are paying for infrastructure too, but there are better ways to do that as well.

Mossberg: TV is changing, but not fast enough
What I learned at Code Media    by Walt Mossberg@waltmossberg  ... "

Role of Dialog in Augmented Intelligence

Looking forward to this talk,  precisely what we attempted in a number of expertise augmentation and Bot delivery applications.  Its still a big challenge,

Dear Professors, Students, IBMers and others, 

This a reminder about our Cognitive Systems Institute Speaker Series on Thursday, February 23, 2016 at 10:30 am ET US (7:30 am PT).  Our speaker is Murray Campbell, IBM Distinguished Research Staff Member, who will be presenting “The Role of Dialog in Augmented Intelligence.”

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

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

Thank you!

Dianne Fodell
IBM Global University Programs

Smart Home is Where the Bot is

McKinsey on Bots in the home.

A smart home is where the bot is
By Jean-Baptiste Coumau, Hiroto Furuhashi, and Hugo Sarrazin
Within a decade, our living spaces will be enhanced by a host of new devices and technologies, performing a range of household functions and redefining what it means to feel at home.

The promise of devices that not only meet our household needs but anticipate them as well has been around for decades. To date, that promise remains largely unfulfilled. Advances such as the Nest thermostat by Alphabet (parent company to Google) and Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant are notable, but the home-technology market as a whole remains fragmented, and the potential for a truly smart home is still unrealized. .... " 

Applying Design Thinking in the Organization

Good introduction to design thinking.  With pointers to lots of resources.

How to apply design thinking in your organization
Design thinking helps organizations grow, innovate, and improve financial performance.

By Jonathan Follett, Mary Treseler.   February 22, 2017

Design thinking is a process that uses design principles for solving complex problems. It helps organizations identify opportunities, unlock innovation, and improve their businesses.

Market leaders as varied as Apple, IBM, Intuit, Kaiser Permanente, and Nike have used design thinking to gain a competitive advantage, applying it to create innovative products and services. Within an organization, design thinking is a tool for unlocking cultural change. It makes companies more flexible, more responsive to their customers, and ultimately, more successful.

What are the elements of design thinking?

Although the name and number of its key principles may vary depending on how you apply them, the basic elements of design thinking always include some variation on the following: researching and defining the problem, ideating, and prototyping and iterating.  .... " 

Jacquard Loom

I don't agree with the premise implied in the intro, it did not rival the brain.  But the Jacquard loom did make us think about automating and 'programming' difficult process.  So a legitimate part of computing history:  In the CACM:

A Computer to Rival the Brain  By The New Yorker 
More than two hundred years ago, a French weaver named Joseph Jacquard invented a mechanism that greatly simplified textile production. .... " 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Alexa Skills for Small Business

Instructive list that I have been waiting for.  How can we get practical with voice skill assistants? Examining.

(Updated corrected URL) 23 Must-Have Alexa Skills for Your Small Business  By Rob Marvin in PCMag.

Amazon's digital assistant Alexa can help streamline your day-to-day business operations with voice-activated skills across communications, logistics, productivity, scheduling, and much more.  ... " 

Taxing Robots at Human Rates

In an interview with Bill Gates, the suggestion that robots that take human jobs should pay taxes:

“Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, Social  Security tax, all those things,” he said. “If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d  think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.”

Kroger Merges in-store, Online Shopping

From FMI Smartech: 

Kroger turns to Tech to merge in-store, online shopping
Kroger strives to create an in-store shopping experience that is similar to online shopping, tapping technology including infrared sensors, data algorithms, personalized mobile apps and e-commerce offerings including in-store pickup and delivery in an effort to make wait times shorter and foster an interactive shopping trip, according to CIO Chris Hjelm. Next up, the nation's largest supermarket will test smart shelves that can sense where shoppers are walking and send relevant offers to their mobile devices.

In The Wall Street Journal (Tiered subscription Model)

Google and Apple to rule Augmented Reality

Don't see this as the case as yet, the Microsoft Hololens applications I have seen are impressive

Why Google and Apple will rule mixed reality     Sorry, Microsoft and Magic Leap, the Silicon Valley smartphone giants have one thing you haven't got  By Mike Elgan ... "

Monday, February 20, 2017

Managing Remote Teams

What we have learned about managing remote teams, have now been involved in many such efforts, in companies, large and small, in the HBR: 

What 20 Years as a Remote Organization Has Taught Us About Managing Remote Teams
by Randy Street, Dina Wang, Vamsi Tetali

In his 1974 interview with ABC News, science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke painted a picture of how computers would change our way of life by the year 2001. One of his many extraordinarily accurate predictions: “Any businessman, any executive, could live almost anywhere on Earth and still do his business through a device like this.”

Now, this prediction about remote working has not only come to life; it’s proved to be more beneficial than the traditional office model for some companies. The advisory firm we work for is one such company. Since its inception, in 1995, ghSMART has been a firm with a completely remote team. More than 80% of our work is done by teams of consultants and staff who operate out of their home offices. It’s working for us: ghSMART has seen more than 97% client satisfaction in the past decade, 93% team retention, and greater than 20% annual growth. Our journey of more than 20 years has led to a lot of success and has taught us some valuable lessons for how to make remote arrangements work ... " 

On Loyalty Miles

Looking at loyalty points, customer miles as a liability.   In CustomerThink.

Executive Overview of AI

A not bad, non technical overview of AI, provided in Data Science Central.    But again, I would like more about linking it to specific business process.  Say with bot applications.

Executive Guide to Artificial Intelligence
Posted by Amith Parameshwara  ....   " 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bio Bots

Like the idea of combining biological cells and digital.    At a kind of fundamental layer.  A synthetic Biology of sorts.

Now You Can 'Build Your Own' Bio-Bot
By University of Illinois News Bureau
February 16, 2017

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have released their protocol for designing and building "bio-bots" powered by muscle cells and controlled with light and electrical signals.

They say the bio-bots are less than a centimeter in size and made of flexible three-dimensionally (3D)-printed hydrogels and living cells. ....  "

In 2012, the researchers demonstrated the bio-bots' ability to move on their own, powered by contracting heart cells from rats. A light-responsive skeletal muscle cell was genetically engineered to contract when stimulated by pulses of a certain wavelength of blue light. The skeletal muscle tissue was then coupled to a 3D-printed skeleton that moves in the direction of the optical pulses. ... "

Talk to Your Email With Notion

Started to look at a system called Notion AI that will allow you to listen to your emails on assistant systems.  Here is a general description.   And the site for the system Notion and how it can be used with Alexa.  Also note that Cortana is starting to provide some moves in this direction.  Still, none of these methods works well, they claim to learn and adapt to your communications needs, and give you advice about improving it, but are still not good enough, or trust-able for important needs.

Also described in Lifehacker.  and the Notion Blog.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

On CPG Supersized Deals

Having read about the proposed merger deal between Unilever and Kraft Heinz, and as the owner of CPG options, this article in Strategy-Business was of interest.   Where is CPG going?

Megadeals in Consumer Packaged Goods
How supersized deals are helping the sector respond to challenges.
    by J. Neely, Derek Townsend, and Dominic Ricketts  .... "

My Friend Cayla Doll Banned

The 'My Friend Cayla' doll was previously mentioned with regard to US COPPA law.  Possible implications for other attentive listening assistants?    In Engadget: 

" ... German watchdog group the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway) warns that hackers can use Cayla to steal personal data through an unsecured Bluetooth connection. It's already removed the doll from store shelves, and it's encouraging parents to take precautions.  ... " 

Block Chain for Food Safety

In Progressive Grocer:   Previously mentioned.

PG Web Extra: Walmart Adopts Blockchain Technology
Mega-retailer aims to improve fresh food safety, security  By Jenny McTaggart

Friday, February 17, 2017

Snapshots of Digital Transformation

Instructive.  In McKinsey: 

Three snapshots of digital transformation
Financial services, food retailing, and pharma are reinventing themselves in different ways.

As companies grapple with the different dimensions of digitization highlighted in McKinsey’s latest research (see “The case for digital reinvention”), here are snapshots of three industries in the eye of the storm: financial services, food retailing, and pharma. .... " 

Tom Davenport Writings

Had a chat with author Tom Davenport, we have long been in touch in the Analytics and AI spaces.  Here is a link to his recent writing.

Google Home Adds Big Retail Connects

 Are the assistant's major goal to directly sell?    Or prepare a new kind of channel for sales?  How will this evolve?   Discussion.

Will Costco, Kohl’s, Target, et al give Google Home an edge over Amazon’s Echo?  by George Anderson

“Okay, Google. How do I shop?” Those simple words may signal Google beginning to eat into the early market share lead that Amazon.com has established with its voice-activated Echo devices.

Yesterday, Google announced in a blog post that owners of its Google Home voice-activated speaker would now be able to place product orders from more than 50 local and national retailers participating in its Express delivery program. Among the more prominent chains participating are Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, Kohl’s, PetSmart, Target, Walgreens, Wayfair.com and Whole Foods. Moosejaw, which was just acquired by Walmart, is also among retailers in Google’s Express program, although its parent is not, nor are its sister companies — Jet.com, Sam’s Club and ShoeBuy.com.  .... " 

An Advisory Hub for Health Care

An idea that we discussed in some detail,  regarding advisory systems in health care.   Using popular advisory systems?  I like very much the idea of leveraging and especially sharing data among participants.  Regulatory issues abound.   Very worth following.

IBM's wearables hub could get you out of the hospital faster
The prototype device links to a host of wearables to gather health data for doctors  By Martyn Williams  

Researchers at IBM have developed a hub for wearables that can gather information from multiple wearable devices and share it with a doctor, potentially cutting down on the time patients need to spend in a hospital.

The gadget, which IBM has dubbed a 'cognitive hypervisor,' funnels data from devices such as smart watches and fitness bands into the IBM Cloud. There, it's analyzed and the results are shared with the user and their doctor.

The idea is that patients can be monitored reliably through the device so they can be sent home to recover from illnesses a day or two earlier than they might otherwise have been allowed. It also means that should a problem develop, a doctor can be alerted immediately and an ambulance dispatched if it's serious enough.

IBM demonstrated a prototype of the device in San Francisco on Tuesday.

"I am Chiyo, your new companion. During this time, please touch me to start," it said after powering up. "Every time you touch me, I will tell you about your status." ... " 

New Fingerprinting Techniques

In CIO Today: 

" .... The new tech makes it possible to establish a unique online fingerprint based not on browser features but on features of a user's operating system and computer hardware, according to a new study by researchers at Lehigh University and Washington University. The cross-browser fingerprinting technique identifies users with an accuracy of 99.24 percent, compared to AmIUnique's "state-of-the-art" accuracy of 90.84 percent across a single browser, according to the researchers.

While acknowledging the fingerprinting method could be used for undesirable purposes that violate online privacy, the researchers said the technique could also help service providers authenticate users for improved security. ... " 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Enabling Voice Control in Simple IoT

From MIT News  in CACM

" ... In anticipation of the age of voice-controlled electronics, MIT researchers have built a low-power chip specialized for automatic speech recognition. Whereas a cellphone running speech-recognition software might require about 1 watt of power, the new chip requires between 0.2 and 10 milliwatts, depending on the number of words it has to recognize. ... 

In a real-world application, that probably translates to a power savings of 90 to 99 percent, which could make voice control practical for relatively simple electronic devices. That includes power-constrained devices that have to harvest energy from their environments or go months between battery charges. Such devices form the technological backbone of what's called the "Internet of Things,"or IoT, which refers to the idea that vehicles, appliances, civil-engineering structures, manufacturing equipment, and even livestock will soon have sensors that report information directly to networked servers, aiding with maintenance and the coordination of tasks. ... "

Addressing the Flaws of Innovation

Thoughtful piece in the Cisco blog,  on how do we define and address the flaws in innovation.   Have attended many, many brainstorming sessions.  It was never hard to get ideas,  but usually problematic to really refine these ideas to something useful.  The post provides a start.  

Whats Next for Home Assistants?

Good thoughts, especially linking to email and phone calls. I would add also better ways to support ongoing learning and tracking of conversations.   Also the ability to differentiate and personalize conversations between different members of a household.  Agree that skills are not used, because real value there is rare.  Still awaiting a skill that saves me significant time,  and that the assistant could suggest for me after observing my behavior.

What’s Next for AI Home Assistants?  In Technology Review. 
Phone calls, wider integration, and even screens could make our new domestic butlers more useful. by Jamie Condliffe  February 16, 2017

Data Strategy and Value

Includes a mapping method I had not specifically heard of.   Gets back to measures for valuing your data when applied to specific strategic needs.

Why you need a data strategy, and what happens if you don’t have one
How to map out a plan for finding value in data.   ....  In O'Reilly.

" ... Using Wardley mapping (also known as value chain mapping), Overton points out the essential steps for identifying high-value strategic targets. ...  "

Video by Jerry Overton February 14, 2017

The Origami Revolution

An informative video on PBS today regarding the use of Origami as a design methodology, how research on origami based models is progressing and a number of good examples.  Very well done.   We explored this for some packaging innovation proposals. Note this means of access to the video appears to expire on March 1,  2017.

The Origami Revolution  PBS 
Video duration: 53:50 Aired: 02/15/17 Expires: 03/01/17
Rating: NR Video has closed captioning. .... 

Engineers are using origami to design drugs, micro-robots, and future space missions. ... . "

Note also on Origami at MIT.  Links to free MIT talks and materials via Erik Demaine.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

TensorFlow 1.0 Announced

Google announces what appears to be a considerable upgrade of TensorFlow.

Announcing TensorFlow 1.0  by Amy McDonald Sandjideh, Technical Program Manager, TensorFlow

In just its first year, TensorFlow has helped researchers, engineers, artists, students, and many others make progress with everything from language translation to early detection of skin cancer and preventing blindness in diabetics. We’re excited to see people using TensorFlow in over 6000 open-source repositories online. 

Today, as part of the first annual TensorFlow Developer Summit, hosted in Mountain View and livestreamed around the world, we’re announcing TensorFlow 1.0:  .... " 

Includes links to online presentations.

Pew Internet Research Looks at Algorithms

I like their broad definition of algorithms.  Sometimes the implication is falsely given that algorithms are some magical and very complex thing.    But they are simply the way that some processes can be driven by rules.  How these are constructed by analytics can be complex.  Or not, and its better if they are simple and thus transparent.  Its the operational aspects of how this is done and managed that is important.

In PewInternet: 
Algorithms are instructions for solving a problem or completing a task. Recipes are algorithms, as are math equations. Computer code is algorithmic. The internet runs on algorithms and all online searching is accomplished through them. Email knows where to go thanks to algorithms. Smartphone apps are nothing but algorithms. Computer and video games are algorithmic storytelling. Online dating and book-recommendation and travel websites would not function without algorithms. GPS mapping systems get people from point A to point B via algorithms. Artificial intelligence (AI) is naught but algorithms. 

The material people see on social media is brought to them by algorithms. In fact, everything people see and do on the web is a product of algorithms. Every time someone sorts a column in a spreadsheet, algorithms are at play, and most financial transactions today are accomplished by algorithms. Algorithms help gadgets respond to voice commands, recognize faces, sort photos and build and drive cars. Hacking, cyberattacks and cryptographic code-breaking exploit algorithms. Self-learning and self-programming algorithms are now emerging, so it is possible that in the future algorithms will write many if not most algorithms.

Algorithms are often elegant and incredibly useful tools used to accomplish tasks. They are mostly invisible aids, augmenting human lives in increasingly incredible ways. However, sometimes the application of algorithms created with good intentions leads to unintended consequences. ... " 

Humans Trusting Algorithms

Key thoughts, also gets back to the question of how we explain the use of algorithms.   Most methods today are more akin to magic.  I like that this is being positioned as an operational question first, as opposed to AI.  See also, on algorithms explaining themselves.

Podcast and transcript in Knowledge@Wharton:

Why Humans Distrust Algorithms – and How That Can Change
" ...  Mathematical models have been used to augment or replace human decision-making since the invention of the calculator, bolstered by the notion that a machine won’t make mistakes. Yet many people are averse to using algorithms, preferring instead to rely on their instincts when it comes to a variety of decisions. New research from Cade Massey and Joseph Simmons, professors in Wharton’s department of operations, information and decisions, and Berkeley J. Dietvorst from the University of Chicago finds that control is at the core of the matter. If you give decision-makers a measure of control over the model, they are more likely to use it. Massey and Simmons spoke to Knowledge@Wharton about the implications of their research. ... " 

Remarkable Delivery Robot

Bio inspired robotics  ....     With claim to work in many environments.  In IEEE Spectrum:

Agility Robotics Introduces Cassie, a Dynamic and Talented Robot Delivery Ostrich

" ... Would you open the door for this thing?  (See video at the link) 

Cassie is a bipedal robot that could one day walk up to your front door to deliver packages. The robot was developed by Agility Robotics, a startup based in Albany, Ore. The company says Cassie is a dynamic walker, which makes it better than conventional bipedal robots at handling the kind of diverse and complex terrain that we walk over all the time without even thinking.  ....  By Evan Ackerman

Facial Recognition for Market Research

Not a new thing, has been worked for decades.  Talked to related work at MIT to leverage these ideas.  But we are getting much better at it now.   Much written about it here.   In ChainstoreAge: 

Is Facial Recognition in Retail Market Research the Next Big Thing?  by Terry Lawler

" ... One of the hottest areas of technology development in retail research is facial and emotion recognition. Understanding emotions is powerful in areas of research such as ad testing, but difficult to achieve. Facial expressions are linked to emotions, and research organizations have used human observation of recorded videos in retail settings to try to assess emotional response for years. Human assessment has many limitations, and facial expression recognition technology offers an opportunity to overcome some of these limitations, delivering a much greater level of insight about personal sentiment and reactions. 

Organizations managing research programs and retail customer experience activities can use emotion detection technology to analyze people’s emotional reactions at the point of experience. This knowledge not only gives researchers a greater understanding of behavior patterns, but also helps predict likely future purchasing actions of that consumer. .... "  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Big Data Results from Coke Freestyle

Now about eight years ago, we saw an early demonstration of Coke 'Free Style', a machine that would allow you to construct your own flavors.   Among millions of possibilities.  Late stage differentiation possibilities.  This kind of 'big data' could lead you to understand trends and directions, as well as pointers to supply chain needs driven directly by consumer choice. The machines are now fairly common, and their trove of data is being used.  But is this better than using the insight of human flavor research?   Focus groups?  Here some early, perhaps for now trivial, results:

Coke Let People Make Any Flavor They Want, The People Demanded Cherry Sprite  ... 
Thanks to new machines that let customers flavor their drinks however they want, Coca-Cola discovered that what people really wanted was Cherry Sprite. ....  "
by Venessa Wong in Buzzfeed

Hayo: Augmented Reality in Smart Homes

Intriguing.  " ... Hayo transforms the objects and spaces around you into a set of magical remote controls. ... ".   They claim there is no shouting involved.  Gestural in your augmented space. Gestures can select, but how can they relate text efficiently?  How you set it up is revealing:

1 Scan Your Room
Place Hayo in a room where you would like to set up virtual controls. Hayo will then create a 3D image map of the room.

2 Create Virtual Remote Controls
Using Hayo’s augmented reality app, create virtual remote controls on top of objects or right in thin air. Then connect them to your favorite connected home platforms and products.

3 Start Using Hayo
Since Hayo is always sensing movement, start using the remote controls right away. ... 

Site is here, still in preorder stage.  Competing with Voice driven systems.

Video Demonstration.  Includes Sonos,  Nest, Wink, Amazon Dash and IFTTT as other connected platforms.

Teaching Cognitive Computing with Watson at Universities

" ...  our Cognitive Systems Institute Speaker Series on Thursday, February 16, 2016 at 10:30 am ET US (7:30 am PT).  Our speaker is Charles Palmer, IBM Distinguished Research Staff Member, who will be presenting "Teaching Cognitive Computing with Watson at Universities."

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

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

Thank you and please let me know if you would like to be a presenter on an upcoming call!

Dianne Fodell

IBM Global University Programs

Providing Music Efficiently

Quite a good piece in the Verge that interviews speaker manufacturer Sonos'  Patrick Spense.   About the efficient music delivery aspects of Google Home and Alexa.  Where Sonos has taken a considerable hit in the last year.    This is the driving aspect of such systems, as opposed to the smart home capabilities.   They provide instant delivery of music that is of good enough quality for most people.  And provide it more conveniently in the home than even a smartphone.  So what will the future of Sonos and other alternatives be?

How Sonos will take on Alexa and Google: by integrating them
A conversation with Patrick Spence    by Dieter Bohn  ... 

Oracle and Real Time Anaytics in the Cloud

Cloud solutions continue to roll. I see less about the specifics of solutions here, except a bare listing.  You do need a cloud to provide solutions, but also workable solutions.  Like the mention of more real-time capabilities, as delivered in the cloud.

Oracle rolls out cloud-based data integration system for real-time analytics   by Mike Heatley in SiliconAngle: 

Oracle Corp.’s bid to supplant Amazon Web Services at the top of the public cloud summit moved a step forward with the introduction of a new service that aims to integrate enterprise customer’s data with real-time analytics.

On Monday, the company rolled out its Data Integrator Cloud Service that’s designed to accelerate support for real-time analytics for enterprise customers. The idea is to address the challenge of delivering insights from data analytics to the appropriate applications and employees who use them. ... "

Monday, February 13, 2017

Partnering with Chinese Retailers

In McKinsey: 

Partnering with China’s retailers: A guide for consumer-goods companies: 

Companies must tailor their key-account-management model and capabilities to the Chinese context.

Baidu and China Machine Learning

How Chinese Internet Giant Baidu Uses AI And Machine Learning - Forbes.  By Bernard Marr.

"  .... Chinese firms such as Baudu and Alibaba, on the other hand – as well as a monopoly on gathering personal data in their home market - can collect data of US and EU consumers in the overseas markets in which they operate. Given China’s huge population, it’s clear that Baidu is in an advantageous position here, when it comes to Big Data projects involving huge scale behavioural datasets. On top of this, China’s rules and regulations around transferring and selling personal data are generally considered to be less robust than those of the US or EU. This means huge amounts of “grey market” data is available to Chinese countries for very little cost. .... " 

Retail and AI

How artificial intelligence is powering retail customer experience
By Cliff Saran in Computerweekly:

Retailers are beginning to explore how cognitive computing and AI could make e-commerce smarter and more personalised ... 

According to analyst Forrester, artificial intelligence (AI), big data and analytics will increase businesses’ access to data, broaden the types of data that can be analysed, and raise the level of sophistication of the resulting insight. For 2017, Forrester expects investment in AI to triple. ... " 

Ford Invests in AI Startup

Have always been impressed by Ford's analytical work.  In ComputerWeekly:

Motorcar maker Ford’s software development team will work alongside Argo AI on robotic vehicle technology

Ford has invested $1bn with Argo AI, a robotics startup founded by former Google and Uber experts, in a bid to develop a virtual driver system.

Argo AI will join forces with Ford’s autonomous vehicle software development effort to strengthen the commercialisation of self-driving vehicles.  ... " 

Social Media Sites and Shopper Digital

Study: Grocery shoppers not all that connected with social media  By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

In ChainstoreAge:

 While supermarket shoppers engage with their primary grocer on one or more digital platforms, social media sites are not a priority. 

This was according to the “U.S. Supermarket Shopper Digital Update,” a report from the Retail Feedback Group (RFG). The new study, an offshoot of RFG's “U.S. Supermarket Experience Study,” focuses specifically on the digital aspects of shopper engagement with supermarkets. 

While 87% of supermarket shoppers reported they regularly follow one or more social media sites, just 25% indicated they are friends with or connected to their primary grocery store. Social media sites used most heavily by supermarket shoppers include Facebook (89%), YouTube (53%) Twitter (30%), Pinterest (29%) and Instagram (28%).    ... " 

AI Systems Communicating with Humans

Intriguing steps forward, ultimately about learning and updating the state of interactions.  Consider too the mention of trust, and implications of deeper agency between bots, assistants and their human users.

AI Systems Are Learning to Communicate With Humans
A computer science professor out of Carnegie Mellon is developing CoBots, or collaborative robots, to help people with simple tasks around the office.

The CoBots are also being taught effective communication based on more than just numerical data, with the hopes that the bots can gain human trust.

In the future, service robots equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) are bound to be a common sight. These bots will help people navigate crowded airports, serve meals, or even schedule meetings. ... " 

Smell and VR

Had seen related efforts demonstrated, but they suffered from most smell applications that made it difficult to focus and then remove aromas in spaces like retail.  

Stop to smell the virtual roses: why scent could be the next frontier for VR   By Aaron Krumins

Smart Jewelry

Beyond Smart watches.

Berkshire Hathaway jumps into wearables with a smart jewelry line
As consumers spend more on technology and less on jewelry, the Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary the Richline Group is looking to capitalize on market trends.  By Stephanie Condon

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Virtual Reality is Transforming Healthcare

Intriguing, but I have yet to see it in operation in any health care setting and I have seen many. Looking for a realistic example.

How Virtual Reality is Transforming Healthcare
Healthcare is one of the hottest industries where VR is making a place for itself.    By Quora 

Danger of Devices like Alexa to Security

Have been a user and experimenter with Alexa, Google Home and Cortana since their introduction.   Been asked about privacy implications.  Agency thoughts were recently brought to my attention for assistants in generally.   Excerpt:

Just How Dangerous Is Alexa?

Shelly Palmer  CEO at The Palmer Group

" ... The Willing Suspension of Our Privacy

We apply similar concepts to our online lives. Most of us are willing to give up our data (location, viewing, purchasing or search history) for our online enjoyment. We can call this the “willing suspension of our privacy” because if you spent a moment to consider what your data was actually being used for, you would refuse to let it happen.

The Willing Suspension of Our Agency

Which brings us to the next level of insanity: the willing suspension of our agency for our own enjoyment. This is past the point of giving up a “reasonable amount” of data or privacy to optimize the capabilities of our digital assistants. Suspension of our agency exposes our normally unmonitored physical activity, innocent mumblings and sequestered conversations. Some people believe this is happening with Alexa, Google Home, Siri and other virtual assistant and IoT systems. It may well be. ....  "

Driverless Trucks Leads to Need for More Drivers?

In Supply Chain Digest, some unexpected indications?

Why Driverless Trucks May Create the Need for More Drivers
Less Expensive Transportation may Lead to More Local Warehouses That Offer Same day Delivery and More Direct Customer Delivery

There has been a lot of talk about how driverless trucks may reduce the need for drivers and how will our economy replace these 2 million good blue collar jobs.

The same conversation is going on for the larger economy with all the buzz around artificial intelligence.  .... " 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Amazon Estimating Age with AI

In the Verge:   Estimating age from images:   " ... Amazon’s latest artificial intelligence tool is a piece of image recognition software that can learn to guess a human’s age. The feature is powered by Amazon’s Rekognition platform, which is a developer toolkit that exists as part of the company’s AWS cloud computing service. So long as you’re willing to go through the process of signing up for a basic AWS account  .... " 

Amazon Consults on Your Smart Home

Amazon offers to consult on setting up your smart home.   In Retailwire.

" ... Amazon.com has rolled out a new service on the West Coast, which offers free in-home consultations for customers interested in smart home technology.

Customers can book appointments with Smart Home Consultation advisers on Amazon’s website. The visits, during which advisors demonstrate Amazon’s popular Echo voice-activated digital assistants as well as other smart home devices, typically last 45-minutes. The service is currently available in various local metro markets in California as well as Portland and Seattle. ... " 

Friday, February 10, 2017

How an AI Won at Poker

In Engadget:  How the AI won in a game with very high uncertainty.  Intriguing with lots of detail. How might this be carried over to the business operations world? How is risk linked to that uncertainty?    How is it similar and different?  Out of Carnegie Mellon.

( I am reminded that Alan Turing wrote a simple minimax strategy rule driven poker player around 1947, written about in  Alan Turing: The Enigma)

Target Cuts Back on Innovation

Target shelves robot store and secret e-commerce start-up   by George Anderson, In Retailwire:

Target is cutting back on its innovation project plans to concentrate more on its core business operations after coming off a holiday selling season when same-store sales declined 1.3 percent.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that among the projects being shelved are Goldfish, a secret e-commerce start-up that got the go-ahead a year back, as well as a store of the future concept using robots that was slated for construction soon. Other projects, while not scrapped, are being cut back as the chain seeks to get its business turned around. ... "

AI's Cooperating

Perhaps the most important question of all,  both in the relatively simplistic sense of assistants cooperating with us, and the much deeper sense of working together.  Both considerable challenges. Recall our look at approaches like swarms.

Google Just Found the One Question It Can’t Yet Answer  by Jeremy Kahn
 DeepMind explores emergence of competition, cooperation
Finds environment plays big role in fostering AI cooperation ... " 

Thursday, February 09, 2017

War Gaming for Training

Like the idea, we never made it formal, but tested the concept driven by competition.

Is your team’s new engineer ready to take on-call? Use wargames for training  By  Jeffrey Starr

At Qualtrics, our engineering organization is expanding rapidly. For my team, Text Analytics, we’ve gone from four to eight members in less than six months and there are more coming. As team members come in, part of the on-boarding process is preparing them to take on-call. The on-call engineer is the first responder for incidents — responsible for either resolving the issue or escalating the issue if they need help. Culturally, we’ve decided that teams are responsible for the systems they build to promote ownership and solving of maintainability issues.

To be ready for on-call rotation, a team member must:

- be familiar with our processes,
- have certain accounts, permissions, and tools, and
- be competent to diagnose and correct problems in our tech stack. .... " 

New Marketing Models

Marketing, Mr Clean and Shifting Models  (Excerpt, read the whole thing)

P&G Super Bowl Ads Point to a Shift in the Marketing Model  by Bob Gilbreath
Co-Founder & CEO at Ahalogy

Many of my friends who are current or former Procter & Gamble employees shot me notes over the past week to ask my opinion on the company's massive investment in Super Bowl advertising. They remember that I worked on the brand long ago and even tried (but failed) to get our own ad onto the Big Game. LinkedIn is as good a place as any to save myself some time and reply to everyone at once. And I think there just might be a bigger idea behind what might seem like heresy in the halls of the world's largest marketer.

This Journey Started 13 Years Ago

Back in 2003 I was a brand manager at Procter, getting ready to launch a new product, Mr. Clean AutoDry Car Wash. That fall our CMO, Jim Stengel, announced a contest to select a brand to star in the company's first-ever Super Bowl ad. The effort was part of Stengel's push to improve the quality of advertising creative at the world's biggest advertiser, which included a now-annual trip to the Cannes Lions ad fest, new standards for measurement, and the introduction of more cutting edge agency partners.  ....

What's Happening Now?

All of these memories came flooding back when I saw the Mr. Clean ad a few days before the Super Bowl. Of course as a life-long marketer I cannot watch any advertising without analyzing the strategy and execution; and I could recall endless discussions of what people thought Mr. Clean could and could not be allowed to do in order to maintain the magic (literally) of his character. ..... "

IBM Launches Cognitive Computing Hardware

Ultimately faster and tailored hardware will be required for machine learning.

In ZDNet:

IBM launches cognitive computing hardware unit: Enter the Watson, Power 9 stack
Here's the upshot: IBM is looking to speed up training for Watson, neural networks and machine learning. It's going to use its research and hardware know how as well as the OpenPower ecosystem to do it.  By Larry Dignan   .... "

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Gaussian Processes for Modeling with Uncertainty

Gaussian Processes, like Bayesian methods introduce natural uncertainty to modeling.   And provide more transparency than deep learning neural nets to the models being built and used.  Already being used by many practitioners.   Article provides a good, largely non-technical introduction  and examples of their current use.

In Wired: AI is About to Learn more like Humans, with a little Uncertainty   by Cade Metz

A broader view of artificial intelligence (AI) seeks to equip deep-learning neural networks to better deal with uncertainty via a Bayesian approach that feeds new evidence into existing models, performing functions at which neural networks do not excel. "There are problems in the domain of language and in driverless cars where you're never going to have enough data to use brute force the way that deep learning does," says Geometric Intelligence founder Gary Marcus. Startups are designing neural networks along a Gaussian process (GP) of statistical modeling to identify uncertainty. "Knowing that you don't know is a very good thing," says University of Edinburgh researcher Chris Williams. "Making a confident error is the worst thing you can do." One company is applying GPs toward building AI systems that can learn to navigate massively multiplayer games and other digital environments, with a long-term goal of eventual real-world navigation capability. ... " 

Gaussian Process in WP.

Algorithm vs Data

On the use of data and algorithms to predict crime in the US data.  Extensive, largely non technical article.

It's Not the Algorithm, It's the Data  By Keith Kirkpatrick 
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 60 No. 2, Pages 21-23

" ... the debate continues over how to maintain these lower crime rates while addressing issues of fairness in the way communities are policed, as well as how to effectively and fairly use risk-assessment tools that can be relied upon by sentencing courts or parole boards.
There are two primary issues at stake: risk-assessment algorithms, which weigh a variety of factors related to recidivism, or the likelihood an individual will commit another crime and wind up back behind bars; and predictive policing, which has been described as using data analytics and algorithms to better pinpoint where and when a crime might occur, so police resources can be more efficiently deployed. Both issues are fraught with challenges—moral, logistical, and political—and opinions on whether they can be fairly and ethically utilized largely depend on how one views the nature of policing and the criminal justice system. .... " 

Outlier Detection in Time Data

Outlier detection and analysis is an important topic for any kind of data.  Outliers, depending on their context, can be useful, or dangerous in the development of models.    New edited:  Book: Outlier Detection for Temporal Data    by Manish Gupta, Jing Gao, Charu Aggarwal, Jiawei Hao.  Review posted by Vincent Granville

On Accuracy of In-Store Inventory

Have been involved in the analyses based on physical inventory taking.  Estimation from Tlog tapes and RFID tags.  Have taken laborious physical counts as well.   So this question is always interesting.
In RetailWire:   How good is ‘close enough’ when it comes to in-store inventory?   Discussion.

Supporting Team Cognition

( Update - I was reminded that this is what the Zakta system does)

Ultimately quite an important topic.  How do groups think?   How do we make them better?

" ... our Cognitive Systems Institute Speaker Series on Thursday, February 9, 2016 at 10:30 am ET US (7:30 am PT).  Our speaker is Steve Fiore from the University of Central Florida, who will be presenting “Developing Cognitive Systems to Support Team Cognition.”

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

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

Thank you and please let me know if you would like to be a presenter on an upcoming call!  

Dianne Fodell
IBM Global University Programs
fodell@us.ibm.com   .... " 

Video Pattern Magnification

Quite interesting, technical.

Eulerian Video Magnification and Analysis
By Neal Wadhwa, Hao-Yu Wu, Abe Davis, Michael Rubinstein, Eugene Shih, Gautham J. Mysore, Justin G. Chen, Oral Buyukozturk, John V. Guttag, William T. Freeman, Fr├ędo Durand 
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 60 No. 1, Pages 87-95 

The world is filled with important, but visually subtle signals. A person's pulse, the breathing of an infant, the sag and sway of a bridge—these all create visual patterns, which are too difficult to see with the naked eye. We present Eulerian Video Magnification, a computational technique for visualizing subtle color and motion variations in ordinary videos by making the variations larger. It is a microscope for small changes that are hard or impossible for us to see by ourselves. In addition, these small changes can be quantitatively analyzed and used to recover sounds from vibrations in distant objects, characterize material properties, and remotely measure a person's pulse.  ....  "

Game Theory in Practice

A apace we worked in, especially to understand and react to models of competitive activity.  In practice usually means getting good understanding of how these models work with available data.

In the Economist  (May require subscription)
Game theory in practice
Computing: Software that models human behaviour can make forecasts, outfox rivals and transform negotiations  .... "

Mining Brain Activity

A machine driven look at brain activity.

Brain Activity Is Too Complicated for Humans to Decipher. Machines Can Decode It for Us
By Vox
University of California, Berkeley professor Jack Gallant and others are using machine learning to mine neuroscientific data and gain revolutionary insights into how the human brain functions.

Scientists are using artificial intelligence to analyze the data to find complex activity patterns that predict human perception, with a wealth of potential applications such as treating brain diseases. ... "

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Bots are Coming

Fun history and thoughts of our attempts as bot, past and presesent. I agree, things will be very different. How much will they be models of ourselves?  How soon is unclear.   In the Atlantic:

Our Bots, Ourselves
How the descendants of Siri and Alexa could change our daily lives, thoughts, and relationships ... " 

Mr Clean's New Backstory

My colleague Larry Paul points me to a new backstory of Mr Clean brand equity character published for the Superbowl ad.  This is amusingly far different from the backstory we used when we worked on the brand  (See below for more variants on this equity bending theme) .  And of course, you adjust the character to the times.

Apple, IBM and AI for the Enterprise

Following,  the details will be interesting, especially for enterprise applications.   Have seen relatively few AI driven applications in the enterprise.   As part of a team that looked at well focused and valued applications for an enterprise, they numbered few.   Now we need to see goal specific AI that not only provides measurable value, but also demonstrates the use of Watson driven AI for future work. Show it at work.    In CWorld: 

Expect more A.I. in Apple's iOS enterprise future
The IBM/Apple deal is opening new possibilities in AI
Expect smarter enterprises following IBM’s recent deal with United Airlines. The deal means the airline will be making more use of Apple’s mobile solutions, with numerous new apps for different purposes. I caught up with Heidi Fillmore, Executive Partners, Travel & Transportation Apple + IBM Product Lead.

How does IBM characterize its work with Apple?

“More than two years ago, Apple and IBM set out to change how people work and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said Fillmore.

“Both Apple and IBM are uniquely positioned to create mobile apps that go deeper than basic employee tasks. It’s a complete mobile platform for business transformation.”

IBM and Apple announced plans to work together to develop sophisticated apps for enterprise users in 2015. The partners have moved forward rapidly since then. There are already over 100 industry apps for iOS and these are in use across hundreds of enterprises. Together, Apple and IBM are building a strong bridge into the lucrative enterprise IT market.  .... " 

Gamification and Sales Effectiveness

From Bunchball, who we talked to, of interest, requires registration:

Using Gamification to Optimize Sales Effectiveness
Every company's survival depends on the effectiveness of its sales force, whether those teams are direct, indirect, on the phone, in the field or all of the above. But regardless of its profile, optimizing the performance of a sales department has never been easy – and the challenges are only growing more intense. ... " 

Signing on for Alexa Data

In AdAge: 

Epsilon and Others Scramble for Alexa Data from Amazon  By Kate Kaye

Amazon, not unlike other retail giants or the web's walled gardens, is notoriously stingy with its data. However, Amazon has opened up some high-level information derived from consumer interactions with Alexa, it's voice-activated home IoT platform. The data is limited, but developers, digital consultancies and analytics startups are clamoring for it.

There's a lot of Alexa data that Amazon is keeping under wraps. For now, developers and brands can track usage patterns such as the number of unique customers accessing the games or content streams they develop, or the total number of "utterances" related to their applications -- which in Amazon parlance are known as "skills." .... "