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Friday, March 31, 2017

Neural Network Zoo

The Asimov Institute has put out a library/ontology of neural networks.   Interesting, showed many kinds of nodes I had never heard of, but also many I have.  Does not really specify how all the methods work, or what they are for.   Does show you the potential complexity.  Good thing to put away away for reference,  and bring out when you need it. Worth an initial browse to understand the zoo's breadth.

( I see I reported on this previously last year, I assume it has been updated)

Health Screening with Hololens

Health Screening with Microsoft Hololens Technologies .... First I have heard of this direction, interesting.

Democratization of Machine Learning

This topic came up in the talk I gave on advances in AI and analytics yesterday.   Via Data science Central a white paper by IBM:

The Democratization of Machine Learning
Machine learning automates the development of analytic models that can learn and make predictions on data. It has been one of the fastest growing disciplines within the world of statistics and data science. However, the barrier to entry has been high, not only in cost, but also in the need for specialized talent.

In the past, data science professionals were intimidated by the words "algorithms" and "machine learning statistics". For many years, these capabilities were delegated to people with PhDs, but Apache Spark is changing the perception of these key functions and democratizing computer learning at the same time.

The demand for machine learning keeps growing. Download this complimentary white paper and learn how machine learning will both support and drive today’s data scientists and advanced analytics leaders to the future.

Content provided by IBM Analytics 

AI, Robotics and Jobs

Short piece that puts it quite well.   Jobs will change, we will adapt.  GE's Jeff Immelt: Robots won't kill human jobs ...

Reminder of the Need for Data Quality

Am often reminded in visits to the enterprise that data quality is not often enough considered carefully.  You don't have much if you don't have quality.  Consider also the quality and nature of meta data involved.  It is even more important as you move beyond BI to heavily leveraged analytics. Bigger risks emerge.  Having a process model of your data can alert you to issues about quality and change.

Data Quality in BI: It’s More Than Putting Lipstick on a Pig!   Published by Pat Hennel
 Data Quality and BIData quality is one of the biggest challenges that enterprises face when it comes to business intelligence. If the data isn’t accurate, inferior reporting and poor business decisions that can have potentially serious consequences on the entire organization can occur.

When first examining the quality of data as you implement a business intelligence (or BI) solution, there are a number of things that need to be considered and several questions that you need to ask yourself. For example, as Paul Dorsett shared in one of his blog posts, Self-Service BI: Fill It Up!: 
... " 

Group Editing Photos as Collaboration Example

Nice idea ... Collaborative work is a kind of inteligence enhancement.  You could further see collaboration between multiple people and advisory machines.  Group collaboration of new kinds has power.  The most important thing I want when solving a tough problem is the collaboration of a domain expert.

Google is working on a new social app for small groups to edit photos together by Ingrid Lunden

While Google continues to add more features to its two social communication apps Allo and Duo, TechCrunch has learned that it has quietly been working on least one more social app. Google has been developing a new social app that lets small groups edit photos together and then organise them for future enjoyment: think Path meets Snapchat-style filters and edits meets Google’s imaging smarts.

Google confirmed the existence of the app after we asked about it, and told us that (for now) is an experiment, one of many it’s running.

But it sounds like Google may be downplaying this a bit.  According to our sources, one plan had been to launch the app during its I/O event in May — much as it did last year with Duo and Allo — although from what we understand right now there is no specific date set. ... " 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Streamlined Text Mining

A  time ago we used relatively simplistic methods of context analysis to understand the meaning of gathered text.  Now with focused methods and increasing amounts of text data,  new results are now possible.  In Datanami: 

Biomedical Text Mining Tool Gets the Lead Out   by George Leopold

Approximately 100 lines of Python code serve as the basis of a new predictive text-mining tool designed to accelerate the scanning online biomedical research papers for clues on everything from repurposing existing drugs to advancing stem cell treatment.

Coders from the Morgridge Institute for Research working in partnership with the University of Wisconsin at Madison reported on their “KinderMiner” algorithm during a bioinformatics conference in San Francisco this week. The researchers said the 100-line algorithm was “within hours” able to scan more than 30 million online papers to provide ranked and relevant associations based on key words and phrases.

“Most often, researchers are running manual Google searches and combing through millions of hits to find, for example, certain genes that are important to a biological process or disease,” explained Ron Stewart, associate director of bioinformatics at the Morgridge Institute. “It’s often based on hunches and intuition. We’re trying to automate and formalize that process.”

Alternative techniques require much data wrangling, added Finn Kuusisto, a postdoctoral researcher at the Morgridge Institute. “We write about 100 lines of Python code, and our users can be given answers that may significantly speed up their scientific process.”

GigaOM AI Videos

Just pointed out to me, a set of video interviews about AI and forward looking technologies.  Here an interview with Auren Hoffman.   \ by GigaOm.  This example looks at data and how it is used for AI.

Google Launches Open Source Site

Worth taking a look at.  Description in Techcrunch:

Google launches new site to showcase its open source projects and processes   by Frederic Lardinois (@fredericl) ... "

" ... 2,000 Projects and Counting

At Google, we’ve always used open source to innovate. We want to give something back; we enjoy being a part of the community. We often release code to push the industry forward or share best practices we developed. But sometimes, it's just fun and interesting code. The list of projects we've released and contribute to is long and continues to grow. ... " 


Microsoft on Enterprise AI

Interesting question on the 'adaptability' of AI.    It can certainly be used today by focusing it to specific problems.  It is being done.  Can it be used to cognitively control large sections of industry that require by their nature differing kinds of learning, logic and analytics?   That is harder.  Risk analysis along needs to be adapted carefully.   Process needs to be integrated.   Data needs to be well organized to make sure we are systematically using the right data and measuring the right results.       All remain challenges.

Microsoft: AI Isn’t Yet Adaptable Enough to Help Businesses
Microsoft’s top research executive says it’s too difficult to customize powerful machine-learning systems to an individual company’s needs.   by Tom Simonite  In Technology Review.  .... 

Analytics Revolution?

This relates to the talk I gave yesterday.  Interview In SiliconAngle:

An analytics revolution: the shift to deep learning and cognitive computing   by Tim Hawkins

 With the position of Chief Data Officer being a relatively new concept that corporations are only recently beginning to incorporate into their business models, it comes as no surprise that the role has not yet been universally characterized as a set of defined job functions and responsibilities.

In fact, the analytics tools used to do the job are also evolving, even as industry is trying to agree on the definition of the CDO post itself, according to Joe Selle  ... global operational analytics solution lead at IBM.

Selle spoke with Jeff Frick (@JeffFrick) and Peter Burris (@plburris), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile live streaming studio, at the IBM Chief Data Officer Strategy Summit in San Francisco, California.  ... 

Selle discussed the lead IBM has taken in guiding and shaping the development of deep learning and cognitive analytics to create the roadmap that will best serve its customers, as well as the marketplace as a whole.  .... " 

Ikea Does Smart Light Bulbs

Found this intriguing because it gave some evidence for a fringe-standardness of some basic components of the smart home.  Been doing some very incremental updating of my smart home.   This stuff is still too expensive for the average household.  And the value proposition is still unclear for most situations.   But think of yourself as part of a big experiment.  In SiliconAngle: 

Smart home light bulbs set to go mainstream as Ikea enters the market    By Duncan Riley

Taking Risks

 None of us do this well.  Here a Poker Players view,  not perhaps always the best context, from Inc:

How to Get Better At Taking Risks. According to a Former Pro-Poker Player
It's time to start playing to win, instead of playing to not lose.     By Sonia Thompson

Whats needed for AI

Good general piece in InfoQ about how you need to get the information right to do something that looks like AI.  I add that you also need to get the structure of process you are claiming to do intelligently.  Process assurance counts too.   Note also the mention of Ontology, which adds to the integrated coherence of data and process.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Open Data Science in the Enterprise

From O'Reilly:

Transform the way you approach analytics. By Alice LaPlante

 Download the free ebook Breaking Data Science Open, a new ebook by leading figures at Continuum Analytics that discusses the open data science ecosystem in depth. ... "

Blockchain for Supply Chain Management

More on Supply chain management and blockchain.  " .... U.S. retail giant, Walmart, is about to start a major test of blockchain technology for supply chain management, The Wall Street Journal reports. A pilot project, which will start in the first quarter of 2017 and run for four months, plans to leverage distributed ledger technology to track and trace pork in China and produce in the U.S. — two high-volume product categories with large markets.

This will be one of the first major tests of blockchain distributed ledgers outside the financial services industry. According to the WSJ, blockchain technology can help in overcoming delays and errors, resulting in more streamlined and efficient supply chain management. In fact, the supply chain management sector is a prime target for advanced applications of blockchain technology. Among companies in consumer goods and manufacturing, 42 percent plan to spend at least $5 million on blockchain technology in the next year, according to a Deloitte survey.  ... " 

VRFocus Redesigns

The VrFocus web site is redesigned, does good coverage of the topic of Virtual Reality.  Commercial and otherwise.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Putting AI into Devices

Putting the AI on the edge, that is in the device itself rather than the cloud.  In IEEE Spectrum:

Nvidia wants AI to Get Out of the Cloud and Into a Camera, Drone, or Other Gadget Near You  By Tekla S. Perry ...   Makes sense.

Free 700 Page eBook on Deep Learning

Via Data Science Central.

An MIT Press book  by Ian Goodfellow and Yoshua Bengio and Aaron Courville

The Deep Learning textbook is a resource intended to help students and practitioners enter the field of machine learning in general and deep learning in particular. The online version of the book is now complete and will remain available online for free. .... 

The deep learning textbook can now be pre-ordered on Amazon. Pre-orders should ship on December 16, 2016.   ... For up to date announcements, join our mailing list.  ...  " 

IFTTT Open Platform

I was reminded of IFTTT  new Open Platform. and also now with analytics.

Integrate quickly with hundreds of services
It’s easy to put familiar brands and new experiences in front of your users, from the latest bots and IoT, to the world’s most famous voice-activated assistant. You can build Applets and embed them directly in your app or website. And, as a platform partner, other companies can build Applets that work with your service, introducing you to new audiences. .... 

Inform your roadmap with in-depth analytics
As people use your Applets, you’ll gain a better understanding of how your service fits into their lives. Use those insights to improve your product, build partnerships, and craft marketing campaigns. ... " 

Why Deep Work Matters

A look in the Evernote blog at how work can be done in an increasingly distracted world.  I like the term 'deep work' that they use.  How should it be measured?

Associated Twitter Feed

Posts in this blog are selectively mentioned in my twitter feed: @FranzD.  That feed also contains retweets of related material that deals with analytics, data issues, problem solving, AI, process, retail, marketing, advisory systems and other topics mentioned in this blog.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Classic Analytics Compared to What is now called Data Science

I think I mentioned this before.  Quite useful for those who have been trained and practiced in past eras.   For those people this is a must read. To me it sometimes evokes the question:  Is there a difference?  And my answer is, often not.   But if rethinking the problem differently, integrating it with new kinds of data, or even surfing on the 'science'  hype gets it solved, that's all good.   Worth while piece that I mostly agree with:

16 analytic disciplines compared to data science   Posted by Vincent Granville 

What are the differences between data science, data mining, machine learning, statistics, operations research, and so on?

Here I compare several analytic disciplines that overlap, to explain the differences and common denominators. Sometimes differences exist for nothing else other than historical reasons. Sometimes the differences are real and subtle. I also provide typical job titles, types of analyses, and industries traditionally attached to each discipline. Underlined domains are main sub-domains. It would be great if someone can add an historical perspective to my article.   ..... " 

Towards Machines that Improve with Experience

Consider that experience is different from learning.  It means that there is a structure that can embed learning and apply it to multiple contexts.

Toward Machines that Improve with Experience
New program seeks to develop the foundations for systems that might someday “learn” in much the way biological organisms do ...

Self-driving taxis. Cell phones that react appropriately to spoken requests. Computers that outcompete world-class chess and Go players. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming part and parcel of the technological landscape—not only in the civilian and commercial worlds but also within the Defense Department, where AI is finding application in such arenas as cybersecurity and dynamic logistics planning. .... 

But even the smartest of the current crop of AI systems can’t stack up against adaptive biological intelligence. These high-profile examples of AI all rely on clever programming and extensive training datasets—a framework referred to as Machine Learning (ML)—to accomplish seemingly intelligent tasks. Unless their programming or training sets have specifically accounted for a particular element, situation, or circumstance, these ML systems are stymied, unable to determine what to do. ... " 

Lowes and Innovation

Robotics, virtual reality and more.  Always interesting to follow.  Why are they doing this, and how does management integrate innovation  into business process?   How do they see value in their innovation labs?

Lowe’s innovates because it has to  by Al McClain  (And discussion) 

At last week’s Shoptalk conference, Kyle Nel, the executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, detailed why innovation is so important for retailers, primarily because the current pace of change is exponential. And yet, survival on incremental technological change alone may be impossible.

Mr. Nel said that when a new and different technology comes out (speaking not just of Lowe’s), it inevitably disappoints, investment falls off, but then a core group continues to work on it. At that point, it’s hard to figure out exactly what to work on during the “deceptive disappointment” phase, before the new and different tech comes back to market in a better form and more successfully. .... " 

Open Versus Closed Innovation

Irving Wladawsky-Berger  on closed versus open innovation.  Very nicely described.    He Writes:

Open Innovation 2.0

I recently read Twelve Principles for Open Innovation 2.0, an article published last year in Nature by Martin Curley.  Curley, - who’s long been involved with innovation in both his business and academic positions, - nicely summarized its evolution over the past several decades, first from closed to open innovation, and now to what he calls open innovation 2.0.  Let me discuss each of these phases of innovation.     .... " 

Marketing Led Growth

Article - McKinsey Quarterly - February 2017
The new battleground for marketing-led growth    By David Court, Dave Elzinga, Bo Finneman, and Jesko Perrey

" ... In the digital age, consumers are always shopping around. New research shows that hooking them early is the strongest path to growth. . ... Since 2009, McKinsey has studied the emergence of consumer decision journeys (CDJs)—the often irregular paths consumers take as they move from brand awareness through to purchase and loyalty—as a critical lever to driving top-line growth (Exhibit 1). Like the apparel company described above, many have responded to nonlinear consumer behavior by doubling down on customer-retention and loyalty programs. Selling more to consumers who are already buying seems a dependable, low-risk, and potentially quick way to boost sales growth. Recent research shows a 26 percent increase in loyalty-program memberships between 2013 and 2015.   ... " 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Shoe Recognition less Invasive?

As opposed to facial recognition and analysis.  Taking images of shoes and deriving information from the images, without the same privacy implications.  In BBC Technology:

Tomorrow's cities: Are your shoes giving away data?    By Jane Wakefield

' ... "Online retailers gather all kinds of information about shoppers and physical stores also want to understand how people behave in a shop," he said.  But, he admits: "A lot of these technologies are kind of invasive."

Hoxton has come up with a novel way of measuring footfall - literally by filming people's shoes.
Sherlock Holmes-like, its system can deduce a remarkable amount of information such as age, gender and social class of shoppers from their footwear.

"We have cameras at about 50cm off the ground and it points down so it is less invasive than facial recognition," he explains.

It is surprisingly accurate. It spots the correct gender 80% of the time, better than some facial recognition technologies, according to Mr Mann.  ....  ' 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Using Lighting for More Generalized Sensing

Like the idea of re-purposing systems like lighting for sensing.

GE, AT&T ink smart city deal around Current's CityIQ sensors
GE plans to install Current's CityIQ sensor nodes on 3,200 street light poles across San Diego, with AT&T handling data connectivity.   By Natalie Gagliordi 

AT&T has signed a deal with GE to install its Current CityIQ sensors onto streetlights in various US cities, beginning with San Diego, Calif. The two corporations say smart street lighting will help cities monitor things like traffic patterns, parking, air quality, weather emergencies, and even gun violence on city streets.

As part of the agreement, GE plans to install Current's CityIQ sensor nodes on 3,200 street light poles across San Diego as the city upgrades 14,000 light fixtures to Current's Evolve LED luminaires. AT&T will act as the data carrier and provide "highly secure connectivity" for the San Diego deployment, according to a press release. ... " 

Watson and the Supply Chain

Frtom the recent Watson conference on related topics.  Insightful.

Supply Chain Trends Report
Supply chain report highlighting top 2017 trends from the POV of IBMers and business partners such as blockchain, cognitive, and analytics.  ... "

The Progress of Marketing Leveraging AI

 Below,  a reasonable journalistic look at AI and marketing.   Not doubt there will be pieces of the puzzle solved by pattern matching AI, (See Predicting Campaign Response) but the understanding of underlying process and context requires more effort.

5-year trends in artificially intelligent marketing
How will artificial intelligence transform marketing over the coming years? Columnist Daniel Faggella dives into the results from a survey exploring the major trends and opportunities in AI for marketers.   .... " 

Adobe Sees Hololens in Retail

Always looking for ways to augment experience, thus improve retail.   This experience can be that of the customer, the analyst or the designer of retail.  We used Adobe software for these kinds of experience understanding questions.  It is a natural fit.

Adobe puts the HoloLens to work in retail

An emerging technology group at Adobe has shown off a trio of retail enablement apps that use augmented reality to visualize analytics.
By Ross Rubin 

Over the past few years, Adobe has moved aggressively from a developer of creative applications to address business needs of its media-creating customers. The result has been the Adobe Experience Cloud, a roll-up of app suites designed to address marketing, advertising and analytics.

Those products, of course, are all available to Adobe's customers. But the company also has an internal group -- Adobe@Adobe -- charged with dog-fooding its own products as well as incubating new experiences.

The group has recently developed a trio of HoloLens demonstrations that show the kind of visualizations augmented reality can achieve in a retail setting.  .... " 

A Look at Google's AI Explosion

 Somewhat simplified, but based on measures like papers generated, and providing capabilities publicly, very impressive.   Note that this not only about publishing papers, but also writing fundamental code that can be reused.   The apparent openness impresses me most.  Still waiting to see more of it in forms we can use, like in Google Assistant.  In TechnologyReview:

" ...  The publication explosion is no accident. Google has more than tripled the number of machine learning researchers working for the company over the last few years, according to Yoshua Bengio, a deep-learning specialist at the University of Montreal. “They have recruited like crazy,” he says.

And to capture the first-round picks from computation labs, companies can’t only offer a Silicon Valley-sized salary.  “It’s hard to hire people just for money,” says Konrad Kording, a computational neuroscientist at Northwestern University. “The top people care about advancing the world, and that means writing papers the world can use, and write code the world can use.” ... " 

Google’s AI Explosion in One Chart
Surging investment in machine learning is vaulting Google into the scientific stratosphere. by Antonio Regalado  ... " 

IBM on the Business of IOT Technology

From the recent conference.   IBM on the business of the internet of things.  Its cognitive and complex.   I would add to the below, that its about analytics designed to better understand this new wealth of data, and the algorithms that are ultimately derived.

" ... There are three critical elements to IBM’s investment, according to Harriet Green ... , general manager of IoT, commerce and education at IBM.

“The first, the whole proliferation of sensors … the amount of data and information being created is suited for Watson,” she said.

The second element is that IBM considers its clients’ data to be their DNA. “So people know that when you are doing IoT with IBM that a deep level of security is imbued within our capability,” she added.

Security and governance of data is the last element. “Those three elements,  I think of as fundamental, the cognitive, the protection of the data and who owns the data,” Green explained. ... " 

Predicting Marketing Campaign Response

The holy grail is accurately predicting response.  Here a step by step approach using Amazon methods.   But do we know all the context involved?  Amazon has the data to tailor this kind of model to alternative contexts.

Predicting Marketing Campaign Response Using Amazon Machine Learning   by Chris Mohritz

Friday, March 24, 2017

Blockchain and Utilities

Blockchain in Power industry.

How Utilities Are Using Blockchain to Modernize the Grid

James Basden, Michael Cottrell

" .... Blockchain has grabbed the attention of the heavily regulated power industry as it braces for an energy revolution in which both utilities and consumers will produce and sell electricity. Blockchain could offer a reliable, low-cost way for financial or operational transactions to be recorded and validated across a distributed network with no central point of authority. As in the financial services industry, this capability has prompted some people to explore whether blockchain may one day replace a portion of utilities’ businesses by doing away with the need for intermediaries altogether. But that view is too extreme and simplistic. ... "

Is Intelligence Built Up from Basic Skills?

Which virtual assistant will ultimately win the race?   Will it be a matter of having third party vendors building the best  'intelligent skills'  to make them most useful?  Amazon Alexa claims some 10K +skills, though most are still quite trivial.  Is the number even relevant, or is it how they are best leveraged with cognitive tools.?  And thus evolve to more value.   It is reported that the Microsoft Cortana kit for developers has been delayed.   Will this put Cortana behind?   CWorld Discusses: 

Microsoft delays tools for third-party Cortana integrations
Cortana Skills Kit was expected out in February, but it hasn’t materialized
By Blair Hanley Frank  U.S. Correspondent, IDG News Service  ... 

My list and survey of virtual assistants.

Data Issues and Analytics

Seen it now many times, sometimes to where the results would be irrelevant if we waited for perfect data.    But to me this still does not mean we should ignore thinking about how the results will fit into, or would alter business process. In the SAS Com blog: 

Don't let data issues delay analytics    By David Pope on SAS Voices  

In a recent presentation, Jill Dyche, VP of SAS Best Practices gave two great quotes: "Map strategy to data" and "strategy drives analytics drives data." In other words, don't wait for your data to be perfect before you invest in analytics.  ... " 

New Scale in City Advertising

In the BBC:

How giant digital adverts could soon be in our cities   By Mark Smith
Technology of Business reporter

Passers-by on a London street were recently amazed to see a fleeting image of a pink tongue protruding from fruitily plump lips, seemingly suspended in mid-air.  It was the famous logo for the Rolling Stones and was part of an experiment by tech start-up Lightvert.

Its technology can produce images that appear to be 200m (656ft) high, but which only exist in the eye of the viewer for a fraction of a second.  So could we be on the verge of seeing giant digital ads in our cities, similar to those featured in the seminal 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner?

Lightvert certainly hopes so.
Its tech, called Echo, works by employing a narrow - no more than 200mm - strip of reflective material fixed to the side of a building. A high-power projector mounted below or above the strip beams light off the reflector directly into the viewer's eye.  .... " 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

More WalMart and Amazon by the Numbers

Insightful numbers and visuals:

Supply Chain News: Walmart and Amazon by the Numbers 2017 Part 2
More Analysis from Our Annual Review of the World's Two Most Important Retailers    By Dan Gilmore ...  " 

On Embedded Blog Links

I was reminded by a recent query that links that are embedded in posts in this blog may not always work. The history of this blog goes back to 2005, and so especially older post links may have gone stale.  Sometimes I fix these if informed of them, sometimes not.  Sometimes you can search based on the original link title.   I also can't ensure that a link has not since gone behind a paywall.  My apologies.  I use this blog as a personal resource,  so its useful to have selective research area links up to date.  

Miller Tries Voice/Push Button Beer Ordering

Voice and push-button ordering expands ... expectation of frictionless shopping increases.

In Adage:  Push-Button Beer Ordering? Miller Lite Gives It a Try   By E.J. Schultz.

" ....  MillerCoors is giving lazy beer drinkers another excuse to stay put: The option to order beer with the touch of a button or a simple voice command.

The brewer and IPG Mediabrands today announced a new suite of connected home services called "Miller Lite On-Demand" that will allow consumers to stock their fridge using a voice-activated Amazon Alexa command, or by using a programmable button known as AWS IoT that is based on the Amazon Dash Button hardware. The delivery requests will be fulfilled within one hour by Drizly, an online alcohol ordering platform, according to the agency and brewer, which have partnered on an incubator program aimed at testing such technologies.

Drizly currently serves more than 40 cities, according to MillerCoors.  ... " 

How Machine Learning is Used at Google

Video via O'Reilly:

Machine learning at Google
Rob Craft shares some of the ways machine learning is being used inside of Google. ...  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Nest Protect Expands on IFTTT

Today an update of IFTTT capabilities for interacting with Nest-Protect sensor devices in the home. IFTTT lets you add layers of simple intelligence to the smart home (or business) based on streams of information from the an IOT.  As a simple example you could have all the lights in a home blink when Smoke or Carbon Monoxide is detected by a sensor.   Or notifications sent to an address.

Plan to experiment with these in our Smart Home.    More examples of this kind here.  It is recommended to understand the capabilities of IFTTT.  I have a number of applets in operation.

Retail Implications for Alexa on iPhone

Seems it just increases choice and lets competition play out. May well drive Siri to more shopping options as well.  Asking for trivia does not pay out.   I would bet that Amazon knows more now about how to make voice channel shopping work.

What happens now that Alexa is on the iPhone?    by Tom Ryan   In Retailwire: 
In a move onto Siri’s turf, Amazon has added Alexa to its iOS shopping app, letting users chat with the virtual assistant through an iPhone or iPad.

Alexa users will need to open the Amazon app and then press a microphone icon to converse with Alexa. Previously, the microphone icon allowed voice commands to be used to search for products and check up on orders, but the update provides access to almost all of the capabilities of Amazon’s speaker devices such as the Echo, Dot and Tap.  .... "   (Discussion) 

My List and survey of virtual shopping assistants.

Rallying Around Common Goals

A most important topic,  even more so today in our heavily interacting world.   Focus.

Podcast:   In Knowledge@Wharton
Meaningful Work: What Leaders Can Learn from NASA and the Space Race  ... 

New Wharton research looks at how thousands of NASA employees with vastly different roles were able to rally around the common goal of a lunar landing in the 1960s.  ...  "

Google Maps Location Sharing

Google Maps Location Sharing is being rolled out.  Google had a service like this some time ago, that allowed you to very selectively share your instantaneous location among trusted 'friends and family'.   We examined it for possible commercial applications.  Its back again,  with it appears, more alerting and selectivity about sharing.   Privacy considerations. Might it be used for things like ride or delivery sharing?  API for linking to commercial supply chain systems?  It is noted in Wired that they are gathering location data.

Amazon Powers Prime Now with Alexa Voice

Still wondering how broadly this will increase shopping volume, and the degree to a which voice channel convenience will influence this.   Essentially provides two hour delivery in 30 US markets via voice.

In Chain Store Age: 
" ... Amazon announced on Tuesday that Prime Now subscribers can now use Alexa to order from Prime Now and its two-hour delivery service in the cities where it is available (30 in total at the present time).

In addition, customers can also order from Prime Now’s newly launched alcohol delivery service in the markets where it is offered.

“Bringing Prime Now to Alexa voice shopping combines two of the most innovative shopping technologies available for an experience that our customers are going to wonder how they ever lived without,” stated Assaf Ronen, VP of voice shopping, Amazon. “We’re excited to offer the full Prime Now catalogue with Alexa, including tens of thousands of items, ... " 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Customer Engagement in the Cognitive Era

Watson Customer Engagement  

Watson Marketing. Watson Commerce. Watson Supply Chain
Every touchpoint is an opportunity to engage customers. Are you ready? Watson Customer Engagement offerings deliver a broad range of capabilities for marketing, commerce and supply chain activities. Designed to complement the skills of forward-thinking professionals like you. To empower you to make better, more informed decisions. Create and deliver personalized, intuitive experiences at every stage of the customer journey. Armed with insights, you can be at the forefront of what’s next—now. .... " 

Under way:  

.....  Amplify 2017 and discover how to redefine customer engagement in the Cognitive era. Learn how Cognitive is transforming customer engagement to make each customer feel recognized and special at every step of their journey. ... " 

Companies Leading the AI Revolution

An interesting piece, with a number of players I just heard of.

In KDNuggets:     By Thuy T. Pham, U. of Sydney.

 .... We detail the list of top 50 companies in Artificial Intelligence according to CBInsights. This list was KDnuggets most popular tweet recently, but the tweet only had the image and no company names or details. Here we list companies by category  and in the order of high to low equity funding in each group. Company overview (e.g., headquarters location and total equity funding raised)  is based on information as it have appeared  on crunchbase.com (as of 8 March 2017). .... " 

Smartphone Mechanics

Good thoughts.  Don't know how practical this is of yet,  but it maps out what standards and capabilities exist today.   A good starting point for using your phone as an automotive maintenance predictive device.   Also a good indicator of what you need for other systems.

Your smartphone: The mechanic in your pocket
You can use your Android or iOS device to gain access to a wealth of information about your vehicle’s operation.   ... By Michael Connell, Computerworld 

Issues of Face Recognition

Had always thought that bio face recognition would make us more secure.  But improvements in AI based systems may change this.

It's time to face the ugly reality of face recognition
The use of A.I. to recognize faces is growing fast. Here's why you should be worried about your personal privacy.   By Mike Elgan

Walmart Incubates Buzzword Solutions

Giving it more direct access to rapidly emerging technologies.

Walmart is opening its own tech incubator in Silicon Valley
The retail giant wants to get a foothold in emerging technologies.  by Andrew Dalton ... 

" ... According to Jet.com founder Marc Lore -- now CEO of Walmart's e-commerce division -- the group will be called "Store No. 8" and will focus on investing in companies that cover all the buzzwords from virtual and augmented reality, to machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence. .... " 

IBM Does Commercial Blockchains

Broad group of uses for the enterprise.

IBM Goes Live With First Commercial Blockchains
Michael del Castillo (@DelRayMan) |

Tech giant IBM is set to unveil what it's calling the first "commercial application" of Hyperledger’s open-source Fabric codebase.

Previously released in beta and scheduled for official release today, the offering – dubbed "IBM Blockchain" – is formally debuting in front of a group of 20,000 developers at the Interconnect conference. There, its first two major deployments will also be detailed.

One of those is a blockchain identity solution built with SecureKey, in which it will power a public-private partnership that saw six Canadian banks invest $27m. In addition, it will be revealed that a Chinese energy company is using the IBM Blockchain to create an exchange for trading carbon credits.

In conversation with CoinDesk, Jerry Cuomo, IBM's vice-president of blockchain technologies, described how the company used Hyperledger's open-source code to create a series of new features, which are now in use as part of its IBM Blockchain product. .... " 

Monday, March 20, 2017

More on Samsung Bixby Assistants

With backstory, and an indication of Samsung's considerable investment into AI.   Plus integration into more devices.  Seems a competitive position as advisory and smart home leverage.  Worth following.

Galaxy S8 and beyond: Samsung bets big on Bixby's AI
The digital voice assistant will debut soon on Samsung's next flagship phone, and the company plans to quickly add it to more products.  ... " 

And more on Bixby capabilities.    

My List and survey of personal assistants.

Stickers vs SnapChat

Can Apple’s new iMessage ad convince you that stickers are as cool as Snapchat?   There is a heavy history of the use of stickers, especially in Japan.   Difficult prediction to make.  Heavily advertised now in the US college basketball season.  by Chaim Gartenberg @cgartenberg

Apple and Augmented Reality

In CW: Some thoughts and speculations about how Apple might implement augmented reality.   Outside the obvious game spaces.  Apparently in evidence by their recent hires in the VR space and investments in parallel.   by Jonny Evans.

Samsung Unveils Bixby as Assistant

Another new virtual advisor emerges,  it seems  now just for the S8 phone and competing with Siri.  and Google Assistant.  Can we also expect this on TVs and addressing the Smart Home and other appliances?   Is likely.   Description positions it in an interesting way,   In Engadget: 

" ... It was only a matter of time until Samsung launched a full-fledged virtual assistant of its very own -- "S Voice" just never quite cut it. Today the company unveiled Bixby, a new assistant that'll debut with the Galaxy S8 on March 29th. Naturally, it's meant to help Samsung differentiate itself from Apple's Siri and Google's Assistant. Bixby seems different on a conceptual level: It's meant to serve as a new voice-based interface for controlling your apps, rather than just something that you can ask a few questions.

"Instead of humans learning how the machine interacts with the world (a reflection of the abilities of designers), it is the machine that needs to learn and adapt to us," Samsung senior vice president InJong Rhee wrote in a blog post. "The interface must be natural and intuitive enough to flatten the learning curve regardless of the number of functions being added. With this new approach, Samsung has employed artificial intelligence, reinforcing deep learning concepts to the core of our user interface designs."  ,,,, "  

Alexa Delivers Medical Advice via WebMD

An example where an advisory system is essentially just replacing a long existing web service.  With the convenience of voice interaction. With no additional conversational interaction as yet implied.    A deeper connection to health data would be more interesting,  but like the online version would have deeper implications and liability risk.  Perhaps an interaction with your Doctor's network?

Alexa will now give you medical advice, courtesy of WebMD   by James Vincent   @jjvincent 
Amazon’s Alexa already boasts more than 10,000 skills, but has now added medical advice to its repertoire. WebMD announced today that it’s launched its own skill for all Alexa-enabled devices (including the Echo, Echo Dot, and Fire TV), which can answer basic health-related queries. Topics include treatments for common ailments (“Alexa, ask WebMD how to treat a sore throat”), definitions of basic diseases (“Alexa, ask WebMD what diabetes is”), and the side effects of certain drugs (“Alexa, ask WebMD to tell me about amoxicillin”).

WebMD stresses that, like its website, the new Alexa skill is only meant to offer supplementary information, and adds that the software is a work-in-progress.   ... "

Interpreting Machine Learning

By their nature the results from deep learning and neural methods can be non transparent. Via O'Reilly.

Ideas on interpreting machine learning
Mix-and-match approaches for visualizing data and interpreting machine learning models and results.   By Patrick Hall, Wen Phan,  SriSatish Ambati   .... " 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Google Tango Location is Testing at Lowes

Been a long time tester of retail location intelligence solutions.  Now news that Lowes is starting to test Google Tango location intelligence using augmented reality on phones.    Have also mentioned the interior space model building technology that Google is using a number of times here.   Again, impressed with Lowes broad use of new tech.  In CNet:

Google Tango means you'll never get lost in a store again ... Some Lowe's stores are testing out an augmented-reality app that shows the fastest way to get to your items. .... " 

See also Lowe's work on robotics and AR based DIY instruction at the tag below.

Will we be Dinosaurs in Three Years?

Reminds me of things said at the end of the last AI up tick ... Wildly exaggerated.   Most of us will use it rather than develop it. Mark Cuban via  Via O'Reilly.

Gadget Earth Video

A video view of the personalities and capabilities of drones and other semi autonomous gadgets out of the recent CES conference.   From the Verge.     Impressive.

" ... Wandering the halls of CES 2017 recently with video director William Joel, we were not only struck by how many different “breeds” of gadgets there are in the world, but also by just how many of those gadgets — particularly the robots and drones — seem to have unique personalities all their own. The wire and plexiglass that surrounded them made them look like wild animals in captivity. ... " 

Smartphones Revolutionizing Medicine

In the CACM:  New details on gow smrtphone devices are changing medicine and health data.

Will AI Transform Retail Marketing?

Will AI Transform Retail Marketing?   by Tom Ryan In Retailwire:   Discussion.

A survey from Sailthru finds more retailers using artificial intelligence (AI) to support marketing purposes.

The survey of more than 200 retail marketers showed that of the 66 percent who leverage AI for marketing purposes, the most common applications are in search (37 percent), product recommendations (33 percent), and programmatic advertising and data science (both 26 percent).

Still, the marketers leveraging AI in one or more channels/methods weren’t much more likely to have met or exceeded their 2016 marketing goals. Sailthru said this suggests “not all applications and methods are equally useful, and that simply employing AI-based solutions is not sufficient for marketing success.”  .... " 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Alexa and Roomba in the Smart Home

We worked with the Roomba concept.  Though I liked the idea, never found it useful enough to add to our smart home .... Will it be more useful enough when voice controlled?

With Alexa integration and mapping, iRobot aims to make Roomba the center of the smart home by Brian Heater

" ... iRobot CEO Colin Angle has been repeating for some time now that the next step in the evolution of the company’s hit Roomba vacuum is becoming a connective tissue for the smart home. This morning’s announcement from the company takes it a couple of steps closer to that dream, introducing Alexa voice integration and advances to the robotic vacuum’s mapping system that lay the groundwork for future smart home upgrades.

“Roombas are already becoming one of the commonly found connected devices in the home,” Angle tells TechCrunch. “The popularity of the Roomba has made it a very powerful ambassador for connected devices, but its ability to organize physical information in the home is making it a central player in allowing homes to be more intelligent. You need to be aware of where things are in order to have a home do the right thing without programming it.” .... " 

Cars Learning

 More broadly, what kinds of things can cars learn to make them better and cheaper?   Gets to better understanding the consumer needs and related processes.   Have been there.

Machine Learning and Data Are Fueling a New Kind of Car
Here’s why Intel just offered $15.3 billion for Mobileye, an Israeli company that specializes in machine vision and learning for cars.  ... by Will Knight ...

Amazon Outfit Compare

We worked on a number of related virtual comparison ideas over the years.    Aimed at things like eyeware and cosmetics.  None were completely successful.   Can Amazon crack this by funneling their large customer base through this?   What is the conversation needed?

Amazon will now tell Prime members what to wear via a new “Outfit Compare” feature  by Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa)   In Techcrunch: 

Amazon has been steadily pushing its way into fashion over the past several years, with investments in its own private labels – from workwear to activewear – plus increased fashion ad spending and even its own trend-obsessed TV show, Style Code Live. Now the online retailer is looking to dole out its fashion advice to the masses, too, through a new feature called “Outfit Compare,” which is currently available to Prime members.

In the latest version of the Amazon shopping app, Prime members will find “Outfit Compare” in the sidebar navigation under the “Programs and Features” section.

This is the area where Amazon often rolls out its newer services and offerings, like Restaurants, Launchpad, Watch & Shop, Dash buttons and, more recently, its curated recommendations storefront dubbed “Interesting Finds.” ... "

Friday, March 17, 2017

Singularity by 2045?

Says Kurzweil,  Google's Director of Engineering.  Will that mean Google Drive will be the approved recepticle?  Google Analytics the means of  understanding?  Deep Mind the means for running offline? Very ambitious I think.  Google presents the Singularity Cloud! But if so, there is lots to figure out before then.

Bots Build their Own Language

More on applications of reinforcement.    We did something similar using a genetic driver, but no mention of that here.  Would that improve learning?

It Begins: Bots are Learning to Chat in their own Language   by Cade Metz  In Wired: 

" .... As detailed in a research paper published by OpenAI this week, Mordatch and his collaborators created a world where bots are charged with completing certain tasks, like moving themselves to a particular landmark. The world is simple, just a big white square—all of two dimensions—and the bots are colored shapes: a green, red, or blue circle. But the point of this universe is more complex. The world allows the bots to create their own language as a way collaborating, helping each other complete those tasks.

All this happens through what’s called reinforcement learning, the same fundamental technique that underpinned AlphaGo, the machine from Google’s DeepMind AI lab that cracked the ancient game of Go. Basically, the bots navigate their world through extreme trial and error, carefully keeping track of what works and what doesn’t as they reach for a reward, like arriving at a landmark. If a particular action helps them achieve that reward, they know to keep doing it. In this same way, they learn to build their own language. Telling each other where to go helps them all get places more quickly. .... " 

Deep Mind Memory Trick

A deeper yet biomimicry?

How DeepMind’s Memory Trick Helps AI Learn Faster
While AI systems can match many human capabilities, they take 10 times longer to learn. Now, by copying the way the brain works, Google DeepMind has built a machine that is closing the gap.

by Emerging Technology from the arXiv  March 16, 2017 .... 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

UPS Testing Drones

How can they attached to the supply chain? Nests in the truck roof?   Discussion:  In Retailwire:

Can UPS fly past Amazon in drone delivery?  by Matthew Stern

Amazon has grabbed many of the recent headlines with its efforts to use technology to eventually dominate last-mile logistics. But other big names in delivery are not sitting idly by, as seen by UPS’s latest move.

UPS has begun testing a delivery truck that acts as a mobile drone base, Business Insider reported. The vehicle features a drone “nest” on the roof which houses a drone capable of flying for 30 minutes and carrying 10 pounds. The roof-mounted drone is meant to reduce the number of miles driven to deliver packages.

The idea of using a mobile base for drones has gotten popular as the industry tries to figure out a working paradigm for drone-based delivery. Last year, Amazon filed a patent for technology that enables drones to be deployed from a “floating warehouse” airship and another that uses lampposts and churches as perches for delivery drones.  .... "

Conversation: Beyond Moments of Truth

Its all about conversation.    It used to be about 'moments of truth',  but now more about much more fluid conversations that can be generated and sustained by initial interaction.  That interaction can come from data, Bots, intelligent prediction, even old fashion marketing.    Sometimes all of these can be analytically combined to produce something very prescriptive.   CustomerThink talks this:

In CustomerThink
Turning Data to Conversations: Intelligent Marketing  .... "

McKinsey on Home Bots

Good piece, though ultimately driving the smart home will need many new 'things' present to influence digitally.  We have started to see examples with Cortana, Alexa and Google Home.   Which all start with easy applications.  Delivering music, news and other 'radio' and web type services.   Specific controllable devices like the Nest.    Still a considerable way to go to drive the home with Bots. Standards are still not there.

Article - McKinsey Quarterly - January 2017
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. .... "  

AI Dangers and Risks

Continued talk on the topic.

AI Dangers: Imagined and Real  By Devdatt Dubhashi, Shalom Lappin
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 60 No. 2, Pages 43-45

AI Driven Automation in Law

In some ways, the most obvious application.   A heavily document and analysis driven world.   Was frequently mentioned in the 80s, but not implemented because the analysis of meaning in documents was very imperfect.

AI automation starts to transform legal profession

Artificial intelligence and automation are making inroads into legal work, but are more likely to support than displace lawyers and will draw IT more into legal service delivery

In February 2016, a London court supported the use of predictive coding software in a legal disclosure process, which often involves lawyers receiving huge volumes of documents from those representing the other side in a case.  ... 

In Pyrrho Investments v MWB Business Exchange, Master Paul Matthews of the Chancery division supported the use of software in scoring documents for relevance. He found there was no evidence that software would be less accurate than manual review and keyword searches. He added that software could provide greater consistency in searching more than 3 million documents that could be involved in the disclosure. A final reason was that both sides had agreed to the use of the software, which would be much cheaper than a manual search – they just wanted the court’s approval. ...  " 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Folding Clothes

In a long while ago meeting about how easy it was to do various household tasks,  it was brought up that while washing clothes was relatively easy, folding them from an arbitrary pile was hard.    Well now the problem is solved, though with quite a bit of technology, and no cost suggested.  Solving all these individual hard tasks independently could still be quite expensive.  See also, a related problem, about sewing clothing.

Doing Machine Learning in Excel

Although we never recommended using Excel for things like this in the enterprise, it might be useful for someone who is already an Excel expert to get started in machine learning methods.  From DSC, nicely done.

Doing real machine learning using only the basics of Excel.    Posted by Vincent Granville
In this article, I present a few modern techniques that have been used in various business contexts, comparing performance with traditional methods. The advanced techniques in question are math-free, innovative, efficiently process large amounts of unstructured data, and are robust and scalable. Implementations in Python, R, Julia and Perl are provided, but here we focus on an Excel version that does not even require any Excel macros, coding, plug-ins, or anything other than the most basic version of Excel. It is actually easily implemented in standard, basic SQL too, and we invite  readers to work on an SQL version. ... " 

Data Mining and Advertising Targets

How Data Mining Can Help Advertisers Hit Their Targets?

Wharton's Shawndra Hill discusses her research on TV ads and online search.

Podcast and text: 

Shawndra Hill, a senior fellow at the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative, likes to dig into the details. As someone who studies data mining, she looks for new ways to apply what she finds to solve business problems. Hill’s latest research paper, “Television and Digital Advertising: Second Screen Response and Coordination with Sponsored Search,” focuses on TV ads, online search and the connections between them. The paper was co-authored with Gordon Burtch from the University of Minnesota and Michael Barto, a data scientist at Microsoft. Hill recently spoke with Knowledge@Wharton about what she found.  ... " 

Remote Repair Challenges in Orbit

In IEEE Spectrum, quite a detailed article.    Requires making satellites in standard ways and thus easier to repair.  The ultimate example of this.  Much to learn too about robotic challenges under constraints and gathering data to stage efforts.  This seems like a better commercial idea than sending tourists into orbit.

Inside DARPA’s Mission to Send a Repair Robot to Geosynchronous Orbit
The RSGS spacecraft could visit and inspect dozens of satellites
By Gordon Roesler, Paul Jaffe and Glen Henshaw ... 

Turn on HTTPS

Turn on HTTPS encryption.   A worthwhile security step.  This blog is using it.   No negatives to its use anymore.   More at the link.

It's time to turn on HTTPS: The benefits are well worth the effort
HTTPS websites get a speed boost, better search engine rankings and fewer browser warnings
 By Lucian Constantin  ..... 

Lowes Using AR to Show How

Lowes is always doing interesting tech things. On the surface of it sounds like a good idea.  But does visual understanding and experience equal physical skill?   Also see their tests of robots in store.

Lowe's is using AR and VR to make how-to easier
Coming soon: 'Tile Installation Simulator 2017'.

by Timothy J. Seppala, @timseppala

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Robots for Commercial Spaces

Good overview look at applications and demand in IEEE Spectrum. Have had conversations with several players in the space.

 Why Indoor Robots for Commercial Spaces Are the Next Big Thing in Robotics By Travis Deyle
Companies developing indoor robots for commercial spaces include Cobalt, Aethon, Simbe, Savioke, Diligent Droids, and PAL Robotics. .... " 

" ... Venture funding for robotics has exploded by more than 10x over the last six years and shows no signs of stopping. Most of this investment has been focused on the usual suspects: logistics, warehouse automation, robot arms for manufacturing, healthcare and surgical robots, drones, agriculture, and autonomous cars. In this guest post, tech entrepreneur Travis Deyle, founder of security robot startup Cobalt, explains why he's betting on a new, emerging segment: autonomous indoor robots for commercial spaces. ... " 

Cognitive Assistance for the Aging

Dear Professors, Students, IBMers and others, 

This a reminder about our Cognitive Systems Institute Speaker Series on Thursday, March 16, 2016 at 10:30 am ET US (7:30 am PT).  Our speaker is Hironobu Takagi, Senior Technical Staff Member and Technical Leader for Cognitive Computing Research at IBM Research, Tokyo, who will be presenting "Cognitive Assistance for the Aging."

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

Random Numbers

A long time technical interest.  Used many random number generators, and in some cases tested them to determine their limitations.  Here a brief history.

Microsoft Teams is off Running

Seen it in Beta,  a group collaboration tool,  better than Slack, especially for users of other MS tools.    And who isn't?   Free for 365 users as I understand.   But it needs critical mass in groups to make it fly.   Continue to nurture it, Microsoft.  Keep it aimed at productivity, as opposed to another thing to update.   Connect it effectively to bot intelligence.   I had used Slack for real examples, but it was tedious.

Teams is Microsoft's most intriguing productivity app yet
The potential Slack-killer is rolling out to all Office 365 users today.

Devindra Hardawar, @devindra .... 

See also, related Google Hangout Chats.

Bot support is becoming common on these offerings.

SAS On Image Recognition

SAS Blog on image recognition.     Nicely done piece on the business implications.

" ... Image recognition is a hot and hyped topic in machine learning, artificial intelligence and other technology circles. Computer vision technology is essential for realizing advancements like driverless cars, face recognition, medical outcomes predictions, and a host of other breakthrough innovations.

Amidst the hype, organizations large and small are trying to understand the specific industry use cases potential for the variety of underlying techniques and processes involved in image recognition. For experienced data miners, there are some required paradigm shifts to move from predictive modelling to image recognition. In this blog post, I’ll try to outline some of these new concepts, the challenges they pose and some means for addressing them.... " 

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Quantum Computer Sees Trees

In Science via CACM:   Quantum Computer Learns to See Trees:

" ... St. Mary's College researchers trained a quantum computer to recognize trees, a breakthrough they say could help scientists use other quantum systems for complicated machine-learning problems such as pattern recognition and computer vision.

The researchers fed hundreds of U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellite images into a D-Wave 2X processor, which contains 1,152 qubits, to determine whether clumps of pixels were trees and not roads, buildings, or rivers. The researchers then told the computer whether its classifications were right or wrong so the system could learn from its mistakes, altering the formula it uses to determine whether something is a tree.

Following the training, the system was 90% accurate in recognizing trees in aerial photographs of Mill Valley, CA.

The results demonstrate how researchers can program quantum computers to analyze images, and could lead to the possibility of using them to solve other complex problems   ... " 

Alexa and Cortana in the Office

In the WSJ.   How elements of Alexa and Cortana may be heading towards the office.   Thinking about this now in terms of how it connects business process and deeper computing technologies, like AI and analytics.  Article may require some sign-in.

Alexa and Cortana May Be Heading to the Office
Voice-activated assistants with artificial intelligence are moving from the home to the office By  Cat Zakrzewski

The next assistant in many offices could be named Alexa or Cortana.

In 2016, Silicon Valley obsessed over how text-based bots in apps like Slack could make employees more efficient, turning complicated tasks or forms into conversational texts. Now, following the success of Amazon Inc.’s Alexa and Alphabet Inc.’s Google Home, people in the technology industry are increasingly thinking about how such voice-activated devices can be made useful in the workplace.

The products aren’t quite ready for office prime time yet. The workplace offers challenges that experts say intelligent assistants built for home use so far haven't effectively met, mostly in the area of voice recognition.  .... " 

Merging Brains and Machines

An odd debate.  But regardless we will have to collaborate.   We have been doing this for some time, but the the details of how this is done is getting more important. ....

Merging our brains with machines won’t stop the rise of the robots
February 26, 2017

Tesla chief executive and OpenAI founder Elon Musk suggested last week that humanity might stave off irrelevance from the rise of the machines by merging with the machines and becoming cyborgs.

However, current trends in software-only artificial intelligence and deep learning technology raise serious doubts about the plausibility of this claim, especially in the long term. This doubt is not only due to hardware limitations; it is also to do with the role the human brain would play in the match-up.

Musk’s thesis is straightforward: that sufficiently advanced interfaces between brain and computer will enable humans to massively augment their capabilities by being better able to leverage technologies such as machine learning and deep learning.

But the exchange goes both ways. Brain-machine interfaces may help the performance of machine learning algorithms by having humans “fill in the gaps” for tasks that the algorithms are currently bad at, like making nuanced contextual decisions. ...   " 

Zipf's Law

A favorite topic of interest: Zipf's Law.  by Vincent Granville.  Great topic for kids with an interest in numbers and patterns in data,

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sports Decision Making

Have seen lots of examples addressing patterns of athletic data, but not specifically decision making.  Makes this interesting.  Deep learning Techniques and athletic decision making.  Via the CACM.

Healthcare and IOT

From IOTCentral:  a set of useful articles for healthcare applications regarding the internet of things.

G Suite Aims at Enterprise Business Chat

More bots and enterprise oriented chat delivery.

G Suite Wants To Be Your Business Meeting Chat System

" ... Support for Chat Bots, Gmail Add-Ons  in CIO-Today: 

Meanwhile, the new Hangouts Chat app was created to "reflect the way modern teams talk business," Johnston said.

Chat lets users set up dedicated virtual "rooms" for different work projects, so team members can view threaded conversations starting from day one. The app also integrates with other parts of G Suite, enabling participants to view files and documents from Google Drive or Google Docs directly within their chats.

Johnston said Google is working with several companies, including Asana, Box, Prosperworks and Zendesk, to integrate other applications into Hangouts Chat. The chat platform will be able to support a wide range of partner applications, including intelligent bots. Hangouts Chat also has its own bot, @meet, designed to help users automatically schedule meetings via Meet and Google Calendar.    .... " 

Bots as the Next User Interface

Good thoughts on thinking of coneversation as iterface.   Is a challenge to do it well.   In Adage:

SXSW: 4 Best Practices to Make Bots the Next Big User Interface
By Nat Ives

People spend more and more time on their smartphones, but with such a limited set of apps that it's becoming harder and harder for newcomers to reach them.

Chatbots are the solution, two proponents told a crowded ballroom at SXSW on Saturday, day two of the conference. That's because they play out on one of the entrenched sets of apps that people already chronically use, they argued: messaging apps.

"We believe that conversations will become the new user interface," said Laura Newton, a product manager at the youth-oriented messaging app Kik.   .... "

Google Data Studio is Now Free

Have not examined this directly, but worth a look.

Making Google Data Studio Free for Everyone
February 2, 2017

Today, Google's mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful is even more relevant and broad reaching. And last year’s launch of both free and enterprise versions of Data Studio, a new dashboarding and reporting tool, is a testament to our commitment to this vision. Over the past 9 months we’ve received positive feedback and seen tremendous demand for the product. And we’ve continued to enhance the product making it even easier to use via templates and adding many new data connectors. ... " 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Examining Facebook Messenger Bots

Had a number of times mentioned our experiments with chatbots here.  Illuminating approaches, but too early.  In a recent conversation I was told I really needed to look at the offering through Facebook Messenger.     Although a user have always felt nervous about using FB.    But now I am off on an exploration.   What will the basic underlying architecture of conversational knowledge exchanges be? First was this article in SiliconAngle:

Is FB Messenger AI bot the best social strategy for businesses and others?
By R Danes  ....

Overview of Data Governance

With a long time involvement in the big enterprise ... this was always being tested.  Later much more metadata considerations were considered.  Good overview here via O'Reilly..

Protecting yourself from Doxing

Computer security expert Bruce Schneier blogs about Doxing.  (spreading private information, true or not).  The solutions are not unexpected, but worth repeating.   Much in the news of late.  Its just to easy to spread information, once its retrieved. More on Doxing and examples in the WP.

Self Driving without Backup?

In Reuters.   Seems premature.    Though I agree that the behavior of such a car needs to be different and well understood.    Could that be best done in simulators?  How far away is this?  A decade, two? Sooner.

California paves way to self-driving car tests without humans  By Paul Lienert
California, the largest U.S. car market, plans to allow testing on public roads of self-driving vehicles without human backup drivers by the end of the year, state officials said Friday.

The state's Department of Motor Vehicles is seeking public comment on proposed regulations for driverless testing and public use of autonomous vehicles that will no longer be required to have conventional manual controls such as steering wheels and pedals.

Current regulations require such vehicles to have those controls, as well as a backup driver   .... " 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Chatbot Concierge for your Hair

Not far different from some of our own attempts to provide a concierge style link that could help both the consumer and the brand.   An advisory

What a Chatbot Can Teach You -- and Unilever -- About Hair    By Jack Neff

 " .... THE IDEA
Enter the Hair Concierge, a chatbot launched on Facebook Messenger in November that uses artificial intelligence to answer women's questions about how to solve hair problems, and links them to Nexxus products they can buy direct online within the bot. The virtual Hair Concierge spawned more than 450,000 messages, around eight per conversation, during January alone, Ms. Grigoriou said. And that comes just from influencers, social sharing and word of mouth, before the brand has put any conventional paid media support behind the effort, which was led by new digital agency Cubocc.

 It's a new idea with roots deep in Nexxus' heritage. From Mr. Redding's day on, the brand was about using proteins found in nature to improve hair. Things like heat and ultraviolet radiation exposure deplete those proteins, leading to a range of hair problems, such as dullness, frizz and split ends. "We can actually map the DNA of the hair, identifying which ingredients can deliver the best results for each problem," she said. The Hair Concierge is part of a broader digital revamp for Nexxus, which aims to offer "mass customization" by matching existing products to women's stated needs. The effort also includes a redesign of Nexxus.com to align with how women search online and a series of 30-second-or-shorter, mobile-optimized videos matching Nexxus products to various hairstyles or problems.  ... " 

Walking the Experience Talk

In Customerthink, good consideration.

What is Walking the Customer Experience Talk? Featured Column by
Lynn Hunsaker  CustomerThink Advisor featured columnist  Top 10 Author: Rank = 5 | Mar 9,  
 What does it really mean to “walk the customer experience talk”? Executive sponsorship is certainly essential, yet there’s so much more to it. An ironic byproduct of any customer engagement effort is that it intrinsically sets up expectations — externally and internally. Walking the customer experience talk means you are following through on expectations you’re setting with customers, employees, channel partners and alliances. It actually means the whole company is getting its act together to deliver what it promised to customers.   ... " 

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Designing for Alexa

Intriguing thoughts, and I then ask: Is Alexa Skill management best  architected to produce easy to create and maintain  knowledge?   The latter is a huge deal, it caused us to quickly lose momentum  the last time around.

Designing for Alexa
5 questions for Phillip Hunter: Designing voice interactions, deconstructing human behavior, and use cases for voice.  By Mary Treseler ... " 

On AI Adoption

Good thoughts.  really for any kind of  'automation'   adoption.  And the complexities of introducing any kind of non trivial change.  I recently taught this at Columbia.

AI adoption at the atomic level of jobs and work
O'Reilly Radar Podcast: David Beyer on AI adoption challenges, the complexities of getting an AI ROI, and the dangers of hype.  By Jenn Webb     ...

Product Recommender in Python

More Python example than recommender.  But also a useful view of programming in this domain. Via O'Reilly.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Predicting Flash Floods with Weather Data

Good case Study from O'Reilly.   I like the use of weather data, which can be problematic.  Here converted to classification and thus prediction from embedded decision trees.      Could have used the idea in a long ago US stream and estuary model.

Random forests to save human lives
Flash flood prediction using machine learning has proven capable in the U.S. and Europe; we're now bringing it to East Africa. ..... " 

By Zachary Flamig and Race Clark February 28, 2017  .... " 

Superforecasting and Decision Makers

This is such an important issue.  So many claims are made for good forecasting,  but it is only as good as it is integrated into good decision making.   Forecasting is an analytic method,  but of little use if it can't contribute to value and less risk in decisions.  And as the authors suggest, forecasts are always 'wrong'.  Which calls for a modification of contextual decisions, based on required operations.   In Knowledge@Wharton:

Are You a Superforecaster? What Good Decision-makers Have in Common
 Wharton's Barbara Mellers and Michael Platt discuss their research on superforecasters.

While nobody can get forecasts right 100% of the time, research shows that there are certain kinds of people who are better at forecasting outcomes than others. Wharton marketing professors Barbara Mellers and Michael Platt, who are also Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) professors at the University of Pennsylvania, examine the intersection of marketing, psychology and neuroscience to understand the traits that “superforecasters” share and that can lead to better decision making. They recently talked about their research and its implications on the Knowledge@Wharton show on Wharton Business Radio on SiriusXM channel 111. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)

Podcast, and an edited transcript of the conversation follows.  .... "