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Friday, June 30, 2017

Assistants in the Hospital

One of the earliest suggestions for virtual assistants was to have them answer questions and perform simple non-medical tasks in hospitals and other health care facilities.  Huge amounts of professional time are expended this way.   Issues of data and patient security quickly came up.  It was said the popular assistants could not handle those issues.  But it appears work has been under way by Harman and IBM Watson to address the problem.  Note that Harman is now owned by Samsung.

 " .... Thanks to AI, you'll never be ignored at a hospital again  From CNET Magazine: IBM's Watson takes on the scut work at a Philadelphia hospital, so nurses can focus on what matters.   By Shara Tibken

It's why Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals in Philadelphia decided to work with audio giant Harman and IBM's Watson artificial intelligence technology. Together, they developed smart speakers that will respond to about a dozen commands. When a patient says "Watson," the speakers can, for instance, play calming sounds and adjust the room's lighting, thermostat and blinds.

"This is a way for patients to get some simple comfort measures addressed just by speaking," says Dr. Andrew Miller, associate chief medical officer at the Philadelphia hospital group. "How great is that?"

For the hospital, it's just the beginning. ... "

Unclear what plans are underway to roll this out more broadly.   Beyond just the voice interaction it does imply that considerable infrastructure changes have to be made to implement physical interactions with rooms, say to close the blinds or even adjust the lights.

(Update 8/12/17)
Why Hospitals Are In Pursuit Of The Ideal Amazon Alexa App  In Forbes: 

Robert Glatter, MD , 

Consumers now enjoy using Alexa, the super-cool voice technology in the nifty Amazon Echo device that helps make life around the home easier. In its short time on the market, it has become almost indispensable according to some tech aficionados. .... " 

The Wave of a New AI

Nice, non-technical overview in CACM look at emerging technologies that are supporting advances in AI.  Useful with management to consider areas of interest.   Will this push us over the hype edge for real intelligent value?

Artificial Intelligence Poised to Ride a New Wave    By Gary Anthes 
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 60 No. 7, Pages 19-21

Artificial intelligence (AI), once described as a technology with permanent potential, has come of age in the past decade. Propelled by massively parallel computer systems, huge datasets, and better algorithms, AI has brought a number of important applications, such as image- and speech-recognition and autonomous vehicle navigation, to near-human levels of performance.

Now, AI experts say, a wave of even newer technology may enable systems to understand and react to the world in ways that traditionally have been seen as the sole province of human beings. These technologies include algorithms that model human intuition and make predictions in the face of incomplete knowledge, systems that learn without being pre-trained with labeled data, systems that transfer knowledge gained in one domain to another, hybrid systems that combine two or more approaches, and more powerful and energy-efficient hardware specialized for AI. .... " 

Samsung Bixby Starts to Roll

Samsung Reports:

*After launch, Bixby's language support will initially begin with Korean, and expand to English and then Chinese. Plans for further language support are tentative. Bixby voice controls will soon be integrated into some of your favorite native apps.

Three ways to engage, not just one
Since Bixby understands talk, text, and taps, you're able to use the way that's most convenient at the time. You can also switch between modes whenever you need to. ... " 

Also expect this to ultimately move onto their broad line of appliances.

And in the Verge.    More on other virtual assistant ideas.

Discovering a Million Dollar Idea

Reminded of the use of the term:

IKEA's Idea Man Reveals How to Discover Your Own Million Dollar Idea
The process is called vu jàdé. That's déjà vu backwards, and anyone can do it.    By Chad Perry in Inc.

A Beginners Guide and Tutorial for GANs

Via O'Reilly, supported by Google. A Simplified Tutorial.  Instructive, not the idea of a network generating content.

Beginner's guide to GANs

This tutorial will show you how to build a generative adversarial network that learns to generate handwritten digits—essentially you'll teach a neural network how to write. You can download and modify the code from this tutorial on GitHub.

Generative Adversarial Networks for Beginners
Build a neural network that learns to generate handwritten digits.
By Jon Bruner,  Adit Deshpande  
Practical Generative Adversarial Networks for Beginners

You can download and modify the code from this tutorial on GitHub ... 

According to Yann LeCun, “adversarial training is the coolest thing since sliced bread.” Sliced bread certainly never created this much excitement within the deep learning community. Generative adversarial networks—or GANs, for short—have dramatically sharpened the possibility of AI-generated content, and have drawn active research efforts since they were first described by Ian Goodfellow et al. in 2014.

GANs are neural networks that learn to create synthetic data similar to some known input data. For instance, researchers have generated convincing images from photographs of everything from bedrooms to album covers, and they display a remarkable ability to reflect higher-order semantic logic.   .... " 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Real World Statistics

Its good to remember that statistics is the basis of all useful problem solving:

Making Statistics Work in the Real World

Wharton's Bhaswar Bhattacharya discusses his research on statistical methods.

The field of statistics is about more than just crunching numbers. Wharton statistics professor Bhaswar Bhattacharya is researching the best ways to apply statistical methods to solve problems in a range of fields, from health care to marketing to languages. Bhattacharya spoke with Knowledge@Wharton about shedding new light on one of the oldest mathematical disciplines.  

(Podcast) An edited transcript of the conversation follows. .... 

Knowledge@Wharton: Could you give us a brief summary of your research and what kind of question you were trying to answer?

Bhaswar Bhattacharya: My research interests are the intersection of statistics probability and combinatorics. Recently, numerous and very interesting combinatorial and graph theory-related problems have emerged in statistics, mainly because of the ubiquitous presence of network data and the increasing use of graph-based methods in modern-day analytics. As a consequence, many interesting connections have emerged between modern statistical methods and classical concepts in geometry and probability. You can use them to solve interesting problems in statistics. .... " 

Storytelling in Netflix

Still a very limited set of examples.  The idea of branching interactive storytelling has been tried for a long time without success.     I like trying it again, but don't have great expectations.

Netflix Storytelling
There’s no shortage of movies and shows for you to binge on Netflix, but sometimes, even in the midst of all these options, boredom pervades. After all, you can almost always predict the endings of entertainment these days, and sometimes, plots are so similar you feel like you’ve seen everything already. But now, Netflix may have a solution for you. It’s called Interactive Storytelling, and it’s Netflix’s way of letting you choose your own adventure.

On Tuesday, the streaming platform announced its first “interactive ‘branching’ narrative episodes Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile, where Netflix members are in control of how the stories unfold.” Heralded as the melding of Netflix engineers’ technical prowess and Hollywood creatives’ imaginative direction, this new kind of content promises a “new world of storytelling possibilities.”

Noting that content creators often wish to tell nonlinear stories, Netflix hopes that its new Interactive Stories will allow creatives to “roam, try new things, and do their best work.” And of course, please a few viewers along the way, too.

“We’ve done extensive research and talked to lots of kids and parents, collecting qualitative data to better understand if this is something viewers will like,” Carla Engelbrecht Fisher, director of product innovation at Netflix, wrote in a blog post.    .... " 

Recommender Engine in Cortana

Good instructive example for Cortana.  How easy is this for maintaining the recommendations?   I like to show these kinds of examples because they include simple business process.  Which is forgotten these days when mentioning AI.

Cortana Intelligence and Machine Learning Blog
Using a recommendation system in an application
by Ankit Asthana, Principal PM VS.NET at Microsoft.

Recommendation systems are extremely popular today and are used everywhere, to predict music you’d like, products to buy, and movies to see! In this post, we would like to show you how you can build a movie recommendation engine. The post will describe how to build this model in Azure Machine Learning Studio. It comes with an end-end sample that walks you through the process of building a movie recommendation service that you can incorporate into your application today. .... "

Adding Intelligence to Ad Delivery

Interesting that the 'Show' version of Alexa, with a screen,  is attracting advertisers.  Consider that this can add intelligence for the consumer with the delivery of adds.   Images are likely expected. Video in particular.   Here am talking about the process that the consumer might need to use the product.   Food recipes are an obvious example.   DIY products and services as well.   Via specifically designed skills to support the message.   A form of engagement with value exchange.   Others?

Scripps, Time Inc. Among Media Companies Starting Shows on Amazon's New Echo  By Garett Sloane in Adage

Streaming video services are sometimes called "over the top" because they skip over the cable box to reach consumers. Now publishers are going over the counter top with original programs for the new Amazon Echo that comes with a screen.

On Wednesday, Scripps Networks Interactive' Food Network and Time Inc.'s People introduced apps for the device, called the Amazon Echo Show.  .... " 

Stand Up Math

Will do anything to get math interest from kids.

I have been asked if math and computing interest are really interchangeable?   Having been a professional in both spaces,  and I say, yes, and especially now more than ever.   Just keep making the case that this computing magic is all bound together in fairly simple logic.  The ability to pay attention to detail and follow process also helps, in both domains.

Brought to my attention by Jim Spohrer:

Matt Parker     Possibly the only person to hold the prestigious title of London Mathematical Society Popular Lecturer while simultaneously having a sold-out comedy show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Matt is always keen to mix his two passions of mathematics and stand-up.  .... " 

Generative Neural Networks and Marketing

A good explanation of generative neural networks,  how they work and their applications.  There has been some conversation about their implications for video use and marketing.  Any real examples out there?   Exploring.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Best Buy Partners with Amazon, Google for Smart Home

Happened into Best Buy recently, for the first time in over a year,  and saw this.  Well done. Could have used some better live help provided with the display.  Some tech help is still needed. Mapping out the customer experience by interest could take this further.   Examples might be Music, Home efficiency,  Purchasing,  Video Entertainment, Communications .....     But still impressive as done already.  I have now had Echo and GHome in place, in test since their availability.   Covered often in this blog.

Consumer electronics giant partners with Amazon, Google   by Marianne Wilson

Best Buy is looking to grab share in one of the hottest categories of the "smart" home market: voice-activated devices.

The retailer is adding Amazon Alexa and Google Home "experiences" to about 700 Best Buy stores nationwide. The new interactive displays will start arriving in stores in July, with the rollout complete by the end of the year.  In addition, there will be an enhanced online presence for the devices on Best Buy's e-commerce site.

 Located near the smart home department, the new in-store displays will feature the latest voice assistants, including Amazon Echo Show and Google Home, along with the ever-growing number of products that interact with them, such as Nest thermostats and Philips Hue lighting ... " 

Tertill Weeds Gardens

Really like the premise.  From my IdeaConnection affiliation. I have decades of experience managing garden plantings, big and small, so pardon me for having considerable skepticism about the practical application.  Even more so at commercial scale.  But particularly like the potential to do this in a swarming way as well.   But the garden can be a hostile place.  Would love to give it a practical test. Will certainly follow.  Kickstarter.

The Tertill solar powered weeding robot from Franklin Robotics removes weeds without chemicals.

A bit like a Roomba for the yard, the Tertill travels the garden to seek out weeds and cut them down with a small ‘weed-whacker’ thread at its base. The Tertill will treat all small plants as weeds, so intentional plants must first be protected by the provided plant collars. Any plants tall enough to touch the device’s sensor will trigger the Tertill to turn away, and seek weeds elsewhere. .... " 

Bezier Curves for the Grocery Shelf

A quite technical and visual point in O'Reilly.  And just to note how such methods can interact with the mundane, we used Bezier Curves for designing packaging for supermarket products.  A nice example of Python too.

Overlaying Bézier curves
An algorithm that generates Bézier curves using an increasing number of control points.  ... By Mike Loukides  .... " 

Amazon vs Wal-Mart

In Knowledge@Wharton:  A considerable look at the question.  Both now as omnichannel giants.

Amazon vs. Walmart: Which One Will Prevail?

Recent M&A deals by both Amazon and Walmart have set the two firms on a direct collision course to become the “everything store” in an omnichannel world. .... 

In the media hullabaloo following Amazon’s announcement this month that it was buying Whole Foods Market, largely overlooked was the same-day news that Walmart was acquiring menswear e-tailer Bonobos. While Amazon did make a bigger splash with its $13.7 billion foray into organic groceries, Walmart beefed up an e-commerce stable that already includes the acquisitions of digital natives Jet.com, Shoebuy, ModCloth and Moosejaw.

Collectively, these M&A deals have set Amazon, the world’s largest e-commerce company, on a direct collision course with Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, to be the “everything store” in an omni-channel world — where consumers no longer distinguish between shopping online and offline. And it pits two Baby Boomer mavericks, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, against Walmart’s e-commerce chief Marc Lore, the Gen X founder of Jet.com.   .... " 

AI as the Face of Your Brand

A useful informed survey.   We attempted to use AI as brand equity.  When does it work?  Particularly in the case of assistants, we often anthropomorphize.  Why or why not?

When AI Becomes the New Face of Your Brand
H. James Wilson,Paul Daugherty, Nicola Morini Bianzino  in the HBR

In the world of marketing, brand anthropomorphism can be a powerful mechanism for connecting with consumers. It’s the tactic of giving brand symbols people-like characteristics: Think of Tony the Tiger and the Michelin Man. Today some companies are taking brand anthropomorphism to a whole new level with sophisticated AI technologies.

Consider advanced chatbots, like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana. Thanks to the simplicity of their conversational interfaces, it’s quite possible that customers will spend increasingly more time engaged with a company’s AI than with any other interface, including the firm’s own employees. And over time Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, and their individual “personalities,” could become even more famous than their parent companies.

The implications are numerous. As chatbots and other AI technologies increasingly become the face of many brands, those companies will need to employ people with new types of expertise to ensure that the brands continue to reflect the firm’s desired qualities and values. Executives should also be wary of how AI increases the dangers of brand disintermediation. As brands assume more and more AI functionality, businesses must proactively manage any potential ethical and legal concerns.

To study those issues and others, we surveyed how AI is being implemented at more than 1,000 global companies. We found that many of those firms are already using (or have been experimenting with) AI to orchestrate the brand experience across a number of business processes. These include customer service (39% of companies), marketing and sales (35%), and even the managing of noncustomer external relationships (28%) where brand power is key, such as in attracting top talent into the organization’s recruiting pipeline. Studying those deployments led to several insights around three new types of decisions executives face at the intersection of technology, personality, and strategy. .... " 

Bonsai AI Gears

Of interest, with somwhat  different purpose it would appear, than approaches like Algorithmia.  Gears seems to address the problem of having a Python based code running on multiple devices.   And further testing implementation.

Bonsai intros Gears, a new feature that lets users run their own AI models  by Mike Wheatley In SiliconAngle. 

 Artificial-intelligence development platform provider Bonsai AI Inc. has unveiled a new feature called Gears that allows data scientists run machine learning models created on alternative platforms.

The idea is that Gears can transfer independently developed models onto the Bonsai platform, where they can be monitored more easily. .... "


Algorithmia  (Invested in by Google)

Build Intelligent APPS

We're a Common API for Algorithms, Functions, and Models that run as scalable Microservices. 

Developer Superpowers on Demand 

Expand your toolbelt with access to a growing library of more than 3,500+ algorithms, functions, and models that enable you to create, share, and remix algorithmic intelligence at scale – All powered by a community of world class developers, researchers, and organizations. Optionally choose to monetize your contributions through an open marketplace where royalties earned reflect the the value of your algorithm, function, or model.

Explore the marketplace .... 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tracking, Measuring AI Research

Very good effort.  Much more detail at the link.  Putting it on my alert list. From the EFF: Electronic Frontier Foundation,  which I have little watched lately.   Plus also see Algorithmia.

This pilot project collects problems and metrics/datasets from the AI research literature, and tracks progress on them.

You can use this Notebook to see how things are progressing in specific subfields or AI/ML as a whole, as a place to report new results you've obtained, as a place to look for problems that might benefit from having new datasets/metrics designed for them, or as a source to build on for data science projects.

At EFF, we're ultimately most interested in how this data can influence our understanding of the likely implications of AI. To begin with, we're focused on gathering it.

Original authors: Peter Eckersley and Yomna Nasser at EFF. Contact: ai-metrics@eff.org.

With contributions from: Gennie Gebhart and Owain Evans .... " 

Apple and Cisco in the Enterprise

Worked with Cisco in the innovation space, they are impressive for infrastructure.   Saw this same goal for companies to take a look at their digital operations at a recent talk by GE.

With Cisco, Apple weaves itself into enterprise infrastructure

" ... Apple and Cisco confirmed the two firms are working together in lots of ways, including the new announcement around Cisco Security Connector, which should appear late this year.

Cisco says this system lets enterprises take a deep look at what is happening on enterprise-owned mobile devices. .... " 

Analog Brains

We tend to think of 'analog' as an ancient technology,  long superseded by digital.  So businesses are constantly figuring out how to 'go digital'.   And thus become better, faster, smarter.  I learned analog computing before digital, but that is only rarely done today.   We first went digital in the 40s because it turns out that many things we like to do fast,  like arithmetic, are easier to codify that way. That's good.

 But most of the nature that we depend upon remains analog.  Our brains, our sensors, our muscles, our neurons.  So why shouldn't we think of our models of complex systems that way?  Most recently, deep learning, using models of 'neurons', turn to be very successful as perception engines.   Still digital, but analogs of some very analog forms.

Building a Brain May Mean Going Analog    By Neil Savage 
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 60 No. 7, Pages 13-15 ... "

3D Printing and Retail

Most interesting for the examples and discussions here.  As I have suggested, still a niche market.

How will 3-D printing take hold at retail?   by Tom Ryan

According to a survey from Interactions, 95 percent of shoppers are looking forward to purchasing products created through 3-D printing. And nearly 80 percent are inclined to spend more at a retailer that can help create their own products through 3-D printing. .... 

Yet the technology, around since the late 1980s, continues to take a slow path to retail. ... " 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Note Taking

Have been reexamining note taking systems.  Had only briefly looked at OneNote before.    Nicely done.  The basic ideas should be fundamental, and easily connected to the many channels now online. Would also be useful to think forward to how this knowledge can be gathered online, annotated and maintained.

Microsoft wants OneNote to be the go-to classroom app
Take that, Evernote..... 

Rob LeFebvre, @roblef

Models of China Ambitions and Directions

Wharton has published a special, multi segment piece on new China Strategy and Economics.  We did lots of work trying to understand the direction of China using advanced agent models.  Often touched upon in this blog.     This article touches on many of our interests, including infrastructure, retail, manufacturing, supply chain strategy and beyond.   At a high level, but valuable for its setting the stage.   The below piece is one example, lots more pointed to at the link:

China: New Ambitions, New Directions

" ... China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, for example, would stitch together roads, ports, railways and other links from East China through Southeast, and South and Central Asia over to Europe. It exceeds in scope the Marshall Plan that rebuilt post-war Europe. Beyond that, China is by far the biggest source of financing for many of its neighbors. The Export and Import Bank of China alone lent $80 billion in 2015, compared with $27 billion from the Asian Development Bank. All this expands China’s economic and geopolitical sway across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. .... " 

Who Does Selfies?

Or perhaps the nature of derived meta data about self imagery.

Selfies: We Love How We Look and We're Here to Show You

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology say they have analyzed 2.5 million selfie posts on Instagram to determine what kinds of identity statements people make by taking and sharing selfies. The researchers found nearly 52 percent of all selfies fall into the appearance category, meaning pictures of people showing off things such as their makeup, clothes, and lips. In addition, the team found that pictures about looks were twice as popular than the other 14 examined categories combined, which included social selfies, ethnicity pictures, travel, and health and fitness.

The researchers also note the prevalence of ethnicity selfies as an indication that people are proud of their backgrounds. Overall, 57 percent of selfies were posted by 18- to 35-year-olds, while the under-18 age group posted about 30 percent of selfies, and the 35-and-up group posted only 13 percent of selfies. In addition, most selfies are lone pictures, and are not taken with a group.

From Georgia Tech News Center  .... "

A Chat Bot for Company Knowledge

I got a note recently that I should try Obie as a chat bot based on corporate knowledge provided in Slack.  I have now used Slack for several projects,  fine as a chat space for team projects,  somewhat quirky,  hard to integrate with typical and existing knowledge streams.    One of our AI goals had been to figure out how to link AI with corporate knowledge streams, old and new, static and dynamic, internal, supplier and public knowledge, structured and unstructured.    A remembrance engine we called it.  Perhaps a Knowledge Graph?   Is that what we are approaching here.?  Back to the wall we ran into:   How will it be maintained?   Just by updates in chats?   Back to the general problem of intelligent dialog.

Q&A With the Developers of Obie: A Chatbot for Company Knowledge  by Roland Meertens 

 Tasytt launched Obie: a Slack chatbot for company knowledge. Teams can ask "what, how, or where" questions such as "What is our computer policy". Obie either finds the answer in one of your documents or will ask you to provide him with the answer so he can give it next time someone asks the same questions.

Obie has integrations with several existing services: Google Docs, Confluence, Google sites, Evernote and Dropbox. This means companies don't have to start from the ground up with training Obie. Giving Obie access to this existing knowledge ensures a short training period for Obie.

InfoQ reached out to founder and CEO Chris Buttenham to ask him some questions about Obie.

InfoQ: We tried Obie a little bit in our Slack, but had the idea that it did not analyze our previous conversations. Is this a feature that will be added in a future version?

You could probably imagine you’re not the first to ask this question! Although it would seem that content living in Slack would be a natural place Obie would start, we actually feel that most conversations are fairly unstructured and somewhat useless when it comes to organizing team knowledge. We’re definitely considering adding content that lives within Slack as something Obie can reference, but we feel the low hanging fruit is the rich content scattered across multiple sources within an organization.    ... " 

Closer Look at Amazon Echo Show

A closer review of the Amazon Echo Show, essentially a full Amazon Echo with a screen added.    As skills are built for it,  should add a visual dimension to assistance.  Google Home has this already through 'casting', but I have yet to see it well used.  Of course adding a visual element adds value to the sometimes awkward voice interface, which is great for hand-free interactions,  but thinner bandwidth creates limitations for description,  requiring the need to change channels.     The longer term outcome for general interfaces will be interesting.  Will these be specialist or replace the keyboard and screen?

In Engadget: 
Amazon Echo Show review: Seeing is believing
The virtual assistant Alexa has a 'face' for the first time.  ... "

Another look in Digital Trends. .... "

Bots Making up Languages

How might we be able to use this to teach and learn from Bot communications?   As suggested below, this is probably not a formal language, as we understand it.  But any stream of data from any sensor is a language of sorts,  which we seek to interpret, first in an obvious sense, and then to look for more complex patterns that we can use for leverage.  I like the general idea here.  Can we find deeper patterns in these kinds of communications?

What an AI's Non-Human Language Actually Looks Like    In The Atlantic
 Researchers at the Facebook Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research lab have found that bots they were training to negotiate with each other began conversing in a non-human language without human supervision. Although visually the bots' language appears completely nonsensical, a lab spokesperson says Facebook's data shows that sometimes such dialogues ultimately lead to successful negotiations.

Other AI researchers have reported witnessing machines developing their own languages, including languages with a coherent organization, defined vocabulary, and syntax, although they do not always communicate meaning that is comprehensible to humans. For example, scientists from OpenAI describe bots learning to talk in an abstract language and resorting to non-verbal communication when language communication is unavailable.

University of Pennsylvania professor Mark Liberman doubts the Facebook bots' language will have longevity — partly because it is completely textual as opposed to human language's basis in speech and gestures, and partly because they will likely be outdated by future machine-learning algorithms. ... " 

Scalable Data Unification

Have not read yet, but starts at some of the right issues.

The Seven Tenets of Scalable Data Unification
by Michael Stonebraker, Chief Technology Officer, Tamr Inc.

Executive Summary

This paper defines the concept and process of data unification and compares different technical approaches to achieving the desired end-state of clean, accurate, consolidated data sets. It then proposes seven tenets that must be considered by data management practitioners who seek to unify large volumes and varieties of data. .... " 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Theory of Agile Constraints

Newly discovered in InfoQ:

Evan Leybourn of IBM on the Theory of Agile Constraints ... 
Business Agility in general   ..... 

He defines (full interview at the link): 

I wrote about this in my article on, and with apologies to Eliyahu Goldratt, “Evan’s Theory of Agile Constraints”.
"An organisation can only be as agile as it's least agile division!"   ... 

Very basically, the Theory of Constraints is that there is a constraining factor in any process. More importantly, that there will always be a constraining factor. The Theory of Agile Constraints is that, in an organisation, there will always be a constraint to business agility. 20 years ago, that was IT. That was your software team. And that’s why it was logical for Agile, capital “A” Agile, to emerge in that domain. Today the constraint to agility isn’t IT, but rather it’s the PMO, HR, finance, or legal department.   .... " 

Turing Award at 50

Twitter Stream from ACM's 'Turing Award at 50' meeting this week.  Watched small part of it, inspirational and am glad to see it will be made available on going, details at the link.

ACM Marks 50 Years of the ACM A.M. Turing Award and Computing's Greatest Achievements

Since its inauguration in 1966, the ACM A. M. Turing Award has recognized major contributions of lasting importance in computing. Through the years, it has become the most prestigious technical award in the field, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of computing.”

During the next several months, ACM will celebrate 50 years of the Turing Award and the visionaries who have received it. Our aim is to highlight the significant impact of the contributions of the Turing Laureates on computing and society, to look ahead to the future of technology and innovation, and to help inspire the next generation of computer scientists to invent and dream.

ACM’s Celebration of 50 Years of the ACM Turing Award will be livestreamed during the event on June 23 – 24, and available for viewing on demand afterwards. ... "  

Saturday, June 24, 2017

New Origami Folding Algorithm

A favorite and surprisingly useful topic.  Heard of this being developed.  'Any structure' is an interesting statement,  but will the folding itself be usefully practical?   Even so a remarkable result.

New Algorithm Generates Folding Patterns to Produce Any 3-D Origami Structure   By TechXplore 

In a 1999 paper, Erik Demaine—now an MIT professor of electrical engineering and computer science, but then an 18-year-old PhD student at the University of Waterloo, in Canada—described an algorithm that could determine how to fold a piece of paper into any conceivable 3-D shape.

It was a milestone paper in the field of computational origami, but the algorithm didn't yield very practical folding patterns. Essentially, it took a very long strip of paper and wound it into the desired shape. The resulting structures tended to have lots of seams where the strip doubled back on itself, so they weren't very sturdy.

At the Symposium on Computational Geometry in July, Demaine and Tomohiro Tachi of the University of Tokyo will announce the completion of a quest that began with that 1999 paper: a universal algorithm for folding origami shapes that guarantees a minimum number of seams. .... " 

Snap Getting Better Store Sale Measures

Snap acquires Placed to better measure in-app ads to in-store sales
Placed is able to attribute brand’s digital, TV and out-of-home campaigns to store visits and in-store sales.
Tim Peterson on June 5, 2017 at 9:10 pm
Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, has acquired location analytics firm Placed, a company spokesperson said on Monday, confirming a GeekWire report published earlier in the day.

The spokesperson declined to say how much Snap paid for Placed — Bloomberg reported the price to be $125 million — but it’s easy to see how buying Placed — which measures store visits and offline revenue generated by digital, TV and out-of-home ads — could pay off for Snap.

Advertisers like Procter & Gamble and Unilever are pressuring digital ad sellers like Google, Facebook and Snapchat to prove that the money brands spend on ads results in people spending money on the brands’ products. As a result, Google, Facebook and Snapchat have stepped up their measurement capabilities, especially when it comes to measuring if a digital ad led to a real-world purchase. .... " 

Getting Direct to Consumer Right

From CustomerThink, detailed piece on how Gillette is doing direct to consumer, followiing un a number of moves to deliver quality razor blades with new pricing and replenishment models.
Gillette Shows How to Get It Right When Going Direct to Consumer (DTC).  Will continue to see new approaches  like this.

Procter Captures Flying Insects

Not a thing normally in their space.  No IOT dimension indicated.

Procter & Gamble Introduces Zevo™ Flying Insect Trap for 24/7 Flying Insect Protection in Your Home without Chemical Insecticides

Business Wire Business WireJune 20, 2017

As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports the ending of the United States’ 8th warmest and 11th wettest spring on record, entomologists are predicting the beginning of an increase in flying insects this summer for homes across most of the country. To combat the nuisance of these insects, Procter & Gamble (PG) has made limited quantities of Zevo™ available to US consumers. Zevo™ is a new in-home insect control product that continuously eliminates flying insects without chemical insecticides.    .... " 

This Smart News Release features multimedia. View the full release here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170620006063/en/

SiriusXM Now Streams on Amazon Echo

Full subscriptions or streaming individual shows from SiriusXM are now accessible via voice on Echo.  Trial subscriptions available.

Shopping with AR

What the best way to shop using Augmented Reality?   Apple and IKEA team up.  Planning for the advanced AR capabilities in future I-Phones.

Apple Team Up With IKEA To Create AR Shopping App

Apple users will soon be able to see what furniture from IKEA fits their home using augmented reality.   By Rebecca Hills-Duty in VRFocus:

Apple have begun making a push towards augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology recently. With news that SteamVR would be supporting Mac platforms, and the iPhone 8 expected to have advanced AR capabilities, Apple have teamed with well-know furniture store IKEA to create an AR shopping app to show off some of Apple’s new focus.

The app is designed to help customers in choosing what kind of furniture and accessories they wish to buy for their home. By using an iPhone camera to view the customer’s home, and overlaying the image of the furniture in question over the top, it is possible to get an impression of what the sofa, or table or lamp would like like when placed in the home, allowing customers to make more informed buying decisions. .... "

Google to Stop Reading Your Email for Targeting

Somewhat surprised at this.  Probably the most obvious thing, after search,  that Google does that is the base of much of its considerable revenue.  It has been often criticized.  At the same time so much indicative data has been gathered on us by now, and other behavior, like search is still being tracked to note and maintain our knowledge graphs.   May be no additional value to continue to do it.  Or perhaps Google has discovered it can infer it from its AI?

Google Will Stop Reading Your Email to Target Ads  In Extremetech
One of Google’s most controversial practices over the years has been the automated scanning of email contents. Google used that data to target ads inside Gmail, which it places at the top of the list in your social and promotions tabs. Google now says it will end the practice of targeting ads based on email text, but the decision was not made by the Gmail or advertising teams. It comes from Google’s cloud unit, which is responsible for selling G Suite business subscriptions. ....  " 

Also from Adage.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Watching How the Giants Buy AI

Below reminds me of our own attempts to buy AI during the last explosion.  And we did, buying some considerable equity positions.  Of course the scale was far less than Google's acquisitions.   Ultimately these investments lost money.   Still, it was the way then , as it is now, to understand what had real value in the marketplace.  Also, specifically, what Algorithmia is doing, was brought up at the time as a good idea to establish. develop and market needed ideas.  Watching now.

Google’s secretive AI fund makes first public investment in Algorithmia   By Maria Deutscher

 In May, word leaked that Google has set up a venture capital fund run by engineers rather than professional investors and focused exclusively on backing artificial intelligence startups. The existence of the fund received official confirmation today after it was named as the lead contributor to a $10.5 million round into Seattle’s Algorithmia Inc.

The four-year-old startup is on a mission to ease the deployment and use of AI models. To that end, it offers two platforms aimed at reducing the massive amounts of manual work normally involved in the task.

The first is a marketplace through which researchers and developers can share their algorithms without the logistics of the delivery posing an obstacle. On the provider’s side, Algorithmia offers analytics features for monitoring model usage along with a monetization option geared towards submitters that wish to sell their algorithms on a commercial basis. These capabilities are joined by programming interface that enables buyers to embed solutions from the marketplace into their applications. Algorithmia runs models in the cloud to spare users the trouble of operating them on their own.  .... " 

Secret Algorithms and Rule of Law

Challenges posed in Technology Review.  Slightly different from what was posed in the 80s.   But unsolved.

Very broadly, if we don't know what an algorithm does,  how do we know that it obeys laws?   And in what context of data?

Sending people to jail because of the inexplicable, unchallengeable judgments of a secret computer program undermines our legal system.

Imaginary People

We are not far from generating very convincing faces of people.  Even making them dynamic.  And if you put these on humanoid robots?   Give them Generative AI?   In the Verge: 

" .... As we get better at making, faking, and manipulating human faces with machine learning, one thing is abundantly clear: things are going to get ~freaky~ fast.

Case in point: this online demo hosted (and, we presume, made) by web developer AlteredQualia. It combines two different research projects, both of which use neural networks. The first is DeepWarp, which alters where subjects in photographs are looking, and the second is a work in progress by Mike Tyka dubbed Portraits of Imaginary People. This does exactly what it says on the tin: feeding a generative neural network with a bunch of faces and getting it to create similar samples. .... "

Intelligent Edge Computing

HPE and GE Digital try to break IT/OT silos for intelligent edge computing   by R. Danes  

" ... an interview at HPE Discover in Las Vegas, Nevada, Anthony Rokis (pictured, right), vice president of software engineering, Predix, at GE Digital, agreed that the edge must get smarter to fulfill IoT’s promise.

GE and and HPE are converging on IoT edge and compute strategies, Rokis told John Furrier (@furrier) and Dave Vellante (@dvellante), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile live streaming studio ... " 

Home Furnishing

I examined some early attempts at using online methods for buying home furnishing, usually with online camera interaction.  The idea of selling furnishing online is reemerging.  How does the Browser-Buyer change occur?   Piece in Think with Google.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Value Delivery Modeling Language (VDML)

Brought to my attention again.   Should this be the place to start for any project that claims to generate value?  Even doing a simplified model can act as a prototype from which to build from.  To test prototypes with people and other systems.  We used other BPM methods, but these were not as focused as was necessary.  Has anyone done this?  Point me to some examples.  Reconsidering.

Has been used with Watson and other AI/Expert systems for Smart Service Systems

http://www.omg.org/spec/VDML/       Also search in GitHub  …

Value Delivery Modelling Language
Value Delivery Modeling Language (VDML) is a standard modeling language for analysis and design of the operation of an enterprise with particular focus on the creation and exchange of value.

In 2009, the Object Management Group (OMG) launched a Request for Proposal (RfP) to develop a standard for value modeling. The goal of this RfP is to integrate the different existing value models and give a complete overview of the business logic of an organisation. To reach this goal, the standard has to satisfy nine requirements .... "

Purpose, use, examples of VDML  VDMBee

Use in Cognitive Computing and Watson Discover.

IFTTT Public Access Data Project

Very nice idea from  IFTTT about giving access to public data across devices.  I am an active IFTTT user.  Plan to test with public data.

IFTTT's Data Access Project Seeks to make Public Data More Accessible  By Kyle Wiggers 
You might not be familiar with IFTTT (short for If This Then That), but chances are you have seen it in action. The web-based service acts as a middleman between apps and hardware that would not otherwise talk to each other. Using IFTTT, you can trigger a Philips Hue bulb to turn blue when it begins to rain or have Facebook sync your status with Slack. IFTTT makes linking devices easier with improved developer program. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

On Thursday, IFTTT announced the Data Access Project, a program that seeks to make public data from more than 35 federal and state agencies more accessible, manipulable, and shareable across devices.

It builds on the foundation of IFTTT’s partnerships with ProPublica and the city of Louisville, Kentuck, and IFTTT’s native integration with RSS feeds. Starting Thursday, it is flipping the switch on hundreds of public data sources across wide-ranging categories, including the Library of Congress, National Science Foundation, Energy Information Association, and more.  .... " 

Examples in TechCrunch

Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN)

Similar in type to 'generate and test' methods.
GAN network   Generative adversarial network    Imitative.
      for creating new things that are like another.


are a type of artificial intelligence algorithms used in unsupervised machine learning, implemented by a system of two neural networks competing against each other in a zero-sum game framework. They were first introduced by Ian Goodfellow et al. in 2014.[1]

This technique can generate photographs that look authentic to human observers.

 ..... One network is generative and one is discriminative.[1] Typically, the generative network is taught to map from a latent space to a particular data distribution of interest, and the discriminative network is simultaneously taught to discriminate between instances from the true data distribution and synthesized instances produced by the generator. The generative network's training objective is to increase the error rate of the discriminative network (i.e., "fool" the discriminator network by producing novel synthesized instances that appear to have come from the true data distribution). These models are used for computer vision tasks.[1][3]. ..... 

AI Combing Through Your Data

An approach we worked on.   A kind of dynamic data mining approach.  Find the best leverage, estimate value.   Look for new combinations of data and analytic value.   The computing power is here now.

AI Can Comb Through Your Data to Create More Compelling Customer Experiences
by Blake Morgan in the HBR

The world has more data than ever before. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2020, we’ll produce 44 zettabytes every day. That’s equal to 44 trillion gigabytes. One gigabyte can hold the contents of enough books to cover a 30-foot-long shelf. Multiply that by 44 trillion. That’s a lot of data — too much for most companies to process. And yet front-line employees are still often left operating with data that’s “too little, too late.”

Most organizations are challenged to extract meaningful insights from their customer data when they’re drowning in so many data feeds. Data is not always shared efficiently. Many of the world’s biggest companies operate in silos — for example, their customer service and sales departments do not share a customer relationship management (CRM) database, and employees don’t collaborate around the customer to ensure a powerful customer experience. More often than not, employees in one department don’t even know the employees in other departments, let alone use data that spans the organization. This often results in wildly inconsistent customer experiences that make companies look disconnected and unfocused.

Organizations need to create easy and elegant customer experiences; how can they overcome their data challenges to satisfy increasingly fickle customers? ....

Machine learning offers one solution, if organizations can overcome their silos enough to implement it correctly. Each new customer action feeds back into the analytics engine, which helps inform the next best steps for a positive customer experience. For example, if a customer indicates through her online browsing habits that she’d prefer an Android phone instead of an iPhone, she’ll immediately start seeing an Android upgrade offer the next time she goes on Facebook.

Granted, some customers find it a bit creepy that brands can make their way into personal social media feeds in this way, so it’s important to make it easy for customers to opt out of social media targeting. However, companies can earn customers’ trust simply by being relevant and providing value. Just like in any relationship, a business can earn trust and loyalty by being a good listener and being there for the customer at a point of need. By leveraging automated analytics, customer interactions can fuel a continuous feedback loop that adapts in real time to add value at every touch point. .... "

Update on Kuri Robot

An update on the Kuri in home traveling 'friendly' robot  by Mayfield, and camera.   Says it can learn a space.  Now at 1080p.   Now can distinguish between dogs and people. Still, I think overpriced at $699 for the average home, smart or not. Indications it will be out by fall.  Had thought this might be best positioned as a security tool that can move to motion or noise.  No indication about how it can might be upgraded with skills or linked to databases.

Kuri home robot can tell your pets from people
The cute bot's camera 'eye' is also getting a 1080p upgrade .... 
By Jon Fingas, @jonfingas  in Engadget.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Teaching Cognitive Computing

" .... This a reminder about our Cognitive Systems Institute Speaker Series, on Thursday, June 22, 2016 at 10:30 am ET US (7:30 am PT).  Our speaker is Ralph Badinelli from Virginia Tech, who will be presenting "Teaching Cognitive Computing with IBM Watson."

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 here for 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

KD Nuggets Observer

Newly brought to my attention.  Easy to scan.  News and updates.

The KDnuggets Observer
What's Interesting in Data Science and Machine Learning ...

Amazon Dash Wand with Alexa

Another way to scan, talk, ask, buy  as part of a commercial process in your own home.  Link to extensive recipe system.   Includes the Alexa voice engine.  Performs other smart home functions by voice.  (but no music, and more oddly, no timers) The Amazon Dash Wand.  Yet another commercial and semi-ambient idea offered by Amazon.   Feed shopping list or order a delivery directly. Will Amazon ever stop with new AI based smart home ideas?   $20 cost refunded with purchase.  Demo Video:

Microsoft and AI

During the last AI go around, we worked with Microsoft.  They were a natural partner, because they were also providing all the fundamental things to get work done.  And get it done more intelligently.   We were early experimenters with advisory systems like 'Paperclip', a form of Ambient computing.

Then they did seem to fade. And Apple, IBM, Google and even Amazon have taken over.    Is Microsoft coming back?  How and what parts should we pay attention to?   How should we use them? Integrate their methods with our own developments?   And use their data and communications integrations like Linkedin, Skype and Cortana?

Inside Microrosft's AI Comeback  Jessi Hempel in Wired:

" ... Yes, Microsoft. His bet is that the former kingdom of Windows alone has the capability to establish itself as AI’s third giant. It's a company that has the resources, the data, the talent, and—most critically—the vision and culture to not only realize the spoils of the science, but also push the field forward. In January, in a move noted throughout the industry, Bengio agreed to be a strategic advisor to the company. This gives Microsoft a direct line to one of AI’s top resources for ideas, talent, and direction. And it’s a strong sign that Microsoft actually has a shot at making the ruling AI duo into a trio. ... " 

2D Materials

The super materials that could trump graphene
A wave of innovative flat materials is following in the wake of graphene — but the most exciting applications could come from stacking them into 3D devices. ...    by Elizabeth Gibney

Physicists have used almost every superlative they can think of to describe graphene. This gossamer, one-atom-thick sheet of carbon is flexible, transparent, stronger than steel, more conductive than copper and so thin that it is effectively two-dimensional (2D). No sooner was it isolated in 2004 than it became an obsession for researchers around the world. .... " 

Even 2D Magnets. ...

Decision Makers or Data Clerks?

Having had more interactions with physicians in later life, I see this all the time.   Seems they spend half their time looking for data and refilling the printer paper.

Culture and Technology
By Ajai Kapoor     Partner at Goldratt Consulting

"We've turned physicians into data entry clerks     - Representative (Dr) Tom Price ...... 

Anybody who has spent time with business hears a form of Dr Price's complaint from lawyers, engineers, sales professionals or supervisors. On the other hand it is not unusual for managers to be blind to what is happening while drowning in oceans of data. Projects are way late right after everybody thought things were on track; production orders miss delivery and need last minute expediting; inventory is missing or in surplus despite the ability to see down to the SKU level at the last retail location; getting a fully loaded laptop to a new employee can take 1 month; company data is stolen all the time despite best efforts. What gives?  .... "

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

PC as a Deep Learning Machine

Interesting direction. Applicability to real world problem?

Google can turn an ordinary PC into a deep learning machine
You can speed up AI training without having to use a supercomputer. ...."
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas .... "

Embedding AI in the Enterprise

Steps in getting AI in the enterprise.  In Forbes. " ... In the context of contemporary applications, it's hard to think of an application that doesn't use a database. From mobile to web to the desktop, every modern application relies on some form of a database. Some apps use flat files while others rely on in-memory or NoSQL databases. Traditional enterprise applications interact with large database clusters running Microsoft SQL, Oracle or DB2. Irrespective of the kind of database, the fact is that every app needs it. ....      Like databases, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is moving towards becoming a core component of modern applications. In the coming months, almost every application that we use will depend on some form of AI. .... Artificial Intelligence is all set to become the new database for the next generation applications. ... " 

AI Can Take Your Job

'All' is a very inclusive word.

AI may take your job - in 120 years
A global survey of experts in machine learning suggests it will be 120 years before all human jobs are automated.

In 45 years' time, though, half of jobs currently filled by humans will have been taken over by an artificial intelligence system, results indicate.   The report, When will AI exceed human performance?, says AI will reshape transport, health, science and finance.

The study was compiled by the Future of Humanity Institute (FHI), at the University of Oxford.

It asked three keys questions about AI:

How will high-level machine intelligence affect economic growth?
What are the chances this will lead to extreme outcomes?
What should be done to help ensure AI progress is beneficial? .... " 

Microsoft and Accenture Build Blockchain Platform

Microsoft and Accenture team up to build a blockchain-based global ID platform  By Duncan Riley

Microsoft Corp. has teamed up with management consulting firm Accenture PLC to design a blockchain-based platform that provides identification services to people worldwide. .... 

Robotics Acquisitions

In IEEE Spectrum.  Robotics continue to advance.

SoftBank Acquires Boston Dynamics and Schaft
By Erico Guizzo and Evan Ackerman

SoftBank's massive robot collection now includes Pepper, Boston Dynamics' BigDog and Handle, Schaft's S-One, and many more.

We knew that Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of telecom giant SoftBank, loved robots. Now the Japanese billionaire is about to significantly expand his collection.

Minutes ago, SoftBank announced that it will be acquiring Boston Dynamics and Schaft from Google parent Alphabet for an undisclosed sum, in order to “collaborate in advancing the development of smart robotics technologies.”

Boston Dynamics and Schaft were two of the nine robot companies that Google bought in 2013 to form the core of its robotics division, headed by Android founder Andy Rubin. As far as anyone could tell, not much happened after all those companies became part of Google, and not much continued to happen through 2016, much to the frustration of roboticists everywhere.

Boston Dynamics, led by legendary robot builder Marc Raibert, just kept on doing its own awesome thing, unveiling ever more agile and capable quadrupeds and humanoids, and Schaft, founded by a team of University of Tokyo engineers, quietly improved its bipedal robots, with a surprise sneak peak at a new dual-legged machine last April. .... " 

Figure Eight (Formerly Crowdflower) with AI Augmentation

We spent considerable time using crowd sourcing techniques, and now follow some of the methods of Crowdflower.  Could have used the methods in the enterprise.   In SiliconAngle:

Crowdflower is Now renamed:  Figure Eight https://www.figure-eight.com/  

AI-augmented crowdsourcing company CrowdFlower raises $20M for enterprise push  by Kyt Dotson

" ....  People power and machine learning go hand in hand at San Francisco-based CrowdFlower, which uses data and training from large groups of people – a practice known as crowdsourcing – to train machine learning algorithms to do tedious data science work.

Robin Bordoli, chief executive at CrowdFlower, believes that AI applications within the enterprise is on the verge of a “Cambrian explosion.” This is a reference to a point in the biological history of life on Earth when a huge variety of different body designs begin to appear in the fossil record. In short, “living thing” applications began to try out a lot of different ideas.

With CrowdFlower’s approach to crowdsourcing AI training, Bordoli said, enterprise data science could find its killer app. “The bottleneck for the large-scale adoption of machine learning still remains the availability of high-quality training data and human-in-the-loop workflows to handle the failure states,” he said.

The crowdsourced labor works by applying simple tasks to individual workers, such as transcribing text seen in an image, determining the sentiment of a sentence, statement or forum post, annotating images and other work that humans do well. These are processes that can be broken down into thousands of small tasks, and each individual task is executed by a small group of people. .... " 

Indoor Smart Garden

I am a long time gardener, nursery planner and amateur botanist,  and a practitioner of 'smart', so this was intriguing.   Seems impractical for any reasonable and useful volume of results.   Still,  makes me think about what might work.

Indoor Smart Garden uses Artificial Intelligence to Grow Real Plants   By Lulu Chang 

No one will know if you lack a green thumb so long as you have a smart garden. No matter how agriculturally dumb you may be, artificial intelligence is here to help. It comes in the form of AVA Byte from AVA Technologies. Heralded as the first indoor smart garden to combine AI technology, including machine learning, and a straightforward user experience, you can have a farmer’s market right in your own home.

By leveraging “continuously optimized” algorithms, the AVA Byte purports to be able to sustain year-round plant cultivation. Whether you’re interested in growing vegetables, micro-greens, fruits, or even mushrooms (apparently, AVA is among the first indoor gardening device to offer fungus support), you can do it with this garden.

The AVA Byte depends on LED lights that emit a mixture of red, white, and blue light to encourage growth, fruiting, and flowering regardless of your home environment. Its hydroponic irrigation system allows you to water every few weeks instead of every few days, and a companion app will keep you updated on your plants’ progress. .... " 

Bot Asks Questions to Test Understanding

Bots test understanding by questioning.  

" ... In New Scientist By Matthew Reynolds   

Inquisitive artificial intelligence that asks questions about things it reads could be used to quiz students in class. The question-asking ability would also help chatbots with the back and forth of human conversation.

AI is usually on the receiving end of queries, says Xinya Du at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Du and his colleagues have turned the tables by building a system that has learned to ask questions of its own.

This is something that people have been wanting to do for a long time, says Karen Mazidi at the University of Dallas in Texas. Previous attempts by other people using hand-coded rules haven’t been particularly successful.

The machine-learning algorithm can read a passage of text and come up with the kind of questions you might ask to check someone’s understanding of a topic. Du’s team used a neural network – software that loosely mimics the structure of the brain – and trained it on more than 500 Wikipedia articles and 100,000 questions about those articles sourced from crowdworkers. For example, a sentence about different types of crop grown in Africa might be paired with the question “What is grown in the fertile highlands?” ... ' 

Monday, June 19, 2017

What Will Smart Mean?

Bottom line, its about how well you can augment yourself.  A form of innovation.   In the HBR, via Accenture:

In the AI Age, “Being Smart” Will Mean Something Completely Different   by Ed Hess

Andrew Ng has likened artificial intelligence (AI) to electricity in that it will be as transformative for us as electricity was for our ancestors. I can only guess that electricity was mystifying, scary, and even shocking to them — just as AI will be to many of us. Credible scientists and research firms have predicted that the likely automation of service sectors and professional jobs in the United States will be more than 10 times as large as the number of manufacturing jobs automated to date. That possibility is mind-boggling.

So, what can we do to prepare for the new world of work? Because AI will be a far more formidable competitor than any human, we will be in a frantic race to stay relevant. That will require us to take our cognitive and emotional skills to a much higher level.

Analytics are critical to companies’ performance.
Many experts believe that human beings will still be needed to do the jobs that require higher-order critical, creative, and innovative thinking and the jobs that require high emotional engagement to meet the needs of other human beings. The challenge for many of us is that we do not excel at those skills because of our natural cognitive and emotional proclivities: We are confirmation-seeking thinkers and ego-affirmation-seeking defensive reasoners. We will need to overcome those proclivities in order to take our thinking, listening, relating, and collaborating skills to a much higher level.  .... '

Being Charismatic on a Conference Call

Sounds useful.

On a Conference Call, You Have to Act Charismatic (Even If You're Not). Here's How
By treating your conference calls as performances, you can make them not just bearable (though that would be great), but actually enjoyable and productive. .... "
By Cathy Salit    Founder and CEO, Performance of a Lifetime. in Inc.

Anti Showrooming Patent

Wondering various aspects of this.

In ChainStore Age, requires registration.

Amazon granted anti-showrooming patent
Despite the many sales that showrooming has afforded Amazon over the years, the retailer surely doesn't want to become a victim going forward. ... " 

(UpDate) More in Retailwire on this Amazon Patent, with discussion.

Cortana Price Comparisions

Would have thought that Amazon would have tried this as well.  Ideal idea for an assistant.  I note that it works only on Windows 10,  on the not commonly used Edge Browser,  not on common mobile devices at this time.   So quite a few restrictions.

Cortana can now do price comparisons when you’re shopping online

Posted by Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa)

Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana will now be able to save you money when you’re shopping online. The company announced today that it will begin a pilot test of a new Cortana feature that will pop up the best price and availability of similar products, when you’re shopping the websites of over a dozen top retailers in the U.S., including Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Best Buy, Home Depot, and others.

The savings feature will only work when you’re shopping online using Microsoft’s Edge web browser, and have the Windows 10 Creators Update installed. ...."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Reasoning About the World

DeepMind’s neural network teaches AI to reason about the world   By Matt Reynolds

THE world is a confusing place, especially for an AI. But a neural network developed by UK artificial intelligence firm DeepMind could help bring it into focus by giving computers the ability to understand how different objects are related to each other.

Humans use this type of inference – called relational reasoning – all the time, whether we are choosing the best bunch of bananas at the supermarket or piecing together evidence from a crime scene. The ability to transfer abstract relations – such as whether something is to the left of another object or bigger than it – from one domain to another gives us a powerful mental toolkit with which to understand the world. It is a fundamental part of our intelligence, says Sam Gershman, a computational neuroscientist at Harvard University.

What’s intuitive for humans is very difficult for machines to grasp, however. It is one thing for an AI to learn how to perform a specific task, such as recognising what’s in an image. But transferring know-how learned via image recognition is a big challenge. Machines capable of such versatility will be one step closer to general intelligence, the kind that lets humans excel at so many activities.... "

Saturday, June 17, 2017

GE and BlockChain to Provide Predix Solutions

As energy markets change, GE, blockchain hope to provide economic solutions
New additions to the Predix platform are targeted at energy traders and grid managers.  By Megan Guess

Energy traders are a less visible part of the market compared to retail and wholesale power suppliers. They exist in certain markets to bid on the constantly fluctuating price of electricity, which is useful for owners of power-generating plants to help, for example, lock in a price for electricity in the day ahead.

As more and more renewable energy comes onto the grid, energy traders, utilities, and power-generating companies have to grapple with a much more complex electricity market. Intermittent resources like wind and solar will be sold at certain times of the day, and fossil fuel-based power will be sold at other times of the day. Because some larger fossil fuel-based plants can’t just shut off at a moment’s notice and many renewable sources depend on weather, balancing supply and demand is an increasingly complicated issue. That balance is further complicated by how most markets don’t have vast energy storage resources to draw on, and electricity has to be consumed as soon as it’s made. ... " 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Implications of Amazon Buying Wholefoods

Discussion in Retailwire:

Amazon Jeff Bezos John Mackey Mergers/Acquisitions Online Retail Supermarkets Whole Foods Market     by George Anderson

It seems like just yesterday — actually, it was just yesterday — that reports were published saying John Mackey had called the people behind Jana Partners, a hedge fund with a nine percent stake in Whole Foods, “greedy bastards” intent on ruining his reputation and forcing a sale of the company he co-founded to make a quick profit. As it turns out, it appears Mr. Mackey and the “bastards” have both won after it was announced this morning that Amazon.com was acquiring Whole Foods in a deal valued at $13.7 billion.

Whole Foods will continue to operate its business under its own banner and Mr. Mackey will remain as CEO of the company. Whole Foods’ headquarters will remain in Austin, TX.

“Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, in a statement announcing the deal. “Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades — they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.” ... ' 

And in the Bain&Company:
The Amazon–Whole Foods Deal Means Every Other Retailer’s Three-Year Plan Is Obsolete

by Darrell K. Rigby

Utilizing the Data Lake

Clearly, use the data you already have.   All business assumes valid prediction.   How good the prediction is, for a given business model. is key.

Drowning in the data lake, companies seek out predictive analytics tools  by Mark Albertson

Interview with Arun Murthy:  (At the link above)

 “One of the best ways to get value out of the data is this notion of predicting what is going to happen in your world, with your customers and with the data you already have,” said Arun Murthy founder and vice president of engineering at Hortonworks Inc.

Murthy visited theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s mobile live-streaming studio, and answered questions from hosts Lisa Martin (@Luccazara) and George Gilbert (@ggilbert41) during DataWorks Summit in San Jose, California. They discussed how clients who are using Hortonworks are able to meet data management challenges and add value at the same time.  .... "

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Procter Patents Smart Home System

In BizJournals.com  You don't often think of a CPG company innovating in this space.   See other posts here on reordering systems.

P&G invents smart home system ... 
Procter & Gamble Co. has patented a method of forming a wireless network of connected consumer devices within a smart home, which could include products such as an air freshener dispenser that could detect when the reservoir of fluid was low and automatically reorder more  .... "

Full article, requires subscription. 

Also in Fortune on patent.   
" ... Home network of connected consumer devices ... "
Patent Description.

More on P&G and the Smart Home.

The Thread Networking Protocol.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wheel of Retailing?

Admit I had not heard the term 'Wheel of Retailing'.   HBS talks this.  I will include the explanation, more at the link below.  Comments also interesting at link.  Implications for Amazon v Wal-Mart?

In HBS Working Knowledge.

Can Amazon Do What Walmart Couldn’t, Stop the 'Wheel of Retailing'?
Walmart couldn't do it. Now it's Amazon's turn to break the theory of the "wheel of retailing." Can Amazon succeed? Is the wheel model even a helpful concept anymore? asks James Heskett. .... 

" ... The wheel of retailing was first described by Malcolm McNair, a distinguished faculty member at HBS beginning in 1920 who, after completing work in Shakespeare and English, became fascinated with the retailing field. In 1958, he described what was happening in the world of retail after the Second World War.

He observed that new retailing concepts typically begin with low-price strategies with the goal of attracting customers. As the number of customers and the volume of sales increase, the retailer gains a dominant position in the market. The goal gradually shifts from attracting more customers to increasing prices and margins in order to achieve higher profits. That subjects retailers to new competition from low-priced, low-service startups, thus spinning the wheel of retailing again.

The concept fell out of favor with the ascendancy of big box retailers, especially Walmart. Walmart gained such a dominant share, driving so many higher-priced, higher-margin competitors out of business, that it was believed that the only limit on the company’s growth and profit was the size of the global retail market itself. No competitors could successfully undercut such a retail phenomenon. The wheel of retailing had been stopped!   .... " 

Extracting Tagging Data from Imagery

An example of how advanced deep learning methods can be used to extract information from image data.   The image data is already captured and stored.  And its dynamic.   Could also be used with other imagery, like from store shelf images.   Note the common existence of noise in such recordings.  Also the integrated normalization included in the tagging.  Thinking other possibilities.  

Enhancing Google Maps with Deep Learning and Street View  by Srini Penchikala
" ... The deep learning model also automatically labels new Street View imagery, normalizes the text to be consistent with the naming conventions and ignores extraneous text that's not relevant for the data analytics. This allows the team to create new addresses directly from images without even knowing the name of the street or the location of the addresses. For example, when a Street View car drives on a newly built road, the model can analyze the captured images, extract the street names and numbers, and properly create and locate the new addresses automatically on Google Maps. .... " 

Furniture Creates Activity Goals

We worked with Herman Miller on testing advanced furniture. This seems like the simplest idea for office furniture.  If you still spend most of your time in the office.

Herman Miller debuts new smart office furniture that sets activity goals
Like a Fitbit for your desk  by Dani Deahl  @danideahl

Also in Wired:  The Maker of the Most Iconic Chair Wants You to Stand Up.

Eye Tracking and Virtual Reality

More developments in the use of biometric capabilities to better understand human reactions.  Its natural to think about how VR methods technology could be linked to these.  This then points to better measurement of cognitive reactions.   The reactions are to virtual environments, which can be readily changed to test hypotheses.

Sensor Tracks Eye Movements in Real Time to Enhance Virtual Reality

The Engineer (United Kingdom)    by Helen Knight

A team of researchers from Belgium and the Netherlands has developed a sensor that can detect eye movements in real time using an array of electrodes. The researchers say the technology could enable videogamers to interact with the screen by controlling cursors with their eyes to navigate through menus and select different options, or to open and close applications. In addition, the technology could provide feedback to the game on how the user is reacting to their virtual surroundings, according to Carlos Agell at the Belgium-based IMEC innovation center. The team developed a system based on four electrodes, which are built into the glasses around each lens, at points where the frames touch the skin in order to collect electrical impulses emitted by the eye. Agell says the algorithm translates the signals into a position, based on the angle the eye is making with its central point of vision. ... " 

Consumer Stories for Digital Marketing

Seems obvious, but the details of how and why in the research may be interesting.  Sign in for complete article access.

The Power of Consumer Stories in Digital Marketing
Research Highlight May 18, 2017   
Renée Richardson Gosline, Jeffrey Lee, and Glen Urban

New research finds that sharing consumers’ positive stories about a brand can be a highly effective online marketing strategy. .... "

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Mathematical Corporation

Have not read yet, but brought to my attention because of the title.  We considered our large enterprise a mathematical corporation, powered by the mathematics of analytics.   Driven by intelligence of AI.   Linked to the ingenuity of operational managers.

The Mathematical Corporation: Where Machine Intelligence and Human Ingenuity Achieve the Impossible,   Hardcover – June 6, 2017
by Josh Sullivan, Angela Zutavern 

Their words: 

The most powerful weapon in business today is the alliance between the mathematical smarts of machines and the imaginative human intellect of great leaders. Together they make the mathematical corporation, the business model of the future.

We are at a once-in-a-decade breaking point similar to the quality revolution of the 1980s and the dawn of the internet age in the 1990s: leaders must transform how they run their organizations, or competitors will bring them crashing to earth--often overnight. ... " 

Sky Robots

Sky Robots

From the HBR ... 

If you have a robotic vacuum, thank Helen Greiner, a cofounder of iRobot. And Greiner has moved on to think about what it would mean if that robotic vacuum could fly. After leaving iRobot, she founded CyPhy Works, a drone company. One of its first products was a tethered drone—one that’s connected to a ground power source and can transmit data across wire constantly. Tethered drones can hover indefinitely, and their hardwire connection makes them more secure than free-flying drones, which transmit data wirelessly. A tether limits a drone’s range but opens up a host of apps that the untethered type are less suited to. HBR senior editor Scott Berinato spoke with Greiner about those apps, the emergence of commercial drones, where she sees the industry going, and why she can’t think of any industry whose leaders don’t need to think about a drone strategy. .... " 

Smart Homes Reprogramming You

Have seen bit of this in my own tests, but not to the extent it implies.

Your smart home is trying to reprogram you
 Murray Goulden  Research Fellow, University of Nottingham

A father finds out his daughter is pregnant after algorithms identify tell-tale patterns in the family’s store card data. Police charge suspects in two separate murder cases based on evidence taken from a Fitbit tracker and a smart water meter. A man sues Uber for revealing his affair to his wife.

Stories such as these have been appearing in ever greater numbers recently, as the technologies involved become ever more integrated into our lives. They form part of the Internet of Things (IoT), the embedding of sensors and internet connections into the fabric of the world around us. Over the last year, these technologies, led by Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home, have begun to make their presence felt in our domestic lives, in the form of smart home devices that allow us to control everything in the house just by speaking.

We might look at stories like those above as isolated technical errors, or fortuitous occurrences serving up justice. But behind them, something much bigger is going on: the development of an entire class of technologies seeking to remake the fundamentals of our everyday lives.  ... "