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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Problems of AI ethics

This is certainly true in the short term.    A presentation.

The real project of AI ethics  in O'Reilly.

Joanna Bryson says AI's main threat is not that it will do anything to us, but that we'll use it to predict and manipulate our behaviors.

By Joanna Bryson  

Relaunching Google Glass

A historical view of why something like Google Glass,  emerged and failed, but is said to about to rise again.  We folloswed it for several business applications. With new players like Amazon rumored to enter the field.  Why? And how can we learn from this? And how different is it from VR and AR Hype?

The Unexpected Rebirth of Google Glass   In ProductHabits

Few products in tech have drawn as much ridicule or outright laughter as Google Glass. But that wasn’t always the case. Back in 2012, Sergey Brin showed off a prototype of Glass at Google’s I/O conference:

A screen behind Brin projected a live stream chat between Brin and two Google engineers in a plane. Suddenly, one of them jumps out of the plane, parachuting onto the roof of the stadium where the audience is sitting. The entire event is broadcast live through the Google Glass he’s wearing. ... Glass elicited an awe-inspiring response at the conference and in the press—at least initially. People were excited about it because, like the recently announced Apple Watch Series 3, it promised them a new, post-mobile way of communicating.

The tide began to turn after the Google Glass pre-release in 2013. Beyond the planned stunt, there was little that hinted at a real use case, let alone ecosystem, behind the new product. And the bad PR mounted.

Headlines like “Google Glass getting to grips with ‘geek aesthetics,’” “Google Glass will make you manly, says Sergey Brin,” and “Google Glass is always listening, assuming you have a hack” emerged to disdain. Robert Scoble famously wore them in the shower. By 2015, no one wanted to be seen wearing a pair.

But, Google Glass is about to relaunch this year—and that begs a few questions:

Given its potential and technology, why wasn’t Glass the spectacular success many expected it to be the first time around?   Why did it fail so dramatically?

What made Google decide to relaunch the product, and what are they doing differently this time around?

Let’s dive deeper into the hype, death, and rebirth of Google Glass.  .... "

Voice Brewing Your Coffee

We were into the coffee business for a long time.  Blending, roasting, brewing, marketing and selling. Even using AI to find the best blends.   So the idea would have been fun and even useful in our labs to stage tests.  I am not enough of a coffee fiend to find this a generally useful  part of the smart home. But historically recall that 'smart' coffee pots were some of the earliest IoT ideas added to the Web.  Below is compatible with GHome and Alexa.

Smarter Coffee Brews your Java with Voice Commands
By Karl Utermohlen  ....  In DigitalTrends. .... 

A Rival to Wikipedia?

But Elsevier is a walled garden, and this approach will not be publicly edited.  The power of Wikipedia is the breadth of coverage.   And as the article suggests, you can't scrape Elsevier texts to do the same thing.

Elsevier Launching Rival To Wikipedia By Extracting Scientific Definitions Automatically From Authors' Texts   s likely to undermine open access alternatives by providing Wikipedia-like definitions generated automatically from texts it publishes. As an article on the Times Higher Education site explains, the aim is to stop users of the publishing giant's ScienceDirect platform from leaving Elsevier's walled garden and visiting sites like Wikipedia in order to look up definitions of key terms  ..... " 

Friday, September 29, 2017

MIT Origami Robotics

The concept is a long time follow.

MIT Origami Robot Transforms to Become a Boat, a Glider, or a Wheel.    By Luke Dormeh

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) are making our geeky childhood dreams come true by building real-life Transformers-style robots. No, their creations don’t physically resemble Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and the gang, but they possess something much better: A shape-shifting ability that allows the cuboid bot to smoothly transform between different forms of locomotion, depending on what task it needs to carry out. Dubbed “Primer,” the robot uses sheets of smart material which fold into specific shapes when controlled by magnets — to allow the robot to walk, roll, sail, and glide.

“We’ve developed a system of fabricating robots that lets you have a simple robotic body that you can add special accessories to, which give it the ability to do a wide range of tasks,” Dr. Shuhei Miyashita, a former postdoc at MIT CSAIL, who is now a lecturer at the University of York, told Digital Trends. “Specifically, the accessories are thin pieces of plastic that, when heated, fold themselves up into exoskeletons that allow the robot to walk, roll, and do other actions.”

Wal-Mart Move Against Amazon

When I ask people about using Jet, they rarely know what it is.  Interesting that Wal-Mart is trying to expand that brand.   Note the essentials emphasis.

Walmart is about to debut a new initiative to bolster its defenses against its biggest rival.   By Marianne Wilson in ChainstoreAge

Walmart is about to debut a new initiative to bolster its defenses against its biggest rival.

The discounter's Jet.com site is launching a higher-end private-label brand of household and grocery essentials. The new brand, called Uniquely J, will launch in the coming months with a curated selection of products that include such essentials as coffee, olive oil, laundry detergent, paper towels, and more. Additional items will be added.  

The new brand is designed for "metro Millennial consumers," said Meredith Klein, director of PR for Jet.com. It will feature custom-packaging illustrations by artists. .... "

Virtual Assistants and Multitasking

Thoughtful piece, needs to be considered in conversational dialog.

The Real Problem with Voice Assistants like Siri is your Brain    By Robbie Gonzalez in Wired

 " .... Interacting with a conversational interface might tempt you to do other things simultaneously, but just because your eyes are free doesn't mean your brain is. "Yes, you're doing other things at the same time, but there's a cost to that," Pashler says. A conversational interface spreads that cost out over time. "It’s competing for little moments of time, ideally when you have adequate free resources, but it will also gobble up resources when you need them for something else. And at times like that, it will probably diminish the thoughtfulness with which you do those other things."  .... '

Unilever CMO is Guest Editor at Think with Google

The article also includes a look at a number of technology areas of  prime interest to marketing.

Meet our guest editor, Keith Weed

In our ongoing effort to provide a window into what’s top-of-mind for industry game changers, we’re handing over the keys to Think with Google next week.

Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever, will be our guest editor for the week. His massive portfolio includes brands ranging from Axe and Dove to Ben & Jerry’s and Knorr.

What to expect? He’ll certainly take a look at hyper-empowered consumers and the best ways to reach them. He’ll also highlight some of the campaigns that are already getting it right. And he will share his own takeaways after making the rounds with other industry heavy-hitters at Advertising Week.

Until then, we thought we’d offer a few thought-starters of our own from this week. .... " 

Fashionable Contactless Payment

Interesting aspect, a sort of tagging, but with fashion it seems.

Timex's new watch collection includes contactless payment straps
Barclaycard's bPay contactless chips are hiding under the leather.  ....  " 

By Jamie Rigg, @jmerigg  in Engadget.

Graph Mining for AI Dialog

Google at KDD " 23rd ACM conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining " talking graph mining.  Ultimately a power idea for driving AI.   How close are we to drive intelligent dialog?   Its all about mining our own data, converting it to useful leverage.    Links to technical papers.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Candid vs Posed Photos


 So Long, Selfies: Why Candid Photos Make a Better Impression
Wharton's Jonah Berger discusses his research on posed photos vs. candid photos.
" .... In our increasingly digital society, a friend or colleague’s first impression of you is just as likely to come from a profile photo on a social media site as it is from an in-person meeting. While it’s tempting to display only images where every hair is in place, new research from Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger finds that people are more attracted to authenticity than perfection. In, “A Candid Advantage? The Social Benefits of Candid Photos,” Berger and co-author Alixandra Barasch of New York University compare audience reactions to posed vs. candid photos in online profiles. When observers viewed profiles that displayed unvarnished images — or those that seemed to be unvarnished — they reported feeling more connected to those people and more interested in getting to know them. Berger recently spoke to Knowledge@Wharton about the research and its implications for how individuals and companies present themselves.  ... " 

An edited transcript of the conversation follows..... 

Vans and Drones in a Network

This was new to me, quite an interesting case.  Bring on the Drones.

Switzerland’s new autonomous drone network just completed its first delivery Coffee anyone?   by Andrew J. Hawkins  @andyjayhawk  In theVerge

" ... Yesterday, an autonomous drone landed on the roof of a Mercedes-Benz van in Zurich, successfully completing the first delivery of Switzerland’s aerial logistics network. The drone’s package contained some delicious coffee from Swiss e-commerce startup Siroop. The delivery was coordinated by logistics company Matternet, which says it hopes to eventually deliver lab samples like blood tests and other diagnostics flown between hospital facilities, clinics, and labs — all via drone.  ... " 

Geospatial Services Everywhere

Continue to be amazed by the advances of geospatial capabilities.  Geography must be much easier to teach these days,  curiosity can be fed so easily with freely available Apps.   In the Google blog,  an article on the economic impact of geospatial services.  No reason not to be adept at geography and location these days, and now also good arguments for considering their economic impact

More AI Assistants

Yesterdays announcements by Amazon suggest that this statement is true:
Amazon Is All-Out to Fill Your Home With AI Assistants Before Its Competition Can.  More In Technology Review.   With interesting supporting information.

And same thoughts in the NYT.
Amazon Wants You to Wake Up With Alexa, and That’s Just the Start  By Nick Wingfield

See my list of my assistant research, continuously updated for a decade.

Workplace by FaceBook

Why Workplace by Facebook will win by Rob Castaneda.   Interesting disconnect proposition:

" ... White collar was and still is head office. It is the center of control that tells the rest of a company what to do. I can recall countless times that we saw silly things happen in the warehouses and we all just laughed at “head office”. Conversely, getting a job in a head office meant that we would naturally look down at those working in the factories, warehouses and shopfronts. The blue collar folk were doing what we told them to, we were smart. If a metric wasn’t right - we should fire them and get someone else.

And here is where the disconnect is. Business has been broken because the head has been disconnected from the hands. ... ." 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Passage.AI Emerges for Multiple Platforms

Have always been interested in ways to make chatbot AI easier. Since our long ago successful use of the Extempo package.   Here another example emerging.

 Passage.AI aims to make building chatbots easy     By Paul Gillin in SiliconAngle

" .... The company is emerging from stealth mode today with $3 million in seed funding and the promise of technology that can help anyone create artificial intelligence-driven chatbots without writing code.

Passage.AI’s bot-building tool uses deep learning and natural language processing to enable bots to understand the context for a request, regardless of how it’s expressed, the company said. It uses “long short-term memory,” a type of neural network that is optimized for language comprehension and handwriting recognition. ... " 

See the Passage.AI site, which itself uses a chatbot to introduce itself.  Also I much like the fact that it integrates with a number of other popular assistant platforms, like Alexa, Google Home, Slack, WeChat and IOS.    Want to see how that works.

Amazon Hardware Event Today

Attended this via theVerge, which does a good technical comparison view.  I follow this closely because I have worked with some companies in the AI/Attentive chat space for years.   From my needs view, nothing greatly surprising.   10 Separate announcements were made, see below.  Some capabilities had  already been previewed with existing Echo hardware.  The most radical process piece was the ability of the user to construct multi-step commands.  On the hardware side, an Echo Plus speaker that also acts as a home hub.  All good, but incremental.   Await more in depth reviews of all of this.

Contributors: Casey Newton, Shannon Liao, Lauren Goode, and 2 others  ...   in TheVerge. 

Amazon just surprised us all with a surprise announcement to introduce a bunch of new Echo and Alexa devices just before the holiday season. Slotting its announcement right after the new Apple TV 4K launched and right before Google is expected to launch a new Google Home speaker, Amazon is here to remind us that its Alexa technology is still here, and it is still one of the most adopted in the majority of gadgets in the voice-activated industry. From a new and updated Fire TV set-top box to several new Echo devices, here are all the latest news out of Amazon’s press event in Seattle.  ... " 

Outline of each announcement at the link.

B2B and Customer Demands

Digital has changed how B2B leaders meet customer demands, but not in all the expected ways. In McKinsey:

" ..... As digital continues to disrupt every aspect of commerce, B2B organizations face challenges and opportunities when they come to terms with this new reality. In our latest Discussions in Digital podcast, Dianne Esber, a partner in McKinsey’s San Francisco office focused on driving digital growth, explores this topic with Robert Chatwani, CMO of Atlassian, and Larissa Pommeraud, global general manager of emerging business for Art.com. They are joined by Dianne’s colleague Brian Gregg, a senior partner who leads retail marketing for McKinsey in the Americas. An edited transcript of their conversation follows. .... " 

Reasonet Ingests and Answers Questions

Came up to me in several directions.   ReasoNet.  A machine reading program that allows machines to ingest documents, read them, and then answer questions based on the documents.

" ... Teaching a computer to read and answer general questions pertaining to a document is a challenging yet unsolved problem. In this paper, we describe a novel neural network architecture called the Reasoning Network (ReasoNet) for machine comprehension tasks. ReasoNets make use of multiple turns to effectively exploit and then reason over the relation among queries, documents, and answers ... " 



https://github.com/ymcui/Eval-on-NN-of-RC     Github example

Unified Retail Planning

Very thoughtful piece in ChainStoreAge, the Introduction ...

" ... Using Unified Retail Planning to Break Out of Functional Silos

Retail today isn’t for the faint-hearted. A recent quote from business magnate and investor Warren Buffet is quite telling, “I think retailing is just too tough for me, just generally.” 

The sector is undergoing profound transformation and only time will tell who the winners will be. In any case, it is evident that retailers no longer can afford to sustain inefficient operations. The ability to keep operational costs in check is essential for profitability and even survival. 

Three Types of Operational Costs

In retail, three kinds of costs dominate: space, staff and stock. The relative importance of each expense varies by retail segment and company. Proportionally, apparel retailers typically have the largest cost of space (real estate and leases), while grocery retailers have the largest staff costs (store personnel), and specialty retailers fall somewhere in between. 

Improvements in each of these cost areas – space, staff and stock – can have a significant impact on the bottom line. Consequently, you can be sure that the merchandising, store operations, and supply chain departments at any given retailer are constantly honing their processes for improved efficiency.  .... "

Intel Neuromorphic Chips

Biomimicry expands.  Neuro morphic (neuron-like) approaches to delivering learning.

Intel Unveils Neuromorphic, Self-Learning Chip Codenamed Loihi    By Joel Hruska

" ... That may change in the future, if Intel’s latest AI bet takes off. The company has announced a new neuromorphic chip, codenamed Loihi, designed for AI and deep learning workloads. Intel’s Dr. Michael Mayberry claims that Loihi does not need to be trained in the traditional way and that it takes a new approach to this type of computing by using asynchronous spiking. Unlike a transistor, neurons do not constantly flip back and forth between a 0 and a 1. They trigger when signal thresholds are reached, and continue to fire so long as the number of spikes exceeds a given threshold. The strength of a muscle flex, for example, is based on the average number of spikes the muscle receives over a given unit of time.  .... " 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Accenture, P&G, Target: Retail Cyber Security

Accenture joins Target and P&G as keynote speaker at cybersecurity summit ... By Marianne Wilson

Accenture has signed on as the title sponsor for the Retail Cyber Intelligence Summit, which will be held in Chicago, October 3 - 4, 2017. The event is sponsored by the Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center (R-CISC). 

Kelly Bissell, managing director of Accenture Security will be the opening keynote speaker at the conference, with an addressed entitled The True Cost of Cybercrime. Vikram Desai, managing director, Accenture Security will lead a breakout session titled, Driving Security Operations Efficiency Through Orchestration and Automation.  

Another keynote speaker, Rich Agostino, chief information security officer at Target Corp, will lead a session titled, "Stepping into Leadership: Staying Ahead of Today's Threats and the Evolving CISO Role." For a Q&A with Agostino on his approach to strategic leadership, how he is addressing the threat landscape and advice for up-and-coming leaders in the industry .... " 

Using Facebook's Workplace at Walmart

News ....  From Facebook's Workplace Site:

Facebook's Workplace at Walmart

"  In the last 10 months, we’ve welcomed more than 14,000 companies to Workplace across a vast range of industries. Today, we’re pleased to welcome the largest private employer in the world, Walmart, to the Workplace family.

Technology is core to Walmart’s people-centric mission to enable its associates to serve the communities it’s in. As its team grows increasingly mobile and distributed, Walmart needs a place to support associates’ growth, build connections and make work simpler. Walmart wants to build the next generation workforce by embracing next-generation technology, and Workplace is helping them do that.

Workplace has already helped bring Walmart’s distributed workforce closer together. Sam’s Club associates are sharing best practices by posting pictures of their in-store product displays. Leaders at Walmart use features like Live to connect directly with associates and share important news and updates, from company earnings to store visits. Teams at Walmart are using Workplace to collaborate, manage projects, learn and develop. Translation features on Workplace have also helped increase communication at Walmart, facilitating better collaboration among associates in multiple geographies.

We believe Workplace is for everyone. Because Workplace is mobile and easy to use, it can reach Walmart associates where they are. It builds connections between people, not org charts. And since it uses familiar features from Facebook, Walmart associates have been able to hit the ground running on Workplace without much training.

As Walmart EVP and CIO Clay Johnson says, “Our associates have been able to build connections and collaborate better on Workplace because it just works. We love it.” .... " 

Wal-Mart to Adopt Facebook's Workplace Edition

Quite an interesting and unexpected coup.   Is Facebook best for retail?  Consider how their Facebook M chatbot capability might be used for marketing.  Here at first this is internal use.  This could be a huge thing.  Search and image oriented.  Need to take a look at it.  See Workplace by Facebook.

Workplace, Facebook’s enterprise edition, snaps up Walmart as a customer   by Ingrid Lunden in TechCrunch

Workplace — Facebook’s bid to take on the Slack, Microsoft and the rest of the players in the market of business chat and collaboration — is getting a big push today by way of a significant customer win. The company has signed on Walmart, the retailing giant and the world’s biggest employer with 2.2 million employees on its books.

Walmart is rolling out Workplace to the whole of its business in stages, starting with associates and teams at Sam’s Club and other parts of the operation.

The move speaks to how Walmart — which last year acquired Jet.com for $3 billion — continues to step up its tech game as it feels the pinch of competition from Amazon, an e-commerce giant that is very quickly moving into Walmart’s brick-and-mortar territory.

“We believe the right technology can empower our people. Walmart’s vision of the future is centered around people — by serving the communities people live in and the people who work at Walmart,” said Clay Johnson, Walmart’s CIO and EVP. “Workplace shares this mission, and together we’re building the next generation workforce.”

Some of the uses so far for Walmart include to share pictures with other stores of a particular product display; to broadcast news via the Live video stream; and to manage communications between different geographies using Facebook’s automatic translation features (Walmart has operations across North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia). .... " 

C by GE Sol Lamp Reviewed

Geekwire Reviews the Alexa enabled GE Lamp.  Much more colorful than the pic shown here.   But not bright enough to flood a whole room with light. Video in operation at link.

Talk to the lamp: We tried GE’s Sol, a $200 light with Amazon Alexa inside   By Todd Bishop

" .... The lamp, officially known as “C by GE Sol,” is touted by the tech and electronics giants as the first lamp with Alexa inside. It goes on sale starting Monday for $199.99. We’ve been testing out a preview unit in the GeekWire offices and studios for the past week. Despite some shortcomings, it’s an interesting glimpse into where the technology world is headed, as more devices start arriving with intelligent features built-in.  ...  " 

Bosch and Self Driving Cars

Had already looked at how Bosch was examining technology behind the smart home.  Now in the space of Automotive advances like self driving cars.

Bosch details its work on present and future self-driving cars
Like many companies, Bosch will play a part in our autonomous future.... 

By Jamie Rigg, @jmerigg in Engadget

" ... Bosch has already partnered with NVIDIA to develop an AI brain for self-driving cars, with TomTom on mapping systems that'll help vehicles see the road ahead, and with Mercedes on automated valet and taxi concepts. The showcase in London featured a few more tangible developments. These included various EVs powered by Bosch drivetrains, from e-bikes to existing and pre-market electric scooters and city cars.  ...  "

New Transmission for Robotics

Transmission for Robotics from SRI.  Recall again our previous association with SRI.

Inception Drive: A Compact, Infinitely Variable Transmission for Robotics   By Evan Ackerman and Celia Gorman

A novel nested pulley configuration forms the heart of a transmission that could make robots safer and more energy efficient.

Last year, SRI’s Alexander Kernbaum introduced us to Abacus Drive, a new kind of rotary transmission based on pure rolling motion that promises to be much cheaper and much more energy efficient than harmonic gears, which are the current (quite expensive) standard. Now Kernbaum is back with another ingenious—and cleverly named—transmission design. It’s called Inception Drive, and he describes it as “an ultra-compact infinitely variable transmission based on a novel nested pulley configuration” that’s designed to make robots, and all kinds of other things, safer, more affordable, and vastly more efficient.

In an infinitely variable transmission (IVT), which is a specific kind of continuously variable transmission, the transmission ratio includes a zero point that can be approached from either a positive side or a negative side. In other words, a constant input, like an electric motor turning the same direction at the same speed, can be converted to an output that’s turning faster, turning slower, turning the opposite direction, or not turning at all (in this “geared neutral” mode, you’d need infinite input revolutions to cause one output revolution, hence the name infinitely variable transmission). ....  " 

Car Supply and Demand in China

McKinsey on Automobiles in China, with considerable statistics:

Our 2017 survey of Chinese auto consumers shows they’re demanding more from carmakers. How can companies keep up with shifts in this must-win market?  ... " 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Target Guides Customers with LEDs and Beacons

Navigation was a long time exploration of our innovation center explorations.   Here beacons and LED lights are combined with an App.

With expert discussion.

Target guides customers through the aisles with beacons    by Matthew Stern in RetailLink

Shoppers may soon have an easy way to find what they’re looking for in Target stores, thanks to a new Bluetooth beacon-enabled mapping feature on the retailer’s mobile app.

The beacons, built into the LED lighting of the stores, enable shoppers using the Target smartphone app to see their own position on a store map, according to TechCrunch. As customers move through the store, their position on the map changes correspondingly. App users can also click on products on their shopping lists to reveal the location of the item and see if it’s on sale.

While some of the most familiar implementations of beaconing technology, like triggered coupons, have proven unpopular with customers, some retailers have had success with in-store mapping. .... " 

Self-Flying Robot Assistant for the Home

(Update)   I see that the below project has been cancelled in Kickstarter, as of October 2017.  I am leaving the post here for historical purposes) 

Another home/family device.  Reminds me of the Kuri, but this is a drone, that in theory could navigate multiple levels and floors.  Autonomous point to point navigation. Like the integration of Alexa and IFTTT.  Do wonder the ultimate safety of a flying device.

An indoor drone that integrates an Alexa assistant,  voice control,  music,  camera, intelligence. Estimated availability Sept 2018.  Estimated cost $799.   A Kickstarter project.  Multiple operational videos at the link.

Aire — A Self-Flying Robotic Assistant for the Home ...Unlike any other robot, Aire travels effortlessly anywhere in your home, re-imagining automation, security, smart assistants & more.

Aire's ability to fly enables easy navigation over or around obstacles and even between multiple floors of a home.  

With simple hands-free voice commands and minimalist smartphone app flight controls, anyone can easily control Aire from home or away, with no piloting experience required. .... 

Advanced Flight — Aire employs technology similar to "inside out tracking" of AR/VR headsets and self-driving cars to navigate safely through your home.

Smart Automation — Amazon Alexa voice commands and IFTTT automation triggers allow you to control Aire's flight, functions, and other IoT devices within in home.

Home Security — When Aire detects sound or motion anomalies at home it sends an alert, allowing you to launch Aire to inspect any room, on any floor via live-stream video.

Personal Photography — With Aire as your photographer, you'll always be in the photo and not behind the camera  by using voice photography and virtual visits features.  ... " 

Microsoft Pendleton

More on MS Data Wrangling, note Google is currently also working in this space with Trifacta.  Its a big issue in data science work process.  This is often done with tools like Excel, but adding intelligence driven methods can decrease time and remove errors.   How interactive will such an assistant be?  

Microsoft aims to take the work out of data wrangling with coming 'Pendleton' tool
Microsoft is testing privately a tool for data scientists for data preparation and cleaning that is codenamed "Pendleton."     By Mary Jo Foley

Microsoft Making AI Boring? Effective?

Looks like lots of focused assistants being proposed here.   Which is exactly how our journey into AI worked.    Be boring and effective.    Choose focused examples.   Where you have the data and can can calculate the value.  Don't oversell.  Pendleton, will be following further here.  Good further links at the piece below.

Microsoft Is Making AI Boring, and That’s Either Great or Scary  In Tech Review.

Machine learning isn’t always overtly tantalizing or controversial: sometimes, it’s just … dull and useful. And that’s exactly what many of the AI announcements made by Microsoft at its annual Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida, promise to provide. There is, however, the chance that this is just how the robots end up taking control.

ZDNet reports a new AI-powered tool for data scientists from Microsoft called Pendleton that uses its smarts to “do things like remove errant columns, change formatting in columns, handle missing data.” The Wall Street Journal describes the firm’s new AI customer service assistant, which will “let people describe problems in their own words and respond with suggestions drawn from user manuals, help documents and similar materials.” And PC Mag notes that new AI tools for human resources will tap LinkedIn to “identify qualified candidates and track applicants for positions.”  ... '

How Burberry is using AI and Big Data

By Bernard Marr , In Forbes:

The Amazing Ways Burberry Is Using Artificial Intelligence And Big Data To Drive Success

British fashion brand Burberry is one of the most recognized luxury clothes labels in the world. Starting in 2006, the company aimed to reinvent itself as an “end to end” digital enterprise. Its strategy was to use Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to boost sales and customer satisfaction.

It does this by asking customers to voluntarily share data through a number of loyalty and reward programs. This information is used to offer personalized recommendations, online and in store. When an identified customer enters a store, sales assistants use tablets to offer buying suggestions based on their customers’ purchase history as well as their social media activity.If Burberry knows that a customer has recently bought a particular coat, for example, then assistants may be encouraged by the app to show them a handbag which is popular with other buyers of the coat.

Products in their 500 stores spread across 50 countries are also fitted with RFID tags which can communicate with shoppers’ mobiles, giving information about how items were produced or recommendations on how they can be worn or used.

This usage of technology and tactics usually confined to online retail in a “bricks and mortar” setting prompted then CEO Angela Ahrendts (now SVP of retail at Apple) to state that “walking through our doors is just like walking into our website”, in 2014.  .... " 

Bloomberg Terminal

Data Science in the Bloomberg Financial Terminal

A good example of how financial data is being analyzed and utilized in online, real time interactions. Mention of their current work using deep learning techniques.  Reminds me of some of our own attempts to track and visualize data and analytical results.   See tags.   You need strong buy-in and use cases.

Storytelling to Connect Employees to Work

Nice thought, and makes you more human than robotics.

Great Storytelling Connects Employees to Their Work     by Joseph Grenny In the HBR.

" ... Our company, VitalSmarts, has around 120 employees. One of our regular rituals in our monthly all hands meeting is the Mission Moment. This is an opportunity for my colleagues and me to share stories about the impact our work has on our own lives or those of the people we serve.    .... " 

Making Linkedin Powerful to Business

Waiting for something like this.  Recall being in business sessions between Linkedin and the enterprise on how such capabilities can enable business actions.  Leads to Knowledge Architecture and Data and search.   Ultimately analytics to improve specific process.  Empowering HR.

Microsoft finally starts doing something with LinkedIn by integrating it into Office 365    by Frederic Lardinois

Last year, Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, but even though the acquisition has long closed, Microsoft hasn’t yet done much with all of the data it gets from the social network. At its Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida, the company announced some first steps in integrating LinkedIn’s social graph with its Office products.

Now don’t get too excited yet. What we’re talking about here is the integration of LinkedIn data with Office 365 profile cards. So assuming you don’t know much about your professional contacts and colleagues yet, you can now see more information about them right in Office 365 without having to go to their LinkedIn profiles (and potentially showing up as that one person who looked at their LinkedIn profile that week, which will surely trigger yet another LinkedIn email for them).   ... " 

AI and Marketing Technology

Marketing Technology and AI

Artificial Intelligence is Breaking Down MarTech Silos
Here are some very good reasons why AI is crucial to the future of marketing technology.

By Molly Reynolds in Inc.

Data Transforming Manufacturing

In Knowledge@Wharton,

How Big Data and Analytics Can Transform Manufacturing

 Sight Machine CEO Jon Sobel explains how a new generation of data analytics is transforming manufacturing.

Manufacturing companies are fast realizing that data and analytics can help tremendously in improving operational efficiencies and business processes, and in transforming business models — and they are investing heavily in it, says Jon Sobel, co-founder and CEO of Sight Machine, an analytics company focused on the manufacturing industry.

In a conversation with Knowledge@Wharton, Sobel discusses the changing dynamics in the industry and explains why the focus of solution providers has shifted from offering local solutions to enterprise-level insights. Following is an edited transcript of the conversation. (Listen to the full podcast using the player above.)  .... " 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Designing Customer Experience: Woo, Wow and Win


Authors Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O'Connell talk about their book on designing the right customer experience.

Companies carefully craft the products they sell to customers, but rarely do they give the same thoughtfulness to designing what could be the most critical part of the sales process: customer experience. In the book, Woo, Wow, and Win: Service Design, Strategy and the Art of Customer Delight, authors Thomas A. Stewart and Patricia O’Connell show businesses how they can give customers positive “Ahhh” moments, instead of negative “Ow” experiences — all of which lead to “Aha” realizations by management. And pleasing the customer doesn’t mean always giving in to what they want. — Stewart, a former editor of the Harvard Business Review, and O’Connell, president of Aerten Consulting, talked to Knowledge@Wharton about these and other management insights in their book.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows. .... " 

IFTTT for Google Drive

I continue to watch the updates to IFTTT (IF This, Then That).  Which allows you to add rule like commands to examine streams of data and manipulate them.  They have just added a number of capabilities which let you work with Google business resources like GDrive and Gmail.   Its also an easy way get acquainted with the concept, and how IFTTT Applets can help.   Easy to set up:

Here is the latest

Google Drive
Google Drive lets you store and access your files anywhere — on the web, on your hard drive, or on the go. Applets let you send the most important information into your Google Drive, automatically. ....

Just testing now.

Communicating with a Language of Colors

Applications to communications, advertising, user interface?

Analyzing the language of color
Cognitive scientists find that people can more easily communicate warmer colors than cool ones.


Anne Trafton | MIT News Office 

" ... In a new study, MIT cognitive scientists have found that languages tend to divide the “warm” part of the color spectrum into more color words, such as orange, yellow, and red, compared to the “cooler” regions, which include blue and green. This pattern, which they found across more than 100 languages, may reflect the fact that most objects that stand out in a scene are warm-colored, while cooler colors such as green and blue tend to be found in backgrounds, the researchers say. ... " 

Cloud Dataprep by Google with Trifacta

Its all about the data and how you wrangle it.  Good links to TensorFlow?  Checking.

Google Launches Public Beta of Cloud Dataprep, Built in Collaboration With Trifacta

Google recently announced that Google Cloud Dataprep—the new managed data  wrangling service developed in collaboration with Trifacta—is now available in public beta. This service enables analysts and data scientists to visually explore and prepare data for analysis in seconds within the Google Cloud Platform.

Now that the Google Cloud Dataprep beta is open to the public, more companies can experience the benefits of Trifacta’s data preparation platform. From predictive transformation to interactive exploration, Trifacta’s  intuitive workflow has accelerated the data preparation process for Google Cloud Dataprep customers who have tried it out within private beta.   .... " 

Reusing Computer Code

Efficiency and using pretested and standardized code is useful.  Common data representations implied is also a good idea.

Automatic Code Reuse 

MIT News   By Larry Hardesty

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed CodeCarbonCopy, a system enabling programmers to transplant code between programs. Programmers can choose the code from one program and an insertion point in a second program, and the system will automatically make the required changes to fit the code within its new context. CodeCarbonCopy is capable of translating "data representations" used by the donor and recipient programs because it automatically maps the donor's scheme onto the recipient's. The transplantation procedure starts with feeding both the donor and recipient the same input file, and then CodeCarbonCopy compares how the two programs process the file. Data representation mapping involves analyzing the exact values that both programs store in memory, and CodeCarbonCopy creates a set of representation-translation operations if it finds a systematic relationship between the values. The system was presented this month at the ACM Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering in Germany. .... " 

Loyalty and Retention

Good idea, with emphasis on good experience design to make this happen.

A Loyalty Program Becomes a Retention Hub
Written by Alex McEachern | @alexmcea

 .... Today’s top ecommerce sites are using retention to battle increasing digital marketing costs and stagnating growth. There are a number of retention tools at your disposal, but it can become tough to manage those tools. The solution is to use a loyalty program as a hub for your retention marketing tactics.  .... " 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Drones in the Dark

Working with a company that does image analysis and photography with drones

Drones Can Almost See in the Dark 
University of Zurich
September 20, 2017

Researchers at the University of Zurich (UZH) in Switzerland and NCCR Robotics have taught flying drones to navigate with an eye-inspired camera, which could create a path toward operating in low-light conditions. The drones' event cameras do not need to capture full light on the entire retina to acquire a clear perception. The devices only note changes in brightness for each pixel, ensuring sharp vision even during fast motion or in low-light settings. The researchers also have designed software to efficiently process the cameras' output. "This research is the first of its kind in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics, and will soon enable drones to fly autonomously and faster than ever, including in low-light environments," says UZH professor Davide Scaramuzza. He believes the software can function reliably outdoors, while noting, "our recent work has already demonstrated that combining a standard camera with an event-based camera improves the accuracy and reliability of the system." .... " 

SailFish Exchange for Data Curation

A clever idea.  A Pinterest for data.  Approach to data democratization.   From Booz Allen Hamilton
Sailfish™ Exchange
Socially Charged Data Curation
Sailfish Exchange simplifies the data curation process. Using a social community, you can find, collect, and share your data sets. ...  "

IoT Earthquake Warning Network

Warning versus predicting.

Zizmos Continues Its Quest to Create an IoT Earthquake-Warning Network    By Tekla S. Perry

 A simulation of Zizmos' earthquake early warning system shows the progression of a temblor in the San Francisco Bay Area

A few smartphone users in the Mexico City area were running the Zizmos app, described below, when this week’s magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck, Zizmos founder Battalgazi Yildirim reports, but not enough to issue a warning, although Zizmos did register the shaking.

Yildirim says he’d like to be able to get 50 fixed sensors installed in Mexico City—enough to reliably give warnings of aftershocks. The design, however, is still at the prototype stage, so each costs about $500 to build. He only has 10 on hand to donate, and would need funding to produce 40 more and local volunteers to install them.

Meanwhile, since the Mexico City earthquake, he says, another 5,000 smartphone users around the world have started running the app.

I first met Battalgazi Yildirim two years ago. He had posted a request in my local online community: His startup, Zizmos, wanted volunteers willing to mount a sensor package inside their homes, preferably on a bearing wall, to test whether a network of cheap packages of electronics, based on the Android phone design and his algorithms, could give early warnings of earthquakes. He wasn’t looking to do long-term prediction, just 15 or 30 seconds—enough to allow people to grab their kids and move to the safest spot in their house. .... " 

Bots Scraping Data

Data scraping is not new.   Just much more convenient.  Was used to gather information about horse racing to leverage off track betting starting in the 18th century.   Just much more convenient these days.  When is data about some state of the world public?

Bots Are Scraping Your Data For Cash Amid Murky Laws And Ethics   by BJ Pangborn

LinkedIn says a startup that scrapes its user profiles is like a hacker. Resolving the issue may fall to the Supreme Court, but larger questions linger.

Is the data you share publicly on social networking sites like an announcement in a public place, where speech and information gathering are protected under the First Amendment? Or is it more like something uttered on private real estate, where the owner can prohibit trespassers as they wish?

That quandary recently emerged in a California courtroom, where two of the country’s most eminent constitutional lawyers squared off in a high-stakes battle between a data giant and a tiny startup.

For years, hiQ, a data mining company in San Francisco that helps employers predict which of their employees are thinking about jumping ship, built its business on the back of a valuable cache of data: public user profiles on the professional networking site LinkedIn.

Then in June, a year after Microsoft completed its $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn—backed by its own data analytics ambitions—the happy if unofficial relationship came to an abrupt end when the startup received a letter ordering it to immediately stop scraping LinkedIn profiles. Suddenly, hiQ’s entire business model was in jeopardy. The startup devoted to helping employers keep talent would itself begin to shed it: The three-year-old company said it lost 10 of its 24 employees since LinkedIn blocked access.   ... "

Ford Using MS HoloLens for Car Design

Complex and cooperative design continues to be a place where augmented reality is likely to be valuable.

Ford Using Microsoft HoloLens For Car Design By Rebecca Hills-Duty in VR Focus.

HoloLens allows designers and engineers to prototype new cars faster and more cheaply.
Several businesses have been exploring the possibilities offered by Microsoft’s mixed reality (MR) headset. Several car manufacturers such as Volvo and Audi have been experimenting with augmented reality (AR) and MR, and now Ford is joining them.

Ford were already using the HoloLens in a limited capacity, but now the company is expanding its use after a pilot phase. Usually when designing a car, designers and artists will often start with simple pen and paper, then move on to crafting a solid 3D version using modelling clay. Designers and artists can now use HoloLens to adjust 3D models, taking into account real-world limitations and adjustments without needing to rebuild the model from scratch every time.

Designers and engineers can put an overlay over a currently existing car and prototype adjustments for the new model without needing to completing built it anew, or physically build every new prototype. Designers and engineers save a great deal of time and money be using this approach with the HoloLens. It also means that radical new ideas and concepts can be considered, and many more ideas tried out to find the perfect fit. .... " 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Anomaly Detection

A number of analytics sytems we worked with were essentially anomaly detection.  So this is close to home. In particular, that in almost all cases the systems need to be re-calibrated and re run over time.

In O'Reilly, Video:

" ... What may work for anomaly detection today may not work tomorrow. Master statistician Arun Kejariwal helps you understand why in this fascinating walk-through of modern anomaly detection systems - how the definition of “normal” changes as applications, platforms, infrastructure, and algorithms evolve; as well as recognizing the effect of context in what defines an anomaly.

Learn how you, your data, and your decision-making can keep from getting skewed in master statistician Arun Kejariwal's course from Safari on what works – and doesn't work - when building anomaly detection systems.  .... " 

Delivering Perishables to the Smart Home

We tested a number of solutions to perishable delivery in out smart home labs. Obviously this requires some expensive refitting of the home.

Walmart tests new delivery drop-off point — the customer’s fridge
By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart’s new grocery delivery program could give it a huge edge in the online ordering game.

The discount giant is testing a concept that will not only deliver fresh groceries, but also enable a delivery person to enter customers’ homes and put away perishables in their refrigerator. Walmart, which announced the news in a blog on its website, is partnering with August Home, a smart locks and smart home accessories provider, and same-day delivery company Deliv, to test the service.

Here’s how it works: Customers place their order online, and when the order is ready, a Deliv driver delivers it to the shopper’s home. If no one answers the doorbell, the driver enters a pre-authorized one-time passcode into a smart lock keypad installed beside the door. 

Customers receive a smartphone notification that the delivery is occurring, and they can monitor the delivery through home security cameras integrated with the August security app. Non-perishable items are left in the foyer, and fresh merchandise is placed into the shopper’s fridge. Once the Deliv associate leaves, the customer receives a notification confirming the delivery is complete and the door was automatically locked.

The concept is being tested among a handful of August Home customers in Silicon Valley. .... " 

Americans Loving Cooking?

As a long time amateur cook, found this very interesting.  Are the statistics shown right?   The aricle follows with an analysis of how this influences grocery choices.

The Grocery Industry Confronts a New Problem: Only 10% of Americans Love Cooking  by Eddie Yoon  In the HBR.

The supermarket and grocery business is likely to suffer strong headwinds in the future, due to long-term shifts in consumer behavior. Although many people don’t realize it yet, grocery shopping and cooking are in a long-term decline. They are shifting from a mass category, based on a daily activity, to a niche activity that a few people do only some of the time.

I’ve spent two decades consulting extensively for consumer packaged goods companies. Early in my career I gathered some data for a client on cooking. This research found that consumers fell into one of three groups: (1) people who love to cook, and cook often, (2) people who hate to cook, and avoid that activity by heating up convenience food or outsourcing their meals (by ordering out or dining in restaurants), and, finally, (3) people who like to cook sometimes, and do a mix of cooking and outsourcing, depending on the situation. At the time, the sizes of the three respective groups were about 15% who love to cook, 50% who hate to cook, and 35% who are so-so on the idea. ... " 

Personality Classification

Been examining various personality classifiers, starting with a project we did with the Watson Bluemix system.  Here is another, covered in some detail in  Datanami:   Deep Learning Reveals New Insights About People:

" ... Can a computer detect an author’s personality type, based only on a sample of his or her writing? Four researchers from Singapore and Mexico City sought to answer that question.

In their newly published study, the authors present a deep learning-based method that can figure out the psychological profiles of authors. They used a specially designed deep convolutional neural network. Their method analyzed various texts in order to identify the presence or absence of the Big Five personality traits. The full paper can be found in IEEE Intelligent Systems, a peer-reviewed academic journal. .... " 

Paper abstract and full text access.

See personality tag below for previous coverage of this topic.

B to B Sales and Consolidated Marketing Platforms

From CustomerThink

The Salesman’s Resurrection by AI Featured Column by CustomerThink Advisor!  by Thomas Wieberneit

The B2B salesperson is dead. .... Or so it is said.

There are scores of studies telling us that most of a customer’s buying process is already accomplished before a salesperson is even contacted and is merely allowed to make the transaction.
Forrester Research predicted in 2015 that 1 million US salespeople would lose their jobs to self-service and ecommerce by 2020. While they updated this report in March 2017 the statement largely stays the same.

The highly reputed Edelman Trust Barometer reveals in 2017 that trust in businesses declines and that “CEO credibility decreased the most, dropping to an all-time low”. Instead, people trust a person like themselves, or technical and academic experts most.

And the trust in experts is declining, too.

The Environment Has Changed

Today, enabled by technology, especially mobile devices, and social media, customers have a far higher reach than they had, say, in the 90’s. Today they can get a wealth of information online, via sources they trust. And they reach out for it, especially when it comes to products of low complexity. Especially for these products they can’t be bothered contacting a sales person at all but simply buy online.

Customers simply go through the process in their own time and at their own pace.

.... Towards a Consolidated Marketing Platform  driven by AI  ....  " 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Streamlined Product Codes

Used to work with the GMA in our Innovation efforts.  Not in the business anymore,  but work ongoing is worth understanding as it interacts and communicates with consumers.

Watching a Good Idea on Streamlined Product Code Date Labels Become a Reality
By: Jim Flannery, Senior Executive Vice President, GMA and Mark Baum, Senior Vice President of Industry Relations, FMI

There is an undeniable satisfaction that comes with seeing a really good idea move from the realm of the imagined and into the concrete world of reality.  The grocery industry’s Product Code Date Labeling initiative – with its goal of helping consumers better understand and use produce date labels – is beginning to elicit that glow of gratification.

The problem? A myriad of different product date labels has left consumers confused on what to do with products in their homes. These package labels seek to provide important information about usage of products. However, product labels currently include a wide range of phrases such as Sell By, Best Before, Expires On, Use By, Best By, and Enjoy By. This varying phrases can confuse consumers and lead to disposal of food and products that are still fine to eat or use. .....  " 

GE on 3D Printing

Much more in the full article at the link.

A silent revolution: Avio Aero and Arcam’s relationship is built on additive manufacturing  by The Bike Shop

Less complexity, costs, waste and noise: additive manufacturing is the industry of the future and it’s already making history today.

Transformations that take several years and considerable time to bring about major changes are more commonly defined as progress, evolution or innovation. However, this does not deny their transformational nature: this comes to mind when considering what is happening today in the world’s largest industrial conglomerate, GE.

Just look at what is happening particularly in the technology known as additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. .... " 

Dynamical Machine Learning

Good piece, which combines process and sensors and IoT. Much more detail at the link. Reminds me comments made here before, about how we used classic process control in similar ways, and tried to link it to AI.  As long as it was a closed loop system, which few systems are, but if you can control the degree to which it is.  ..... There is the challenge and often the value in trying.

IoT Data Science & “DML” – match made in heaven?
By PG Madhavan  in DSC

DML stands for “Dynamical Machine Learning” (more in the book, “SYSTEMS Analytics for IoT Data Science”, 2017). This match is not surprising once you realize that DML & IoT are both based on the venerable Systems Theory. Let us dig deeper . . .

Consider IoT for industrial applications. A machine is instrumented with sensors, data are collected in real-time (or at intervals), communicated to the cloud where IoT Data Science techniques predict machine condition which results in an action, if necessary, such as repair action on the machine. This is a classic “closed-loop” system. The theory that abstracts and governs this closed-loop system is the subject matter of Systems Theory, an undergraduate engineering topic.

Systems Theory is broad and deep – in the past 70 or so years, a great body of work has been developed from deep theory to day-to-day applications such as GPS in your mobile phones, controlling massive chemical plants or Dreamliner airplanes. Systems Theory’s state-space model based methods allow you to describe, estimate/predict and control all parts of a closed-loop system. ... "

Solid State Cooling from SRI

Fascinating development reported in IEEE Spectrum.  Have long been a minor student of the physics of refrigeration,  will this development be practical for cooling or even refrigeration?   Also a mention of SRI, who we worked with over the years.  In fact SRI was long ago responsible for detergent innovations that we used and continue to leverage.    See SRI tag below for more mentions I have made, I will do a quick search of their work and report back.

" .... Can you imagine an electric cooler compact enough to fit in your pocket and flexible enough to wear? If not, think again because engineers at the University of California at Los Angeles and SRI International have one working: A 5-millimeter-thick device that is the world’s first solid-state cooler combining practicality, energy efficiency, and high performance. ...  "

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Best Buy Banks on Smart Homes

A natural step forward, and a place to connect beyond entertainment.  Selection, design, installation, training, security ....  services come into play with devices and software.

Best Buy Banks on Smart Homes, Experiential Merchandising in Stores
By Adrianne Pasquarelli

In its quest to better connect with customers, Best Buy is focusing on connected living. At the Minneapolis-based retailer's Investor Day on Tuesday, its first in five years, executives laid out a new strategy of priorities and changes in its merchandising, training and marketing over the next three years.

Called Best Buy 2020, the plan is CEO Hubert Joly's second chapter in the growth plan he began in 2012, when he began transforming the 51-year-old retailer by zeroing in on the challenge of showrooming and opportunity in ecommerce.

Now, Joly is doubling down on smart homes, assisted living for seniors and in-home tech support. By the end of next month, the company plans to offer smart home shops and enhanced merchandising within all of its more than 1,000 stores. .... " 

Machines Learn to be Curious

Clever Machines Learn How to Be Curious 
Quanta Magazine  by John Pavlus

In Quanta.  Machines Learn to be Curious.
The University of California, Berkeley's Pulkit Agrawal is embedding curiosity, or intrinsic motivation, into artificial intelligence (AI) so machines can learn unfamiliar tasks more efficiently. "You can think of curiosity as a kind of reward, which the agent generates internally on its own, so that it can go explore more about its world," Agrawal says. His team at the Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab have developed a learning agent with an intrinsic curiosity module (ICM) so it can learn to play a video game. Their model is young children's innate curiosity in objects that surprise them, mimicked by the ICM's generation of an intrinsic reward signal defined by how mistaken the prediction model is. Agrawal says this reward for being surprised creates a feedback loop enabling the AI to correct its ignorance. The AI also translates visual input from raw pixels into an abstract version of reality, highlighting environmental features with the potential to affect the agent.   .... " 

AI Joins the Meeting

Attentive systems for meeting enhancements.

When AI Joins Your Meeting
By Rowan Trollope  

One of the best things about working at a company with Cisco’s resources is you get to blend fundamental technology research with macroeconomic trends. For example, the inevitable improvement of A.I. and collaboration technology, empowered by the global rise towards building distributed work teams, will lead to a revolution in how A.I. affects teamwork.  ... "

Coca Cola, AI and Big Data

The Amazing Ways Coca Cola Uses Artificial Intelligence And Big Data To Drive Success    By Bernard Marr 

" ... In fact, Coca Cola was one of the first globally-recognized brands outside of the IT market to speak about Big Data, when in 2012 their chief big data officer, Esat Sezer, said “Social media, mobile applications, cloud computing and e-commerce are combining to give companies like Coca-Cola an unprecedented toolset to change the way they approach IT. Behind all this, big data gives you the intelligence to cap it all off.”... 

More recently, Greg Chambers, global director of digital innovation, has said “AI is the foundation for everything we do. We create intelligent experiences. AI is the kernel that powers that experience.” ... ' 

Foot Traffic Counting

This company called Density was brought back to my attention for possible analysis.  we did this kind of analysis in the retail aisle.  (Their site at Density.io  no longer exists, leaving this here to state the problem)

" ... Density is, as the company’s website puts it so simply, a people counter. Like other startups that analyze foot traffic, Density is designed to let retailers, coffeeshops, co-working spaces and other places collect better data about how many customers pass through their doors.

In conversations at online forums, Density’s founders are candid about their belief that hardware sales are becoming a tough game. That’s why the company’s own device is both simple and free. It’s essentially just a pair of infrared sensors, with parallel beams crossing a doorway so it can count the people passing through and know whether each one is coming or going. Getting and installing the hardware costs nothing; Density makes its money through subscriptions to its data-analysis service. ... " 

Amazon Looking at Smart Glasses

Ultimately there will be non obtrusive, wearable communications devices in common use.

Report: Amazon is working on smart glasses powered by Alexa   in FastCompany

Amazon’s first wearable would tether wirelessly to a smartphone and look like a regular pair of glasses, avoiding the fashion pitfalls of Google Glass, reports the Financial Times. .... " 

Also in Technology Review.

Digital Factory Showing an Agile Way

Podcast on Digital Factory Model

Companies are beginning to use digital factories as incubators of more agile ways of working, often filtering the best attributes of the factory culture back to the larger organization.

A digital factory often calls for a whole new set of rules, including increased agility, new technology solutions, and cross-functional teams. Those differences have often spelled success for companies trying to develop and push out new digital capabilities quickly. In this episode of the McKinsey Podcast, senior partner Rohit Bhapkar and partner Joao Dias speak with McKinsey’s Barr Seitz about the challenges leaders might face in building digital factories and how to set themselves up for the best results. .... " 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Alexa Powered Lamp by GE

Had heard of this late last year, it is here:

GE's Sol lamp is the world's first Alexa-powered desk lamp, and it's brilliant  ... "

Amazon's Alexa voice assistant can no longer be contained to the company's Echo devices.

From smartwatches to Echo clones like the Eufy Genie, device makers are eager to integrate Alexa voice controls into everything imaginable. Late last year, GE announced the C by GE Sol, the world's first Alexa-powered smart LED lamp that requires no additional hardware or setup, and now it's finally available.

You plug it in, connect your Amazon account, and — boom — you're living in the future.  ... " 

Only $200 for preorder.

AI is Marketing Hype?

My team and I were involved in the last big hype cycle of AI.  We lost a large chunk of investment in the space.   So the question is a reasonable one.   What should we do?  How should we invest?

  There have been very big advances that we need to take note of, and use, but these have not launched us into an era of general artificial intelligence.  That remains in the future.   The applications of today are still narrow,  but clearly very valuable.    You cannot ignore them.  I am applying them now.  But it will need another jump forward to get real AI.  When?  I believe still decades away.

Is A.I. Just Marketing Hype?
Why are the big breakthroughs always five to 20 years in the future?   By Geoffrey James in Inc ....   "

Emergence of Practical Augmented Reality (AR)

I am a long time experimenter with the concept of AR in Business.  We experimented with very early (1980s) applications with specialized hardware.  For things like manufacturing line maintenance. Packaging analysis.   Applications were too cumbersome and narrow to be successful.  There was also a flurry of AR apps without extraordinary hardware assistance, also not very impressive for practical enterprise applications.

Now we are starting to see AR being embedded in real phones, with the potential for value beyond gaming. Below a list of ARKit enabled apps for the iPhone in IOS 11.  Beyond games.  Will be taking a look.

iOS 11 ARKit apps are appearing at the App Store
By Jonny Evans, Computerworld

Now that Apple has put reality distortion inside every iPhone, we’ll get to explore new realities with apps like these.   While Face ID may be capturing headlines, its Apple’s ARKit that will make a much bigger difference to iPhone user’s lives.

AR-ready apps set to launch

The company directed attention at gaming during its recent iPhone X launch, but entertainment apps are not all you should expect as the first ARKit-enabled apps appear.

Here are some of the first wave of AR-ready apps to be made available at the App Store around the launch of iOS 11. More are appearing rapidly at time of writing.  ... " 

Wal-Mart and in Aisle Checkout

Continue to follow the idea of in-aisle checkout, see my tag below.

Walmart deploying tech that lets in-store shoppers check out — on their own    By Deena M. Amano-MCCoy

Walmart is expanding the deployment of its Scan & Go mobile app, which is being tested in approximately 12 stores across Northwest Arkansas, Florida, Texas and Georgia. The chain is now rolling out the app for use in at least 10 additional locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Nashville markets. The stores will offer the solution by the end of the month, said Walmart spokesman Justin Rushing in an interview with Chain Store Age. .... " 

Nike Customizing Sneakers

Customization or perhaps late stage differentiation.  But note only for a limited time and place.  Plays to the current craze for fast delivery.  Adds a level of exclusiveness.  Discussion at the link too.

Nike customizes shoes for ‘sneakerheads’ in under an hour
 by Matthew Stern

Sneaker customization is a growing trend, one that appeals both to the fashion sense and the collector-mindedness of those shoe fanatics sometimes known as “sneakerheads.” Now Nike is offering a limited number of enthusiasts the chance to try out a new, fast form of customization technology.

Nike’s limited-time, invite-only event, called the Makers’ Experience, is taking place in the Nike By You Studio in New York, according to Engadget. Visitors choose from four possible packs of graphics and a few different color schemes to customize the upper portion of the shoe. They can also input custom text. The design is then projected onto a blank pair of sneakers the customer is wearing to demonstrate how the design will look. Once the final design is chosen, it takes an hour or less to create the final product. .... "

Constructing an Amazon Echo Skill via Java

How to construct an Amazon Echo Skill using Java    An introduction in Github.

Amazon, Robotics and Jobs

Amazon Just Showed Us What Really Happens When Robots Replace Jobs

They've already got 100,000 robots and are adding (a lot) more.
 By Lisa Calhoun   in Inc.  Video below. 

There are as many opinions about jobs and artificial intelligence as there are people who have them. A Vanguard global economist recently said AI will replace 1in 2 jobs. A new survey of AI researchers said most believe AI will outperform people at rote work like translating, surgery and transportation in 10 years. Fighting fire with fire, Google is offering a new AI job search. Marc Andreessen, founder at top venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, says humans have always been afraid whatever latest tech would take their jobs--and it's never happened. Meanwhile, some of the most automated factories in the country--like Tesla's gigafactory--can't hire fast enough because the demand for the product outpaces even well-automated labor.

Amazon is giving us the biggest real life case study about what happens when jobs--in this case, warehouse jobs--are replaced by robots. According to a recent New York Times article, Amazon has about 100,000 robots already. You can get a glimpse of what this looks like in this Youtube video of an Amazon fulfillment center .... " 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Open AI Framework by Microsoft and Facebook

From the Facebook research blog.  A further indication of the progress in standardizing how such systems should be built and maintained.   Would be useful to now compare this to work by Google in TensorFlow.   Is it comparable?

Facebook and Microsoft introduce new open ecosystem for interchangeable AI frameworks

By: Joaquin Quinonero Candela

Facebook and Microsoft are today introducing Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) format, a standard for representing deep learning models that enables models to be transferred between frameworks. ONNX is the first step toward an open ecosystem where AI developers can easily move between state-of-the-art tools and choose the combination that is best for them.

When developing learning models, engineers and researchers have many AI frameworks to choose from. At the outset of a project, developers have to choose features and commit to a framework. Many times, the features chosen when experimenting during research and development are different than the features desired for shipping to production. Many organizations are left without a good way to bridge the gap between these operating modes and have resorted to a range of creative workarounds to cope, such as requiring researchers work in the production system or translating models by hand.

We developed ONNX together with Microsoft to bridge this gap and to empower AI developers to choose the framework that fits the current stage of their project and easily switch between frameworks as the project evolves. Caffe2, PyTorch, and Cognitive Toolkit will all be releasing support for ONNX in September, which will allow models trained in one of these frameworks to be exported to another for inference. We invite the community to join the effort and support ONNX in their ecosystem. Enabling interoperability between different frameworks and streamlining the path from research to production will help increase the speed of innovation in the AI community. .... " 

Quartz Guide to AI

 Appears to be a guide useful for the non technical executive.   Good definition of terms at the end.  Intriguing view of the recent progress of AI and why companies care.  Reviewing.

Quartz Guide to AI    Don't Fear the AI ...

The Quartz guide to artificial intelligence: What is it, why is it important, and should we be afraid?
What is artificial intelligence? Why is it important? Why is everyone talking about it all of a sudden? If you skim online headlines, you’ll likely read about how AI is powering Amazon and Google’s virtual assistants, or how it’s taking all the jobs (debatable), but not a good explanation of what it is (or whether the robots are going to take over). We’re here to help with this living document, a plain-English guide to AI that will be updated and refined as the field evolves and important concepts emerge.  ... " 

Getting Design Tips from the Brain

Always interested in the choices made in bio mimicry of any kind.   The architecture will be key.

Computers Are Taking Design Cues From Human Brains 
The New York Times   By Cade Metz

Researchers are taking biological cues to remodel computing after the human brain to overcome the physical limits of semiconductors. "The existing [computing] approach is out of steam, and people are trying to re-architect the system," says former Stanford University president John Hennessy. Newer machines are no longer channeling all tasks through a single chip, but instead fragmenting them into smaller jobs distributed among farms of less power-consumptive, specialized chips. Former U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program manager Gill Pratt expects an artificial intelligence "Cambrian explosion" to come from this trend, as the specialized low-power chips operate similarly to the brain. This architecture is yielding significant milestones, such as Microsoft's creation of a neural network with superior speech-recognition capability compared to people. Using graphics-processing units and specialized chips to respectively teach neural networks tasks and perform them could potentially help devices eventually accommodate more, and more complex, operations on their own.   ... ."   (May require Subscription) 

Interiew with Mobileye for Driverless

Getting the data right is the most important part.

Vision Sensors by Mobileye.  (Now part of Intel)    An interview.

" ... Though Google has become the US face of the driverless car movement, other companies have been developing similar technology for more than a decade. Mobileye is one of them, with a $10 billion valuation and a huge head start in a potentially enormous market. Professor David Yoffie discusses why a company many have never heard of will be a linchpin in the future of self-driving automobiles. ... " 

Google Expands Listening Research

A movement towards more voice driven assistance?  As a Google Home user I have not seen very much in changes there.   Still fairly narrowly applied.

How Google wants to build a world where every device is listening in TechRepublic   By Nick Heath

The firm is gathering speech samples from people across the globe, as part of a push to get simple voice recognition everywhere, paving the way for voice commands throughout our homes. ... " 

New Designs in Delivery Drones

How will these influence changes in the supply chain.
Designing Delivery Drones,   with video.

Odd Delivery Drone Design Carries Cargo While Keeping it Safe
By Dyllan Furnes in DigitalTrends

As delivery drones become more commonplace, this new design may help keep packages safe and secure on transit.

Researchers at EPFL have designed an origami-inspired delivery drone that could someday carry cargo, while keeping it safe in a cage along the way.

When unfurled, the drone can fly above buildings and traffic, while carrying a package up to 500 grams (a bit over one pound). When folded up, the drone is small enough to fit into a backpack.

Developed in EPFL’s Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, the delivery drone was designed to combine two functions. On one hand, the drone transports cargo; on the other hand, it serves as a protective packaging, acting like a resilient cage to keep cargo safe during its transit. .... "