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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Amazon Invades Advertising

Podcast and text.  How will this change their assistants? 

Amazon Has Officially Invaded The Advertising Industry

By Collin Colburn, Analyst,   Forrester

Retailers and security: perception versus reality

Forrester Analysts Brendan Miller and Josh Zelonis discuss the growing concern of security in retail — that which is real and that which is perceived.

Amazon is seemingly part of every sector of the economy – and that now includes advertising.

We fielded many questions from clients about Amazon ads during 2017 and by year’s end, we were curious about how significant its advertising business had become. Since Amazon doesn’t break out its revenues from advertising (although it’s been estimated to be over $1 billion), we thought: why not see how its advertising business performed during the crucial holiday season?  .... " 

Google Does a Slack Alternative

Been using Slack for some time on a project by project basis.  Does I think promote focus.   Email can be very fragmented among the noise.  Are the new Hangouts better?

Google's Slack alternative is available starting today

Despite the name, Hangouts Chat isn't just a retread of what it has already tried.   By Nathan Ingraham, @nateingraham in Engadget

It's been almost a year since Google first mentioned Hangouts Chat -- a totally redesigned messaging service that's more like Slack than the Hangouts most consumers know today. As of now, Hangouts Chat is out of its "early adopter" program and will be available to all G Suite users over the next week, assuming their company enables it, of course.

To be clear, Hangouts Chat is a totally separate and distinct service from Hangouts proper, which still lives in your Google mail inbox. And while we'll forgive you for rolling your eyes at yet another chat service from Google (the number of different apps the company has built is legendary at the point), Hangouts Chat does offer something potentially valuable to companies using G Suite -- assuming they're not on Slack already. .... " 

Product Management Competencies

Nicely done.   Take it beyond to process management understanding and competencies. And their interaction with Products.

Product Management Is Key to Digital Business Success
by Deacon D.K. Wan   in Gartner

A growing number of firms are finding that establishing product management competencies is the most critical element in implementing product-line management, and its adoption is growing rapidly.

Do you know how Product manager help works with the circle and orchestrate stakeholders to deliver better outcomes? See this note to learn how to find the right people for the job, whether they are located in the business or in IT, for better outcomes in your Digital Business Success.  .... " 

IBM Watson Does Assistance

Akin to smart home assistants now all around us?

IBM Watson is heading to space in an 11-pound smiling orb called CIMON  by Duncan Riley in SiliconAngle.

 IBM Corp.’s Watson is heading to space, specifically the International Space Station, in the form of an 11-pound, artificially intelligent smiling orb.

The orb, dubbed CIMON, short for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion, will be taken to the ISS in June by German astronaut and scientist Alexander Gerst. It has been designed as an experimental assistance system to support astronauts in performing routine work.

Complete with an “expressive digital face,” CIMON will initially assist Gerst in running a series of tests, including an experiment with crystals, solving a Rubik magic cube based on videos, and a complex medical experiment.  .... "

Talk: Artificial Intelligence - How Developers Benefit Today

Our latest talk from Cognitive Science Institute, join us!

Thursday Mar 1, 2018 10:30am – 11:30am (EST) via Larry Clevenger IBM

Zoom meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/7371462221
Zoom Callin: (415) 762-9988 or (646) 568-7788 Meeting id 7371462221

Zoom International Numbers: https://zoom.us/zoomconference
Website:  http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update/

Title: Artificial Intelligence - How Developers Benefit Today by Niall Cargill

Abstract: As artificial intelligence systems grow in capabilities and knowledge industries are putting them to good use.  We will discuss how developers can also begin to take advantage of these artificial intelligence systems to improve their productivity and/or augment their applications. 

See http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update/   (Slides and Recording)

Bio: Niall Cargill has 20 years of professional experience in application architecture, analysis, design, and development.  He has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from the University of Missouri - Kansas City.  He dove head first into information technology 20 years ago and has not looked back.  Niall has developed on everything from a mainframe to a mobile phone.  He has worked with languages from Cobol/CICS to Java to JavaScript.  Niall currently architects cutting edge web and mobile applications that integrate cognitive capabilities to enhance end user experience wherever possible. .... " 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Amazon to Acquire Ring Doorbell

Somewhat unusual, Amazon acquiring a third party smart home capability.  Link to in-home delivery approaches?   Could lead to better compatibility between systems.    My Ring won't talk to my Amazon video enabled devices.

Amazon to acquire Ring video doorbell maker, cracking open the door in home security market
By Todd Bishop, Taylor Soper and Nat Levy ... "  in Geekwire.

(Update) Rumored for $1B.

HAMR Microbots

Took early looks at very small and collaborative robotics.     And don't forget the very small is likely also disposable.   And is a sensor whose goals can be multi-tasked.

You Can't Touch Harvard's New Ambulatory MicroRobot  By Evan Ackerman in IEEE Spectrum
Because it's HAMR time!

One of the new and exciting things about HAMR in 2018 is the introduction of HAMR-F, which features onboard power and a first major step towards full autonomy. Previous versions of HAMR (we’ve written about some of them in the past) were mostly tethered and not particularly autonomous, which was okay, because Harvard was focusing on important stuff like manufacturing techniques and gait analysis. But to do practical things, you can’t very well run a very long electrical cord and stand there with a remote control all the time, can you? Or, you can, I guess, but nobody will take you very seriously if you do.

HAMR-F is 4.5 centimeters long and weighs just 2.8 grams, and it can zip along at up to 17.2 cm/s, or just under 4 body lengths per second. This is over 300 percent faster than the previous off-tether version of HAMR, and only a little bit slower than the tethered version, which is impressive. HAMR-F also features upgrades that “leverage advances in manufacturing, sensing, and energy storage to seamlessly integrate the electrical and mechanical components on HAMR.” An improved powertrain increases its robustness, and also gives the robot the ability to move much more dynamically, enabling aerial-phase motion, including everyone’s favorite gait, the pronk.  .... "

Should Bots Lie?

What does it mean when any kind of agent in a collaboration lies?   Room for risk analyses here.

Should AI bots lie? Hard truths about artificial intelligence in ZDNet
AI will revolutionize the world, or so sayeth Silicon Valley. But there are some potholes on the road to AI nirvana -- starting with the people AI is supposed to help. Think Skynet. Here's research from the frontlines of artificial intelligence.  .... 

By Robin Harris for Storage Bits in ZDNet

Points to the paper:   https://arxiv.org/pdf/1801.09854.pdf    On Mental Modeling and Acceptable Symbiosis in Human-AI Collaboration    by Tathagata Chakraborti and Subbarao Kambhampati, Department of Computer Science, Arizona State University ....

Inverse Reinforcement Learning

This was generally new to me.  But seems like it could be very useful, in understanding the behavioral reaction of consumers to advertising or marketing.   Note relationship to reinforcement learning.

Inverse Reinforcement Learning pt. I
Published  by Johannes Heidecke in Thinking Wires


In this blog post series we will take a closer look at inverse reinforcement learning (IRL) which is the field of learning an agent's objectives, values, or rewards by observing its behavior. For example, we might observe the behavior of a human in some specific task and learn which states of the environment the human is trying to achieve and what the concrete goals might be.

This is the first part of this series in which we will get an overview of IRL and look at three basic algorithms to solve the IRL problem. In later parts we will explore more advanced techniques and state of the art methods See section IRL Algorithms .

To follow this tutorial, basic knowledge in reinforcement learning (RL) is required. If you are not familiar with RL or want to refresh your knowledge, I recommend the following resources ... " 

Having Meaningful Conversations

I recently tried the Alexa Chatbot 'winner', and was not impressed overall.  The piece below addresses this.   Real, meaningful (not just tricking someone into thinking its a person) conversation remains hard.  It is a holy  grail of AI.  Having a contextually meaningful, memory and knowledge enabled, goal focused, creative conversation is the most important part of human intelligence. 

Amazon is trying to make Alexa more chatty—but it’s very, very difficult  In Technology Review

The online retailer held a competition to have graduate students make its personal assistant into a more conversational bot. Nobody won.

Getting to know you: In a contest dubbed Alexa Prize, Amazon challenged 15 teams to build “a socialbot that can converse coherently and engagingly with humans on popular topics for 20 minutes.” Three made it to the final round. The prize? Besides bragging rights, there was a cool $1 million on offer.  .... " 

Smelling Moth Brains are Smarter

Its not news that biological neural networks are very different from those used in artificial neural  networks (ANN)  we still don't know how the former work.    The odor/aroma aspects were of interest when we looked at mechanisms of detecting and delivering smells and taste in coffee.

Why even a Moth’s Brain is Still Smarter than an AI   in Technology Review.
A neural network that simulates the way moths recognize odors also shows how they learn so much faster than machines.

One of the curious features of the deep neural networks behind machine learning is that they are surprisingly different from the neural networks in biological systems. While there are similarities, some critical machine-learning mechanisms have no analogue in the natural world, where learning seems to occur in a different way. .... " 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Recreating Seen Images

A long term goal, and have seen many such claims as to the precision to which this might be possible. Looked at it for product recognition at one time, but was then very inadequate.   The use of EEG in particular is interesting because it is much researched for applications in brain research.

This A.I. literally reads your mind to re-create images of the faces you see  in DigitalTrend

Google’s artificial intelligence technology may sometimes seem like it’s reading our mind, but neuroscientists at Canada’s University of Toronto Scarborough are literally using A.I. for that very purpose — by reconstructing images based on brain perception using data gathered by electroencephalography (EEG).

In a test, subjects were hooked up to EEG brainwave-reading equipment and shown images of faces. While this happened, their brain activity was recorded and then analyzed using machine learning algorithms. Impressively, the researchers were able to use this information to digitally re-create the face image stored in the person’s mind. Unlike basic shapes, being able to re-create faces involves a high level of fine-grained visual detail, showcasing a high level of sophistication for the technology.

While this isn’t the first time that A.I. has been used to read people’s minds, it’s the first time this has been achieved using EEG data. .... " 

Airbnb vs Hotels

Saw an early analysis that showed this.

The Airbnb Effect: Cheaper Rooms for Travelers, Less Revenue for Hotels

Hotels enjoy their highest profits when rooms are most demand, like during holidays and big events. Unfortunately for them, Airbnb is taking away some of that pricing power, according to new research research by Chiara Farronato and Andrey Fradkin.

article by Dina Gerdeman in HBS Working Knowledge

Airbnb is revolutionizing the lodging market by keeping hotel rates in check and making additional rooms available in the country's hottest travel spots during peak periods when hotel rooms often sell out and rates skyrocket, a new study shows.

That's bad news for hotels, which have traditionally earned their biggest margins when rooms were scarce and customers were forced to pay higher rates—such as in Midtown Manhattan on New Year's Eve. And it's good news for travelers who don't have to pay through the roof to get a roof over their heads during holidays or for big events.  .... "

Human Touch is Essential

Well thought out piece.   Its not too much different than adding any kind of tech to work directly with people.  Augment their work skills.  Perhaps to the level of their replacement.   Even augment their ability to be creative.   Now we can construct solutions that are closer to human thought work,  so if we hope to do that kind of work a clear level and description of collaboration is also needed.

AI: Useless Without the Human Touch
By Gordon White -  in CustomerThink

There are conflicting opinions about the impact emerging technologies will have on the future job market. The reality is this: many of the jobs that will exist in 2030 do not exist today. Our jobs are not at risk of disappearing, but rather evolving and ultimately enabling us to maximize the impact of the human characteristics that make us so valuable: empathy, emotion and sociability.

There is no debate over whether artificial intelligence will change the workplace – it already is – but whether or not companies will have the capacity to successfully integrate AI in a way that empowers humans to work faster, better and smarter. New tech opens up countless exciting possibilities, as long as we are able to anticipate them and adapt accordingly. If companies fail to support AI that collaborates with their human employees, new technology will have limited impact. There was a largely unanimous feeling of confidence around the future of jobs coming out of the World Economic Forum, with many leaders agreeing on human reskilling as a top priority for companies in 2018.... "

E Passports Don't Work

Remember about 10 years plus ago, being in a rush to get my passport updated before a major international business trip.   A  passport with an early version of the RFID chip.   Assumed it was much more secure and would work in many foreign systems to give me easier access.  Well, maybe not.  Not sure what the complete implications are here.   What should we do?

US Border Patrol Hasn't Validated E-Passport in Years
Passports, like any physical ID, can be altered and forged. That's partly why for the last 11 years the United States has put RFID chips in the back panel of its passports, creating so-called e-Passports. The chip stores your passport information—like name, date of birth, passport number, your photo, and even a biometric identifier—for quick, machine-readable border checks. And while e-Passports also store a cryptographic signature to prevent tampering or forgeries, it turns out that despite having over a decade to do so, US Customs and Border Protection hasn't deployed the software needed to actually verify it. .... " 

No Conversations Yet

Good general piece.  The assistants are remarkable, but still cannot handle a common conversation.    What is the future of this?  Convenience of use is now there, I use it every day, but contextual intelligence is not.

Amazon Alexa is great. But what if she could do more?

By Bill Roberson in Digital Trends

A few decades ago, if someone would’ve told you devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home would become common household products, you probably wouldn’t have believed them. But, this is a different time, and these days, we expect a lot from our tech. As a virtual assistant, Alexa has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. In the few short years since she came on the market, she’s added new skills like calling and texting and a routines feature. However, Alexa is not yet a complete A.I. virtual assistant.

Although Alexa has a wide variety of skills, she can’t hold a real conversation.

The truth of the matter is, although Alexa has a wide variety of skills, she can’t hold a real conversation. She’s no good if you ask her questions that involve a slightly more advanced internet search. In the future, we’d like to see Alexa have a few key A.I. capabilities that will elevate her from a speaker to an independent assistant who relies less on basic human commands and more on her own intelligence and intuitive abilities. .... " 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Revisiting Virtual Worlds

As I have chronicled here, we looked closely at the Virtual World Idea, with the support of some management.   But it never stuck well enough, had too many problems involved with just getting things done.  And the older generations rolled their eyes.  But now that is turning over, and changes are underway, does it have a place?

    Its not augmenting reality, but replacing it with one that's potentially built for the job at hand.   A piece about changes being considered.  More closely connected to an effort called Sansar, which appears to bring it closer to game environments, which we also sought to make this useful for business.   Note that IEEE has a Virtual Worlds Standards Group, but a quick look at it shows the work is still thin. 

MIT's Veil for Private Browsing

New to me, investigated this idea for looking at 'automatic' background searches to support research topics.  This was developed much later, after work with MIT.

MIT's Veil service will make private browsing more private
Because incognito doesn't always mean you're 100 percent secure.

By Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon in Engadget.

After reports and studies revealed that browsers' private modes aren't that secure, MIT graduate student Frank Wang decided to take things into his own hands. He and his team from MIT CSAIL and Harvard have created a tool called Veil, which you could use on a public computer -- or on a private one on top of using incognito mode and Tor if you have big secrets to keep or if you've just become paranoid after years of hearing about hacks and cyberattacks.  .... " 

AI Failures in the Past Year

I don't call these AI failures, because almost by definition they are not 'intelligent'.  But it does give some good examples about how things can fail,  just as people can.  Don't think we will ever rid ourselves of these.  Intelligent is not perfect. A worthwhile set of cautionary examples.

Artificial ignorance: The 10 biggest AI failures of 2017

From self-driving car accidents to Face ID hacks, artificial intelligence didn't have a flawless year.
By Olivia Krauth in TechRepublic ... "

Challenging Mechanical Turk

We did some dignificant work with Mechnical Turk, and looked for better ways, so this is particularly interesting.  Worry, though, about the crypto currency ties, can we rely on it?

 This Startup is Challenging Mechanical Turk -  on the Blockchain   By Miranda Katz in Wired

THE PROMISE OF the gig economy—that it would empower workers to be their own bosses, liberate them from tyrannical office culture, and let creative types chase their dreams while maintaining a side hustle—is wearing thin. On-demand startups like Uber and Postmates have spawned countless lawsuits from workers claiming they’ve been misclassified and underpaid, while platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk have become infamous for pocketing 20 percent fees on microtasks that pay an average wage of $2 per hour. Now, two entrepreneurial brothers think they can rehabilitate a corner of the gig economy with blockchain technology—and they’ve just raised just over $60 million to do so.  .... "   

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Hype Outrunning Reality

The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Why the Hype Has Outrun Reality

Robots that serve dinner, self-driving cars and drone-taxis could be fun and hugely profitable. But don’t hold your breath. They are likely much further off than the hype suggests.

A panel of experts at the recent 2017 Wharton Global Forum in Hong Kong outlined their views on the future for artificial intelligence (AI), robots, drones, other tech advances and how it all might affect employment in the future. The upshot was to deflate some of the hype, while noting the threats ahead posed to certain jobs.

Their comments came in a panel session titled, “Engineering the Future of Business,” with Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett moderating and speakers Pascale Fung, a professor of electronic and computer engineering at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; Vijay Kumar, dean of engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, and Nicolas Aguzin, Asian-Pacific chairman and CEO for J.P.Morgan..... " 

Kicking things off, Garrett asked: How big and disruptive is the self-driving car movement? .... " 

Ads on Voice Devices

Still looking at what it means to have effective ads on voice driven devices.

What It Would Mean for Amazon to Bring Ads to Alexa

It's inevitable for the retailer. Here's how it would change your experience.   By Christina Bonnington in Slate

It was only a matter of time. This year, your Amazon Alexa experience will cease to be ad-free as the retail giant reportedly works to secure advertising partnerships with a handful of consumer companies.

Amazon is currently in talks with Clorox, Procter & Gamble, and others to promote their products on Alexa, the company’s virtual assistant, according to a CNBC report. Amazon is reportedly testing out various ad types, including videos and promoted paid search results (a la Google). CNBC reports that Amazon is preparing for a “serious run at the ad market” that could begin as soon as this year. (Update, Jan. 3, 2017: In an emailed statement Wednesday, an Amazon spokesperson said that the company has “no plans to add advertising to Alexa.”)

As Wired noted in December, some brands already have a presence on Amazon’s Alexa platform through their own third-party apps, called skills. You can order a Starbucks frappuccino, a Domino’s pizza, or an Uber, for example. But while you might see some of these highlighted in Amazon’s Alexa app, they’re just skills—not ads. Up until now, true advertisements on Alexa have been extremely rare. You can listen to streaming music providers that include between-song advertisements, and you may also hear an ad or two if you get daily flash briefings. Otherwise, Amazon’s policy sagely bans ads in third-party skills. As a burgeoning platform, if customers had been bombarded with ads from the get-go, it’s unlikely that Amazon would have seen the tremendous success that it has. Now that it’s already in roughly 15 million homes, Amazon can slowly start tinkering with how to make more money off its captive, indoctrinated audience.  ...."

Computer Vision Assessing Cardiovascular Risk

From Google Research, an interesting application.  With considerable detail about the experimental approach.   Instructive.   Note its about risk rather than diagnosis.   Examples of retinal images.  Would like to see more medical /statistical commentary on the results.

Assessing Cardiovascular Risk Factors with Computer Vision
Posted by Lily Peng MD PhD, Product Manager, Google Brain Team 

Heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular (CV) diseases continue to be among the top public health issues. Assessing this risk is critical first step toward reducing the likelihood that a patient suffers a CV event in the future. To do this assessment, doctors take into account a variety of risk factors — some genetic (like age and sex), some with lifestyle components (like smoking and blood pressure). While most of these factors can be obtained by simply asking the patient, others factors, like cholesterol, require a blood draw. Doctors also take into account whether or not a patient has another disease, such as diabetes, which is associated with significantly increased risk of CV events. 

Recently, we’ve seen many examples [1–4] of how deep learning techniques can help to increase the accuracy of diagnoses for medical imaging, especially for diabetic eye disease. In “Prediction of Cardiovascular Risk Factors from Retinal Fundus Photographs via Deep Learning,” published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, we show that in addition to detecting eye disease, images of the eye can very accurately predict other indicators of CV health. This discovery is particularly exciting because it suggests we might discover even more ways to diagnose health issues from retinal images.  .... " 

Friday, February 23, 2018

More Cashier-less Stores Planned: New Shopping Data?

Amazon showing some seriousness about the test, with more locations, some word was out there to the contrary.  Now what kind of additional data will this provide to drive better shelf marketing?    These cameras are watching the entire physical selection process.  Trading privacy with convenience?  Comparison to online shopping engagement?  Linking it to virtualized shelf analysis?

Amazon plans to open as many as six more cashierless Amazon Go stores this year
New futuristic convenience stores could appear in Seattle and Los Angeles.   By Jason Del Rey @DelRey In Recode. 

Amazon’s much-heralded convenience store of the future, Amazon Go, may seem like a crazy experiment. But the company plans to open as many as six more of these storefronts this year, multiple people familiar with the company’s plans have told Recode.

Some of the new high-tech stores are likely to open in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, where the first location is based, as well as Los Angeles, these people said. It’s not clear if Amazon will open up Go stores in any other cities this year. .... "

Competing with Amazon Go

Pointing to other efforts under way, such as Project Kepler.  The tech is there, will it be effectively applied to customers that will use it?

Will other Grocers Beat Amazon Go to the Punch? 

By Matthew Stern in Retailwire  with Expert discussion.

While the U.S. continues to wait for the arrival of Amazon Go, other retailers are entering the cashier-less store space — including Amazon’s biggest emerging e-commerce rival.

Walmart recently began discussing Project Kepler, an initiative headed by the co-founder of Jet.com which, according to Recode, aims to create technology that, like Amazon Go, will eliminate the need for cashiers in-store.

In China, online retailer JD is launching hundreds of cashier-free store locations using technology that appears similar to Amazon Go. A combination of cameras and RFID tracks movement and item selections throughout the store. Facial recognition, also expected to be employed by Amazon Go, identifies customers.

According to the Telegraph, “JD explained that cameras on the ceilings of the stores can recognize customers’ movement and generate heat maps of their activity to monitor customer traffic flow, product selection and customer preferences, which helps store owners to stock efficiently.” .... "

Computers Too Human

Saw some of this in our own chatbot testing.     Also famously mentioned in studies of how people react to obviously non-human images in chat interactions, like in the Media Equation.   Is the testing of this idea reasonably designed here?

Sometimes, Computer Programs Seem Too Human for Their Own Good
In The Economist

Researchers at Chungbuk National University in South Korea say they have demonstrated that increasingly human-like machines can invoke feelings of embarrassment in people, making some users hesitant to use assistive artificial intelligence. One experiment involved almost 200 volunteers who initially believed intelligence to be unchangeable, but who felt more embarrassed and incompetent after tests in which they were presented with 16 sets of three words and attempted to think of a fourth word that linked them, with half of the cohort given hints accompanied by an anthropomorphic computer-shaped icon. A second experiment permitted a different set of participants to ask for help rather than having it forced on them at random, which led to similar results. The researchers concluded some people appear to want to avoid losing face by seeking help from an anthropomorphic icon, suggesting there are situations in which the aggressive pseudo-humanization of machine-human interactions could usefully be reduced. .... "

Noise Robust Classifiers

May also provide better ways to understand how classifiers can be tested in varying environments.  Do not various contexts have likely kinds of adversarial noise?   In the areas I have worked with, that is true, in some cases the noise provided another level of classification.

Noise Warfare 
Harvard University 
By Leah Burrows

Researchers at Harvard University say they have developed noise-robust classifiers that are prepared against the worst case of added additional data that disrupts or skews information the algorithm has already learned, known as noise. The team notes these algorithms have a guaranteed performance across a range of different example cases of noise and perform well in practice. The researchers want to use this new technology to help protect deep neural networks, which are vital for computer vision, speech recognition, and robotics, from cyberattacks. "Since people started to get really enthusiastic about the possibilities of deep learning, there has been a race to the bottom to find ways to fool the machine-learning algorithms," says Harvard professor Yaron Singer. He notes the most effective way to fool a machine-learning algorithm is to introduce specifically tailored noise for whatever classifier is in use, and this "adversarial noise" could wreak havoc on systems that rely on neural networks. .... " 

Google Assistant to go more Multilingual

Given Google's considerable expertise in the space this could lead to some remarkable capabilities, see suggestions below and at link.   Here more about adding 20 languages, plus more on other advances planned for Google Assistant.  As we might have expected Google has more tricks up its sleeve in AI, conversational capabilities, and language.   Have one in test here, more reports to follow.

Multilingual Google Assistant to add more than 20 languages to its repertoire  in DigitalTrends

" .... At the moment, Google Assistant is available in eight languages, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese (Brazil), and Google’s plans would see that total expand to over 30, with Google claiming that the coverage would increase to 95 percent of Android users. Since that’s a pool of 2 billion users, that’s a heady boast. Users can expect to see updates that add Danish, Dutch, Hindi, Indonesian, Norwegian, Swedish, and Thai in the coming months — on both Android and iPhone devices — while the rest of the planned updates will come throughout the rest of the year.

Other plans include the ability to make Google Assistant multilingual, so if you speak more than one language or live in a multilanguage household, then Google Assistant will soon be able to detect the language you’re speaking and respond quickly and fluidly. According to Google, it will be even able switch between languages for a single user, perfect for people who use different languages throughout the day, and also useful for anyone learning another language.    .... " 

Microsoft Expands Bot Framework

Was impressed when I saw a demo of Azure being used to build simple chatbots.  I thought then that it is about what services such systems could work with and their related data.  So why can't these frameworks work with Outlook, Linkedin, Cortana and now Teams?   And other Microsoft capabilities? This looks to be in the right direction.

Microsoft Bringing Python, Java Support to Bot Framework

Posted on February 22, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan

" ... The cross-platform bot-building service currently allows developers build bots that work across services like Skype, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, and more using JavaScript, and C#.   .... " 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence

Below is from the talk mentioned above from our Linked Cognitive Systems Group.  Join us in future talks, many will be mentioned here.

Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence  by Dr. Vugranam (VC) Sreedhar

Abstract: In this talk I will briefly introduce deep connection between the underlying models of blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) ..... 

Here are the slides from Dr. Vugranam's Lecture.  Quite technically oriented, but also some general embedded gems.  Following up:  http://cognitive-science.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/CSIG_Vugranam_Sreedhar.BlockChain-AI-02-22-2018-v1.pdf

(Update):  And more by Dr Vugranam, this more developer and detail oriented, includes specific information about architecture of Smart Contract blockchain approaches:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnUBzE9CQqg--

Time Inconsistent Planning

Could such a method be used to plug into process models to include planning functions?

Time-Inconsistent Planning: A Computational Problem in Behavioral Economics  By Jon Kleinberg, Sigal Oren 

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 61 No. 3, Pages 99-107  (Abstract)

In many settings, people exhibit behavior that is inconsistent across time—we allocate a block of time to get work done and then procrastinate, or put effort into a project and then later fail to complete it. An active line of research in behavioral economics and related fields has developed and analyzed models for this type of time-inconsistent behavior.

Here we propose a graph-theoretic model of tasks and goals, in which dependencies among actions are represented by a directed graph, and a time-inconsistent agent constructs a path through this graph. We first show how instances of this path-finding problem on different input graphs can reconstruct a wide range of qualitative phenomena observed in the literature on time-inconsistency, including procrastination, abandonment of long-range tasks, and the benefits of reduced sets of choices. We then explore a set of analyses that quantify over the set of all graphs; among other results, we find that in any graph, there can be only polynomially many distinct forms of time-inconsistent behavior; and any graph in which a time-inconsistent agent incurs significantly more cost than an optimal agent must contain a large "procrastination" structure as a minor. Finally, we use this graph-theoretic model to explore ways in which tasks can be designed to motivate agents to reach designated goals.  .... "

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Can We Trust a Robot?

From Communnications of the ACM:

How Can We Trust a Robot?" by Benjamin Kuipers, says robots must be designed to understand and follow social norms. Kuipers describes the importance of instilling trust and ethics into robots in an original video at bit.ly/2om4z9X. ... 

" ... "Trust is essential for the successful functioning of society. Trust is necessary for cooperation, which produces the resources society needs. Morality, ethics, and other social norms encourage individuals to act in trustworthy ways, avoiding selfish decisions that exploit vulnerability, violate trust, and discourage cooperation. As we contemplate the design of robots (and other AIs) that perceive the world and select actions to pursue their goals in that world, we must design them to follow the social norms of our society. Doing this does not require them to be true moral agents, capable of genuinely taking responsibility for their actions. .... "

Georgia Tech Tests Assistants in Dorms

Like to see not only what is being done, but what skills are seen as being most useful in varying contexts, here in a Georgia Tech dorm, a university known for practical engineering.  Worked with them on Tech applications.   Can we get a read out about which skills provided end up being most useful? Especially beyond what you would typically call 'hospitality' functions.   Will follow up.

Amazon Alexa pilot begins in Towers dorm  at Ga Tech By Polly Ouellette
On the evening of Feb. 7, all residents of Towers Residence Hall were invited to pick up their very own Amazon Dot, a voice-controlled personal assistant that they would install in their dorm room.

The Dots, which can be paired with a bluetooth speaker, will respond to verbal commands that tell the device to play music, get the weather and listen to the news. Additionally, students will be able to perform several Tech-specific operations.  .... "

(Update) This was previously also tested at AZ State in August 2017.

Augmented Reality Glasses to Transform Vision

The emphasis on vision correction in context is interesting.

DARPA Awards $4.7 Million Grant to Transform Augmented-Reality Glasses 
Military Embedded Systems   By Lisa Daigle

Researchers at Columbia University, Stanford University, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have won a $4.7-million U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency grant to develop a lightweight glass that dynamically monitors the wearer's vision and displays vision-corrected contextual images. The goal is to create an ultra-high-resolution, see-through, head-mounted display with a large field of view and significantly reduced size, weight, and power consumption. The device also will be correct the user's vision deficiencies in real time and project aberration-corrected visible contextual information onto the retina. The augmented reality glass relies on the ultrafast generation of arbitrary wavefronts, both in visible and near-infrared wavelengths. The researchers will develop a scalable fabrication process based on standard complementary metal-oxide semiconductor techniques, and well-established procedures to integrate the new materials into the silicon nitride-integrated photonics platform. The team will develop analytical and computational tools for modeling large resonator arrays and dynamics of device performance.... " 

Protecting Deliveries

More details from the world of direct to home delivery.  A Smart Home then needs to consider the and ensure the security of its acquisitions.

Are smart homes smart enough to foil package thieves?  by Tom Ryan in Retailwire, with further expert commentary

With e-commerce’s rapid expansion, so grow the number of incidents of packages being stolen from consumers’ doorsteps.

According to a survey from Comcast, three in ten Americans who live in houses or townhomes have been victims of package theft. And 53 percent know someone who has had a package stolen from outside their home.

The survey was released timed to the launch of Comcast’s Xfinity Home 24/7 video recording service. The camera is controlled by artificial intelligence to record movement so that a home owner can view suspicious activity outside their home through an app. ...."

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Amazon, Whole Foods and Prime

Amazon improves connections between their online Prime buying club benefits and their brick and mortar acquisitions.  Whole Food 5% discount with Amazon Rewards Visa.  In the coming weeks I will be testing their 2 hour online direct delivery from a nearby Whole Foods. 

Via FMI Daily Lead:  Amazon will now give Prime members a 5% discount when they shop at Whole Foods Market stores using their Amazon Rewards Visa Cards, the company said. Amazon Prime members pay a $99 annual fee for benefits including free shipping and video streaming, and the Rewards Visa comes with other perks including 5% discounts on Amazon purchases. ... " 

Malicious Use of AI

Non technical, overview look at where we need

AI ripe for exploitation, experts warn   By Jane Wakefield in the BBC
Drones turned into missiles, fake videos manipulating public opinion and automated hacking are just three of the threats from artificial intelligence in the wrong hands, experts have said.

The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence report warns that AI is ripe for exploitation by rogue states, criminals and terrorists.

Those designing AI systems need to do more to mitigate possible misuses of their technology, the authors said.

And governments must consider new laws.  ..... 

Predicting Earthquakes

Had seen a number of research efforts here,  another move ...

Today, A.I. helps detect tiny earthquakes. Tomorrow, it might predict the big one

Earthquakes are notoriously difficult to predict. Even major quakes often occur with little warning. Meanwhile, there are many hundreds of thousands of smaller earthquakes that humans rarely ever feel but are occasionally detected on seismographs.

Now, researchers from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed an artificial intelligence (A.I.) neural network to better help detect earthquakes of all sizes. In a recent study published in the journal Science Advances, the A.I. system was shown to be more accurate than current methods, and may help bring seismologists closer to the elusive goal of earthquake prediction. .... " 

Thinking deeply about Reinforcement Learning

Remember reading about reinforcement learning, having designed more mundane neural network deep learning,  and thinking, but how do you design the 'objective function' to drive its action? 

Nicely constrained and goal oriented.  Below, from O'Reilly,  " ... A must-read series of posts by Ben Recht "unpacks what is legitimately interesting and promising in RL and what is probably just hype.".  ... Following.

Make It Happen    nbvcxz By Benjamin Recht  

This is the first part of “An Outsider’s Tour of Reinforcement Learning.” Part 2 is linked to.

If you read hacker news, you’d think that deep reinforcement learning can be used to solve any problem. Deep RL has claimed to achieve superhuman performance on Go, beat atari games, control complex robotic systems, automatically tune deep learning systems, manage queueing in network stacks, and improve energy efficiency in data centers. What a miraculous technology! I personally get suspicious when audacious claims like this are thrown about in press releases, and I get even more suspicious when other researchers call into question their reproducibility. I want to take a few posts to unpack what is legitimately interesting and promising in RL and what is probably just hype. I also want to take this opportunity to argue in favor of more of us working on RL: some of the most important and pressing problems in machine learning are going to require solving exactly the problems RL sets out to solve.  .... " 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Spotify to Build Own Speakers?

In CIO: Another competitor in the ranks.  Now from a Music aggregator.  What kind of  other Assistant aspects will it include?  Recall how Spotify was designing music based specifically on consumer demand.

Spotify is working on a line of "category defining" hardware products and is ready to start setting up the manufacturing process.

The streaming music company intends to create a hardware category "akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles," according to job adverts posted over the past year.

One ad for a senior product manager, posted last April, called for an expert to "define the product requirements for internet connected hardware [and] the software that powers it."

Today, a trio of job adverts (spotted by industry site MusicAlly) have been posted, seeking an "operations manager," "senior project manager: hardware production," and "project manager: hardware production and engineering" for the hardware. The first of those adverts states that "Spotify is on its way [to] creating its first physical products and set-up an operational organization for manufacturing, supply chain, sales and marketing." .... '

Work on 1000 Year Clock Begins

Also known as the most famous part of the Long Now Project.  About long term thinking.  Followed it closely in its early days via our work with the Institute for the Future.

Jeff Bezos writes:

Installation has begun—500 ft tall, all mechanical, powered by day/night thermal cycles, synchronized at solar noon, a symbol for long-term thinking—the #10000YearClock is coming together thx to the genius of Danny Hillis, Zander Rose & the whole Clock team! Enjoy the video.

Tweet and Video. 
Clock Details and more video:

" ... The full scale 10,000 Year Clock is now under construction. While there is no completion date scheduled, we do plan to open it to the public once it is ready. The essay below by Long Now board member Kevin Kelly discusses what we hope the Clock will be once complete. This is one of several projects by Long Now to foster long-term thinking in the context of the next 10,000 years.

Clock in the Mountain   by Kevin Kelly

There is a Clock ringing deep inside a mountain. It is a huge Clock, hundreds of feet tall, designed to tick for 10,000 years. Every once in a while the bells of this buried Clock play a melody. Each time the chimes ring, it’s a melody the Clock has never played before. The Clock’s chimes have been programmed to not repeat themselves for 10,000 years. Most times the Clock rings when a visitor has wound it, but the Clock hoards energy from a different source and occasionally it will ring itself when no one is around to hear it. It’s anyone’s guess how many beautiful songs will never be heard over the Clock’s 10 millennial lifespan.

The Clock is real. It is now being built inside a mountain in western Texas. This Clock is the first of many millennial Clocks the designers hope will be built around the world and throughout time. There is a second site for another Clock already purchased at the top of a mountain in eastern Nevada, a site surrounded by a very large grove of 5,000-year-old bristlecone pines. Appropriately, bristlecone pines are among the longest-lived organisms on the planet. The designers of the Clock in Texas expect its chimes will keep ringing twice as long as the oldest 5 millennia-old bristlecone pine. Ten thousand years is about the age of civilization, so a 10K-year Clock would measure out a future of civilization equal to its past. That assumes we are in the middle of whatever journey we are on – an implicit statement of optimism. .... " 

Talk on AI and Blockchain this Thursday

In our CSIG group.  Join us.  Relates to our work underway regarding Smart Contracts ...

Date and Time :  Feb 22, 2018 - 10:30am to 11:00am US Eastern
Zoom meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/7371462221
Zoom Callin: (415) 762-9988 or (646) 568-7788 Meeting id 7371462221
Zoom International Numbers: https://zoom.us/zoomconference
Website: http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update/

Title: Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence

Abstract: In this talk I will briefly introduce deep connection between the underlying models of blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI).

Bio: Dr. Vugranam (VC) Sreedhar recently joined IBM GTS/TSS from IBM TJ Watson Research Center to lead all aspects of Blockchain solutions for Technical Support Services. He led several successful projects in broad areas, including compilers, programming technology, security, compliance, service delivery and blockchain. He is also ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) Distinguished Scientist and also member of IBM Academy of Technology. He earned is Ph.D. from McGill University, with Dean's Honor.

For a look at upcoming speakers and past presentations visit the CSIG website:   http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update/ 

AI Platforms Extracting Corporate Knowledge

Quite a considerable claim.   Can we extract all the knowledge of a company for easy use? We developed and tried systems with similar goals.  Looking further.

Can This AI Platform Make You A Better Leader?
Half of executives fail within the first 18 months of being promoted or hired. Could software fix the problem?  By Lydia Dishman in FastCompany

A robot might not directly take your job, but chances are that automation will force you to learn new skills. In fact, according to experts at McKinsey, as many as 375 million workers globally may need to switch fields and learn new skills soon. That’s because at least a third of tasks in about 60% of jobs can be automated.

High-level thinking and creativity are beyond the capabilities of artificial intelligence. So how can a software platform claim to make executives and managers better at leading? After all, aren’t qualities like optimism,  empathy, and emotional intelligence rooted firmly in human behavior?

They are, but there are others that plenty of people struggle with like setting and keeping individual and organizational priorities. Enter Indiggo, a platform powered by a proprietary AI tool called “indi” that launched earlier this month.  According to Indiggo’s CEO and cofounder Janeen Gelbart, indi is a brain that has consumed all the knowledge the company has gathered in its 15 years of operation. That’s a massive data set of situational analysis, advice, and guidance for different types of leaders that Gelbart says is quite powerful and can provide a “return on leadership” much like ROI. .... " 

Immersive Terf

Immersive Terf.  Was reminded of Qwaq, which we examined for 3D Immersive collaboration.   To provide a virtual-world style collaboration.   Is it useful to have cartoon-like figures representing you and your collaborating colleagues, to provide an avatar inhabiting world with spaces that represent real conference spaces?  And is this more efficient than using advanced video driven spaces like Cisco's Telepresense? 

Keep Your Customers Coming Back

Good piece.  Not at all technical, but worth repeating what you need to get done.  The tech people I talk to don't seem to know these obvious things, and are always looking for some other tech magic.  But if they don't get these things right, it doesn't matter.

How to Keep Your Customers Coming Back    By Mike Dupuy in CustomerThink

In today’s competitive marketplace, how can you encourage customers to stay loyal to your brand and products when there are so many choices available? You have to provide an outstanding product, of course, and it must be appropriately priced, but there are a lot of companies that can do that. What will set you apart and build brand loyalty, however, is your customer support. .... " 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Samsung Patents the Drone Screen

In our innovation center we looked at many variants of the screen.  Especially as it related to in store and public retail advertising.  Here something new, a drone that resents a screen.  With lots of possibilities around scale.  The current winter Olympics showed how swarms could be impressive, why not displays integrated into such systems.  Nothing demonstrable as yet, just a patent.

Samsung patents a flying screen that could be used for hovering video
It may also be able to adjust its position based on the angle of your gaze.

By Mallory Locklear, @mallorylocklear in Engadget .... " 

GraphGrail AI

New to me, I like the attempt to create a broad solution ecosystem.   Send me some examples of useful applications in place.   Mentions Smart Contracts, which we are currently developing.

GraphGrail:   AI meets Blockchain

Graphgrail AI - is the World's first Artificial Intelligence Platform for Blockchain Built on top of Natural Language Undertstanding Technology with the Dapp's Marketplace. .... 

Decentralized platform, open to the world .... 
Ethereum for data-science professionals ..... 

Whitepaper:  https://en.graphgrail.com/whitepaper/en/index.html

#GraphGrailAi mission: the creation of a strong AI (Artificial general intelligence) that will be open to all, controlled and trained by developers throughout the entire world.... 

Portal for Scientific Discovery

Augmentation for discovery is something we examined for research.

Networking, Data Experts Design a Better Portal for Scientific Discovery
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) and the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory's Globus team have designed a new data portal to make information sharing faster, more reliable, and more secure. "Our new design preserves...ease of use, but easily scales up to handle the huge amounts of data associated with today's science," says ESnet's Eli Dart. The new portal design is based on Dart's Science DMZ, a high-performance network framework that connects large-scale data servers directly to high-speed networks and increasingly is used by research institutions for data transfer management. Another key platform is the cloud-based Globus service enabling developers to outsource responsibility for complex tasks such as authentication, authorization, data movement, and data sharing. An important system element is Globus Connect, which lets the Globus service transfer data to and from the computer using high-performance protocols as well as HTTPS for direct access. ....  "

Hacking Phone Pins with Sensor Data

Disturbing Situation ... You have to think about what data is being gathered by sensors, and if that new data can be used to predict other data ... and beyond.  A whole stream of inference to check.  Note the prediction does not necessarily have to be precise, just approximate. 

Hackers can guess your phone's PIN using 'harmless' sensor information
Six key sensors have no permission requirements, leaving their stored data open to any app that wants it .... " 

Dimensions of Digital Trust

Fascinating take.  A little skeptical about the approach to gathering this detailed information.  Why just 4 dimensions?   Worth the read.

The 4 Dimensions of Digital Trust, Charted Across 42 Countries  By Bhaskar Chakravorti, Ajay Bhalla, Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi in the HBR

The year 2018 is barely underway and, already, digital trust initiatives have captured headlines. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has said his platform will de-prioritize third-party publisher content to keep users focused on more “meaningful” posts from family and friends. Google has led off the new year by blocking websites that mask their country of origin from showing up on Google News. And the European Union’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will affect every organization around the world that handles personal data for EU residents. The regulations will also, no doubt, inform data protection laws and corporate trust-building strategies elsewhere.

Even China’s opaque behemoths have started the year with unprecedented acknowledgements of the need to address trust concerns: Tencent had to publicly deny that it collects user WeChat history after it was openly challenged; Alibaba’s Ant Financial apologized to users of its mobile-payment service for automatically enrolling them in its social-credit scoring service.

What these stories underscore is that our digital evolution and our productive use of new technologies rests on how well we can build digital trust. But is it possible to measure digital trust and compare it across countries? Are there countries where guaranteeing trust is a more urgent priority and will draw a larger share of trust-building resources and regulations? The Fletcher School at Tufts University and Mastercard have a launched a research initiative to address these questions by studying the state of digital trust across 42 countries. Here are some of our initial findings, drawn from the study, “Digital Planet 2017: How Competitiveness and Trust in Digital Economies Vary Across the World.” ... " 

Drop Ship Stress Panel

Does Drop Ship Put too Much Stress on the Supply Chain?
Dan Gilmore in Retailwire.

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Supply Chain Digest. .... 

A panel at last month’s Retail Value Chain Federation conference in Scottsdale explored the inventory challenges vendors face supporting drop shipping for their retail partners’ online operations.

Since RVCF is a semi-private function, the identities of the three manufacturers and one 3PL on the panel are kept anonymous.

Many approaches exist for managing drop ship inventories, including:

Having a dedicated inventory in a separate location in the DC;

Having one pool of co-located inventory for a company’s own piece pick/e-commerce business plus the retail drop ship;

Separating inventories logically but storing them together, if allocation and warehouse management systems can handle that.   One doesn’t seem to be preferred over the others.

All the panelists, however, tweak inventory availability information to guard against receiving a drop ship order for which they have no inventory, either because of accuracy issues or because someone else grabbed the merchandise first. One vendor reports no inventory to a retailer when the SKU count reaches five or less.

Almost all retailers want inventory information sent daily, although some want it refreshed multiple times throughout the day. The requirements seem to be based on the companies’ level of IT maturity. ... "

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Electronic Skins as Health Sensors

More novel health sensors.

Electronic skin can display a heartbeat on your hand 
You'd know someone's health just by looking at them.

By Jon Fingas, @jonfingas in Engadget.

Electronic skins might not only detect health troubles in the near future, but display them for the world to see. University of Tokyo researchers have developed an e-skin that can measure vital signs like your heartbeat and display them in real time on a skin display. The design blends a breathable nanomesh electrode and stretchable wiring with an array of micro LEDs that can output basic images bending with your body. Others know right away if you need help -- they'd just have to look at your hand (or anywhere else the sensor works) to get an idea of what's wrong. The sensor can pair with a smartphone and transmit its info to the cloud, too. ...   Dai Nippon Printing

(Update)   More in Digital Trends.

Marketing and AI

Artificial Intelligence Interview with ESOMAR  (the WORLD Association for Social, Opinion and Market Research)    By Tom H. C. Anderson  .... 

What Market Researchers Should Know about AI and Machine Learning – A Q&A with ESOMAR Research World on Artificial Intelligence in Marketing Research

ESOMAR: What is your experience with Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning (AI)? Would you describe yourself as a user of AI or a person with an interest in the matter but with no or limited experience?

TomHCA: I would describe myself as both a user of Artificial Intelligence as well as a person with a strong interest in the matter even though I have limited mathematical/algorithmic experience with AI. However, I have colleagues here at OdinText who have PhD’s in Computer Science and are extremely knowledgeable as they studied AI extensively in school and used it elsewhere before joining us. We continue to evaluate, experiment, and add AI into our application as it makes sense. .... " 

Security Risks for Alexa in Business

Some good points made for the business use of assistants and other attentive systems.  Methods like voice recognition, biometrics  and validation methods will have to be added and tested for such systems to be viable in the enterprise.   This goes beyond trade secrets, and to data transmission of any kind.

A white hat hacker says no company should use Amazon's enterprise version of its virtual assistant if privacy and trade secrets are important to your company.    By Will Yakowicz  ....     in Inc

Saturday, February 17, 2018


Gillette: Fat, Happy and Vulnerable in Its Own Fiefdom
By Bob Herbold on his blog .... 

A recent article in Fortune magazine discussed the massive loss of market share by Gillette; moving from 71% when it was acquired by Procter and Gamble in 2005 down to its current 59%. It points out that a key reason for this was that Gillette simply missed the growing consumer interest in an adequate performing, and very reasonably priced, razor. Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s and Schick jumped on this trend. Meanwhile, Gillette simply stuck to its decades-old game plan of evermore sophisticated and complex razors at ever-increasing prices.

How did Gillette become so unaware of reality? Basically, it appears that Gillette was its own isolated fiefdom at Procter and Gamble, basking in prior success. They got away with this because competition was historically weak, and Gillette was making good profits, so P&G management left them alone. ... " 

Cortana Gets IFTTT

Was wondering why this was taking so long.  Crucial not only because it links in data that can be used, but also shows some of the possibilities for future connections.  Now all the major assistant players link to IFTTT.   Have successfully used it for several tests.

Microsoft’s Cortana is finally on IFTTT  in Engadget

Microsoft keeps striving to find Cortana a place in the crowded smart assistant market, and despite losing a minor feature, it's still adding functionality. Today, Cortana added IFTTT, and launched with interactions to link it up with 550 apps and devices. ... " 

Simple Example of TensorFlow

A good, detailed example of using TensorFlow for one of the most well known analytics techniques.  Instructive.

Linear Regression in Tensorflow  by Aaqib Saeed
Predicting house prices in Boston area

Tensorflow is an open source machine learning (ML) library from Google. It has particularly became popular because of the support for Deep Learning. Apart from that it's highly scalable and can run on Android. The documentation is well maintained and several tutorials available for different expertise levels. To learn more about downloading and installing Tensorflow, visit official website.  .... "

Drones in Uncertain Environments

Long been a student of uncertainty.

A little Uncertainty can help Drones dodge Obstacles at High Speeds, says MIT  By James Vincent    @jjvincent in TheVerge

For drones trying to navigate a busy environment like a warehouse or a forest at high speed, the ability to know exactly where they are at all times would seem pretty essential. Not so, say researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), who have a devised a new, efficient way to guide drones around obstacles. The key ingredient? Uncertainty.

With most drones — and, indeed, most self-driving vehicles — navigation starts with a map. To draw one, depth sensors are used to scan the immediate environment which is compiled into a single 3D model. This then tells the vehicle not only where they are at any given moment, but also how to get to their destination. It’s a method commonly known as “simultaneous localization and mapping,” or SLAM.

SLAM has served the community pretty well to date, but it has its downsides. For one, it’s a very intensive process, that needs lots of high-fidelity data and computing power to process it. This is why Waymo and Uber’s recently settled lawsuit was all about LIDAR — the laser-firing sensors used to collect and process depth data. Data is important.

But, this process creates problems at high speeds and with small crafts like drones. They don’t have the time to collect all the data they need, and giving them the processors to understand it all is expensive.     .... "

Friday, February 16, 2018

Open Technology AI

How do we architect and deliver Open AI?

From my Linkedin Cognitive Systems Institute Group

Karolyn Schalk,  Moderator
Executive and Technical Expertise, Cloud, AI and IT Operations

   "Opentech AI – Architecture, Ecosystem and Roadmap" Daniel Pakkala
Cognitive Systems Institute Speaker Series Feb. 8, 2018.   Daniel Pakkala.  “Opentech AI – Architecture, Ecosystem and Roadmap: Drafting the big picture and directions of open artificial intelligence technology”

Learn more about drafting the big picture and directions of open artificial intelligence 
technology/   Audio and Slides:    https://youtu.be/_scuX6g_iA-

Kroger Opens Culinary Innovation Center

Always interested in how we can innovate, was part of a number of innovation center efforts. Surprised that Kroger has not done this before.  Now I would ask, how will this do things like spot trends in foods, in consumer process, in connecting resources to customers?   And link those trends to consumer behavior and purchase?    Start thinking about data and pattern and directions. 

Kroger opens Culinary Innovation Center
Downtown Cincinnati facility to facilitate development of food service concepts and products for entire chain

Richard Turcsik in Supermarket News

The Kroger Co. today debuted its Culinary Innovation Center, featuring a commercial kitchen with multiple cooking stations, spaces and capabilities, including technology that allows video streaming of educational sessions to Kroger associates across the country.

Kroger spent a reported $2.5 million remodeling the two-story brick building at 901 W. Elm St. in downtown Cincinnati, not far from its corporate headquarters, into the LEED-designed facility. Construction on the Center began in March 2017. .... " 

A Broader More Realistic Approach to AI

Been through it several times, and it is occurring once again.  But there is now as there was then a kernel of real value.  Good examination: 

Looking Beyond the AI Hype Cycle

Interview with Vishal Sikka: Why AI Needs a Broader, More Realistic Approach

The concept of artificial intelligence (AI), or the ability of machines to perform tasks that typically require human-like understanding, has been around for more than 60 years. But the buzz around AI now is louder and shriller than ever. With the computing power of machines increasing exponentially and staggering amounts of data available, AI seems to be on the brink of revolutionizing various industries and, indeed, the way we lead our lives.

Vishal Sikka until last summer was the CEO of Infosys, an Indian information technology services firm, and before that a member of the executive board at SAP, a German software firm, where he led all products and drove innovation for the firm. India Today magazine named him among the top 50 most powerful Indians in 2017. Sikka is now working on his next venture exploring the breakthroughs that AI can bring and ways in which AI can help elevate humanity.

Sikka says he is passionate about building technology that amplifies human potential. He expects that the current wave of AI will “produce a tremendous number of applications and have a huge impact.” He also believes that this “hype cycle will die” and “make way for a more thoughtful, broader approach.”

In a conversation with Knowledge@Wharton, Sikka, who describes himself as a “lifelong student of AI,” discusses the current hype around AI, the bottlenecks it faces, and other nuances. ... "

Accenture Talks Tech Future of Business

Good piece with lots of details at the link.

Accenture Technology Vision 2018

5 Key Tech areas, which they say are: Citizen AI, Extended Reality, Data Veracity, Friction-less Business, Internet of Thinking. 

(So what is Internet of Thinking?  ...  Architectural changes need to support that Our physical world is transforming into intelligent environments. ... "  

Intelligent Enterprise Unleashed
Five technology trends shaping the future of business

What's In This Article

Five technology trends are upping the game and allowing companies to tap into the powerful potential of intelligent enterprise, creating new business opportunities and helping to change the world as we know it.

Leading companies are improving the way we live with new products and services that will become indispensable in the future.

Business is getting personal. Leaders must shift their mindsets and business models to focus on forging strong, trusted relationships with partners, customers, employees, governments, and more. ... " 

Boasting Good for Startups?

Boasting probably just one component in getting the word out and support for development.

Is boasting good or bad for business?   By Maddy Savage BBC, Business reporter, Stockholm

Sweden is one of the most innovative countries in the world, yet has a business culture that discourages bragging about its success.

So is this humility a help or a hindrance when it comes to start-ups?  ... " 

Need for Ergonomics in VR

Obvious.   But I suggest that sometimes ergonomics are ignored for a clear value proposition or wow effect.  Consider Carpal Tunnel syndrome.

 Why AR Will Never Go Mainstream Unless The Ergonomics Are Right    By Guest writer Clifford Gross, CEO of TekCapital and Lucyd discusses augmented reality's future. in VRFocus

Getting consumers to adopt any innovative technology is an uphill battle in some way, shape or form. And nowhere is this more evident than in Augmented Reality (AR) glasses and headsets. While each year we’re seeing new advances in interface and functionality of AR glasses, there’s one thing that the industry needs to focus on if it ever hopes for AR to go “mainstream” the way smartphones have – that’s ergonomics.

Evidence does point towards AR potentially reaching a tipping point in mass adoption sometime soon. According to Gartner’s hype cycle, AR is projected for substantial growth and adoption over the next two-to-three years. Over the longer term, research firm IDC forecasts that AR headsets could reach up to 25 million units globally by 2021 – but with the majority being for commercial use.  ... " 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Full Scale Virtual Research

Former P&G Shopping Behavior scientist and colleague John Milby sends along an update of this work virtualizing shopping context for experimental understanding.  Connect with his deep expertise!

" ... Please share with your colleagues. Let me know if we can provide any additional information or support .... 

Introductory Video:   

Website:    FSVR Website  

Winning Starts At The Shelf
Cutting Edge Virtual Research

 Full Scale Virtual Research is dedicated to providing  clients with innovative, and comprehensive marketing research solutions for winning at the shelf. Our Virtual Wall's proprietary technology provides full scale, touch interactive, high quality shopping environments  to identify insightful shopper biases that are so important to Winning At The Shelf !  ... 

Best regards.    John Milby, CEO

Full Scale Virtual Research, LLC
11353 Reed Hartman Hwy, Suite 101
Cincinnati, Ohio   45241
t | 513 387-2222
c | 513 379-8355
e | jmilby@fs-vr.com   .... " 

Facebook Open Source AI

What Facebook is Doing for Open-Source AI.   Technical details and detailed pointers to resources.  Announces what they call Tensor Comprehensions.

Announcing Tensor Comprehensions

By: Nicolas Vasilache, Oleksandr Zinenko - Inria & DI ENS, Theodoros Theodoridis - ETH Zürich, Priya Goyal, Zachary DeVito, William S. Moses - MIT CSAIL, Sven Verdoolaege, Andrew Adams, Albert Cohen - Inria & DI ENS & FAIR

Today, Facebook AI Research (FAIR) is announcing the release of Tensor Comprehensions, a C++ library and mathematical language that helps bridge the gap between researchers, who communicate in terms of mathematical operations, and engineers focusing on the practical needs of running large-scale models on various hardware backends. The main differentiating feature of Tensor Comprehensions is that it represents a unique take on Just-In-Time compilation to produce the high-performance codes that the machine learning community needs, automatically and on-demand.  ....

What to expect next

This release will allow researchers and programmers to write layers in a notation that is similar to the maths they use in their papers and communicate concisely the intent of their program. They will also be able to take that notation and translate it easily into a fast implementation in a matter of minutes rather than days. As the toolchain grows, we expect usability and performance to increase and benefit the whole community.

We will release PyTorch integration for Tensor Comprehensions at a later date.

We are grateful for frequent exchanges with and feedback from the frameworks teams and are looking forward to bringing this exciting new technology to your favorite ML framework.

FAIR is committed to open science and working with the machine learning community to push AI research further. Tensor Comprehensions is already a collaboration between Facebook, Inria, ETH Zurich and MIT. Our work is in the early stages and we’re excited to share it early and look forward to improving it with feedback from the community.

Get started:
Tensor Comprehensions is available under the Apache 2.0 license.
On ArXiv
On Slack
Email: tensorcomp@fb.com

The New Virtual Office

I took several looks at this topic as part of our innovation center work.  Some of the capabilities I looked at still exist, see for example, what was once called Qwaq or "Immersive Terf".   Renamed 'Teleplace'. (tags on these efforts below). We also looked at and developed Virtual Worlds where people might reside and work.  None of these worked out to any degree.  Most people thought the proposal to be inefficient, cold and weird.  None really tested them sufficiently.  Now a new look:

Step into your New Virtual Office, by David Pierce in Wired

Augmented reality will transform the way you do your job, and you won’t look weird doing it. At all.
Next time you get a promotion at work, don’t agitate for the corner office. You won’t need it. Pretty soon, your office will be as big and messy and private as you like, because you’ll be the only one who can see it.

The early days of virtual and augmented reality have focused mostly on gaming, but Pokémon Go and Superhot are just a tiny part of how you’ll ultimately use smart glasses once they’re capable enough—and unobtrusive enough—to fit on our faces and into our lives. Most of the people developing mixed-reality tech think the venue where AR will really thrive is the workplace. .... " 

Facebook Introducing Smart Speakers

Fastcompany Says Facebook will introduce multiple Smart Speakers  Unclear if there will be any remnants of the Facebook M assistant, reportedly dropped recently.   We would assume it will integrate the Facebook software.

The social media giant is reportedly getting into the ever-crowded smart speaker market, according to DigiTimes. The site says Facebook will launch two smart speakers in July. The smart speakers will reportedly each have a 15-inch touch screen with the code names Aloha and Fiona.   .... " 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Slack Using AI

So far have not been impressed with Slacks chatbot, but gives the impression that they are working on assisting the user.   Especially useful for new or infrequent users.   At first expected this to take the initiative more than it does.  I know that can be annoying, but perhaps another track/window to provide suggestions?  The article takes it further, how do they efficiently connect Slack conversations to specific work process?

Slack Hopes Its AI Will Keep You from Hating Slack
The fastest-growing business app is relying on machine-learning tricks to fend off a deluge of messages—as well as competition from Facebook and Microsoft.    by Elizabeth Woyke in TechnologyReview

Wharton Podcast on Amazon Go

Will Amazon Go Capture the Holy Grail of Retail?

Amazon’s new cashier-less convenience store aims to answer one of retail’s thorniest challenges: Understanding why shoppers do what they do, and leveraging that knowledge into increasing sales.

Wharton's Barbara Kahn and Emory's Ryan Hamilton discuss the Amazon Go convenience store.

Even before it opened, Amazon Go began drawing deep skepticism over whether it could possibly work. Would Amazon be able to create a convenience store in which shoppers gathered their goods and walked out the door having been automatically charged for their purchases? The technology behind it — like driverless cars — has captured the public’s imagination. A reporter from The New York Times staged a shoplifting heist with a four-pack of vanilla soda around the time the store opened in Seattle last month, and failed. The Amazon Go technology worked, and he got charged for the soda. Others have, though, managed to outsmart the system.

But as shoppers gauge the gee-whiz aspects of the store and convenience of not having to wait in line, Amazon is sharply focused on the shopper. The company is always watching. More than 100 cameras in the 1,800-square-foot store are capturing shoppers’ every move to total up the purchase, but that’s just the start.

Amazon isn’t saying what its plans are for Amazon Go — whether the company will roll out dozens more soon, or exactly how the store serves a greater corporate strategy. But many say that by recording shopper behavior at such a detailed level and being able to analyze it, Amazon is hot on the trail of the Holy Grail of retail: really understanding why shoppers do what they do .... "