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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Maintaining Shopping Lists in Amazon Dash

I got a note from Amazon yesterday, indicating that one of my Amazon Dash items had been discontinued.  And offered me a long list of substitutions.  Have now been a 'subscriber' to Dash items almost from their beginning.  The idea works well.   In fact, recall talking the idea at our innovation center before they were announced.  Which reminds me of the need to maintain lists and preferences.   Also permits the constructor of the list some power in inserting their own choices.   Not clear if there are any statements in the EULA to that effect, but will investigate.

Apple is Hiring Assistant Smarts

Expect to see some further rushes in this space"

Apple goes on hiring spree to improve Siri's smarts
It's determined to challenge Amazon and Google in the AI space. ... 

By Jon Fingas,  @jonfingas in Engadget  .... "

Location Aware Reminders and Intelligence

Always thought there should be better  intelligence based on location.  Here Google Home provides some  capabilities.   Now would like the detection to have multiple conditions, and have it able to do an implied search in between, something like:  "Find a place that sells product X, that will do Y, at a price less than Z, and remind me when I am nearby"  ... then take that yet farther, including my likes, dislikes and interests. 

Here is an example of what Google Home can do now:

 " ... Bring the power of your Google Assistant with you
anywhere. Now you can set a reminder at home and
get it when you arrive at a specific location.

Learn more .... 

Just start with, "Hey Google"

When I get to work, remind me to call Justin ... 

Set a reminder to buy more dog food at the grocery store 
Remind me to pay the bills when I arrive home  .... " 

Practical Python Text Preprocessing

Preprocessing text often the most important and time consuming part.   Here a step by step introduction in KDNuggets.  Practical.   With links to useful tools.

Text Data Preprocessing: A Walkthrough in Python

By Matthew Mayo, KDnuggets.

In a pair of previous posts, we first discussed a framework for approaching textual data science tasks, and followed that up with a discussion on a general approach to preprocessing text data. This post will serve as a practical walkthrough of a text data preprocessing task using some common Python tools.  .... "

Long Now Meets Land Art

Some long ago encounters and conversations with folks that founded the Long Now Foundation reminded me again of Art in desert spaces.   See also their recent advances in clock technology.   Long term thinking is very rare, and should be appreciated.

The Long Now Foundation
Fostering long-term thinking through projects like the 10,000 year clock; Rosetta Disk; Revive & Restore; Seminars, videos, podcast ... 

James Turrell, Earthworks, and Monuments of Deep Time    A History of Land Art in the American West .... "

Where is the Shopping Opportunity with Voice Commerce?

Further statistics.

Shopping Opportunities for Voice Commerce    by Tom Ryan in Retailwire

According to a survey from Capgemini, 40 percent of consumers predict that three years from now, they will be more likely to use a voice assistant rather than engage with a retailer’s mobile app or website. That’s up from 24 percent who use or would use the technology today

At a slightly lower level, the study also found consumers expect to be using voice assistants over a number of other retail tasks within three years, including visiting a shop, dealing with customer support/call centers and using a salesperson.

The study, based in a survey of over 5,000 consumers in the U.S., the U.K., France and Germany, explored voice assistants via smartphones (Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant), smart speakers (Amazon Echo, Google home) and non-phone, screen-based devices (Amazon Echo Show/Amazon Fire TV).

Convenience, speed and the ability to multi-task are the primary reasons consumers prefer to work with voice assistants.  ..... " 

Friday, March 30, 2018

New Alexa Skills Kit Console

I like the approach being used, easy to develop simple things.  Though the broader AI architecture still needs expansion.

The New Alexa Skills Kit Developer Console Is Now Generally Available   By Paul Cutsinger

Today, we are excited to announce the general availability of the new Alexa Skills Kit developer console, providing a streamlined experience to help you create, manage, and publish all Alexa skills. With this announcement, the new console becomes the default home for all Alexa developer accounts, replacing the old console experience. In addition to complete parity to the old console, the new Alexa developer console offers a refreshed user interface and new functionalities, making it easier than ever to manage the entire lifecycle of your Alexa skill. With the updated navigation, you easily organize your skill tasks into the build, test, launch, and measure phases.

New Additions to the Developer Console:
We were excited to see so many of you engage with the public beta of the console and based on your feedback, we are adding even more features to enhance your development experience in a single integrated environment. The console uses English by default, but now also supports the Japanese language.

To help you access your skills quickly within the console, we have added the Your Skills link on the top navigation. You can now easily copy the skill ID from the Skill List page or via Endpoint on the Build page, as shown below:  ..... " 

See also.

CSI Talk on Chess and AI

Yesterdays CSI Talk:

Slides   All talks, slides and recordings when posted.

Talk byKesav VisWanadha:  "AlphaZero 1 - Chess 0: How Modern AI is Reshaping Thought"

Abstract: Artificial intelligence in chess has existed for a long time - it was more than 20 years ago that IBM’s Deep Blue defeated then-world champion Garry Kasparov in a chess match. If chess was played so well by computers back then, what more do computer scientists have to learn from this game? There have been many advancements in AI research since Deep Blue that have fundamentally changed the way we view a machine’s ability to mimic human thought. I will discuss the recent Alpha Zero vs. Stockfish chess match and its implications on the chess world and beyond as AI rises to unprecedented levels in its applications.

Bio: Kesav Viswanadha - I am a first-year undergrad at UC Berkeley majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). I am an International Master of chess and have been competing in tournaments around the globe since the age of 5. My experience in chess combined with my passion for computer science has led me to become excited about AI and machine learning, especially since chess engines have had a large influence on the way I trained for chess tournaments.  GitHub: https://github.com/chess123

AI Needs Big Data

Yes, hardly needs to be stated, but good thoughts.   All analytics, unless your problem is very simple,  need enough data to create stable patterns, and then test them.  The more data the better.   If you think you have enough, look for more.  If there are likely to be data quality issues, more yet.  This applies for any analytics problems.  And remember,  the solution will typically change over time, so get enough to re-test periodically.  Maintenance is important.

Why AI Cannot Survive Without Big Data
Data scientist are struggling to create structure out of the jumble of big data out there – structure that is essential for AI to function properly.  ...   By Philip Piletic

Via Gib Bassett in the SmartData Collective 

Autonomous Customer Care

Achieving Fully Autonomous Customer Care    By Richard Crowe in CustomerThink

When it comes to customer care, the best customer experience is no experience at all because services just work the way the customer expects—the first time and every time. So how can service providers progress toward this nirvana of customer support?

Building better customer care solutions starts with using connected intelligence to understand when and why a customer is experiencing an issue and how these issues can be most efficiently resolved. All of a service provider’s systems and processes must work together to create a great customer experience. Organizational and system silos make it hard to provide a holistic and real-time view of what’s happening with a customer and determine the next best action to take. The ability to connect domains, derive insights, and automate actions in the moments that matter is connected intelligence.

The road to fully autonomous care—where problems are predicted and resolved automatically, before the customer notices anything is wrong—lies in mining the vast trove of data that service providers collect, and learning valuable lessons from it using big data techniques.   ... " 

Machine Learning will Lead to Imagination Workers

In Think with Google: Machine Learning, Intelligence: Imagination.

" ... Marketers will be more important, not less

While machine learning and artificial intelligence hold a great deal of promise for brands, it’s understandable that various people throughout your marketing organization might feel a little itch of worry. Could the move toward automation and assistance make their jobs obsolete? 

Rob Norman, former CEO and chief digital officer of GroupM North America, says the exact opposite is true. Evolution, in fact, is insurance against obsolescence. 

“Because as machines do more work for consumers, the need to invest in brand relevance, equity, and familiarity only increases. In other words, the work marketers do is becoming more important, not less.” 

Thirty years ago, he notes, marketers were information workers, then they became intelligence workers. The next step? Imagination workers.    .... " 

Strategy to Beat the Odds

Back to the need to a reasonable risk analysis of strategic and operational plans.

Strategy to beat the odds
By Chris Bradley, Martin Hirt, and Sven Smit  in McKinsey

If you internalize the real odds of strategy, you can tame its social side and make big moves.

Several times a year, top management teams enter the strategy room with lofty goals and the best of intentions: they hope to assess their situation and prospects honestly, and mount a decisive, coordinated response toward a common ambition.

Then reality intrudes. By the time they get to the strategy room, they find it is already crowded with egos and competing agendas. Jobs—even careers—are on the line, so caution reigns. The budget process intervenes, too. You may be discussing a five-year strategy, but everyone knows that what really matters is the first-year budget. So, many managers try to secure resources for the coming year while deferring other tough choices as far as possible into the future. One outcome of these dynamics is the hockey-stick projection, confidently showing future success after the all-too-familiar dip in next year’s budget. If we had to choose an emblem for strategic planning, this would be it.

The power curve explained

In this blackboard session, McKinsey’s Chris Bradley, coauthor of Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick, describes the distribution of companies along the power curve of economic profit.
In our book, Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick (Wiley, February 2018), we set out to help companies unlock the big moves needed to beat the odds. Another strategy framework? No, we already have plenty of those. Rather, we need to address the real problem: the “social side of strategy,” arising from corporate politics, individual incentives, and human biases. How? With evidence. We examined publicly available information on dozens of variables for thousands of companies and found a manageable number of levers that explain more than 80 percent of the up-drift and down-drift in corporate performance. That data can help you assess your strategy’s odds of success before you leave the strategy room, much less start to execute the plan.

Such an assessment stands in stark contrast to the norms prevailing in most strategy rooms, where discussion focuses on comparisons with last year, on immediate competitors, and on expectations for the year ahead. There is also precious little room for uncertainty, for exploration of the world beyond the experience of the people in the room, or for bold strategies embracing big moves that can deliver a strong performance jolt. The result? Incremental improvements that leave companies merely playing along with the rest of their industries.

Common as that outcome is, it isn’t a necessary one. If you understand the social side of strategy, the odds of strategy revealed by our research, and the power of making big moves, you will dramatically increase your chances of success. .... "

Hotel of the Future

We helped a major chain think about the hotel of the future.   In some cases weirder than this.

The Hotel of the Future is Coming

The hotel of the future is coming, and it's a little weird
You may soon print a new toothbrush in your room to replace the one you forgot at home. And hotel bathrooms could get ... intense.

By Adrianne Pasquarelli in Adage

Context in Satellite Imagery

Nathan in Flowingdata shows a different kind of data imagery.    Advanced Sat imagery handles this today, but recall doing it for forestry assets before that was common.   Makes you think about context once again.  Link through for more details.

SimCity-like views using satellite imagery   By Nathan Yau

Maps typically show a view from straight above, which is good for navigation and to see regional patterns over large areas. However, missing out on the extra dimension of height can mean missing out on context. Robert Simmon for Planet Labs shows off some work in getting the less abstract perspective at a large scale.  ... " 

Excel Embeds the Knowledge Graph

This is the kind of thing I have been waiting for for some time.  The integration of knowledge about data with the data itself.   A kind of metadata.  An extension of the now common idea of 'spell checking'.   And using a 'knowledge graph' to do it.  Participated in some projects recently where this would have been very useful.  Its really a step towards useful intelligence in a commonly used business tool.   Looking forward to try it and see how it might be extended.

Microsoft Excel gets smarter with new rich data types  By Mike Wheatley in SiliconAngle.

 Microsoft Corp. is enhancing its Excel spreadsheet software with two new “rich data” types that provides a better way to access information on companies and places.

The geography and stocks data types allow users to pull information from Microsoft’s extensive Knowledge Graph and insert it inside their spreadsheets. The general idea is to make Excel smart enough to understand some entries and offer additional information, Kirk Koenigsbauer, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for the Office team, wrote in a blog post today.

For example, after adding a list of cities to a sheet, clicking on the Geography button would bring up a list of all the data Microsoft has on those locations, which can be accessed directly from within Excel. This includes information such as a city’s population, area, median income of its residents and so on.

Excel also draws on Microsoft’s artificial intelligence capabilities to help define any ambiguous entries. For example, if a user enters the common place name “Springfield” in a list of cities, Excel will reference the correct one depending on the context, or else it will prompt the users to choose which one they mean – such as “Springfield, Massachusetts,” or “Springfield, Missouri.” ... "

Thursday, March 29, 2018

More on Watson Assistant

More on the announced service.  This piece is interesting because it lists some specific current companies playing in the space with Watson.  Chatbot style interactions in a number of business interactions rather than in the home.

IBM’s new Watson Assistant targets business with ‘white label’ service 
The newest voice-activated A.I. assistant differs from Alexa, Siri, Cortana and others with a white-label service approach that works in the background.  .... 

 ... Other potential customers for Watson Assistant include connected device manufacturer Harman, a subsidiary of Samsung that has created a digital cockpit system fitted into a Maserati GranCabrio, and Royal Bank of Scotland, which will use the A.I. assistant in contact center calls. Greenstein also pointed to a deployment at Munich Airport, where Watson Assistant is embedded into a Softbank Pepper robot that answers questions and provides guidance for travelers, such as where gates are located and why a flight might be delayed. .... " 

By Matthew Finnegan      Senior Reporter, Computerworld  ... 

GigaOM Podcasts

GigaOM continues their podcasts on AI.  Informative. Below link lets you subscribe and see others.

Voices in AI – Episode 37: A Conversation with Carolina Galleguillos
Byron Reese Mar 29, 2018 - 7:00 AM CDT

In this episode Byron and Carolina discuss computer vision, machine learning, biology and more.  ... 

Byron Reese: This is Voices in AI brought to you by Gigaom, I’m Byron Reese. Today our guest is Carolina Galleguillos. She’s an expert in machine learning and computer vision. She did her undergrad work in Chile and has a master’s and PhD in Computer Science from UC San Diego. She’s presently a machine learning engineer at Thumbtack. Welcome to the show. .... 

Amazon Prime at Whole Foods

Am a shopper at Kroger and Whole Foods since their inception.  Watching the expansion of tech closely.

Amazon Prime Now gives Whole Foods a price edge: report
Barclays study of Cincinnati market shows savings over Kroger/Instacart    Mark Hamstra in Supermarket News

Ordering grocery delivery from Whole Foods using Amazon Prime Now may be cheaper than buying from Kroger using Instacart, despite higher in-store prices at Whole Foods, according to new research from Barclays Capital. .... " 

More Alexa Lamps

They are everywhere now, and lamps and light fixtures are a convenient place for more.   The introduction of a reference design should make it easier yet.

More Alexa-enabled lamps are coming
By Ashley Carman   @ashleyrcarman   in TheVerge

I’m sure you’ve always wanted a lamp with Amazon’s Alexa assistant built in, and Amazon wants to make sure companies can sell you one. Today, the Alexa maker announced the first reference design for a smart lamp that includes a microphone, speaker, and support for Alexa. Amazon approves and tests third-party white-box solutions, so hardware sellers know the design is reliable.

This particular lamp design comes from an ODM called Adition. It features two microphones, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, and support for multiple music services. It also illuminates in a warm light with the ability to dim. Companies will be able to take this design, tweak it, and quickly bring an Alexa-enabled lamp of their own to market.  .... " 

Retail Omnichannel Commerce

Retailers Are Starting To Reap The Rewards Of Omnichannel Commerce
Webinar replay
By Michelle Beeson in Forrester

Retail digital business executives must challenge the status quo and deliver omnichannel excellence across the customer lifecycle. Changing consumer behaviours, new technology, and an evolving competitive landscape mean that traditional organizational structures, processes, and channel-centric measures are no longer fit for purpose. A truly omnichannel operation that spans the customer life cycle will optimize revenue, deliver capital efficiencies like cost savings, spawn operational efficiencies, and improve the customer experience overall.  ... " 

Car of the Future, Selling your Data?

Well, Yes.  Somewhat different in an automotive channel due to context and changing location.

The Car of the Future Will Sell Your Data
As smarter vehicles become troves of personal information, get ready for coupon offers at the next stoplight.

By Gabrielle Coppola  and David Welch in Bloomberg.

Picture this: You’re driving home from work, contemplating what to make for dinner, and as you idle at a red light near your neighborhood pizzeria, an ad offering $5 off a pepperoni pie pops up on your dashboard screen.

Are you annoyed that your car’s trying to sell you something, or pleasantly persuaded? Telenav Inc., a company developing in-car advertising software, is betting you won’t mind much. Car companies—looking to earn some extra money—hope so, too.  .... " 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

How to Own the Customer experience

Attending this tomorrow, a favorite topic of mine ... join us at the link below: 

How to Own the Customer Experience:

" ... AI-driven interactions between customers and brands will soon be occurring more often. Messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and Slack will combine with AI to make sense of text — both conversational and written — and offer services in real time. In this MIT Sloan Management Review article, speaker Bala Iyer along with coauthors Andrew Burgert and Gerald C. Kane discuss how companies can prepare for this shift by choosing a platform, running experiments, and begin introducing AI to their customers today. Read it for free in advance of the live webinar on March 29th:     " ....   Customer interactions with brands will soon become managed by AI via messaging platforms — and companies need to be ready.    ... " 

Interpreting Predictive Models with Skater

One of the most important issues in data science,  interpreting models,  especially for particular contextual use.  And part of the context is always metadata driven. ...

In O'Reilly: 

Interpreting predictive models with Skater: Unboxing model opacity

A deep dive into model interpretation as a theoretical concept and a high-level overview of Skater.
By Pramit Choudhary  ....

Particularly like these general overview statements of interpretability:

" ... Ideally, you should be able to query the model to understand the what, why, and how of its algorithmic decisions: 

What information can the model provide to avoid prediction errors? You should be able to query and understand latent variable interactions in order to evaluate and understand, in a timely manner, what features are driving predictions. This will ensure the fairness of the model.

Why did the model behave in a certain way? You should be able to identify and validate the relevant variables driving the model’s outputs. Doing so will allow you to trust in the reliability of the predictive system, even in unforeseen circumstances. This diagnosis will ensure accountability and safety of the model.

How can we trust the predictions made by the model? You should be able to validate any given data point to demonstrate to business stakeholders and peers that the model works as expected. This will ensure transparency of the model.   ...  " 

Spotting Viruses with Machine Learning

A further indication of the value of pattern recognition ...

Machine Learning Spots Treasure Trove of Elusive Viruses 
In Nature  by Amy Maxmen

Researchers have applied artificial intelligence to the discovery of nearly 6,000 previously unknown species of virus. Simon Roux at the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute trained computers to identify viral genetic sequences from the Inoviridae family. He gave a machine-learning algorithm two sets of data, including 805 genomic sequences from known Inoviridae viruses, and about 2,000 sequences from bacteria and other types of virus, so the program could learn to differentiate between them. The model was then fed metagenomic datasets, and the computer retrieved more than 10,000 Inoviridae genomes, clustering them into groups indicative of different species. A separate study conducted at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil used machine learning to identify viruses in compost piles at the city's zoo, by programming an algorithm to look for a few distinguishing characteristics of virus genomes. Following training, the computer recovered several genomes that appeared to be new. .... " 

Facebook Delays Assistant - Smart Speaker

More players in the space. 

Facebook reportedly delaying smart speaker launch in wake of data outrage    Now might not be the best time for an always-listening Facebook device.

By Jeff Dunn in Ars Technica

Facebook has some hardware on the market already through Oculus, but its reported smart speakers would be a deeper dive.

Facebook is delaying plans to unveil its long-rumored smart speaker in the wake of the ongoing public outcry over the company's data collection policies, according to a new Bloomberg report.

Reports from Digitimes and Bloomberg last year said that Facebook is working on a large-touchscreen smart home speaker designed for video chatting, similar to Amazon's Echo Show, as well as a standalone speaker akin to the Google Home and Echo, which would sell for a lower price .... " 

No Such Thing as Corporate Entrepreneurs

Disagree, but it is clear they do not evolve the same way.

Why There’s No Such Thing as a Corporate Entrepreneur
By Scott Kirsner in the HBR

Can we please agree that there is no such thing as a corporate entrepreneur?

The term corporate entrepreneur devalues what real entrepreneurs do, and it creates a haze of hokum around people trying to innovate in large companies that sets them up to fail.

There is an ocean of difference between people innovating or designing new offerings inside a large company, and actual entrepreneurs. On one shore of the ocean is certainty — the steady paycheck, the options vesting, status, the cushiness of a corporate campus — and on the other is the possibility of incredible wealth. Fly-your-own-plane-to-your-own-private-island-level wealth. And in between the two shores are a million ways to fail, to sink without a trace. .... "

Executives Guide to AI

An Executive’s guide to AI via McKinsey

To stay at the forefront of the accelerating artificial-intelligence race, business executives can study up on the basics of AI using this interactive guide ... " 

Why Wikipedia

Have had a long time interest in how we curate the world's knowledge.  And thus Wikipedia asks ...

Wikipedia Asks its Readers Why. 
Wikipedia has a lot of readers–approximately 6,000 people visit every second. Since the online encyclopedia isn’t your typical information source, it had never bothered to ask its users why they showed up, and what they wanted from the site.

That changed in June 2017, when Wikipedia asked readers in 14 languages one simple question: “Why are you reading this article today?” More than 215,000 responses flooded in, and here’s the first results of that data ... "

CIA Releases Operational Board Games

Intriguing.   How useful these might be is unclear.  I recall seeing a board-style game with supposed espionage related origins that utilized game theory.   We edited some of the player parameters to get something that might be useful for real-life business.    It was suggested that the game could be used to set operational and strategic approaches for competitive activity. 

CIA’s in-house board games can now be yours thanks to FOIA request
After SXSW 2017 reveal, CIA releases buckets of marked-up board game design notes.  By Sam Machkovech  in ArsTechnica

Last year, the CIA used a South By Southwest festival event to reveal one of its weirdest training exercises: a series of globe-trotting, espionage-filled board games. If you're wondering why we're circling back to this news almost exactly one year later, we have four letters for you: FOIA.

A series of Freedom of Information Act requests, filed last June by Southern California tech entrepreneur Doug Palmer, finally bore fruit last week. The CIA has now released rules, art, and design documents for the two board games we played at last year's SXSW.  .... " 

Telepresence Robotics with Autonomy

Been a while since I  have seen novel telepresence robotics.   Here is an Ava Robotic telepresence system with autonomous navigation.  We experimented with meeting attentendance telepresence.

Ava Robotics Introduces Autonomous Telepresence Robot
Founded by ex-iRobot engineers, this startup is building a remote presence robot powered by sophisticated sensors and autonomous navigation   By Evan Ackerman in IEEE Robotics

Seven years ago, iRobot introduced us to Ava, a sort of tech demonstrator designed to show how robots were capable of doing things like—well, the company wasn’t entirely sure, but telepresence was one of the ideas. The robot’s autonomous navigation was certainly impressive, and Ava could avoid moving obstacles at the speed of a brisk walk, which wasn’t something we’d seen a lot of back in 2011.

In 2012, iRobot announced RP-VITA, a medical telepresence robot based on the Ava platform. And in 2013, iRobot and Cisco collaborated on the Ava 500, a commercial telepresence system with integrated autonomous navigation. We haven’t heard too much about it since then, but today a startup called Ava Robotics is coming out of stealth mode to announce its plans to bring the technology behind Ava to market.

Ava Robotics, based in Cambridge, Mass., was founded by former employees of iRobot, which holds a minority position in the startup. Ava has licensed some key remote presence technology from iRobot and wants to (re?)launch the Ava platform as a “new video collaboration solution that offers users ‘practical teleportation’ with the ability to transform remote work and site visits.” A telepresence robot, in other words.   ... " 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Retailers Need Chat

We worked with a number of chat style systems well before the Internet could adequately support them.  Now there are lots of ways to implement simple chat and Chatbots.  Note it can also be a way to simply chat seamlessly with a customer, for sales and service.   Having your well designed FAQ's and product list and details always show up in a search is another part of this.  But there is no reason today to not include chatbot interactions. 

Retailers Without Chat: A Missed Opportunity
By Kate Leggett,  Vice President, Principal Analyst,  Forrester

Chatting, by definition, is meaningless, trivial talk – but web “chatting” is anything but; it is starting to transform digital customer experiences. And it works. Customers want to use chat. Forty-five percent have used it to interact with a live agent in 2017. The companies that get it are moving towards a holistic chat strategy that straddles both customer service and sales.

Why does chat-based sales and customer service work?

There are a myriad of use cases where web chat improves the customer experience and drives business outcomes in pre-purchase and post purchase engagement. For example, chat puts customers at ease when purchasing a product or service they have never seen nor experienced in person. It also assists in minimizing purchasing errors and eliminating buyer’s remorse, which are among the top reasons for product returns.  ... " 

Travelers Purchase Journey

Journies within Journies.

The Future of travel: New consumer behavior and the technology giving it flight  By Jaclyn Loo

With its early use of online booking, the travel industry stands as one of the first successful adopters of digital marketing. But as tech’s effect on consumer behavior continues to evolve, so must the playbook by which companies operate. For travel companies, that means meeting customers’ rising expectations for assistance at every point of the purchase journey.

Today’s travelers are increasingly impulsive and want information quickly. A recent study that we conducted with Phocuswright suggests that more than 60% of U.S. travelers would consider an impulse trip based on a good hotel or flight deal.1 We see this trend reflected in our search data too. In the U.S., we’ve seen that travel-related searches for “today” and “tonight” on mobile have increased by 150% over the past two years. ... " 

Building Intelligent Machines

Cautionary review of intelligent machines.   Are they thinking like people, or just with people?  And what are the implications for value and bias?

AI savants, recognizing bias, and building machines that think like people

Despite impressive advances, three speakers at EmTech Digital show how far there is to go in the AI world.  by David Rotman  March 26, 2018  in MIT Tech Review.

Even with all the amazing examples of progress in artificial intelligence, such as self-driving cars and the victories of AlphaGo, the technology is still very narrow in its accomplishments and far from autonomous. Indeed, says Oren Etzioni, chief executive officer of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, today’s machine-learning systems are “AI savants.”

Etzioni, speaking today at MIT Technology Review’s annual EmTech Digital conference in San Francisco, explained that self-driving cars and speech recognition are based on machine learning. And even today, he said, 99 percent of machine learning is based on human work.

Etzioni pointed out that machine learning needs large amounts of data, all of which needs to be labeled: this is a dog; this is a cat. And then people need to supply the appropriate algorithms. All this relies on manual labor.  ... " 

Data Mining Text Reviews

An example of analyzin reviews using analytical methods.

Tidy Text Mining Beer Reviews

On R, tidytext, clustering, classification, correlation, tfidf, knn, dataviz, web scraping

Craft beer is a huge market. Beer reviews from fellow beer drinkers help customers navigate it.

From 2013 to 2016, the craft beer industry nearly doubled in value from $14.3 to $23.5 billion. The number of craft breweries jumped from 2,768 to 5,005, and production ramped up from 15 to 25 million barrels a year.

BeerAdvocate was founded in 1996 as a forum to review, rate and share ideas about beer. Today, the site houses millions of reviews for hundreds of thousands of beers, both domestic and international.

Users can rate beers and optionally provide text explaining their assessment. BeerAdvocate takes a thorough approach to beer evaluation, asking users to rate each on several features: look, smell, taste, feel, and overall. The platform also provides measures to indicate the spread or consensus of reviews, both in the rDev (a single rating's deviation from the overall mean rating) and the pDev (deviation within a beer's ratings).   ... "

Subconscious Choice

Reminder of work in the past, and Zaltman.   Back to measurement challenges.  Still being done, but to what value?  Read my previous tags from long ago.

Harvard Professor Says 95% of Purchasing Decisions Are Subconscious
When marketing a product to a consumer, it's most effective to target the subconscious mind.
By Logan Chierotti in Inc.

Why do consumers buy one product over another? How do you develop brand loyalty? How do you maximize customer engagement?  

According to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, the answer to all these questions is directly related to the subconscious mind. In Zaltman's book, "How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market," the professor reveals many exciting ideas that can be helpful to marketers and brands. .... "

Visualizing Outliers

Nicely done, non-technical piece

Visualizing Outliers  by Nathan Yau in Flowingdata
Visualizing data that looks like it came straight out of Statistics 101 text book is nice and all — for teaching and learning purposes. You gotta learn to stand before you can run a marathon. Once you’re ready for the real data though, which is fuzzier and more irregular, you run into data points that don’t quite fit in with the rest. The outliers.

There are various ways to incorporate outliers into your visualization, but you have to understand them first.

Why is the outlier there in the first place? Maybe it’s a recording error or a kink in methodology. For example, PornHub claimed that a disproportionate percentage of traffic came from Kansas. However, location was based on IP addresses, and any locations that could not be identified defaulted to the center of the country. That spot was in Kansas.

Sometimes outliers might be an exception or something extraordinary. We see this in sports a lot, like when Stephen Curry broke the single-season three-point record. Or when Usain Bolt ran faster than everyone.

In one case, the outlier is noise relative to the rest of the data. In another the outliers deserve a closer look.

With your own data, figure out which is which first. Then decide if the outlier belongs in the background or foreground. The visualization options below will be much more useful. ... " 

Monday, March 26, 2018

What Comes Next After the Algorithm

Nice thoughtful piece from William Vorhies.   My take, we need to get better ways to attach algorithms (the magic) to Work (the process).     He hints at it.   Simple as that, with lots of details to do.

What Comes After Deep Learning    by William Vorhies in DSC
Summary: We’re stuck.  There hasn’t been a major breakthrough in algorithms in the last year.  Here’s a survey of the leading contenders for that next major advancement.

We’re stuck.  Or at least we’re plateaued.  Can anyone remember the last time a year went by without a major notable advance in algorithms, chips, or data handling?  It was so unusual to go to the Strata San Jose conference a few weeks ago and see no new eye catching developments.

As I reported earlier, it seems we’ve hit maturity and now our major efforts are aimed at either making sure all our powerful new techniques work well together (converged platforms) or making a buck from those massive VC investments in same.

I’m not the only one who noticed.  Several attendees and exhibitors said very similar things to me.  And just the other day I had a note from a team of well-regarded researchers who had been evaluating the relative merits of different advanced analytic platforms, and concluding there weren’t any differences worth reporting.

Why and Where are We Stuck?

Where we are right now is actually not such a bad place.  Our advances over the last two or three years have all been in the realm of deep learning and reinforcement learning.  Deep learning has brought us terrific capabilities in processing speech, text, image, and video.  Add reinforcement learning and we get big advances in game play, autonomous vehicles, robotics and the like.

We’re in the earliest stages of a commercial explosion based on these like the huge savings from customer interactions through chatbots; new personal convenience apps like personal assistants and Alexa, and level 2 automation in our personal cars like adaptive cruise control, accident avoidance braking, and lane maintenance.   .... " 

Workbook Building an Internet of Things

Useful thoughts ...

Digital Transformation
Announcing the First Project Workbook for IoT
By Maciej Kranz - Cisco Blog

After publishing “Building the Internet of Things” some 16 months ago, readers told me they gained a deeper understanding of why they should get moving with IoT projects. Going beyond the hype, the book underscored that IoT is real, success cases abound in multiple industries, and users are realizing new levels of business value.

While the book addressed key element to consider when implementing IoT solutions, there was a common thread to feedback from many: “This is great, but how about following up with a practical, step-by-step workbook?”

It was clear to me that although IoT deployments continue to gain traction, many companies still struggle to get their projects off the ground and uncover IoT’s transformational power. Business leaders as well as frontline business and operations managers charged with implementing IoT projects still needed more. They needed a simple playbook with a checklist of specific items before, during and after launching their IoT project.

As a result, today I am announcing the release of “Building the Internet of Things – A Project Workbook.” Consider this an instructional companion to my first book, providing an interactive, 15-step process on everything needed to identify, plan, roll out and evaluate the first or next IoT project in most any organization. It connects the dots from concept to completion and afterwards. .... "

Wayfind: Dialog on Customer Experience

Late to this but brought again to my attention:

Wayfind:  Dialog on Customer Experience

WayfinD is a quarterly e-magazine filled with insights, trends and predictions from customer experience experts.

Each issue covers the latest in consumer research, digital strategies, and provocative questions every business should be asking.

Read about the latest primary consumer research studies being produced by WD Partners.

Case Studies
Check out photos and videos of recently completed projects.

Reader's Polls
See what other readers think about current retail trends.

Tips and Trends
Discover what trends are impacting customer experience and retail sales.

What if …
Review surprising stats and forward-thinking questions that may change the way you think about your customer and your business. .... "

More on Rosmaro Automata Programming

Ɓukasz Makuch writes:

Hello,  Thank you very much for mentioning Rosmaro 

When it comes to a practical application of visual automata-based programming, I find it a great way to deal with user interfaces. I'd be very happy if you could take a look at 
https://medium.com/dailyjs/react-and-visual-automata-based-programming-c1d13e153cde . It's a complete tutorial about building a wizard with multiple paths.   .... "

See also Lukasz Makuch's blog on this and related topics.

IKEA and Accenture Show a Tech Advanced Store

Again, IKEA looks quite advanced. 

IKEA asks, will virtual inventory be key to the new urban showroom?  by Matthew Stern in Retailwire.

The completely unique experience of shopping at an IKEA store is part of the brand’s appeal. But at World Mobile Congress, the chain gave a demo of a futuristic small-concept store that is far different from IKEA’s familiar labyrinth — and from other store concepts out there as well.

In partnership with Accenture, IKEA demoed a tech-enhanced store which, according to Retail Detail Europe, fits the chain’s entire expansive catalog into a small-format location. The walls are said to “double as screens filled with product information” and visitors can use an RFID-enabled version of the iconic IKEA pencil to make product selections, check out and specify if they will pick up the physical product or have it shipped.

A tweet by French tech journalist Simon Chodorge features a video of the demo. In it, the journalist can be seen tapping an RFID-enabled version of an IKEA pencil on active pads on tables near touch screens, which appear to be adding items to a shopping cart. The journalist then visits a central touch screen to check out ...... " 

Graphs and Task Planning

Technical Perspective: A Graph-Theoretic Framework Traces Task Planning  By Nicole Immorlica 
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 61 No. 3, Page 98

Algorithmic game theory has made great strides in recent decades by assuming standard economic models of rational agent behavior to study outcomes in distributed computational settings. From the analysis of Internet routing to the design of advertisement auctions and crowdsourcing tasks, researchers leveraged these models to characterize the performance of the underlying systems and guide practitioners in their optimization. These models have tractable mathematical formulations and broadly applicable conclusions that drive their success, but they rely strongly on the assumption of rationality.

The assumption of rationality is at times questionable, particularly in systems in which human actors make most of the decisions and in systems that evolve over time. Humans, simply put, are bad at thinking about the impact of their actions on their environment and their future. We see this every day in the way we manage our time. Students cram for exams despite planning not to, and even though it is well documented that well-spaced studying produces improved learning results with equal effort. Humans in lab experiments also consistently exhibit similar irrational time-inconsistent planning and procrastination behavior.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sotheby's International Realty Does VR

Did work in the auction space, so I follow Sotheby's,   On the face of this VR App looks impressive.  An obvious area of VR application.   See also previous posts on room design and furnuture.

Sotheby’s International Realty First Real Estate Brand to Launch Augmented Reality App: Introducing Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty

Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC today announced the launch of Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty, a mobile augmented reality (AR) app that will bring a home’s virtual staging images from 2-D perception into augmented reality.

“Buying a house is not only a significant financial decision, but is also deeply personal and emotional. Introducing an augmented reality component to the homebuying experience takes the consumer on a personal journey that allows them to see a house transformed into a home, their home, through the magic of technology.” – John Passerini, global vice president of interactive marketing, Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC

The app was built with ARCore, Google’s AR Software platform, and is powered by roOomy, the leading virtual staging technology platform specializing in 3D/AR/VR content creation and application development.  Curate by Sotheby’s International Realty allows consumers to visualize a house as their own before purchase, thereby curating the homebuying experience. Working closely with Google in the run up to ARCore’s release, the Sotheby’s International Realty® brand is the first real estate brand to launch and implement a virtual staging AR app, transforming the homebuying and selling experience for sales associates and consumers.  ... " 

A Guide to Data Analysis

Nicely done, non technical, but considerable and basic and step by step guide to data analysis. Gives lots of suggestions to be complete about the process.  From Geckoboard, a company that has a dashboard product.

A Guide to Basic Data Analysis
Trying to find the cause of a problem in your business? Data can help, but sometimes knowing how to explore and interpret it can be intimidating. We've put together this no nonsense data analysis guide to walk you through a simple process so you can confidently use data to find answers and make smart decisions.  .... " 

The Basics of Virtual Reality

Good non-technical piece on the Basics of Virtual Reality (VR).

What is VR?  By Tyler Lacoma  @CaptainWords In DigitalTrends. 

Learn the basics of VR: Here's everything you need to know about virtual reality ... VR, or virtual reality, has gone from a science fiction concept to a broad market of consumer devices in just a short span of years: It’s no surprise some of us have whiplash.

Now that VR technology is everywhere, you may have some questions. We’re going to answer them! Here’s everything you need to know about VR.

The Basics of VR
Virtual reality technology seeks to create a realistic three-dimensional image or environment that a human can perceive as real, and even interact with in realistic ways. Obviously we aren’t at holodeck levels of realism yet, but consumers do have easy access to VR headsets and controllers.  .... " 

Learning International Trends

Surprise, its via the Internet.  Some business case studies.

How Companies Are Learning From Trends Across the World
People can now get a glimpse of how others live, dress, work, eat, and think, all without needing to travel -- it's no wonder companies are developing an appetite for borrowing international designs as well.
By Ilya Pozin Founder, Pluto TV in Inc. .... 

Google’s Chatbot Analytics Platform Chatbase Launches to Public

Considerable challenge, but tracking the process data by which a chat progresses can lead to better results.  Ultimately this leads to better conversations.  Could also lead to suggestions as to how humans are appropriately inserted into chat?  Back to our concierge driven experiments.  Note the connection to a number of current poplar assistants in the list below.  Like the direction.

Google’s chatbot analytics platform Chatbase launches to public

By Sarah Perez    @sarahintampa  in TechCunch

At Google  I/O this year, Google quietly introduced a new chatbot analytics platform called Chatbase, a project developed within the company’s internal R&D incubator, Area 120. Today, that platform is being publicly launched to all, after testing with hundreds of early adopters including Ticketmaster, HBO, Keller Williams, Viber, and others.

The idea behind Chatbase’s cloud service is to offer tools to more easily analyze and optimize chatbots. This includes giving bot builders the ability to understand what works to increase customer conversions, improve the bot’s accuracy, and create a better user experience.

This data is available through an analytics dashboard, where developers can track specific metrics like active users, sessions, and user retention. These insights give an overall picture of the bot’s health and see general trends.

The dashboard also lets bot creators compared the bot’s metrics across platforms, to see if some platforms need additional optimizations.

The system today integrates with any voice or text messaging platform, Google says, including Facebook, Kik, Viber, Slack, WhatsApp, WeChat, Alexa, Cortana, Allo, Line, Skype, Twitter, and more.

And though it has had many high-profile testers in its early days, it’s not necessarily meant to be used only by larger companies. As a free service, Chatbase supports bot builders of any size – whether they have one or hundreds of bots in operation. .... " 

Fast and Automatic Translation

We spent lots of time using translation services to understand how consumers interacted with product.  Now we re not far away from automating the process.  My desktop assistants do it already.     Some aspects, like Intent analysis are already being installed in natural language analysis.

Soon Talking to Strangers will be even easier.    
 by David Pierce in Wired.When translation happens quickly and accurately, we’ll be able to experience places in an entirely new way.  ... " 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Accelerating Business Decisions

I like the decision oriented aspects of how this book is presented.  On Order.  Available in Kindle edition below.

New Book: AI and Analytics - Accelerating Business Decisions   Posted by Sameer Dhanrajani

My new book has been launched today:

AI and Analytics : Accelerating Business Decisions. The new normal in enterprise strategy and transformation

Introducing, the first of its kind, must have primer for CxOs, executives and professionals on executing AI and Analytics strategies in their enterprises for end-to-end transformative impact.

Includes:Introducing, the first of its kind, must have primer for CxOs, executives and professionals on executing AI and Analytics strategies in their enterprises for end-to-end transformative impact. Includes:

Exhaustive repertoire of AI and Analytics strategy roadmaps, frameworks and methodologies for CXO’s, coupled with broad exhibit plan of making the enterprises AI ready

A comprehensive overview of the algorithm economy and its deep transformative potential of morphing enterprises into math houses

Incisive study of C-suite stakeholders – CMO, CPO, CFO, CIO’s radical role and functional changes on strategic and operational sides underpinned by AI and Analytics infusion

Outline of the immense AI and Analytics adoption and consumption scenarios in high impact industries of Banking, Insurance, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Retail and CPG

Thought provoking facets of AI and Analytics pervasive interventions in exponential technologies: Chatbots , RPA , IoT , Cybersecurity , Blockchain , Cryptocurrency  ... "

Blockchain Providing Transparency for AI Data

Useful to the extent that Blockchain can provide more protection and integrity checking in context for data.   A part of our old search for consistent transparency. Its about useful, consistent organization.

Blockchain Potential to Transform Artificial Intelligence
Posted by Ronald van Loon in DSC

The research on improving Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) has been ongoing for decades. However, it wasn’t until recently that developers were finally able to create smart systems that closely resemble the A.I. capabilities of humans.

The main reason for this breakthrough in technology is advancements in Big Data. Recent developments in Big Data have allowed us the capability to organize a very large amount of information into structured components that can be very quickly processed by computers.

Another technology that has the potential for rapidly advancing and transforming Artificial Intelligence is the Blockchain. While some of the applications that have been developed on Blockchain are nothing more than ledger records of transactions, others are so incredibly smart that they almost appear like AI.

Here, we will look more closely at the opportunities for A.I. advancement through the Blockchain protocol.  .... " 

NSF Solicitation on Augmenting Human Cognition

Alexandra Medina-Borja     Group Owner
Program Director at the U.S. National Science Foundation

New Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier Solicitation on Advancing Cognitive Capabilities

This solicitation focuses on advancing cognitive and physical capabilities in the context of human-technology interactions. The solicitation will support two themes: Theme 1 will focus on Foundations for Augmenting Human Cognition and Theme 2 will focus on Embodied Intelligent Cognitive Assistants. 

In shaping projects responsive to these two themes, PIs consider the importance of understanding, anticipating, and shaping the larger implications at the individual, institutional, corporate, and national levels, including issues arising from the needs or consequences for training and education. 

In addition, projects should be framed in terms of their focus on the potential contribution toward (a) transforming the frontiers of science and technology for human performance augmentation and workplace skill acquisition; (b) improving both worker quality of life and employer financial metrics; (c) enhancing the economic and social well-being of the country; and (d) addressing societal needs ... "

Friday, March 23, 2018

Does GDPR Require ML To Explain its Human Subject Decisions?

Even if this is not the legal interpretation, could some legal interpretations lead us this way?   What is an accepted 'explanation'?   An accepted  statistical method?  The  training regimen of a neural net?  The Theory structure and priors behind a particular Bayesian network?   What is a rigorous enough explanation?

Does GDPR require Machine Learning algorithms to explain their output? Probably not, but experts disagree and there is enough ambiguity to keep lawyers busy.    By Gregory Piatetsky, KDnuggets.

The EU General Data Protection Regulation, known as GDPR, is the most important change in data privacy regulations in 21st century, and it is taking effect very soon, on May 25, 2018. 

It will have a significant impact on many aspects of data collection and processing of data of EU citizens, and will affect not only EU companies but also multinationals that operate in EU. 

One possible and significant effect of GDPR on Machine Learning is the "right to explanation". 

Some of the articles of GDPR can interpreted as requiring explanation of the decision made by a machine learning algorithm, when it is applied to a human subject.   .... " 

Kroger Tech Supply Venture

Kroger Venture will offer Store's tech to other Grocers

Kroger has established Sunrise Technologies, an offshoot designed to share the supermarket's technology with other retailers, company executive Annette Franke shared at this week's Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas. Among the innovations it will make available are a remote temperature-sensing system, an employee management system and an interactive shelf edge system .... " 

SAP, Accenture Embed Predictive Analytics into Work Flows

Always thought this was a good idea.   And we did it, though is was not as clean an integration as it could have been.  Companies like IBM have many of the components (Ilog, BPM, Watson, Modeler ... )  but have not integrated them well enough.    Now here is SAP's attempt.  How well does this work?  It would take a real world implementation figure that out.  Do you have one?  Lets try it.   Have many old enterprise experiences with SAP, so cautious.   I see Supply Chain is one area of emphasis that is mentioned.

SAP Predictive Analytics, Application Edition, Powers Intelligent Enterprises
Press Release | March 20, 2018 by SAP News

LONDON — SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced the general availability of the application edition of SAP Predictive Analytics software to help enterprises create and manage predictive machine learning models for applications that run business activities, including supply chain, finance and accounting, human capital management and customer management.

Codeveloped with Accenture, the application edition enables intelligent enterprises by embedding predictive and machine learning capabilities in their applications, putting powerful data-driven insights at the fingertips of every business user. The announcement was made at the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit being held in London, March 19–22.

“Partnering with Accenture, we are arming enterprises with the tools, such as the application edition of SAP Predictive Analytics, needed to become intelligent enterprises,” said Mike Flannagan, SAP Leonardo and Analytics senior vice president. “With the rapid pace of advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence, SAP will continue to deliver innovation that brings powerful new capabilities to our customers.”  .... " 

Analytics is the New Source of Competitive Advantage

Have been saying this for a long time.  And people agree.  But its also the 'how' thats important.  Will it be the old way of getting data, analyzing, then selling it to management.  Or deeply embedding in process as a form of integrated intelligence? 

Analytics is the New Source of Competitive Advantage  By Han Yang in Cisco Blog

Analytics is the new source of competitive advantage.  Thomas H. Davenport, author of Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning,  has been writing about analytics for over 10 years.  Unfortunately, even when I attended Cisco Live Barcelona a few weeks ago, many customers from IT are still confused about why their line of business data scientists focusing on analytics are making seemingly strange requests of the IT department.  Ranging from high data ingestion rates to GPUs for deep learning, IT leaders are not fully comprehending the rapidly changing requests coming from their line of business counterparts.  Furthermore, IT requirements made in one week are often changed depending on what data scientists have uncovered during the following week.

At the end of the day, data scientists are embarking an adventure of data discovery, no different than Christopher Columbus trying to uncover a shorter route to India.  They are literally diving into the data and uncovering gems as well as garbage.  During this adventure of discovery, the tools that they need change as well depending on what new facts, data sources, and insights have made along the way.  As a result, IT requirements in supporting the data scientists change as well.  A Harvard Business Review article pointed out that big data analytics projects are driven by experiment and discovery.  Hence, the IT requirements are fluid and constantly changing.  ... "

Google Teaching AI

New opportunities, examining.

Google wants to teach more people AI and machine learning with a free online course. 

A new ‘Learn with Google AI’ site will serve as a hub for AI and machine learning resources   By Chaim Gartenberg  @cgartenberg in TheVerge

Designing and Building Reality

Reminds us of our meeting with Neil Gershenfeld at the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms ...  An enlightening experience about the future of fabrication. ...  Taking it beyond 3D Printing.  

We are on the threshold of a third digital revolution via computer fabrication, according to a new book.

Designing-RealityThe first two digital revolutions — computing and communications — transformed society. Now comes the third, which is fabrication, argues the new book, Designing Reality: How to Survive and Thrive in the Third Digital Revolution. The authors say that computerized fabrication such as 3-D printing is the beginning of a trend to change data into objects. But like any revolution, not all populations will benefit equally. The book, which is aimed at helping people prepare for the next tech wave, was written by three brothers: Alan Gershenfeld, president of E-Line Media and former chairman of Games for Change; Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, a professor at Brandeis University; and Neil Gershenfeld, who heads The Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT. Alan Gerhsenfeld and Cutcher-Gershenfeld talked about their book on the Knowledge@Wharton show, which airs on SiriusXM channel 111. (Listen to the full podcast using the player at the top of this page.)  .... " 

Looking Back at Useful Fundamentals of the Web

A bit of a look back historically, remembering some older aspects of the Web that are often forgotten, but fundamental and still useful.

The Missing Building Blocks of the Web  by Anil Dash in Medium 

At a time when millions are losing trust in the the web’s biggest sites, it’s worth revisiting the idea that the web was supposed to be made out of countless little sites. Here’s a look at the neglected technologies that were supposed to make it possible.  .... " 

Tapscott on Blockchains

Somewhat understated as to what it takes, some hype,  but useful:

Short 7 minute piece overviewing Blockchain, what they claim to be,  but not how it works .... and thus might be compromised ... largely correct, somewhat overplayed, mentions smart contracts,   .


By Don Tapscott in Lloyds

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Microsoft Teams

An Overview.   Have now used Slack for a number of collaboration examples with projects, and like it.    Will MS Teams do as well?  I do note its not available for standard versions of Office, a mistake, its where people will learn to use it, and select it over options like Slack.  Also want to see assistant methods like Cortana well integrated in context.

Microsoft Teams cheat sheet
Microsoft's answer to Slack, Teams provides group messaging, voice and video calls, and useful integrations with other Office 365 apps. Here's how to get set up in Teams and find your way around.
By Jonathan Hassell in Computerworld.

Email is everywhere, and it has been around seemingly forever. But is it really the most effective way for groups of people to collaborate on work and advance business objectives? Several new products on the marketplace, most notably Slack, wager that the answer is indeed no.

Slack and similar team messaging products try to remove threaded email conversations as a common platform of communication in organizations and replace it with instant message-like short bursts organized into channels based on the context or subject of the conversation. Microsoft Teams is the Redmond behemoth’s suggested alternative to Slack. Teams, which is included with Office 365 business and enterprise subscriptions, is essentially group chat software with some interesting features thrown in around working with documents and spreadsheets, especially those stored in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business. .... " 

High Quality Images from Limited data

Always looking for more information from less data.  You may just not have enough data, or it may take more effort, time, cost or exposure to get it. 

New artificial intelligence technique dramatically improves the quality of medical imaging

Source:   Massachusetts General Hospital in ScienceDaily.

Researchers have developed a new technique based on artificial intelligence and machine learning that should enable clinicians to acquire high-quality images from limited data. ... "


Useful Informatica white paper on GDPR, brought to my attention.  Which happens come May 25.   Implications for Assistants?

In the WP: " ... The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. It addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. The GDPR aims primarily to give control back to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU.[1] When the GDPR takes effect, it will replace the 1995 Data Protection Directive (Directive 95/46/EC).[2] .... "

IBM Watson Assistant: Business Skills as Intelligence Architecture

Have now had a few month look at the Watson Assistant in Beta.   Also have had three years learning with the Amazon Echo and a year plus with the Google Home.    So the comparison is quite interesting.  Watson Assistant is very much a 'white label', a system designed  to be installed in other, more complex things like cars or hotel night stands or Hospital rooms.   Or even a tiny part of your IOT.   Not to say that the Echo and Home's have not also crept into other devices.  And both now have a considerable lead in implementation.

What Watson Assistant does now have is the ability to link to Watson meta skills that have already been built for Watson.   Conversation,  Discovery and  Personality detection are just a few of dozens.  In the future also Blockchain.  Some are arranged in industry functional groups:  Say Financial, Supply chain or Retail.   So you should be able to look up just the  intelligence 'skills' you need and apply it to your need, in API fashion.  Mix and match them like parts of a business brain.  And then you get the skill functions to augment business needs.

And these needs .... like understanding speech, speaking to you, linking to information on the Internet and communicating with the IOT, and performing typical business transactional interactions are all there. But how to attach them is still not clear.   For example the Discovery Watson Skill, which lets you ingest private information and then interact with it intelligently,  is still to be connected.  Similarly business capabilities, like Business process modeling , are also possible future available methods.

IBM has gotten closer to making useful business oriented capabilities useful as skills.  Better than Home or Echo.   Closer to having a true assistant.   So if developers and startups line up to produce meta-skills that will deliver business value, we may see great things.  It remains to be seen if IBM Watson has the architecture to make it the place to do that.   Or should the developers just write a business value from the ground up?   Looking for new examples.

 IBM’s Watson Assistant lets any company build Alexa-like voice interfaces

You get a voice assistant, and you get a voice assistant, and you  By James Vincent   @jjvincent  in TheVerge.

IBM is today launching Watson Assistant, a new service aimed at companies looking to build voice-activated virtual assistants for their own products. Want your hotel’s rooms to remember a guest’s preferences for air-con? Or your car’s dashboard to be controllable via voice interface? IBM’s message to companies is: we can help you build that.

It’s an interesting pitch, especially as voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa are being integrated into new arenas. (See, for example, the Wynn Las Vegas’s decision to install Echoes in every room.) IBM says this shows the popularity of conversational interfaces, and believes companies should choose Watson Assistant over Alexa or Siri for a number of reasons — namely: branding, personalization, and privacy.

First, Watson Assistant is a white label product. There’s no Watson animated globe, or “OK Watson” wake-word — companies can add their own flair rather than ceding territory to Amazon or Apple. Second, clients can train their assistants using their own datasets, and IBM says it’s easier to add relevant actions and commands than with other assistant tech. And third, each integration of Watson Assistant keep its data to itself, meaning big tech companies aren’t pooling information on users’ activities across multiple domains. .... "

Machine Learning with Limited Data

Despite all the claims for all the data we have, this is often the case.  And the term 'mixed scale' is important,  you often have many different quantities of data by context.

Machine Learning With Limited Data
Government Computer News  By Matt Leonard

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a Mixed-Scale Dense Convolution Neural Network, a system that requires fewer parameters and training images when working toward image-recognition technology. A typical neural network is comprised of layers, each of which performs a specific analysis--one layer informs the next layer, so relevant information must be copied and passed along. Standard practice involves looking at fine-scale information in the early layers and large-scale information in the later layers. However, the new system mixes different scales within each layer, says Berkeley Lab's Daniel Pelt. This means large-scale information is analyzed earlier along with fine-scale information, enabling the algorithm to focus on the relevant fine-grain details. In addition, the layers in the new system are densely connected, meaning information does not have to be copied repeatedly throughout the network, and earlier layers can communicate relevant information directly to layers later in the series.
 .... "

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Defining Normal

Useful idea.  The example shows a very specific context  at what space or times scales?

Researchers at Bethel University are studying how to teach computers to define "normal" data and then detect anomalies.

The team used mathematical models and real-world data to determine ways to detect needle-in-the-haystack anomalies and report them in real time, using far less computational power than conventional systems.

Their algorithm is based on recognizing a sudden increase of distance between vectors in a high-dimensional vector space.

The researchers tested the algorithm by installing a webcam in an office window to pick up a feed of outdoor foot traffic. Each quadrant in the field has its own anomaly detector attached to it, and if something enters into that box previously unseen by the system, an alert is sent, says Bethel's Brian Turnquist.  ... " 

Is the BlockChain Needed?

A critically contentious look at Blockchain.  Do we need it?  How is it different from a number of existing technical capabilities?  Worth thinking about it.

AI and Process Productivity

Nicely done, considerable case study.   Agree.   And suggest that a good way to ensure this is to make sure you know exactly where and how the AI is inserted in current or proposed process.  Then the needed training and skills of the employees involved should be apparent.

Why Artificial Intelligence Isn't a Sure Thing to Increase Productivity  in HBS Working Knowledge by Michael Blanding

As companies adopt artificial intelligence to increase efficiency, are their employees skilled enough to use those technologies effectively? Prithwiraj Choudhury looks to the US Patent and Trademark Office for a case study.  ... 

Will Amazon Own Your Customer?

Amazon Will Own Your Customer And What To Do About It
By James L. McQuivey   Vice President, Principal Analyst

 From twenty years of trying, I know this about covering Amazon: It’s tricky. Our report process can take months during which we comb through our extensive Technographics data to find patterns or we interview executives. Not to mention the time it takes to write, edit, and produce our reports. During which time, the moving target we call Amazon announces dozens of new things that you can’t go back and add to your report. So while I’m pleased to announce that my latest comprehensive review of Amazon’s long-term strategy is now ready for clients to read (see Amazon Will Own Your Customer In The Future), it will appear I have left a few things out. Except that I haven’t, because our read of Amazon’s strategy is so on-point that every one of these significant moves announced by the orange smile is accounted for in our model. For example, Amazon:   (See the full article at link) .... 

2018 Amazon Shopper Behavior Study

Looks to be most interesting, download it at the link:

CPC Strategy
The 2018  Amazon Shopper Behavior Study
How Shoppers Will Browse and Buy on Amazon in 2018

Get the Guide PDF

The Story: 2018 will be a pivotal year for retailers, and as usual, Amazon’s at the steering wheel. The only question is–where are they heading next, and more importantly, how will consumers react?

In our 2018 Amazon Shopper Behavior Study, we’ll reveal eye-opening statistical findings that drive Amazon shoppers to make a purchase and why consumers may not be as loyal to your brand as you thought.

The Study: In this year’s Amazon Shopper Study, we asked 1500 U.S. Amazon shoppers big questions including:

How far are Amazon shoppers willing to search beyond page one?
How often do you use Amazon to discover new products or brands?
Are you concerned about counterfeit products on Amazon?
What’s the biggest factor in your decision to buy a product?
And plenty more!   .... " 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tiny, Disposable CPUs for the IOT

I like the idea that these CPUs will be embedded, even disposable.   In packaging for example.  Something we suggested in retail.    Bringing computing power closer to the edge.   Still not powerful by modern standards.

IBM’s latest computer is a blockchain-ready CPU smaller than a grain of salt  in DigitalTrends.

IBM kicked off its Think 2018 conference today with a bombshell announcement: It has made the world’s smallest computer, and it’s designed from the ground up to work with the blockchain. The computer itself is smaller than a single grain of salt, coming in at 1 millimeter by 1 millimeter and reportedly has about the same computing power as a 1990s era CPU.

“The world’s smallest computer is an IBM-designed edge device architecture and computing platform that is smaller than a grain of salt will cost less than ten cents to manufacture, and can monitor, analyze, communicate, and even act on data,” IBM claims. “It packs several hundred thousand transistors into a footprint barely visible to the human eye and can help verify that a product has been handled properly throughout its long journey. ... 

.... Essentially, these CPUs will be embedded in tags or product packaging, and they’ll log every movement the product makes, from shipment to delivery. They could also be used to ensure the authenticity of luxury goods. .... 

“ ... These technologies pave the way for new solutions that tackle food safety, authenticity of manufactured components, genetically modified products, identification of counterfeit objects, and provenance of luxury goods,” Krishna continues. .... " 

On Algorithms and Reading

How to Think for Yourself When Algorithms Control What You Read   By Marc Zao-Sanders in HBR

With the flick of a switch, a handful of tech giants can change the nature and extent of mankind’s ingestion of information. In 2013, Google took a step towards understanding the intent of their users with the Hummingbird algorithm. Twitter replaced most-recent with most-important tweets when they introduced their algorithmic timeline in 2016. Facebook claimed they’ll be replacing clickbait with more meaningful interactions on their feeds earlier this year.  These changes are almost always met with public uproar for a few weeks, soon after which humanity acquiesces. The ability for an elite to instantly alter the thoughts and behavior of billions of people is unprecedented.

This is all possible because of algorithms. The personalized, curated news, information and learning feeds we consume several times a day have all been through a process of collaborative filtering. This is the principle that if I like X, and you and I are similar in some algorithmically determined sense, then you’ll probably like X too. Everyone gets their own, mass-personalized feed, rationed by the machines. ... "

IBM Delivers a Watson Voice-Powered Assistant

Been looking at this in Beta for some time.  More detail to follow.

IBM delivers Watson-powered voice assistant for consumer brands
Alexa and Google Assistant have taken residence in people's homes. IBM aims to give companies a way to deliver their own branded AI voice assistants

IBM has launched Watson Assistant, an artificial intelligence (AI) powered voice assistant for businesses.

Organisations showcasing the Watson Assistant include speaker maker Harman, retail bank Royal Bank of Scotland, Autodesk, Munich Airport and Motel One.  ... "

Behavioral Implications of Grab and Go Retailing

Some interesting behavioral observations of early use of the lack of checkouts in Amazon's Grab and Go tests.   We interviewed and watched consumers in our laboratory stores to learn how they felt and reacted to similar approaches.  Will this cause fewer visits, change the nature of visits and purchases?  How will it interact with online visits?    Will this be an ultimate expectation of physical stores?   Amazon is in position to learn much here.

Amazon Go customers are still adjusting to the grab-and-go model in DigitalTrends

Apparently, our parents have taught us well. While Amazon’s new cashless grocery store, Amazon Go, has encouraged folks to just walk out the door without paying, it would seem that folks aren’t quite on board with that model yet. According to Gianna Puerini, vice president of Amazon Go, it has taken shoppers a bit of time to get used to the fact that walking out of a store without stopping by a cash register is not, in fact, immoral or illegal.

At Shoptalk, a retail industry event in Las Vegas, Puerini noted that she has been struck by the number of customers who have second-guessed their ability to take advantage of the cashless convenience offered by Amazon Go. ‘‘What we didn’t necessarily expect was how many people would stop at the end on their first trip or two and ask, ‘Is it really OK if I just leave?’’’ Puerini said of the new-age store that opened in January in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle. .... "