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Saturday, June 30, 2018

California Signs Data Privacy act for 2020

Yet another regulatory insertion to be interpreted and inserted:

Companies Confront Calififornia's Version of GDPR
By George Slefo in AdAge

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Consumer Privacy Act on Thursday, giving residents of the state significantly more control over how their data is collected, used and handled.

Call it "GDPR Lite." 

Although the law will not go into effect until January 2020, it will without question have massive implications for every brand, agency and tech company both here and abroad. ... 

In short, California just passed its own digital privacy law, allowing consumers to know what information companies are collecting about them, why they are collecting that data and who they are sharing it with. It also arms residents of the Golden State with the ability to tell tech behemoths such as Google and Facebook to delete their data, not to share their data or not to sell it. People can also opt out from a company's terms of service without losing access to its offerings. And companies are barred from selling data on anyone under the age of 16 without explicit consent. .... " 

An Agenda for Talent First CEO

An agenda for the talent-first CEO   A Book Excerpt via McKinsey Quarterly
By Dominic Barton, Dennis Carey, and Ram Charan

In tumultuous times, a company’s talent is its most valuable and reliable asset. What does it take to lead an organization that truly unleashes its human capital?

In our combined 90 years of advising CEOs and their boards, the three of us have never come across a moment like this, when virtually every CEO we work with is asking the same daunting set of questions: Are my company’s talent practices still relevant? How can we recruit, deploy, and develop people to deliver greater value to customers—and do so better than the competition? How can I be sure that I have the right approach to talent—and the right HR—to drive the changes we need to make?

We sought to answer these questions in our new book, Talent Wins, which explores what it takes to build and lead a talent-driven organization. The list of critical priorities, which includes everything from continual, agile reorganization to the reinvention of HR and the creation of an external M&A strategy, is long—and it creates a complex set of challenges for the CEO. The experiences of CEOs at talent-driven companies such as Amgen, Aon, Apple, BlackRock, Blackstone, Facebook, Google, Haier, Shiseido, Tata Communications, and Telenor suggest that meeting those challenges requires a distinct set of mind-sets. As we show in the book, leaders at talent-driven companies are as focused on talent as they are on strategy and finance. They make talent considerations an integral part of every major strategic decision. They ensure that their own focus on talent is woven into the fabric of the entire company. And they are comfortable leading flattened organizations—often centered around the work of small, empowered teams—built to unleash the talent that will drive outsize value. ... "


Been a long time since we looked at JDA's Flowcasting system.  We examined it even before its acquisition by JDA.  Still don't know too many people who have been exposed to it.  So when I happened on this piece in JDA's blog was worthwhile to look at it again, with the help of a well known supply chain game.    Have reconnected to their blog.

The Power of Flowcasting: Live Supply Planning Collaboration & Analytics – Part 1
By Tom Drake-Supply Chain, Supply Chain Management-  

It’s been a few months since I shared the learnings we’ve garnered from our Collaborative Flow Planning workshop – AKA – The Beer Game. Most supply chain professionals are familiar with this game and the supply chain planning pitfalls it exposes. Today, I’d like to focus on the second part of the game that was played, which was enabled by the Collaboration Workbench platform in JDA Flowcasting. We’re going to take a deeper look at how this platform was used to cut costs by two-thirds compared to those playing the game without the help of JDA Flowcasting  .... "

Microsoft Andromeda

Foldable, pocketable, multiscreen.  Is that disruptive?   Look forward to seeing the format and how it can be used.   Seems new hardware capabilities have been slipping of late, so lets try something new.

Microsoft calls its foldable Andromeda device “disruptive” in Digitaltrends

There have been numerous leaks surrounding Microsoft’s dual-screen Andromeda computing device in recent months, which is widely believed to usher in a new pocketable PC form factor to bridge the gap between what a smartphone and a laptop can do. Now, according to recently leaked internal emails, we are learning that Microsoft is positioning Andromeda as a “new and disruptive” device that will be part of the company’s Surface hardware family.

“It’s a new pocketable Surface device form factor that brings together innovative new hardware and software experiences to create a truly personal and versatile computing experience,” Microsoft’s internal document described Andromeda, according to The Verge.

Math of Causation

Not to say we humans do this well either,  but if we hope to have machines do it we have to consider how.

Solution: ‘The Slippery Math of Causation’

The all-too-intuitive picture of a straight arrow going from cause to effect is far too simplistic to describe the real world.   By Pradeep Mutalik in Quanta

Our latest Insights puzzle attempted to model multifactorial causation with problems that involved three causal factors whose different types of interactions either produced or did not produce an effect. The goal was to challenge the all-too-intuitive picture of a straight arrow going from cause to effect as far too simplistic to describe the real world. In fact, a recent Quanta article by Veronique Greenwood describes the omnigenic model of complex traits, with the startling self-explanatory title “Theory Suggests That All Genes Affect Every Complex Trait.” The thinking that inspired our puzzle and is manifest in the omnigenic theory was captured visually by Paul Laurienti. In the diagram below, think of the genes as the causes and the complex traits as the effects, and you will see that it fits the new theory perfectly. Thank you, Paul!  .... "

Friday, June 29, 2018

Definition and Use of Transfer Learning

Was pointed out to me that transfer learning was important to leveraging intelligence.    I had heard of it, but sought out a closer look at definition and areas of useful research, here is a start.  Not mentioned in any of the usual Quant methods in business books, but even starting with smaller or restricted prototypes can be seen as transfer learning.

Understanding Transfer Learning ....

Transfer learning,   From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: 
Transfer learning or inductive transfer is a research problem in machine learning that focuses on storing knowledge gained while solving one problem and applying it to a different but related problem.[1] For example, knowledge gained while learning to recognize cars could apply when trying to recognize trucks. This area of research bears some relation to the long history of psychological literature on transfer of learning, although formal ties between the two fields are limited.  .... " 

" ... The earliest cited work on transfer in machine learning is attributed to Lorien Pratt, who formulated the discriminability-based transfer (DBT) algorithm in 1993.[2] ... In 1997, the journal Machine Learning published a special issue devoted to transfer learning,[3] and by 1998, the field had advanced to include multi-task learning,[4] along with a more formal analysis of its theoretical foundations.[5] Learning to Learn,[6] edited by Pratt and Sebastian Thrun, is a 1998 review of the subject. .... Transfer learning has also been applied in cognitive science, with the journal Connection Science publishing a special issue on reuse of neural networks through transfer in 1996 ... " 

A Survey on Transfer Learning:

ACM article abstract.

A major assumption in many machine learning and data mining algorithms is that the training and future data must be in the same feature space and have the same distribution. However, in many real-world applications, this assumption may not hold. For example, we sometimes have a classification task in one domain of interest, but we only have sufficient training data in another domain of interest, where the latter data may be in a different feature space or follow a different data distribution. In such cases, knowledge transfer, if done successfully, would greatly improve the performance of learning by avoiding much expensive data-labeling efforts. 

In recent years, transfer learning has emerged as a new learning framework to address this problem. This survey focuses on categorizing and reviewing the current progress on transfer learning for classification, regression, and clustering problems. In this survey, we discuss the relationship between transfer learning and other related machine learning techniques such as domain adaptation, multitask learning and sample selection bias, as well as covariate shift. We also explore some potential future issues in transfer learning research ... " 

Hospitality Experiment by Marriott and Alexa

I know of several other hospitality experiments going on, its a natural direction.  Distinguishing, but will it save a hotel labor and resources?   What skills could do that?  Examining Alexa for Hospitality.

Amazon and Marriott Want to Modernize Hotel Experiences  By Lisa Morgan in Informationweek.

The hospitality industry wants to make travel experiences as "friction-free" as possible. Amazon and Marriott are advancing that concept by placing Amazon Echo speakers in hotel rooms so guests' desires can be fulfilled with mere utterances.

Amazon and Marriott International will start modernizing hotel stays this summer with Amazon Echo speakers that feature Alexa for Hospitality. Forget about bulky in-room binders and hotel service extension codes, including the front desk. Just sit back, relax and tell Alexa what you need or want.

"We think travelers will love having a voice-first experience during their stays at hotels," said a Marriott International spokesperson. "This will enable travelers to access local and hotel information, as well as play music and control smart home products [including] lights, thermostat, TV, [and] blinds." .... " 

Understanding Scenes Using Neural Nets

A powerful kind of visual intelligence, with many applications wen integrated with cameras and video.   Ultimately this kind of 'common sense', here visual sense, style reasoning can make conversational and assistant systems appear more intelligent.

Google researchers created an amazing scene-rendering AI

A neural network from Google's DeepMind has impressive spatial reasoning skills.
 By Timothy B. Lee in Arstechnica

New research from Google's UK-based DeepMind subsidiary demonstrates that deep neural networks have a remarkable capacity to understand a scene, represent it in a compact format, and then "imagine" what the same scene would look like from a perspective the network hasn't seen before.

Human beings are good at this. If shown a picture of a table with only the front three legs visible, most people know intuitively that the table probably has a fourth leg on the opposite side and that the wall behind the table is probably the same color as the parts they can see. With practice, we can learn to sketch the scene from another angle, taking into account perspective, shadow, and other visual effects. ... " 

BlockChain Strategic Business Value

Good, considerable piece in McKinsey.  A number of useful but general industry postionings and examples.  Just a bare mention of definition of smart contracts and their current limitations. 

Blockchain beyond the hype: What is the strategic business value?  in McKinsey   By Brant Carson, Giulio Romanelli, Patricia Walsh, and Askhat Zhumaev

Companies can determine whether they should invest in blockchain by focusing on specific use cases and their market position. .... "

Thursday, June 28, 2018

And Language Pros on Google Duplex

Inevitable that we will be doing lots more talking to machines in the future, get ready for it.  Good read:

What natural language pros are saying about Google’s Duplex

We may now be having the first of many public conversations about how AIs should talk to humans.
By Mark Sullivan in Fast Company

Google’s much-hyped reservation-setting AI, Duplex, is a one-trick pony with nowhere near the conversational versatility we’ll see in the artificial general intelligence (AGI) of the future. But the natural language interface it employs is provocative because it suggests the way we might interact with the AGIs of the future. .... " 

Kroger to Launch Driverless Delivery!

Quite a remarkable thing for a major retailer!

America’s largest supermarket chain is launching a fully driverless delivery service

Kroger is teaming up with Nuro, a startup founded by two veterans of Google’s self-driving team  By Andrew J. Hawkins   @andyjayhawk  in theVerge ..... "

Not a car, but a driverless van of sorts.  See more about Nuro.

Integrating Voice into Device Apps

Amazon continues to push voice driven apps.  Now for their Fire TV.   Have previously looked at their voice decision approach for the Alexa assistant.  Well done, but they still do not address the broader element of even simple conversation with your device.  Memory, understanding the implications of a request and interaction.   We are not there yet.   Lets see more of that in the interaction.  Make it a conversation.  Get to the Development part at the link:

What every developer needs to know to start integrating voice into their Fire TV apps

The powerful combination of voice and Amazon Fire TV allows your customers to use speech to engage with your content and enjoy and new level of convenience.  With the launches of the all-new Fire TV Cube and Toshiba 4K Ultra HD - Fire TV Edition, the first television released as part of a multi-year collaboration between Amazon and Best Buy, voice integration on Fire TV apps is more important than ever. Here are a few resources to help you integrate voice capabilities in your Fire TV apps and games:

Learn the ins-and-outs of voice integration by browsing Alexa's technical documentation.

Enable voice control in your TV apps with the Media Session API, allowing customers to play, pause, skip forward, or rewind content with the power of speech. Download the Media Session sample app to preview the functionality of the API.

Integrate your media catalog with Amazon Fire TV so your content can be discovered and launched from the Fire TV home screen, via voice and text search.

Facilitate far-field control of your app with the Video Skill API, allowing customers to launch content, search within your app, change the channel, and use transport controls with their voice. ... "

Ready to be Managed by an AI?

Course it does depend upon what managed means here.   Tracked, reminded, directed?    Some level of this will be inevitable.  Note mention of assistants, what is the effective difference between  assistance, augmentation and management? 

People are ready to have robots as their managers
By Lydia Dishman in Fast Company

We know that robots won’t completely eliminate our jobs (only about 5%, according to recent research), but a new study  by Oracle and Future Workplace of 1,320 U.S. HR leaders and employees found that an overwhelming majority (93%) would trust orders from a robot.

That’s easy to say because currently, this is theoretical in the workplace. Although plenty of people (70%according to this study) are using AI in some way at home (hello Google and Alexa!) the rate of adoption at work is still very low. Only 6% of HR professionals and 24% of employees are actively using it. .... " 

Deepdive with Deeplens

A good idea for testing out image driven machine learning.

A Deep Dive on AWS DeepLens
 by Janakiram MSV    in theNewStack

Technically speaking, you don’t need a $249 device to run an offline convolutional neural network model. If you are a maker with an appetite to build things from the scratch, consider getting the Google Vision Kit   https://aiyprojects.withgoogle.com/vision    It is a cheaper, DIY version of DeepLens. 

Google Re-demos its Duplex Chat, with Warnings.

Clever look at a chatbot that has a goal of delivering a phone goal.    But when it was first shown it was clear it could fool and ultimately very much annoy the human in the loop.   Is it do no evil, or fool no human?  So now it been repositioned.   Still, though, will we accept being in this no loop?

Google gives its Human-like Phone Chatbot a Demo Redo  by Lauren Goode in Wired

WHEN GOOGLE FIRST demonstrated its AI phone-calling technology Duplex back in May, the pre-recorded demo struck many observers as eerie. Piped through the speakers on stage at the Google I/O developer conference while a video capture of an Android phone played on screen, we heard an artificial voice call both a hair salon and a restaurant to book reservations on behalf of a human.

Right away, many in the tech community cited two big problems. First, the people on the receiving end of the call were unaware that the voice speaking into the phone was a machine, meaning Duplex was essentially fooling unsuspecting humans. Second, the bot in the demo never indicated it was recording the phone call, raising the eyebrows of privacy advocates and prompting follow-up questions from journalists (including writers at WIRED).

On Tuesday, Google gave multiple demonstrations of its Duplex technology in action. This time, there were some obvious differences.

Now, just a couple weeks ahead of Duplex’s rollout among a small set of users and businesses, Google is trying to give its phone-calling robot a do-over. The company is attempting to prove it has addressed some of the concerns about Duplex. And its latest pitch around transparency is coming at a time when some of its more critical use cases for AI are being seriously questioned—just recently, the company released a set of AI principles prohibiting Googlers from using AI in technologies that could violate human rights or cause “overall harm.”

On Tuesday, at a hummus shop in Mountain View, California just down the road from Google’s headquarters, the company gave multiple demonstrations of its Duplex technology in action. This time, there were some obvious differences. “Hi, I’m calling to make a reservation,” the bot said, which Google patched through speakers in the shop so the assembled reporters could hear it. “I’m Google’s automated booking service, so I’ll record the call. Can I book a table for Thursday?”  ... " 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

(Date Update) Talk: Vendor Agnostic Voice Assistants

Please note that this call has been postponed to August 9, 2018

Invitation to the ISSIP Cognitive Systems Institute Group Webinar

Please join us for this call and invite your contacts - e.g., at universities, partners & clients. The call is in a series - and you can see the series here http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update/

Date and Time: August 9, 2018 - 10:30am US Eastern
Talk Title: Correcting Person Names for Automatic speech recognition (ASR) vendor-agnostic voice assistants

Speaker: Vijay Ramakrishnan, Tue Minh Vo, Cisco
Talk Description:  ASR systems trained on generic data often mis-transcribe domain-specific words and phrases. For voice assistants, errors in the ASR transcript cascade to the assistant's natural language understanding (NLU) components. We focus on the problem of ASR errors in person names and describe a novel method of correcting person names by leveraging a domain-specific language model (LM), and character and phoneme-based information retrieval (IR) techniques.

Bio: Vijay Ramakrishnan is a ML/NLP engineer at Cisco's Cognitive Collaboration Group where his team develops conversational AI products for Cisco's collaboration portfolio. His research interests include deep networks for domain-specific ASR, empirical methods for NLP and ML for sequence models.

Date and Time : August 9, 2018 - 10:30am 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
(Check the website in case the date or time changes: http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update/ )

Please retweet  -
Join LinkedIn Group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/6729452

Grand Challenge on the Future of Food

 On the Future of Food:

Converge on one grand challenge (FUTURE of FOOD).
Two key words (SCIENCE and ENGINEERING).

Three short URLs (SEP 8-9 in Minneapolis).


Regards and many thanks,   Shoumen

Dr Shoumen Datta    http://autoid.mit.edu/

Dr Shoumen Datta     http://mdpnp.mgh.harvard.edu/

Targeted Ads and Data Privacy

Surprising comments that there is still not clear understanding of what is required to comply. Thus the hundreds of checkboxes saying I understood that cookies where being used.  But not the details of how.

How Will Targeted Ads Fare in an Era of Data Protection?  in K@W

If targeted advertising needed indicators of both enormous growth and potential threats ahead, several recent events have been only too happy to oblige. On the one hand, this is the year mobile will edge out TV as the dominant advertising medium in the U.S., according to a forecast from eMarketer, just as Google continues to roll out products and services that make life and its logistics more seamless. On the other hand, the Cambridge Analytica episode has provided a cautionary tale in what can go wrong when a trusted tech giant like Facebook loses control over its users’ private data.

Another wild card has just begun to reveal itself. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect last month, granting individuals a greater degree of control over how firms gather, store and use their personal data. The GDPR was crafted by and for members of the European Union, but because commerce and data move freely across international borders, many firms in the U.S. and across the globe have decided to conform to its guidelines.

What exactly will it mean in the U.S.? Even the federal government appears to be unsure. “GDPR’s implementation could significantly interrupt transatlantic cooperation and create unnecessary barriers to trade, not only for the U.S. but for everyone outside the E.U.,” wrote U.S. commerce secretary Wilbur Ross in the Financial Times. “We do not have a clear understanding of what is required to comply.” .... " 

“[GDPR] will force companies to take a closer look at their data infrastructure, much more so than they would otherwise — and we know it’s a big mess out there.”–Peter Fader ... "

Make KPI's Great Again says Sloan Study

Via Michael Schrage ....

In Forbes.com  
Make KPIs Great Again, Study Urges   Joe McKendrick , CONTRIBUTOR

For every technology effort worth its salt, the output is tied to some form of key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure its effect on the business. Now, a new MIT Sloan Management Review-Google study calls these vaunted metrics into question. Despite this being the information age,  filled with data-driven organizations, nearly 30% of business leaders don’t even bother to use KPIs to drive change in their organizations.

"Our research indicates that KPIs are mismanaged and undervalued,” according to Michael Schrage, a research fellow at the MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business and a coauthor of the report. The survey of 3,200 executives finds only 26% of senior managers strongly agree that their KPIs "are aligned with their organization’s strategic objectives." That's consult speak, by the way, for "only 26% have a clue as to what the heck the KPIs are supposed to be telling them." ... " 

Precision Medicine Insight

Been a member of this Linkedin group for some time.   This announces that my blog will start to cover items in this space more often.    With particular emphasis on efficient therapeutic delivery aspects, and adding machine learning capabilities.  Comments welcome.   Other groups recommended?

Precision Medicine Insight   https://www.linkedin.com/groups/5180384

About this Group: 

Precision Medicine is an approach to discover and develop medicines, vaccines or routes of intervention (behavior, nutrition, etc.) that enable disease prevention and deliver superior therapeutic outcomes for patients, by integrating clinical, molecular (multi-omics including epigenetics), environmental and behavioral (Big Data) information to understand the biological basis of disease. 
This effort leads to better selection of disease targets and identification of patient populations that demonstrate improved clinical outcomes to novel preventive and therapeutic approaches.

In order to achieve this goal novel standards to harvest raw data (SOPs), processes, as well as architectures/analytics including new artificial intelligence, IoT and ICT technologies are instrumental to enable implementation and delivery of Precision Medicine 24/7 anywhere anytime in the world. 

Data in general will become the crude oil and currency of the future, while safety, security, ownership, privacy and so on constitute ethical challenges that need to be discussed alongside technical solutions to foster novel business and improve health care  ... " 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Caution About Nets

Wildly successful in narrow domains recently, where will it take us?  The notion of the brittleness of solutions is brought up.   Brittleness links to need for retesting and maintenance.  Which was our own experience. 

On Neural Nets   By Vinton G. Cerf 

I am only a layman in the neural network space so the ideas and opinions in this column are sure to be refined by comments from more knowledgeable readers. The recent successes of multilayer neural networks have made headlines.  .... 

Communications of the ACM, July 2018, Vol. 61 No. 7, Page 7

A short piece with cautions about the dependency on neural net architectures ...   

Digital Nudging

From the July 2018 Communications of the ACM:

"Digital Nudging: Guiding Online User Choices through Interface Design," by Christoph Schneider, Markus Weinmann, and Jan vom Brocke, shows how design elements like presentation and workflow influence buying decisions in digital environments. Schneider describes various digital nudging techniques in an original video at http://bit.ly/2Mn3Hw9

Convolutional Neural Nets

Nice intro to one of the most useful net architectures for classification today.   Direct implementation:

Convolutional Neural Networks from the ground up in Towardsdatascience

A NumPy implementation of the famed Convolutional Neural Network: one of the most influential neural network architectures to date.

When Yann LeCun published his work on the development of a new kind of neural network architecture [1], the Convolutional Neural Network (CNN), his work went largely unnoticed. It took 14 years and a team of researchers from The University of Toronto to bring CNN’s into the public’s view during the 2012 ImageNet Computer Vision competition. Their entry, which they named AlexNet after chief architect Alex Krizhevsky, achieved an error of only 15.8% when tasked with classifying millions of images from thousands of categories [2]. Fast forward to 2018 and the current state-of-the-art Convolutional Neural Networks achieve accuracies that surpass human-level performance [3]. .... " 

Risk and Models

Always an issue with complex models, especially ones that are not very transparent.  We always did risk models in parallel.

Managing risk in machine learning models
The O’Reilly Data Show Podcast: Andrew Burt and Steven Touw on how companies can manage models they cannot fully explain.

By Ben Lorica  in O'Reilly

Check out Andrew Burt's talk "Beyond Explainability: Regulating Machine Learning In Practice" at the Strata Data Conference in New York, September 11-13, 2018. Hurry—early price ends July 27.

Subscribe to the O'Reilly Data Show Podcast to explore the opportunities and techniques driving big data, data science, and AI. Find us on Stitcher, TuneIn, iTunes, SoundCloud, RSS.

In this episode of the Data Show, I spoke with Andrew Burt, chief privacy officer at Immuta, and Steven Touw, co-founder and CTO of Immuta. Burt recently co-authored an upcoming white paper on managing risk in machine learning models, and I wanted to sit down with them to discuss some of the proposals they put forward to organizations that are deploying machine learning.

Some high-profile examples of models gone awry have raised awareness among companies for the need for better risk management tools and processes. There is now a growing interest in ethics among data scientists, specifically in tools for monitoring bias in machine learning models. In a previous post, I listed some of the key considerations organization should keep in mind as they move models to production, but the upcoming report co-authored by Burt goes far beyond and recommends lines of defense, including a description of key roles that are needed. .... "

CPG Product Personalization

We tried this with coffee, with no success. Some movement in snacks.  Includes expert comment.

Frito-Lay scores by personalizing consumer experiences    Dale Buss in Retailwire.   

Jennifer Saenz, chief marketing officer for Frito-Lay North America, said the “world around us continues to change at an incredible pace” and expectations for interaction with brands are set by the extreme individualization allowed by smartphones and other digital phenomena.

Google Home now Speaks Spanish

A big plus.   Also some localized versions of Spanish.

Google Home now speaks Spanish  By Jacob Kastrenakes @jake_k in theVerge

The Google Home finally has the ability to speak Spanish. Though Spanish was available as part of Google Assistant for some time now, for whatever reason it wasn’t available through the Home, Home Mini, or Home Max. Spanish support started to quietly roll out two weeks ago, and now Google is formally announcing the feature.

Three localized versions of Spanish are available: one for Spain, Mexico, and the US. The Home and Home Mini actually launched in Spain last week (where, obviously, Spanish support was available from the start), and Google is also bringing those devices to Mexico as of today. .... "

Microsoft and Kroger Edge

Saw early versions of this in Microsoft innovation spaces.  Look forward to seeing it in place.

Kroger’s smart shelves ditch the paper, drop the lights and delight the shoppers

In Microsoft Transform  By Bill Briggs
The future beckons in Aisle 3.

Your eyes scan side to side to absorb product-packed shelves ablaze with digital prices, deals of the hour and imagery of foods that soon may star on your dinner table. You’re thinking Italian.

You look closer. Nutritional and allergy data stream from the IoT-enabled display. Sundried tomatoes announce they are gluten free. Pasta sauce reveals: “I’m local!” Bluetooth in the shelf interacts with the shopping list in your smartphone, lighting up a shelf beneath the very next item you came to fetch: fettuccine.

That’s what you see in Kroger EDGE, a new, cloud-based signage solution for retail shelves. But what’s not here is equally enticing: no printed price tags, no cardboard promos and none of the bright lighting normally needed to blast extra photons onto all of that paper.

“It’s cleaner and environmentally efficient – and our customers perceive that and like it,” says Brett Bonner, vice president of research and development. “This is green power.”

EDGE – which stands for Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment – relies on Microsoft Azure to store and process volumes of data generated by customer actions on and around the shelves.

Connected by IoT sensors, EDGE beams real-time info from every aisle and endcap at 16 test stores located near the company’s Cincinnati, Ohio headquarters. This year, the Kroger Co. – America’s largest supermarket chain – will introduce EDGE at 120 total stores.

Quietly, though, the new solution also shines an environmentally gentle light on Kroger’s larger commitment to earth friendliness, Bonner says.

EDGE is designed, for example, to use a low-voltage, direct current that meets standards set by the EMerge Alliance, an industry association that’s leading adoption of safe, efficient power in commercial buildings.

As EDGE matures, it will run on renewable energy sources, Bonner says. Currently, the system uses an LED light source that saps far less power than incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs.

“The main reason for having big lights in stores is because you’ve got to light it up to read paper tags,” Bonner says. “With this, you can also turn down your lights.”  .... " 

(More and Images at link)

Monday, June 25, 2018

L'Oreal on Advanced Digital Experience

Much more at the link regarding what they are thinking of.   Note the mention of the use of voice assistants.

 In Think with Google:

“New technologies, such as voice, AI, AR, VR, are reshaping the way our consumers discover, try, experience, and buy our products. The game won’t be the same when you simply ask your voice assistant to buy the best mascara on the market for you. … Or if you are able to watch a makeup tutorial directly on your face with a virtual try-on. The brands that master these experiences will be the ones people choose.” .... ' 

Lubomira Rochet, global chief digital officer, L’Oréal.

AI Algorithms Beat Humans in Complex Game

Yes, quite an interesting inflexion point.  Also note that OpenAI is involved.  Also, the game uses collaboration, which AI based automation will require.  Likely getting closer to the process of problem solving and automation. 

Intelligent Machines
A team of AI algorithms just crushed humans in a complex computer game ..... Algorithms capable of collaboration and teamwork can outmaneuver human teams.  by Will Knight  in Technology Review

Five different AI algorithms have teamed up to kick human butt in Dota 2, a popular strategy computer game.

Researchers at OpenAI, a nonprofit based in California, developed the algorithmic A team, which they call the OpenAI Five. Each algorithm uses a neural network to learn not only how to play the game, but also how to cooperate with its AI teammates. It has started defeating amateur Dota 2 players in testing, OpenAI says.

This is an important and novel direction for AI, since algorithms typically operate independently. Approaches that help algorithms cooperate with each other could prove important for commercial uses of the technology. AI algorithms could, for instance, team up to outmaneuver opponents in online trading or ad bidding. Collaborative algorithms might also cooperate with humans. ... " 

Dollar General Tries Scan and Go

Retail continues the move to automating labor-intense retail process.  What other interactions will be enabled?

Dollar General pilots scan & go tech    by Tom Ryan in Retailwire
Dollar General has become the latest retailer and the first dollar store to introduce a scan & go app.

Being piloted at 10 Nashville-area stores and rolling out to 100 more in the second quarter, DG Go! enables shoppers to scan items as they shop and then use a self-checkout to pay. While saving shoppers time by allowing them to avoid waiting in a cashier-manned checkout line, the app also provides a running total of what shoppers have in their baskets.  ... ." 

CoNFoMa - The Future of Food and The Role of Technology

MIT Colleague Shoumen Datta Writes:

" ..... Would you please spread the word? The context of food is vast - from software to sensors and robotics to sewers!

Please inform  your network about "CoNFoMa - The Future of Food and The Role of Technology" 

This is NOT a commercial symposium (registration fee $170).

CoNFoMa Symposium (Sep 8-9, 2018)

To download CoNFoMa content as a PDF please share http://bit.ly/confoma

Thank you for your help. 
Regards and best wishes,     Shoumen

Dr Shoumen Datta - http://autoid.mit.edu/
Dr Shoumen Datta - http://mdpnp.mgh.harvard.edu/     .... ." 

Chat Apps with Sentiment

Nice example, technical.  Most interesting is the introduction of sentiment.   We did this for 'Mr Clean', before there were easily integrated sentiment analysis.   Recently have been reexamining sentiment considerations in chat dialog.

Build A Chat App With Sentiment Analysis Using Next.js  in Pusher
Build a realtime chat application with Pusher

This tutorial was written by Chris Nwamba and originally appeared on the Pusher Blog.

Realtime applications have been around for quite a long time as we can see in contexts such as multi-player games, realtime collaboration services, instant messaging services, realtime data analytics tools, to mention a few. As a result, several technologies have been developed over the years to tackle and simplify some of the most challenging aspects of building apps that are sensitive to changes in realtime.

In this tutorial, we’ll build a very simple realtime chat application with sentiments. With sentiment analysis, we will be able to detect the mood of a person based on the words they use in their chat messages.  .... "

How to Read a Privacy Policy

Thoughtful piece worth reading ...

How to read a privacy policy   By Ashley Carman    @ashleyrcarman  in TheVerge

We haven’t been able to avoid privacy policies in our post-GDPR world, but figuring out what these legal documents are trying to tell us isn’t easy. They’re typically filled with legalese and boring chatter about data and how it’s handled. I get why no one wants to spend time reading them.

So to save us all some effort, I called a couple lawyers — Nate Cardozo from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Joseph Jerome from the Center for Democracy and Technology — to learn how they read and process tons of policies. They’ve given me a few tips on how we can essentially skim through a privacy policy while still learning something about how our data is handled. ..... " 

The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers ....

Just reading.   Excellent, non technical view.   More to follow ...

The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity   by Byron Reese

As we approach a great turning point in history when technology is poised to redefine what it means to be human, The Fourth Age offers fascinating insight into AI, robotics, and their extraordinary implications for our species.

In The Fourth Age, Byron Reese makes the case that technology has reshaped humanity just three times in history:

- 100,000 years ago, we harnessed fire, which led to language.

- 10,000 years ago, we developed agriculture, which led to cities and warfare.

- 5,000 years ago, we invented the wheel and writing, which lead to the nation state.

We are now on the doorstep of a fourth change brought about by two technologies: AI and robotics. The Fourth Age provides extraordinary background information on how we got to this point, and how—rather than what—we should think about the topics we’ll soon all be facing: machine consciousness, automation, employment, creative computers, radical life extension, artificial life, AI ethics, the future of warfare, superintelligence, and the implications of extreme prosperity.

By asking questions like “Are you a machine?” and “Could a computer feel anything?”, Reese leads you through a discussion along the cutting edge in robotics and AI, and, provides a framework by which we can all understand, discuss, and act on the issues of the Fourth Age, and how they’ll transform humanity. ... "

Designing Meaningful Conversations

Back to conversations.  Can they be designed?  Goals are good.   Will our systems become intelligent only when they can carry on a meaningful conversation?

Designing meaningful interactions at work  from SlackHQ

Information designer Erika Hall on the relationship between collaboration and conversation
Erika Hall is the author of multiple books on interaction design, including Just Enough Research 

Conversation is the oldest interface, explains Erika Hall, co-founder of Mule Design. The purpose of conversation is essentially to cooperate and achieve a goal. The value of conversational tone is that it makes communication feel more personal, more palatable. And so interaction design must be about more than creating interfaces that talk and text. “Technology is valuable when it brings us more of what’s already meaningful,” she says.

In her new book, Conversational Design, Hall surveys the history of conversation and explores how people’s tone evolves as new mediums — like text messages — are introduced. She believes that this deeper understanding of the way people communicate can help designers and engineers develop systems that are more intuitive and simple to use. .... " 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

IFTTT Platform

Continuing to follow IFTTT.   How can you connect a stream of data from a device, app or brand to generate data and alerts for your business?  The idea is here:


One connection, 
countless possibilities

There’s no need to build 3rd party integrations in-house when you can integrate with IFTTT.
Give your users immediate access to over 600 apps, devices, and brands. ... " 

Deep Learning at Your Desk

Have not yet read the white paper, of interest.   Linked to below.

NVIDIA DGX Systems: Run Deep Learning at Your Desk
IDC offers their analysis on the market trends and the justification for desk-side "supercomputers" such as NVIDIA's DGX Station.

Download this whitepaper to learn how personal AI workstations are a game-changer in the race to AI-infuse the enterprise, overcoming the limitations of traditional data center infrastructure. ... " 

Leading with Agility

Leading with inner agility

By Sam Bourton, Johanne Lavoie, and Tiffany Vogel in Mckinsey

Disruptive times call for transformational leaders with a knack for addressing complex problems. To navigate effectively, we must learn to let go—and become more complex ourselves.

We live in an age of accelerating disruption. Every company is facing up to the profound changes wrought by digitization. Industry boundaries have become permeable. Data, algorithms, and artificial intelligence are changing the nature of forecasting, decision making, and the workplace itself. All this is happening at once, and established companies are responding by rethinking their business models, redesigning their organizations, adopting novel agile-management practices, and embracing design thinking.

We’ve had a front-row seat at many such transformation efforts. Their importance, and the challenge they pose for institutions, has been well documented by management writers. But comparatively little attention has been paid to the cognitive and emotional load that change of this magnitude creates for the individuals involved—including the senior executives responsible for the success or failure of these corporate transformations. What makes the burden especially onerous is the lack of clear answers: the very nature of disruption means that even the best, most prescient leaders will be steering their company into, and through, a fog of uncertainty. ... "

GIGAOM Conversation with David Barrett

Voices in AI – Episode 48: A Conversation with David Barrett

Byron Reese: This is Voices in AI brought to you by GigaOm, I’m Byron Reese. Today our guest is

David Barrett. He is both the founder and the CEO of Expensify. He started programming when he was 6 and has been at it as his primary activity ever since, except for a brief hiatus for world travel, some technical writing, a little project management, and then founding and running Expensify. Welcome to the show, David.

David Barrett: It’s great of you to have me, thank you.

Let’s talk about artificial intelligence, what do you think it is? How would you define it?

I guess I would say that AI is best defined as a feature, not as a technology. It’s the experience that the user has and sort of the experience of viewing of something as being intelligent, and how it’s actually implemented behind the scenes. I think people spend way too much time and energy on [it], and forget sort of about the experience that the person actually has with it.

So you’re saying, if you interact with something and it seems intelligent, then that’s artificial intelligence?

That’s sort of the whole basis of the Turing test, I think, is not based upon what is behind the curtain but rather what’s experienced in front of the curtain.

Okay, let me ask a different question then– and I’m not going to drag you through a bunch of semantics. But what is intelligence, then? I’ll start out by saying it’s a term that does not have a consensus definition, so it’s kind of like you can’t be wrong, no matter what you say.

Yeah, I think the best one I’ve heard is something that sort of surprises you. If it’s something that behaves entirely predictable, it doesn’t seem terribly interesting. Something that is also random isn’t particularly surprising, I guess, but something that actually intrigues you. And basically it’s like “Wow, I didn’t anticipate that it would correctly do this thing better than I thought.” So, basically, intelligence– the key to it is surprise. .... 

So in what sense, then–final definitional question–do you think artificial intelligence is artificial? Is it artificial because we made it? Or is it artificial because it’s just pretending to be intelligent but it isn’t really? ... 

Yeah, I think that’s just sort of a definition–people use “artificial” because they believe that humans are special. And basically anything–intelligence is the sole domain of humanity and thus anything that is intelligent that’s not human must be artificial. I think that’s just sort of semantics around the egoism of humanity. ....    " 

Chaos Engineering at Linkedin

Have only interacted with 'Chaos engineering' once.   In particular to look at the broader idea of maintaining process models.  Here a technical view of it used with a popular service. 

Chaos Engineering at LinkedIn: The “LinkedOut” Failure Injection Testing FrameworkLike  | by Daniel Bryant in Infoq

The LinkedIn Engineering team have recently discussed their "LinkedOut" failure injection testing framework in more detail. This framework supports the generation of hypotheses about application and service resilience, and enables failure to be injected to a specific request via the LinkedIn LiX A/B testing framework or via data in a cookie. Failure scenarios that can be tested include errors, delays and timeouts. The LinkedOut project is part of the larger "Waterbear" initiative to encourage every team at LinkedIn to contribute to resilience engineering efforts.   ... " 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

L'Oreal UV Sense

How L’Oréal designed the UV Sense to fit on your fingernail  in DigitalTrends

Beauty tech is still in its infancy, but lifestyle brands are slowly warming up to the idea of incorporating technology to improve user experience and sometimes, the product itself. We’ve seen a smart hairbrush that can determine the quality of your hair, a smart mirror that can identify the health of your skin, and now there’s nail art that can track exposure to ultraviolet radiation when you’re out and about.

The UV Sense is a battery-free wearable electric sensor you stick onto your fingernail. It can measure UV exposure, which you can track via a companion app on your smartphone. It’s from L’Oréal’s Technology Incubator, which has created products such as the Makeup Genius app, where people can try different looks using a smartphone camera, and Le Teint Particulier an in-store device that scans your skin to create custom foundation for you.

The tricky part about the UV Sense is that if people are supposed to wear it 24/7, it has to look good and feel comfortable. We spoke to the team behind this micro wearable to see how they managed the feat. .... "   (pictures and more details) ... 

Classic Math Problem Used for a Current Problem

  This piece is quite technical,  but love the fact that classical math is being used to drive some very modern problems. Great example for teaching?  In particular note how this problem deals with rapidly changing contexts, commonly existing in our world  Other applications?

In Quanta Magazine:

A century ago, the great mathematician David Hilbert posed a probing question in pure mathematics. A recent advance in optimization theory is bringing Hilbert’s work into a world of self-driving cars.

" ... The  future is now here. As a result of new work by Amir Ali Ahmadi and Anirudha Majumdar of Princeton University, a classical problem from pure mathematics is poised to provide iron-clad proof that drone aircraft and autonomous cars won’t crash into trees or veer into oncoming traffic.
“You get a complete 100-percent-provable guarantee that your system” will be collision-avoidant, said Georgina Hall, a final-year graduate student at Princeton who has collaborated with Ahmadi on the work.

Amir Ali Ahmadi, a professor at Princeton University, has shown how a sum-of-squares algorithm can be applied to modern optimization problems.

The guarantee comes from an unlikely place — a mathematical problem known as “sum of squares.” The problem was posed in 1900 by the great mathematician David Hilbert. He asked whether certain types of equations could always be expressed as a sum of two separate terms, each raised to the power of 2  ... "

Blockchain is not a Revolution

Good introductory piece in Knowledge@Wharton.  Not mention of smart contracts.

Why Blockchain Isn’t a Revolution

The terms Bitcoin and blockchain are sometimes used interchangeably, but there’s actually some misunderstanding about the innovation. In this opinion piece, Kevin Werbach, Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics, explains the differences among the three groups that comprise this technology: cryptocurrency, blockchain and cryptoassets.

These days it’s hard to avoid pronouncements about how cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology could change everything (or at least, create massive wealth). Yet there’s an equally loud chorus labeling them a massive scam, useless, and dangerous. And a surprisingly large audience still doesn’t understand what’s going on. One big reason for the confusion is that we’re not all talking about the same things.

The three communities share a basic set of design principles and technological foundations, but the people, goals, and prospects are almost completely distinct. Those involved don’t help much by sniping constantly about which is the “real” movement. So, let me try to clarify things. .... " 

Deepmind Builds a Picture of its World

Building a model of existing and changing context is a key part of our intelligence. 

DeepMind, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet focused on artificial intelligence (AI), has created a computer program that independently builds a mental picture of the world
The system, which uses a generative query network, looks at a scene from several angles, then describes what it would look like from another angle. This requires the relatively sophisticated ability to learn about the physical world and interpret a scene similarly to a human. Such technology could lead to deeper AI that allows machines to describe and reason about the world. The system uses two neural networks, with one learning while the other "imagines" new perspectives. Harvard University's Sam Gershman says the DeepMind work combines important ideas about the mechanics of human visual perception. .... " 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Flu Foreasting with Smart Thermometers

We also looked at epidemic forecasting.   Note the smart 'thermometers' mentioned here are taking human temperatures.  A slight confusion when I first read this.

Smart Thermometers Improve Flu Forecasting    By Joe Dysar

Researchers at the University of Iowa (UI) have found a way to get a jump on forecasting outbreaks of influenza-like illnesses by using real-time data from smart thermometers .

"Using simple forecasting models, we showed that thermometer data could be effectively used to predict influenza levels up to two to three weeks into the future," says Aaron Miller, an assistant professor or epidemiology at UI.

Miller's team secured its study data from Kinsa Inc., a maker of smart thermometer products.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved devices plug into Android or Apple smartphones and can send anonymized fever readings to Kinsa corporate headquarters in San Francisco.

Thanks to Kinsa, Miller's team was able to study more than 8 million temperature readings from all 50 U.S. states, which were provided over a period of nearly two years.

The team found that by using real-time data from the off-the-shelf thermometers, they were able to forecast outbreaks of flu-like illness in various parts of the country up to three weeks earlier than conventional forecasting methods. .... " 

Network Effects Mean Less

Quite interesting, complex in part because we now have so many devices competing for time and interaction.  I would imagine too there is a growing 'assistant effect' that attempts to drive people in a place and time and context towards some engagement goal.  Yet the network continues to grow.  Is the effect growing?

Why Network Effects Matter Less Than They Used To
By Catherine Tucker in the HBR

When we teach strategy to MBA students, our student want magic bullets, things they can do to make their companies thrive forever. For a long time we emphasized “network effects” as a potential secret sauce for business models. Economists use “network effects” to describe contexts where a good or service offers increasing benefits the more users it has. Network effects can be direct: for example, Slack becomes more useful as other people also use Slack. Network effects can also be indirect, meaning that one set of users benefits as more of another type of users joins a platform. For example, AirBnB would not be useful for travelers if there were no apartment-owners using the platform. Similarly, home-owners would not want to use AirBnB if travelers weren’t using it to find a place to stay.

We have long taught that network effects can provide market power and sustained or even self-reinforcing competitive advantage (the best kind). The more users you got, the larger your user base was, and the more compelling your proposition became for attracting new users.

At the tail end of the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley, I wrote my dissertation on network effects. Entrepreneurs and business leaders were excited about them too. But it now seems they are not the panacea we first thought.  .... " 

Encryption via Quantum Mechanics

Related capability suggested here.

Toshiba devises way to send encrypted messages using quantum mechanics

Toshiba plans to demonstrate a working prototype within two years

Toshiba claims to have uncovered a way use the laws of quantum mechanics to send super-secure encrypted messages.

In Toshiba's previous research into quantum cryptography, it found that bits are carried and transmitted on individual photons, which cannot be read-out without leaving errors as evidence of the intrusion and, thanks to this property, it is possible to test and guarantee the secrecy of quantum keys.

The Japanese company has claimed for a while now that quantum cryptography realises secure transfers of all manner of confidential information, including biometric data and genomic data. ... "

Quantum and Blockchain

 Quantum Is Key to Securing Blockchain, Say Russian Researchers

Asia Research News
By Alison Hadley

Russian researchers have used quantum key distribution (QKD) to address the issue of quantum blockchain security. Evgeniy Kiktenko of the Russian Quantum Center in Moscow says blockchain's reliance on digital signatures makes it susceptible to attacks by quantum computers, so his team has developed a blockchain platform that integrates original state-machine replication with QKD for authentication. "Each QKD communication session generates a large amount of shared secret data, part of which can be used for authentication in subsequent sessions," notes the Russian Quantum Center's Aleksey Fedorov. "Therefore, a small amount of 'seed' secret key that the parties share before their first QKD session ensures their secure authentication for all future communication. This means QKD can be used in lieu of classical digital signatures." The Russian Quantum Center's Alexander Lvovsky agrees the new protocol can "maintain transparency and integrity of transactions against attacks with quantum algorithms.". ... " 

Google Assistant Smart Displays Coming

Breaking out the smart display makes sense, allows you to choose quality.  The emphasis on work applications may well indicate a push in that direction.

Here comes BYOSD (bring your own smart display)
A new wave of Google Assistant-powered ‘home’ smart displays hits next month. And they’re coming to work.     .... 

By Mike Elgan,  Contributing Columnist, Computerworld

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Advanced Burger Built by an Advanced Robot

Been reading about entry level labor and autonomous machines. Some solutions have been around for some time, and the general repetitiveness of the requirements make it an obvious solution.  Here more complex capabilities than just frying.  Advanced prep and assembly.  Expect it.

The First Burger Built By A Robot Is About To Hit The Bay Area - Bloomberg Quint

(Bloomberg) -- On June 27, the world’s first robot-crafted burger will roll off a conveyor belt in San Francisco and into the hands of the public.  (Images at the link) 

You could call it the freshest burger on Earth.

The product, from Bay Area-based Creator, a culinary robotics company, is assembled and cooked in a machine that contains 20 computers, 350 sensors, and 50 actuator mechanisms. It does everything from slicing and toasting the brioche bun to adding toppings (to order) and seasoning and cooking the patties, all in five minutes. The meat is ground to order—why it’s touted as so fresh—and sourced from premium ingredients. It emerges from the machine piled with tomatoes and lettuce, sprinkled with seasonings, and drizzled with sauces, at which point it’s transferred by human hands to the customer. The price: $6.

Formerly known as Momentum Machines, Creator was founded by entrepreneur Alex Vardakostas in 2012. The 33-year-old has assembled an Avengers-like superteam of engineers, designers, and roboticists from Apple, Tesla, NASA, and Walt Disney Imagineering R&D. The team also includes alumni from elite restaurants such as Chez Panisse, Momofuku, and SingleThread.   ... " 

Analytics Magazine

Also, see more about Informs:  https://www.informs.org/

 Analytics Magazine: Sneak Preview

The upcoming July/August issue of Analytics magazine takes a look at an eclectic list of topics, from AI and the path to the intelligent enterprise to bridging the data science gap to an analysis of public television’s deadliest cities based on four popular British murder mystery series. Warning: don’t go near “Grantchester.”

Meanwhile, the May/June issue of Analytics magazine also has something for everyone, from features on how software analytics enables real-time customer personalization and how to turbocharge analytics projects to smart automation and why data science projects fail. The issue also includes a profile of Chevron and its operations research and advanced analytics team, as well as a look at data privacy in the wake of the Facebook debacle and the role blockchain may play in solving the problem going forward.    ... "

Microsoft Establishes Research Data Hub

Useful depending on the nature of the data involved.   Will it have sufficient metadata to be specifically useful?    Good idea to create.

Microsoft launches an online research hub for sharing AI and science datasets   By Maria Deutscher in SiliconAngle

In a bid to foster scientific collaboration, Microsoft Corp. today launched an online hub that will provide a place for researchers to share the datasets they produce as part of their work.

The company is leading by example. On launch, the Microsoft Research Open Data portal features dozens of datasets that have been produced by its own staff as part of published research studies. The repository covers a variety of fields ranging from computer science to biology.

“I am often asked to share my research data and the public sharing I have done in the past has been popular,” commented Microsoft principal researcher John Krumm. “Coordinating and cataloging these datasets in one place with Azure will be helpful for both internal and external researchers, giving them easy access, encouraging collaboration, and providing convenient cloud-based access to the wealth of Microsoft Research shared data.” .... ' 

Need for Explainable AI

FICO scores and all that.  Transparency for decision understanding.

Opening Up Black Boxes with Explainable AI   By Alex Woodie

One of the biggest challenges with deep learning is explaining to customers and regulators how the models get their answers. In many cases, we simply don’t know how the models generated their answers, even if we’re very confident in the answers themselves. However, in the age of GDPR, this black box-style of predictive computing will not suffice, which is driving a push by FICO and others to develop explainable AI.

Describing deep learning as a black box is not meant to denigrate the practice. In many instances, in fact, the black box aspect of a deep learning model isn’t a bug – it’s a feature. After, all, we’re thrilled that, when we build a convolutional neural network with hundreds of input variables and more than a thousand hidden layers (as the biggest CNNs are), it just works. We don’t exactly know how it works, but we’re grateful that it does work. If we had we been required to explicitly code a program to do the same thing as the CNN does, it likely would be a complete disaster. We simply could not build the decision-making systems we’re building today without the benefit of self-learning machines.

But as good as deep learning has gotten over the past five years, it’s still not good enough. There simply isn’t enough free goodwill floating about our current world for a hundred-billion-dollar corporation or a trillion-dollar government to tell its consumers or citizens to “trust us” when making life-changing decisions. It’s not just a wary public, but also skeptical regulators buoyed by the GDPR’s new requirements for greater transparency in data processing, that’s driving for greater clarity in how today’s AI-based systems are making the decisions they make.

One of the companies on the cutting edge of helping to make AI more explainable is FICO. The San Jose, California-based company is well-known for developing a patented credit scoring methodology (the “FICO score”) that many banks use to determine the credit risk of consumers. It also uses machine learning tech in its Decision Management Suite (DMS), which companies use to automate a range of decision-making process. ... " 

Cisco Crosswork IP network

New to me, apparently a new kind of architecture.

Laying the Foundations for Innovation

By Philippe Bralet  in the Cisco Blog

Cisco Crosswork provides the holistic real-time insight needed to transform your network operations

Service providers today are facing big challenges, with fast, flexible services and huge bandwidths expected as standard.

If they want to remain competitive by delivering efficient services, providers need a full understanding of what’s going on within their systems. But obtaining accurate and timely operational information has never been easy. And as networks grow more complex, it’s getting harder.

The nature of modern multivendor networks means that the information service providers have on their operations is often incomplete. And even when they can access it, it’s difficult to get to grips with. It comes from multiple sources, in inconsistent formats, and often when it’s too late to act.

A simpler network view

Is there a better way? We think so. Our experts have been working hard to create Cisco Crosswork, our new holistic networking framework. Crosswork uses developments like machine learning and big data to give service providers a comprehensive understanding of how their networks are functioning.

Combining open APIs with our world-leading telemetry solutions, it enables a single, complete and real time overview. It works across physical and virtual technology from different vendors, as well as third party applications, to lay the foundations for effective automation.

The mass awareness enabled by Cisco Crosswork   provides thousands of times more insight, opening up new opportunities for service providers. They can manage their spending more effectively, developing agile, efficient services to meet their customers’ expectations. ..... "

IEEE Roadmap Reports for Devices and Systems

Am a long time member of IEEE,  a wealth of useful information.  Often reference their publications here.   The newest set of such publications.

IEEE Releases the International Roadmap for Devices and Systems (IRDS)

PISCATAWAY, NEW JERSEY, June 18. 2018 – IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for humanity, today announced the release of the 2017 edition of the International Roadmap for Devices and Systems (IRDS), building upon 15 years of projecting technology needs for evolving the semiconductor and computer industries. The IRDS is an IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) Industry Connections (IC) Program sponsored by the IEEE Rebooting Computing (IEEE RC) Initiative, which has taken a lead in building a comprehensive view of the devices, components, systems, architecture, and software that comprise the global computing ecosystem. .... " 

Free, downloadable roadmap reports: 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Microsoft to Acquire Bonsai AI

Had previously looked at this, and looks good on the surface of it.   Will take a closer look.

Microsoft to acquire machine learning startup Bonsai, fueling AI efforts   By Taylor Soper in Geekwire

Microsoft is adding more firepower to its artificial intelligence arm. The tech giant has agreed to acquire Bonsai, a San Francisco-based startup that helps enterprise companies add machine learning and AI capabilities into their existing operations.

Founded in 2014 by former Microsoft engineer Mark Hammond and Keen Browne, Bonsai’s technology allows customers in industries like energy, manufacturing, and automotive build AI into their intelligent systems and processes. Its automated platform lets subject matter experts train autonomous systems, regardless of AI knowledge  .... " 

See more at Bonsai.  Powerful claims:  " ... Teaching is the New Programming  .....   Machine Teaching, one of the key innovations in the Bonsai Platform, infuses your organization's unique subject matter expertise directly into an AI model, resulting in accelerated training and more accurate predictions.   ... " 

See also their report on acquisition:  
Microsoft to acquire Bonsai in move to build ‘brains’ for autonomous systems   By Gurdeep Pall - Corporate Vice President, Business AI ... (This contains considerable detail about what they do and are testing with Microsoft) ....

Blockchain from Berkeley

After teaching an on-campus course about cryptocurrencies, UC Berkeley is planning to launch a two-part, online course aimed at educating students around to globe about cryptocurrencies and business-scale blockchain networks.       .... 
 in Computerworld: By Lucas Mearian

China increases Biometric Public Transport Scanning

If does seem that while we fret about the possible misuses of tracking data from such passive biometric scanning, other countries are  seeing the efficiency value.  Note the cautious CYA phrase below 'Perhaps too high tech'.

China speeds up its subway with palm scanners and facial recognition in DigitalTrends

While New York attempts to update its public transportation system to run on time and use mobile tickets, commuters over in Beijing are looking at a range of high tech upgrades. In fact, perhaps too high tech. As per a China Daily report, the Chinese capital of Beijing is now considering the introduction of “bio-recognition technology” to its subway station. This technology would include palm scanners and facial recognition scanners, and would purportedly help increase efficiency and decrease gridlock in key stations during rush hour.  ... " 

Death of Supply Chain Management

The death of? No, but lots of new augmentations popping up.

The Death of Supply Chain Management in 7WData

The supply chain is the heart of a company’s operations. To make the best decisions, managers need access to real-time data about their supply chain, but the limitations of legacy technologies can thwart the goal of end-to-end transparency. However, those days may soon be behind us. New digital technologies that have the potential to take over supply chain management entirely are disrupting traditional ways of working. Within 5-10 years, the supply chain function may be obsolete, replaced by a smoothly running, self-regulating utility that optimally manages end-to-end work flows and requires very little human intervention. With a digital foundation in place, companies can capture, analyze, integrate, easily access, and interpret high quality, real-time data – data that fuels process automation, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and robotics, the technologies that will soon take over supply chain management. .... " 

Willingness to Pay vs Like What You Buy

This often took a place in research we did. 

Why Willingness to Pay Doesn’t Mean Consumers Like What They Buy in Knowledge@Wharton

Marketers have long relied on willingness to pay as a way to gauge consumer preference for a product, and rightly so. At the height of the Cabbage Patch Kids doll craze in the 1980s, sales passed the $600 million mark, according to Bloomberg News. Now the toy line has an estimated revenue of $50 million a year, indicating a much lower consumer preference. But new research from Alice Moon, Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions, shows that willingness to pay isn’t always a clear indicator of preference. The paper is titled, “The Uncertain Value of Uncertainty: When Consumers are Unwilling to Pay for What They Like,” and was coauthored with Leif D. Nelson from the University of California, Berkeley. She spoke to Knowledge@Wharton about other factors that should be taken into consideration when marketers are trying to price their products.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Knowledge@Wharton: Tell us about your research.

Alice Moon: One of the most critical issues for marketers is how to forecast consumer product interest and consumer preference. One way they frequently do this is by asking consumers how much they’re willing to pay as a measure of their interest in, or value for, that product. I study when that measure insufficiently captures how much a consumer values that product. I find that willingness to pay is informed by many factors, such as what price they think the market is setting for this product. Sometimes those types of factors overshadow the part of willingness to pay that signals preference. Because of that, when you’re trying to understand people’s preferences by looking at how much people are willing to pay for products, you’ll make the wrong assumption about how much they like it.

“[When] you’re trying to understand people’s preferences by looking at how much people are willing to pay for products, you’ll make the wrong assumption about how much they like it.” .... "

Robots Powered by Water Jets

Clever idea for firefighting, other in water contexts.

Firefighting Robot Snake Flies on Jets of Water
Using steerable jets of water like rockets, this robot snake can fly into burning buildings to extinguish fires   ...  By Evan Ackerman in IEEE Spectrum  With Video

Fires have an unfortunate habit of happening in places that aren’t necessarily easy to reach. Whether the source of the fire is somewhere deep within a building, or up more than a floor or two, or both, firefighters have few good options for tackling them. They can either pour water into windows (which doesn’t always work that well), or they can try and get into the building, which seems like it’s probably super dangerous. .... " 

Retailers Shortchanging National Brands

We spent much time and effort examining private retail label versus retail brands.  Was just in a Kroger today and scanned some categories we had worked with, and the evolution of changes wwas stunning.

Are retailers short-changing national grocery brands?     by Tom Ryan in Retailwire, includes expert comment. 

A study from Acosta finds that shoppers overwhelmingly prefer national brands and that pushes toward private labels might be undermining their effectiveness.

Overall, shoppers agreed that “name brands are better than store brands” in 41 of 53 categories, including pet food, beauty & personal care, carbonated soft drinks, coffee and chocolate.

Name and store brands were found to be “about the same” in 12 out of 53. These were most likely in the perimeter (dairy, produce, fresh meat, bakery, etc.) as well as paper products and bottled water.

For no category did respondents believe that store brands are better than name brands.

Generally, the more personal, innovative and differentiated the category, the more likely a shopper is to choose a national brand over a private label brand.

The top three reasons consumers gave for purchasing national brands while grocery shopping included:

“National brand products are higher quality in taste and/or performance.”
“I can get better deals on national brands (through sales/coupons).”
“I trust national brand products more.”
Cost savings was the primary driver of private label brands, and purchases are often viewed as a compromise, the study found.

An accompanying study of over 100 retailers found:
  .... " 

GE Intelligent Systems and Wise.io

Standards make sense iif you plan to replicate new technologies.

GE’s intelligent systems: Creating an AI, machine learning standard

By Kylie Anderson in SiliconAngle

 The business potential in artificial intelligence technologies has enterprises across industries prioritizing the discovery of machine learning opportunities to leverage their next big innovation. In the surge toward modernization, some companies run the risk of overlooking the fundamentals of operational success, specifically the teams that must work with each other and the technology itself, as traditional production processes rapidly change.

“Even if you have really good data science teams, it’s incredibly hard to go from white board into production,” said Jeff Erhardt, vice president of intelligent systems at General Electric Co. “How do you take concepts and make them work reliably, repeatably, scalably over time?”

Following GE’s acquisition of machine learning company Wise.io, where Erhardt served as chief executive officer, Erhardt has been working to implement his former company’s processes at scale within the multinational conglomerate. .... " 

(Update): Future of Jobs in the Age of Augmented Intelligence

 Future of Jobs in the Age of Augmented Intelligence

Talk Attendance Link: https://zoom.us/j/7371462221   June 21, 10:30 AM EDT

Slides and Talk Recording: http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update/

Talk Description:
 Jobs, and nature of work as we know it, are  changing rapidly.   As companies become more "digital," employees need to be empowered to become more innovative.  In many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations, specialties, and skills did not exist 10 or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate. This will have a tremendous impact on how the workforce of the future acquires and applies new skills, and how companies organize work to stay nimble and competitive. In this talk, Yassi Moghaddam, ISSIP Executive Director talks about how ISSIP members are working together to map out skills required for the future of work in which AI would enhance and augment, not replace, human capabilities.

Yassi Moghaddam is the Executive Director of International Society of Service Innovation Professionals (ISSIP), www.issip.org, a non-profit organization that has partnered with industry leaders and many universities to promote Service Innovation (people-centred technology-enabled value co-creation) across the globe.  In this role, she has been spearheading industry-academia collaboration to help close the skills gap between education and employment for the emerging innovative jobs of the 21st century. Yassi is also Managing Director of Stradanet, a boutique Silicon Valley consulting firm where she has been driving innovation initiatives working with leading companies including Cisco, VMware, Wells Fargo, Applied Materials, and a number of startups. She  holds an MBA from Columbia University, an MSc in Electrical Engineering (EE) from Georgia Tech, and a BSc in EE from University of Oklahoma.

Speaker: Yassi Moghaddam,  ISSIP

More on an upcoming ISSIP conference on this topic.

Also on this topic I suggest reading Byron Reese's new book:  The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers and the Future of Humanity.    Which I am in the midst of reading.  Good section on jobs and AI.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Its All About Training Data

Was impressed by Figure Eight (formerly Crowdflower). They get at the crux of the matter.  You have to have the right data. 

" ... A machine learning algorithm isn't worth much without great training data to power it.

At Figure Eight, we've been providing that training data for a decade. We understand how to take raw data and annotate it so that it can be used to power the most innovative AI projects.

In our new ebook, The Essential Guide to Training Data, we share some of the lessons we've learned along the way. Download the ebook and you'll learn about:

Why simply using more data is often better than finding the latest cutting edge algorithm
Why just having a lot of big data isn’t the same as having labeled data
Where to find some great open data sets to bootstrap your model
Download the report today.

Best regards,
     The Figure Eight Team  ..... " 

Microsoft Builds Bots for Productivity

Microsoft looks to bots to make employees more productive.  Recall their now long ago work with the 'Clippy' bot.

Microsoft is continuing its quest to try to make workers more productive via a variety of bots, including SwitchBot and Calendar.help.   By Mary Jo Foley

Information about SwitchBot was made public in the form of a research paper published on April 21 for the 2018 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

SwitchBot is a Skype bot that aims to help workers detach and then reengage at the start and end of their workdays. It's goal: To make workers more productive by getting workers to better use their time on and off the job. .... " 

Choosing an AI Strategy

Example of a corporate approach, not enough detail to really pin what the strategy is, but shows you the complexity and that few companies are advanced in this area.

The Right Fit: Choosing an AI Strategy

Dun & Bradstreet is transforming its own internal AI and analytics operations, even as it helps customers with their analytics and machine learning transformations.

How does your organization compare to its peers in terms of artificial intelligence implementations today? Do you feel as if you are behind? Rest assured, even if you don't have a program in place today, you are in good company.  .... "

Threat Intelligence

Did some work with Recorded Future, an impressive group.

How to Empower Teams With Threat Intelligence   By Amanda McKeon 

In this episode of the Recorded Future podcast, we examine how threat intelligence applies to a variety of roles within an organization, and how security professionals can integrate it to empower their team to operate with greater speed and efficiency. How does threat intelligence apply to SOCs, to incident response, or vulnerability management? And how do corporate leaders make the case that threat intelligence is a worthwhile investment?

Joining us to address these questions is Chris Pace, technology advocate at Recorded Future.