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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Education via Voice Assistants with Shiken

If a skill can be built for Alexa, it can be readily built for other assistants.  Voice and repetition is apparently key for this, aimed at qualifying tests.  Here medical students.   This makes sense.   Also think about using pattern recognition with the data generated to analyze and adapt testing.

Creating an Amazon Alexa Skill with Shiken     By Gemma Twomey   in Cookieshq

Shiken is an innovative company providing education tools for medical students. We’ve worked with them since last year, when we helped them launch their first online revision tool.  Now we’re pleased to announce the launch of a new project – the Shiken Alexa Skill.

Skills are voice-driven Alexa capabilities. They’re like apps – you can enable and disable them, and use them to create a more personalised experience when you speak to Alexa, Amazon’s voice service.

We spent the beginning of this year getting familiar with Alexa through our own office Echo device. Once we discovered its patterns and limitations, we knew an Alexa Skill would be the perfect accompaniment to Shiken’s web platform. Research has shown that speaking out loud can improve memory and even facilitate faster learning. With the Shiken Skill, students of the platform can now study by asking Alexa to ‘Start Shiken’ and answering questions out loud, enriching their experience of using Shiken.  .... " 

See also http://shiken.ai/ 

NIH Partners with Google Cloud

Note that integration of Machine Learning is specifically mentioned.  Once you have the right data readily accessible,  many kinds of analytics can be tested and applied.

NIH Partners With Google Cloud to Speed Up Medical Breakthroughs 

By Jack Corrigan in NextGov

A new U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) program aims to help NIH researchers accelerate biomedical advances providing access to more commercial cloud computing technologies. NIH's Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability Initiative (STRIDES) will give scientists access to analytics tools to speed up biomedical data-crunching. STRIDES' initial concentration will be on making "high-value" datasets accessible via the cloud and adopting data-centric machine learning and artificial intelligence applications. Google Cloud was chosen as NIH's first STRIDES partner so it can offer its cloud storage, computing, and machine learning tools to NIH teams and about 2,500 federally-funded institutions. Google Cloud also will collaborate with the NIH Data Commons program to devise cloud-based biomedical data-sharing solutions.  ... "

Honeywell Launches Alexa Thermostat

Some commercial applications of assistant capabilities are interesting to see.  Some interesting details here.

Honeywell Launches Amazon Alexa Voice-ready Thermostat for Hotels

ATLANTA – Honeywell (NYSE: HON), a global leader in connected buildings, announced the launch of its next generation thermostat for the hospitality industry. Honeywell's INNCOM e7 Thermostat (e7) is the first enterprise grade environmental control and energy management solution that incorporates Amazon Alexa voice control for an effortless guest experience that includes room temperature, lighting, drapery and amenities services. With its modern design with easy-to-use controls, the e7 is based on a patent-pending Smart Wall Plate design that provides hotel staff with an easy and reliable back-up of the device configuration. This makes routine maintenance or replacement of the e7 energy management system simple, even for other staff which helps reduce ownership costs.

The e7 automatically reduces energy costs and is compatible with most HVAC solutions and equipped for Honeywell's Connected Guest integration. Now available for installation, the e7 can maximize guest comfort, energy savings, and operational efficiency. Honeywell's INNCOM hospitality solutions are used in more than 1.5 million guestrooms around the world. .... "

Simulation plus Randomness Producing Learning

Where else can this be used?   Note in particular the control of the randomness used.

OpenAI Demonstrates Complex Manipulation Transfer from Simulation to Real World  by adding randomness to a relatively simple simulation, OpenAI's robot hand learned to perform complex in-hand manipulation  By Evan Ackerman  in IEEE Spectrum

In-hand manipulation is one of those things that’s fairly high on the list of “skills that are effortless for humans but extraordinarily difficult for robots.” Without even really thinking about it, we’re able to adaptively coordinate four fingers and a thumb with our palm and friction and gravity to move things around in one hand without using our other hand—you’ve probably done this a handful (heh) of times today already, just with your cellphone.

It takes us humans years of practice to figure out how to do in-hand manipulation robustly, but robots don’t have that kind of time. Learning through practice and experience is still the way to go for complex tasks like this, and the challenge is finding a way to learn faster and more efficiently than just giving a robot hand something to manipulate over and over until it learns what works and what doesn’t, which would probably take about a hundred years. 

Rather than wait a hundred years, researchers at OpenAI have used reinforcement learning to train a convolutional neural network to control a five-fingered Shadow hand to manipulate objects, all in just 50 hours. They’ve managed this by doing it in simulation, a technique that is notoriously “doomed to succeed,” but by carefully randomizing the simulation to better match real-world variability, a real Shadow hand was able to successfully perform in-hand manipulation on real objects without any retraining at all.  .... "    Full paper.

Futuretext: Data Science for the IOT

Looks to be of interest.  Will be reviewing as it proceeds,  From Futuretext:

" ... After a bit of delay, here is the methodology section of our book Data Science for Internet of Things co-authored by Ajit Jaokar, Jean Jacques Bernard and Sukanya Mandal
I have included the overall structure of the book also. I will send sections in a variable order as we write them. Leading up to my teaching in Oxford Uni in the fall - we should be able to complete most of it.

Book chapter URL:

Also,   My colleague Cheuk and I are launching an Enterprise AI workshop in London in September ... Details below. Initially only 10 places. Saturdays Or Remote
http://www.opengardensblog.futuretext.com/archives/2018/07/enterprise-ai-workshop-saturdaysremote-only-10-places.html  (Overview contains some interesting thoughts about approaches for the enterprise and AI philosophy)

I hope you find the book useful. Its not easy to write it since AI for IoT (Data Science for Internet of Things) is a complex domain . Comments on book section welcome. We may add a section on implementation also (in AWS and Azure) both of which we include in my teaching.

To sign up for the book chapters and ongoing emails https://my.sendinblue.com/users/subscribe/js_id/31hme/id/1
futuretext.ai   ....     Ajit  ....." 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Robot Hauling with Autonomous Trains

Had heard of autonomous shipping, but with oceangoing ships and not with trains.    Here an interesting example. 

World's Largest Robot Hauls Ore Through Western Australia   By Evan Ackerman in IEEE Spectrum

The world's largest robot, called AutoHaul, is an autonomous train that hauls tons of material across Australia. The trains started running in direct supervised autonomy mode in 2017. A human was originally present on the train, but it was still operating autonomously, under remote supervision from an operations center. The train recently made its first trip using only remote supervised autonomy. The robotic system understands its performance, the load it is carrying, and the characteristics of the terrain, all of which enable it to drive itself faster and more efficiently than a human conductor. The system is designed to unlock significant safety and productivity benefits as a result of reduced variability and increased speed across the network, helping to decrease average cycle times. ... " 

Google and Accenture Create Business Group

More routes for the enterprise for digital transformation.

Google and Accenture create new cloud-focused business group
By Mike Wheatley in SiliconAngle

Before it wrapped up its Cloud Next conference today, Google LLC signed a deal with consultancy firm Accenture Plc that will see team up to create “data insight solutions” for their enterprise customers.

The new Accenture Google Cloud Business Group, made up of specialists from both companies, will “develop intelligent solutions leveraging data-driven insights.” The idea is to help clients build superior customer experiences and accelerate their digital transformations, Accenture said. ... " 

Emergence of a Token Economy

Insightful piece in Irving Wladawsky-Berger's blog on Blockchain:

The Emergence of a Blockchain-Based Token Economy

Blockchain Revolution, published in May of 2016 by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott, was one of the first books that explained the promise of blockchain technologies to the general public.  Its central argument is that for nearly four decades, the Internet has been great for reducing the costs of searching, collaborating, and exchanging information.  But, it has serious limitations for business and economic activity.  “Doing business on the Internet requires a leap of faith,” the book noted.  The Internet was designed to move information, but it’s lacked the necessary trust, security and privacy safeguards to move assets of value.  With blockchain, we’re now seeing the emergence of such an Internet of value.  “Now for the first time ever we have a native digital medium for value, through which we can manage, store, and transfer any asset.”  .... " 

Google AutoML and the Importance of Human Machine Communication

Call centers are the place where people to machine communications will increasingly be important.  Better efficiency and results will be key.    Having the systems learn to understand changes in their context is the next step.  Both by ingesting information, and learning from experience.

Google is adding new automated machine learning tools and bringing its AI software to call centers

Google’s AutoML Vision is going into public beta while new natural language and translation tools are now available     By Nick Statt @nickstatt  in theVerge

Google has a slew of artificial intelligence announcements it’s making this week at its Cloud Next conference, which kicks off in San Francisco today, and many are focused on the company’s democratization of machine learning tools. Starting today, Google’s AutoML Vision tool will now be available in public beta after an alpha period that started back in January with the launch of its Cloud AutoML initiative, the company announced during its keynote.

Cloud AutoML is basically a way to allow non-experts — those without machine learning expertise or even coding fluency — to train their own self-learning models, all using tools that exist as part of Google’s cloud computing offering. The first of these tools was AutoML Vision, which lets you create a machine learning model for image and object recognition. Google makes these tools legible to those outside the software engineering and AI fields by using a simple graphical interface and universally understood UI touches like drag and drop. .... "

Amazon and Microsoft Partner

It seems on  the cloud side, not the retail side.   How does this influence the Amazon and Cortana proposed link?

Walmart and Microsoft team up to slow Amazon’s roll    by George Anderson

Today, Walmart and Microsoft announced a strategic partnership intended to speed the retailer’s ongoing digital transformation.

The five-year deal cements Microsoft as Walmart’s preferred cloud solutions provider. As such, it provides other retailers with high-profile proof that there exists an alternative to using Amazon Web Services for cloud services.

“Walmart is a people led, tech empowered company, and we’re excited about what this technology partnership will bring for our customers and associates,” said Doug McMillon, Walmart CEO, in statement. “Whether it’s combined with our agile cloud platform or leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence to work smarter, we believe Microsoft will be a strong partner in driving our ability to innovate even further and faster.”

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, told The Wall Street Journal that competing with Amazon “is absolutely core” to the partnership between his company and Walmart. .... " 

Google and Measurement Strategy

Without accurate in context measurement strategy, you don't have much of anything.  Here is how Google works with partners in this space.  Consider how this works outside marketing as well.

Why partners play a critical role in Google’s measurement strategy

Measurement continues to be critical for brands trying to understand the impact of their marketing. But as the customer journey has become more complex, marketers often find it difficult to gain a complete view of customer engagement and attribute marketing’s impact accurately. That’s why Google has introduced Google Measurement Partners, which includes over 20 measurement providers and combines the best of Google and partner technology across the marketing funnel. ... ." 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

China to Use AI for Diplomatic Strategy

Quite intriguing, pointers to more technical background or details?    Will gaming be an element?  Certainly simulation.  Recall we used agent based methods to simulate Chinese retail changes. (See link to Agent Model examples in tags below)

Artificial intelligence, immune to fear or favour, is helping to make China’s foreign policy  By Stephen Chen in the South China Morning Post

The programme draws on a huge amount of data, with information ranging from cocktail-party gossip to images taken by spy satellites, to contribute to strategies in Chinese diplomacy.

Attention, foreign-policy makers. You will soon be working with, or competing against, a new type of robot with the potential to change the game of international politics forever.

Diplomacy is similar to a strategic board game. A country makes a move, the other(s) respond. All want to win.

Artificial intelligence is good at board games. To get the game started, the system analyses previous play, learns lessons from defeats or even repeatedly plays against itself to devise a strategy that can be never thought of before by humans. ....  " 

Online Out of Stocks

One of our key exploration areas.   Including mobile assistance to instore personnel.  How diffiecult if the problem online?   Stronger communications or connections to fulfillment?

Study: Online retailers losing billions in sales to out-of-stocks    by George Anderson in Retailwire

Out-of-stocks are a problem for retailers that may be almost twice as bad online than in stores. That’s the conclusion of new research from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which found sites across the globe could be losing billions in sales every year because products aren’t available online when consumers wish to purchase them.

The report, “A Worldwide Study of Extent, Shopper Reactions, and Implications for Non-Food Online Retail Categories,” written by Daniel Corsten, professor of operations and technology and IE Business School, and Thomas Gruen, professor of marketing at the University of New Hampshire, tracked online product availability of baby care, fabric care, hair car, oral care, skin care and shaving products on websites operated by retailers in China, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the U.S.

“This is one of the first studies on online availability after previous reports over the past decade studying on-shelf availability and its effects on consumer purchasing patterns,” said Keith Olscamp, director of industry affairs and collaboration at GMA, in a statement. “The findings should encourage retailers and brands to collaborate and enhance online availability in the fast-growing area of online retail.”   ... " 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

MIT Researches Data as an Asset

Data as an asset concept was a thing we looked at early on, checking this MIT work out...  does it include estimates of measures about specifically how to monetize?   And to include in these analyses risks as well?  So does the data involved contain issues?  Biases?  Threat of direct or inadvertent theft?  Lack of context supporting metadata?   Then some predictive indications of how the data will be used and in what value adding algorithms will it be used.    All that adds to some reasonable simulation of the data's use and thus value.     Don't see that yet...

Below a short excerpt, read it all. 

Data as an Asset, Data Monetization ....

MIT research scientist reveals four-step plan for data transformation By Kylie Anderson, SingleAngle

 " ... Through her work with BBVA, Wixom honed a data monetization framework built around four fundamental steps. The guideline provides a high-level look at how to drive value and can be customized to the needs of any individual organization, according to Wixom.

“It’s a conceptual model that basically says you can monetize your data by using [it] to improve your company processes, create lift, process lift efficiencies. You can wrap data analytics around your existing offerings, your products, in order to add value to those,” she said.

The first step is to develop a target state for the data. “BBVA did this by creating the subsidiary data science group,” Wixom said, “In effect, they were creating in an incubated way where they eventually wanted to head.”

The second step is to use that target to promote and communicate the value of data across the organization. Wixom advises measuring the value of all data projects and providing team trainings at each level to facilitate full comprehension at scale. “They had training for all 130,000 employees at BBVA,” she said, “For people who just needed basic literacy regarding data, they held an event that was livestreamed in order to capture about 18,000 people at once.”  .... " 

Samsung Patches SmartThings Security

Do to their broad capabilities in smart appliances, Samsung is likely to be a considerable player in the smarthome and with their SmartThing hub.  My own experience to their TV systems has been shakey.  Good to see they are patching device vulnerabilities.

Samsung patches multiple SmartThings Hub security flaws
Hackers could have exploited the vulnerabilities to control devices connected to the hub.

By Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon in engadget

A Look at Amazon Go

A closer look at AmazonGo.    And notes that there lots of employees at hand to show how it works. Not too different that the experience I just had at a McDonald's, where there was always employees at hand to show how the ordering kiosk works.   In our innovation center we also observed the obvious, which was that tech had to be explained to customers, especially were it went outside of normal use.  How might training work?  Needed or not?   Also in Retailwire.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Machines Interpreting Human Emotions

Helping Computers Perceive Human Emotions   In MIT News

MIT Media Lab researchers have developed a machine-learning model that takes computers a step closer to interpreting human emotions as naturally as people do.

In the growing field of "affective computing," robots and computers are being developed to analyze facial expressions, interpret a person's emotions, and respond accordingly. Applications include, for instance, monitoring an individual's health and well-being, gauging student interest in classrooms, helping diagnose signs of certain diseases, and developing helpful robot companions.

A challenge, however, is people express emotions quite differently, depending on many factors. General differences can be seen among cultures, genders, and age groups. But other differences are even more fine-grained: The time of day, the amount of sleep, or the level of familiarity with a conversation partner leads to subtle variations in the way a person expresses, say, happiness or sadness in a given moment.

Human brains instinctively catch these deviations, but machines struggle. Deep-learning techniques were developed in recent years to help catch the subtleties, but they're still not as accurate or as adaptable across different populations as they could be.

The Media Lab researchers have developed a machine-learning model that outperforms traditional systems in capturing these small facial expression variations, to better gauge mood while training on thousands of images of faces. Moreover, by using a little extra training data, the model can be adapted to an entirely new group of people, with the same efficacy. The aim is to improve existing affective-computing technologies. .... " 

Alexa for Business Makes Hotel Room Calls

Hospitality by assistants expands

Alexa for Business can now Make Phone Calls in Hotel Rooms

Khari Johnson in Venturebeat

Volara, the creator of a hotel concierge service powered by AWS’ Alexa for Business, today announced it has extended calling capabilities to hotel guests.

Though Alexa for Business could already initiate video conference calls, more traditional phone calls were not available before today, Volara cofounder and CEO Dave Berger told VentureBeat in an email.

A hotel guest can now say “Alexa, call the concierge” or make calls to mobile or landlines phone numbers in the United States, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat. A trial of phone calls with Alexa for Business is currently taking place at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess hotel in Arizona.... " 

Future of Video Surveillance


This Japanese AI security camera shows the future of surveillance will be automated  By James Vincent @jjvincent

The world of automated surveillance is booming, with new machine learning techniques giving CCTV cameras the ability to spot troubling behavior without human supervision. And sooner or later, this tech will be coming to a store near you — as illustrated by a new AI security cam built by Japanese telecom giant NTT East and startup Earth Eyes Corp.

The security camera is called the “AI Guardman” and is designed to help shop owners in Japan spot potential shoplifters. It uses open source technology developed by Carnegie Mellon University to scan live video streams and estimate the poses of any bodies it can see. (Think of it like a Kinect camera, but using 2D instead of 3D data to track people.) The system then tries to match this pose data to predefined ‘suspicious’ behavior. If it sees something noteworthy, it alerts shopkeepers via a connected app. .... "

Machines as Better Narrators?

 Perhaps then with humans editing.  Examples I have seen so far would need lots of that.

Storytelling with data: Will machines become better narrators than us?  in 7Wdata

The use of digital technology for storytelling is not limited to the medium itself. The creation of stories is also changing visibly through the use of artificial intelligence and big data. Netflix demonstrates, what data-driven narration can look like. Will (script-) authors soon become obsolete? ... . " 

Minimal Coding Platforms

Particularly like the mention of direct integration of business process modeling.  Makes at a more efficient application of less code for more value.

Software Without Coding   By Esther Shein in CACM

With digital transformation initiatives and an increased number of apps making their way into organizations, some are turning to low-code development platforms to help ease the burden on corporate Information Technology (IT) departments.

Low-code platforms are increasingly being eyed by organizations in different industries for their ability to speed up application and innovation delivery across a range of devices; even for large-scale applications, industry observers say.

Use of such platforms enables organizations to "very quickly deliver applications that win, serve, and retain customers—and to nimbly evolve those apps,'' according to a 2017 report by market research firm Forrester Research, which identifies the leaders in this segment as including Appian, Kony, Mendix, OutSystems, and Salesforce.

Any low-code development platform should offer visual development tools; an app store; full app lifecycle support, and cloud-native deployment capabilities, according to Mendix. Appian says its low-code platform offers drag-and-drop visual development, with business process management (BPM) capabilities and intuitive user interfaces. .... "

Procter Builds new Efficient Future Factories

It seems the new facility will be laden with technology to improve manufacturing and supply chain process.

P&G building 2.5 million-square-foot W.Va. factory
Procter & Gamble is building a 2.5 million-square-foot factory in West Virginia as part of the firm's quest to consolidate production and introduce better automation and efficiency standards to its production lines. By 2020, the $500 million factory will serve as P&G's sole manufacturing facility for Old Spice body wash, Swiffer cleaning products and Dawn dish soap, among other items. ... "

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Beauty Marketing

Its about the dimensions of digital, and the better ability to manipulate those dimensions.  Digital and thus numerical, can be sliced, attached, personalized, measured and valued.

Via Think with Google:

A century-old brand shows how innovation comes from embracing the future rather than fighting it.

The new face of beauty marketing

L’OrĂ©al is one of the oldest brands in the beauty category. It’s also developed a reputation as one of the most innovative, forward-thinking beauty companies in the world. And that reputation applies to its marketing as well.

The company hasn’t viewed the changes to the marketing landscape as simply a challenge, but rather an opportunity. Digital is viewed as the future, something that’s changing the industry for the better. Or, as L’Oreal Global Chief Digital Officer Lubomira Rochet says, digital “brings new dimensions to things that were limited before.”

That approach stems from one of L’Oreal’s key values: “Saisir ce qui commence,” or “Seize what’s starting.” .... " 

Kuri Rolling Assistant Stops Manufacturing

The family friendly rolling assistant Kuri has stopped manufacturing and is refunding new orders.    Was called 'adorable' by some.   Have followed it here since its inception.   The supporting  company Bosch,  apparently has pulled the plug of support.  Their site says its a pause.  The Mayfield Robotics site now makes minimal mention of Kuri.   Are they looking for a buyer?   Seemed a nice idea, but was too expensive.  More in TheVerge.

Data Understanding

Good and broad look at data understanding.

Sharpening your Data Instincts     By Peter Gleeson in Medium

Writer on topics in data science, statistics and programming
How to sharpen your data instincts ... "

Google Adds AI to G Suite

More assistant services, in places that make sense.  Have used Suite for university group interactions.

Google adds AI features to G Suite, including ‘Smart Reply’ for Hangouts Chat in ComputerWorld

The company also touted new security and data region management tools, and said Gmail’s Smart Compose is now available for business users.

SAN FRANCISCO – Google is adding new artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to G Suite as it aims to attract more users to its cloud-based productivity apps.

There are now 4 million organizations using G Suite, which includes tools such as Docs, Sheets and Gmail; the that’s up from 3 million paid customers a year ago. (For reference, there are 135 million monthly paying users of Microsoft’s Office 365, though the comparison is not an apples-to-apples comparison.)

Google hopes that incorporating AI in its workplace productivity tools will help give it an edge over its main rival. Smart Reply, which was unveiled for Gmail two years ago, is now accessible within Hangouts Chat, the text-based collaboration tool that serves as Google’s competitor to Slack.  ...  " 

Google Glass is Back, AI on the Factory Floor

Like the direction of this, it is where we experimented with the idea.   Look forward to seeing this in action.  Like the connection to the notion of an 'Assistant', with eyes and ears and everywhere connections to knowledge and intelligence. 

Google Glass is back, now with Artificial Intelligence  by Tom Simonite in Wired   Google Glass lives—and it’s getting smarter.

On Tuesday, Israeli software company Plataine demonstrated a new app for the face-mounted gadget. Aimed at manufacturing workers, it understands spoken language and offers verbal responses. Think of an Amazon Alexa for the factory floor.

Plataine's app points to a future where Glass is enhanced with artificial intelligence, making it more functional and easy to use. With clients including GE, Boeing, and Airbus, Plataine is working to add image-recognition capabilities to its app as well.

The company showed off its Glass tech at a conference in San Francisco devoted to Google's cloud computing business; the app from Plataine was built using AI services provided by Google’s cloud division, and with support from the search giant. Google is betting that charging other companies to tap AI technology developed for its own use can help  ... "

Review: The Fourth Age by Byron Reese

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

Good book.  I have been an explorer and practitioner in this space for decades.   He covers the space well.   First, I much
like the use of the four ages structure.  So we can think about  how the eras are divided and how people lived in each.  Broad discussion of how we used tools to advance. Also covers the question of how AI will influence the future work we do.  The book is non-technical,  the examples, especially in the last age are interesting,  but no details and no references, so you have to do the work to find out more.

The book is a useful read for you or your non-technical manager.   Its not a how-to, but a possibilities exploration.    Sometimes the author is a bit too glib, but the examples are still instructive.  I like too that he connects some of his examples to interview sessions he has been doing online on GigaOM, with practitioners in AI.   Since there is a lot of opinion and prediction involved, that's helpful to position the book in terms of what experts in the field think.   Makes it less out of date.    For more details about some topics in the book I suggest Nick Bostrom's "Superintelligence: Paths. Dangers, Strategies."  Which is a much more technical read.

Scientific Paper is Obsolete

Should the scientific paper be a distributed 'package' of statements, data, descriptive need for advances, collaborative linkages, proposed tests, results?  ....

The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete  By James Somers in The Atlantic

Here’s what’s next.

The scientific paper—the actual form of it—was one of the enabling inventions of modernity. Before it was developed in the 1600s, results were communicated privately in letters, ephemerally in lectures, or all at once in books. There was no public forum for incremental advances. By making room for reports of single experiments or minor technical advances, journals made the chaos of science accretive. Scientists from that point forward became like the social insects: They made their progress steadily, as a buzzing mass.

The earliest papers were in some ways more readable than papers are today. They were less specialized, more direct, shorter, and far less formal. Calculus had only just been invented. Entire data sets could fit in a table on a single page. What little “computation” contributed to the results was done by hand and could be verified in the same way.

The more sophisticated science becomes, the harder it is to communicate results. Papers today are longer than ever and full of jargon and symbols. They depend on chains of computer programs that generate data, and clean up data, and plot data, and run statistical models on data. These programs tend to be both so sloppily written and so central to the results that it’s contributed to a replication crisis, or put another way, a failure of the paper to perform its most basic task: to report what you’ve actually discovered, clearly enough that someone else can discover it for themselves......  "

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

ISSIP Board Meeting

From the ISSIP Board meeting today      See ISSIP.org

The International Society of Service Innovation Professionals, ISSIP (pronounced iZip),  is a 501 (C) (3) professional association co-founded by IBM, Cisco, HP and several Universities with a mission to promote Service Innovation for our interconnected world.  Our purpose is to help institutions and individuals to grow and be successful in our global service economy.

Service innovations improve the quality-of-life of individuals and the wealth of institutions, from businesses to nations that are increasingly dominated by service revenues and economics. Advances in information technology and policy support the rapid scaling of new service innovations in health, education, government, finance, hospitality, retail, communications, transportation, energy, utilities; even in advanced agricultural and manufacturing systems viewed as socio-technical systems, in which community-oriented recycling behaviors improve the economics, sustainability, and resilience of these human-serving systems. ... 

ISSIP Open Datasets

Welcome to the ISSIP Open Data sets page! Here you will find a compiled list of hundreds of useful sites that have data sets to use for AI and Machine Learning. ...

Will follow with more information about our group.  Join us.

Figure Eight and Google for AutoML Training

Yes, this is the Grail ... good training data, initially and ongoing, is essential.  Also sufficient contextual metadata.   We had projects fail because we did not consider these issues.  Was much impressed with a Figure Eight webinar I attended, they appear to understand the issues more than others.  Ultimately in autonomous learning,  you have to plan for re-learning,   Will be following up.

Figure Eight partners with Google to give AutoML developers better training data   By Frederic Lardinois in TechCrunch

Figure Eight, a platform that helps developers train, test and fine-tune their machine learning models, today announced a major new collaboration with Google that essentially turns Figure Eight into the de facto standard for creating and annotating machine learning data for Google Cloud’s AutoML service.

As Figure Eight’s CEO Robin Bordoli told me, Google had long been a customer, but the two companies decided to work closer together now that AutoML is launching in beta and expanding its product portfolio, too. As Bordoli argues, training data remains one of the biggest bottlenecks for developers who want to build their own machine learning models — and Google recognized this, too. “It’s their recognition that the lack of training data is a fundamental bottleneck to the adoption of AutoML,” he told me.

Since AutoML’s first product focuses on machine vision, it’s maybe no surprise that Figure Eight’s partnership with Google is also currently mostly about this kind of visual training data. Its service is meant to help relatively inexperienced developers collect data, prepare it for use in AutoML and then experiment with the results. ... " 

Skim view or Deep Dive?

I like Mckinsey's new method of providing a 5 minute overview of a technical topic,  and the ability to take a fifty minute look at the same topic.  You choose the path through the information,  in infograpic and text snippets.   Nicely done.  Perhaps though, should these also be by industry , to make the examples more relevant?

Here is an example about the implications of IoT with regards to systems security.   Subscribe to their reports on other topics.

Amazon and Private Label

Watched this early on and it seemed the were digging deeply here.

Supermarket chains can breathe easy — for now, at least — about Amazon’s grocery push on one front: private label.  in Supermarket News

Of Amazon’s roughly 7,000 private brand products, less than 2% are food and beverage items, according to an analysis of the e-tailer’s private label offering by Coresight Research. A far higher proportion is in apparel, which accounts for nearly 5,000, or approximately three-quarters, of Amazon’s private brand roster.

“Apparel is the dominant category in Amazon’s private-label offering, and one that appears to be growing, as the retailer pushes further into the clothing and footwear markets,” Deborah Weinswig, chief executive officer and founder of New York-based Coresight, said in the report. “In contrast, Amazon’s private-label offering in grocery categories such as food and household care remains limited, and in beauty and personal care, Amazon offers just two private-label products.” .... "

Electronic IOT Stickers

Simple, cheap?.  Easily attachable and removable.  Sensing contextual environment.  Security?

Electronic stickers on a set of blocks. Electronic Stickers to Streamline Large-Scale 'Internet of Things'

Purdue University News     By Kayla Wiles

Purdue University and University of Virginia researchers have developed a fabrication method that makes tiny, thin-filmed electronic circuits that are peelable from a surface and which enable any object to sense its environment or to be controlled via the application of a high-tech sticker. The fabrication technique, called "transfer printing," reduces manufacturing costs by using a single wafer to build a nearly infinite number of thin films holding electronic circuits. The peeling is made possible by inserting a ductile metal layer, such as nickel, between the electronic film and a silicon wafer, and then submerging the entire device in water. These thin-film electronics can then be trimmed and pasted onto any surface, giving that object electronic features. "We've optimized this process so that we can delaminate electronic films from wafers in a defect-free manner," says Purdue's Chi Hwan Lee.   .... "

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Campbell's and Alexa Voice

Had looked at Campbell's skill early on.  As an avid cook, the use of recipes as elements of communication have always fascinated me.    They have a preestablished architecture and can provide capsules of communication in powerful ways.  Now how to you insert your equity in these messages.  Is voice the right way?  Campbell is figuring that out.

Alexa, what's for dinner?: Why Campbell's is doubling down on voice  By Mike O'Brien in ClickZ

Sharing recipes for consumers has always been a part of Campbell's marketing strategy. They have branched out into using artificial intelligence for these recipes, rather than just in magazines.

 What’s for dinner? It’s a common question, one everyone has probably asked themselves, their families, friends, significant others and Google (which has 666 million suggestions). Campbell’s launched an Amazon Echo skill because the brand foresaw people asking Alexa, too.

That skill is particularly noteworthy because Campbell’s was the first consumer brand to launch one in 2015. Soup and voice search don’t sound like an obvious pair, at least not at first. But Matt Pritchard, VP of Digital Marketing, explains that Campbell’s has always shared recipes with consumers, whether the medium was magazines, books or the Campbell’s Kitchen app. Alexa is simply a more modern way to get those messages across.  ,,, " 

How Health Care Companies are Exploring Blockchain

Short look at possible applications, starting  with assured identity and security.

US health care companies begin exploring blockchain technologies

Finding ways to link health care data in a secure and confidential way.  
Author  Ana Santos Rutschman  ...   Assistant Professor of Law, Saint Louis University, Ana Santos Rutschman does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. ... 

The sprawling U.S. health care industry has trouble managing patient information: Every doctor, medical office, hospital, pharmacy, therapist and insurance company needs different pieces of data to properly care for patients. These records are scattered all over on each business’s computers – and some no doubt in filing cabinets too. They’re not all kept up to date with current information, as a person’s prescriptions change or new X-rays are taken, and they’re not easily shared from one provider to another.

For instance, in Boston alone, medical offices use more than two dozen different systems for keeping electronic health records. None of them can directly communicate with any of the others, and all of them present opportunities for hackers to steal, delete or modify records either individually or en masse. In an emergency, doctors may not be able to get crucial medical information because it’s stored somewhere else. That can result in direct harm to patients.  ... "  

Collaborating Effectively

An HBR Video:

The Explainer: How to Collaborate Effectively If Your Team Is Remote
Clarity and consistency are key. For more, read How to Collaborate Effectively If Your Team Is Remote ...

Echo Mod for Sign Language

When I saw this, appeared that this is a hard thing to do, and apparently the range of signs and capabilities are still limited, but a remarkable possibility.  For Echo devices that include cameras, the system detects and interprets sign language.

This Amazon Echo mod lets Alexa understand sign language
‘If voice is the future of computing, what about those who cannot speak or hear?’   By James Vincent   @jjvincent  in theverge

Original Content Generation for Assistants, Collaboration

Can content write itself in a useful way?  Note this neural method is research,  technical and apparently incomplete. Yet still points to some useful directions.  Ultimately this could lead to a method that would answer questions from a corpus of information, ultimately what you want to get from an assistant,  or as an agent that is working in collaboration with humans to answer support questions.   Imagine such a method using a collection of FAQs or 'solved'  inquiries to create new solutions.  This might also be a way to create 'Content Based Reasoning' solutions based with new and old resources.

Google’s New Algorithm Creates Original Articles From Your Content  in Search Engine Journal

Google has published research of a new algorithm that can take yours and your competitor’s webpages and generate “coherent” articles. By creating original content, Google’s new algorithm can answer a user’s question without having to send them to another webpage.

How Does the Paraphrasing Algo Work?

Google’s new algorithm works by summarizing web content using an algorithm that “extracts” your content then tosses out the irrelevant parts. This is similar to the algorithms used to generate featured snippets.

These are called “extractive summaries” because they extract content from webpages. Extractive Summaries are like a reduction of the original text to the most important sentences.

Afterwards, this algorithm then uses another kind of algorithm called an Abstractive Summary. Abstractive summaries are a form of paraphrasing.

A downside of artificial paraphrasing (abstractive summaries) is that almost a third of the summaries contain fake facts.

Here is more information about extractive summaries, Faithful to the Original: Fact Aware Neural Abstractive Summarization

Google’s new research has discovered a way to join the best of both approaches. They use “extractive summaries” to extract the important facts from web documents and then apply the “abstractive” approach to paraphrase the content. This approach creates a new document based on the information found on the web, creating Google’s own version of Wikipedia.

Google’s new algorithm is described in a research paper titled, Generating Wikipedia by Summarizing Long Sequences  ... "    

Google Making Quantum Computing Dev Easier

Have to respect Google for helping the entire industry to advance emerging technologies.  I took a brief look at this space and was struck by how hard it was to even basically understand and  test the concepts.  This could help a lot.  Communities help too.  Works even better in spaces that are not (yet?) over-hyped.

Google Wants to Make Programming Quantum Computers Easier 
Technology Review By Martin Giles

Google released a software toolkit that allows developers without a background in quantum physics to create quantum algorithms. Developers can use the Cirq toolkit to create quantum algorithms that run on simulators, but Google wants it used to help build software that will run on a wide range of real machines in the future. In addition, Google released OpenFermion-Cirq, a toolkit for creating algorithms that simulate molecules and properties of materials. The decision to make these toolkits open source will help foster a more vibrant developer community, just as it has in other areas of software. "We're at such an early stage in the development of quantum computing that it's to everyone's advantage that things are done out in the open," says Andrew Childs with the University of Maryland's Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science. ... " 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Combining Bayesian Network and Machine Learning

Interesting because of the analytics design, but the domain is something I looked at in a previous area of work.  Probably useful when thinking more broadly about maintenance methodology. Note how the ML and Bayesian are connected.

Understanding Small Fatigue Cracking Force   

Notable Research with BayesiaLab: Using machine learning and a data-driven approach to identify the small fatigue crack driving force in polycrystalline materials.  .... via Bayesia

Crack propagation: machine learning identifies micromechanical variables

A machine learning technique can identify the complex variables behind the propagation direction of small cracks in a titanium alloy. A team led by Michael Sangid at Purdue University in the U.S.A built two separate Bayesian networks using machine learning to analyse diffraction and tomography data acquired during in situ fatigue cycling of a titanium alloy. The orientation of the first principal stress axis in a specific direction and the maximum resolved shear stress were the most strongly correlated with crack propagation, and were incorporated into an analytical relationship to describe the probability of the crack propagation direction. This analytical expression reproduced experimental results and was more reliable than previous literature predictions. This sort of semi-supervised machine learning methodology may help us identify driving forces in other complex engineering problems.  ... "

Defining AI to Tune Expectations

Correct, the expectations are still much too high for the term AI, and too confused for related Analytics.   Narrow applications are here (again) but now can more different things.  AGI is much further away, with ranges of estimates of its creation from 5-500 years.

We Need to Fine-Tune Our Definition of Artificial Intelligence
By Thomas Hornigold in SingularityHub

" ... Narrow or Weak AI versus Broadly applicable, human-like AI.  Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).  Needing to understand the difference and implications of both.  We learned this very well.  We worked the weak first.  The weak side is often like anything you would use a computer for, but with adding a 'cognitive' element.   AGI meanwhile adds broader capabilities, and in recent years things like assistants have moved us in that direction,  but still at their core much more primitive than human. ... " 

Data, Analytics and Product Management

Obvious need,  and application.  Doing it well is the challenge.

Apply Data and Analytics Skills to Make the Best Product Management Decisions  by Deacon D.K. Wan in Gartner

Most enterprise applications were not designed to capture data on application’s performance and user satisfaction.    The rapid evolution of digital products and customer demands make it difficult to keep up as more data from the business, technology and customer experience (CX) must be tracked.

How organizations can incorporate data and analytics skills to ensure your product features are ready for future digital needs? .... " 

What Machine Learning Can and Cannot Do

Very thoughtful piece and blog by a former correspondent. Not very technical.

A blog by Irving Wladawsky-Berger
A collection of observations, news and resources on the changing nature of innovation, technology, leadership, and other subjects.

What Machine Learning Can and Cannot Do
Artificial intelligence is rapidly becoming one of the most important technologies of our era.  Every day we can read about the latest AI advances from startups and large companies.  Over the past few years, the necessary ingredients have come together to take AI across the threshold: powerful, inexpensive computer technologies; huge amounts of data; and advanced algorithms, especially machine learning.  Machine learning has enabled AI to get around one of its biggest obstacles, - the so-called Polanyi’s paradox.

Explicit knowledge is formal, codified, and can be readily explained to people and captured in a computer program.  But, tacit knowledge, a concept first introduced in the 1950s by scientist and philosopher Michael Polanyi, is the kind of knowledge we’re often not aware we have, and is therefore difficult to transfer to another person, let alone capture in a computer program.

“We can know more than we can tell,” said Polanyi in what’s become known as Polanyi’s paradox.  This common sense phrase succinctly captures the fact that we tacitly know a lot about the way the world works, yet aren’t able to explicitly describe this knowledge.  Tacit knowledge is best transmitted through personal interactions and practical experiences.  Everyday examples include speaking a language, riding a bike, and easily recognizing many different people, animals and objects.

Machine learning, and related advances like deep learning, have enabled computers to acquire tacit knowledge by being trained with lots and lots of sample inputs, thus learning by analyzing large amounts of data instead of being explicitly programmed.  Machine learning methods are now being applied to vision, speech recognition, language translation, and other capabilities that not long ago seemed impossible but are now approaching or surpassing human levels of performance in a number of domains. .... " 

Healthcare Personalization

Makes sense,  have seen it myself, it also suffers from over regulation, which can look like unpersonal as well.  Cleary a potential for disruption.

How Personalization Improves the Healthcare Experience  By John Nash

With the incredible amount of changes in the healthcare system, the search continues for the best ways to improve outcomes while reducing costs. One of the keys is for healthcare payers and providers to rethink how they engage with consumers, in ways that account for the shift to consumer-centric healthcare and the advent of disruptive business models. Retailers, creative partnerships between payers and providers like accountable care organizations (ACOs), and other non-traditional entities have further cut into the traditional market share of healthcare payers and providers, making the consumer experience an increasing differentiator in this competitive market.

It’s crucial that healthcare payers and providers adapt now. Recent research found that there is a more than $500 billion opportunity for a disruptor like Amazon to deliver a superior customer experience and create a new “front door” to healthcare, changing the first point of contact from a doctor’s office to a local drug store or the consumer’s living room. .... "

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Alibaba Cloud ET Medical Brain

Chinese Advances in Healthcare AI

How Alibaba Cloud ET Medical Brain Is Transforming Healthcare with Artificial Intelligence
Developments in medical sciences have improved average human life expectancy over the years. Technological improvements have also made a significant improvement in processing, storage, and distribution of life-saving medicines. However, very few of the developing countries offer universal health care. Furthermore, healthcare services is not evenly distributed to the public and access to quality healthcare comes with high costs.

Why Artificial Intelligence Is Crucial for Healthcare
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to cut-down treatment costs by as much as 50%, and improve medical treatment outcomes by 30% to 40%, according to a report by Frost and Sullivan. But, before we start discussing AI advancements in the healthcare industry, it is important to understand what the technology is and why it is making so much hype. For the uninitiated, AI is an umbrella term for a range of technologies such as machine learning, cognitive computing, deep learning, neural networks, and natural language processing. The end goal of all these technologies is to impart “smartness” to computers so that they can behave in a manner akin to humans, or even better.

It is common knowledge that computers are adept at mathematical calculations. However, AI takes this ability to the next level. AI makes computers capable of complex human tasks such as understanding facial expressions, reading information in visuals/images, and using heuristics to find approximate solutions.

So how does all this help doctors? Let’s take the example of machine learning. Machine learning is a branch of AI in which computers analyze vast of amounts of data to learn and improve from experience. Researchers are now using different machine learning approaches to create systems that can predict, prevent, or even cure diseases. Unlike traditional software systems, machine learning attempts to do all this with minimal human intervention. This not only reduces manual work but also reduces human errors and biases. ..... "

Toolkit for Deep Learning Vision

Was pointed to this. for potential use for an application:

GluonCV — Deep Learning Toolkit for Computer Vision

Author: Mu Li, Principal Scientist at Amazon Translated from: https://zh.mxnet.io/blog/gluon-cv
Apache MXNetMay 16 ... "

Morse Code is still Here

Remember being trained on Morse, then it seemed to go away ... but no,  it still has assistant applications beyond being a (now) obscure point on mystery theater.  Now yet more inspirational!

Making Morse code available to more people on Gboard ...   in the Google Blog

Earlier this year, we partnered with developer Tania Finlayson, an expert in Morse code assistive technology, to make Morse code more accessible. Today, we’re rolling out Morse code on Gboard for iOS and improvements to Morse code on Gboard for Android. To help you learn how to type in Morse code, we’ve created a game (on Android, iOS, and desktop) that can help you learn it in less than an hour! We’ve worked closely with Tania on these updates to the keyboard and more—here, she explains how Morse code changed her life:

My name is Tania Finlayson, and I was born with cerebral palsy. A few doctors told my parents that I probably would not amount to anything, and suggested my parents put me in an institution. Luckily, my parents did not take the advice, raised me like a normal child, and did not expect any less of me throughout my childhood. I had to eat my dinner first before I could have desserts, I had to go to bed at bedtime, and I got in trouble when I picked on my older brother.

The only difference was that I was not able to communicate very effectively; basically, I could only answer “yes” and “no” questions. When I was old enough to read, I used a communication word board with about 200 words on it. I used a head stick to point to the words. A couple of years later, my dad decided that I should try a typewriter and press the keys with the head stick. Amazingly, my vocabulary grew. My mom did not dress me in plaid any more, I could tell on my brother, and I finally had the chance to annoy my Dad with question after question about the world. I am quite sure that my Dad did not, in any way, regret letting me try a typewriter. Ha! ..."

RapidMiner Embeds Machine Learning

Over the years we actively used RapidMiner for analytics.   Good to see them advancing their connected capabilities.  Will followup to examine.

Press Release:
RapidMiner announces new program to embed machine learning

New partner program allows partners to embed machine learning into applications

BOSTON, July 19, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- RapidMiner, the data science platform for analytics teams, today announced the launch of the RapidMiner Embed ML partner program. Independent software vendor (ISV) and managed analytics service provider (MASP) solutions can now easily embed prescriptive analytics into business applications to drive revenue, reduce costs, and avoid risks.
RapidMiner is a software platform for analytics teams that unites data prep, machine learning, and predictive model deployment. Enterprises can build machine learning models and put them into production faster than ever, using RapidMiner's lightning-fast visual workflow designer and automated modeling capabilities.... " 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Stanford AI Recreates Periodic Table

Fascinating example.   Could this kind of structure be sought elsewhere?  Thinking it.

Stanford AI recreates chemistry’s periodic table of elements
In a first step toward generating an artificial intelligence program that can find new laws of nature, a Stanford team created a program that reproduced a complex human discovery – the periodic table.  By Ker Than

It took nearly a century of trial and error for human scientists to organize the periodic table of elements, arguably one of the greatest scientific achievements in chemistry, into its current form.
A new artificial intelligence (AI) program developed by Stanford physicists accomplished the same feat in just a few hours.

Called Atom2Vec, the program successfully learned to distinguish between different atoms after analyzing a list of chemical compound names from an online database. The unsupervised AI then used concepts borrowed from the field of natural language processing – in particular, the idea that the properties of words can be understood by looking at other words surrounding them – to cluster the elements according to their chemical properties  ... " 

Description of Enterprise Blockchain

To the point and non-technical.

The blockchain beyond bitcoin

Taking blockchain technology private for the enterprise.   By Jim Scott in O'Reilly

Check out Jim Scott’s session “Using the Blockchain in Enterprise” at the Strata Data Conference in New York City, Sept. 11-13, 2018. Early price ends July 27.

Blockchain technologies have been made popular by the creation of bitcoin, but how exactly can a blockchain benefit an enterprise? A blockchain provides an immutable store of facts. This model delivers significant value in the face of regulatory oversight by providing irrevocable proof that transactions occurred. Some even refer to these uses of a blockchain as enterprise resource planning (ERP) 2.0.  ... " 

" ... The concept of smart contracts  .... 
While the initial blockchain implementation (bitcoin) wasn't intended to deliver a smart contract platform, it inherently contained a mechanism for keeping track of ownership of bitcoins. The expansion of this concept within a blockchain was exposed by Ethereum. But what exactly is a smart contract? To put it as simply as possible, it is a mechanism for ensuring that software can be executed, audited, and prove what it did. Fundamentally, a smart contract can be created with nothing more than a microservice with a trigger event, otherwise known as function-as-a-service (FaaS) or a serverless model. .... " 

Superminds and the Nature of Work

Interesting piece which uses my alma mater Procter & Gamble, as an example.  We struggled with some of these problems, linking human capabilities and artificial augmentation.  Early on we talked to Tom Malone on related topics.

Thomas W. Malone (@twmalone) is the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management, a professor of information technology, and a professor of work and organizational studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as the founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. He is the author of Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together (Little Brown, 2018), from which this article is adapted.

How Human-Computer ‘Superminds’ Are Redefining the Future of Work in Sloan

Virtually all human achievements have been made by groups of people, not lone individuals. As we incorporate smart technologies further into traditionally human processes, an even more powerful form of collaboration is emerging.

The ongoing, and sometimes loud, debate about how many and what kinds of jobs smart machines will leave for humans to do in the future is missing a salient point: Just as the automation of human work in the past allowed people and machines to do many things that couldn’t be done before, groups of people and computers working together will be able to do many things in the future that neither can do alone now.

To think about how this will happen, it’s useful to contemplate an obvious but not widely appreciated fact. Virtually all human achievements — from developing written language to making a turkey sandwich — require the work of groups of people, not just lone individuals. Even the breakthroughs of individual geniuses like Albert Einstein aren’t conjured out of thin air; they are erected on vast amounts of prior work by others.  

 (article can be subscribed to at link) ...."

The Breadth of Machine Learning

Some useful and in my experience correct ideas.   Its still hard to produce and learn general intelligence.  What worked for us was to be as narrow as possible, with rules or by neurons.   Narrow is also useful too for maintenance, as context expands over time.   You start to lose good understanding of what data must be learned.  Learning about changing scope is important. The example area,  culinary knowledge, is an area of interest of mine.

The AI revolution will be led by toasters, not droids

It’s far easier for software to learn to do one thing well than to be a digital jack of all trades   By Janelle Shane in Fastcompany

Will the intelligent algorithms of the future look like general-purpose robots, as adept at idle banter and reading maps as they are handy in the kitchen? Or will our digital assistants look more like a grab-bag of specialized gadgets–less a single chatty master chef than a kitchen full of appliances?

If an algorithm tries to do too much, it gets in trouble. The recipe below was generated by an artificial neural network, a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that learns by example. This particular algorithm scrutinized about 30,000 cookbook recipes of all sorts, from soups to pies to barbecues, and then tried to come up with its own. The results are, shall we say, somewhat unorthodox:  ... " 

Retail Supply Chains

Useful examples, more detail would be useful.  We note that CPG company Unilever's was best.

In  Supply Chain Digest

Another View of the Best Supply Chains   by Dan Gilmore

Different Methodologies of Course Lead to Different Results in Gartner and Kantar Top Supply Chain Lists

I recently summarized both the results and the method used by Gartner to compile the Top 25 Supply Chain list for 2018, an approach first started by the former AMR Research in 2004. Gartner acquired AMR in 2009.

The list of course much interest, and companies that make it naturally tout that honor. As I noted in my column, I occasionally get calls from companies looking for advice on how to make the top 25.

Let me first say that I do not have a better way to compile a top supply chain list than the way Gartner does it. Only limited information is available for analysis – no one is sharing cost information, as just one example.  .... "

Friday, July 20, 2018

Deep Mind and Abstract Thought

 What is abstrsact thought, and how do IQ tests track that?   Closer to what we might call common sense, or really uncommon?

DeepMind AI Takes IQ Tests to Probe Its Ability for Abstract Thought 

in New Scientist  By Jacob Aron

Google DeepMind researchers are challenging artificial intelligences (AIs) to solve abstract reasoning puzzles similar to those used in IQ tests. One particular puzzle involves looking at sets of abstract shapes and selecting which should come next in a given sequence. DeepMind's David Barrett says the researchers evaluated neural-network AIs on whether they could learn more general concepts. Standard networks performed poorly on these tests, with scores as low as 22%. However, a new neural network specifically engineered to infer relationships between different parts of a puzzle scored 63%. "While these structures help specifically with this task, we believe they can also be applied to other problems involving abstract relationships and taking decisions between possible courses of action," says DeepMind's Felix Hill. ..." 

PwC Looks at the Job Market under new AI

AI Won't Kill the Job Market but Keep It Steady, PwC Report Says 
In  Forbes   By Parmy Olson

A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) researchers of wide-ranging economic trends to better predict how artificial intelligence (AI) will affect the U.K. job market predicts that, although automation in trucks, plants, and other sectors could facilitate the loss of about 7 million existing jobs by 2037, the advent of robots and machine learning software will boost production by 2% annually over the next 20 years. The study predicts 7.2 million jobs will be created subsequently, balancing out the workforce. PwC's John Hawksworth says about 22% of the new jobs will be in health and social work, while demand will increase in other areas "that require a human touch and aren't so easy to automate." The U.K. government last year announced a national retraining program that will prime the workforce to better withstand the job shifts to be brought about by AI.... " 

D-Wave Models a Quantum System

Had a brief connect with DWave for applications in business.  Continue to think possible applications areas.   Especially combinatorially complex possibilities.  Good to see an apparent move forward.  See more on D-Wave Systems.

D-Wave’s quantum computer successfully models a quantum system
System lets researchers explore phase transitions in a quantum system.
By  John Timmer in ArsTechnica

New research from D-Wave Systems describes a quantum computer model with a close resemblance to the bits used in the hardware itself, enabling analysis of quantum phase transitions. This milestone gives researchers complete control over the physical limits of a relevant quantum system as it experiences these transitions. The current D-Wave system can support up to 2,048 individual orientation-flipping magnets and associated control hardware governing which magnets are connected and the strength of their connections. A solution to the problem can be encoded into the system's minimal-energy state, an arrangement called a "transverse-field Ising model," or a cubic configuration of magnets that can flip. An anti-ferromagnet forms if the magnets are ordered into alternate orientations as the system moves in any of the three dimensions, but also possible are disordered "spin glasses" boasting well-defined energies, including a low-energy state. .... "

Let's Try to See Clearly on Blockchain for Advertising

Have been asked to examine this.  Of interest.

Blockchain is simply too slow to work for the real-time aspects of our programmatic trading world,  
By Jaisimha Muthegere

The release of the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Blockchain for Video Advertising white paper has the digital ad industry abuzz. The emerging technology, best known for powering cryptocurrencies, is apparently coming to save us! Forget that much of the conversation last year revolved around AI as the solution to our transparency and fraud woes. Now, we see a raft of claims that it's blockchain, with decentralized power and public ledgers, that will reinvent financial systems and disrupt every industry, including advertising.

Much like the talk of AI, today's conversation around blockchain includes a good amount of hyperbole. Still, today's wishful thinking is driving tomorrow's solutions, so it's worth toning down the enthusiasm to see where the real potential of blockchain for advertising lies.   ... " 

Jaron Lanier on Behavior Modification

We connected with Lanier long ago on and in virtual worlds.  He does not like it when people he doesn't agree with seem to be keen on altering his behavior.  Or are not part of his tribe.   Don't disagree we should all consider it.   As marketers we were always interesting in influencing behavior.

Delete your account  in FastCompany
It’s a “great shame,” says Silicon Valley insider Jaron Lanier, that so much of big tech’s AI has been aimed at manipulating you. .... 

" ... His new book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, examines how a technology designed to bring people together (remember Mark Zuckerberg’s ongoing dream of “connecting” the world) has instead helped tear apart humanity’s delicate social fabric. People, he argues, are becoming angrier, less empathetic, more isolated yet tribal, and sadder, crazier even. With every post and scroll, users feed a system built to influence behavior, in a sort of reward feedback loop. And as the 2016 elections demonstrated, the same system that’s used to sell you deodorant online can also be hijacked to wreak havoc on your political system. Lanier, who hasn’t been on social media for years, now likes to refer to Facebook and Google as “behavior modification empires.”  ... " 

Microsoft Piviots to Deep Learning

I doubt if Microsoft is playing this wrong.  I agree though that other forms of intelligence are also worth investing in, like better ways of providing intelligent conversations and linking that to knowledge infrastructure. 

Why Microsoft’s big bet on deep learning could go bad
Deep learning is the hottest branch of A.I., but it might not be all that deep.    By Preston Gralla
When Microsoft looks into the near and far future, it sees artificial intelligence, particularly the hottest branch of it, called deep learning. The company has spent billions on A.I., including a spate of acquisitions such as the deep-learning startup Bonsai in late June and Semantic Machines in May. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said that A.I. is the "defining technology of our times." He also said at an investor’s conference this spring: “It's going to be A.I. at the edge, A.I. in the cloud, A.I. as part of SaaS applications, A.I. as part of in fact even infrastructure.”

But there’s a chance that the big bet on deep learning could go bad if Microsoft fails to invest in other branches of A.I. that could be more useful. The issue isn’t that deep learning isn’t important — it certainly is. But there’s a chance it’s also been oversold and is already up against the limits of its capabilities.  ....  "  

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Emotional Marketing Driving Growth

Something we looked at in some detail, starting long ago.

How Emotional Marketing Can Drive Business Growth  in K@W

An image of an elegant Vermicular-brand Japanese rice cooker flashed on the screen at the Wharton Customer Analytics Conference. The speaker, Ridhima Raina, asked the audience how much they thought it cost.

After several guesses were ventured — most around a couple of hundred dollars — Raina said, “I’m from India and I eat a lot of rice. I would spend maybe $300 or $500. But on eBay, I checked this morning and it was $1,000.”

A leader in customer strategy and marketing practice at Bain & Company, Raina asserted that the main reason Vermicular can charge so much for its rice cooker compared to other brands is that the product spikes on what she called “elements of value.” It reflects two elements in particular, she said: sensory appeal, and design and aesthetics. By Bain’s calculations, these elements contribute an eye-opening 40% to the product’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), an index that measures how willing consumers would be to recommend a product to others. NPS is widely considered a key customer metric associated with customer lifetime value and revenue growth.

There might be additional value-based reasons for someone to pay top dollar for a rice cooker, Raina said. Investing that much money could be a motivation to prepare meals at home more often and to eat healthier. The product could provide a sense of well-being.

Identifying and putting numbers around how customers perceive the value of products is an ongoing project at Bain, said Raina. “Understanding value is hard,” she noted. Although the science of pricing has progressed greatly, our grasp of value hasn’t caught up, she said. While firms certainly are aware that customers have feelings and opinions about their products, there’s no established way to translate those often hard-to-define attitudes into what customers will be willing to pay, and ultimately into business success. .... "   (Later gets to the emotion point ... )


Have an idea? plug it into a Cloud.  Anything that simplifies things is good.

DigitalOcean: Very interesting idea, pointed out to me  ... 

Meet DigitalOcean

We're on a mission to simplify cloud computing so developers and their teams can spend more time building software that changes the world.
Tell your friends about the DigitalOcean story ... 

Their Blog:  https://blog.digitalocean.com/

ISSIP Speaker Series: Digital Workers and Role of Meta in Digital Services

Via Sorin Ciornei, Series Chair, Cisco Systems
The digital worker and technological implications: The critical role of "meta" in digital services innovation and employment

Speaker:  Stephen F Heffner,

When:  Wednesday, July 25, 4:30pm - 5:15pm (UTC+01:00) Amsterdam, Berlin, Bern, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna  10:30 AM ET

Background:    An Expert witness, with report, deposition, & court testimony experience, in legal cases involving Enterprise & IT Architecture, software development & engineering, forensic analysis of code / data / text, Intellectual Property issues involving software, and contractual fulfillment / performance failure issues involving software.

Talk Overview Description: 

As a software inventor on the leading edge of automating software engineering, He has observed that the overall trend in technology is toward "meta" -- information about information.  Meta represents a level of abstraction thatprovides great power when dealing with any kind of pattern in manufacturing, scientific, commercial, and especially IT processes.  It is at the heart of all automation, and is a prerequisite for success in the application of Artificial Intelligence.

The implications for employment are profound.  It means that lower-level, repetitive tasks will be automated.  (As the creator of an Expert System that automates software engineering, He is one of the change agents in that process.) Those who can't handle the necessary abstraction to raise their level on the "meta" spectrum will lose out.

The implications for education are equally profound.  The educational establishment has seriously damaged our educational system; in particular, the ability to think clearly, analyze problems, and solve them has been virtually eliminated in favor of ideological indoctrination.  The result is that workers who can handle the new requirements of a "meta" economy will be harder and harder to find.

Zoom meeting Link:   https://zoom.us/j/314764585

Small Robotics for DARPA

Continue to watch the robotics of the very small.  These were predicted long ago, and now emerging.

DARPA's insect-sized SHRIMP robots could aid disaster relief
Meet the tiny, versatile robots built to navigate high-risk environments.   By Katrina Filippidis in Engadget

DARPA's efforts to propel military technology forward often manifest in a diverse fashion, spanning everything from drone submarine development to a biostasis program that aims to buy more time to rescue soldiers on the battlefield. The SHRIMP program, short for SHort-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms, is another potentially life-saving initiative that is being designed to navigate through hazardous natural disaster zones.

What differentiates SHRIMP from microrobotics limited by SWaP (size, weight and power) constraints is its size. DARPA has managed to shrink the tech down to the size of an insect -- a scale of mm-to-cm. Program manager Dr. Ronald Polcawich says the smaller scale is what gives SHRIMP robots an advantage over larger robots -- which are too large to inspect damaged environments. ... " 

SIGAI: ACM Updates its Code of Ethics

ACM has updated its code of ethics, and published this on their newsletter/blog.    Of considerable length, breadth and depth.   Below a short heading excerpt, continued at the link.

AI Matters

AI Matters: A Newsletter of ACM SIGAI

ACM Code of Ethics and USACM’s New Name

ACM Code of Ethics

Please note the message from ACM Headquarters and check the link below: “On Tuesday, July 17, ACM plans to announce the updated Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. We would like your support in helping to reach as broad an audience of computing professionals as possible with this news. When the updated Code goes live at 10 a.m. EDT on July 17, it will be hosted at https://www.acm.org/code-of-ethics.

We encourage you to share the updated Code with your friends and colleagues at that time. If you use social media, please take part in the conversation around computing ethics using the hashtags #ACMCodeOfEthics and #IReadTheCode. And if you are not doing so already, please follow the @TheOfficialACM and @ACM_Ethics Twitter handles to share and engage with posts about the Code.  ACM also plans to host a Reddit AMA and Twitter chats on computing ethics in the weeks following this announcement. We will reach out to you again regarding these events when their details have been solidified.

Thank you in advance for helping to support and increase awareness of the ACM Code of Ethics and for promoting ethical conduct among computing professionals around the world.” .... " 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Managing Teams of Robots with Brainwaves and Hand Gestures

Is this the way we will control and work with teams of robots?    In the MIT News.

How to control robots with brainwaves and hand gestures

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory system enables people to correct robot mistakes on multiple-choice tasks.    By Adam Conner-Simons | CSAIL 

Getting robots to do things isn’t easy: Usually, scientists have to either explicitly program them or get them to understand how humans communicate via language.

But what if we could control robots more intuitively, using just hand gestures and brainwaves?

A new system spearheaded by researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) aims to do exactly that, allowing users to instantly correct robot mistakes with nothing more than brain signals and the flick of a finger.

Building off the team’s past work focused on simple binary-choice activities, the new work expands the scope to multiple-choice tasks, opening up new possibilities for how human workers could manage teams of robots.

By monitoring brain activity, the system can detect in real-time if a person notices an error as a robot does a task. Using an interface that measures muscle activity, the person can then make hand gestures to scroll through and select the correct option for the robot to execute. .... " 

Microsoft Releases all US Building Footprints

Reported in Flowingdata, fascinating dataset.   Architectural and building industry studies?  An Exmple of open data

Details in Microsoft Github.

" ... This dataset contains 124,885,597 computer generated building footprints in all 50 US states. This data is freely available for download and use.

This data is licensed by Microsoft under the Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL)


What the data include:
Approximately 125 million building footprint polygon geometries in all 50 US States in GeoJSON format.  .... "