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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Google Turns 20

Nice selection and useful description of key events of the last 20 years.   I was user-involved for all of them, as a public and/or enterprise user and manager.   Remember many of these, but not all.   Could not have predicted the enormity of the changes that happened based on what started as a simple service process.    With lots of competition at the time.

Google Turns 20: How an Internet Search Engine Reshaped the World
The biggest moments, product launches, and acquisitions throughout Google’s two-decade history
By Verge Staff   ... 

Judea Pearl on Causality Tools and Machine Learning

  Causality scientist Judea Pearl looks at causality and some of the limitations of machine learning systems.  Technical paper, but useful scan for practitioners.

The seven tools of causal inference with reflections on machine learning

The seven tools of causal inference with reflections on machine learning Pearl, CACM 2018

With thanks to @osmandros for sending me a link to this paper on twitter.

In this technical report Judea Pearl reflects on some of the limitations of machine learning systems that are based solely on statistical interpretation of data. To understand why? and to answer what if? questions, we need some kind of a causal model. In the social sciences and especially epidemiology, a transformative mathematical framework called ‘Structural Causal Models’ (SCM) has seen widespread adoption. Pearl presents seven example tasks which the model can handle, but which are out of reach for associational machine learning systems.  ... "

DARPA Underground Challenge

Saw this announced and at least at first did not understand it.   Clearer now, quite interesting regarding the environments involved.    Have a friend who is connected, will ask for more as it progresses.   From disasters to caves to ... 

Three robot advances that’ll be needed for DARPA’s new underground challenge

What kind of robot could handle this impossible-seeming cave mission?  by Will Knight in TechnologyReview

This week, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced a challenge to push the limits of robotic design and control. 

DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge will require teams to have robots maneuver objects through three different environments: a series of caves, a bunker-like “urban environment,” and a labyrinth of confined tunnels. While the robots will be remote-controlled, they’ll need some serious autonomous skills. They will need to rapidly map and explore unfamiliar environments even when communications are spotty and conditions are challenging for sensors.

The teams will be allowed to use as many different types of robot as they like, but this will mean dealing with greater complexity in communications and coordination. “You may be a great swimmer but not a great runner or cyclist, but when you put them all together, it’s how you can handle all three of those events that allow you to cross the finish line,” Timothy Chung, program manager at DARPA, said at the event on Thursday. ... "

Microsoft Working New Cortana Skills

Been disappointed by the capabilities of Cortana skills in relation to Google and Amazon, especially supporting supporting their office capabilities. Now new enterprise skill Devs Skill set is announced.  Mary Jo Foley writes in ZDNet:

Microsoft tries again to win developers with new Cortana Enterprise Skills Kit
Microsoft is working on a new enterprise-focused skills kit for Cortana, based on its Bot Framework, which can be used to build skills and agents for business use . .... "

By Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft

Also supporting docs from Microsoft.

Considering Interpretability

Good look at what interpretability is.  My view is that to interpret means to understand what it means in developed context, and in future.    The context I usually have to most closely deal with is how is it interpreted by decision makers.  Thoughtful and considerable article here,  I am reviewing,

In Machine Learning, the concept of Interpretability is both important and slippery
Via ACMQueue

Computer Science > Machine Learning
The Mythos of Model Interpretability
By Zachary C. Lipton

(Submitted on 10 Jun 2016 (v1), last revised 6 Mar 2017 (this version, v3))
Supervised machine learning models boast remarkable predictive capabilities. But can you trust your model? Will it work in deployment? What else can it tell you about the world? We want models to be not only good, but interpretable. And yet the task of interpretation appears underspecified. Papers provide diverse and sometimes non-overlapping motivations for interpretability, and offer myriad notions of what attributes render models interpretable. Despite this ambiguity, many papers proclaim interpretability axiomatically, absent further explanation. In this paper, we seek to refine the discourse on interpretability. First, we examine the motivations underlying interest in interpretability, finding them to be diverse and occasionally discordant. Then, we address model properties and techniques thought to confer interpretability, identifying transparency to humans and post-hoc explanations as competing notions. Throughout, we discuss the feasibility and desirability of different notions, and question the oft-made assertions that linear models are interpretable and that deep neural networks are not.  ... " 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Berners-Lee Says we can Control our Data, and Need to do it Now

But how will this influence the economics of the Web in the last decade?  Will the economics be there to continue to drive its development?  Or will it go back to an excellent academic system?  Reading more.   Excellent description here, and see also  https://solid.inrupt.com/

One Small Step for the Web
By Tim Berners-Lee in Medium

Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) w3.org, the place to agree on web standards. Founded webfoundation.org - let the web serve humanity

I’ve always believed the web is for everyone. That’s why I and others fight fiercely to protect it. The changes we’ve managed to bring have created a better and more connected world. But for all the good we’ve achieved, the web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas.

Today, I believe we’ve reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible — and necessary.

This is why I have, over recent years, been working with a few people at MIT and elsewhere to develop Solid, an open-source project to restore the power and agency of individuals on the web.

Solid changes the current model where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value. As we’ve all discovered, this hasn’t been in our best interests. Solid is how we evolve the web in order to restore balance — by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way.  ... "

Also see: https://solid.inrupt.com/ for more about their approach.

Training AI Agents in Virtual Worlds

Had heard of similar methods in VR for training before,  tried it for retail examples,  how do we know training will be complete for the proper later context of use?  Examining

Google’s DeepMind partners with Unity to train AI agents in virtual worlds
By Mike Wheatley in SiliconAngle

Alphabet Inc.’s artificial intelligence group DeepMind Technologies Ltd. said today it will research AI agents with 3-D game development company Unity Technologies Inc., which made the engine for the popular Pokemon Go game.

The two companies plan to create a virtual test ground for AI agents that may eventually be used in fields such as autonomous driving and robotics.

“DeepMind researchers are trying to crack huge AI problems and Unity provides them with a solution of creating complex virtual environments that will enable the development of algorithms capable of learning to solve complex tasks across diverse environments,” Danny Lange, vice president of machine learning and AI at Unity Technologies, said in a statement. “We believe the future of AI is being forged by increasingly sophisticated human-machine interactions, and Unity is proud to be the engine that is enabling these interactions.”

DeepMind, thanks to its backing from Google-parent Alphabet Inc., has established itself as one of the leading organizations working in AI field, having published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers on the subject in journals such as Nature and Science. The company’s list of notable achievements includes developing an AI that can diagnose eye diseases with 94 percent accuracy and building an agent that can navigate city roads without the need for a map.   ..... "

Book Review: Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World

Always worth keeping in mind.

In Experimentia:

Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World
by Meredith Broussard
MIT Press, 248 pages  .... 

A guide to understanding the inner workings and outer limits of technology and why we should never assume that computers always get it right.  .... "

Using Confirmation Bias for Advantage

As someone with an engineering rather than a marketing background, I always thought confirmation bias was a bad thing.   But not necessarily.  Perhaps obvious ,  I see it my own post purchase behavior, and its useful!  And commonly done.  Good thought to have in your head:

“Aha, I Knew It!”, 3 Ways to Use the Confirmation Bias in Marketing    By Regan Yan in CustomerThink

Suppose you have spent your entire life believing that motorcyclists are unpredictable, careless and blasé. One afternoon, whilst driving home, you see a motorcycle rider moving erratically through traffic. Instead of thinking that this rider just happened to be in a hurry, it’s almost guaranteed that your first response would be “see, I knew that all motorcyclists don’t obey the road rules and are careless!”. This self-validation of your pre-existing bias is what’s commonly known as the confirmation bias.

In simple terms, the confirmation bias refers to our tendency to search for and interpret information that matches with our existing way of thinking.

Following the purchase of almost any product or service, as consumers, we like to be able to rationalise our purchases. Whether it’s a chocolate bar that is rationalised as being an acceptable part of “cheat day” or a new iPad because “we want the highest quality tablet on the market”, post-purchase rationalisation helps us to confirm and justify our purchases. This process helps consumers reconcile the significant emotional investment, thereby allowing them to conclude that their purchase was a reasonable and prudent decision. In fact, regardless of any product shortcomings, it’s extremely unlikely for consumers to admit to poor decision-making due to their confirmation bias.

As marketers, it’s our job to help consumers confirm and rationalise their decisions. By providing a range of mechanisms for confirmation such as surveys, reviews and testimonials, we can help consumers to confirm their choices and avoid a dreaded case of buyer’s remorse.

If you can provide enough outlets for customers to confirm their existing ideas and beliefs post-purchase, sales conversions will inevitably follow.  .... "

Future of 3D Displays

Another areas we looked into for retail engagement.   Seen many test examples but each had considerable limitations.  Are we finally approaching clear possibilities for high resolution and interaction and screen orientation?  And what will this imply for VR/AR applications?  Good detail view of the challenges and progress being made. Disney involvement also interesting.

Floating Voxels Provide New Hope for 3D Displays  By Chris Edwards 

Communications of the ACM, October 2018, Vol. 61 No. 10, Pages 11-13   10.1145/3264625

Few movie scenes have had such an effect on display-technology research and development as the droid R2D2 projecting a three-dimensional (3D) image of Princess Leia pleading for help in 1977's block-buster film Star Wars. Numerous engineers have wondered just how they might achieve that effect, of an image you can see from any angle, in real life. Even The Walt Disney Company, which bought Lucasfilm and the distribution rights for the movie franchise in 2012, is among those with engineers working on the idea.

Two years ago, Daniel Joseph and colleagues in entertainment giant Disney's Burbank, CA-based research and development operation filed for a patent on a projector intended to display floating 3D images. The U.S. patent points to an anticipated implementation of having the 3D image seem to be standing on an illuminated pedestal, similar to the game table on the Millennium Falcon that appears in a scene later in Star Wars.

The Disney system suffers from a problem that is shared with similar systems: the image is formed from an array of light sources fed through beam splitters and mirrors some distance behind the pedestal, which limits the viewing angle to those looking toward the projection optics, and so cannot emulate the movies.

Daniel Smalley, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Brigham Young University, says, "Like many in the holography field, I felt that holograms would provide the 3D images of the future, but the annoying issue is you have to be looking in the direction of the screen that generates them. It's counter to what you expect 3D displays to do in the future."  .... " 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Microsoft Says Unified Search will be Coming in 2019

Announced at Ignite, details at below.  Good idea to make search be a service that operates uniformly among multiple MS business services.    Also among multiple sources, such as combining Intranet and Internet resources.  Could this ultimately be a way to link to human resource descriptions in Linkedin?  A favorite wish of mine.  Look for  my previous post on this.  Some hints that there will have new ways to work with the results of such searches.   Seen that done by others as well.   Could be a big deal, depending on how it is implemented.

Microsoft Search—cohesive search that intelligently helps you find, discover, command, and navigate   By Jeff Teper, Corporate Vice President for OneDrive, SharePoint, and Office ... 

At Ignite last year, we introduced personalized search across Office 365, a way to bring intelligent search and discovery experiences directly to you. Today, we’re delighted to announce that we are expanding that vision to encompass search both inside and outside of Microsoft 365. By applying artificial intelligence (AI) technology from Bing to the deep personalized insights surfaced by the Microsoft Graph, we are able to make search in your organization even more effective.

With Microsoft Search, we’re introducing new organizational search experiences into the apps you use every day, including Bing.com and Windows, and our vision to connect across your organization’s network of data.   ... "

AI, Brains and Smell

A favorite topic because we were very involved in how to sell in context influenced smell (and aroma) neural interaction that led to purchase.   Here some new understanding, not directly useful yet, but there are some aspects of the brain we may need to understand to mimic smell context and influence.  We had several vendors pitch us in this space, in our retail labs,   without useful results.

 Artificial Intelligence has a Strange new Muse: Our Sense of Smell

Today’s artificial intelligence systems, including the artificial neural networks broadly inspired by the neurons and connections of the nervous system, perform wonderfully at tasks with known constraints. They also tend to require a lot of computational power and vast quantities of training data. That all serves to make them great at playing chess or Go, at detecting if there’s a car in an image, at differentiating between depictions of cats and dogs. “But they are rather pathetic at composing music or writing short stories,” said Konrad Kording, a computational neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania. “They have great trouble reasoning meaningfully in the world.”

from Quanta Magazine via Wired .... 

To overcome those limitations, some research groups are turning back to the brain for fresh ideas. But a handful of them are choosing what may at first seem like an unlikely starting point: the sense of smell, or olfaction. Scientists trying to gain a better understanding of how organisms process chemical information have uncovered coding strategies that seem especially relevant to problems in AI. Moreover, olfactory circuits bear striking similarities to more complex brain regions that have been of interest in the quest to build better machines.

Computer scientists are now beginning to probe those findings in machine learning contexts. ... "

Open source Monitoring with Prometheus

Open source monitoring,  good detail at the link.   The word monitoring by itself always attracts me, it means we can understand things in operation, and better understand how to  improve that.  First I had heard of this example.

5 examples of Prometheus monitoring success

Organizations are benefiting from the open source monitoring toolkit's customization, simplicity, and cost savings.

Prometheus is an open source monitoring and alerting toolkit for containers and microservices. The project is a hit with lots of different organizations regardless of their size or industrial sector. The toolkit is highly customizable and designed to deliver rich metrics without creating a drag on system performance. Based on the organizations that have adopted it, Prometheus has become the mainstream, open source monitoring tool of choice for those that lean heavily on containers and microservices.

Conceived at SoundCloud in 2012, Prometheus became part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in 2016 and in August 2018, CNCF announced Prometheus was the second "graduated" project in the organization's history.

Prometheus provides a key component for a modern DevOps workflow: keeping watch over cloud-native applications and infrastructure, including another popular CNCF project, Kubernetes. ...."

Thursday, September 27, 2018

True Category Management

A strategy, and then a means to link its goals to a set of processes to achieve them.

The foundation of True Category Management     By Daniel Lohman, CPSA

Organic & CPG Strategic Advisor | cms4cpg.com

Category management is the great equalizer between small brands and their most sophisticated competitors. Is your brand using it to the fullest?

Small natural brands have a substantial disadvantage compared to large brands. What if I told you that there is a way to level the playing field. Would that get your attention? Small brands can take advantage of the best practice strategies used by the big guys. Here’s the best part! Small brands can be agile and flexible in the same way they built their brands. This can give them a significant advantage IF they know when and how to use these strategies effectively.

There is a night-and-day difference between natural and mainstream when it comes to category management, how it is defined, and how it is used. I use the term “true category management” to differentiate the difference.  True category management is an essential business strategy that, when done properly, can exponentially increase your growth and help you better satisfy your core customers.  ... "

What is AI? How should we do Future Research for Application?

Excellent look at what has been achieved in AI, and how it relates to what we call intelligence.  Are we taking the right approach to look for yet better solutions?  Nicely presented, and good descriptions of the dilemma of how research and results are funded and perceived by the public, academia  and industry.  I particularly like that he does not abandon 'classical' AI vs Neural approaches.  Supporting summarizing, non technical video on human vs animal intelligence: https://vimeo.com/288403370

ACM Summary:  The recent successes of deep learning  have revealed something very interesting about the structure of our world, yet this seems to be the least pursued and talked
about topic today.

In Al, the key question today is not whether we should use model-based or function-based approaches but how to  integrate and fuse them so we can realize their collective benefits.

We need a new generation of Al  researchers who are well versed in and appreciate classical Al, machine learning,  and computer science more broadly while also being informed about Al history.

Adnan Darwiche discusses "Human-Level Intelligence or Animal-Like Abilities?" 

Communications of the ACM, October 2018, Vol. 61 No. 10, Pages 56-67

"The vision systems of the eagle and the snake outperform everything that we can make in the laboratory, but snakes and eagles cannot build an eyeglass or a telescope or a microscope." —Judea Pearl

The recent successes of neural networks in applications like speech recognition, vision, and autonomous navigation has led to great excitement by members of the artificial intelligence (AI) community, as well as by the general public. Over a relatively short time, by the science clock, we managed to automate some tasks that have defied us for decades, using one of the more classical techniques due to AI research.

The triumph of these achievements has led some to describe the automation of these tasks as having reached human-level intelligence. This perception, originally hinted at in academic circles, has gained momentum more broadly and is leading to some implications. For example, some coverage of AI in public arenas, particularly comments made by several notable figures, has led to mixing this 
excitement with fear of what AI might bring us all in the future (doomsday scenarios). 

 Moreover, a trend is emerging in which machine learning research is being streamlined into neural network research, under its newly acquired label "deep learning." This perception has also caused some to question the wisdom of continuing to invest in other machine learning approaches or even other mainstream areas of AI (such as knowledge representation, symbolic reasoning, and planning). ... " 

Amazon Opens Physical Store featuring Highly Rated Online Items

Yet another experiment by Amazon, linking online and physical retailing.  Once more an interesting source of multi channel data.   The Amazon name alone will drive traffic.

Amazon is opening a new brick-and-mortar store with a twist.  In DigitalTrends

" .... Following the opening of a string of book stores and, more recently, several revolutionary Amazon Go stores that let you just grab your stuff and go, the company has just announced that on Thursday, September 27, it’s opening Amazon 4-star, a physical store in New York City.

As its name suggests, Amazon 4-star will sell products that have been rated highly by customers shopping on its online store. Top sellers, as well as new and trending items, will also feature in the new retail space.

Located on Spring Street between Crosby and Lafayette Streets in Manhattan’s trendy SoHo neighborhood, Amazon 4-star will start by offering products from its most popular categories at Amazon.com, namely consumer electronics, kitchen, home, toys, books, and games. ... " 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Analyze an ML Model without More Coding

Once a system has been taught it acts as an experimental model of its learning.  When we built such neural models you had to write code or use data manipulation tools to test against new data sets.  Classic method for all analytic models, not only ML.  This new tool should make it easier.

Google's new What-If Tool "allows users to analyze a machine learning model without the need for writing any further code. Given pointers to a TensorFlow model and a dataset, the What-If Tool offers an interactive visual interface for exploring model results."

What If...
you could inspect a machine learning model, with no coding required?
Building effective machine learning systems means asking a lot of questions. It's not enough to train a model and walk away. Instead, good practitioners act as detectives, probing to understand their model better.

But answering these kinds of questions isn't easy. Probing "what if" scenarios often means writing custom, one-off code to analyze a specific model. Not only is this process inefficient, it makes it hard for non-programmers to participate in the process of shaping and improving machine learning models. For us, making it easier for a broad set of people to examine, evaluate, and debug machine learning systems is a key concern.

That's why we built the What-If Tool. Built into the open-source TensorBoard web application - a standard part of the TensorFlow platform - the tool allows users to analyze an machine learning model without the need for writing any further code. Given pointers to a TensorFlow model and a dataset, the What-If Tool offers an interactive visual interface for exploring model results.... "

Wal-Mart's New Productivity Apps

Whats especially interesting here is what Wal-Mart is emphasizing for the workflow of their employees. includes description and detail of their operation.  Nice effort.

Walmart's new apps help employees complete tasks  in ProgressiveGrocer

Walmart is releasing a string of in-house apps for mobile devices to make work smoother and more efficient for its associates. The apps include an information hub and assistance with receiving, stocking and price changes.  ... 

Includes mention of  In-store virtual reality training through Oculus Go headsets.  ...

Microsoft Says Elite MIDS Should Govern our Data

Quite an interesting piece, certainly not obvious, a proposal for what are called MIDs or 'Mediators of Individual Data'.    I excerpt a short piece below, but the total document is quite long.   I believe in simple solutions, and this is very far from that.  An elite academic solution that is very unlikely be adopted.   Read it if your dare.  Sounds like Soviet Central Planning.  Uprooting democracy and capitalism?  Who governs these groups, influences them?   Beware an imminent nightmare. 

A Blueprint for a Better Digital Society   In the HBR  By Jaron Lanier and Glen Weyl  (both from Microsoft)

For individuals and platforms, the future requires a fundamental economic shift.

Digital transformation is remaking the human world, but few are satisfied with how that’s been going. That’s especially true in media, where the dominant model of targeted advertising derived from data surveillance and used to fund free-to-the-public services like social media and search is increasingly viewed as unsustainable and undesirable.

Today, internet giants finance contact between people by charging third parties who wish to influence those who are connecting. The result is an internet — and, indeed, a society — built on injected manipulation instead of consensual discourse. A system optimized for influencing unwitting people has flooded the digital world with perverse incentives that lead to violations of privacy, manipulated elections, personal anxiety, and social strife.  ... " 

" ... For data dignity to work, we need an additional layer of organizations of intermediate size to bridge the gap. We call these organizations “mediators of individual data,” or MIDs.
A MID is a group of volunteers with its own rules that represents its members in a wide range of ways. It will negotiate data royalties or wages, to bring the power of collective bargaining to the people who are the sources of valuable data. It will also promote standards and build a brand based on the unique quality and identity of the data producers they represent. MIDs will often perform routine accounting, legal, and payment duties but might also engage in training and coaching. They will help focus the scarce attention of their members in the interest of those members rather than for an ulterior motive, such as targeted advertising. ... " 

Jaron Lanier is Office of the Chief Technology Officer Prime Unifying Scientist (OCTOPUS) at Microsoft, a musician, and the author of several books, including Who Owns the Future? E. Glen Weyl is principal researcher at Microsoft Research in New York City and teaches economics at Princeton. His most recent book, coauthored with Eric Posner, is Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society. .... 

Cisco on AI Operations Srategy

Good thoughts.   Ultimately operational considerations will be required.

Cisco Intersight: AI-Driven IT Operations Strategy
In the Cisco Blog

Cisco launched our cloud-based platform for AI-driven IT operations (a.k.a. AI Ops), Cisco Intersight, last September. It already delivers significant benefits, and we intend to take it to the next level with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Guest Blogger: Gautham Ravi, Director, UCS Product Management

A New Era in Operations Management

“Work smarter, not harder” is critical to improving IT efficiency. Organizations are adopting a multicloud strategy, so you need scalable and consistent management across data centers, private clouds, edge, and branch environments. Cisco Intersight delivers this consistent management, automation and policy enforcement across a variety of servers and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). It helps you work smarter by delivering proactive support and actionable intelligence through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), so that you can proactively manage complex environments and reduce risk.

Traditional IT operations management tools are deployed on-premise, they are vendor and device focused, difficult to maintain, and have limited ability to scale. We introduced a new era of systems management with Cisco Intersight. It provides the simplicity of software as a service (SaaS) with unlimited scalability. Intersight is enhanced by AI and ML to provide users with actionable intelligence.  .... "

Watson AI for Industries

Watson AI aimed at a number of industries, aiming at key workflows for each, much more below

Watson AI helps your industry do more
Watson AI is at work globally – in farms, factories and offices – streamlining workflows, increasing productivity, and freeing workers up for higher-value tasks.

Industry Solutions

Customer Engagement
Financial Services
Work ... 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Linkedin Does Company Resource Intelligence: Talent Insights

Been waiting for this for some time, based on conversations with Linkedin long ago.  The data and architecture is there.  Analyzing any company, your competitors, your clients, even your own company to determine what disruption it is ready, or not ready for.   What are the resources costing?  Cost effective?  Where are they lacking?  What kind of resources could be augmented with AI?   And lots, lots more.  Your company is defined by its resources, so shouldn't you analyze them?  What resources do you specifically have for a given project.  Get them together!  How does your data link to people resources?  Lots more to consider about how this could be used.

LinkedIn steps into business intelligence with the launch of Talent Insights   By Ingrid Lunden  @ingridlunden  in TechCrunch

LinkedIn  may be best known as a place where people and organizations keep public pages of their professional profiles, using that as a starting point for networking, recruitment and more — a service that today that has racked up more than 575 million users, 20 million companies and 15 million active job listings. But now under the ownership of Microsoft, the company has increasingly started to build a number of other services; today sees the latest of these, the launch of a new feature called Talent Insights.

Talent Insights is significant in part because it is LinkedIn’s first foray into business intelligence, that branch of enterprise analytics aimed at helping execs and other corporate end users make more informed business decisions.

Talent Insights is also notable because it’s part of a trend, where LinkedIn has been launching a number of other services that take it beyond being a straight social network, and more of an IT productivity tool. They have included a way for users to look at and plan commutes to potential jobs (or other businesses); several integrations with Microsoft software including resume building in Word and Outlook integrations; and adding in more CRM tools to its Sales Navigator product.   ... "

Improved Drug Design Towards Personalized Medicine

Note the inclusion of multiple drugs in patient treatment.

Artificial Intelligence-Driven Designer Drug Combinations: From Drug Development to Personalized Medicine

Masturah Bte Mohd Abdul Rashid, Edward Kai-Hua Chow, First Published September 24, 2018 Article Commentary  

1Cancer Science Institute of Singapore, National University of Singapore, Singapore
2Department of Pharmacology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore  ... "

Artificial intelligence holds great promise in transforming how drugs are designed and patients are treated. In a study recently published in Science Translational Medicine, a unique artificial intelligence platform makes efficient use of small experimental datasets to design new drug combinations as well as identify the best drug combinations for specific patient samples. This quadratic phenotypic optimization platform (QPOP) does not rely on previous assumptions of molecular mechanisms of disease, but rather uses system-specific experimental data to determine the best drug combinations for a specific disease model or a patient sample. In this commentary, we explore how QPOP was applied toward multiple myeloma in the study. We also discuss how this study demonstrates the potential for applications of QPOP toward improving therapeutic regimen design and personalized medicine. ... " 

Segments, Personalization

But enough to make a difference in their buying behavior?

People don’t like being lumped into marketing segments in Retailwire
by Guest contributor  includes expert discussions at link

MarketingCharts staff  

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of articles from MarketingCharts, which provides up-to-the-minute data and research to marketers.

Personalization is all the rage these days, with a primary goal being to enable one-to-one communication. A new survey from Selligent Marketing Cloud may provide one reason why marketers who have yet to move to individualized campaigns may want to work on those efforts rather than marketing to broader segments.

The survey, fielded among 7,000 respondents globally, found an overwhelming preference for being treated as an individual rather than a member of a segment. Fully three-quarters (74 percent) agreed that they expect companies to treat them as an individual, not as a member of some segment like “Millennials” or “suburban mothers.” The figure was slightly higher (77 percent) when it came to U.S. respondents. ...   "

Buyer Readiness vs Buyer Knowledge

Had missed previous writing by Gartner on this.

Buyer Readiness Does Not Mean Buyer Knowledge   by Hank Barnes  

We’ve talked about buyer readiness at Gartner for a long time.  Our feeling is that there are 4 stages of readiness (buying, shopping, aware, unaware) that you may encounter when engaging with a prospective customer (either marketing or sales).   A recent personal experience is serving as a good reminder that even advanced stages of readiness do not mean the customer is fully knowledgeable about what they need.  .... "

Disruption in the Era of Advanced Analytics

Reasonable view,   should we be scanning companies to determine where this is likely?

Rasmus Wegener: Disruption in the Era of Advanced Analytics
Bain Partner Rasmus Wegener shares three patterns that can signal when an industry is ripe for disruption driven by advanced analytics.

By Rasmus Wegener

Companies that successfully harness the power of advanced analytics spur innovation and disruption in their industries, which in turn boosts their value relative to competitors. Rasmus Wegener, a partner with Bain’s Advanced Analytics practice, shares three patterns that can signal when an industry is ripe for disruption driven by advanced analytics.

Read the Bain Brief: Disruption in the Era of Advanced Analytics

Read the transcript below.  ... "

Monday, September 24, 2018

Wal-Mart Pushes Food Safety Blockchain

Wal-Mart bets on food safety blockchain.     Another indication that the solution has valid applications for assured supply chain applications. 

Walmart is betting on the blockchain to improve food safety
Ron Miller@ron_miller in TechCrunch

Walmart has been working with IBM on a food safety blockchain solution and today it announced it’s requiring that all suppliers of leafy green vegetable for Sam’s and Walmart upload their data to the blockchain by September 2019 .

Most supply chains are bogged down in manual processes. This makes it difficult and time consuming to track down an issue should one like the E. coli romaine lettuce problem from last spring rear its head. By placing a supply chain on the blockchain, it makes the process more traceable, transparent and fully digital. Each node on the blockchain could represent an entity that has handled the food on the way to the store, making it much easier and faster to see if one of the affected farms sold infected supply to a particular location with much greater precision.

Walmart  has been working with IBM for over a year on using the blockchain to digitize the food supply chain process. In fact, supply chain is one of the premiere business use cases for blockchain (beyond digital currency). Walmart is using the IBM  Food Trust Solution, specifically developed for this use case.  ... " 

Machine Learning Tackles Simultaneous Speech and Object Recognition

Could lead to at least greater efficiency for assistants.  Note the data involved. 

Machine-Learning System Tackles Speech and Object Recognition, All at Once     MIT News  by Rob Matheson

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a system that can learn to identify objects within an image, based on a spoken description of the image. When provided with an image and an audio caption, the system can highlight in real-time the relevant regions of the image being described. The system learns words directly from recorded speech clips and objects in raw images, and associates them with one another. The researchers trained the model on a total of 400,000 image-caption pairs, and held out 1,000 random pairs for testing. Said researcher David Harwath, “We wanted to do speech recognition in a way that’s more natural, leveraging additional signals and information that humans have the benefit of using, but that machine learning algorithms don’t typically have access to. We got the idea of training a model in a manner similar to walking a child through the world and narrating what you’re seeing.” ... ' 

Robotic Skins

Continued developments in robotics, here in how they appear and interact with us.

These “Robotic Skins” Turn Everyday Objects Into Robots
A team at Yale University has developed flexible robotic sheets that can make just about anything move 

These “Robotic Skins” Turn Everyday Objects Into Robots
A team at Yale University has developed flexible robotic sheets that can make just about anything move    By Rachael Lallensack, Smithsonian

What if there was some kind of flexible, stretchy material that you could wrap around just about any random object and turn it into a robot? It sounds like a gadget that might belong to a superhero, but a team of researchers has developed just that.

They call it OmniSkins, in a paper published today in Science Robotics. It’s made of a combination of elastic materials (or fabric, in one version) embedded with sensors and actuators that when stuck to, wrapped around, or layered can make just about any inanimate object move. The team, led by roboticist Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio of Yale University, was able to apply the so-called skins to a broad range of stuff, from foam pool noodles to T-shirts, even icosahedrons, or geometric figures with 20 triangular faces.

“The reconfigurable and re-programmable nature of the soft robotic skins is very cool,” says Conor Walsh, a roboticist from Harvard University who was not involved in the study. “The idea that we can have a soft and flexible sheet, wrap it around any surface, have it learn what it is attached to and then move it in some desired way has a lot of potential.”  ... "

SAS: Be Digital

In SAS Voices:

Don't just do digital. Be digital.  
By Stephanie DiRico on SAS Voices September  

Tricia Wang, PhD, inspires Analytics Experience attendees to get to know their customers digitally.

If you were to ask Tricia Wang, PhD, about real business growth, she would tell you that it lies outside the boundaries of the known. Not everything valuable is measurable, she would say. And big data is hiding new customers in the market from you.

Wang is more than just a global technology ethnographer and the co-founder of consulting firm Sudden Compass and content and strategy company Magpie Kingdom. She is a business-savvy, eagle-eyed business detective, helping organizations to find new customers hidden within existing big data stores.

Businesses believe that digital tools can help them get things done better and faster. Their underlying belief in digital transformation is that digital can help them make radically better decisions, but the fact is that most big data projects are wildly unsuccessful.

Why are big data projects such an epic fail?
We’re not cavemen. We have technology. So, why are 85 percent of all big data projects not profitable? Why is it so hard for us to get the full ROI value out of our big data investments?

Wang has the answer: investing in big data is easy, but using it is hard.

The job of data scientists is not just to pull numbers out of their data but to use their data to tell stories that can help their businesses flourish. Wang works in the fields of data, design and the world of digital to help organizations succeed at digital transformation by unlocking the human insights of big data.   .... " 

Nestle and Fresh Thinking

Have long followed Nestle approaches in CPG.

How Nestle infuses fresh thinking to strengthen its brands   (Nestle USA)

Nestle says its strength in coffees is part of its overall strategy for future growth, even as consumers' food and beverage needs are changing. Chief Strategy Officer Rui Barbas points to the company's leveraging of its Coffee-mate brand to develop a line of RTD coffee drinks as one of the ways it is forgoing old-fashioned thinking on heritage brands, and instead shifting the focus of well-known labels to stay relevant to today's shoppers.  .... "

Sunday, September 23, 2018

RPA is the Next Evolution of Big Data?

Good piece that makes an interesting point.  Yes, Big data is about analytics and data.  And RPA uses both data and analytics.   But to be clear RPA does not have to be about robots.  Not usually  the mechanical kind that we have used to assemble cars for years.    Its usually about repetitive process that humans have done to this point.  So it is 'robotic' as an adjective, usually in a non-mechanical sense.  Certainly is very data dependent to create repetitive process.   It could use a robot, but not usually as yet.  Have been annoyed by the RPA term for some time, since I was asked if it meant replacing human office workers with physical robots, and was that feasible.

Is Robotic Process Animation The Next Evolution Of Big Data?
Robotic process animation is making big changes in the world of big data, one innovation at a time. Here's what you need to know.  By Sean Mallon

The first robots predate the term “big data” by over 30 years. However, data has been integral to the development of robotics for many years, even though the concept of big data is fairly new. Big data will continue to play a vital role in shaping this slowly evolving field. Robotic process automation is the newest change that is impacting the robotics industry.

Robotics and Big Data Have Been Linked for Years

Artur Dubrawski, director of Auton Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, told ZDNet that robotics and data have been intertwined since the first automaton was built. “Robotics was always about data,” says Dubrawski. “According to the operational definition of robotics it is about repeatedly executing the following three-stage sequence: sense, plan, act.” Robotics has depended on big data for a variety of purposes. However, robotic process automation is one of the newest.

Robotic Process automation is the newest arena for big data
You may have heard the term “robotic process automation” before. But what is it and how will it affect our future? What role will big data play in its inception? McKinsey has provided some answers to some of these questions. Leslie Willcocks, an expert they interviewed, said that robotic process automation is designed to mimic the behavior of human knowledge workers. They are meant to develop a standardized process, which involves many big data applications, including machine learning. When making use of Robotic Process Automation or RPA from companies such as Kryon RPA Solutions the entire dynamics of a business is changed. RPA, a revolutionary technology used to automate repetitive business processes, is giving companies space for improvement, faster turnaround times for completed tasks and an overall improvement on how business is conducted. With this said, how does RPA streamline your business workforce?  .... "

Elements of Conversational UI

Good  overview of what Conversational UI Means. Not enough about the most important challenges involved. 

Conversational UI is our Future  Via DSC

in Packt Publishing  
Conversational user interface (UI) is changing the way that we interact. Intelligent assistants, chatbots and voice-enabled devices, like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, offer a new, natural, and intuitive human-machine interaction and open up a whole new world for us as humans. Chatbots and voicebots ease, speed up, and improve daily tasks. They increase our efficiency and compared to humans, they are also very cost effective for the businesses employing them.

This article will address the concept of conversational UIs by initially exploring what they are, how they evolved, what they offer. The article provides an introduction to the conversational world. We will take a look at how UI has developed over the years and the difference between voice control, chatbots, virtual assistants, and conversational solutions.... "
  ... " 

China Robots Automate


BEIJING -- Robots that can diagnose diseases, play badminton and wow audiences with their musical skills are among the machines China hopes could revolutionize its economy, with visitors to a Beijing exhibition offered a glimpse of an automated future.

The popular stars of this year's World Robot Conference, which ends Sunday, were undoubtedly the small, amateur-made "battle bots" which smashed, hammered and sawed their way through their opponents to a cacophony of cheers and shouts from a rapt audience.

"With this robot, I can fully express myself. I love the sparks," said Huang Hongsong, one of around a dozen Chinese youths whose creations went head-to-head.

But while the battle bots are designed largely to entertain onlookers, China is deadly serious about riding the robotic wave with an eye on its economy.

Cheap manufacturing propelled the populous giant to become the world's second largest economy in just a few decades.    ..... "

Progress in the Quest for Intelligence

Continuing to watch this effort at MIT:  The Quest for Intelligence  I note that the original introduction made much about it being based on the Brain, but now its less so.  Will continue to follow.    Have long been a student of the problem. 

3Q: Antonio Torralba on what's next for the Quest for Intelligence
Inaugural director of The Quest discusses what's been accomplished since last spring's launch and what is on the horizon.

MIT Quest for Intelligence 

It’s hard to name a field that artificial intelligence hasn’t impacted already. From mobile devices with facial recognition to self-driving cars, we are still experiencing waves of innovative technology that can be traced back to major breakthroughs in our understanding of intelligence, like machine learning. But the truth is, many of these breakthroughs driving current machine intelligence technology are actually decades old. So what’s next for the future of intelligence?

Building on a rich history of innovation and impact in the field of intelligence, MIT launched The Quest for Intelligence (The Quest) last spring. Comprised of two linked entities, The Core and The Bridge, The Quest aims to advance two fundamental intelligence challenges: Can we reverse engineer intelligence? And, how can we deploy our current and expanding understanding of intelligence to the benefit of society? Antonio Torralba, the inaugural director of The Quest, recently spoke on what he and his colleagues have been working on since the launch last spring. He describes how The Quest Core and The Quest Bridge will work together to advance our understanding of intelligence, and shares how others can join The Quest.  ..... " 

And more about its origins and goals, the report this spring:

MIT Intelligence Quest kicks off
A star-studded lineup helps the Institute celebrate the launch of a new initiative on human and machine intelligence.  .... 

“In the history of science and technology, there are moments of opportunity,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif told a packed Kresge Auditorium on March 1. “Moments when the tools, the data, and the big questions are perfectly in sync. In the field of intelligence, I believe this is just such a moment.”

MIT faculty and friends helped the Institute celebrate the launch of a new initiative on human and machine intelligence, with a star-studded lineup of speakers from the interlocking realms of artificial intelligence, cognitive science, neuroscience, social sciences, and ethics. ... "

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Dynamically Determining the Safest Way Home

I recall we did something similar, but aimed at the supply chain.   Like calculating the least risky path for trucks to travel after a natural disaster.   Not really that hard analytically, but it is dependent on rapidly changing data, and kinds of risk involved. Now do it systematically and strategically for specific goals.  The idea was also applied to predicted infrastructure planning to figure out how they might change safest operational routes based on simulation.

Mathematicians Calculate the Safest Way Home     in Cardiff University News

Researchers at Cardiff University in the U.K. have developed a mobile app that guides pedestrians along the safest, rather than the quickest, route to their destination. The system can provide a score for the safety of an area, and predict the likely number of road casualties. The algorithm accounts for factors such as the number and types of crossings, the type of street, the possibility of jaywalking, and the speed limits of each road in a given area. The system has been tested in 15 U.K. cities, of which Liverpool was found to have the most unsafe roads, while Bath had the safest. The app could help city planners and developers determine how changes to a city's infrastructure could impact road safety, such as the pedestrianizing of roads or the changing of speed limits, the team says. Cardiff University researcher Padraig Corcoran says the technology "could definitely save lives." ...  "

More Picking at Work

Considerable advances of late in automating key parts of agriculture.

Pepper-Picking Robot Demonstrates Its Skills in Greenhouse Labor Automation 

A team of European Union-funded researchers have developed a sweet pepper-harvesting robot that can help farmers reduce their costs. The SWEEPER robot is an autonomous mobile platform with a robotic arm bearing an end effector for fruit harvesting. The robot is designed to operate in a single stem row cropping system, with a crop having non-clustered fruits and little leaf occlusion. Preliminary tests showed that by using a commercially available crop modified to mimic the required conditions, the robot can harvest ripe bell peppers in 24 seconds with a success rate of 62%. The researchers plan to add a conveyor belt and harvest trolley to the SWEEPER system, and to automate post-harvest fruit and vegetable picking logistics. ... "

Overview of an Internet of Medical Things

Future of medicine is conecting professionals, sensors, people, solutions.

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT): Future of the medical world   By Hemendra Singh in CustomerThink

IoMT stands for Internet of Medical Things. It is the technology to connect the medical devices to the healthcare IT systems. The medical devices are provided with WiFi which sends the signals wirelessly.

There are a lot of medical apps available to monitor the patient’s health. IoT uses such apps to gather the medical data of the patients. Today, every app development company is trying to develop healthcare apps.

Impact of IoMT on the medical world
Real-Time Data Care System

Internet of Things Solutions in the medical field lets doctors manage patients’ data efficiently. The IoMT gives real-time data of patients.

Today, there are many devices those provide the data of patients in real-time. For example, Apple Watch, Samsung Gear, etc. These wearables send the health data of the patients to the healthcare experts in real-time.

The care managers then examine the data and deliver the better health solutions to patients.

This is how the real-time data care system helps medical experts to give the best health solutions to patients. ...  "

Qubic Protocol for IOTa's Oracles, Smart Contracts

Have been examining the concept and implementations of Smart Contracts.  Qubic is the version of such a protocol for the IOTA  'Blockchain'  (Actually not a chain but a DAG: Directed-Acyclic-Graph architecture)

" ... Qubic is a protocol that specifies IOTA's solution for oracle machines, smart contracts, outsourced computations, and more. 

The Qubic project   (A payment and messaging system)
After much speculation, the time has come to shed light on one of the most eagerly awaited developments within the IOTA community: Qubic. To be very clear, Qubic is still a work in progress. This website is meant to give the IOTA community and the wider public a comprehensive overview, to better understand what we are working on, and to help convey the enormous scope of the Qubic project.

Qubic has evolved over time into something markedly different from the original Quorum-Based Coin idea coined on bitcointalk September 2012. The most apparent change is that there now exists a working protocol to serve as the messaging and payment system: IOTA.

To dismiss a few common misconceptions about Qubic right off the bat:

Qubic is not a new token or coin;
There will be no Qubic ICO or airdrop
The original Qubic idea had some hard to overcome problems. The IOTA protocol was, in fact, created to help solve those problems. Indeed, IOTA was designed to become the global standard for IoT messaging and payments. Qubic follows that standard, and is made possible by fee-free IOTA transactions, which enable:

A way to safely communicate with the outside world in a trusted environment;
A powerful, distributed fog computing platform for building complex IoT applications;
A new type of smart contract, which collects micro-payments in real time as it runs;
A reward system for incentivizing honest participation in the Tangle

What is Qubic?
In short: Qubic began life as as an initialism-turned-acronym, QBC, which stands for quorum-based computation.

Quorum (distributed_computing) on wikipedia

Specifically, Qubic is a protocol that specifies IOTA's solution for quorum-based computations, including such constructs as oracle machines, outsourced computations, and smart contracts. Qubic provides general-purpose, cloud- or fog-based, permissionless, multiprocessing capabilities on the Tangle. In the long term, Qubic will allow people to leverage world-wide unused computing capacity for a myriad of computational needs, all while helping to secure the IOTA Tangle: an IOTA-based world supercomputer.

More generally, a qubic is a what we call a packaged quorum-based computation that occurs according to the Qubic protocol. Below are some examples of different types of qubics - while they are distinguished here for clarity, they are all nevertheless variations on a single, general-purpose concept: the quorum-based computation, or qubic.  .... " 

Google Designing Car Dashboards

The car will increasingly be a new channel for information.

Nissan will invite Google into its cars’ dashboards starting in 2021
By Ronan Glon in Digitaltrends

Nissan and its major partners, Renault and Mitsubishi, have turned to Google for help in developing a brand-new infotainment system. The yet-unnamed software will begin booting up in dashboards all around the world in 2021 and help the Alliance reach its goal of building more connected vehicles by 2022.

Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi will join Volvo in offering an Android-based infotainment system. Summoning Google’s help will ensure the Alliance’s cars offer an intuitive, high-tech system that looks as good as it performs. The navigation function will run Google Maps, and the passengers will have access to thousands of applications through the Google Play Store. Nissan stresses the software will be compatible with other operating systems such as iOS; you’ll be able to run Apple CarPlay on an Android-based infotainment system. ...  "

Book: Great Communications

Reviewing book.  Nice thoughts.  Podcast at the link.

The Secret to Great Communication: Be Like Aristotle

Author Carmine Gallo discusses his new book about how we can revive the lost art of persuasion.
As a best-selling author, Harvard instructor, keynote speaker and brand adviser, Carmine Gallo has spent his career focused on communication skills. He believes the ancient art of persuasion has been lost in the modern business world, and he wants to help workers bring it back. His latest book is titled Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get From Good to Great.

He visited the Knowledge@Wharton radio show on SiriusXM to explain why he doesn’t consider good communication a soft skill. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Knowledge@Wharton: Why has the importance of good communication skills come into such sharp focus in the last few years?

Carmine Gallo: Great persuaders are irresistible throughout all of history. But at no time in our historical record have interpersonal communication skills been as important as they are today, which is somewhat counterintuitive. That’s what caught my interest, and that’s why I wrote the book. Because today, anyone, anywhere in the world who is better at expressing their ideas can see a sudden massive increase in wealth that is unprecedented in human history.

In the agrarian age, a farmer who plowed the field a little better than their neighbor cannot acquire significantly more wealth. In the industrial age, a factory worker who assembled widgets faster than the person next to them would not acquire significantly more wealth. But the historians, economists, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists I talked to for the book all profess the same theme: In this age of artificial intelligence, globalization, automation — the one skill that can separate you not only from the technology that we create but from your peers is mastering the ancient art of persuasion. Combining words and ideas to ignite people’s imagination.  .... " 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Analytics Translators Needed

Good piece below in DSC by William Vorhies, the role is well described.  I did this for many years.  Since translation suggests there are at least two 'languages' involved, it means you have to know both the math and analytics, and the business process. The additional languages needed might include things like domain knowledge, accounting, databases, human factors. 

So back then it was assumed that the practitioner had all the languages and experience they needed.    And the ability to express themselves, say by telling a understandable story.  Being able to explain the results.  But now with not enough experienced people available, that may not often be the case.    Many groups don't even know if they have the necessary capabilities.  A dangerous situation. 

Analytics Translator – The Most Important New Role in Analytics

Summary:  The role of Analytics Translator was recently identified by McKinsey as the most important new role in analytics, and a key factor in the failure of analytic programs when the role is absent.

The role of Analytics Translator was recently identified by McKinsey as the most important new role in analytics, and a key factor in the failure of analytic programs when the role is absent.

As our profession of data science has evolved, any number of authors including myself has offered different taxonomies to describe the differences among the different ‘tribes’ of data scientists.  We may disagree on the categories but we agree that we’re not all alike.

Ten years ago, around the time that Hadoop and Big Data went open source there was still a perception that data scientists should be capable of performing every task in the analytics lifecycle. 

The obvious skills were model creation and deployment, and data blending and munging.  Other important skills in this bucket would have included setting up data infrastructure (data lakes, streaming architectures, Big Data NoSQL DBs, etc.).  And finally the skills that were just assumed to come with seniority, storytelling (explaining it to executive sponsors), and great project management skills.

Frankly, when I entered the profession, this was true and for the most part, in those early projects, I did indeed do it all.  .... "

Skype Calling Comes to Alexa Devices

This is quote interesting.  Could make for some interesting applications for business applications that can use assistants.  Part of the Amazon and Microsoft agreement about assistant cooperation talked last year.   How about adding Teams as well?  Finally something that looks to have direct business value.  Look forward to taking a closer look as to how this works.

Skype chats are coming to Alexa devices
Voice controlled internet calls to or from any device with Amazon's system in it.

By Richard Lawler, @Rjcc  in Engadget ... "

Amazon and the Home

Nicely done Verge piece over viewing what Amazon's  hardware announcements yesterday would seem to mean.   Taking over the home and all its needs?  With links to many of the devices, and to other related Amazon projects, some I had not heard of.  The AmazonBasics Microwave has been the most mentioned as an odd example of filling smart home requirements.  Does it need a voice interface?  Only rarely.   Amazon is very willing to experiment with hardware offers, even those that compete with other current partners. Still does not seem to to be a large reaction to Amazon having too much a share of the Smart Home.

It’s Amazon’s home, and we’re just living in it
Amazon masters the A to Z of Alexa storytelling
By Thomas Ricker in TheVerge

Yesterday’s “surprise” Amazon event was a stunning display of bravado from the so-called everything store. It gave us the clearest view yet of what Amazon’s home operating system will look like. The interface is your voice, and the hardware is everything you see around you. The peripherals are standard household items that are embedded with invisible microphones and integrated together through software and a vast array of interconnecting services .... " 

Alexa Presentation Language

 Amazon makes a number of enhancements to the Alexa Skills kit.  Designed to allow for better customization for Alexa devices with screens. Notably this links to a number of new devices being launched this fall.  Quite some interesting ideas, look forward to seeing some powerful things built with it.

Introducing the Alexa Presentation Language

We’re excited to announce a preview of the Alexa Presentation Language (APL), a new design language and tools that make it easy to create visually rich Alexa skills for tens of millions of Alexa devices with screens. With APL, you can build interactive voice experiences that include graphics, images, slideshows, and video. You can also customize the experience for different device types. Apply to participate in the APL developer preview today. .... " 

Also discussed in Tech Crunch.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Scenarios for Autonomous Trucking

Somewhat unexpected scenarios of process for autonomous trucking and the implications:

In SCDigest

Supply Chain News Bites
Supply Chain Graphic of the Week: The Six Most Likely Scenarios for Autonomous Trucks

Highway Exit-to-Exit Automation Tops the List, though Platooning has Few Barriers

A couple of weeks ago, we reported on new research from Steve Viscelli,with the headline news his estimate that the US will lose almost 300,000 long haul truck driver jobs over 25 years as the result of autonomous trucks - even if some (lower paid) local delivery driver jobs actually ctincrease. (See Will or Will not Autonomous Trucks Eliminate Huge Numbers of Truck Driver Jobs?)... "

Amazon Echo Auto Announced

Been examining the idea for a long time,  the existing systems are operationally touchy.  Claim here is it wil operate when car starts.  Location-aware.  $50.  Not quite ready to ship, later this year. Would like to see useful integration between the data in the car and such assistants, but that might only occur when the automobile manufacturers cooperate.   Via IFTTT might be good. 

Amazon's Echo Auto puts Alexa in any car
You won't need a new vehicle to get the voice assistant.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas in Engadget
(Still in development) 

(Update)  And Amazon this year provided an Auto SDK:

Amazon offers first look at Alexa Auto to developers today
Alexa should start appearing in more cars later this year

By Tom Warren     @tomwarren  in TheVerge

Waiting for the Echo Truck for the supply chain?

Wal-Mart Push Use of VR for Training

Would lead to one of the largest uses of VR, in this case for training.  Serious effort, making everyone take notice of the possibilities.   What experiments have been done of retail training with VR to show improvements?

Walmart is putting 17,000 VR headsets in its US stores for training
By Adi Robertson   @thedextriarchy in theVerge

Walmart is going to send Oculus Go virtual reality headsets to every US branch of its stores, expanding a VR-based employee training system it announced last year. The company announced today that it will ship four headsets to every Walmart Supercenter and two to every neighborhood market and discount store, meaning around 4,700 US locations (not counting Sam’s Club stores and smaller centers like campus stores) will receive them. They start shipping next month, and Walmart says that over 17,000 headsets will be in stores by the end of the year. .... "

Data Culture

Never heard of the term 'Data Culture', but I do see the point.  We should all be thinking about what the data we have, don't have, where it fits for needed goals.

Why data culture matters   By Alejandro Díaz, Kayvaun Rowshankish, and Tamim Saleh

Organizational culture can accelerate the application of analytics, amplify its power, and steer companies away from risky outcomes. Here are seven principles that underpin a healthy data culture.

Revolutions, it’s been remarked, never go backward. Nor do they advance at a constant rate. Consider the immense transformation unleashed by data analytics. By now, it’s clear the data revolution is changing businesses and industries in profound and unalterable ways.

But the changes are neither uniform nor linear, and companies’ data-analytics efforts are all over the map. McKinsey research suggests that the gap between leaders and laggards in adopting analytics, within and among industry sectors, is growing. We’re seeing the same thing on the ground. Some companies are doing amazing things; some are still struggling with the basics; and some are feeling downright overwhelmed, with executives and members of the rank and file questioning the return on data initiatives.

For leading and lagging companies alike, the emergence of data analytics as an omnipresent reality of modern organizational life means that a healthy data culture is becoming increasingly important. With that in mind, we’ve spent the past few months talking with analytics leaders at companies from a wide range of industries and geographies, drilling down on the organizing principles, motivations, and approaches that undergird their data efforts. We’re struck by themes that recur over and again, including the benefits of data, and the risks; the skepticism from employees before they buy in, and the excitement once they do; the need for flexibility, and the insistence on common frameworks and tools. And, especially: the competitive advantage unleashed by a culture that brings data talent, tools, and decision making together.

The experience of these leaders, and our own, suggests that you can’t import data culture and you can’t impose it. Most of all, you can’t segregate it. You develop a data culture by moving beyond specialists and skunkworks, with the goal of achieving deep business engagement, creating employee pull, and cultivating a sense of purpose, so that data can support your operations instead of the other way around.  ... "

Bias and Fairness in Machine Learning

From the CSIG talk given today:

An instructive experiment which was released for use and experimentation today by IBM.  The slides instructive by themselves are here.   The complete audio and video of the presentation will be placed here shortly.   The comments on the presentation also point to other work that has been done and other efforts underway.   Based on the complexity of the problem there is some doubt that a universal solution to this problem is easily determined, give also the broad regulatory and even philosophical underpinning .  Also this is about Machine learning trained problems, not necessarily human decision making.    Still it would be useful to detect if some artifact of ML, like sampling is involved.  Also the need for integration of clear explanatory capabilities were mentioned.  The examples shown were still too technically complex for typical decision makers.

Nicely done.   Well worth examining.   I understand anyone can experiment with this, instructions in the talk. 

Talk:  “AI Fairness 360”
Speaker: Kush Varshney, IBM

Talk Description:  
Machine learning models are increasingly used to inform high stakes decisions about people. Although machine learning, by its very nature, is always a form of statistical discrimination, the discrimination becomes objectionable when it places certain privileged groups at systematic advantage and certain unprivileged groups at systematic disadvantage. Biases in training data, due to either prejudice in labels or under-/over-sampling, yields models with unwanted bias.In this presentation, we introduce AI Fairness 360, a new Python package that includes a comprehensive set of metrics for datasets and models to test for biases, explanations for these metrics, and algorithms to mitigate bias in datasets and models. They have developed the package with extensibility in mind.  They encourage the contribution of your metrics, explainers, and debiasing algorithms. Please join the community to get started as a contributor. ... " 

How to Code in Python 3

Passing this along to some friends

Well done,  relatively non-technical,  especially useful if you have coded in previous languages where you had to construct numeric and related algorithms.   lists and structural  ...  There are now many resources on coding in Python, search them out.

The major section uses linux environments, but they also have a section for more typical environments, here for Windows 10.



Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Amazon may open up to 3,000 Cashierless stores by 2021

The data gathered must have produced some interesting results.  Now this would change the retail world:

Amazon May open up to 3,000 Cashierless Stores by 2021  in Adage

Sensors and Computer vision Technology

Amazon is considering a plan to open as many as 3,000 new AmazonGo cashierless stores in the next few years, according to people familiar with matter, an aggressive and costly expansion that would threaten convenience chains like 7-Eleven, quick-service sandwich shops like Subway and Panera Bread, and mom-and-pop pizzerias and taco trucks.

CEO Jeff Bezos sees eliminating meal-time logjams in busy cities as the best way for Amazon to reinvent the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, where most spending still occurs. But he's still experimenting with the best format: a convenience store that sells fresh prepared foods as well as a limited grocery selection similar to 7-Eleven franchises, or a place to simply pick up a quick bite to eat for people in a rush, similar to the U.K.-based chain Pret a Manger, one of the people said.   ... "

Talk: AI Fairness 360: Python Package

How to look at biases when your making AI driven decisions about people.

Invitation to the ISSIP Cognitive Systems Institute Group Webinar

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

Date and Time: September 20, 2018 - 10:30am US Eastern
Talk Title: AI Fairness 360

Speaker: Kush Varshney, IBM
Talk Description:  
Machine learning models are increasingly used to inform high stakes decisions about people. Although machine learning, by its very nature, is always a form of statistical discrimination, the discrimination becomes objectionable when it places certain privileged groups at systematic advantage and certain unprivileged groups at systematic disadvantage. Biases in training data, due to either prejudice in labels or under-/over-sampling, yields models with unwanted bias.In this presentation, we introduce AI Fairness 360, a new Python package that includes a comprehensive set of metrics for datasets and models to test for biases, explanations for these metrics, and algorithms to mitigate bias in datasets and models. They have developed the package with extensibility in mind.  They encourage the contribution of your metrics, explainers, and debiasing algorithms. Please join the community to get started as a contributor.

Kush R. Varshney was born in Syracuse, NY in 1982. He received the B.S. degree (magna cum laude) in electrical and computer engineering with honors from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, in 2004. He received the S.M. degree in 2006 and the Ph.D. degree in 2010, both in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge.  While at MIT, he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.Dr. Varshney is a principal research staff member and manager with IBM Research AI at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY, where he leads the Learning and Decision Making group.  He is the founding co-director of the IBM Science for Social Good initiative.  He applies data science and predictive analytics to human capital management, healthcare, olfaction, computational creativity, public affairs, international development, and algorithmic fairness, which has led to recognitions such as the 2013 Gerstner Award for Client Excellence for contributions to the WellPoint team and the Extraordinary IBM Research Technical Accomplishment for contributions to workforce innovation and enterprise transformation. He conducts academic research on the theory and methods of statistical signal processing and machine learning. His work has been recognized through best paper awards at the Fusion 2009, SOLI 2013, KDD 2014, and SDM 2015 conferences. He is a senior member of the IEEE and a member of the Partnership on AI's Safety-Critical AI working group.

Date and Time : September 20 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/ )

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AI, Mixed Reality and Analytics Announced at Microsoft

Strong push at AI business applications and notably also their 'mixed reality' methods.   I still have not seen enough MR applications for the typical business. 

Announcing new AI and mixed reality business applications for Microsoft Dynamics  Alysa Taylor - Corporate Vice President, Business Applications & Industry

Today, I had the opportunity to speak to press and analysts in San Francisco about our vision for business applications at Microsoft. In addition, I had the privilege to make two very important announcements: the upcoming availability of new Dynamics 365 AI applications, and our very first mixed reality business applications: Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout.

Our vision for business applications at Microsoft

We live in a connected world where companies are challenged every day to innovate so they can stay ahead of emerging trends and repivot business models to take advantage of new opportunities to meet growing customer demands.

To innovate, organizations need to reimagine their processes. They need solutions that are modern, enabling new experiences for how they can engage their customers while making their people more productive. They need unified systems that break data silos, so they have a holistic view of their business, customers and employees. They need pervasive intelligence threaded throughout the platform, giving them the ability to reason over data, to predict trends and drive proactive intelligent action. And with adaptable applications, they can be nimble, allowing them to take advantage of the next opportunity that comes their way.

Two years ago, when we introduced Dynamics 365 we started a journey to tear down the traditional silos of customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). We set out to reimagine business applications as modern, unified, intelligent and adaptable solutions that are integrated with Office 365 and natively built on Microsoft Azure.

With the release of our new AI and mixed reality applications we are taking another step forward on our journey to help empower every organization on the planet to achieve more through the accelerant of business applications. Specifically, today we are making the following announcements:  ... "
(more details here)

Mother of All Demos reprise

Those with interest in the history of modern computing know this event well. The 'Mother of all demos', done by Douglas Engelbart in 1968.   He drove home in a single demo what might be done with computers, without the user knowing any computer language.  Quite a new idea then.  Later we met and worked with Engelbart.  His later ideas dealt with collaborative, augmented problem solving.  Still a useful idea.
See also:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Engelbart  

Watch this amazing demo of the early desktop computer
In 1968, computers got personal: How the “mother of all demos” changed the world.

By Margaret O'Hara in FastCompany

On a crisp California afternoon in early December 1968, a square-jawed, mild-mannered Stanford researcher named Douglas Engelbart took the stage at San Francisco’s Civic Auditorium and proceeded to blow everyone’s mind about what computers could do. Sitting down at a keyboard, this computer-age Clark Kent calmly showed a rapt audience of computer engineers how the devices they built could be utterly different kinds of machines–ones that were “alive for you all day,” as he put it, immediately responsive to your input, and which didn’t require users to know programming languages in order to operate.

Engelbart typed simple commands. He edited a grocery list. As he worked, he skipped the computer cursor across the screen using a strange wooden box that fit snugly under his palm. With small wheels underneath and a cord dangling from its rear, Engelbart dubbed it a “mouse.” .... "

Amazon Announces Gadget Alexa Tools

Been impressed by what Amazon is doing to support Devs.   Still nothing I would call breakthrough intelligence.    Waiting for that.

Amazon's new Alexa Gadgets Toolkit lets Alexa have some toy-friendly fun

Robots that can lip sync Alexa's speech? Disco balls that sparkle whenever you say the wake word? Amazon's new software makes it possible.   By    Ry Crist in CNET

Amazon has already made a point of making it as easy as possible for developers to build their own Alexa devices. Now, the online megaretailer wants to do the same thing for devices that work with Alexa -- and it wants to teach those gadgets some fun new tricks aimed at taking them to the next level.

To do so, Amazon is launching the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit, a new set of software tools designed for third-party gadgets that connect with Amazon's Echo devices via Bluetooth. Developers who put the toolkit to work will be able to take advantage of four new features. Here's how Amazon describes them: ... " 

In-Air Drone Charging

Involved in Drone tech examination and application.  Battery charging is a big issue.  Below article with video.   From IdeaConnection

GET In-Air Drone Charging Station  
The GET charging station for drones could offer unlimited flight time by letting the drones charge in mid-air.

The GET (Global Energy Transmission) company has developed an outdoor induction loop that can recharge several drones at one time without the need to land. The system, which resembles a wire frame, can transmit up to 12 kilowatts of power at an 80 percent efficiency to several drones simultaneously. A six-minute visit to the loop will provide 25 additional minutes of flight time, and the system is portable enough to be set up where needed—eliminating the need for human battery changers.   ... " 

Experience is the New Product

Experience Is the New Product; Here's How to Manage It
Organize around customer episodes, improving them through Agile teams.

By Gerard du Toit, Jens Engelhardt, Phil Sager and Karsten Fruechtl in Bain.

More companies now emphasize the entire experience surrounding a product or service. But how do they improve the experience, or fix a broken one?

For many, the key unit of management has become the customer "episode," and the core method is Agile. An episode consists of all the activities involved to successfully fulfill a customer's need.
While most Agile to date has focused on software development, improving an episode requires coordinating every factor that affects it, including product features, policies, processes, channels and technology.

Therefore, the team that owns an individual episode should comprise members from all the relevant functions. ....  "