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Friday, November 30, 2018

Amazon Opens its Internal Machine Learning to All for Free

Nice, especially with regards to how machine learning links to its own devices.  I am noting Amazon Comprehend.

Amazon Opens Its Internal Machine Learning Courses to All for Free 
in TechCrunch   By Connie Loizos

Amazon is opening the internal machine learning courses it uses to train its own engineers for the first time to people outside the company, for free. According to the company's Matt Wood, Amazon has made available 30 different courses comprising more than 45 hours of training for developers, data scientists, data platform engineers, and business professionals. Wood said every course "starts with the fundamentals, and builds on those through real-world examples and labs, allowing developers to explore machine learning through some fun problems we have had to solve at Amazon. These include predicting gift wrapping eligibility, optimizing delivery routes, or predicting entertainment award nominations using data from IMDB (the Internet Movie Database)." Wood also said the coursework helps streamline best practices, and shows trainees how to begin work on a variety of Amazon Web Services (AWS) machine learning services, such as Amazon SageMaker, AWS DeepLens, Amazon Rekognition, Amazon Lex, Amazon Polly, and Amazon Comprehend.  ... "

Link to Courses.

(Updated) Amazon Extracting Information from Unstructured Medical Text

Announced at Amazon Invent this week.  This was just pointed out to me.  (Via Walter Riker)  I had heard of this being used in conjunction with assistant style interfaces,  How it might be accurate enough to purpose is unclear.  Worth a look.

Amazon Comprehend Medical     

Extract information from unstructured medical text accurately and quickly
No machine learning experience required

Amazon Comprehend Medical is a natural language processing service that makes it easy to use machine learning to extract relevant medical information from unstructured text. Using Amazon Comprehend Medical, you can quickly and accurately gather information, such as medical condition, medication, dosage, strength, and frequency from a variety of sources like doctors’ notes, clinical trial reports, and patient health records.

One of the important ways to improve patient care and accelerate clinical research is by understanding and analyzing the insights and relationships that are “trapped” in free-form medical text, including hospital admission notes and a patient’s medical history.

Today this is achieved by writing and maintaining a set of customized rules for natural language processing software, which are complicated to build, time-consuming to maintain, and fragile. A change to a single classification code name, for example, can impact dozens of hard-coded rules and failing to update a single one of them can result in missed or incorrect data. Machine learning can change all that with models that can reliably understand the medical information in unstructured text, identify meaningful relationships, and improve over-time.   ... "

(Update) Another piece on the same system:

Amazon launches patient data-mining service to assist docs
Through its Amazon Web Services platform, Amazon is offering an A.I. engine that can cull useful information from millions of unstructured electronic files, including patient electronic medical records.
By Lucas Mearian  Senior Reporter, Computerworld 

See alsoAmazon has now opened its internal training for this and other AWS AI systems to all for free, examining. See:  https://eponymouspickle.blogspot.com/2018/11/amazon-opens-it-internal-machine.html  

Smart Contracts for Supply Chains

Still some details about exactly how.    But no doubt there will be applications using this ongoing.  Be ready for it.
By Marisa Brown (see all posts) on Nov 20, 2018 Posted in Supply Chain Management
Marisa Brown's picture

“As the [blockchain] technology pushes the globe towards new economic models, we will only demand more from smart contracts,” Forbes, July 2018.

From the American Bar Association this September: “In the future, litigation attorneys may no longer be litigating the ‘four-corners’ of the contract, but rather expanding into the intent of the code.”

Smart contracts. We’ve been hearing a lot of hype about them in the media, but are they a business reality yet? Back in 2014, Fast Company called smart contracts “cryptocurrency's killer app.” At that time, it was all about the promise and potential of blockchain and smart contracts. The digital world was coming. And that has not changed: in APQC's 2018 supply chain management priorities and challenges research, respondents rated digitalization as the number one impact on the supply chain in the next three years.

But has the reality of smart contracts finally arrived? Recently, EY released its Marine Hull Insurance product offering that has been built on a blockchain architecture and is supported by the use of smart contracts. TradeLens from Maersk and IBM is a blockchain-enabled shipping solution using smart contracts that has now captured more than 235 million shipping events. So smart contracts are becoming a reality for early adopters.

But what exactly is a smart contract? How does it work? And what are the implications of using them?  ... '

Decision Trees with Python

With a full conceptual implementation in Python:

A breath of fresh air with Decision Trees in Medium

A very versatile decision support tool, capable of fitting complex algorithms, that can perform both classification and regression tasks, and even multi output tasks.

Trees are very interesting beings… they can start from a single branch and develop into a very complex network of branches with millions of leaves at their ends. It’s curious that a great number of technologies and methodologies are created based on what we see in Nature. Machine Learning Decision Tree algorithm is one of those cases!

A decision tree is a Supervised Machine Learning algorithm. This non-parametric system, contrary to Linear Regression models (which assume linearity), makes no underlying assumptions about the distribution of the errors or the data. It is a flowchart-like structure, composed of several questions (node) and depending on the answers (branch) given it will lead to a class label or value (leaf) when applied to any observation.  ... "

Berners-Lee Solid Project

More on Berners-Lee's SOlid Project, aimed to save the Web.  Informative.  Un-wall the gardens?  Better privacy and identity?   Too late?

Tim Berners-Lee’s Solid Project: Can It Save the Web?    By David Cardinal 

Not everyone thinks the web needs saving. After all, it’s a bigger and more essential part of our lives than almost anyone could have predicted when Tim Berners-Lee first wrote a browser for what became the World Wide Web. But the original peer-to-peer, open-protocol, read-write architecture has been overshadowed in many ways by walled gardens like Facebook, Google, and Amazon. One reason for that is that the original web protocols were limited. While they provided the means for browsing and linking, they didn’t come with standard solutions for identity, personal data storage, or social applications. So corporations stepped in to fill the void with their own best interests at heart and not those of their customers or the web at large. Decades later, Berners-Lee thinks he has a solution: his Solid (SOcial LInked Data) system.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Toy Car for Reinforcement Learning

Amazon shows come clever ways to demonstrate development for Reinforcement learning.  Toys, carefully designed and implemented can be an innovative easy to learn complex development lessons.

Go, DeepRacer, Go: How a toy car makes machine learning fun for developers

BY BEV BELLILE in SiliconAngle  With Video. 

At this year’s AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas, Amazon launched its AWS DeepRacer. While it is a toy car on the outside, it is also a highly sophisticated reinforcement learning platform that is designed to teach developers build, train and optimize models in the cloud, leveraging Amazon SageMaker and AWS RoboMaker. DeepRacer was demonstrated during AWS re:Invent in conjunction with a developer workshop that taught them how to use DeepRacer to build a reinforcement learning virtual model in the cloud and then deploy it to the “real-world” car.

“We believe that AWS DeepRacer is … [a] tool for us to help get this kind of innovative technology into the hands of everyday developers and data scientists,” said Mike Miller (pictured), senior manager of product management for AWS AI at Amazon Web Services Inc. He explained that this type of machine learning can have a steep learning curve and can be cost-prohibitive and limited to large enterprises with deep pockets. DeepRacer is a way to make it more accessible to more people. ..."

AI and the Barrier of Meaning: Human level AI?

Excerpt from NYT Op Ed, Good thoughts.  Human level AI is the intelligence of context.

Artificial Intelligence Hits the Barrier of Meaning

Machine learning algorithms don’t yet understand things the way humans do — with sometimes disastrous consequences.   By Melanie Mitchell

" .... Ms. Mitchell is Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University.
The Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, recently declared that over the next five to 10 years, the company will push its A.I. to “get better than human level at all of the primary human senses: vision, hearing, language, general cognition.” Shane Legg, chief scientist of Google’s DeepMind group, predicted that “human-level A.I. will be passed in the mid-2020s.”

As someone who has worked in A.I. for decades, I’ve witnessed the failure of similar predictions of imminent human-level A.I., and I’m certain these latest forecasts will fall short as well. The challenge of creating humanlike intelligence in machines remains greatly underestimated. Today’s A.I. systems sorely lack the essence of human intelligence: understanding the situations we experience, being able to grasp their meaning. The mathematician and philosopher Gian-Carlo Rota famously asked, “I wonder whether or when A.I. will ever crash the barrier of meaning.” To me, this is still the most important question.   ... "

AI Disrupting Job Markets

Jobs and AI. 

Voices in AI – Episode 74: A Conversation with Dr. Kai-Fu Lee   By Byron Reese in GigaOM

About this Episode
Episode 74 of Voices in AI features host Byron Reese and Dr. Kai-Fu Lee discussing the potential of AI to disrupt job markets, the comparison of AI research and implementation in the U.S. and China, as well as other facets of Dr. Lee’s book “AI Superpowers”. Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, previously president of Google China, is now the CEO of Sinovation Ventures.

Visit www.VoicesinAI.com to listen to this one-hour podcast or read the full transcript. ... "

Target: Its About the Data

Useful view of how Target has addressed Online data

On Target: Rethinking the Retail Website  In HBS Working Data
Target is one big-brand retailer that seems to have survived and even thrived in the apocalyptic retail landscape. What's its secret? Srikant Datar discusses the company's relentless focus on online data. .... "     by Dina Gerdeman

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Amazon Debuts Inferentia Chip

Amazon loads up the AWS cloud with Chips for prediction for machine learning.

Amazon debuts Inferentia, a custom machine learning prediction chip  in SiliconAngle

In another sign of Amazon.com Inc.’s broad ambitions in cloud computing, the company’s cloud company today debuted a new processor chip designed for machine learning.

The chip, called Inferentia, will be available via Amazon Web Service Inc.’s EC2 computing service as well as its SageMaker AI service and Amazon Elastic Inference, a new service also announced today. It’s designed to speed the process of inference, or predictions, carried out by machine learning models, helping power services such as Amazon’s Alexa and self-driving cars..... " 

New Way to Think About Cooling With Shade

Clever idea.  With images.

A new way to provide cooling without power
Device developed at MIT could provide refrigeration for off-grid locations.

David L. Chandler | MIT News Office 

MIT researchers have devised a new way of providing cooling on a hot sunny day, using inexpensive materials and requiring no fossil fuel-generated power. The passive system, which could be used to supplement other cooling systems to preserve food and medications in hot, off-grid locations, is essentially a high-tech version of a parasol. 

The system allows emission of heat at mid-infrared range of light that can pass straight out through the atmosphere and radiate into the cold of outer space, punching right through the gases that act like a greenhouse. To prevent heating in the direct sunlight, a small strip of metal suspended above the device blocks the sun’s direct rays.

The new system is described this week in the journal Nature Communications in a paper by research scientist Bikram Bhatia, graduate student Arny Leroy, professor of mechanical engineering and department head Evelyn Wang, professor of physics Marin Soljačić, and six others at MIT. ... " 

Analytics Solutions for Monitoring Conduct Risk

Risk should be considered in any kind of decision process.  Even seemingly very simple decisions can have high risk.  So, this means they are not simple decisions after all.   Conduct risk, or how people: individuals or groups (or cognitive agents) act or react, is particularly difficult in today's networked world.  Or how regulation is a kinds of conduct.   Good piece addressing this, but not quite enough about how the context of conduct can also make a huge difference.  But good start here.

The advanced-analytics solution for monitoring conduct risk  in McKinsey

Advanced analytics and machine learning can help institutions “connect the dots” across customer and other data to detect conduct risk comprehensively and cost-effectively.

Advanced analytics and machine learning can help institutions “connect the dots” across customer and other data to detect conduct risk comprehensively and cost-effectively.

The fallout from highly visible instances of misconduct—including reputational damage, material losses, and increased regulatory focus—have led financial institutions to treat conduct risk as an important priority. As a risk category, however, conduct has proved difficult to monitor effectively with traditional controls and testing. The varieties of potential misconduct are numerous, and transgressing individuals or whole departments find ever-changing ways to circumvent rules. In addition, sample-based tests such as transactional reviews are not effective in finding isolated instances of misconduct.

Effective misconduct detection requires a new approach, one that can “connect the dots” across individual and team activities. These connections are often hidden in data that derive from multiple sources. They can be revealed by deploying advanced analytics and machine learning to mine the rich data and thereby identify incongruous sales or transaction patterns, misaligned incentives, and inappropriate customer interactions. Frequently underutilized records (such as the transcripts of customer interactions), can be automatically analyzed for potentially inappropriate treatment that customers may have experienced. But advanced-analytics solutions go beyond the detection of past instances of misconduct—by which the damage to an institution, if any, has already been done—to intercept the outlying patterns of activity that could lead to future losses.

What is conduct risk?

The definition of conduct risk varies somewhat by industry and region but can be commonly understood as individual or group actions that could cause unfair outcomes for customers, undermine market integrity, and damage the firm’s reputation and competitive position.

Conduct risk has only recently become recognized as a stand-alone risk category, in the aftermath of a number of high-profile incidents of misconduct (and regulatory responses) in retail and commercial banking, capital markets, and wealth management ....

Adjusting the Level of Goals

Goals make  me think of specific numerically defined measures, so if we measure a goal, which this piece suggests we can, can we use optimization techniques, and newer methods like GANs to drive towards them?   In theory, at least, yes.   Worth a thought and a test.

Why You Should Stop Setting Easy Goals  in the HBR
By Amitava Chattopadhyay,  Antonios Stamatogiannakis, Dipankar Chakravarti

When setting team goals, many managers feel that they must maintain a tricky balance between setting targets high enough to achieve impressive results and setting them low enough to keep the troops happy. But the assumption that employees are more likely to welcome lower goals doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. In fact, our research indicates that in some situations people perceive higher goals as easier to attain than lower ones — and even when that’s not the case, they still can find those more challenging goals more appealing.

In a series of studies we describe in our latest paper  , we tested how people perceive goals by asking participants on Amazon’s crowdsourcing marketplace, known as Mechanical Turk, to rate the difficulty and appeal of targets set at various levels and across spheres from sports performance and GPA to weight loss and personal savings. We asked about both “status quo” goals, in which the target remained set at a baseline level similar to recent performance, and “improvement goals” in which the target was set higher than the baseline by varying degrees. .... "

ACM Tech Talk: From Media to Meaning: Classic Machine Learning

Good piece.   With frightening implications of the combination surveillance, neural methods,  and the use of high speed video generation to fake anything we want. Notable explanation of Adversarial neural networks (GAN).

Watch First ACM Tech Talk: “From Media to Meaning: Classic Machine Learning” with Blaise Agüera y Arcas

Blaise Agüera y Arcas is a Distinguished Scientist at Google AI, where he leads a team that works on intersections of neural nets and neuromorphic AI. In this talk, Blaise examines the recent revolution in deep networks which has enabled the use of classic machine learning techniques to go from media to meaning. He covers neural nets, generative adversarial techniques, and the ethical implications of these new technologies.  ... "

The Evolution of Machine Learning

Abstract of a good paper, describes well the reasons neural network methods evolved from our early uses in the 90s to the current day.  Would not have guessed its current uses from early examples.  How will it continue to evolve?

Learning Machine Learning    By Ted G. Lewis, Peter J. Denning 
Communications of the ACM, December 2018, Vol. 61 No. 12, Pages 24-27

Machine learning has evolved from an out-of-favor subdiscipline of computer science and artificial intelligence (AI) to a leading-edge frontier of research in both AI and computer systems architecture. Over the past decade investments in both hardware and software for machine learning have risen at an exponential rate matched only by similar investments in blockchain technology. This column is a technology check for professionals in a Q&A format on how this field has evolved and what big questions it faces.

Q: The modern surge in AI is powered by neural networks. When did the neural network field start? What was the first implementation? ... " 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Bitcoin for Real World Payments Drops 80%

Ultimately Bitcoin has to be usable for real-life exchange.  Its use there has dropped considerably.   More evidence towards a cryptocurrency winter.  At least until capabilities and regulation catch up.  Note in particular the mention of better infrastructure.

Bitcoin for payments a distant dream as usage dries up    By Tom Wilson in Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - The use of bitcoin for commercial payments has dropped dramatically this year, even as the original digital coin starts to fulfill one of the basic features of any payment currency: stability.

The value of bitcoins handled by major payment processors shriveled nearly 80 percent in the year to September, data from blockchain researcher Chainalysis shows. That suggests the cryptocurrency is struggling to mature from speculative asset to a serious alternative to state-issued money.

Months of relative calm in bitcoin prices after the wild swings of last winter had fueled hopes it would become widely used for payments, its intended purpose.

But its collapse in use as a payment currency has instead left big finance and crypto insiders eyeing better technological infrastructure to help bitcoin take off as a way to pay.  .... " 

See also:   Top 5 Crypto Performers Overview: XEM, Ripple, EOS, Bitcoin, IOTA  ... 

Cryptocurrency Winter Upon Us? Blockchain Still Rising

Once again,  I am promoting MIT Tech Reviews Chain newsletter.   Lots of useful introductory links in their newsletter link below.   I won't do this forever, suggest you subscribe at the link.  Lots of breaking news here.   I note again, because it has created confusion:  Blockchains, and more broadly stated Distributed Ledgers,  are technologies that are used to implement cryptocurrencies ... the are NOT the same thing.   Note below emerging regulation SEC movement on cryptocurrencies.

Chain Letter:   Are we approaching a Cryptocurrency 'Winter'?  
Blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and why they matter
11.20: Turning over a new leaf

Welcome to Chain Letter! Great to have you. Here’s what’s new in the world of blockchains and cryptocurrencies.  ..... 

The ICO is probably dead. The US Securities and Exchange Commission sent shockwaves through the cryptocurrency world on Friday with an announcement that it has settled charges against a pair of companies for conducting illegal digital token sales. The two initial coin offering (ICO) projects, called Airfox and Paragon, resemble many others that have occurred during the past two years. That probably means more busts are on their way.

The SEC has already cracked down on a few ICOs, but these charges are the first that did not involve charges of fraud as well. Airfox and Paragon simply failed to register with the SEC before selling their tokens, which the agency says are not exempt from regulations that govern traditional securities investments like stocks and bonds. That’s important, because it appears the agency has developed a template for future prosecutions, writes Stephen Palley, a lawyer at the DC firm Anderson Kill.  ... " 

Wal-Mart has a Toy Lab

In a completely different domain, we asked the same question:  How can we get consumers to feel they are very involved with us,  are our special customer?   Special testers of product and experience?   Here the more recent concept of the 'unboxing video' is being used.   Plus some aspects of humor and scripted interaction.   Nice idea.

Can online unboxing videos turn Walmart into ‘America’s Best Toy Shop?’
 This article was written jointly by Tom Ryan and Matthew Stern. In Retailwire,

Walmart this holiday introduced an online shop, The Walmart Toy Lab, that invites kids to become a “Walmart toy tester” and play with 20 top trending toys from their computer or tablet.

“Like stepping into an interactive unboxing video, The Walmart Toy Lab lets kids take on the role of an official Walmart Toy Tester,” wrote Walmart in a statement.

Unboxing and toy feature videos have shown to be a huge draw for toy-shopping kids. Earlier this year, Walmart partnered with pre-teen YouTube star Ryan of RyansToyReviews, who in 2016 made a whopping $11 million off his unboxing videos.

The Toy Lab rollout comes a few months after Walmart’s announcement that it was branding itself as “America’s Best Toy Shop” with expanded toy aisles and assortments in its stores, an improved toy demoing experience in-store and exclusive toy-related content online.

At the Walmart Toy Lab microsite, an interactive video first introduces the game’s host, Burt, who guides kids through the toy-testing steps. Using a “Funtroller,” kids select toys to test and can choose to take a closer look, try their main features and watch other children play with them. Kids can also click the “Don’t Push” button and see Burt enter a dream sequence, hang upside down or otherwise face an “unexpected surprise.”  ... "

Teams for Digital Procurement

Procurement a long time interest ... huge amounts of money involved, a classic place for better analytics.

Digital Procurement: The Benefits Go Far Beyond Efficiency
Procurement teams can play a key role in shaping a company’s digital strategy.

By Coleman Radell  and David Schannon  of Bain.

Simpson's Paradox Again

Mentioned this topic once before, here is a more data oriented explanation,  less technical and practical to real world problems .  Everyone should understand this, but too rare to find even a data scientist with an understanding.   Nicely done.

Simpson’s Paradox: How to Prove Opposite Arguments with the Same Data

Understanding a statistical phenomenon and the importance of asking why
Imagine you and your partner are trying to find the perfect restaurant for a pleasant dinner. Knowing this process can lead to hours of arguments, you seek out the oracle of modern life: online reviews. Doing so, you find your choice, Carlo’s Restaurant is recommended by a higher percentage of both men and women than your partner’s selection, Sophia’s Restaurant. However, just as you are about to declare victory, your partner, using the same data, triumphantly states that since Sophia’s is recommended by a higher percentage of all users, it is the clear winner.

What is going on? Who’s lying here? Has the review site got the calculations wrong? In fact, both you and your partner are right and you have unknowingly entered the world of Simpson’s Paradox, where a restaurant can be both better and worse than its competitor, exercise can lower and increase the risk of disease, and the same dataset can be used to prove two opposing arguments. Instead of going out to dinner, perhaps you and your partner should spend the evening discussing this fascinating statistical phenomenon.

Simpson’s Paradox occurs when trends that appear when a dataset is separated into groups reverse when the data are aggregated. In the restaurant recommendation example, it really is possible for Carlo’s to be recommended by a higher percentage of both men and women than Sophia’s but to be recommended by a lower percentage of all reviewers. Before you declare this to be lunacy, here is the table to prove it. ... "

Monday, November 26, 2018

ACM on Emotionally Sentient Agents

Designing Emotionally Sentient Agents

Welcome to the December 2018 Communications of the ACM. The full issue and related content is available through the CACM Issue link, and also through the Table of Contents below.

In this issue:

"Designing Emotionally Sentient Agents," by Daniel McDuff and Mary Czerwinski, explains the importance of emotional components in the design of computer agents and assistants. McDuff describes the work behind emotionally sentient systems in an original video at bit.ly/2BlPjBG.

"Uncertainty in Current and Future Health Wearables," by Bran Knowles, et al., explores the difficulties that arise from the unpredictability of health wearables and related data.

"Point/Counterpoint presents two sides of a debate over AI regulation: "Should AI Technology Be Regulated? Yes, and Here's How," by Oren Etzioni, is countered by "Regulators Should Allow the Greatest Space for AI Innovation," by Andrea O’Sullivan and Adam Thierer. Etzioni and Thierer discuss their positions in an original video at bit.ly/2OTVqkv.

And more in the table of contents.  https://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2018/12

Wharton, MIT and BC Aim to Disrupt Global Supply Chain

Another example of verification and validation applications of Blockchain infrastructure, here in supply chain.   Such applications are an ideal experimental first step.   Useful details at the link. 

How a New Technology Can Disrupt the Global Supply Chain
Operations Management  In Knowledge@Wharton

An interdisciplinary team from MIT, Wharton and Boston College has created a new blockchain-based system that has the potential to disrupt the global supply chain. Called ‘b_verify,’ the system is designed to help small and medium-size enterprises — especially those in developing nations — get financing from lenders at potentially better terms while mitigating warehouse deposit fraud. The system brings greater transparency to a key part of the supply chain, which can have a big impact on global trade financing. B_verify introduces a series of blockchain technology innovations tailored to facilitate supply chain finance and operations management.

“The potential benefits are vast and global in scale,” said Gerry Tsoukalas, Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions, who was part of the team. Small and medium-size enterprises, he said, represent the backbone of many economies in the world, and they account for more than half of the jobs as well as a third of global GDP. But despite their scope and impact, these companies have a harder time getting financing than larger established firms. He said the World Bank estimates their global financing shortfall to be $2.6 trillion.

Small and medium-sized firms also find it difficult to get financing on terms as favorable as the ones big companies get because they usually lack the latter’s track record and reputation. Banks typically would charge higher interest rates or put more restrictions on loans to smaller enterprises because they are less certain of repayment. Add to the mix the propensity for fraud, especially in the developing world, and smaller firms get the worse end of the proverbial stick. “Obtaining loans at reasonable rates can be very challenging for small firms,” Tsoukalas said.   .... "

When the Brain Switches Rules

An architectural approach for AI?    A concierge like approach?  Explicit rules, or just weights changed for perception, interaction?  Architectural implications.  An Opportunity for Context Clustering and Classification?

How the brain switches between different sets of rules
When you slow down after exiting the highway, or hush your voice in the library, you’re using this brain mechanism.   By Anne Trafton | MIT News Office 

Cognitive flexibility — the brain’s ability to switch between different rules or action plans depending on the context — is key to many of our everyday activities. For example, imagine you’re driving on a highway at 65 miles per hour. When you exit onto a local street, you realize that the situation has changed and you need to slow down. ... "

Google Prepares for Work Skill Shifts

How Google.org is helping workers prepare for a digital skill shift

Jacquelline Fuller, president of Google.org, shares how her organization is preparing for the future of work through online training that reaches those who need it most.  ... "

In McKinsey Insights.

Office of Unified Communications

This was in particular was  new to me, how can its services be applied to private and business needs?   I have been asked.

The Secret Sauce of Success – Recipe unveiled by the DC Office of Unified Communications
Thomas Wieberneit in CustomerThink

Back in 2015 the Washington D.C. Office of Unified Communications (OUC) started a re-platforming exercise of their backbone from an on premise system to a cloud based customer service solution.

The Washington, D.C. Office of Unified Communications manages non-emergency services for 311 callers across the District of Columbia, supporting 17 different agencies, including the Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and more. The OUC also manages emergency services for 911 callers.

One of the main reasons for this re-platforming was the downtime challenge inherent to all on premise platforms: They need to be upgraded regularly, which causes service degradation or even unavailability.

Other reasons included insufficient and slow reporting capabilities as well as the need to add more self-service channels. .... "

Tagging Turns into Sensors

Intriguing, seems the RFID tag needs a redesign.  Reminds me of our long look at tags for product identification in many contexts.    Can their use be broadened in useful ways?

Smart Hacks to Turn Tagging Devices into Internet-of-Things Sensors 

University of Waterloo News

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada have developed a method to hack radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to turn them into Internet-of-Things (IoT) sensors. The team first removed the plastic cover from the RFID tag, then cut out a small section of the tag's antenna with scissors and attached a sensor across the cut bits of the antenna to complete the circuit. This process gave the RFID tag the ability to sense its environment. The researchers equipped another RFID tag with a phototransistor, a tiny sensor that responds to different levels of light. The team also developed an algorithm on the reader side that monitors changes in the tag's signal. Said Waterloo's Omid Abari, "Our main contribution is showing how simple it is to hack an RFID tag to create an [IoT] device."  .... " 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Voices of AI

Nice AI podcast series I just discovered.    I would call these more technical, yet still very interesting. Note the aspect of storytelling that is included.  Conversation of any kind is a form of storytelling.  People are good at it, machines are just learning.   It may well be the nut to crack to make things be more intelligent.  Now Following. Will post links to from time to time.   He has a similar effort on VR also pointed to at the link.

http://voicesofai.com/    By Kent Bye   

The Voices of AI Podcast with Kent Bye publishes 2-3 episodes a week featuring interviews with artificial intelligence researchers, application developers, game developers, and storytellers who are driving innovation in intelligent computing.

It’s hosted by Kent Bye, who also produces the Voices of VR podcast. It was through the lens of immersive experiences and experiential design that Kent first got interested in how AI was going to revolutionize interactive storytelling. He’s traveled to academic, business, and creative AI conferences to talk directly with top experts in the field.

The algorithmic reality of AI will continue to be a part of nearly every aspect of our daily lives, and this podcast aims to educate experiential designers for being able to understand and start using AI as a medium for expression, solving complex problems, and helping the world become a better place. ... "  ... 

Wearable Music

New limits to music accessibility.

New wearable tech lets users listen to live music through their skin

It's inspired by deaf fans of live concerts to help them "feel" the music. By Jenifer Ouellette in Ars Technica

" ... The tech is called Music: Not Impossible (M:NI), and it's the brainchild of former Hollywood producer turned entrepreneur Mick Ebeling, founder and CEO of Not Impossible Labs. The user's kit includes two battery-powered wristbands, two ankle bands, and a harness that fits across the back and shoulders. It interfaces directly with a venue's sound system and sends electrical pulses (coordinated with colored LED lights) corresponding to various tracks in the music to the sensors against the skin. Lady Gaga, Hans Zimmer, and Pharrell are fans, with the latter declaring he had "felt the future" after trying M:NI out. The Las Vegas show was presented by Zappos Adaptive and the Church of Rock & Roll.  ... "

(Updated) Superintelligence Considered in New Context

Brought to my attention, a new book: Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies  by Nick Bostrom   http://www.nickbostrom.com/

Reading.  They write:

" ... Superintelligence asks the questions: What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? Will artificial agents save or destroy us? Nick Bostrom lays the foundation for understanding the future of humanity and intelligent life. 

The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. If machine brains surpassed human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become extremely powerful - possibly beyond our control. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on humans than on the species itself, so would the fate of humankind depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence. ... "  ... 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Power of the Small Design

Always been intrigued by the power of the very small.     There are big advantages of power and manipulation. Whether in the body or in space.   Involvement of Autodesk is interesting.

Insect-Like Lander Could Be the Future of Space Exploration 
In CNet   By Amanda Kooser

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory partnered with Autodesk to create a new landing craft using generative design. Autodesk said, "Designers or engineers input design goals into generative design software, along with parameters such as materials, manufacturing methods, and cost constraints." The software can rapidly develop design options and learn from its own work. The concept lander features four legs and an organic-looking body, with the physical model fabricated via three-dimensional printing, computer numerical controlled milling, and casting. The lightweight but strong craft could be deployed to worlds beyond Mars in the exploration for life in the solar    .... "

China Proposes Social Credit System

Podcast and text ... excerpt

Beijing to Judge Every Resident Based on Behavior by End of 2020 in Bloomberg

 China capital plans ‘social credit’ system by end of 2020

 Citizens with poor scores will be ‘unable to move’ a step

Beijing to Judge Residents on Behavior

China’s plan to judge each of its 1.3 billion people based on their social behavior is moving a step closer to reality, with Beijing set to adopt a lifelong points program by 2021 that assigns personalized ratings for each resident.

The capital city will pool data from several departments to reward and punish some 22 million citizens based on their actions and reputations by the end of 2020, according to a plan posted on the Beijing municipal government’s website on Monday. Those with better so-called social credit will get “green channel” benefits while those who violate laws will find life more difficult.

The Beijing project will improve blacklist systems so that those deemed untrustworthy will be “unable to move even a single step,” according to the government’s plan. Xinhua reported on the proposal Tuesday, while the report posted on the municipal government’s website is dated July 18.  ... "

Friday, November 23, 2018

Furhat: a Social Robot from Sweden

Been following the social aspects of robotics for some time.  Furhat looks at it differently.  But since its is not meant to have any particular purpose in mind, does this mean it is goal-less?  Or as a needed front end for a chat-bot like system?  Its been shown that a human like face can change our behavioral interaction to a robot, even if we know it is a robot.   We recently saw a socially oriented robot, Kurbi, fail.    Yet we find people reacting to Alexa socially.   What do we want from social robots?   I am intrigued by the statement that  "... Furhat is an answer to the absence of robots ..."

Good piece, quite a bit of detail, with images and video:

Furhat is a social robot for every situation
But could we ever really accept it?
 By Jamie Rigg, @jmerigg in Engadget

Earlier this month, Furhat Robotics launched its face-swapping social robot after many years of development and prototyping, which began at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. Unlike the majority of robots, Furhat isn't built with any particular purpose in mind. In fact, that's the whole point. The disembodied bust can look and sound like all kinds of different, virtual people; it can take on any number of personalities. It's pitched as a new type of computer interface -- more engaging and understanding than any screen or smart speaker or AI chatbot. And as CEO Samer Al Moubayed puts it, Furhat isn't a replacement for people, but an answer to the absence of robots.   ... "

Polinode Documentation

I see that Polinode has updated their documentation.    Impressive, worth a look.

" ... Polinode
Collect, Visualize and Analyze Connected Data

Upload connected data directly to Polinode and interact with the resulting networks, including calculating over 20 different metrics.

Run relationship-based surveys designed for organisational network analysis then generate the resulting networks with a single click.

Enterprise Ready
This documentation also covers organization management and other Enterprise features available to Enterprise and Partner users.  .... " 

Court Fight Over Commas

Although oddly its irrelevant, I worked at the Language Lab at Penn,  followed Language Log Blog since it was a newsletter,  So for unconnected reasons the complexity of language is always interesting, and in English, and some other languages,  this is an example of why you should take care.  Oxford Commas and all that.   The example is in law and the supply chain:
Court fight over Oxford commas and asyndetic lists

 -  Filed by Jason Eisner under Computational linguistics, coordination, Grammar, Language and the law, Linguistics in the news, Parsing, Punctuation, Usage  ... 

Language Log often weighs in when courts try to nail down the meaning of a statute. Laws are written in natural language—though one might long, by formalization, to end the thousand natural ambiguities that text is heir to—and thus judges are forced to play linguist. .... "

Scalable Intelligent Systems

Quite valuable and a considerable challenge, see the full article.

Scalable Intelligent Systems by 2025  in the ACM     By Carl Hewitt, who is an emeritus professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He is board chair of iRobust, an international scientific society for the promotion of the field of Inconsistency Robustness, and board chair of Standard IoT, an international standards organization for the Internet of Things, which is using the Actor Model to unify and generalize emerging standards for IoT.

Scalable Intelligent Systems can be brought to fruition by 2025 with the following characteristics:

Interactively acquire and present information from video, web pages, hologlasses, online data bases, sensors, articles, human speech and gestures, etc.
Real-time integration of massive, pervasively inconsistent information
Close human collaboration using hologlasses for secure mobile interaction.
Organizations of people and IoT devices (Citadels) for trustworthiness, resilience, and performance with no single point of failure
Scalability in all important dimensions including no hard barriers to continual improvement in the above areas.

There is no computer-only solution that can implement the above, i.e., people are fundamental to a Scalable Intelligent System.

Scalable Intelligent Systems are the most complex software that has ever been created by a long shot. Numerous enormous government programs are under way. [Canada 2017, China 2017, European Union 2018, France 2018, Germany 2018, Japan 2017, Nordic-Baltic Region 2018, Taiwan 2018, United Kingdom 2018, United States 201]. The development of Scalable Intelligent Systems will create enormous social and policy challenges. [Hewitt 2018]

Scalable Intelligent Systems can be of enormous value in Pain Management

According to Eric Rodgers, PhD., director of the VA's Office of Evidence Based Practice, "The use of opioids has changed tremendously since the 1990s, when we first started formulating a plan for guidelines. The concept then was that opioid therapy was an underused strategy for helping our patients and we were trying to get our providers to use this type of therapy more. But as time went on, we became more aware of the harms of opioid therapy and the development of pill mills. The problems got worse.

"It's now become routine for providers to check the state databases to see if there's multi-sourcing — getting prescriptions from other providers. Providers are also now supposed to use urine drug screenings and, if there are unusual results, to do a confirmation. [For every death from an opioid overdose] there are 10 people who have a problem with opioid use disorder or addiction. And for every addicted person, we have another 10 who are misusing their medication."  .... " 

Ditch the term Blockchain?

I agree, when hype exceeds reality you have to take great care.  Start with a good business case.

Via Fortune, a short talk by execs.

Time to Ditch the Word 'Blockchain', Report Says

A new report from Forrester Research says the buzz around blockchain, a technology that creates tamper-proof records across multiple computers, is so over-hyped that some companies are dropping the word altogether.

According to Forrester, firms are ditching the b-word in favor of “DLT,” which is shorthand for distributed ledger technology—a more descriptive, if less catchy, term.

The report comes at a time when blockchain marketing is everywhere, including during the recent World Series, when IBM touted its blockchain services in TV commercials.
While blockchain is an important new technology, some firms are over-hyping its usefulness or simply repackaging existing services—a practice the report, which endorses the use of “DLT,” describes as “blockchain washing.”

“The networks that are live or under development vary greatly and frequently lack key characteristics that many regard as essential components of a blockchain,” the report states, adding the term blockchain can also carry negative “wild west connotations” of cryptocurrency.  ... " ... '

Thursday, November 22, 2018

On IOTA in Forbes

Update on IOTA, I continue to follow, primarily different because of its innovative means of updating and validating its chain and contents.

IOTA - Fulfilling the Promise of Blockchain
By  Gerald Fenech,  in Forbes, journalist writing about crypto, blockchain and markets

In order to understand what sets a project apart from all the others in the DLT space, one must always start from what motivated the creators to come up with such a project in the first place. In the case of IOTA it was the realization that certain problems will prevent the blockchain from fulfilling many of the use-cases which existed (and to an extent still do) only in theory. IOTA is arguably one of the major pioneering projects that took the concept of a DLT and implementing it with a different underlying data structure to solve many of the problems with Blockchain: fees, scaling, and centralization brought about by the need for validators or miners.

The result is a network that can easily handle huge amounts of data, which the creators hope will act as a catalyst for a true machine-to-machine economy, something which goes hand in hand with the emerging technological advancements we’re seeing in Artificial Intelligence as well as the Internet-of-Things.

However, as with most other cryptocurrencies, IOTA has taken a considerable beating of late with its value plunging to just one-third of its value just a few months ago. The currency is currently trading at $0.32 on Binance which is down by 14% over the past 24 hours when it had settled at the $0.50 level for some time.

And as reported previously here, IOTA's valuation had soared to $12 billion at the end of 2018 at the height of the crypto boom before crashing down to $1 billion by August. It is now valued at around $866 million on coinmarketcap.

We spoke to David Sonstebo who is the Co-founder and Co-Chair of IOTA Foundation; a new type of foundation, with the focus to develop the next generation of protocols for the connected world. Here, we ask David to explain the journey so far... "

A Plane with No Moving Parts

Still a prototype only suitable for drones, but  quite a development.

MIT engineers fly first-ever plane with no moving parts
The silent, lightweight aircraft doesn’t depend on fossil fuels or batteries.

Watch Video  Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office  .... "

Since the first airplane took flight over 100 years ago, virtually every aircraft in the sky has flown with the help of moving parts such as propellers, turbine blades, and fans, which are powered by the combustion of fossil fuels or by battery packs that produce a persistent, whining buzz.

Now MIT engineers have built and flown the first-ever plane with no moving parts. Instead of propellers or turbines, the light aircraft is powered by an “ionic wind” — a silent but mighty flow of ions that is produced aboard the plane, and that generates enough thrust to propel the plane over a sustained, steady flight. ... " 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Armpit Sniffing Sensors with AI

Because of the products we made, for many years we used human sensory labs to address anti-odorant efficacy.  So this digitizing of the sensory process is very interesting. 

Arm Leads Project to Develop an Armpit-Sniffing Sensor Chip 
in IEEE Spectrum  by Samuel K. Moore 

As part of an initiative to reduce the cost of Internet of Things devices for incorporation into consumer products, U.K.-based Arm is designing the first machine learning-enabled flexible plastic sensor chip to detect body odor. The chip features sensor arrays, a machine-learning processor, and an interface assembled on a thin plastic film, with a battery and display possibly added later. Arm designed naive Bayes classifier-based machine learning circuitry, while PragmatIC produced amorphous-oxide-based flexible electronics, near-field communication, and radio-frequency identification chips; the University of Manchester contributed a plastic gas-sensing solution and a model of human olfactory perception, and Unilever loaned its consumer-products expertise and its odor-testing laboratory. The sensor arrays were composed of field-effect transistors made from chemically modified organic semiconductors, refined to respond to distinct gaseous analytes. The arrays' collective response, read by the machine learning component, signals the strength of the wearer's armpit odor.  ... "

Human Presence Sensing for Smart Buildings

In  RDMag.

NSF Grant Awarded for Smart-building Sensor Research  by University of Hawai’i

The National Science Foundation has awarded University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers a $750,000 grant to develop a low-cost sensor capable of detecting human presence and monitoring occupants for energy-savings and smart-building applications. The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II grant was awarded to UH Mānoa in partnership with technology company Adnoviv.

Olga Borić-Lubecke, professor of electrical engineering in the College of Engineering and a co-principal investigator on the grant, co-founded Adnoviv in 2013 with electrical engineering Professor Victor Lubecke. The company focuses on research-driven technology, developing innovative sensors and systems for industrial, medical and security applications, including its centerpiece product, True Presence Occupancy Detection Sensors (TruePODS). Adnoviv is a Phase I graduate of the XLR8UH start-up program and has already hired four UH graduates. ... "

Being More Open Minded

Good piece, one of those fundamental things, and I think fairly rarely done in the enterprise.  Ultimately its a human resource issue.   Will the integration of more machine automation make this harder yet to achieve?

A New Way to Become More Open-Minded    By Shane Snow  in the HBR

Benjamin Franklin knew he was smart — smarter than most of his peers — but he was also intelligent enough to understand that he couldn’t be right about everything. That’s why he said that whenever he was about to make an argument, he would open with something along the lines of, “I could be wrong, but…” Saying this put people at ease and helped them to take disagreements less personally. But it also helped him to psychologically prime himself to be open to new ideas.

History shows that we tend to choose political and business leaders who are stoic, predictable, and unflinching, but research indicates that the leadership we need is characterized by the opposite: creativity and flexibility. We need people who can be like Franklin — that is, smart and strong-willed enough to persuade people to do great things, but flexible enough to think differently, admit when they’re wrong, and adapt to dynamic conditions. Changing our methods and minds is hard, but it’s important in an era where threats of disruption are always on the horizon. In popular culture, we might call this kind of cognitive flexibility, “open-mindedness.” And with growing divisions in society, the survival of our businesses and communities may very well depend on our leaders having that flexibility — from Congress to the C-Suite. ... "

Customer Experience Tools and Trends

Good point about tool use.  As long as the few tools you use cover what you need.   Good to have a mix of generalists available that can help you choose,  and then focus in on common methods.  Document the results and repeat as often as possible.  Automate as much of the process as possible, especially initial investigations.   Make sure your goals are repeatable.   Schedule re-tests as data changes.    Use learning from experience with industry peers.    Make sure that you also learn about availability of both internal and external data.

Customer Experience Tools and Trends 2018

When it comes to using tools that improve the experience, it pays to go all in with a few rather than dabble with many.   By Gerard du Toit, Andreas Dullweber, Richard Hatherall and Martha Moreau

Among the 20 tools assessed in our global research, the top 3 in adoption are predictive analytics, sensors in products and operations, and personalized experience.

New tools with the lowest current adoption have high satisfaction rates: delivery drones, episode management and privacy management. Early adopters get excited about the benefits and possible competitive advantage.

The greatest benefits typically result from major efforts and investment in a handful of tools, not from limited efforts in a broad range.

Executives are most bullish about three trends: a substantial drop in cash transactions, automated in-store checkout and automatic shipping of products when customers run out.

DiDi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-sharing firm, has more than 450 million users and handles 25 million rides each day. The terabytes of data generated by all those transactions gives DiDi a huge information advantage. Matching the data it collects on every aspect of millions of rides with end-of-ride ratings from customers allows the company to create predictive models: What sorts of experiences typically produce promoters among its customers? Which ones produce detractors? As a result, DiDi doesn’t need to ask all its riders for Net Promoter® feedback; instead, its computer models generate a rating score for almost every ride. Those predictive scores match up very reliably—more than 80% and improving—with what customers say in traditional Net Promoter feedback.

This gives DiDi two advantages: First, it provides almost instantaneous modeled feedback to its drivers. Second, it instantly identifies situations where there’s some need for relationship or service recovery, triggering an intervention. If DiDi’s algorithms identify a pickup that went awry or a ride that took longer than it should have to reach the destination, the company can issue an apology or a credit before the customer even exits the vehicle. If things went especially well, then DiDi’s app can prompt the customer with ways to tell friends about the ride-sharing service’s benefits. .... "

Teaching Machines like Children

A long known approach and goal.   Allow machines to have very basic learning capabilities, let them experience the world,  and result in general intelligence.   Seems we have taken a small step in this direction, but still in narrow contexts.   Based on statistical methods. How can we go further?

MIT-developed AI learns language like a child does

It could understand the world without the usual hassles of teaching AI.
By Jon Fingas, @jonfingas in Engadget.

When you teach language to AI systems, you typically use annotations that describe how words work. But that's not practical in many cases -- even if everybody agrees on those annotations, they often take a lot of time to produce and can still seem unnatural. MIT's solution? Have AI learn like a child. Its researchers have developed a parser that imitates kids' learning processes by observing scenes and making connections.

The system studies captioned videos and learns to link words to objects and actions by determining the accuracy of a description. It turns the potential meanings into logical mathematical expressions, picking the expression that most closely represents what it thinks is going on. While the AI may start with a vast range of potential meanings and little idea as to what it's seeing, it will gradually whittle down the possibilities. Annotations can help speed the process, but the technology doesn't need annotations to learn.  ..."

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Food Safety Detection by Consumers

Clever use of RFID tags to detect and evaluate contaminants

Putting Food-Safety Detection in the Hands of Consumers 
MIT Media Lab
By Rob Matheson MIT Lab News

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory researchers have developed a wireless system that uses inexpensive radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags attached to countless products to sense potential food contamination. Comprising the RFIQ system is a reader that detects minute changes in wireless signals emitted from the tags when they interact with food. Certain shifts in RFID tag emissions correspond to levels of certain contaminants within a product; when a wireless prompt from the reader powers up tags, the electromagnetic waves they discharge penetrate the container and are distorted by the content's molecules and ions. The researchers fed these correlations into a machine learning model which, given a new material, can predict both the presence and concentration of contaminants. In experiments, RFIQ detected baby formula laced with melamine with 96% accuracy, and alcohol diluted with methanol with 97%. The research was presented at ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in Networks ... "

Kroger to Build Robotic Warehouse for Home Delivery

Kroger continues to advance.   Now testing home delivery robotic warehouses.   Also direct robotic delivery testing in Arizona. The latter being a particularly tough challenge, given its need for autonomous decision making in varying environments.

Kroger announces first US robotic warehouse for home delivery in Monroe in Cincinnati.com

The Cincinnati-based supermarket chain will spend $55 million constructing the facility that will create 410 new jobs.

Called a customer fulfillment center, the facility will be heavily automated with "innovative robotics technology, allowing for next-generation automated storage and retrieval." Also nicknamed a "shed," the center will be 335,000 square feet – two to three times the size of the typical Kroger Marketplace. ... "

Also more in Chain Store Age.

Monday, November 19, 2018

ASK Toolkit for Visual Studio

Nice to see continued development for skills.

New methods for easier Alexa Skill development  (Technical) 

ASK Toolkit for Visual Studio Code (Beta) is an extension that that makes it easier to develop and deploy Alexa Skills. You can use the ASK toolkit to call the ASK command line interface (CLI) from within VS Code, and can see the results in VS Code's integrated terminal. This allows you to perform nearly all skill development actions within VS Code. Using the ASK toolkit, you can:  .... ' 

Model your Knowledge: Jerry's Brain

Do you have a map of what all you have done, written, researched?   Jerry Michalski has one.  See:  https://www.jerrysbrain.com/  We looked at this as a possible means of capturing retiring expertise, in an earlier AI era.   We connected with him and prototyped the idea.  This Blog is an outgrowth of that same extended experiment.  So was our internal Wiki experiment PGPedia.   Can this be a way to start, bootstrap, maintain knowledge for assistants?

He writes, and at the link there are some good visual examples. Taking a fresh look.

" ... Imagine if you had all the things worth remembering over the past 21 years, some 374,000 items, all curated in one giant mind map. 

I have that.   ... You can use it.

This site offers some explanations and links. Enjoy!  https://www.jerrysbrain.com/
Launch Jerry's Brain on the Web.         ...         

Get the iOS app for your iPad (iPhones not recommended) ... 

Please note: the data you'll see in the Jerry's Brain iOS app doesn't go beyond 2016, and will likely remain that way. That app is written to talk with TheBrain Server 8, and I'm now on version 10. The app would need a substantial rewrite, which is out of my hands and not economically viable, given the few copies that do sell :)

Get your own Brain at TheBrain.com

Sliding Microbots at Microscale

Things happen differently at small scales.

Using electricity and water, a new kind of motor can slide microrobots into motion
Microhydraulic actuators, thinner than one-third the width of human hair, are proving to be the most powerful and efficient motors at the microscale.

By Kylie Foy | Lincoln Laboratory  MIT News

Look around and you'll likely see something that runs on an electric motor. Powerful and efficient, they keep much of our world moving, everything from our computers to refrigerators to the automatic windows in our cars. But these qualities change for the worse when such motors are shrunk down to sizes smaller than a cubic centimeter.

"At very small scales, you get a heater instead of a motor," said Jakub Kedzierski, staff in MIT Lincoln Laboratory's Chemical, Microsystem, and Nanoscale Technologies Group. Today, no motor exists that is both highly efficient and powerful at microsizes. And that’s a problem, because motors on that scale are needed to put miniaturized systems into motion — microgimbals that can point lasers to a fraction of a degree over thousands of miles, tiny drones that can squeeze into wreckage to find survivors, or even bots that can crawl through the human digestive tract.  ... "

Implantable ID Cards

Not new, back again, surveys indicating we are very willing to have them done.

Would you swap your keycard for a microchip implant? For many, the answer is yes

Twenty years ago, in late 1998, a 44-year-old professor in the Cybernetics Department at the U.K.’s University of Reading underwent an unusual procedure. Kevin Warwick opted for an elective surgery in which a radio-frequency identification device (RFID) chip was implanted under the skin on his left arm. Using antennas dotted around his laboratory, Professor Warwick was able to control his surroundings with little more than a Jedi-like wave of his hand. ... " 

Microsoft Adds AI to PowerBI and Azure for Business

Interesting to see how, for the AI is often in the details.  Make the point of de emphasizing coding skills and thus automating some of the process.  'Containerized cognitive services'.    Language processing,  Sentiment, facial recognition.   How well is that done?  Aim to take a look.

Microsoft announces new updates aimed at helping businesses more easily adopt AI   By Chris Stetkiewicz

This week, Microsoft announced several technology updates aimed at helping customers adopt artificial intelligence tools that can yield big benefits for businesses and organizations.

The announcements come as most companies say they want to use AI, even though some are struggling to figure out how to do so. Industry analysts have predicted an explosion of AI adoption over the next few years, but they say many companies still face internal barriers to AI adoption.

For AI to deliver its vast potential, Microsoft executives said industry leaders must not only make AI-infused technology faster, more intuitive and more useful, but also build public trust that AI technology will be used responsibly.

Helping customers put AI to work
Microsoft said it is helping customers adopt AI in multiple ways. That includes providing more flexible options for deploying AI tools – on the intelligent edge, in remote environments or in networks that a company maintains on-site.

For example, Microsoft said this week that it is the first company to enable cognitive services to be used in containers. Azure Cognitive Services are tools developers can use to add AI functionality such as image recognition to their systems. Containers support means companies can take advantage of AI tools even if they are in a scenario in which they can’t easily access the public cloud.

Microsoft’s first containerized cognitive services include APIs that use optical character recognition to find words in images; can detect language, extract key phrases and analyze sentiment in text; and recognize faces in images. Those initial containerized services are now available in preview, and more will follow.

Many business leaders cite a lack of data science expertise as a barrier to AI adoption. To help them get started, Microsoft is offering a preview of simpler AI features in its Power BI business analytics and data visualization service that don’t require users to write a single line of code. The company said these updates will make it easier for users across a business to discover hidden insights in their data, regardless of their coding skills.  ... " 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Microsoft is Selling Alexas

Just started looking at updated Cortana and how it integrates with Echo. Still minimally.  Makes sense for Cortana to be the ecosystem wing to best support Office solutions. 

Microsoft is selling Amazon Echo speakers in its stores in Engadget
It's continuing to shift away from Cortana as a mainstream assistant.  by Jon Fingas, @jonfingas

Microsoft's deepening relationship with Amazon's Alexa now extends to its stores. WalkingCat and others have noticed that Microsoft is carrying both the new Echo Dot and the regular Echo in its online and retail stores. The company isn't just supporting Alexa, then -- it's encouraging you to buy into Amazon's ecosystem.   ... "

Use Weight Regularization to Reduce Overfitting of Deep Learning Models

Overfitting is a classic problem with all models.  It means you are finding the solution to a particular set of data, rather than a generalized problem.  This should be found afterward in testing against new data,  but can be dangerously misleading.   Jason Brownlee discusses approaches to reduce overfitting.   Follow Jason, lots of good nuggets.

Use Weight Regularization to Reduce Overfitting of Deep Learning Models   by Jason Brownlee  in Better Deep Learning

Neural networks learn a set of weights that best map inputs to outputs.
A network with large network weights can be a sign of an unstable network where small changes in the input can lead to large changes in the output. This can be a sign that the network has overfit the training dataset and will likely perform poorly when making predictions on new data.

A solution to this problem is to update the learning algorithm to encourage the network to keep the weights small. This is called weight regularization and it can be used as a general technique to reduce overfitting of the training dataset and improve the generalization of the model.

In this post, you will discover weight regularization as an approach to reduce overfitting for neural networks. .... "

McKinsey on Digital Strategy

Digital strategy: The four fights you have to win  By Tanguy Catlin, Laura LaBerge, and Shannon Varney   in McKinsey

Yesterday’s tentative approaches won’t deliver; you need absolute clarity about digital’s demands, galvanized leadership, unparalleled agility, and the resolve to bet boldly.

If there’s one thing a digital strategy can’t be, it’s incremental. The mismatch between most incumbents’ business models and digital futures is too great—and the environment is changing too quickly—for anything but bold, inventive strategic plans to work.

Unfortunately, most strategic-planning exercises do generate incrementalism. We know this from experience and from McKinsey research: on average, resources don’t move between business units in large organizations. A recent book by our colleagues, Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick, seeks to explain what causes this inertia (strategy’s social side, rooted in individual interests, group dynamics, and cognitive biases) and to suggest a way out (understanding the real odds of strategy and overhauling your planning processes to deliver the big moves that can overcome those long odds).

All this holds doubly true for digital strategy, which demands special attention. Leaders in many organizations lack clarity on what “digital” means for strategy. They underestimate the degree to which digital is disrupting the economic underpinnings of their businesses. They also overlook the speed with which digital ecosystems are blurring industry boundaries and shifting the competitive balance. (For more on why companies often fall short, see “Why digital strategies fail.”) What’s more, responding to digital by building new businesses and shifting resources away from old ones can be threatening to individual executives, who may therefore be slow to embrace (much less drive) the needed change. .... " 

Smart Cities and Blockchains

Never thought of this particular kind of approach.  Security of Why versus good database architectures?     Intriguing  thought. 

10 Ways Blockchain Is Revolutionizing Smart Cities
By Sergio.  (Excerpt) 

Blockchain will transform smart cities of the future. #p3smartcity
Blockchain technology is boosting the bottom line of private and public sector

It’s touted as the “secret sauce” that will transform smart cities of the future, establishing trust and transparency in government through an immutable digital record — one that’s able to connect sky’s-the-limit endpoints while being virtually hack proof.

Blockchain technology took the digital world by storm in 2009, when it debuted as a digital ledger book for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Since then, it is being used to reshape the way business is done in industries ranging from finance and healthcare to manufacturing — and, of course, government.

In a nutshell, blockchain is a new kind of encrypted database that is decentralized, distributed, and unassailable. It creates a digital record that is amazingly secure and is easily accessible to the public.

Smart cities worldwide are using blockchain as the foundation of plans to enhance urban living. Headlines are filled with innovations from locations like Dubai, which aims to cement its status as a global leader in the smart economy as the first blockchain-powered government, and Moscow, which recently became the first city to use blockchain in an e-voting system designed to eliminate corruption and voter fraud.

But the public sector isn’t the only segment of a smart city that stands to benefit from blockchain technology. The private sector is also realizing its potential to reimagine key business processes and help companies of all sizes compete on a more level playing field and therefore advancing their ability to be strategic partners to smart city projects.   ....  "

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Update-AI Chemical Reaction Prediction

Missed this, well worth a look

Talk by Teodoro Laino (Chemistry, Technical)

"Artificial Intelligence for Chemical Reaction Predictions: IBM RXN for Chemistry”   from IBM ... Exploring the nearly  endless chemical space  Chem. Sci., 2018, 9, 6091-6098v  ... 

" ...  Organic synthesis is one of the key stumbling blocks in medicinal chemistry. A necessary yet unsolved step in planning synthesis is solving the forward problem: given  reactants and reagents, predict the products. We treat reaction prediction as a machine translation problem between SMILES strings of reactants-reagents and the products. We show  that a multi-head attention  ... " 

Freely available now:  research.ibm.com/ai4chemistry
The first, FREE AI web service for predicting chemical reactions. ... "



Mindmap for Managers about Data Science

Nicely done,   Though would have liked more connection from the map to details.  But worth a scan.

Intro to Data Science for Managers [Mindmap]  Posted by Igor Bobriakov in DSC

Data science has become an integral part of many modern projects and businesses, with an increasing number of decisions now based on data analysis. The data science industry is experiencing an acute shortage of talents, not only of data scientists but also of managers, having some understanding of analytics and data science. As a manager, you can ultimately become the company's expert in data usage, creating opportunities for the evolution of your organization. Whether you are working with a team of data scientists, as a part of a data-driven business, or you are interested in implementing data science solutions — you shall have some data knowledge and understand its organizational capabilities.   ... " 

Predicting Crime

Course we have long been able to predict likelihood,  its very close, but when does it flip over to making a decision, what are the broader implications of that decision and what is the risk of that decision?

Can we predict when and where a crime will take place?     By Mark Smith in the BBC

The new crime-fighting weapon of choice for a growing number of police forces around the world isn't a gun, a taser or pepper spray - it's data. But can computer algorithms really help reduce crime?

Imagine a gang of bank robbers arriving at their next heist, only to find an armed response unit already waiting on the corner.

Or picture walking down a dark alley and feeling afraid, then seeing the reassuring blue lights of a police car sent to watch over you.

Now imagine if all of this became possible thanks to mathematics.

Ever since the Philip K Dick novel The Minority Report, which was later turned into a Tom Cruise blockbuster, was published in the 1950s, futurists and philosophers have grappled with the concept of "pre crime". ... " 

Autonomous Cars will Upend Transportation

A podcast and transcript at the big question:  What will our personal transportation look like in a decade or less?


How Autonomous Vehicles Will Upend Transportation
Nov 14, 2018 Books Business Radio Law and Public Policy Podcasts  North America driverless cars

The former vice president of research for GM outlines how robotic driving technology will entirely reshape transportation.

Supports K@W's 
Innovation Content

The Quest to Build the Driverless Car -- BurnsAutonomous vehicle technology is advancing rapidly, and hard-core promoters contend that driverless cars could soon be the norm rather than the exception. Many other knowledgeable analysts, however, say widespread adoption of fully autonomous cars is many years — perhaps decades — away. The chief reason for the delay is the years it will take to generate the vast amount of data required to make self-driving cars fully safe. But whenever it finally takes over, driverless technology will do much more than ease daily commutes: It will also have a profound impact on the world’s economy, notes Lawrence Burns, a former corporate vice president of research, development and planning for General Motors who supervised and encouraged GM’s development of robotic driving technology. His new book with Christopher Shulgan is titled, Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car — And How It Will Reshape Our World. He joined the Knowledge@Wharton show on SiriusXM to talk about how a driverless world will map out. .... "

Digital Transformation

And I had just posted about Predictive maintenance.   Here elevator maker Thyssenkrupp AG talks about the technology and how it links to their own experience in digital transformation.   See my previous notes on Thyssenkrupp tag below.   Good piece here:

An elevator maker reveals the ups and downs of digital transformation  By Paul Gillin in SiliconAngle

A list of the 10 large companies that have most successfully transformed their businesses through technology published in the Harvard Business Review last year included many of the usual suspects – and one that many people probably wouldn’t even recognize.

Thyssenkrupp AG, a German materials giant that can trace its roots back more than 200 years, made the list on the strength of the 47 percent of its total sales that now come from new growth areas. .... " 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Nissan to invite Google onto Car Dashboards

A step forward on automotive driver/occupant interaction.   The rolling channel.  Closer than this, I think.   How will driverless vehicles effect/change this?

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. …. "

Can AI Fix Disaster Relief?

Visuals are interesting here in the linked article below.  Another example of where there needs to be strong, real-time collaboration with human interactions.

Disaster Relief Is Dangerously Broken. Can AI Fix It? 
By Katharine Schwab in FastCompany

The use of artificial intelligence in disaster relief is gaining favor as weather-related catastrophes grow in frequency and severity. For example, a startup founded by Stanford University's Ahmad Wani has launched a machine learning platform to help cities respond to floods with specialized maps that update in real time so emergency crews can determine where aid is most needed. Wani said a key challenge was enabling rapid, city-wide analysis of structural engineering to better predict damage. The Flood Concern risk map was based on an earlier algorithm that digests building construction and retrofitting data, integrated with information on building materials and surrounding soil properties, to predict earthquake damage. Flood Concern crunches vast data volumes based on water-flow physics, previous flood data, and satellite imagery to approximate water depth, direction, and speed and localize areas at most risk; demographic data is layered atop the prediction so emergency planners can anticipate areas with the most likely at-risk residents. .... " 

Which Data Science Project?

We  dealt with exactly this, with AI projects and with and any new tech projects.    Below article very nicely put piece worth reading.    Even more straight forwardly put:  Start simply, where you have data, know your goals, can define current process and measures.   Increase credibility to leverage new projects.

How to Decide Which Data Science Projects to Pursue   By Hilary Mason in the HBR

In 2018, every organization has a data strategy. But what makes a great one?

We all know what failure looks like. Resources are invested, teams are formed, time goes by — but nothing comes of it. No one can necessarily say why; it’s always Someone Else’s Fault.

It’s harder to tell the difference between a modest success and excellence. Indeed, in data science they can they look very similar for perhaps a year.  After several years, though, an excellent strategy will yield orders of magnitude more valuable results.

Both mediocre and excellent strategies begin with a series of experiments and investments leading to data projects. After a few years, some of these projects work out and are on their way to production.

In the mediocre strategy, one or two of these projects may even have a clear ROI for the business. Typically, these projects will be some kind of automation for cost savings, or applying machine learning to an existing process to improve its efficiency or performance. This looks a lot like success, and it may suffice, but it’s missing out on the unique advantages of an excellent data strategy.

In an excellent strategy, more data projects have worked out, and they were surprisingly cost-effective to develop. Further, the process of building the first few projects inspires new project ideas. In an excellent strategy, the projects will include automation and efficiency and performance improvements, but they will also include projects and ideas for new revenue generation and entirely new businesses driven by your unique data assets. The data teams work well together, build on each other’s work, and collaborate smoothly with their business partners. There’s a clear vision of what the machine-learning driven future of the business can look like, and everyone is working together to achieve it.  .... "