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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Energy Grid Outages Addressed

Duke Energy is our local Energy system.

Universities team up on effort to improve grid for Duke Energy

UNC Charlotte’s Energy Production and Infrastructure Center is working through three years of power-outage data from Duke Energy as part of a $300,000 federal grant to improve resiliency of the electric grid.  Including primarily addressing outages via new and old technologies)  ...

Read in Charlotte Business Journal: https://apple.news/AIhljZiKQR9uG6RWj39gGh

Value of Using Google Assistance for Translation

What we always wanted, a seamless translation mode. That made us completely indifferent to the language in use.  Hearing and speaking.   Its not quite here yet,  I have tried it and its less than seamless or complete.   But its clearly moving in the right direction.   Its the ultimate assistance need though, so why not?   Will be taking a closer look in the new year.

Google Assistant Can Now Translate Speech Through Your Phone
Interpreter Mode comes to iOS and Android, making it easier to converse somewhat seamlessly across language barriers.Google Assistant Can Now Translate Speech Through Your Phone
Interpreter Mode comes to iOS and Android, making it easier to converse somewhat seamlessly across language barriers.

When I hopped into a cab in Barcelona last year, my taxi driver began asking me questions—you know, small talk. But his phrasing was awkward because English wasn't his native tongue. Cue a kludgy back and forth, with both of us having a hard time really understanding one another. That's when I whipped out Google Translate, and his eyes lit up as my phone conveyed his questions better than I ever could. It wasn't perfect, and he had to repeat himself a few times, but what flowed out was a proper conversation—one that wouldn't have been so easily possible a decade ago.

Translation apps like Google Translate or Microsoft Translator are familiar to world travelers. Now, Google is making it possible to have spoken conversations across language barriers without needing to download an app at all. The company has updated Google Assistant so that it supports translating languages in real time.   ... "

Live Video Trolling on Ring

Just got word of this.  Ring Cameras hacked for sheer harassment.  Perhaps for  a belief that personal protection by surveillance systems are by their nature illegitimate?  Or they are just a means of protection?  Secure your systems.

Ring cameras hacked for video livestream trolling.      By Duncan Riley in SiliconAngle

In one of the more bizarre hacking cases of recent times, Ring cameras are being targeted by hackers not for profit but for sharing via a video livestream.

In an exploit detailed today by Motherboard, Ring camera owners in multiple states have been targeted with the livestream and subsequent harassment of owners shared via NulledCast on the digital distribution platform Discord. The livestream is linked to a forum called Nulled where tools for accessing Ring cameras are sold and traded.

“Sit back and relax to over 45 minutes of entertainment,” an advertisement for the podcast reads. “Join us as we go on completely random tangents such as; Ring & Nest Trolling, telling shelter owners we killed a kitten, Nulled drama and more ridiculous topics. Be sure to join our Discord to watch the shows live.”

Some of the cases include those behind the livestream targeting an eight-year-old girl in Memphis, Tennessee, and in another case taunting a family in Florida with racial slurs. Although those behind it are doing it for the “lulz,” in one case in Grand Prairie, Texas, a demand for 50 bitcoin ($359,750) was made, though likely not seriously.

The software used to break into the Ring cameras is said to use previously compromised email addresses and passwords to break into Ring cameras at large scale.

Given that the attacks have all involved reused passwords, Ring responded to the report by noting that its services have not been compromised and that owners should use unique passwords.

“Unfortunately, when people reuse the same username and password on multiple services, it’s possible for bad actors to gain access to many accounts,” Ring said in a blog post. “Upon learning of the incident, we took appropriate actions to promptly block bad actors from known affected Ring accounts and affected users have been contacted. Out of an abundance of caution, we encourage Ring customers to change their passwords and enable two-factor authentication.” ... '

Can Computers be Conscious?

Don't  absolutely know they cannot compute consciousness unless I know the definition of consciousness being used.   With a very bare definition a computer 'knows it knows something',  say the setting of a single bit.    And can modify it at will.  By scanning and toggling it.  So in that way it is conscious.  Of course nothing approaching human consciousness, not even near it .... but it is a first step.  ...

Why a computer will never be truly conscious
Author  Subhash Kak  Regents Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Oklahoma State University

Subhash Kak does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Oklahoma State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

Many advanced artificial intelligence projects say they are working toward building a conscious machine, based on the idea that brain functions merely encode and process multisensory information. The assumption goes, then, that once brain functions are properly understood, it should be possible to program them into a computer. Microsoft recently announced that it would spend US$1 billion on a project to do just that.

So far, though, attempts to build supercomputer brains have not even come close. A multi-billion-dollar European project that began in 2013 is now largely understood to have failed. That effort has shifted to look more like a similar but less ambitious project in the U.S., developing new software tools for researchers to study brain data, rather than simulating a brain.

Some researchers continue to insist that simulating neuroscience with computers is the way to go. Others, like me, view these efforts as doomed to failure because we do not believe consciousness is computable. Our basic argument is that brains integrate and compress multiple components of an experience, including sight and smell – which simply can’t be handled in the way today’s computers sense, process and store data.  ... ".... '

Amazon and Corporate Digital Procurement

A key topic to manage  in the enterprise.  And managing the components of products you need to procure.

Amazon Business brings procurement into the digital era   By Betsy Amy-Vogt in Silicon Angle

Everyone knows (and loves) Amazon Prime for its fast, free shipping and wealth of associated benefits.  Lesser known is that Amazon has a Business platform that offers similar benefits to help companies simplify the procurement process.

“Corporate procurement is really hard and cumbersome,” said David Stout (pictured), head of global alliances and partnerships of Amazon Business. “We’re really trying to focus on [bringing] that experience [of Amazon Prime] for consumers. Taking that same ease of use and experience to the business world.”

Stout spoke with Lisa Martin (@LisaMartinTV) and Stu Miniman (@stu), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the recent AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. They discussed the impact of digital transformation on the procurement process and how data has aligned IT and procurement goals. (* Disclosure below.)  .... "

Quantum Bull

So is Quantum her already, or are we in the midst of a hype storm?    Check out the links below and explore.   A number of technical big players are participating ... so can it be purely nonsense?  Not likely.  But exactly what it can do versus just rumored to do soon is still unclear.

 Revolt! Scientists Say They're Sick of Quantum Computing's Hype
A Twitter account called Quantum Bullshit Detector reflects some researchers' angst about overhyped claims and other troubling trends.

This spring, a mysterious figure by the name of Quantum Bullshit Detector strolled onto the Twitter scene. Posting anonymously, they began to comment on purported breakthroughs in quantum computing—claims that the technology will speed up artificial intelligence algorithms, manage financial risk at banks, and break all encryption. The account preferred to express its opinions with a single word: “Bullshit.”

The provocations perplexed experts in the field. Because of the detector’s familiarity with jargon and the accounts it chose to follow, the person or persons behind the account seemed be part of the quantum community. Researchers were unaccustomed to such brazen trolling from someone in their own ranks. “So far it looks pretty well-calibrated, but [...] vigilante justice is a high-risk affair,” physicist Scott Aaronson wrote on his blog a month after the detector’s debut. People discussed online whether to take the account’s opinions seriously.

“There is some confusion. Quantum Bullshit Detector cannot debate you. It can only detect quantum bullshit. This is why we are Quantum Bullshit Detector!” the account tweeted in response. ... " 

Friday, December 13, 2019

On Event Meshes

Interesting look at the concept, a way to add some structure around events of importance, an element addressing the context of events.

Why Event Meshes Should Be On Your IoT Radar
By Alex Woodie in Datanami

We are instrumenting everything around us at a frenetic pace with the hope of using all that sensor data to improve our situational awareness and decision-making capability. But how do we plumb all the systems together in a simple and cohesive manner? That, in a nutshell, is the purpose of an event mesh, an emerging product category you’re likely to hear more of in the future.

Shawn McAllister, the CTO of Solace, is an expert on event meshes and recently briefed Datanami on the emerging field. As McAllister explains it, event meshes help to virtualize and simplify access to event data in the same way that service meshes help to virtualize and simplify access to IT services.

“An event mesh is another layer in your network that delivers events to you, no matter where you happen to be,” McAllister says. “It gives you the ability to take applications that may be deployed in your legacy environment, in your private cloud, and multiple public cloud environments, and have all those applications are able to interact and to receive whatever events they’re interested in.”

The event mesh starts with event brokers that are deployed close to the item being monitored, McAllister continues. Those event brokers are typically installed next to your legacy applications, which can now emit events into the event mesh, which routes them to consuming applications on the other side of the network.

It’s all about shrinking the physical world and making it more connected. Remote field locations, such as gas stations or grocery stores, can now be the source of an event that triggers an action half a world away. That means events, like purchasing gasoline, could trigger a machine learning system running in the Google Cloud to give the customer an offer, via the pump’s video screen, to get a discount on energy drinks purchased in the gas station’s mini-mart.  .... "

Predicting Lightning: Where/When

Skeptical.   If we are talking about predicting the likelihood of lighting in an area an hour before it hits, thats done already in weather predictive maps.    Suggests here that the accuracy is within a 30 km radius.   Specifics of goal are slightly incomplete,  but perhaps that is not being done that accurately yet.  "When it may strike", versus when/where?   AI aspect may well using machine learning in an area that might attract lightning such as tall trees or buildings

Using AI and machine learning to forecast lightning  By Techcrunchx 

As one of the most irregular phenomena in nature, lightning is very disturbing. Scientists have lately made an AI system that forecasts lightning up to 30 minutes before it strikes.

Lightning regularly kills animals and people, initiates fires, destroys power lines and keeps aircraft stranded. Till now, it has been almost out of the question to predict lightning, with no simple technology for predicting where and when it will strike the earth.

Engineers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne’s (EPFL) School of Engineering built a simple and cheap system to forecast when lightning will strike. Farhad Rachidi led the research, which resulted in a technique of predicting lightning between 10 and 30 minutes before it hits, inside a 30km radius.  ....  "

Kroger, Walgreens in Purchasing Alliance

Combining against Amazon's dip into pharma?

Kroger and Walgreens are in a purchasing alliance and seeking more partners   by George Anderson in Retailwire

The Kroger Co. and Walgreens have formed a new purchasing organization to cut costs and drive innovation.

The new group purchasing organization (GPO), which will be called Retail Procurement Alliance, further expands joint efforts between the supermarket and drugstore powerhouses. In August, the two companies announced plans to expand a pilot program that places Kroger Express store-within-a-store shops inside of Walgreens locations. In a separate test, select Kroger stores are selling a limited offering of Walgreens health and beauty care products, including Boots No7 and Soap & Glory.

Kroger CFO Gary Millerchip said the new GPO “brings together the best of two great organizations to reinvent critical components of our sourcing practices.” 

Alex Gourlay, co-COO for Walgreens Boots Alliance, said the expanded relationship between his company and Kroger will not only “create efficiencies across our supply chains,” it will enhance the ability of the two companies to drive private label innovation and meet the “evolving needs for value and convenience” among consumers.

Kroger and Walgreens are looking for additional partners to join their newly formed purchasing group.

“If another organization thinks they have significant buying in these areas, they could partner with Kroger and Walgreens to save and reduce waste,” Mr. Millerchip told CNBC ..... " 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

China Ready to Launch Its Digital Renminbi

World wide implications?

Technology Review:   Chain Letter: MIT Technology Review
Blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and why they matter

Chain Letter from MIT Technology Review
#174: The next steps in China’s digital currency road map have been revealed

China may be just about to launch its digital renminbi in two cities. The People’s Bank of China is planning a real-world pilot of its digital currency, the first phase of which could begin before the end of this year, according to a report from an influential Chinese financial news publication. That would support recent speculation that China is on the verge of becoming the first major economy to issue sovereign digital money.

In August, an official from the PBOC said the currency, which China has been developing for several years, was “close” to being issued. The new report, from the financial news outlet Caijing, outlines specific next steps. It says the PBOC could launch a small-scale experiment in Shenzhen before the end of the year and then scale it up in 2020. In addition to Shenzhen, the pilot will take place in the eastern city of Suzhou, according to Caijing. If the tests go well, presumably the currency will go live soon afterward.

The Caijing report seems to confirm several details about the forthcoming currency system, called digital currency electronic payment (DCEP), that have appeared in news reports during the past several months. For instance, it confirms that the PBOC will partner with commercial banks to issue the currency, and that during the initial phase the banks will compete on how best to implement it. It says tests will likely include seven state-owned firms: the four largest commercial banks and three big telecom companies. According to the news report, the tests will involve real-world service scenarios in the areas of transportation, education, and medical treatment.  .... "   Full report. 

Crypto Tax Formal Regulation at Hand?

Saw this in MIT Technology Reviews:  Chain+Letter newsletter, much recommended as a place to stay up to date on the topic and related regulatory changes

The IRS really needs an exemption for crypto
By Matthew De Silva in Quartz

The taxman cometh, and he asketh about virtual currency.

The US tax agency has released a new draft of its Schedule 1 form, used by taxpayers to report additional income and deductions. For 2019 tax filers, the Internal Revenue Service has posed a new question, prominently listed at the top of the document: ”At any time during 2019, did you receive, sell, send, exchange, or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?”  .... "

Amazon AWS Rolls out Quantum Computing Service: QAAS

Had not thought it was ready yet, but here it is.  But perhaps as the article suggests, to study the application of QC, before its actual implementation.  Linking with AWS, and the cloud data involved, can likely lead to tests of potential problem types.  And note services having been announced by IBM, Google and Microsoft.

Amazon Rolls Out Quantum-Computing Service
By The Wall Street Journal

Amazons cloud-services division is offering select enterprise customers the ability to experiment with early-stage quantum-computing services over the cloud.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched Amazon Bracket, a platform that lets enterprise customers explore how they could benefit from quantum computers by developing and testing quantum algorithms in simulations.

The online retail giant joins Microsoft, Google, and IBM in announcing quantum computing efforts.

Amazon is planning to develop the AWS Center for Quantum Computing, an organization that will unite experts from the company, the California Institute of Technology, and other institutions.

The Center for Quantum Computing aims to study technology that might enable quantum computers to be mass-produced, and to identify applications that are best solved on quantum computers.

Said Simone Severini, director of quantum computing at AWS, "We believe a substantial amount of work will need to be done for the promise of quantum computing to become real."  .... "

Total Cost Visibility in the US Army

We recently participated in:

Graphs in Government: Achieving Total Cost Visibility for the U.S. Army
via Lauren McCormack, Neo4j    Presentation below:

Thanks for your interest in the Graphs in Government: Achieving Total Cost Visibility for the U.S. Army webinar. Click here to watch the recording.  

Intel's LIDAR for Inventory Logistics

We spent time experimenting with a means to determining accurate inventory and location accuracy positions in warehouses and on store shelves.    Here a relatively new approach in the space.  Originally noted in AppleNews. 

Intel’s latest RealSense lidar camera is designed for inventory logistics
Brian Heater@bheater in TechCrunch

Intel today introduced the latest addition to its RealSense line. The L515 is roughly the size of a tennis ball, targeted specifically for warehouse logistics — a hugely important and increasingly automated aspect of global trade.

Other potential applications for the new camera include retail, healthcare, 3D scanning and robotics. The little hockey puck is capable of scanning a scene and creating a point cloud with millions of depth points a second, per Intel — a fairly impressive spec, given its size.  .... "

Quantum to Model Traffic with Simulations

Another mention of D-Wave quantum in the news.   Also the term 'Quantum-Style' is used for the first time I have seen,

Microsoft, Ford Try Using Quantum-Style Computing to Solve Seattle's Traffic Problem   By GeekWire via ACM

Microsoft and Ford Motor are using quantum-inspired computing models to try to optimize traffic management in Seattle.

Ford chief technology officer Ken Washington said timely optimization using an enormous number of possible route assignments is not feasible with traditional computers, so the partners have experimented with algorithms that simulate a quantum approach on classical systems.

The researchers tested various scenarios, including one involving about 5,000 vehicles concurrently requesting routes that spanned the Seattle area. Washington said the algorithms sent balanced routing suggestions to the vehicles in 20 seconds, improving congestion by 73% versus "selfish" routing, while cutting average commuting time by 8%.

Said Microsoft's Julie Love, “We don't have to wait until quantum computers are deployed on a wide scale to take advantage of the technology."  ... "

From GeekWire

 .... The results could be used to improve navigation apps, and could also be applied to optimization problems in fields ranging from robotics to aerodynamics.

Microsoft isn’t Ford’s only partner when it comes to traffic optimization: The automaker has also been working with NASA’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Ames Research Center, where Burnaby, B.C.-based D-Wave Systems’ quantum annealing hardware comes into play. The NASA-Ford partnership focuses on using quantum-inspired algorithms to optimize energy consumption by commercial vehicle fleets.

Separately, Ford has set up a City Insights Platform to study urban mobility issues in depth. It’s all part of Ford’s drive to think of itself as a mobility company rather than strictly a car company, particularly as it closes in on fielding fully autonomous vehicles in 2021.  ... " 

FDA and Food Blockchain

Yet another example of tracking and tracing movements of food goods in a supply chain.  Saw early work on this problem by Wal-Mart.

FDA to pilot A.I., consider blockchain, to track and trace food

The FDA plans to pilot artificial intelligence and machine learning technology in its legacy food-screening systems – and it's exploring how to build out blockchain internally and industry-wide to increase the scale, efficiency and safety of supply chains.
 By Lucas Mearian in ComputerWorld

Transistor Integrated with RAM

Intriguing integration. A further means to create IOT capabilities in place?

Reorganizing a Computer Chip: Transistors Can Now Process, Store Information
Purdue University News
By Kayla Wiles

December 9, 2019

Purdue University engineers integrated a transistor with higher-performing memory technology to create a device that can process and store information. The researchers employed a semiconductor with ferroelectric properties, and the resulting ferroelectric semiconductor field-effect transistor overcomes the efficiency limitations of ferroelectric random-access memory. Building the semiconductor from alpha indium selenide eliminated the issue of a wide band gap that prevented electrical transmission. The transistor's performance was comparable to that of current ferroelectric field-effect transistors, and could outperform those devices with additional optimization. The Purdue researchers also collaborated with Georgia Institute of Technology researchers to build a high-performance ferroelectric tunneling junction by enhancing a chip with alpha indium selenide. ..." 

Chaotic Systems

Have done lots of work modeling corporate systems, and on occasion chaotic behavior was observed, but never in my observation was it effectively used to model and address a problem in practice.  Good mostly non technical overview here.

Variance, Attractors and Behavior of Chaotic Statistical Systems
Posted by Vincent Granville in DSC

We study the properties of a typical chaotic system to derive general insights that apply to a large class of unusual statistical distributions. The purpose is to create a unified theory of these systems. These systems can be deterministic or random, yet due to their gentle chaotic nature, they exhibit the same behavior in both cases. They lead to new models with numerous applications in Fintech, cryptography, simulation and benchmarking tests of statistical hypotheses. They are also related to numeration systems. One of the highlights in this article is the discovery of a simple variance formula for an infinite sum of highly correlated random variables. We also try to find and characterize attractor distributions: these are  the limiting distributions for the systems in question, just like the Gaussian attractor is the universal attractor with finite variance in the central limit theorem framework. Each of these systems is governed by a specific functional equation, typically a stochastic integral equation whose solutions are the attractors. This equation helps establish many of their properties. The material discussed here is state-of-the-art and original, yet presented in a format accessible to professionals with limited exposure to statistical science. Physicists, statisticians, data scientists and people interested in signal processing, chaos modeling, or dynamical systems will find this article particularly interesting. Connection to other similar chaotic systems is also discussed.  ... "

On an Economics of Eaches

Not a very new thing, but another way of looking at it, In Supply chain Brain.

Watch: The Economics of 'Eaches'
Thomas Goldsby: In SupplyChainBrain

Farewell to the age of economical bulk and pallet distribution. Now it's a question of managing "eaches." Thomas Goldsby, Haslam Chair of Logistics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, explains the new economics behind this trend.

SCB: Eaches are an essential part of today's supply chain, given the growth of e-commerce, and the need to pick small lots for customer orders. What do you mean by “the economics of eaches”?

Goldsby: We’re not talking about supply chains that are dependent upon full pallets moving in and out. Instead, at some point in the distribution of products, we're going to get down to less-than-pallet loads, and perhaps the individual item. When I refer to the economics of eaches, I'm talking about understanding the financial aspects associated with picking, packing, shipping and delivering those individual items.

SCB: Based on shifts in consumer buying behavior?

Goldsby: The way consumers shop today, it's no longer just a case of driving to a store, picking their own items from the shelf and filling up a shopping cart. Rather, it’s an industrial worker — an employee of a manufacturer, retailer or distributor — who’s performing that activity, as well as handling as the last-mile portion. My sense is that most companies don't fully appreciate the cost of breaking down the pallet and delivering to a desired destination.  .... " 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Barcode Developer Dies

We were one of the earliest experimenters and users of the Barcode in retail, starting in 1994.  In the BBC:   George Laurer, the US engineer who helped develop the barcode, has died at the age of 94. ...     Much more on the barcode in the Wikipedia.

Google Goes More Local Yet

 In a recent Google Blog entry, about local ads:

The holidays are a critical time of year for your stores, as shoppers stop in to get an item quickly or see it in person. Online research to find local stores continues to surge—search interest in local shops hit a record high last year, and we’re seeing 350 times more search interest in "local" + "near me" than there was 10 years ago. 

When holiday shoppers are deciding where to shop–to buy items for multiple people or for last-minute gifts after shipping cutoffs have passed–how can you help them find your store?  .... " 

And discussed in Retailwire with expert comments:

Will Google take ‘going local’ to another level?    by Tom Ryan

Noting that it’s seeing 350 times more search interest in “local” and “near me” than there was 10 years ago, Google recently updated its localization tools available for retailers.

In a blog entry, Google noted that it offers two ways for merchants to drive traffic to stores: Local and Shopping campaigns.

Local campaigns drive traffic to stores through ads that appear on Google Search, Google Display Network, Google Maps and YouTube. Google writes, “You provide us with store locations, campaign budget, and ad assets. Using these inputs, Google’s machine learning technology will automatically optimize bids, ad placements, and asset combinations. The result aims to maximize store visits and promote your locations across Google properties and networks.”   .... "

More more at the links.

Autonomous Entities

Also a strong interest of mine, how close are we to building such systems and trusting them in every day life?  Certainly too, in the near term such systems will contain people and other agents that will require monitoring and cooperative behavior.

Creating Autonomous  Entities: Optimizing Systems of Subsystems
Posted by Bill Schmarzo in DSC

I continue to be infatuated with the potential of autonomous entities that self-monitor, self-diagnose, self-fix and self-learn without human intervention.  The vision of leveraging new digital technologies, growing reams of customer, product and operational data, and advanced analytics to create autonomous entities – farms, oil fields, factories, airports, theme parks, vehicles, ships, trains, etc. – seems like science fiction.

Fortunately, the “3 Horizons of Digital Transformation” framework provides a roadmap leveraging for 1) today’s market share grabbing operational excellence initiatives to 2) advance to tomorrow’s IoT-induced smart entities that seek to optimize across interrelated use case decisions that lead to 3) the future world of autonomous entities that optimize their operations across a holistic and comprehensive utility function without human intervention (see Figure 1).

This blog will explore how organizations can build out their digital, data and analytic capabilities today in order to strive towards that Horizon 3 autonomous entity vision of the future.  But it won’t be a big bang approach to creating a Horizon 3 autonomous entity.  Instead, it’ll require mastering the economic power of data and analytics.  .... "

Sustainability of LEDs

This came up in a project done during the earlier days of LED adoption.  Good piece here that makes  the case.  Another landfill scenario?

LED Technology Isn't All That Sustainable
Declan Barrett, SCB Contributor in SupplychainBrain

It’s now accepted among the business community that light-emitting diode (LED) technology is here to stay. It generates significant energy and cost savings, and represents a quick way for companies to positively impact their energy consumption and move toward a more sustainable future.

On the face of it, forming a business case for LED technology can seem very straightforward, as companies are usually replacing conventional, high-wattage lighting — requiring bulbs to be replaced regularly — with low-wattage, maintenance-free LED fittings.

Return-on-investment calculations for LED technology are frequently referred to among industry players as “no-brainers,” because companies generally recover the capital cost of making the transition in less than three years.

However, there are three big catches. Companies have to remember that this isn’t a one-shot deal, and finance departments are currently finding this out the hard way.


The first catch is maintenance, or lack thereof. It’s true that LED fixtures are maintenance-free, but that’s because they have no serviceable parts. They have a finite lifespan, composed as they are of pieces of electronic equipment much like a flatscreen TV.   .... "

Extending Battery Life for IOT

Waking up your IOT device when needed.

Chips for IOT Battery Life
UC San Diego News Center
Liezel Labios

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers have developed a power-saving chip that could significantly reduce or eliminate the need to replace batteries in Internet of Things (IoT) device and wearables. The new chip wakes a device only when it needs to communicate and perform its function, allowing it to stay dormant the rest of the time and reduce power use. The wake-up receiver is an ultra-low power chip that continuously looks for a specific radio signal, known as a wake-up signature, that tells it when to wake up the main device. Said UCSD’s Patrick Mercier, “By adding a wake-up receiver, we could improve the battery life of small IoT devices from months to years.”... "

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Japan to Use Blockchain Payments

Another indication of the wider adoption of Blockchain for tracking verified currency transfer.

JPMorgan Chase’s blockchain payments platform looks to be expanding to Japan, and soon.
Daniel Palmer in Coindesk

The U.S. banking multinational is eyeing a launch for its Interbank Information Network (IIN) in the East Asian nation possibly in January, executive director Daizaburo Sanai told Bloomberg in a report on Monday.

Built on Quorum, a permissioned blockchain based on ethereum and developed by JPMorgan, IIN is designed to enable member banks to exchange information in real time, allowing them to verify a payment has been approved. This, the bank says, helps reduce friction in international payments and ultimately leads to faster processing times.

The system is also a way of reducing the risk of money laundering, which is why over 80 Japanese banks have expressed an interest in joining IIN, Sanai said.  .... " 

When Autonomous Cars Arrive in the Car Chase

Dr. Lance Eliot spends considerable time and detail in examining how the autonomous car will be included in the classic California 'car chase'.    Also points to a number of his other examination of automobile/people behavioral conundrums, once we go driverless.   Imagine all the new movie plots.  Thought provoking. 

Cop Car Chases And AI Autonomous Cars in AITrends
Dr. Lance Eliot, CEO, Techbrium Inc. - techbrium.com - and is a regular contributor as our AI Trends Insider, and serves as the Executive Director of the Cybernetic AI Self-Driving Car Institute and has published 11 books on the future of driverless cars.

An AI self-driving car has the potential to be involved in a car chase thus the AI needs to be ready with responses and action plans.  ..... ' 

Follow Lance on Twitter @LanceEliot
Dr. Eliot can be reached at ai.selfdriving.cars@gmail.com

IBM Trials AI Soccer Commentary

Note similarity to the Wimbledon video clip management example.   As I commented there  I would also like this done as real-time assitistive commentary to business meetings.      Say determine who has said they will do and when.  Calculate costs and resources needed.  Calculate forecasts of measures towards goals involved over time.  Suggest possible unintended consequences and their contribution to risks.   And?

IBM Trials A.I. That Can Do Soccer Commentary
By Jeremy Kahn in Fortune

While doing play-by-play, the system tracks players in real-time and can identify passes, crosses and shots on goal. For pre-selected video highlights, it can also incorporate commentary based on statistics and standings drawn from a database, matching the information to whatever is happening in the video.

The system builds on work the company has already done in creating software that can automatically create highlight videos, honing in on the most exciting moments in sporting events such as tennis and golf.

The company is the official technology partner for several Grand Slam tennis tournaments, including Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, as well as the Masters PGA tournament.

"Soccer is a more challenging sport in terms of what can happen on the field and the number of players the system needs to track," said John R. Smith, head of A.I. Tech for IBM A.I. Research.  ... ' 

Analyzing Papers to Determine Tech Future

Somewhat weak attempt, but the general thought is interesting,  yet how well can  we predict without knowing future context?

We analyzed 16,625 papers to figure out where AI is headed next
Our study of 25 years of artificial-intelligence research suggests the era of deep learning may come to an end. by Karen Hao,   Technology Review

Almost everything you hear about artificial intelligence today is thanks to deep learning. This category of algorithms works by using statistics to find patterns in data, and it has proved immensely powerful in mimicking human skills such as our ability to see and hear. To a very narrow extent, it can even emulate our ability to reason. These capabilities power Google’s search, Facebook’s news feed, and Netflix’s recommendation engine—and are transforming industries like health care and education.

But though deep learning has single handedly thrust AI into the public eye, it represents just a small blip in the history of humanity’s quest to replicate our own intelligence. It’s been at the forefront of that effort for less than 10 years. When you zoom out on the whole history of the field, it’s easy to realize that it could soon be on its way out.    .... " 

Rise of Operational Analytics

Free eBook that looks to be of interest.  Clearly this is not a new thing,  was a primary part of our early training.   New methods have emerged though, and the computational power is now far   superior, data is much more manipulable.

Real-Time Decision

Making and the Rise of Operational Analytics
What You'll Learn From This eBook  from O'Reilly

The need for faster decision making and insight into mission-critical operations are defining a whole new category of real-time, data-driven companies. Data by itself has no value, rather how we leverage the data to make decisions and respond to events is where the value is created. This is where Operational Analytics is born — a key business capability enabled by modern data platforms. This book helps you understand how to leverage operational analytics to enable your business to embrace real-time decisions and ultra-fast, actionable insights ..... " 

Cloud Based CyberCrime Evidence Detection

Links to other approaches I have recently seen in this area.

CIT Researchers Develop System to Detect Cloud-Based Cybercrime Evidence
Purdue University News
John O'Malley

Researchers at the Purdue Polytechnic Institute's Department of Computer and Information Technology (CIT) have developed a forensic model that uses machine learning to collect digital evidence related to unlawful activities on cloud storage apps. The technology performs real-time identification and analysis of cybercrime-related incidents via transactions uploaded to the apps. An app user uploading a media file causes the system to implement deep learning models to scan images for cybercrime evidence and report illegal activities through a forensic evidence collection system. Cloud service providers can compile alert logs, block associated accounts, and notify law enforcement based on a cloud search warrant request. CIT's Fahad Salamh said, "It is important to automate the process of digital forensic and incident response in order to cope with advanced technology and sophisticated hiding techniques and to reduce the mass storage of digital evidence on cases involving cloud storage applications."  ... ' 

Developing Digital Twins

A good example of how models can be built from data to predict the behavior of systems.  Here a UAV as an example.

Developing a Digital Twin
Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (University of Texas at Austin)
December 4, 2019

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin's Oden Institute for Computational Engineering & Sciences, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Akselos, and Aurora Flight Sciences are developing a predictive digital twin for a custom-built unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The twin, described by Oden director Karen Willcox at the 2019 International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC19), uses physics-based models that capture the details of its behavior to represent each component of the UAV, as well as its integrated whole. The twin also analyzes on-board sensor data from the UAV and integrates that with the model to create real-time predictions of the health of the vehicle. The team paired computational modeling with machine learning to produce predictions that are reliable and explainable. Learning from data "brings together the methods and the approaches from the fields of data science, machine learning, and computational science and engineering, and directs them at high-consequence applications," said Willcox.... ' 

Monday, December 09, 2019

Calculating Entropy

As I read this and the paper noted at the link, this could be a very big deal.   Entropy is disorder .... and if we can accurately measure it, it leads to means of better models, measures, understanding and should lead to better results. Better measurement is always useful.

Zip Software Can Calculate the Complex Physical Quantity Called Entropy
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
December 4, 2019

Researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel have proposed using a standard compression algorithm like zip software to calculate entropy, a measure of the molecular disorder of a system. TAU's Roy Beck said this method could deliver insights on the physical characteristics of diseased proteins by calculating their entropy values. The technique stems from researchers' modeling of standard physical systems with comparable entropy values, which determined that the simulation data file size following compression rises and falls as entropy is expected to do. The researchers found they could convert the compressed file size into a usable physical entropy value which was valid for all examined systems. Beck said the algorithm would be simple to use on any computer for a wide variety of research.  ... ' 

A Billion Cameras Will be Watching

Inevitable.    But where is the data going and how is it used?  Does the installation of cameras consider future advances that will use that data in more invasive ways?  Such future use transparency does not now exist.

A World With a Billion Cameras Watching You Is Just Around the Corner
The Wall Street Journal  (With paywall) 
By Liza Lin; Newley Purnell
December 6, 2019

Industry researcher IHS Markit expects the number of cameras used for surveillance to rise above 1 billion by the end of 2021, marking an almost 30% increase from the 770 million such cameras in use today. China will continue to account for more than 50% of the total, but fast-growing, populous nations such as India, Brazil, and Indonesia also will help to drive growth in the sector. The global security camera industry has been spurred by developments in image quality and artificial intelligence (AI), technologies that allow better and faster facial recognition and video analytics. While “coverage of the surveillance market has focused heavily on China's massive deployments of cameras and AI technology,” observed IHS analyst Oliver Philippou, “future debate over mass surveillance is likely to concern America as much as China."... '

Saying No to Loyalty Offers

This came to mind as I shopped in the last week.   No clear offers for my time or data were offered.  Lots of  'apparent' offers that were easy to see through.  I often do a simple forward forecast of the offer to see that it costs, in my given context.  If it significantly changes my context, my reaction is a need to do a better forecast.   As it says below .. lack of perceived value ... but your perception should be sharpened.

Why do so many people say ‘no’ to retailer loyalty programs?  in Retailwire.   by Matthew Stern

A significant number of customers are just not interested in joining loyalty programs, according to a new study, a fact that to some suggests how retailers might engage that cohort.

A full 38 percent of consumers are not interested in joining loyalty programs due to their lack of perceived value, according to a study conducted by CFI Group and Radial. 

The study suggests that to get hesitant customers on board, retailers should offer faster delivery, personalized customer service options and more flexible returns. In the study, 63 percent of survey respondents said that the option of speedier delivery influences them to sign up for a loyalty program, 41 percent said that recognition as a loyalty member from a customer service associate would incentivize them to buy more and 55 percent said that multiple exchange options made them more likely to repeat purchase.  ... " 

Is Hanabi Card Game the Future Challenge for Human AI?

We readily reason and interact with incomplete information and the need to cooperate. Is this sample deceptively simple game challenge a way to model those kinds of human level contexts?  More links to supporting information below.

Google Brain and DeepMind researchers release AI benchmark based on card game Hanabi
in Venturebeat;  By  Kyle L Wiggers

What do Montezuma’s Revenge, chess, and shogi have in common? They’re considered to be “grand challenges” in artificial intelligence (AI) research — i.e., games that involve elements of complex, nearly human-level problem-solving. But as AI continues to make gains in these and other benchmarks once considered beyond the reach of machines, scientists at Google Brain (Google’s AI research division) and Google subsidiary DeepMind are turning their attention to a new domain: the card game Hanabi.

In a paper published on the preprint server Arxiv.org (“The Hanabi Challenge: A New Frontier for AI Research“)  , the team of researchers describes an open source framework — the Hanabi Learning Environment — designed to evaluate algorithmic advances and assess the performance of current state-of-the-art techniques. Hanabi is deceptively complex, they explain: Its two-to-five-person setting necessitates not only cooperative gameplay, but the ability to reason with one’s own mental state about opponents’ intentions..... " 

Business Transformation

All in?   Most importantly to what.

Why your next transformation should be ‘all in'
from McKinsey By Chris Bradley, Marc de Jong, and Wesley Walden

Business transformation programs have long focused on productivity improvement—taking a “better, faster, cheaper” approach to how the company works. And for good reason: disciplined efforts can boost productivity as well as accountability, transparency, execution, and the pace of decision making. When it comes to delivering fast results to the bottom line, it’s a proven recipe that works.

The problem is, it’s no longer enough. Digitization, advanced technologies, and other forms of tech-enabled disruption are upending industry after industry, pressuring incumbent companies not only to scratch out stronger financial returns but also to remake who and what they are as organizations.

It’s entirely possible for organizations to ramp up their bottom-line performance even as they secure game-changing portfolio wins that redefine what a company is and does.

Doing the first is hard enough. Tackling the second—changing what your company is and does—requires understanding where the value is shifting in your industry (and in others), spotting opportunities in the inflection points, and taking purposeful actions to seize them. The prospect of doing both jobs at once is sobering.

How realistic is it to think your company can pull it off? The good news is that our research demonstrates it’s entirely possible for organizations to ramp up their bottom-line performance even as they secure game-changing portfolio wins that redefine what a company is and does. What’s more, “all-in” transformations that focus on the organization’s performance and portfolio appear to load the dice in favor of transformational results. By developing these two complementary sets of muscles, companies can aspire to flex them in a coordinated way, using performance improvements to carry them to the next set of portfolio moves, which in turn creates momentum propelling the company to the next level. ...

Life on the power curve

If you want to see where you’re going, it’s best to start with a point of reference. Our choice, the power curve of economic profit, came out of a multiyear research effort that sought to establish empirical benchmarks for what really makes for success in strategy. To create Exhibit 1, we plotted the economic profit (the total profit after subtracting the cost of capital) earned by the world’s 2,393 largest nonfinancial companies from 2010 to 2014. The result shows a power curve that is extremely steep at both ends and flat in the middle. The average company in the middle three quintiles earned less than $50 million in economic profit. Meanwhile, those in the top quintile earned 30 times more than the average firm in our sample, capturing nearly 90 percent of all the economic profit created, or an average of $1.4 billion annually.  ...." 

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Amazon Wants to be Your Pharmacist (In two ways)

I just got an offer to do this.    Does not seem to be much different than what the big pharma retailers are doing.  No mention at all regarding if there was any discounting of costs involved.    Voice interaction mentioned ... and I am assuming regarding refills and requests to pharmacists.  The idea of reminding you means a notification is involved.    Connected with Giant Eagle for now.

Alexa Can Now Refill Your Prescription and Remind You to Take Your Medicine    By Eric Hal Schwartz  in Voicebot.ai

The new skill combines Alexa’s reminders with their prescription information. For now, only Giant Eagle Pharmacy can operate the skill, but the company plans to add more pharmacies soon. Alexa account owners must set up and connect the Giant Eagle Pharmacy skill to their Alexa profile. They can then ask the voice assistant to manage their medication, setting up reminders for taking the medicine and enabling Alexa to be able to answer if the user asks what medication they are supposed to take when they hear the alarm. Connecting to the pharmacy also allows users to request a prescription refill by asking Alexa.

“We’re thrilled to help our Giant Eagle Pharmacy patients more easily integrate prescription management into their everyday lives with the introduction of the Giant Eagle Pharmacy skill,” Giant Eagle senior vice president of pharmacy Jim Tsipakis said in a statement. “We’re passionate about making care as accessible as possible for our patients, and this unique collaboration with Amazon has enabled us to utilize voice technology to do just that.”

Amazon made a point of highlighting that Alexa is HIPAA compliant and as secure as possible. Accessing the skill requires a voice profile for Alexa to recognize as well as a passcode. The records of interactions with the skill are also redacted to protect the privacy of patients and users can delete them like any other Alexa recording. After a summer with so many voice assistants facing privacy complaints, the focus on security regarding medical information is likely necessary to forestall others from raising concerns. ... "


PillPack by Amazon Pharmacy

PillPack pre-sorts your daily meds, vitamins, and supplements by time of day, and delivers right to your door every month. Our service and shipping are free — you only pay for your medication. .... " 

In this case:
Makes a strong point of making pharma interaction simpler.
No mention of 'assistant' or voice interaction, or Alexa Pharmacy
No mention of an existing pharmacy, like Giant Eagle handling the interaction. .... "

Noki Bell Labs Prize for Processor Solving Optimization Problems

Note that the method combines quantum and classical methods in processors to solve discrete optimization problems.  These kinds of problems can be computationally very difficult and are commonly encountered.

"...Nokia Bell Labs Prize awarded to new processor technology pioneered by student and professor team from University of California at Berkeley
Press Release Nokia Bell Labs Prize awarded to new processor technology pioneered by student and professor team from University of California at Berkeley 6 December 2019 Murray Hill, New Jersey 

– Nokia today announced this year’s winners:

Nokia Bell Labs Prize awarded to new processor technology pioneered by student and professor team from University of California at Berkeley
 6 December 2019

Murray Hill, New Jersey – Nokia today announced this year’s Nokia Bell Labs Prize, the global competition to recognize game-changing innovations that attracted more than 250 applications from 31 countries around the world.  The 2019 prize has been awarded to a student and Professor team from the University of California at Berkeley. PhD student Tianshi Wang and Professor Jaijeet Roychowdhury received $100,000 for winning the competition, and the opportunity to pursue an expanded collaboration with Nokia Bell Labs.

The pair won the prize for their work on “A Classic Spin on Quantum Computing." Their innovation is in a new type of processor element that will be significantly more efficient in computing the answers to discrete optimization problems. Their innovation will complement conventional digital processors (CPUs and GPUs) by efficiently tackling a wide range of computationally hard problems of importance in many diverse areas, including 5G communication systems; complex tasks in planning, scheduling and control; and even the discovery of new drugs.  .... " 

Flight Simulator Eye Tracking

More advances in eye tracking and associated  uses:

Tracking the Eye of the Pilot
ETH Zurich
Michael Keller
November 25, 2019

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Swiss International Air Lines, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and others have developed and tested eye-tracking software to train pilots. The Instructor Assistant System (iAssyst) software lets instructors analyze the gaze patterns of trainees in the cockpit of a flight simulator to see how they monitor the automated systems of modern passenger planes. iAssyst combines video, audio, and simulator recordings, while displaying pilots' gaze patterns. iAssyst permitted trainers to analyze pilots' flying performance with greater precision, enabling instructors to better evaluate the causes of potential pilot errors, and appropriately adjust the training regimen. ETH researchers Martin Raubal and David Rudi said the software also could be used for medical training. ... " 

Humans Seeing Through Animal Eyes


Humans Closer to Seeing Through the Eyes of Animals
University of Exeter (U.K.)
December 3, 2019

Researchers at Australia's University of Queensland (UQ) and the University of Exeter in the U.K. have developed a software framework designed to significantly improve humans' ability to analyze complex visual information as animals would. The Quantitative Color Pattern Analysis (QCPA) framework is a kit of digital image processing techniques and analytical tools. Its use of digital photos means it can adapt to nearly any habitat, using technologies ranging from commercially available cameras to full-spectrum imaging systems. UQ's Karen Cheney said the framework is sufficiently flexible to explore the color patterns and natural surroundings of many organisms. Said Cheney, "We're helping people—wherever they are—to cross the boundaries between human and animal visual perception."  .... '

P&G Rolls out AI Toothbrush

Overkill or real value and engagement?  Good narrow context. The data about use should be interesting.

P&G rolls out $220 toothbrush with artificial intelligence

Procter & Gamble Co. is rolling out the Oral-B Genius X, a $220 electric toothbrush that employs artificial intelligence to let users track where they have brushed.

By Barrett J. Brunsman  – Staff reporter, Cincinnati Business Courier

P&G consumer research indicates that most people miss certain areas of the mouth, use either too much pressure or don’t brush long enough, so a smartphone app provides personalized details for each user and notes areas that require additional brushing.

The Cincinnati-based maker of consumer goods such as Crest toothpaste (NYSE: PG) said the Oral-B Genius X uses sensors to monitor brushing pressure, keep track of brushing time, and detect the brush’s location and orientation.

Data is sent to the Oral-B app, which leverages the Genius X artificial intelligence algorithm to identify in real-time where users are brushing.

The algorithm, based on more than 2,000 brushing behaviors from around the world, can assess individual brushing style and coach a user to achieve better brushing habits, P&G stated.

For example, the app can indicate where in the mouth too much pressure was applied, which could damage gums. The app also can show which teeth need extra brushing. ... '

Emotion Sensing Empathetic Robot in Space

An empath assistant.   Will this be a function of all future assistant models as well.  Or a dangerous, too close to home idea?   Good experiment in a closed context.

Emotion-sensing robot headed to International Space Station to aid astronauts' mental health
An intelligent robot equipped with emotion-sensing voice detectors is headed to the International Space Station after launching in Florida, becoming the latest artificial intelligence-powered astronaut workmate in orbit.

Key points:
CIMON is built with a raft of software designed to enable emotion recognition

It will test technologies that could prove crucial for future crewed missions in deep space, where long-term isolation poses risks to astronauts' mental health

Engineers say the concept was inspired by a 1940s comic series about a robot named Professor Simon

The Crew Interactive Mobile Companion 2, or CIMON 2, is a spherical droid with microphones, cameras and a slew of software to enable emotion recognition.

The droid was among 2,585kg of supplies and experiments aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, whose launch had been delayed from Wednesday (local time) due to high winds. .... "

Saturday, December 07, 2019

History of Natural Language Processing

Interesting historical piece with hits about how things evolve.

Andrey Markov & Claude Shannon Counted Letters to Build the First Language-Generation Models

By Oscar Schwartz

This is part three of a six-part series on the history of natural language processing.
In 1913, the Russian mathematician Andrey Andreyevich Markov sat down in his study in St. Petersburg with a copy of Alexander Pushkin’s 19th century verse novel, Eugene Onegin, a literary classic at the time. Markov, however, did not start reading Pushkin’s famous text. Rather, he took a pen and piece of drafting paper, and wrote out the first 20,000 letters of the book in one long string of letters, eliminating all punctuation and spaces. Then he arranged these letters in 200 grids (10-by-10 characters each) and began counting the vowels in every row and column, tallying the results..... "

Google Drops Support for Explorer Version of Google Glass

Like Microsoft, Google seems to be pointing their wearable VR to focused business applications. They are dropping updates for the explorer/consumer version, but for now will continue their Enterprise system.

Google is ending support for the Explorer Edition of Glass
It's rolling out a final update for the wearable.

By Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon  .... "

Google DeepMind Links ID with Decision Process

Quite an interesting claim.   The use of deep learning methods to identify problems using data and then applying process embedded solutions.   Here in the area of medicine:  Diagnosing 3D retinal scans.  The method being more transparent than simple deep learning methods.   And much closer to addressing process models and applications.  Will this solve the 'black box' (non transparency) problem of neural AI?  To be seen, but I like the idea.

Google DeepMind might have just solved the “Black Box” problem in medical AI

Deep Mind’s study published last week in Nature Medicine, presenting their Artificial Intelligence (AI) product capable of diagnosing 50 ophthalmic conditions from 3D retinal OCT scans. Its performance is on par with the best retinal specialists and superior to some human experts.

This AI product’s accuracy and range of diagnoses are certainly impressive. It is also the first AI model to reach expert level performance with 3D diagnostic scans. From a clinical point-of-view, however, what is even more groundbreaking is the ingenious way in which this AI system operates and mimics the real-life clinical decision process. It addresses the “Black Box” issue which has been one of the biggest barriers to the integration of AI technologies in healthcare.

DeepMind’s AI system addressed the “Black Box” by creating a framework with two separate neural networks. Instead of training one single neural network to identify pathologies from medical images, which would require a lot of labelled data per pathology, their framework decouples the process into two: 1) Segmentation (identify structures on the images) 2) Classification (analyze the segmentation and come up with diagnoses and referral suggestions)  .... "

Friday, December 06, 2019

India Developing Blockchain Strategy

Expect to see more of this, both method, application emphasis and regulation, and likely smart contact approaches.

India is developing a national blockchain strategy 
November 27, 2019 
by Yogita Khatri in TheBlock

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is preparing a national blockchain strategy 

The move has been taken considering the potential of blockchain and different uses cases, said a minister

Banking, finance, and cybersecurity are some of the sectors being explored for blockchain application 

India’s government is set to embrace blockchain through the adoption of a national strategy focused on the emerging technology   ... " 

Identifying Invasive Species

An area, forestry, where we did much predictive analysis as to yield and harvest.  Invasive species have increased in their danger.  Both in forestry and horticulturally.  See a number of previous posts regard Forestry analytics applications, tag below.

Can We Identify Invasive Species Before They Invade?
Scientific American
Zach St. George
December 5, 2019

Researchers at the University of Georgia, Dartmouth College, and Western Carolina University have developed models for predicting patterns of damage by invasive insects that attack North American trees. The researchers focused on 58 non-native insects that feed on one or more of 49 species of North American conifers. The researchers compiled a database of the trees' ecological traits, and the native and non-native insects that consume them; they found a crucial relationship between the trees most damaged by non-native insects and those the insects fed on in their native ecosystem. Another model found shade-tolerant and drought-intolerant trees were most susceptible to non-native insect damage, while a third model showed that conifers possessing defenses against native insects were more likely to tolerate invasions of closely related non-native insects. In combination, the researchers said, these models can retroactively forecast which non-native species will become damaging, with more than 90% accuracy, so they are confident the model can predict potential damage by future insect invaders. ... " 

Robotic Blood Vessel Instrument Guidance

Seen this movie.  Pgressin this area continues to evolve

Instrument Guidance Through Deep, Convoluted Blood Vessel Networks
Polytechnique Montreal
December 3, 2019

Researchers at the Polytechnique Montreal Nanorobotics Laboratory in Canada have developed a robotic platform that can guide endovascular surgery through deeper, difficult-to-access blood vessel networks than previously possible. The Fringe Field Navigation (FFN) method taps the magnetic field that the superconducting magnet of a clinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner produces. The platform utilizes a robotic table positioned within the fringe field by the scanner; this table moves on all axes to position and orient the patient, based on the direction in which a surgical instrument must be guided through the body. The table automatically shifts direction and orientation to position the subject for successive stages of the instrument's journey, with FFN mapping the directional forces of the scanner's magnetic field.  .... "

Deep Reinforcement Learning

Interesting piece, ultimately gets quite technical, but worth putting away for future consideration. Especially for real time learning and adapting of autonomous systems.

Berkeley Bair Newsletter (Introduction) 
Data-Driven Deep Reinforcement Learning
Aviral Kumar    Dec 5, 2019

One of the primary factors behind the success of machine learning approaches in open world settings, such as image recognition and natural language processing, has been the ability of high-capacity deep neural network function approximators to learn generalizable models from large amounts of data. Deep reinforcement learning methods, however, require active online data collection, where the model actively interacts with its environment. This makes such methods hard to scale to complex real-world problems, where active data collection means that large datasets of experience must be collected for every experiment – this can be expensive and, for systems such as autonomous vehicles or robots, potentially unsafe. In a number of domains of practical interest, such as autonomous driving, robotics, and games, there exist plentiful amounts of previously collected interaction data which, consists of informative behaviours that are a rich source of prior information. Deep RL algorithms that can utilize such prior datasets will not only scale to real-world problems, but will also lead to solutions that generalize substantially better. A data-driven paradigm for reinforcement learning will enable us to pre-train and deploy agents capable of sample-efficient learning in the real-world.  .... " 

Reconstructing Hidden Movement from Video

Depending on the quality of this, consider the implications in many areas.  We did lots in the area of video understanding, could have used this.  Below description and videos.

MIT CSAIL’s AI can reconstruct hidden movement from video footage alone  By Kyle Wiggers in Venturebeat

Seeing around corners and through walls is old hat for AI and machine learning algorithms, which are at the heart of systems (some of which use lasers) that produce images outside a sight line. But what about the much more challenging task of reconstructing hidden objects without special equipment?

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory say they’ve developed exactly that. Their system, which they lay out in a preprint paper published this week, can reconstruct hidden videos from the shadows and reflections on an observed pile of clutter. With nothing more than a video camera switched on in a room, it’s capable of “seeing” around corners even when those corners (and live-action performances) fall outside the camera’s field of view.  .... "

Microsoft Uses IOTs with Advanced Features

Impressive direction by Microsoft,with useful details.

Microsoft doubles down on Internet of Things with new features to simplify building connected devices       By  Nat Levy  

Microsoft today announced a series of new Internet of Things tools and features to make it easier for customers to build connected devices and run them on the tech giant’s cloud platform.

The uniting theme behind the new features is to make IoT, a futuristic but challenging technology, more accessible. IoT has reached a tipping point, with more mainstream customers flocking to the technology, Sam George, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Azure IoT, said in a briefing with reporters.

“You’ve seen a bunch of innovators and early adopters picking up IoT,” George said. “And what we see is that now many of the early majority customers are starting to show up. And the conversations that we have with the early majority customers are much different than we had with the innovators.”

George cited a recent IoT survey from Microsoft that found 88 percent of the business owners saw the technology as critical to their future success. However, nearly half of them cited a lack of skilled workers to build IoT solutions as a hurdle to embracing the technology. That’s a big reason why simplicity and accessibility has become a focal point of Microsoft’s IoT efforts.

Here’s a look at some of the key announcements from Microsoft this morning. George published a blog post with a full rundown of the new features. .... "

Notable Extensions to Google Assistant: Photos and Notes

Notable the ability to link to note taking capabilities, like Google Keep.  Searching specifics in podcasts also very useful for business application support.    Assistant has also become very good a working with display of photos.  Will take a look.

Google Assistant can now share photos, search podcasts, and make notes with third-party apps  By Khari Johnson in Venturebeat

Google Assistant on smartphones, smart displays, and smart speakers is getting a series of upgrades today, like the ability to create notes and lists with third-party apps and search podcasts by topic.

Google Assistant on smartphones is also gaining the ability to share photos with your voice so you can say “Hey Google, show me photos from last weekend.” Once Google Photos results appear on your screen, you can choose the photos you want to send and tell Google Assistant to send them to one of your contacts. Last fall, Google Nest smart displays got the ability to use voice alone to share photos that appear on the device’s digital photo frame or in voice search results after users say things like “Hey Google, show me my photos from San Diego.”   ...." 

Thursday, December 05, 2019

(Updated) 6 Degree Intelligence

.... Have taken a further look at this, impressive.  A way to integrate analytical methods with human expertise using graph analytics. ....

Brought to my attention, note in particular the use of graph theory and strong data visualization. 

6 Degree Intelligence

It’s getting harder to find hidden assets and identities

6 Degree Intelligence develops solutions and tools to combat financial crime through actionable insights that quickly identify unknown risks beyond first-degree known relationships.   

Powered by SAS technology, 6 Degree Intelligence applies sophisticated Network Graph Theory and Link Analysis to enable investigators to search far deeper and faster for connections to potential risk and opportunity to commit financial crime.   .... " 

Short Video Intro:    https://youtu.be/W86mRcTJpyo 

Microsoft Will Read Text from Office Apps

Like to see this direction for mobile interaction, starting to use voice as part of a mobile and voice experience for much used 365 office apps.

Microsoft's redesigned Office mobile apps read text out loud
In Outlook, Play My Emails will let you listen to your inbox like a podcast.By Christine Fisher, @cfisherwrites in Engadget

Microsoft just unveiled redesigned versions of its Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel and PowerPoint mobile apps. Designed with Microsoft's Fluent Design system, the changes are meant to "take mobile productivity to the next level," Microsoft wrote in a blog post ..... '

Cracking the Code to Mobile Productivity
Our global journey to rethink, redesign, and align our mobile experiences
By Jon Friedman .....   Microsoft .... '

Kroger Dark Kitchens

Been following Kroger for some time on their establishment of restaurants in stores, and  partially  prepared foods and 'food kits' and preparation methods.

Will Kroger’s dark kitchens cook up something good?  in Retailwire  by Matthew Stern

When customers order pre-made meals from Kroger in the future, the food that shows up at their door might not have ever seen the inside of an operation owned by the nation’s largest supermarket operator. But if the hype about dark kitchens is true, the orders should get there lightning fast.

Kroger announced that it would begin piloting the use of dark kitchens to facilitate faster food delivery with a service called Kroger Delivery Kitchen in three urban and suburban U.S. markets. The vendor responsible for the enabling technology, ClusterTruck, has been in operation since 2016 with its own menu and purports to be able to get food to customers within 30 minutes of its being ordered and seven minutes of the completion of its preparation. Kroger Delivery Kitchen will offer customers multiple menus of food selections and will not have any service or delivery fees attached. ... " 

Alexa Commands for Privacy/Transparency

Further look at privacy, by asking what has been heard.

Amazon makes Alexa more transparent with ‘Tell me what you heard’ feature   By Allison Matyus in Digitaltrends

Amazon announced privacy and transparency improvements for its Alexa assistant during the

Updates to Alexa include the addition of “Alexa, tell me what you heard,” which rolls out today, and “Alexa, why did you do that?” which comes later this year.

By asking Alexa what was heard, Alexa reads back your most recent voice request. Asking Alexa “Why did you do that?” will prompt Alexa to explain how she came up with her response to your last voice request.

Also beginning today is an auto delete option for Alexa customers. You can now opt in to have your Alexa voice recordings that are older than three months up to 18 months automatically deleted on an ongoing basis.  .... "

Amazon Sampling Plan Ends

An idea I though was a good one.  If it gathered the right data and understood how to use that data.  Sounds like Amazon could have made this work.

Amazon decides it has sampled enough  by Tom Ryan in Retailwire.

Amazon.com is shutting down a program offering free product samples to consumers as a paid advertising service for CPG brands. The program drew controversy because the sample choices were based on Amazon’s data on individual customers. 

Under the program that was launched at the start of the year, advertisers paid $2 per sample, on top of the actual cost of each product, to send shoppers free products included with their orders.

According to the program’s landing page, the samples were “like Amazon’s product recommendations, but real.” Participating brands included Folgers, Maybelline, Dunkin’, Kind and Quaker. The program was available to both Prime and non-Prime members.   ...."

Bosch SoundSee Sensor Predicts Future

Another example of the linking of sensors to predictive decision making.

Bosch SoundSee combines deep learning with mobile microphone arrays to identify problems on the ISS before they happen in IEEE Spectrum By Evan Ackerman

We’ve all seen this moment in the movies—on board, say, a submarine or a spaceship, the chief engineer will suddenly cock their ear to listen to the background hum and say “something’s wrong.” Bosch is hoping to teach a computer how to do that trick in real life, and is going all the way to the International Space Station to test its technology.

Considering the amount of data that’s communicated through non-speech sound, humans do a remarkably poor job of leveraging sound information. We’re very good at reacting to sounds (especially new or loud sounds) over relatively short timescales, but beyond that, our brains are great at just classifying most ongoing sounds as “background” and ignoring them. Computers, which have the patience we generally lack, seem like they’d be much better at this, but the focus of most developers has been on discrete sound events (like smart home devices detecting smoke alarms or breaking glass) rather than longer term sound patterns.

Why should those of us who aren’t movie characters care about how patterns of sound change over time? The simple reason is because our everyday lives are full of machines that both make a lot of noise and tend to break expensively from time to time. Right now, I’m listening to my washing machine, which makes some weird noises. I don’t have a very good idea of whether those weird noises are normal weird noises, and more to the point, I have an even worse idea whether it was making the same weird noises the last time I ran it. Knowing whether a machine is making weirder noises than it used to be, could potentially clue me in to an emerging problem, one that I could solve through cheap preventative maintenance rather than an expensive repair later on.

Bosch, the German company that almost certainly makes a significant percentage of the parts in your car as well as appliances, power tools, industrial systems, and a whole bunch of other stuff, is trying to figure out how they can use deep learning to identify and track the noises that machines make over time. The idea is to be able to identify subtle changes in sound to warn of pending problems before they happen. And one group of people very interesting in getting advanced warning of problems are the astronauts floating around in the orbiting bubble of life that is the ISS. .... "

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

AI to Hit the Wall?

Depends on your expectations.  If you want 'General, Human AI  (AGI)' you could expect some long delays,  but there will be advances along the way.   We waited since the 80s and made things very powerful along the way.  The current 'magic' solutions do seem to be remarkable, but quite constrained, but will they show us fundamentally new paths?

Facebook's Head of AI Says the Field Will Soon ‘Hit the Wall’ in Wired
Jerome Pesenti is encouraged by progress in artificial intelligence, but sees the limits of the current approach to deep learning.

Jerome Pesenti leads the development of artificial intelligence at one of the world’s most influential—and controversial—companies. As VP of artificial intelligence at Facebook, he oversees hundreds of scientists and engineers whose work shapes the company’s direction and its impact on the wider world.

AI is fundamentally important to Facebook. Algorithms that learn to grab and hold our attention help make the platform and its sister products, Instagram and WhatsApp, stickier and more addictive. And, despite some notable AI flops, like the personal assistant M, Facebook continues to use AI to build new features and products, from Instagram filters to augmented reality apps. .... "

Qualcomm Builds a Better Fingerprint Reader

Interesting out of Qualcomm.   The size is noted,  need to see it downsized.

Qualcomm builds a bigger, better in-screen fingerprint reader
Never miss your fingerprint scanner again with this giant new sensor.     By Ron Amadeo

In-screen fingerprint readers were the standard form of Android biometrics on 2019 flagships, and in 2020 we'll start seeing the second-generation versions of this technology. Qualcomm is hosting its big tech show this week, and one of the first announcements is the new version of its "3D Sonic Max" ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint sensor. The second-gen sensor is absolutely huge. Qualcomm says it's 17 times larger than the previous version.

In-screen fingerprint readers offer the benefit of being invisible and under the screen, and they can go on the front of the device while still allowing for an all-screen smartphone design. Being on the front lets you activate the fingerprint reader while the phone is on a desk, without picking it up. The downside is that there's not tactile guidance for where your finger should go. There's just a big, smooth pain of glass, and if you miss the fingerprint sensor, you're going to fail to unlock your phone. For in-screen fingerprint readers, bigger is better, since a wider target area means less of a chance you miss the invisible reader..... "

Blockchain not Bitcoin

Likely approach for approaches that address problems like secure identification and control.

 US Military’s DARPA Program Hops on the ‘Blockchain Not Bitcoin’ Bandwagon
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking to get a better understanding of permissionless blockchains, but Bitcoin does not appear to be invited to the party.

To achieve this enhanced insight into blockchain technology, the US Department of Defense agency has sent out a request for information (RFI) on permissionless distributed consensus protocols, specifically touching on aspects that have been inadequately explored.

One area DARPA is seeking to get a better handle of is how permissionless blockchains can function in the absence of monetary incentives. With permissionless distributed protocols such as Bitcoin offering compensation to participants (miners) in the form of newly-created coins for their work in adding blocks and ensuring the security of the network, DARPA is interested in alternative methods that can be employed.

For the agency, it is mandatory that these techniques do not offer participants incentives in monetary form, cryptocurrency or otherwise. However, other transfers of value can be considered, such as offering participants access to computing resources..... "

The Further Value of Demo Data

At first I didn't understand the claim being made here, but after I understood it,  remembered we had done sometime similar for a manufacturing application,  but this takes it further yet.   This still requires that the program you have will likely need to be updated as the system evolves.   And sometimes that can be time consuming too, so you are betting on that as well.   Still a good idea to consider, and a kind of collaboration with the users and decision makers, forcing them into earlier involvement.

Demo Data as Code
Automation helps collaboration.   By Thomas A. Limoncelli

Engineers are often asked to generate demo data for various reasons. It may seem like this one-time task can be done manually and forgotten. Automating the process, however, has many benefits, and supports the inevitable need for iteration, collaboration, and future updates. When data is treated as code, you can leverage techniques from modern software engineering practices.

Many years ago I was at a company that needed to produce a demo version of its software. The demo would essentially be the company's software preloaded with fictional data. Salespeople would follow a script that would walk the customer through the features of the product. The script involved finding various problems and resolving them with the ease that only this product could provide.

Marketing would create the script, and engineering would create a dataset that would support the story.

Using live customer data in the demo was not an option because that would be a privacy violation. Even so, no one customer dataset could support the entire demo script.

This project had many red flags. Engineers were expected to work on it "in their spare time." That misunderstands and devalues engineering work. When nontechnical managers don't understand something, they often assume it is easy to do and, thus, obviously shouldn't take very long.

More worrisome was the fact that this "spare time" theory was supported by the incorrect assumption that the project was a one-time thing. That is, the data would be generated once and be perfect on the first try; the engineers could then wash their hands of it and return to their regularly scheduled work.

This assumption was intended to be a compliment to the engineers, but, "Oh, please, this will just take an afternoon!" is not a tenet of good project management.

I don't know about you, but I've never produced something for marketing without being asked for at least one revision or adjustment. This is a creative collaboration between two groups of people. Any such project requires many iterations and experiments before the results are good or good enough.
  ... "

Coke Rewards Failure

But not failure to learn.  We did not do enough to understand and document precisely why we failed.

Coke CEO: Why we have an award for projects that fail   By Catherine Clifford

Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by Dr. John S. Pemberton in Atlanta, Georgia. That year, sales of the drink totaled $50. In fiscal year 2018, The Coca-Cola Company reported $31.9 billion in sales.

Today, the company has more than 700,000 employees and over 500 beverage brands — from Fanta and Minute Maid to Honest Tea and Odwalla to SmartWater and Dasani — sold in 200 countries.

When a company becomes to be so massive, it can be hard to keep the creativity and innovation that helped it grow in the first place. And that’s largely because with so much success people begin to fear failure, according to Coca-Cola Co. CEO James Quincey.

“Fear of failure is often the biggest hurdle for innovation in large organizations,” Quincey said in a recent Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBRAS) report commissioned by Mastercard.  ... .... "