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Friday, January 31, 2020

Online Communications of the ACM

I was reminded that there is an online version of the CACM magazine, which contains many of its articles,   Here it is for the February issue.

Why is Amazon Dominating the Market?

Amazon continues to thrive.   What is driving them in retail?

These 3 Numbers Explain Why Amazon Is Dominating Everything Right Now

Amazon reported earnings on Thursday, and clearly investors were happy. In after-hours trading, the company's stock was up 12 percent at one point, adding $100 billion in market cap and pushing the company past a $1 trillion valuation.  ... 

Amazon's best-ever quarter is about these three things:   By Jason Aten in Inc.

Hint:  (Prime memberships, AWS Cloud Usage, Holiday Season numbers)

Useful details at the link. ...

DNA Based Archival Storage

Seems a strange idea, but its a look at forms of data, like DNA and the needs for computing.  A form of biomimicry.

$25M Project Will Advance DNA-Based Archival Data Storage
Georgia Tech Research Horizons
By John Toon
January 16, 2020

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) will co-develop exabyte-scalable DNA-based molecular data storage using a $25-million grant from the U.S. Defense Department’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) Molecular Information Storage program. The objective is to substantially shrink the size, weight, and power requirements for archival data storage through the proposed Scalable Molecular Archival Software and Hardware project. Biotechnology developer Twist Bioscience will develop a silicon-based DNA synthesis platform that "writes" data-carrying DNA strands, for which Roswell Biotechnologies will develop molecular electronic DNA reader chips. The University of Washington and Microsoft will provide system architecture, data analysis, and coding expertise, with GTRI overseeing fabrication.  ... " 

Top ACM Technews Articles of 2019

A group I have written for for over a decade, and who I have a member of for much longer.   Kept me up to date in many ways.  They gather, distribute and expand lots of emergent tech ideas that use computing,  and I have been glad to make a small contribution.  Its also much more that just academic computer science, its the application in real business.   Here is an overview of last year.  I suggest joining, it is well worth the cost.

Top ACM TechNews articles of 2019
By Lawrence M. Fisher
January 29, 2020

Three times each week, ACM provides timely coverage of established and emerging areas of computer science, the latest trends in information technology, and related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics news to a global audience of more than 110,000 readers, in the form of ACM TechNews . A benefit of ACM membership, ACM TechNews is assembled from hundreds of relevant English-language technology publications from all over the world, in order to help keep ACM's members informed on a wide range of technology topics.

ACM tracks readers' usage of the dozen or so links in each ACM TechNews edition that provide access to the full texts of each of ACM TechNews article abstract, in order to stay on top of readers' topic preferences. We use that capability to dig through the data to determine which of the more than 2,500 article abstracts delivered during the course of 2019 were most popular with readers, based on the numbers of clicks each received.  ... " 

Swarming Defense Drones

Drones by their more flexible nature are creating new options with different kinds of precision, scale and application.   Here a Defense example.

DARPA is testing drones it can launch from a plane—then collect mid-air in MIT Technology Review

The news: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has conducted the first test of a new type of drone that can be launched from a plane in a swarm then recovered in mid-air when it's done its job.

How it works: A military transport or bomber plane releases a series of drones in rapid succession, they carry out the task designated to them (surveillance, for example), then they return to the plane, docking on a line before being winched in. It looks a bit like the airborne refueling process.  ... "

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Aiming to Dupe AntiFraud Systems: Digital Doppelgangers

Quite an interesting discovery.  Constructing fake user profiles to facilitate fraud.   Goes back to the need for stronger means of constructing foolproof real identities, probably cryptographically determined.  'Fraud on Demand'?  The linked-to article contains considerable detail on the current activity here.   Doppelgangers vs Digital Twins?     'Synthetic Identities'

Dark Web's Doppelgängers Aim to Dupe Antifraud Systems  By Paul Marks

Communications of the ACM, January 2020, Vol. 63 No. 2, Pages 16-18

Deep within the encrypted bowels of the dark Web, beyond the reach of regular search engines, hackers and cybercriminals are brazenly trading a new breed of digital fakes. Yet unlike AI-generated deepfake audio and video—which embarrass the likes of politicians and celebrities by making them appear to say or do things they never would—this new breed of imitators is aimed squarely at relieving us of our hard-earned cash.

Comprising highly detailed fake user profiles known as digital doppelgängers, these entities convincingly mimic numerous facets of our digital device IDs, alongside many of our tell-tale online behaviors when conducting transactions and e-shopping. The result: credit card fraudsters can use these doppelgängers to attempt to evade the machine-learning-based anomaly-detecting antifraud measures upon which banks and payments service providers have come to rely.

It is proving to be big criminal business: many tens of thousands of doppelgängers are now being sold on the dark Web. With corporate data breaches fueling further construction of what market analyst Juniper Research calls "synthetic identities," Juniper estimates online payment fraud losses will jump to $48 billion by 2023, more than double the $22 billion lost in 2018.

The existence of a doppelgänger dark market was first discovered in February 2019 by security researcher Sergey Lozhkin and his colleagues at Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based security software house. His team was carrying out their regular threat analyses on several underground dark forums, "when we discovered a private forum where Russian cybercriminals were hosting information about something called the Genesis Store," Lozhkin says.  .... " 

Avast Shutters Jumpshot

Followed this because of recent revelations and our look at data as an asset.  At one time had been using Avast.

Avast shutters data-selling subsidiary amid user outrage
Users were not happy to learn "security" software sold their browsing habits.

One of the world's largest antivirus providers is ending a program that collected and sold users' Web browsing data a few days after media reports exposed the platform.

Avast CEO Ondrej Vlcek announced late Thursday the end of the data-selling subsidiary, known as Jumpshot. Writing in an open letter, he said that he and the company's board "have decided to terminate the Jumpshot data collection and wind down Jumpshot's operations, with immediate effect."

The pervasive operations of Jumpshot came to light earlier this week following reporting by Vice Motherboard and PCMag. Jumpshot described itself as "the only company that unlocks walled garden data... to provide marketers with unparalleled visibility, analytical insights and a more comprehensive understanding of the online customer journey that delivers a highly competitive advantage."  ... " 

McKinsey on Future of Work

Some good comments on future of work.

Getting Practical About the Future of Work
January 2020 | Article
By Bryan Hancock, Kate Lazaroff-Puck, and Scott Rutherford

Article (PDF-689KB)

What story will people tell about your organization over the next ten years? Will they celebrate an enthusiastic innovator that thrived by adapting workforce skills and ways of working to the demands of the new economy? Or will they blame poor financial or operational results, unhappy employees, and community disruption on a short-sighted or delayed talent strategy?

Our modeling shows that by 2030, up to 30 to 40 percent of all workers in developed countries may need to move into new occupations or at least upgrade their skill sets significantly. Research further suggests that skilled workers in short supply will become even scarcer. Some major organizations are already out front on this issue. Amazon recently pledged $700 million to retrain 100,000 employees for higher-skilled jobs in technology (for example, training warehouse employees to become basic data analysts). JPMorgan Chase made a five-year, $350 million commitment to develop technical skills in high demand—in part targeting its own workers. And Walmart has already invested more than $2 billion in wages and training programs, including Walmart Pathways, which educates entry-level employees about the company’s business model and helps workers develop valuable soft skills.1

Any company that doesn’t join the early adopters and address its underlying talent needs may fall short of its digital aspirations. Equally important, senior managers may miss opportunities to work collaboratively with employees to create a prosperous and fulfilling future for all stakeholders—the communities where the company operates, its workforce, and the wider society that ultimately sanctions its activities.  ... " 

Fuzzing for Testing Security Vulnerabilities

Of interest from Communications of the ACM:

"Fuzzing: Hack, Art, and Science," by Patrice Godefroid, recommends fuzz testing to detect security vulnerabilities in software. Godefroid describes three core fuzzing techniques in an original video :

Fuzzing: Hack, Art, and Science   By Patrice Godefroid   (Abstract) 
Communications of the ACM, February 2020, Vol. 63 No. 2, Pages 70-76

Fuzzing, or fuzz testing, is the process of finding security vulnerabilities in input-parsing code by repeatedly testing the parser with modified, or fuzzed, inputs.35 Since the early 2000s, fuzzing has become a mainstream practice in assessing software security. Thousands of security vulnerabilities have been found while fuzzing all kinds of software applications for processing documents, images, sounds, videos, network packets, Web pages, among others. These applications must deal with untrusted inputs encoded in complex data formats. For example, the Microsoft Windows operating system supports over 360 file formats and includes millions of 

Most of the code to process such files and packets evolved over the last 20+ years. It is large, complex, and written in C/C++ for performance reasons. If an attacker could trigger a buffer-overflow bug in one of these applications, s/he could corrupt the memory of the application and possibly hijack its execution to run malicious code (elevation-of-privilege attack), or steal internal information (information-disclosure attack), or simply crash the application (denial-of-service attack).9 Such attacks might be launched by tricking the victim into opening a single malicious document, image, or Web page. If you are reading this article on an electronic device, you are using a PDF and JPEG parser in order to see Figure 1. ... " 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Web Scraping now Legal

Should be considerable changes in behavior for certain kinds of data.   Still some regulation about crawling data acquisition in this way.

Web scraping is now legal
Here’s what that means for Data Scientists
By Tom Waterman in Towards Data Science

In late 2019, the US Court of Appeals denied LinkedIn’s request to prevent HiQ, an analytics company, from scraping its data.

The decision was a historic moment in the data privacy and data regulation era. It showed that any data that is publicly available and not copyrighted is fair game for web crawlers. .... "

Man Diagnosed with Coronavirus Treated Largely by Robot

Achieving isolation for treatment appears to the primary goal.

Man Diagnosed with Wuhan Coronavirus Is Being Treated Largely by a Robot
CNN  by Nicole Chavez

The first person diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus in the U.S. is being treated with the help of a robot at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, WA. The robot is equipped with a stethoscope to help doctors take the man's vital signs; it communicates with him via a large screen. "The nursing staff in the room move the robot around so we can see the patient in the screen, talk to him," said the medical center’s Dr. George Diaz, adding that the use of the robot minimizes exposure of medical staff to the infected man, who remains in isolation ... "

Eclipse Foundation for Open Inno and Collaboration

Current presentations at the Event for Building Enterprise Code.

Eclipse Foundation
The Platform for Open  Innovation and Collaboration

The Eclipse Foundation provides our global community of individuals and organizations with a mature, scalable and commercially-friendly environment for open source software collaboration and innovation.  .... 

IBM, Redhat, Oracle etc.  Meet today
The Eclipse Foundation Announces the CN4J Day 2020 Event for Building Enterprise Java on Kubernetes

Today the Eclipse Foundation announced the launch of the Cloud Native for Java (CN4J) Day event, a full-day of expert talks, demos, and thought-provoking sessions focused on enterprise applications implemented using open source vendor-neutral  .... 

Tracking Shoppers: Paper from the CACM

An area we worked in for years,  in our labs and in real stores. here a n excellent update from the ACM:

"Tracking Shoppers," by Keith Kirkpatrick, explains how brick-and-mortar retailers, like their online counterparts, are using technology and to track shoppers through stores and leveraging that data to build sales and customer loyalty.  .. ..  "

NIST Privacy Framework

Brought to my closer attention this week.   An excellent checklist for important privacy issues in current and approaching technology contexts.  Currently reviewing for projects underway.   Like the fact that this is considering the risk dimension.  More on this to follow.

National Institute of  Standards and Technology  (US Dept of Commerce)

The NIST Privacy Framework is a voluntary tool developed in collaboration with stakeholders intended to help organizations identify and manage privacy risk to build innovative products and services while protecting individuals’ privacy. .... 

https://www.nist.gov/privacy-framework   Overview 

https://www.nist.gov/system/files/documents/2020/01/16/NIST%20Privacy%20Framework_V1.0.pdf   40 Page pdf

Cisco Validated Designs for IOT

Of interest via Cisco, new to me, much more below:

Internet of Things (IoT)
New Cisco Validated Designs offer customers more recipes for IoT success
Bryan Tantzen

In the kitchen, you strive to use the highest-quality ingredients possible. But you don’t typically serve one or two ingredients on a plate. Instead, you build a plan for what to serve and how to combine the ingredients to achieve the desired results. Unless you’re a culinary whiz, you probably want that information from someone who has experience preparing that meal – and a track record of creating a great-tasting result.

In other words, you want a recipe from a proven expert for a proven result. Anything else is just a science experiment.

The same holds true in the IoT realm – where the stakes, are considerably higher than the quality of a dinner. That’s the driving principle behind Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs). We know our products have proven to be the industry’s best “ingredients” for IoT networks. But we also know there can be complexity in designing, deploying and managing those products into a “meal” – a complete solution to support all courses of a real-world use case.

For every CVD, our engineers create detailed design and implementation guides that use Cisco and our partners’ products to address critical business needs. We then engineer, test and validate each design for our customers’ industry specific requirements, to guide their own deployments.

At Cisco Live Europe in Barcelona, we unveiled new and enhanced CVDs for oil and gas, manufacturing, power utilities and any organization seeking to extend its enterprise network beyond traditional carpeted spaces: ... " 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

IBM Transforms Workplace Experiences

A move forward in related capabilities using AI

IBM Transforms Workplace Experiences With New AI Capability For Intelligent Real Estate And Facility Management

IBM Corporation logo. ARMONK, N.Y., Jan. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today introduced artificial intelligence (AI) into its TRIRIGA solution to help real estate and facility management professionals better utilize office space and deliver a more engaging workplace experience. TRIRIGA, one of the leading Integrated Workplace Management Systems in the world, includes TRIRIGA Building Insights, and combines occupancy data from sources, such as WIFI and/or IoT sensors .... " 

Rules for Crypto Business in Singapore

Interesting as an example of what kind of regulations are being written.  An note the connection to business models. How about process models?  Installation of specific risk and fraud predictions and alarms?

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is updating its regulatory framework for digital payments. in Coindesk

Announced Tuesday, Singapore’s Payment Services Act 2019 (PSA) brings so-called Digital Payment Token (DPT) services – effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore – under current anti-money laundering (AML) and counterterrorist-financing (CTF) rules.

As such, crypto businesses in Singapore are required to first register and then apply for a license to operate in the jurisdiction. 

Similar to the Fifth European Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5), which went into effect Jan. 10, Singapore’s new rules are long awaited: the PSA was passed back in January 2019. In the intervening months, Singapore has further cemented itself a forward-thinking jurisdiction in regulating the cryptocurrency industry.

As of Jan. 28, firms will have a month to register with MAS, stating they are based in Singapore and are operating a DPT business. Once firms have registered, there’s a six-month grandfathering period during which they have to apply for a payment institution license. 

“The Payment Services Act provides a forward-looking and flexible regulatory framework for the payments industry,” MAS Assistant Managing Director Loo Siew Yee said in a statement. “The activity-based and risk-focused regulatory structure allows rules to be applied proportionately and to be robust to changing business models. The PS Act will facilitate growth and innovation while mitigating risk and fostering confidence in our payments landscape.”

When it comes to implementing crypto regulations, countries around the world are dancing to the beat of the latest Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, first made in October 2018 and then updated in June 2019. 

This means preparing for a future when payment data relating to the originator and beneficiary of a crypto transaction travels with the payment, guidance known as FATF’s “travel rule.”  .... " 

AI and Web Development

Like to see more specific examples of this, since it bears on the elements of complex goal directed process. Also the specific elements of efficiency.   But would not it expect to add to transparency.

AI Is Changing Web Development 
January 13, 2020 by Gilad David Maayan

According to Accenture, 77 percent of smart devices include at least one AI feature. It is anticipated that by 2025 the global AI market will reach $60 billion. The growth of AI has created greater demand for this technology from consumers and organizations alike. Both are embracing AI technology and driving further innovation with their adoption.

There is a range of tools for incorporating AI into your workflows and products. From plug-and-play components to machine learning-as-a-service (MLaaS), these functionalities enable developers to build AI into their sites and applications through an API or library integration. No longer do you need AI expertise to include it in your products. Unsurprisingly, this increased accessibility is affecting web development.

AI and ML are influencing web development in a variety of ways—from improving efficiency to increasing customer engagement. Below are the most prominent influences.

Coding and Testing

AI and ML can be used to speed development processes and improve the overall quality of applications, such as through AI integration with Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) or AI-based testing. IDEs are tools that combine code writing, editing, building and debugging features within a single platform. IDEs can help improve code quality with automatic vulnerability identification and auto-suggestions for coding best practices. These tools can speed coding with autofill features and real-time code analysis.

With the inclusion of AI and ML models in application testing procedures, these models can be used to analyze user interfaces, optimize test coverage and evaluate application or user behavior patterns, enabling streamlined testing. You can also use AI models to help minimize hard-coding in your applications, helping to reduce vulnerabilities and enable you to work from a smaller code base.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Complexity of Showing How AI Decides

Thoughtful piece on the problem of how to reasonably provide explanation.  Have now looked at several means of addressing the problem.   Consider carefully the decisions being driven and risks involved.

Grilling the answers: How businesses need to show how AI decides

As artificial intelligence becomes more widespread, so the need to render it explainable increases. How can companies navigate the technical and ethical challenges?
By   Lindsay Clark in Computerweek

Show your working: generations of mathematics students have grown up with this mantra. Getting the right answer is not enough. To get top marks, students must demonstrate how they got there. Now, machines need to do the same.

As artificial intelligence (AI) is used to make decisions affecting employment, finance or justice, as opposed to which film a consumer might want to watch next, the public will insist it explains its working.

Sheffield University professor of AI and robotics Noel Sharkey drove home the point when he told The Guardian that decisions based on machine learning could not be trusted because they were so “infected with biases”.

Sharkey called for an end to the application of machine learning to life-changing decisions until they could be proven safe in the same way that drugs are introduced into healthcare.  ... " 

Met Police to Use Live Facial Recognition Cameras in London

Not surprising at all to me, given the broad use of cameras already in the UK.   And despite all the complaints regarding privacy, this will be the future of such systems, tied to live facial recognition.

Met Police to Use Live Facial Recognition Cameras in London
The Guardian
Vikram Dodd

London's Metropolitan Police next month will deploy computer-linked live facial recognition cameras on city streets, despite outcries from civil liberties advocates and experts' doubts of the technology's efficiency. Essex University's Pete Fussey estimated the cameras are verifiably accurate in identifying wanted suspects in only 19% of cases, versus the Met's claim of 70% effectiveness. The Met said the cameras would be connected to a suspect database, and if someone is detected who is not in the database, that person's information will be deleted. However, if the system flags someone who is wanted, an officer will speak to that individual. The Met promised London Mayor Sadiq Khan the system will not be connected to other official databases, or used by authorities to monitor all of London or track someone down.  ... '

Avast Data to be Sold

Currently looking at the process of how data is gathered, enhanced and sold ... here a good example

Avast packaged detailed user data to be sold for millions of dollars
The data doesn't include personal information, but experts fear it could be 'de-anonymized.'
By Christine Fisher, @cfisherwrites in Engadget

Alexa Self Learning to Correct Mistakes

In all conversation there is adjustments of our interactions.Good piece here that shows how this is being proposed for a common assistant.

Amazon Uses Self-Learning to Teach Alexa to Correct its Own Mistakes

The digital assistant incorporates a reformulation engine that can learn to correct responses in real time based on customer interactions .    By Jesus Rodriguez in Towards Data Science

 Digital assistant such as Alexa, Siri, Cortana or the Google Assistant are some of the best examples of mainstream adoption of artificial intelligence(AI) technologies. These assistants are getting more prevalent and tackling new domain-specific tasks which makes the maintenance of their underlying AI particularly challenging. The traditional approach to build digital assistant has been based on natural language understanding(NLU) and automatic speech recognition(ASR) methods which relied on annotated datasets. Recently, the Amazon Alexa team published a paper proposing a self-learning method to allow Alexa correct mistakes while interacting with users.

The rapid evolution of language and speech AI methods have made the promise of digital assistants a reality. These AI methods have become a common component of any deep learning framework allowing any developer to build fairly sophisticated conversational agents. However, the challenges are very different when operating at the scale of a digital assistant like Alexa. Typically, the accuracy of the machine learning models in these conversational agents is improved by manually transcribing ... '

Private Micro Networks

Do that already in business with things like Slack and Teams.

Why private micro-networks could be the future of how we connect in Technology Review
Forget amassing likes or cultivating your online persona. Apps like Cocoon are all about being your true self with just a select few people.
by Tanya Basu  ... 

Real-time Mapping and Localization

Much work underway in smart mapping ... Given the increasing need for real-time intelligence.   We used aspects of this in forestry asset analysis.

Collaborative simultaneous localization and mapping technique uses available Wi-Fi networks
by Ingrid Fadelli , Tech Xplore

In recent years, research teams worldwide have developed new methods for simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM). These techniques can be used to construct or update maps of a given environment in real time, while simultaneously tracking an artificial agent or robot's location within these maps.

Most existing SLAM approaches rely heavily on the use of range-based or vision-based sensors, both to sense the environment and a robot's movements. These sensors, however, can be very expensive and typically require significant computational power to operate properly.

Aware of these limitations, researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, Southwest University of Science and Technology, the University of Moratuwa and Nanyang Technological University have recently developed a new technique for collaborative SLAM that does rely on range-based or vision-based sensors. This technique, presented in a paper prepublished on arXiv, could enable more effective robot navigation within unknown indoor environments at a cost significantly lower than that of most previously proposed methods. ... "

When can you Selectively look at Less than all of the Data?

I pass along Jason Brownlee's links from time to time, have found them very useful.   Subscribe to his stream, buy his books.  Here its about sampling and when you can look at less than all of the data. 

Jason @ ML Mastery jason@machinelearningmastery.com 
Thu, Jan 23, 1:12 PM (3 days ago)    to Franzdill

Hi, this week we have a tutorial on undersampling algorithms for imbalanced classification, a tutorial on combining oversampling and undersampling, and a tour of data sampling methods.

Discover how to delete examples from your dataset to improve performance:
>> Undersampling Algorithms for Imbalanced Classification

Discover specialized techniques that perform both oversampling and undersampling:
>> Combine Oversampling and Undersampling for Imbalanced Classification

Discover a suite of data sampling techniques available for imbalanced classification:
>> Tour of Data Sampling Methods for Imbalanced Classification

See his new book
Imbalanced Classification with Python
Better Metrics, Balance Skewed Classes, Cost-Sensitive Learning  ... "

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Numba: Speeding up Python

Just brought to my attention.  Python use for numerical algorithms can be an issue when speed is required.  Technical.

Accelerate Python Functions
Numba translates Python functions to optimized machine code at runtime using the industry-standard LLVM compiler library. Numba-compiled numerical algorithms in Python can approach the speeds of C or FORTRAN.

You don't need to replace the Python interpreter, run a separate compilation step, or even have a C/C++ compiler installed. Just apply one of the Numba decorators to your Python function, and Numba does the rest.  .... " 

Networks in the Enterprise

Podcast and more about the use of internal networks.   Talking the podcast side we established some internal podcasts channels to talk to people about how emergent tech was being used.  Talked and experimented with automating the networking of insights among reports.

Internal Networks in the HBR
January 23, 2020

Do you wish you were more plugged-in at your organization? In this episode of HBR’s advice podcast, Dear HBR:, cohosts Alison Beard and Dan McGinn answer your questions with the help of Robin Abrahams, a research associate at Harvard Business School and the “Miss Conduct” columnist at Boston Globe Magazine. They talk through what to do when you want to network at a company retreat, your manager is bothered by your schmoozing with their peers, or you want to know about plum projects before they get assigned to someone else.

PODCAST  at the link

Listen to more episodes and find out how to subscribe on the Dear HBR: page. Email your questions about your workplace dilemmas to Dan and Alison at dearhbr@hbr.org.

From Alison and Dan’s reading list for this episode:

HBR: Learn to Love Networking by Tiziana Casciaro, Francesca Gino, and Maryam Kouchaki — “A mountain of research shows that professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster advancement, and greater status and authority. Building and nurturing professional relationships also improves the quality of work and increases job satisfaction.”

Boston Globe Magazine: Miss Conduct’s all-in-one career fix-it guide by Robin Abrahams — “Censor your snarky inner voice and have the courage to ask seemingly obvious questions or draw offbeat analogies. Networking is about creating possibilities. Giving people a safe space to explore and connect ideas is a great way to persuade them you are a uniquely insightful genius.”

HBR: The Best Way to Network in a New Job by Rob Cross and Peter Gray — “Anyone who hopes to hit the ground running in a new organization must first cultivate allies — a network of people who can provide the information, resources and support needed to succeed. But few onboarding programs offer concrete advice on how to build those all-important connections.” ... " 

Taiwan Improves Manufacturing with AI

Some good details here about what is going on in Taiwan, notably integration with big data and AI capabilities.

From plastic toys to Industry 4.0: How Taiwan is using science to upgrade its manufacturing
The island is turning to smart machinery and artificial intelligence to improve the quality and flexibility of the products it makes.

Animation showing production line of robotic arms producing electronics  ...  Image  Credit: Geoffroy de Crécy

In 2016, industrial engineer Chen-Fu Chien was asked to lead a university research centre in Taiwan that would develop new manufacturing technologies using artificial intelligence (AI).

Rather than aiming to publish academic papers, his brief was to produce ideas that could be quickly transferred into industrial settings, says Chien. His research at the National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in Hsinchu City uses big-data analytics to make machines smarter through AI that lets them take decisions without human control. It is one of several approaches to creating ‘smart factories’ that use an interconnected, digital network of supply systems — part of Taiwan’s push to improve the flexibility, quality and efficiency of its manufacturing.  .... " 

Frontier in AI Training

We always need to consider the outlier case.      Its often in current and future training.... I like the idea of thinking about broadening the training to include 'nothing'.

The Next Frontier in AI: Nothing
How an overlooked feature of deep learning networks can turn into a major breakthrough for AI
By Max Versace in IEEE

This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

At an early age, as we take our first steps into the world of math and numbers, we learn that one apple plus another apple equals two apples. We learn to count real things. Only later are we introduced to a weird concept: zero… or the number of apples in an empty box.

The concept of “zero” revolutionized math after Hindu-Arabic scholars and then the Italian mathematician Fibonacci introduced it into our modern numbering system. While today we comfortably use zero in all our mathematical operations, the concept of “nothing” has yet to enter the realm of artificial intelligence.

In a sense, AI and deep learning still need to learn how to recognize and reason with nothing.

Is it an apple or a banana? Neither!
Traditionally, deep learning algorithms such as deep neural networks (DNNs) are trained in a supervised fashion to recognize specific classes of things.

In a typical task, a DNN might be trained to visually recognize a certain number of classes, say pictures of apples and bananas. Deep learning algorithms, when fed a good quantity and quality of data, are really good at coming up with precise, low error, confident classifications.

The problem arises when a third, unknown object appears in front of the DNN. If an unknown object that was not present in the training set is introduced, such as an orange, then the network will be forced to “guess” and classify the orange as the closest class that captures the unknown object—an apple!

Basically, the world for a DNN trained on apples and bananas is completely made of apples and bananas. It can’t conceive the whole fruit basket.....

Enter the world of nothing

While its usefulness is not immediately clear in all applications, the idea of “nothing” or a “class zero” is extremely useful in several ways when training and deploying a DNN.

During the training process, if a DNN has the ability to classify items as “apple,” “banana,” or “nothing,” the algorithm’s developers can determine if it hasn’t effectively learned to recognize a particular class. That said, if pictures of fruit continue to yield “nothing” responses, perhaps the developers need to add another “class” of fruit to identify, such as oranges.  .... "

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Sim Swapping Insecurity

Had read about this.   The details here are that those responsible for the most minimal security are not taking it seriously. Poor security is not the right term,  nonexistent was too often the case.

SIM Swapping, Poor Web Security Put Millions at Risk
New Scientist
Chris Stokel-Walker
January 22, 2020

Researchers at Princeton University have found that two-factor authentication (2FA)—a security measure recommended by many websites and apps—is easily hackable and could put millions of people at risk. If a bad actor can compromise a user's phone, that will give them access to that user's online accounts. "SIM swapping" attacks allow hackers to port phone numbers to new SIM cards. Mobile phone networks should have security measures in place to prevent this, but the Princeton researchers found that five major U.S. networks do not have sufficient protections in place. Once hackers have control of a phone, they can reset passwords to online accounts by redirecting the 2FA confirmation texts. The team also analyzed 140 websites for their vulnerability to SIM swapping, and found that 17 major websites were "doubly insecure," meaning they did not ever require a user to insert their password to gain access to accounts, asking only for a telephone number..... '

Electronic Skin

 Note the long history of this kind of effort.

Integrate Microchips for Electronic Skin
Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research (Germany)
January 22, 2020

German and Japanese researchers have developed an active-matrix magnetic sensor system in a step toward the creation of electronic skin. The system is comprised of a series of magnetic sensors, an organic bootstrap shift register as a control mechanism, and organic signal amplifiers. All the electronic elements are based on organic thin-film transistors and integrated within a single platform; the device exhibits high magnetic sensitivity and resilience against mechanical deformation, and can facilitate two-dimensional magnetic field distribution in real time. Said researchers Oliver G. Schmidt and Daniil Karnaushenko, "[The] ultra-compliant and flexible nature of these devices is [an] indispensable feature for modern and future applications such as soft-robotics, implants, and prosthetics.”

Friday, January 24, 2020

Putting Humans in the AI Loop

I argue that they are always in the loop.  Just how effectively are they placed there. Always a very useful question. Starting with existing process helps.

Can AI Put Humans Back in the Loop?
Tiernan Ray

Scientists at Germany's Technische Universitat Darmstadt have developed a process for having a human domain expert review an artificial intelligence model's inner mechanisms during training, in order to catch simple problems and correct errors. Such an expert would check the reasoning offered by a neural network, with the overall goal of building more trust in machine learning. The experimental explanatory interactive learning procedure involves a convolutional neural network classifying the phenotype of a plant as healthy or diseased by analyzing leaf images. The researchers visualize the features the network is using, then a plant biology specialist fixes any network errors. ... 

Show Devices Can Now Recognize

Just brought to my attention, Alexa 'Show' devices, that is,  those that have an embedded camera,  can now be asked to recognize things.   Apparently only in the domain of' 'pantry items'.  Designed as an assist for the blind or those that need vision assistance.    This might raise some privacy issues despite that the action is requested.

Alexa can now recognize objects
A new Show and Tell feature on Echo Show devices can recognize some objects.   By Molly Price in CNet

If facial recognition concerns were on your radar, get ready to worry about soup cans, too. Amazon today announced a new feature for its Echo Show devices. The feature, called Show and Tell, is focused on recognizing household pantry items when you hold them in front of the camera.... "

Google Dataset Search

Worth another, closer look. In Flowingdata.  

Over a year ago, Google released Dataset Search in public beta. The goal was to index datasets across the internets to make them easier to find. It came out of beta:

Based on what we’ve learned from the early adopters of Dataset Search, we’ve added new features. You can now filter the results based on the types of dataset that you want (e.g., tables, images, text), or whether the dataset is available for free from the provider. If a dataset is about a geographic area, you can see the map. Plus, the product is now available on mobile and we’ve significantly improved the quality of dataset descriptions. One thing hasn’t changed however: anybody who publishes data can make their datasets discoverable in Dataset Search by using an open standard (schema.org) to describe the properties of their dataset on their own web page.

I haven’t tried it in a while, but the last time I did, there weren’t that many sources yet, because the indexing partially relies on others to use a standard to provide metadata. Kicking the tires on it now, it still kind of feels like an index of other dataset aggregators, but I’m interested.  .... " 

Update on Samsung Bixby

Took early looks at Bixby, was not impressed.  Has huge appliance exposure, IOT connections.  What's new and interesting

Bixby was quiet in 2019, but don't sleep on Samsung's assistant
It's not all bad news for Bixby.

Chris Velazco, @chrisvelazco in Engadget

Decades of science fiction assured us all that, yes, one day we'd be able to control the immensely complex gadgetry around us with just our voices. It was right, mostly. The rise of the virtual assistant, built atop still other developments in cloud computing and machine learning, means we can wonder out loud what the weather is like, or how far away the moon is, or hail a car and expect a response from a carefully crafted voice in moments. And now, those disembodied voices have taken up residence in our homes .... "

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Why is Wal-Mart Embracing AI

Certainly they are, but the motivation not too clear from this. 

Why Walmart is Embracing AI and Robotics

One of the most famous bonehead quotes from a chief executive who brushed off technological disruption came from Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes in 2008. He said, “Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition.” Two years later, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy and Keyes got a job stocking DVDs in RedBox machines. We might have made up one of those two stories, but there’s no denying the fact that businesses that don’t evolve, don’t survive. The malls of the United States are emptying faster than your bowels after eating from one-too-many sketchy-looking taco stands in Mexico City, with vacancy rates expected to hit up to 25% in a couple of years.  ... "

Delta Airlines Develops Disruption Predictions

Example in the aviation industry, would seem to be much available data, consideration and implications  of inaccurate predictions?

Delta Develops Artificial Intelligence Tool to Address Weather Disruption, Improve Flight Operations    By Woodrow Bellamy III | January 8, 2020

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian used his keynote speech at the annual Consumer Electronics Show to discuss a new 2020s operational structure for the international carrier that will be driven by the use of a new artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning tool.

Under development at Delta’s operations and customer center, Bastian did not provide a specific product name for the technology, but instead called it a proprietary tool that will mainly be focused on helping passengers and flight crews overcome weather occurrences that impact the routes they fly on a daily basis. The keynote speech is a familiar strategy across all of the divisions of Delta, including their maintenance team whose predictive maintenance leadership gave a speech on how the airline is shifting towards the adoption of AI at the 2019 AEEC/AMC annual conference.  .... "

On the End of Tracking Cookies?

Quite a considerable change?  We analytically examined the use of Cookies early on.  Is this the end, and what are the implications?

R.I.P. Cookies. Why customer experience matters more than ever
Jean Belanger in CustomerThink

Marketing in the Internet age has seen several assumptions cast in stone:

1. Cookies: targeting and attribution has been fuelled by cookies, which were invented 25 years ago in 1994.
2. Ads: total US digital ad spending in 2019 was $130B, versus $110 billion for traditional ads.
3. Data: it was cool for brands to take the approach that ‘we have your data, and we can do what we want with it, as and when we see fit.’

Brands can track you, they can follow you across the web, they can target you with ads, if they are relevant – awesome. Therefore it comes as no surprise that traditional channels of communications – TV, radio, newspapers – are all giving way in our increasingly to digital lifestyles.

Meanwhile the Internet and smartphones are making us pickier and more informed than ever. But the natives are restless. We do not want to be tracked like animals in the jungle. We value our privacy more than we ever have done. My data and personal profile is mine, not yours. Where are our private property rights when we need them?

Google dropped its “cookie apocalypse” on the marketing industry earlier this month, when it announced that they will be phasing out the use of cross-website cookies, which have underpinned digital advertising for 25 years. They will also “obsolete” third-party cookies that follow internet users from site to site, and can trace their browsing for months and months.

Google’s move will drastically curb the ability of brands to extract private and sensitive insights about us. While the advertising industry has known for some time that third-party cookies are being consigned to history, slowly eliminating the basic concept of an open web that has dominated marketing matters for decades, Google’s news will totally disrupt the global digital advertising supply chain. ... "

AB InBev Uses Machine Learning for Corruption

Have in the past few months seen several interesting examples of automated and semi-automated fraud detection, and some cases where it should be being used.  Here another somewhat unexpected example.

AB InBev Taps Machine Learning to Root Out Corruption
The Wall Street Journal
By Dylan Tokar

Brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev spent three years developing machine learning technology to spot corruption in its business partners. The BrewRight analytics platform harnesses data from operations in more than 50 countries to proactively track legal risks and deter violations, rather than investigating problems after they crop up. Companies have traditionally probe misconduct after it happens, but Harvard Business School's Eugene Soltes said, "Data analytics and what AB InBev has done changes that equation. They want to put much more on the front-end—on prevention and detection." The machine learning aspect allows the platform to become smarter and more effective over time. It already has cut hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs associated with investigating suspect payments.  ... '

AI Enhancing Maps and Goal Process

You could add to this the ability to add contextual process knowledge to a map.   Beyond just what is there, and how do I navigate to X.   Say in the goal context of maintaining a road,  I may want to be shown places where proactive analysis needs to be done, what equipment is needed, what would the cost would be,  how does that fit into budgets and schedules.   That defines a process,  some algorithms, AI pattern recognition to be involved.   Leading to a change in some process plan.   A kind of 'task and process navigation'  to achieve a management process.

Using artificial intelligence to enrich digital maps
Model tags road features based on satellite images, to improve GPS navigation in places with limited map data.

Rob Matheson | MIT News Office

A model invented by researchers at MIT and Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) that uses satellite imagery to tag road features in digital maps could help improve GPS navigation.  

Showing drivers more details about their routes can often help them navigate in unfamiliar locations. Lane counts, for instance, can enable a GPS system to warn drivers of diverging or merging lanes. Incorporating information about parking spots can help drivers plan ahead, while mapping bicycle lanes can help cyclists negotiate busy city streets. Providing updated information on road conditions can also improve planning for disaster relief.

But creating detailed maps is an expensive, time-consuming process done mostly by big companies, such as Google, which sends vehicles around with cameras strapped to their hoods to capture video and images of an area’s roads. Combining that with other data can create accurate, up-to-date maps. Because this process is expensive, however, some parts of the world are ignored.

A solution is to unleash machine-learning models on satellite images — which are easier to obtain and updated fairly regularly — to automatically tag road features. But roads can be occluded by, say, trees and buildings, making it a challenging task. In a paper being presented at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence conference, the MIT and QCRI researchers describe “RoadTagger,” which uses a combination of neural network architectures to automatically predict the number of lanes and road types (residential or highway) behind obstructions.  .... "

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Microsoft Project Cortex: Optimizing the Enterprise ?

Was reminded of this, announced generally last year.    It actually has similarities to some things we discussed with Linkedin a number of years ago: To use a company's internal organization chart, enhanced by a 'knowledge graph', to provide more intelligent and efficient internal and external communications further driven by AI.   A more precisely semantic way to organize how cloud/data is linked to task/process?  To ultimately optimize how a company works?  Following.

Introducing Project Cortex

Project Cortex

Today, we’re pleased to introduce Project Cortex, the first new service in Microsoft 365 since the launch of Microsoft Teams. Project Cortex uses advanced AI to deliver insights and expertise in the apps you use every day, to harness collective knowledge and to empower people and teams to learn, upskill and innovate faster.

Project Cortex uses AI to reason over content across teams and systems, recognizing content types, extracting important information, and automatically organizing content into shared topics like projects, products, processes and customers. Cortex then creates a knowledge network based on relationships among topics, content, and people.

New topic pages and knowledge centers—created and updated by AI—enable experts to curate and share knowledge with wiki-like simplicity. And topic cards deliver knowledge just-in-time to people in Outlook, Microsoft Teams, and Office.  .... "

Towards very Powerful Exoskeletons

Been talked for some time, now finally here?  Ways to really extend/improve the capability of the individual human.  Will this be the interim move towards robots replacing many manually intense jobs, by extending the ability of humans?  Reminds me of my training in ergonomic analyses too, can we now have human limits programmed into a robotic extension?

Channel your inner Ripley with Sarcos Robotics’ powered exoskeleton
I certainly wish I'd had one of these when I was a shipfitter.
Jim Salter- 1/22/2020, 2:21 PM in ArsTechnica

he most interesting thing we saw at the Consumer Electronics Show this year was the back side of Delta Airlines' exhibit, where some Sarcos Robotics folks were putting the Guardian XO—a powered industrial exoskeleton—through its paces, and the adventurous (and patient) could wait for half an hour or so in line to operate one disembodied arm of the Guardian attached to a 50-pound suitcase.

Unfortunately, neither Sarcos nor Delta were about to let any journalists inside an actual Guardian XO. They had good reason, though—which became abundantly clear after we took a test run with a disembodied, statically mounted Guardian XO right arm. The suits aren't just designed to be incredibly strong—they're also designed for long-term, ergonomically correct operation that won't destroy backs and knees the way a career in the military or heavy industry tends to. That's great, if you're a trained professional trying not to injure yourself—not so great, if you're a random enthusiast suddenly given 20:1 muscular amplification in a densely-packed crowd of thousands.... "

Winning with AI

Reviewing this study for an upcoming analysis of proposed work:

Winning With AI
Pioneers Combine Strategy, Organizational
Behavior, and Technology

By Sam Ransbotham, Shervin Khodabandeh, Ronny Fehling,
Burt LaFountain, and David Kiron

In collaboration with
Copyright © MIT, 2019. All rights reserved.
Get more on artificial intelligence from MIT Sloan Management Review:
Read the report online at https://sloanreview.mit.edu/ai2019
Visit our site at https://sloanreview.mit.edu/big-ideas/artificial-intelligence-business-strategy
Get the free AI, data, and machine learning enewsletter at

Combatting Technology Hype

Back to  measures and risks,  often economical.    And then their reasonable forward prediction.

Issues in Science and Technology
Combatting Tech Hype



We enjoyed Jeffrey Funk’s “What’s Behind Technological Hype?” (Issues, Fall 2019). However, as authors of a recent book on financial speculation arising from the commercialization of new technology, Bubbles and Crashes: The Boom and Bust of Technological Innovation (Stanford, 2019), we take issue with a few of Funk’s interpretations.

First, Funk points in several instances to the “lack of good economic analysis” as a critical factor leading to hype. However, what’s really needed is different economic analysis. Understanding technology calls for economic analysis that engages what Robert Shiller called “narrative economics.” Traditional economic approaches are not much help when confronting the fundamental uncertainty that arises from the introduction and potential adoption of a new technology or system. To understand choices at that margin, we need to be sensitive to the sources and impacts of narratives. Narratives are a double-edged sword: carefully deployed, they can coordinate collective action and funnel resources into risky but ultimately profitable ventures, but narratives can also lead to hype, speculation, and damaging bubbles. Unfortunately, in spite of Shiller’s call to action, most economists would not recognize the study of narratives as central to the study of booms and busts, so we need more than “good” economic analysis.

Second, once we accept the intractability of uncertainty, it is not realistic to expect to be able to entirely soften the blow of failure. Indeed, failure may be good, and not in some milquetoast, learning-from-failure way. Awful, terrible, value-destroying failure is good because it signals that our local instance of late-entrepreneurial capitalism is still capable of taking big risks. The implications of this logic are far-reaching: what if the risk that we stop failing (because we stop placing big, transformational bets) is more dangerous than the cost of a little too much hype? This is a hard question to answer, partly because the costs and benefits are incommensurable and partly because they accumulate across time in messy, discontinuous ways. From our perspective, the critical issue is not minimizing failure, but maximizing the categories and numbers of people who can afford to fail. Unfortunately, recent macroeconomic developments suggest that we are doing little to redress the “Lost Einsteins” problem, thereby losing even more of the bold, if risky, ideas that we need in order to support meaningful economic experimentation.

A more critical, narrative economic analysis would focus on how much of the imagined future builds on only imagined elements of the new technological system. Knowing how much is imagined might counteract hype that glosses over these elements.

Brent Goldfarb   Associate Professor
David A. Kirsch Associate Professor    Robert H. Smith School of Business   University of Maryland

Operationalizing Analytics

Ultimately its always about how analytics will be used (implemented and operationalized)  Have seen many cases where the results have been lost in implementing them.   Here a Podcast that covers some of the related topics I am reading.

Operationalizing Analytics (Podcast)
by Phil Bowermaster In B-Eye-Network.

In this podcast, Tapan Patel, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at SAS, discusses the challenges organizations face when deploying and managing analytical models.  He also provides best practices for analytics governance. The interview is conducted by Phil Bowermaster, an independent consultant and analyst who writes and speaks about emerging technologies and the future. To listen to this podcast, click here.

Phil Bowermaster
Phil Bowermaster is an independent analyst and consultant specializing in big data, business intelligence and analytics. Phil is the founder of Speculist Media, which produces blogs, podcasts, and other social and traditional media exploring the role of technology, particularly data technology, in shaping the future. He works with select clients in developing and executing content strategies related to big data. Phil can be reached at phil@speculist.com.
Recent articles by Phil Bowermaster

Other Podcasts:

Artificial Intelligence: Improving Consumer Marketing (Podcast)
Data Science is No Longer Just for Data Scientists (Podcast)
Data Science: Democratization, Self-Service and Risk (Podcast)
HTAP Redefines the Data Management Landscape  ... '

Carmakers Move From Cars to Building Cities at CES

Hardly a complete move, but handling transportation efficiently will be a major part of any smart city.

Carmakers Move From Cars to Building Cities at CES
Financial Times
Patrick McGee; Song Jung-a; Peter Campbell

Automakers announced future technologies at CES 2020, with Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda stating his company would construct a 175-acre hydrogen-powered smart city near Japan’s Mount Fuji as a “living laboratory” to see how up to 2,000 residents will live with next-generation technology. Toyoda said the project aims to keep Toyota abreast of society-transforming megatrends like urbanization, 5G wireless connectivity, and the role of artificial intelligence in evolving consumer devices. Meanwhile, Hyundai announced a partnership with ride-hailing company Uber under which it will build electrically-powered driverless air taxis. The companies said test flights are planned for this year, and commercial operations to begin within three years. The goal is to help Hyundai compete with rivals in emerging technologies.... ' 

AR Continues Struggle in Retail

An area we spent lots of early time in.  Good overview article of current work.

Despite advancements, AR struggles to take off in retail   By Anna Hensel in Modern Retail
This is the third part in a series by Modern Retail about the technologies that were going to change retail — and where they are now. See our previous stories, about the future of robotics, and the truth about RFID.

Three years ago, retailers began spending money on AR.

In 2017, Williams-Sonoma acquired Outward, an AR and 3D imaging startup for $112 million. The following year, Ulta Beauty also acquired an AR startup for an undisclosed amount, as did L’Oreal. Retailers like Walmart and Nike acquired other startups that specialized in virtual reality and computer vision, but also with the goal of using them to create experiences that incorporated some type of virtual reality component.

That ushered in a stampede of retailers eager to experiment with AR. Michael Kors and Warby Parker were some of the first companies to experiment with running AR in Facebook ads. Macy’s launched AR experiences for both furniture and beauty shoppers.

AR right now is big among two categories: beauty or furniture. Sephora, Ulta Beauty, Wayfair, Williams-Sonoma and Ikea have all launched virtual try-on experiences that use AR. Retailers in apparel have also experimented with adding these types of tools — the most recent being Asos — many of those efforts remain firmly in the experimentation phase. Because of the nature of the technology, it’s really those three industries where it can make a real difference — especially in fashion.

But even for the retailers who have invested heavily in AR by building their own virtual try on experiences, they haven’t been able to point definitively to how much their AR tools have resulted in a sales increase.

“There’s still some hyping [around AR], no doubt,” said Andrew Lispman, e-commerce analyst at eMarketer. “But I think the reality has set in when you see the initial use cases…are mostly edge cases. They may work well for their category, but it’s not a use case that extends between all or even most categories.”   ...." 

Rapid Expansion of Amazon Pharmacy

What seems a rapid expansion of the Amazon Pharma delivery to multiple countries.

From Engadget by Mariella Moon

Amazon may be expanding its prescription drug delivery business to other countries. The e-commerce titan has applied for a trademark on the name "Amazon Pharmacy" in Canada, the UK and Australia, according to CNBC. Amazon reportedly filed its applications on January 9th, in what could've been one of the earliest steps it took to start medicine delivery in countries other than the US. .... '

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

RFID Powering of Smart Balls and Tags

An approach utilizing BLE power transmission that we examined and I still follow.

RFID Powers Smart Balls, Luggage Tags  in RFIDJournal

Kookaburra's Smart Balls with SportCor technology using BLE transmissions, as well as British Airways' RFID-enabled luggage tags, are leveraging a wireless transmission solution from Powercast that powers devices, eliminating the need for USB-cabled recharging or, in some cases, batteries.
By Claire Swedberg   Tags: Aerospace, Asset Tracking, BLE, Sensors, Smart Products

Jan 21, 2020—Several technology companies are leveraging radio frequency identification not only to transmit data, but also to power their devices, thereby ensuring consistent performance from sensor-using systems designed to make it easier to find and manage products and assets. Smart sports ball company SportCor has sold its electronics to cricket ball manufacturer Kookaburra and is marketing the product for balls used in a variety of other sports around the world.  ... " 

IBM Builds Policy Lab for Regulation

Will read with interest what the meaning of 'precision' is here.    And transcripts available of the discussion.

IBM unveils Policy Lab, advocates ‘precision regulation’ of AI
Kyle Wiggers in VentureBeat

BM formally announced the IBM Policy Lab — an initiative aimed at providing policymakers with recommendations for emerging problems in technology — ahead of a panel discussion to be held tomorrow at the World Economic Forum. The panel will be hosted by IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, with Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Coordination Chris Liddell, and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria. IBM also outlined a set of priorities for AI regulation, including several aimed at compliance and explainability.   .... "

Monday, January 20, 2020

Irving Wladawsky-Berger: Why Some AI Efforts Fail

From a former IBMer what we worked with on enterprise AI the first time around.   Also insightful for many kinds of emerging tech.  I have now followed up on this question for several major AI projects.   Reading the report mentioned below now.  More to follow.

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

Why Some AI Efforts Succeed While Many Fail
Winning with AI, - a 2019 report based on a survey jointly conducted by the MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group, - found that 90% of respondents agree that AI represents a business opportunity for their company.  The global survey attracted over 2,500 respondents from 29 industries and 97 countries, and conducted interviews with 17 executives leaders of AI initiatives in large organizations.

The report classified the total survey population into four subgroups based on their understanding of AI tools and concepts and their levels of adoption of AI applications: Pioneers (20%) are leading-edge organizations that both understand and have widely adopted AI; Investigators (30%) understand AI but have not deployed applications beyond the pilot stage; Experimenters (18%) are learning by doing, conducting pilots without a deep understanding of AI; and Passives (32%) have not adopted AI and have little understanding of the technology.

“Many AI initiatives fail,” was the report’s overriding finding.  “Seven out of 10 companies surveyed report minimal or no impact from AI so far.  Among the 90% of companies that have made at least some investment in AI, fewer than 2 out of 5 report obtaining any business gains from AI in the past three years. This number improves to 3 out of 5 when we include companies that have made significant investments in AI.  Even so, this means 40% of organizations making significant investments do not report business gains from AI.”

Why is it so hard to realize value from AI?  Why do some efforts succeed while many more fail?  To help answer these questions, the study looked for patterns in the survey data and in the executive interviews to uncover what the companies that are succeeding with AI are doing.  It found that the companies generating the most value from AI exhibit a distinct set of organizational behaviors.  Let me summarize these findings.  .... " 

Will Augmented Reality Change Everything we See?

From the Penn Alumni Mag, a broad, descriptive and mostly academic oriented view of the world of augmented reality.  Below the intro and at the link more...

Augmenting Reality
Will augmented reality change everything we see? A growing number of Penn alumni, staff, and faculty think so. And even as they bump up against its challenges and limitations, they’re still committed to pulling AR further into our lives.

By Molly Petrilla | Illustration by Roman Klonek

Sidebar: Need a HoloLens? Try the Library

I’m killing scorpions inside Stephen Lane’s office.

They skitter out of openings in the wall, crawling up and down, sometimes even jumping right at me. I try zapping them away but sometimes I miss, blasting holes around Lane’s door and exposing white pipes and other slivers of the building’s bones.

Lane doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he’s laughing. The computer and information science professor who was just sitting behind his desk, earnestly answering questions about the future of technology, has transformed into a jazzed-up gamer who’s excited to share his toy with a novice.

“Are you getting them?” he asks as scorpions dance around us. “Just keep firing!”

Even as giant predatory arachnids are scurrying in front of me, and even as my fingers trigger laser beams to destroy them, I’m still inside Lane’s real office. If I turn around, I can see his dark wood desk with its stacks of papers and cup of coffee. I can see his crowded bookshelves and his whiteboard. I can see Lane himself—plaid shirt, bristly mustache, belt with colorful little sailboats. But thanks to the Microsoft HoloLens I’m wearing—a headset that wraps around my forehead and hangs down over my eyes, resting on the bridge of my nose—the game is with us too, turning a plain white wall into a scorpion lair.

And that’s augmented reality.

RoboRaid is a simple introduction for the uninitiated. “It’s a game, but it really shows off some of the capabilities,” Lane says just before passing me the HoloLens.

AR isn’t about fully losing yourself in an imaginary world the way virtual reality is. It’s about enhancing your actual surroundings with computer-generated images and objects. At its most ambitious, AR can require programming expertise and a $3,500 headset like the HoloLens. But it can also be as simple as pulling out your smartphone and turning yourself into a bunny with an Instagram filter.

On that morning inside Lane’s office, I’m not the only one at Penn testing out augmented reality’s abilities and discovering its limits. Across campus and well beyond, a number of faculty, alumni, staff, and students are all focused on applying AR to their fields. You’ll find them inside operating rooms and classrooms, heading up teams at Google and the New York Times, and working for a leading AR headset company.

They’re all convinced that augmented reality can change our world—that it will change our world—in every area from medicine and education to research, retail, and entertainment. But they’re also starting to wonder: What will it take to get past the tipping point, and what might life be like after we do? ... " 

Blogging with Jupyter

Nicely, simply and well put, technical details at the link:

Blogging with Jupyter Notebooks
 by Jeremy Howard in Fast.ai

Jupyter Notebooks is a great environment for creating “code heavy” blog posts. Maybe you didn’t even plan to write a blog post, but you’ve done some interesting experiments in a notebook and you realize afterwards that you have results worth sharing. Either way, you’ll want some way to get your notebook onto your blog.

fast_template and nbdev are set up to handle Jupyter Notebooks nicely. Jupyter Notebooks and GitHub Pages already have some support for exporting notebooks to markdown; but I suggest you use fast_template and nbdev, with the process described in this post, because otherwise you won’t get useful features such as: ..."

Google Urges Proportionate AI Regulation

 Google has the most to lose with very stringent regulation of AI methods.   We recall this being brought up in the last AI surge, but the methods never evolved to this level.

Google chief urges 'proportionate' AI regulation in Techxplore
Google CEO Sundar Pichai says the internet behemoth has adopted an ethical approach to developing AI

As the EU puts the digital revolution at the heart of policymaking it should take a "proportional approach" to regulating artificial intelligence, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google said Monday.... " 

Intel AI Chips Announced

More hardware announcements at recent start of year conferences.  Starting too see more work on hardware implementing faster solutions.

Intel Corp. made a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas late Monday afternoon with a range of announcements led by breakthroughs in artificial intelligence.   By Duncan Riley in Silicon Angle

The AI announcement was aimed straight at the current tech battlefield of autonomous-vehicle technology. After emerging during the 2010s, it’s now potentially set to deliver in the 2020s, with likely consolidation of companies along the way.

Intel Chief Executive Officer Bob Swan started his CES conference with new from Mobileye NV, the Israeli autonomous vehicle firm it acquired for $15.3 billion in 2017. In addition to providing details of Mobileye’s progress, Swan gave a demonstration of its self-driving “robocar” navigating traffic in a natural manner. ...  '

Are Your Students Bored? Do They Understand?

Once you have information about emotion based engagement, this naturally follows.  Could further be used to rate the quality of the instruction.    Where does this kind of measurement end, even if  not completely accurate?

Are Your Students Bored? This AI Could Tell You
IEEE Spectrum
Emily Waltz

Researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and China's Harbin Engineering University have created an artificial intelligence (AI) system that analyzes students' emotions based on video recordings of their facial expressions to measure their engagement level in a class. The AI system was tested in a classroom of toddlers in Japan and a classroom of university students in Hong Kong. While the visual analytics system was successful in detecting obvious emotions like happiness, it often incorrectly reported anger or sadness in students who were focused on the lectures. Said HKUST computer scientist Huamin Qu, "To address this issue, we need to add new emotion categories, relabel our data, and retrain the model."  ..."

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Wal-Mart Takes Food to Car

Another look by Wal-Mart at Robo Tech and attracting consumers.  We had looked at attempts at completely automated grocery warehouse drive-throughs, but they had not succeeded.

Walmart Unveils Robot-Run Warehouse to Whisk Food to Your Car
Bloomberg,  by Matthew Boyle

Walmart has automated a warehouse in New Hampshire to accelerate pickups for its online grocery ordering service. The warehouse is equipped with robotic carts that retrieve items from shelves and deliver them to workers at a picking station, who pack the orders and deliver them to customers' cars in the parking lot. The automated warehouse features 30 robots that retrieve items 10 times faster than human shoppers. Said Walmart’s Brian Roth, “This is going to be a transformative impact to Walmart's supply chain. Alphabot is streamlining the order process, allowing associates to do their jobs with greater speed and efficiency." .... '

Enterprise Value from Digital Factories

Via McKinsey,  innovation studies inmanufacturing.

Industry’s fast-mover advantage: Enterprise value from digital factories

Manufacturing’s leaders in applying Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) digital technologies are building on their head start—generating even more value across the entire enterprise.  ... 

The latest findings from the Global Lighthouse Network, an ongoing research project by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with McKinsey, confirm the transformative power of innovative manufacturing technologies for today’s businesses. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) progresses, innovative technologies continue to enable remarkable economic and societal advances. Together, 4IR innovations are expected to create up to $3.7 trillion in value by 2025. But that value won’t be spread evenly. It’s already clear that a small number of organizations are running away with the first-mover advantage. ... " 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Retail Technology at NRF

A look of how retailers are using new technology from  the recent NRF conference.  Human labor and its management still a very important topic.

NRF 2020 Review: Human vs. Machine
by Ron Margulis in Retailwire  with further expert comments

Two of the biggest takeaways from the National Retail Federation Big Show in New York this week were at either end of the human-robot spectrum. Sure, there was plenty of talk about how retailers are taking advantage of AI and machine learning, how they are creating new ways to engage shoppers at the checkout and what they’re doing to bolster their sustainability efforts, but the real innovation is going on with the consumer-facing activities of both humans and machines.

For human labor, there was plenty of information about workforce management, task management and gamification. And there was a slew of new user interfaces to help push decision-making down to the front-line employee’s smartphone. All of these solutions are designed to help retail workers better meet the exact desires of shoppers in real time so the physical store can compete more effectively with digital-only merchants. A variety of vendor solutions have amped up the possibilities for management to communicate with store employees by moving from straightforward list-based instructions to more elaborate and interactive programs.   .... " 

Quantum Machines Joins IBM Q Network

IBM continues to make alliances in Quantum computing.

Quantum Machines Joins the IBM Q Network
TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Quantum Machines (QM), creators of The Quantum Orchestration Platform, a complete hardware and software solution, has announced that they have agreed to join IBM's Q Network. As part of the IBM and QM collaboration, a compiler between IBM's quantum computing programming languages, and those of QM will be developed and offered to customers. The compiler will include the algorithmics required to translate different programming languages  .... "

Improving Neural Models

So many groups working on how to make such models smaller and faster.  Not different from the very long hunt for faster models to solve optimization problems over the years.   Discussion is technical.

A Tool to Simplify Complex Neuron Models
EPFL News (Switzerland)
January 15, 2020

Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and Israel's Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed a computational tool to streamline complex neuron models of any type of cell, while retaining their input/output properties and accelerating the run-times of cell simulations. The Neuron_Reduce tool maps a dendritic computation tree into a simpler multi-cylindrical tree, mapping synapses and ion channels into the reduced model to preserve their transfer impedance to the cell body. EPFL's Pramod Kumbhar said, "Neuron_Reduce ... opens the path for a novel type of reduced models that crucially maintain important details of the model but possibly run 40 to 250 times faster."

Friday, January 17, 2020

Stats on Alexa Skills

Decrease in skill increase.  Lots of other interesting skills, in particular by language. Now lets get the quality and intelligence up

New Alexa Skill Data Show New U.S. Skills Launched in 2019 Fall to Lowest Level Since 2016
Bret Kinsella in Voicebot.ai

U.S. Alexa skills climb to 70,729, up 24.6% for the year, but the smallest total increase in skills since 2016, with only 38.2 new skills added per day in 2019 compared to 85.0 per day in 2018

There were fewer Alexa skills generated in the U.S., UK, and Germany in 2019 than in 2018

Reduction in developer incentives appears to be a contributing factor in reducing new Alexa skill introductions

New Alexa skill growth is strong in Spain and Italy with the former showing 200% growth in the second half of 2019 alone

Amazon announced in September that there are more than 100,000 unique Alexa skills worldwide. The largest of those markets, the U.S., had 70,729 alone at year-end followed by other English-speaking countries the UK at 36,341, India at 32,879, Canada with 25,950, and Australia 24,651. 

The combined numbers will tally far beyond 100,000 because these figures represent the number of Alexa skills available in January 2020 to users in those countries and some skills, particularly English-language skills, are published simultaneously in multiple locations. The largest non-English Alexa skill store today is German with 10,065 skills. .... " 

AR Contact Lens: Prototype

If the QR Contact lens finally here in prototype.   Has been talked about for some time.   Ultimate kind of wearable.

Tech Start-up Develops AR Contact Lenses
Financial Times
Patrick McGee

Start-up Mojo Vision is developing augmented reality contact lenses to allow wearers access to the Internet in real time. The lenses, demonstrated at CES 2020, contain a micro-light-emitting-diode screen, a microprocessor, wireless communication, and an array of sensors. Users select functions by moving their eyes over a ring-shaped home screen. Users activate the home screen by glancing sideways, selecting options by gaze, and clicking on options by holding their stare for several milliseconds. Mojo's Steve Sinclair said, "The goal is you put the lens on in the morning and you wear it all day. It's off most of the day—but when you need it, it's on to give you the information you need." 


Be Hopeful about the Future

Good thoughts here, with the usual cautions coming from this source.

Pessimism dematerialized: Four reasons to be hopeful about the future

In More from Less, MIT Sloan School of Management’s Andrew McAfee argues that the “four horsemen of the optimist” are galloping to the planet’s rescue.

by Theodore Kinni in Strategy+Business    Further excerpts at the link:

If you’re a glass-half-full person, you’re going to love Andrew McAfee’s latest book, More from Less. Always optimistic, while still expressing minor notes of caution, McAfee, a research scientist at the MIT Sloan School of Management and cofounder and codirector of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy (with frequent collaborator Erik Brynjolfsson), believes that life on this planet is getting better all the time. He also thinks that though humans face some big challenges, we have at our command all the resources needed to meet them.  ... " 

AI for Pizza?

Not unexpected.... classic examples of looking for patterns, then creating efficiency based predictions.  Use that to provide the right profitable incentives.  Has always been a good place to start,  even before AI.

AI… for Pizza?! in Datanami    By Oliver Peckham in Datanami

If you order a pizza from Domino’s, you might be getting it with a free side of AI. The pizza giant is determined to make big data and AI cornerstones of a company that has typically focused more on pizza stones. Now, Nvidia is highlighting how Domino’s is leveraging the power of data to deliver valuable insights in addition to pizza.

Zack Fragoso, a data science and AI manager at Domino’s, explained how the company had grown its data science team exponentially – a move “driven by the impact [the team] had on translating analytics insights into action items for the business team.”

Domino’s made its first public foray into AI with “Points for Pie,” a Super Bowl ad stunt that allowed customers to send a smartphone picture of (any) pizza to Domino’s, earning points that could be used for free pizza. “No one was sure how to recognize purchases and award points,” Fragoso said. “The data science team said this is a great AI application, so we built a model that classified pizza images. The response was overwhelmingly positive. We got a lot of press and massive redemptions, so people were using it.”

Domino’s is also starting to operationalize AI for a more common use case: pizza delivery. Fragoso and his team have tackled the model that predicts when an order will be delivered by assessing the number of employees working, the orders in the pipeline and current traffic conditions, improving its accuracy from 75% to 95%.   .... " 

A Theory of Computing

Looks to be of interest, both technical and philosophical.  Undergrad view at least, but could inspire people to think about where all this emerging tech and hype is going once again.  The word 'Theory' scares many people,  but can be a useful way to think of things.  And why computing is now so  important to business and economics.   Relating back to the notion of 'virtual agents', its  a means of installing elements of assistance everywhere, for everyone.    So we should think about its likely future.

Exploring the Theory of Computing    By Allyn Jackson in CACM

Avi Wigderson.  (Interview) 

In his new book, Avi Wigderson discusses, among other things, how fundamental computational processes are to all fields of science.

Credit: Simons Foundation

For close to half a century, the problem of P versus NP has resisted resolution. It also has inspired a tremendous flowering of the field of theoretical computer science and led to an explosion of interconnections to other branches of science and engineering.

Avi Wigderson's new 440-page book, Mathematics and Computation: A Theory Revolutionizing Technology and Science (Princeton University Press, October 2019), lays out a commanding overview of the theory of computing and argues for its central role in human thought.

Wigderson is the Herbert H. Maass Professor in the School of Mathematics of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, where he has been leading computer science and discrete math activities for the past 20 years. Among his honors is the 2019 Donald E. Knuth Prize, conferred by the ACM Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computation Theory (SIGACT) and the IEEE Technical Committee on the Mathematical Foundations of Computing for outstanding contributions to the foundations of computer science,

CACM recently spoke with Wigderson about his book. What follows is an edited and condensed version of the conversation.

This is a very unusual book. It's part exposition of the development of a technical area, part account of the state of an art, part philosophical exploration. It seems to me it's also part love letter; there is a lot of passion in the book. How did it come about?

It came out of a failure to write a different book. When I started eight or more years ago, I was planning to write a popular book. I wrote several chapters but found it very hard to decide on the level. Eventually Edna, my wife, suggested that I write a book that I can finish!

This is the book that I knew how to write. It's aimed at a somewhat more sophisticated audience, not very sophisticated; undergrads can read it.  Quite a few chapters can be read by almost anyone with a little background and, of course, motivation. I hope the clarity is attractive enough for people who start reading to be caught and to continue.  .... "