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Monday, November 30, 2020

Templates for Computerized Robot Design

Seems a useful approach as we use robot solutions for more applications. Includes both physical designs and control programming.   And Optimization to tasks involved. 

Computer-Aided Creativity in Robot Design

MIT News,  By Daniel Ackerman

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a system that simulates and optimizes robot design and control programs. RoboGrammar avoids jumbled structures yielded from arbitrary connections between parts by following rules on component arrangement, or graph grammar, inspired by arthropods. Based on inputs of available components and intended terrain, RoboGrammar defines the problem, drafts possible solutions, and chooses the optimal ones, using graph grammar to design all permutations. Each robot has a Model Predictive Control algorithm to model its movements and select the best design, while a graph heuristic search algorithm iteratively samples and assesses sets of robots, learning which designs execute a specific task better. Said Columbia University’s Hod Lipson, “This work is a crowning achievement in the 25-year quest to automatically design the morphology and control of robots.”

Four Stages of Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

 A good intro look at RPA from DSC.  Below the intro, more at the link.   A good place to start with AI oriented automation.  Also not emphasized enough.  I would include the 'process' part, and ask: how does the process modeled integrate with key business process?     I would also include:  "What are the risks involved of the automation under current and future context"?

The Four Stages of Robotic Process Automation (RPA)   Posted by Amit Dua in DSC

“Robotic process automation is not a physical [or] mechanical robot,” says Chris Huff, chief strategy officer at Kofax. In fact, there is no presence or involvement of any robots in the automation software, as its name says.

RPA or Robotic Process Automation is an amalgamation of three factors:

Robotic – entities impersonating human activities and processes known as ‘Robots.’

Process – multiple small activities that lead to one outcome or result.

Automation – tasks done by machines and robots instead of humans.

Robotic Process Automation is a set of software robots that run on a virtual or physical machine. It automates most of the mundane and boring tasks of the business. RPA bots are capable of impersonating almost all human-computer interactions, which further tackles those business tasks, error-free. Besides, this technology works at a much faster pace and volume..... "

IBM Plans to Deliver Quantum Safe Crypto in Cloud

Much more at the link.  Available at all scales, speeds, needs?

IBM Cloud Delivers Quantum-Safe Cryptography and Hyper Protect Crypto Services to Help Protect Data in the Hybrid Era  in PRNews

IBM brings hybrid cloud leadership together with quantum and security research expertise to stay at the forefront of quantum cybersecurity


ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a series of cloud services and technologies designed to help clients maintain the highest available level of cryptographic key encryption protection to help protect existing data in the cloud1 and prepare for future threats that could evolve with advances in quantum computing. Pioneered by IBM Research scientists, the company is now offering quantum-safe cryptography support for key management and application transactions in IBM Cloud®, making it the industry's most holistic quantum-safe cryptography approach to securing data available today.

The new capabilities include:

Quantum Safe Cryptography Support: Through the use of open standards and open source technology, this service enhances the standards used to transmit data between enterprise and Cloud, helping to secure data by using a quantum-safe algorithm.

Extended IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Crypto Services: New capabilities are available to enhance privacy of data in cloud applications, where data sent over the network to cloud applications and sensitive data elements like credit card numbers, are stored in a database that can be encrypted at application-level – supported by the industry's highest level of cryptographic key encryption protection with 'Keep Your Own Key' (KYOK) capability.  .... '

Need the Right Data, Methods and the Willingness to use them

Challenges and Dilemmas in context

China's Surveillance State Sucks Up Data. U.S. Tech Is Key to Sorting It

The New York Times   By Paul Mozur; Don Clark

Chips from U.S. companies Intel and Nvidia power a Chinese supercomputing facility that monitors people in a region known for government suppression, raising issues about the technology sector's responsibility. The Urumqi Cloud Computing Center watches the population of Xinjiang using Intel and Nvidia chips sold to Sugon, the company backing the center, to sort the collected data. Local officials in 2017 said the center would support a Chinese police surveillance project capable of searching 100 million photos a second, and by 2018 its systems could link to 10,000 video feeds and analyze 1,000 simultaneously, via artificial intelligence. Intel and Nvidia claimed they were unaware of what they termed misuse of their technology.  ... 

Safer Navigation in Unknown Territory

Key aspect of safer navigation .... dealing with uncertainty in unknown territory.

ML Guarantees Robots' Performance in Unknown Territory

Princeton Engineering News   By Molly Sharlach

Princeton University researchers have developed a machine learning (ML) technique for ensuring robots' safety and success in unfamiliar environments. The researchers came up with the technique by adapting ML frameworks from other fields to robotic movement and grasping. The new technique was tested in various simulations, and also validated by evaluating its use for obstacle avoidance using a small combination quadcopter/fixed-wing airplane drone that flew down a 60-foot-long corridor dotted with cardboard cylinders; it avoided those obstacles 90% of the time. The Toyota Research Institute's Hongkai Dai said, " Over the last decade or so, there’s been a tremendous amount of excitement and progress ... " 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Future of the Kitchen

 Our own innovation centers had 'kitchens of the future' to demonstrate product use and appliance integration.    Consumer behavior in context.      We invited companies to provide future scenarios.   This was in the first flurry of smartphone usage.  Good piece here. 

The Future of Kitchen Design Is Hands-Free, Smartphone-Activated

The Wall Street Journal  J.S. Marcus

Kitchen appliance designers and manufacturers increasingly rely on technological advances, using cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence, and novel materials to modernize the kitchen. Appliance maker Miele's G7000 dishwashers are equipped with sensors that prompt owners' smartphones to reorder detergent when running low, while rival Bosch's dishwashers are made with a Zeolite mineral compound that helps plastic items dry more efficiently. Bosch also has integrated refrigerator cameras with its new cloud-accessing system, so they can suggest recipes based on ingredients currently stocked. The Covid-19 pandemic also is reshaping homeowners' kitchen expectations, with touchless features and sanitization increasingly desired.

Tesla Could Widen Release of Self Driving Software

 More data being gathered, and likely getting closer to sharing roads with many more fully self-driving vehicles.

Tesla could widen release of 'self-driving' software in two weeks   By Reuters Staff

 (Reuters) - Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said on Friday there will probably be a wider roll out of a new “Full Self Driving” software update in two weeks. In October, Tesla released a beta, or test version, of what it calls a “Full Self Driving” software upgrade to an undisclosed number of “expert, careful” drivers.

“Probably going to a wider beta in 2 weeks,” Musk said on Twitter, in a reply to a user asking if the software would be available in Minnesota. .... " 

More Learning from Patrolling Spot Robotics

This kind of patrolled security, here on an oil rig, has been mentioned here before. Could be a mix of telepresence, and specific patrol routing.   With camera recording of visual, auditory and contextual  information.  That is data that can be fed into pattern tracking machine learning.

Boston Dynamics Dog Robot Learns New Tricks on BP Oil Rig   By Catherine Koppel in Reuters

Boston Dynamics is programming its "Spot" dog robot to read gauges, look for corrosion, construct maps, and detect methane leaks, now that it is working on a British Petroleum (BP) oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. BP's Adam Ballard said Spot's observational functions will improve the safety of rig operations by reducing the need for personnel. He said, "We believe a lot of that up-front, remote work preparation can be done with a remotely controlled robot ... being able to pan, tilt, zoom, and really understand the entire area in real conditions, real time." BP hopes to expand Spot's data-gathering capability in the future to enhance areas where humans are limited. ... ' 

Don't Fear the Robots

 Robotics and Automation will also create many jobs, just be ready for those jobs.

Don't Fear the Robots, and Other Lessons From a Study of the Digital Economy

The New York Times  By Steve Lohr

A task force established by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has published its findings on technology's effect on the U.S. workforce, and policies to boost opportunities for American workers in the digital economy. The team determined that automation via robots and artificial intelligence will not lead to a jobless future, but will create new jobs because the technologies cannot match all human abilities. Moreover, the task force believes U.S. training programs must align with market demands via public-private partnerships. Ginni Rometty on the MIT advisory board said, "Technology companies have an obligation to help responsibly prepare society for these higher-skill jobs." ...

Future of Industry Ecosystems

Useful look outlining the need for and nature of modern ecosystems, which ultimately create context for work and linking to analytics and AI, and results.  Uncertainty also usefully considered. 

IDC Launches the Future of Industry Ecosystems: Built on the Platform and Sharing Economy

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The tactical and strategic priority list for leadership, built on the premise of a steady rate of change, has changed dramatically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic uncertainty. Organizations are embracing radical change in short periods of time to survive and thrive. Initiatives that deliver resiliency, agility, responsiveness, and trust must now be implemented to maintain business growth. As a result, companies across industries are building ecosystems of partners that can help expedite the flow of money, goods, and services and innovate rapidly. To guide organizations through these changes, International Data Corporation (IDC) has published the Future of Industry Ecosystems framework.

IDC recognizes that the movement toward industry-wide ecosystems is happening now and gathered a group of its leading analysts across the globe to define what the Future of Industry Ecosystems looks like. The Future of Industry Ecosystems goes beyond partnering with more companies and organizations; it is also about leveraging the sharing of data, applications, operations, and expertise — expanding upon the platform, sharing economy that was built over the past five years. The segments of sharing across an industry ecosystem encompass the following:  ... ' 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Autonomous Cars Delivering Meds in London

More attempts at automated delivery:

Autonomous Green Robot Cars to Deliver Medicine Around London

Interesting Engineering By Chris Young

A fleet of autonomous, electrically-powered green robot vehicles has started delivering medicine to care homes in London's Hounslow borough, as part of a public trial. The Kar-go, from U.K. startup Academy of Robotics, will be the first custom-built autonomous delivery vehicle to conduct last-mile deliveries on public roads in Britain. The robot car can travel at 96 kilometers (60 miles) per hour, carry a maximum load of 48 parcels, and use artificial intelligence to sort out parcels and calculate the speediest delivery route. The initial trials will have human operators sitting inside the Kar-gos, before they eventually transition to fully autonomous driving. The vehicle will drive itself to and from the sender and recipient's address, with a smartphone application alerting the recipient upon arrival. A robotic conveyor within the Kar-go enables contact-free parcel handover  ... " 

A New, Free, MIT Introduction to Machine Learning AI Course

We worked with MIT in a number of ways, with their supply chain group,  their Media Laboratory and with a number of their researchers.  Impressive group.  I still provide publicity for some of their research. We introduced early AI to the enterprise.  I have now been asked to provide a review of their latest. A new, Free Introduction to Machine Learning AI Course.    See more more about it below.   If you also take it please provide some of your own thoughts about it to me.  - Franz  

MIT Released a New, Free Machine Learning Course

Don’t miss this!  By Frederik Bussler from Medium

MIT Open Learning Library just released an Introduction to Machine Learning course    . The free 13-week course covers machine learning algorithms, supervised and reinforcement learning, and more.

While you don’t need these skills to deploy AI, given no-code AI companies like Obviously.AI   , it can help if you want to work on the cutting-edge and build new architectures.

Why MIT?

MIT is a world-famous organization, and for a good reason. This prestigious university boasts graduates like Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon (fun fact: Buzz Lightyear was named after Buzz Aldrin).

You’ll be part of a community of learners. Dreamers. Doers. Indeed, part of the Open Learning Library’s mission is “Extending MIT’s knowledge to the world.” You get all this for free.  ....

Friday, November 27, 2020

Coffee Analysis Using Pattern Recognition

Used to be in the coffee blend analysis and optimization space, so this was interesting.  Nicely done.  We did some similar things with classical optimization and statistical systems.  Below an intro, link takes you to more detail exploration and to the data and technical details.  Also a good example of this kind of pattern recognition problem.   See my 'Coffee' tag below for many mentions of our work and related research.

Comparing Coffee using Pattern Recognition

Exploring coffee similarities using cupping grades and flavors

By Robert McKeon Aloe   in Towards Data Science

After trying a variety of coffees from around the world, I have often wondered if coffee grades or flavors could tell me which coffees were similar to each other and which were different. I am particularly interested if such comparisons could be used to help determine the best blends by increasing my understanding of how coffees relate to each other. Luckily, I found some data to investigate just that question.

I have looked at two databases with coffee grades, and previously, I’ve used the CQI database to investigate similarities between coffees. I’m applying the same techniques here.

I amended one of the databases from Sweet Maria’s. I previously pulled their Q-scores, but they also had flavor ratings for each coffee. So I went back, and I pulled flavor ratings for all the beans. I ended up with a slightly larger database than previously at 407 coffees. ... "

New Zoom Abuse: TurkeyBombing

In the sense that your guard may be down to phishing when you are casually involved in video communication with family and friends.

TurkeyBombing Puts New Twist on Zoom Abuse   In Threatpost

Threat actors already stole nearly 4,000 credentials before the holiday was even over, according to report.

Millions of family and friends, forced to spend Thanksgiving socially distant, are being targeted by cybercriminals as they turn to video platforms like Zoom to virtually be together. In this ongoing attack, cybersecurity experts warn, victims are targeted with a Zoom-related and Thanksgiving-specific hook reminiscent to ZoomBoming — call it TurkeyBombing.

On Thursday, a security researcher warned that a major phishing campaign kicked off over the Thanksgiving long weekend and is aimed at stealing Microsoft credentials. Attackers have already successfully pried credentials out of thousands of users, according to the researcher who goes by the handle TheAnalyst.  According to the researcher, quoted in a BleepingComputer report, the attack is ongoing and forecast to continue. ... " 

Rules as Code: White Paper

More on the direction of encoding legal rules and reasoning, like smart contracts, in coding.   And their accurate use and manipulation. 

'Rules as Code' will let computers apply laws and regulations   by Guido Governatori, The Conversation  in TechExplore

Can computers read and apply legal rules? It's an idea that's gaining momentum, as it promises to make laws more accessible to the public and easier to follow. But it raises a host of legal, technical and ethical questions.

The OECD recently published a white paper https://oecd-opsi.org/report-launch-opsi-innovation-primer-on-rules-as-code/ on "Rules as Code" efforts around the world. The Australian Senate Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology will be accepting submissions on the subject until 11 December 2020.

Machines cannot read and respond to rules that are expressed in human language. To make rules machine-readable and actionable, the interpretation of the rules must also be coded. Determining how best to code law is important as we venture deeper into a digital future.  ... " 

Apple Using Boston Robotics Spot

 Been following various uses ot the 'Spot'  robot.   And how it makes its telepresence felt by its new subjects.    Here  new and different application, working with the construction of a building, apparently during the design and construction phase. 

Meet Apple’s telepresence robot

In APPLE HOLIC  By Jonny Evans, Computerworld

A Boston Dynamics robot called Spot is helping Apple and its architects design a new HQ at an iconic location.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced every industry to improvise and innovate to build agility and resilience to get through the crisis. Now, a key Apple partner is using telepresence robots as it leads construction of a Apple’s new headquarters in London. .... 

Apple’s billion-dollar Californian headquarters is somewhat under-used at the moment, but the company continues to invest in new centers worldwide as it continues to experience global growth. Apple in the UK has taken over a large part of the globally recognized Battersea Power Station for its new UK headquarters.   ... " 

Recorded Future Offers Handbook

 From a company we connected with in their early days, have not read this yet, looks to be of general interest.

Get Your Handbook for Disrupting Adversaries and Reducing Risk


If 2020 taught the security industry anything, it is this: There has never been a better time to be a cybercriminal. From extortion ransomware to cyberespionage campaigns, adversaries are capitalizing on uncertainty, causing chaos, and cashing in.

The only defenders who will win are the ones focused on proactively disrupting attackers’ activities.

Security intelligence is an outcomes-centric approach to reducing risk. It fuses internal and external threat, security, and business insights across an entire organization — and it is the most powerful weapon defenders have against threat actors. Now, there’s a handbook on security intelligence to guide you in this battle!   ... 

Addiction and Notifications

Intriguing experimental results which might drive other kinds of behavior on the phone.

Phone addiction not driven by notifications, study finds    By Cristina Criddle in BBC

Smartphone addiction is unlikely to be caused by notifications, a study by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) suggests.

It found that 89% of interactions with phones were unprompted, with only 11% responding to an alert.

Group chats were also considered a "source of distress" for participants in the study.

Scrolling features on Instagram and Facebook led to the longest interactions, the research found.

Checking your smartphone is largely caused by “an urge of the user to interact with their phone that seems to occur in an almost automatic manner, just as a smoker would light a cigarette”, the study says. ... " 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

On Serious Gamification

Podcast on the evolution of serious gamification.   We used it to some extent in the enterprise, but never to my satisfaction.  It requires a change in business user behavior.  There is much opportunity here.


‘For the Win’ authors Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter discuss the revised and updated edition of their book and how gamification has changed the way we work toward goals.

The story of gamification isn’t fun and games. It’s serious.

Authors Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter have been at the forefront of the development of gamification tools in business. In a revised and updated edition of their book, For the Win: The Power of Gamification and Game Thinking in Business, Education, Government, and Social Impact, they explain that when used carefully and thoughtfully, gamification produces great outcomes for users, in ways that are hard to replicate through other methods. Other times, companies misuse the “guided missile” of gamification to have people work and do things in ways that are against their self-interest.

The authors recently sat down with Brett LoGiurato, senior editor at Wharton School Press, to discuss their revised and updated book.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows:

Brett LoGiurato: I wanted to talk first about your initial interest in gamification and what drew you together. I understand it started as a shared interest in World of Warcraft, so how did you develop it from there?

Kevin Werbach: It was a shared interest in games and the power of games. We were originally both faculty at Wharton, and we were both studying what was then called “cyberspace”—virtual worlds. Dan actually did this work before I did, but he and others started looking at virtual worlds of games and comparing that to the virtual world that was getting built with the internet in cyberspace. I found that incredibly fascinating, and I found Dan to be a really brilliant guy, as well. So we became friends, and one of the things that we did was with a group of researchers, journalists and others who studied games in virtual worlds — we got together and started playing a game, World of Warcraft, back when it originally launched, now 15-plus years ago.

That experience of seeing what it was actually like in this incredibly sophisticated virtual world really further kindled our interest. Then when this phenomenon of gamification started to develop a couple of years later, people were saying, “We can learn from games and take insights from developing effective games and apply that to business and apply that to the things in the real world that we are studying.” I think that’s really the point where both of us jumped and said, “Yes, we really think this is something significant, and we can contribute to the understanding.”  ....  '

Many Shoppers Want Zero in Store Human Interaction?

Not sure I fully agree,  some shoppers, for some goods.  But now they have now been well trained in the prospect.  Having actual quality interaction may be a big plus.  What really occurs in practice remains to be seen.    Links to some consumer polls here.

Many Shoppers Now Want Zero In-Store Human Interaction  By Jack M. Germain in ECommerceTimes

The rise in consumer adoption of e-commerce in the wake of the pandemic is pushing the rebirth of brick-and-mortar stores as potential bastions of interactionless in-store shopping that resembles an e-commerce experience. But these redesigns are not for all shoppers. Some prefer no brick-and-mortar shopping at all.

That consumer reaction is pushing retailers to redesign physical stores. Harris Poll research recently found that 70 percent of people want zero interaction with store personnel while shopping. Plus, 35 percent are totally fine never shopping in person again.

An online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18+ conducted by 3D vision system company Sense Photonics further drives home this sharp directional turn by consumers. The survey disclosed that shoppers willing to return to physical storefronts want a completely human-free, contactless, shopping experience. .... " 

Building ROS Robotics Applications

ROS Pointed out to me as instructive  .... 

Building Robotics Applications Using ROS and NVIDIA Isaac SDK

By Sameer Tangade and Cenk Oguz Saglam | November 11, 2020  Tags: Isaac SDK, Isaac Sim, Robotics, ROS, Simulation

The Robot Operating System (ROS) offers many software libraries and tools to help build robot applications, including framework, algorithms, sensors, and robot platforms. It is extremely popular with roboticists and researchers everywhere. A continuous influx of packages and libraries from the ecosystem makes it easy to get started on robotics projects.

Figure 1. Using the ROS bridge to connect the Isaac and ROS software stacks. ... 

NVIDIA Isaac SDK is an open robotics platform to accelerate the development and deployment of AI-powered robots. Isaac SDK brings a SW framework, Isaac Engine, for efficient processing on NVIDIA Jetson platforms as well as GPUs. It also includes AI and GPU-accelerated algorithms, Isaac GEMS, as well as an integration to Isaac Sim for NVIDIA RTX-powered photo-real simulation. These capabilities can be used in a ROS-based application stack using the Isaac SDK ROS bridge (Figure 1). This allows developers and researchers to leverage both platforms for building robotics applications.

In this post, we show you how to use the ROS bridge to take an image from a camera in ROS format and use it with an Isaac GEM (Superpixel). Using examples, we also look at connecting Isaac GEMs and Isaac Sim with a ROS application stack as well as modules using the Isaac ROS bridge. Finally, we explain how to write a message converter (ROS bridge) for ROS to Isaac or Isaac to ROS scenarios.  ... ' 

DISH and Qualcomm 5G RAN

More development of robust network infrastructure planned.

DISH and Qualcomm to Collaborate on the Development of the Nation's First O-RAN Compliant 5G Network

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. and SAN DIEGO, Nov. 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- DISH Network Corporation and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. today announced their collaboration to test open and virtualized RAN 5G solutions containing the new Qualcomm® 5G RAN Platforms to help fast track DISH's rollout of the nation's first cloud-native, Open RAN-compliant 5G network. DISH will utilize the Qualcomm 5G RAN Platforms through DISH's network vendors and device partners. The platforms are designed to allow emerging network  ... " 

via  https://www.prnewswire.com/

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Automation and Future of Work

 Classic issue, but underestimates how fast technology has been advancing.   Good thoughts though on the challenges. 

MIT Study: Effects of Automation on the Future of Work Challenges Policymakers   By John P. Desmond, AI Trends Editor  

Rising productivity brought on by automation has not led an increase in income for workers. This is among the conclusions of the 2020 report from the MIT Task Force on the Future of Work, founded in 2018 to study the relation between emerging technologies and work, to shape public discourse and explore strategies to enable a sharing of prosperity.  

Dr. Elisabeth Reynolds, Executive Director, MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future

“Wages have stagnated,” said Dr. Elisabeth Reynolds, Executive Director, MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future, who shared results of the new task force report at the AI and the Work of the Future Congress 2020 held virtually last week.   

The report made three areas of recommendations, the first around translating productivity gains from advances in automation to better quality jobs. “The quality of jobs in this country has been falling and not keeping up with those in other countries,” she said. Among rich countries, the US is among the worst places for the less educated and low-paid workers.” For example, the average hourly wage for low-paid workers in the US is $10/hour, compared to $14/hour for similar workers in Canada, who have health care benefits from national insurance.  ... " 

AI Running Your Meetings

 Well not quite yet.   But in our current situation there are lots of opportunity to test out exactly this idea.  And startups are establishing the first part, the efficient and secure multi person communication.  Now can AI add the logic and goal orientation?   Group results?   Links to business process?   Seen some evidence, but still lots of choppiness.  

AI Can Run Your Work Meetings Now   in Wired

" ... A new wave of startups is trying to optimize meetings, from automated scheduling tools to facial recognition that measures who’s paying attention.

Meetings have become the necessary evil of the modern workplace, spanning an elaborate taxonomy: daily stand-ups, sit-downs, all-hands, one-on-ones, brown-bags, status checks, brainstorms, debriefs, design reviews. But as time spent in these corporate conclaves goes up, work seems to suffer. Researchers have found that meetings correlate with a decline in workplace happiness, productivity, and even company market share. And in a year when so many office interactions have gone digital, the usual tedium of meeting culture is compounded by the fits and starts of teleconferencing.

Recently, a new wave of startups has emerged to optimize those meetings with, what else, technology. Macro (“give your meeting superpowers”) makes a collaborative interface for Zoom. Mmhmm offers interactive backgrounds and slide-share tools for presenters. Fireflies, an AI transcription tool, integrates with popular video conferencing platforms to create a searchable record of each meeting. And Sidekick (“make your remote team feel close again”) sells a dedicated tablet for video calls.  ..... "

Capturing Words from Silent Speech

An Indication of how AI can become very powerful, even replacing the need for actual speech with mouthed muscle activity.  A kind of pattern recognition.

UC Berkeley researchers detect ‘silent speech’ with electrodes and AI

Khari Johnson  @kharijohnson in VentureBeat

UC Berkeley researchers say they are the first to train AI using using silently mouthed words and sensors that collect muscle activity. Silent speech is detected using electromyography (EMG), with electrodes placed on the face and throat. The model focuses on what researchers call digital voicing to predict words and generate synthetic speech.

Researchers believe their method can enable a number of applications for people who are unable to produce audible speech and could support speech detection for AI assistants or other devices that respond to voice commands.  ... " 

Full Truck Alliance: Uber Like Trucking

Full Truck Alliance, a Chinese startup which provides an Uber-like service for the trucking industry, raises $1.7B, source says at a ~$12B valuation (Lulu Yilun Chen/Bloomberg)

Lulu Yilun Chen / in Bloomberg:

Full Truck Alliance, a Chinese startup which provides an Uber-like service for the trucking industry, raises $1.7B, source says at a ~$12B valuation  —  - Investors in the round include Tencent, Jack Ma's Yunfeng  — Full Truck Alliance one of the largest in SoftBank's portfolio   ... " 

Monday, November 23, 2020

StoryFit Analyzes Stories for Understanding

Again links to work we did for large advertisers using language analysis for marketing goals. 

Brought to my attention in a recent podcast on Artificial Intelligence by Bradley Netrock/.   interview with Monica Lander:

AI Company Storyfit studies films and books to understand them 

State of the Art Story Research, For Storytellers and Story Sellers

White Paper: https://www.storyfit.com/how-character-interactions-impact-drama-success?hsLang=en

Webinar https://www.storyfit.com/characterresearchregistrationpage?hsLang=en

StoryFit generates detailed data profiles of your properties so you can quickly find comps, discover story themes that appeal to niche audiences, search and re-market your back catalog, and make smarter decisions from development to marketing and merchandising. .... 

Run your project through our natural-language-processing software to generate a detailed profile of important story, character, and production-related metrics. Compare your script’s profile with our catalog containing the last 35+ years of films, find story themes that will resonate with audiences, predict your marketing budget, and more.  .... " 

Adapting Kiosks for the Pandemic

 Another are we addressed in the innovation centers, kiosks.  Here a good article about how the Pandemic is making us think more about their useful operation.

How the Pandemic Is Driving Kiosk Adaption

Peter Collier, SCB Contributor  in SCM

The COVID-19 pandemic threw the world for a loop. Virtually overnight, everything about the way businesses operated changed. Now, as they come to terms with new operating environments, many are looking for ways to deliver a good employee and customer experience, while improving safety and reducing costs.

Kiosks, the blanket term for self-service devices that automate transactions, can be a key part of the solution. Every day, new kiosks are being deployed in a variety of settings, including healthcare, retail, banks, food service, government agencies, school campuses, and more.

Kiosks for ticket purchase at movie theaters, airport check ins and wayfinding in malls are all familiar, but there are many other uses — especially now. For example, CleanslateUV is putting its sanitizers in department stores and restaurants so employees and customers can sanitize phones, keys and wallets when they enter and leave. Metrolinx is installing personal protective equipment (PPE) vending machines at transit hubs to ensure that passengers have access to masks and other safety items they may need to ride public transit.

And it doesn’t stop at PPE. Pharmacies are increasingly using kiosks to store and dispense drugs safely, and there’s a pilot program in Vancouver testing opioid dispensers from Signifi, using biometrics to deliver safe doses to marginalized communities.  ... " 

Remote Work, Example in Film Production

New changes in remote work, an example:

The film crews being directed from a continent away  By Richard Baimbridge  Business reporter BBC 

In a production studio in Kiev, Ukraine, a film director sits in front of a computer screen and yells, "Action!"

Some 7,500 km (4,660 miles) away in Shanghai, China, his assistant relays the message to the crew filming a TV advertisement for Mercedes-Benz.

Meanwhile, in Germany, executives from the carmaker are watching on in real time.

When the world first went into lockdown back in the spring, it shut down many film productions around the globe, be it for movies, or the advertising sector. Quarantine and social distancing rules, plus airlines grinding to a halt, more often made filming impossible.

But thanks to an increased roll-out of technology, remote filming is now growing in popularity. Assorted software systems mean that only a skeleton team is required on the ground, while the director and other colleagues can be on a different continent.  ... " 

Robo Taxis are Coming

More autonomy to be seen on the roads.   How soon will we see applications in broad use?

Robotaxis get the green light for paid rides in California

The state’s public utility commission authorized two new programs to allow driverless ride-hailing

By Andrew J. Hawkins@andyjayhawk  in TheVerge  ... 

USAF Tests Robotics Security, Surveillance

Another inevitable move, for surveillance and implied force available.  As I have mentioned for other security examples of use, the robot-dogs look scary. 

US Air Force deploys robot security dogs to guard base but doesn't go full Terminator  In TheRegister

Iain Thomson in San Francisco 

In Brief Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida is now guarded by robotic canines that will patrol the area before popping back to their kennels for a recharge.

Over the past year the 325th Security Forces Squadron have been trialing the security robots via a so-called "3D Virtual Ops Center," where the hardware hounds patrol the grounds and feed back data to central command.

"These robot dogs will be used as a force multiplier for enhanced situational awareness by patrolling areas that aren’t desirable for human beings and vehicles," said Major Jordan Criss, 325th Security Forces Squadron commander.

"We will be able to drive them in a virtual reality headset within our Base Defense Operations Center. We will be able to see exactly what the robot dog is detecting through its mobile camera and sensor platform if desired, we will also be able to issue verbal commands to a person or people through a radio attached to the dogs."

No offensive capability has been built into these puppies, however, they're strictly monitoring only.  .... " 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Learning Long Horizon Planning

 Another interesting piece from Berkeley - BAIR. Now looking at more complex planning.  Long range planning that machines are not necessarily good at.   But humans are also not so good at problems that require many option planning and analysis.  COuld this be something where machines and humans could collaborate well.    Had some supply chain planning models that might have used these directions.  Byond the intro this article is technical.

Learning State Abstractions for Long-Hoprizon Planning

By Scott Emmons*, Ajay Jain*, Michael Laskin*, Thanard Kurutach, Pieter Abbeel, Deepak Pathak 

Many tasks that we do on a regular basis, such as navigating a city, cooking a meal, or loading a dishwasher, require planning over extended periods of time. Accomplishing these tasks may seem simple to us; however, reasoning over long time horizons remains a major challenge for today’s Reinforcement Learning (RL) algorithms. While unable to plan over long horizons, deep RL algorithms excel at learning policies for short horizon tasks, such as robotic grasping, directly from pixels. At the same time, classical planning methods such as Dijkstra’s algorithm and A∗ search can plan over long time horizons, but they require hand-specified or task-specific abstract representations of the environment as input.

To achieve the best of both worlds, state-of-the-art visual navigation methods have applied classical search methods to learned graphs. In particular, SPTM [2] and SoRB [3] use a replay buffer of observations as nodes in a graph and learn a parametric distance function to draw edges in the graph. These methods have been successfully applied to long-horizon simulated navigation tasks that were too challenging for previous methods to solve.  ... " 

Customer Management Must Change

Yes, consider the impact of uncertainty for longer periods as linked to a risk model.

Growth in Uncertainty: As Consumers Change, Customer Management Must Evolve as Well

By Richard Essigs, Ernst & Young LLP - 09/24/2020

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer products companies had a strong incentive to get closer to retailers and their end customers — and now that product demand, channel preferences and customer dynamics have rapidly swung in new directions, that need has only grown more vital. Evolving into a more agile and resilient organization requires your customer management to also evolve.

In my prior post, I discussed how the pandemic has impacted shopper attitudes, preferences and behaviors in ways that consumer products companies likely haven’t seen. While shoppers continue to say they want to return to what they perceive as normal, the reality of COVID-19 has made them reluctant to re-engage with their normal activities. Leading consumer products companies are working with retailers to validate behaviors that have fundamentally changed. In doing so, it is clear that customer management must be viewed through a lens that incorporates today’s dynamic retail environment. ... '

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Fraunhofer Modular Vehicle Concept

 Interesting conceptually, practical in what future time?  Thought provoking at least. 

Flexible and Individual: Fraunhofer Team Develops Groundbreaking Vehicle Concept

Research News / November 17, 2020

How can individualized luxury mobility be designed for the world of the year 2040? A world that will be driven by the idea of a circular economy and products with significantly longer lives. A world that will also be characterized by the desire for individual and quickly evolving lifestyles. How can the maximum level of driving comfort be achieved between these two polar opposites? To answer these questions, an interdisciplinary research team made up of experts from the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT, the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST, the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM, the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU, and the Fraunhofer for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut, WKI, has developed “Vision PI,” a modular futuristic mobility concept.

What does mobility of the future look like? Researchers from six Fraunhofer Institutes have developed a groundbreaking vehicle concept that can be flexibly and individually designed depending on the intended use. The concept calls for a modular passenger cell, following the logic of a shell principle, that can be flexibly adapted to the individual needs of the travelers: during the day, it serves as a communicative lounge; at night, it becomes a peaceful capsule for rest and recovery on long-haul trips. The interior can be adjusted flexibly and adapted in terms of settings. The materials used are made from renewable sources or are designed to optimize their ability to be reused or recycled. The entire module can be coupled with various mobility bases – with a vehicle platform, an air taxi, or a Hyperloop solution, depending on the need. It can also be transformed into an interactive virtual-reality lounge that enables limitless virtual travel around the whole world, thus contributing to an innovative component of new mobility and building designs.   ... " 

Automated Workflows are Rolling

Clearly, and this will continue.   But doing it right will still be a challenge.  The advantage will be to those that use the best approaches, applied to context with the right AI and analytics.  Think Autonomous is the future. 

Automated workflows are eating the world  By Tristan Pollock in VentureBeat

In just the past 12 months, over $2.2 billion has been funneled into tech companies building workflow automation solutions. This isn’t a bubble. It’s a balloon.

Hot technology companies like Slack ($14.5 billion market cap), Calendly ($60 million ARR), Docusign ($36 billion market cap), GitHub (bought by Microsoft for $7.5 billion), and Airtable ($185 million Series D), all have built-in workflow builders that range from simplified code to low code to graphical no-code. All it takes is a matter of minutes plugging X to Y to Z.

Just days ago, Adobe purchased Workfront, a marketing workflow automation platform, for $1.5 billion. Before that, Apple purchased a startup called Workflow and turned it into the Apple Shortcuts app. Workflow automation is the future.  .... ' 

Larping for Education

 Admit I did not know what LARPing was.  And thus not its use in education.  Or is it just like interning?  Or could it be linked to gaming?  You could use 'fictitious' experiences to broaden the possibilities for learning.  Guess it depends on the details.

The Role of LARPing in Computer Science Education.  By Logan Kugler in CACM

Live-action roleplaying (LARP) is often associated with dress-up and make-believe, but if intrepid researchers have their way, it could also have a positive effect on real-world computer science education.   Is it better to find real scenarios rather than fictitious ones?

The act of "LARPing" is when participants put on costumes and embark on made-up adventures in the physical world, which can include large mock battles and fantasy quests "kind of like a Dungeons and Dragons or a video game come to real life," as one passionate LARPer told Business Insider.

"LARP is a particularly profound vehicle for self-discovery, therapy, and education," says Sarah Lynne Bowman, an adjunct professor in Humanities, English, and Communications at Austin Community College and Richland College in Texas, and Ashford University in California; she also is a role-play studies researcher. "When players physically embody their characters, they often experience a strong degree of immersion into the physical, emotional, and social world of the setting."

Because of that, LARP may be a potent way to teach computer science. By immersing students into fictional scenarios that teach real-world computer science skills, some researchers claim LARPing can promote learner engagement and subject matter recall. In fact, one high-profile project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is trying to prove just that. ... ' 

Friday, November 20, 2020

IOT Deep Learning Enabled

Of Course, a step forward we need to do systematically.   Can this make our home devices learn from their experiences?   Have them ask for help?  Look for help from other sources?   Try out solutions?

 System Brings Deep Learning to Internet of Things Devices

MIT News   By Daniel Ackerman

November 13, 2020

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a system that could implement deep learning within Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The MCUNet system designs compact neural networks that supply unprecedented speed and accuracy amid memory and processing constraints. MCUNet features two critical co-designed elements for running neural networks on microcontrollers—TinyEngine, an inference engine that directs resource management; and TinyNAS, a neural architecture search algorithm that produces custom-sized networks. The University of California at Berkeley's Kurt Keutzer said this development "extends the frontier of deep neural network design even farther into the computational domain of small energy-efficient microcontrollers." He added that MCUNet could "bring intelligent computer-vision capabilities to even the simplest kitchen appliances, or enable more intelligent motion sensors."  ... ' 

Vint Cerf Talks Repairability

Below an intro, some good points.  

Repairability Redux  By Vinton G. Cerf

Communications of the ACM, December 2020, Vol. 63 No. 12, Page 5   10.1145/3429267

Google Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist Vinton G. Cerf 

I wrote about repairability in the February 2020 issue of Communications (p. 7) and here I am at year's end harping on the same topic. My excuse is COVID-19. I have been at home for the past six months while my normal schedule would have had me on the road three weeks out of four. Of course, like many of you, I have been all over the world—virtually—since mid-March. There are days when I can visit Australia and Austria and be home in time for dinner. So, what does that have to do with stuff that breaks? Mostly, I am actually here when it does. Under more normal conditions, my wife would have to call a repair person to fix or replace a broken item. Now that I am home, I am sometimes the one who discovers the problem, or I am told about it before a repair service gets the call. I am an engineer of sorts, so broken things attract my attention. Engineers love problems to solve. "Fix me! Fix me! You can do it!" Of course, if you are like me, you go to the hardware store three times: first to get the stuff you need, second to get the stuff you forgot, and third to get the stuff you need to fix what you broke. My basic rant is that manufactured goods today do not seem to take into account the possibility of repair.   ... " 

Insikt Group to Reduce Risk

Like the idea of risk reduction being specifically included, rarely done well enough, and especially  useful ly and measurably.   Just brought to my attention.

How Insikt Group’s Operational Outcomes Team Drives Action to Reduce Risk  By Lindsay Kaye

I’m Lindsay Kaye, the director of operational outcomes for Insikt Group®. Insikt Group as a whole produces analyst-generated insights to generate validated intelligence sources within the Recorded Future® Platform. Insikt Group also performs novel security intelligence research in a variety of different areas, including nation-state threat actor groups, threat actors operating in the criminal underground, and all manner of technical topics.

Simply put, the operational outcomes team creates insights that drive action that can be taken to reduce the risk associated with an identified threat. Our team also specializes in technical research, supporting our own focus area and other specialized teams within Insikt Group.  ... " 

Magnetic Spray Transforms Objects Into Insect-Scale Robots for Biomed

 Quite a remarkable statement.   Just by itself.    Just spray it on.  Awaiting the demos.  Back to my favorite small robotics theme. 

Magnetic Spray Transforms Objects Into Insect-Scale Robots for Biomedical Applications   By SciTechDaily

The reptile millirobot changes from caterpillar motion to concertina motion after reprogramming. 

A research team at City University of Hong Kong developed an easy way to make millirobots, by coating objects with a glue-like magnetic spray.

An easy way to make millirobots by coating objects with a glue-like magnetic spray was developed in a joint research led by a scientist from City University of Hong Kong (CityU). Driven by the magnetic field, the coated objects can crawl, walk, or roll on different surfaces. As the magnetic coating is biocompatible and can be disintegrated into powders when needed, this technology demonstrates the potential for biomedical applications, including catheter navigation and drug delivery.

The research team is led by Dr. Shen Yajing, Associate Professor of the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at CityU in collaboration with the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The research findings have been published in the scientific journal Science Robotics, titled "An agglutinate magnetic spray transforms inanimate objects into millirobots for biomedical applications." ... 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Amazon Smart Glasses are for Sale

Recall I have been following the idea of 'smart glasses' for a long time.   Since we experimented very early on with prototype glasses to display maintenance diagrams and data in real time on the plant floor.  That were never adopted,  they were slow to update and not easy to use.  But that was in the 80s.  I don't think these would work for that project either as they exist.

Amazon's Alexa-powered smart glasses are now more widely available

The $250 Echo Frames are Amazon's take on smart glasses.

By Nathan Ingraham in Engadget

Last year, Amazon announced Echo Frames, which are almost exactly what they sound like — a prescription-ready eyeglasses frame that looks pretty standard but has built-in microphones for you to summon Alexa. They were announced as a “Day One” product, made in limited quantities and only available via a special invitation. But now, a little over a year later, Echo Frames are available to anyone who wants them.

As the first Day 1 item graduating to a full-fledged product, Amazon has made a bunch of improvements to these new Echo Frames. The first model had open-ear speakers where you would hear replies, and the new model can automatically adjust volume based on how loud your surroundings are. Amazon also says battery life is up to 40 percent longer (during continuous playback at 60 percent volume). Another battery improvement comes from an “auto-off” features — if you put the frames upside-down for three seconds, they’ll automatically power down. ... ' 

Google Announces 3D Object Detection

 Could lead to very  interesting applications.  More phone based marketing and location possibilities? And another round of complaints like we have seen from face recognition. 

Real-Time 3D Object Detection on Mobile Devices with MediaPipe

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Posted by Adel Ahmadyan and Tingbo Hou, Software Engineers, Google Research

Object detection is an extensively studied computer vision problem, but most of the research has focused on 2D object prediction. While 2D prediction only provides 2D bounding boxes, by extending prediction to 3D, one can capture an object’s size, position and orientation in the world, leading to a variety of applications in robotics, self-driving vehicles, image retrieval, and augmented reality. Although 2D object detection is relatively mature and has been widely used in the industry, 3D object detection from 2D imagery is a challenging problem, due to the lack of data and diversity of appearances and shapes of objects within a category.

Today, we are announcing the release of MediaPipe Objectron, a mobile real-time 3D object detection pipeline for everyday objects. This pipeline detects objects in 2D images, and estimates their poses and sizes through a machine learning (ML) model, trained on a newly created 3D dataset. Implemented in MediaPipe, an open-source cross-platform framework for building pipelines to process perceptual data of different modalities, Objectron computes oriented 3D bounding boxes of objects in real-time on mobile devices.  ... "

On IOT Security: Guidelines for Improvement

 As we depend on many new communicating  'things' in our environment, their design and management over time and context must be done better.

IoT Security Is a Mess. These Guidelines Could Help Fix That

By Danny Palmer in ZDNet

New guidelines from the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) specify recommendations for strengthening Internet of Things (IoT) security throughout product development. The Guidelines for Securing the IoT-Secure Supply Chain for IoT urge further integration of cybersecurity expertise within all organizational layers so supply-chain participants can identify potential risks before they become serious. ENISA also recommends adopting "Security by Design" across the IoT development cycle, with emphasis on careful planning and risk management. Moreover, the guidelines advise organizations to nurture better relationships throughout product development and deployment, in order to close security loopholes that may emerge when communication between participants is lacking. ENISA’s Juhan Lepassaar said, "Securing the supply chain of ICT products and services should be a prerequisite for their further adoption, particularly for critical infrastructure and services. Only then can we reap the benefits associated with their widespread deployment, as it happens with IoT.”  ... ' 

Designing the Echo

 Fast Company looks at the design and redesign of the Amazon Echo since 2014.  Thoughtful examination of how complex consumer design works.

Why Amazon radically redesigned the Echo

You may be ordering one for Black Friday. But why is it shaped like that? ... 

Modeling Multi Agent Interacting Systems

 Fascinating piece.  Aren't we all multi agent interacting systems?  Can we effectively model that to understand it in context?   Berkeley Bair takes a took.  Its hard.  Considerable technical challenge.  Starting with urban traffic models.   Early on we used agent modeling to understand how new markets changed.   

EvolveGraph: Dynamic Neural Relational Reasoning for Interacting Systems

Jiachen Li    Nov 18, 2020

Multi-agent interacting systems are prevalent in the world, from purely physical systems to complicated social dynamic systems. The interactions between entities / components can give rise to very complex behavior patterns at the level of both individuals and the multi-agent system as a whole. Since usually only the trajectories of individual entities are observed without any knowledge of the underlying interaction patterns, and there are usually multiple possible modalities for each agent with uncertainty, it is challenging to model their dynamics and forecast their future behaviors.

Figure 1. Typical multi-agent interacting systems.

In many real-world applications (e.g. autonomous vehicles, mobile robots), an effective understanding of the situation and accurate trajectory prediction of interactive agents play a significant role in downstream tasks, such as decision making and planning. We introduce a generic trajectory forecasting framework (named EvolveGraph) with explicit relational structure recognition and prediction via latent interaction graphs among multiple heterogeneous, interactive agents. Considering the uncertainty of future behaviors, the model is designed to provide multi-modal prediction hypotheses. Since the underlying interactions may evolve even with abrupt changes over time, and different modalities of evolution may lead to different outcomes, we address the necessity of dynamic relational reasoning and adaptively evolving the interaction graphs.

Challenges of Multi-Agent Behavior Prediction

Figure 2. An illustration of a typical urban intersection scenario.

We use an urban intersection scenario with multiple interacting traffic participants as an illustrative example to elaborate on the major challenges of the multi-agent behavior prediction task.

First, there may be heterogeneous agents that have distinct behavior patterns, thus using a homogeneous dynamics / behavior model may not be sufficient. For example, there are different constraints and traffic rules for vehicles and pedestrians. More specifically, vehicle trajectories are strictly constrained by road geometry and their own kinematic models; while pedestrian behaviors are much more flexible.  ... ' 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Supply Chain: Its Now about Risk

Now even more so, its about risk. Measuring, predicting and addressing.

Supply Chain Risk Management - Reach the Next Level of Supply Chain Maturity

 Marcus Evans in SupplyChainBrain

Following a number of successful Supply Chain Conferences, marcus evans is now organizing the Supply Chain Risk Management: Resilience & Diversity Conference on the 18th to 20th of January 2021 Online through their Live+ digital platform. 

The unprecedented pandemic and economic freeze COVID-19 has brought about brings even more into focus the current lack of resilience of global supply chains. The global pandemic has revealed all of the risks and weaknesses plaguing the way current supply chains work, but it also represents a big opportunity for this big transformation to be pushed through much quicker than it would have been otherwise. Companies now have an unprecedented opportunity to adjust their entire supply chain to a new model, one that is more flexible, that brings in new products and an overall culture change.  ... " 

IBM Buys Observability

The broader concept of 'observability' was new to me, but as described very useful.    Performance and beyond.  Clearly applicable to AI applications.  Now thinking it further.

IBM acquires application observability startup Instana  BY  Maria Deutscher  in SiliconAngle

IBM Corp. today announced plans to acquire Instana Inc., a Chicago-based application monitoring startup that has raised more than $50 million from investors including Accel and Meritech Capital Partners.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Instana’s namesake platform helps organizations track the health of their workloads to identify technical issues that may interfere with the user experience. The platform can spot issues such as latency spikes that are causing an application to respond slowly and processing errors caused by software bugs.

Instana can track a wide range of workloads. The startup’s platform lends itself to monitoring applications running both in the cloud and on-premises, as well as the automated continuous integration and continuous delivery toolchains that development teams use to release new code. Notably, the platform also provides visibility into workloads running on IBM mainframes, a feature that no doubt factored into the company’s decision to buy Instana.

The deal buys IBM new artificial intelligence capabilities. In addition to displaying data about application performance, Instana uses machine learning to surface patterns of interest for information technology teams. The startup’s platform can create a map of all the different components that make up an application and automatically update the visualization when one of the components changes.  ... "

What Blockchain Could Mean for Your Health Data

Thoughts about blockchain and health data

What Blockchain Could Mean for Your Health Data
by Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott  in HBR

Big data is perhaps the most powerful asset we have in solving big problems these days. We need it to track and trace infection, manage healthcare talent and medical supply chains, and plan for our economic futures.

But how can we balance data and privacy? Legislation and regulation of big data such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act are partial measures at best. Regulators and pundits have focused so much on the demand side of the data equation — that is, on the use or sale of private citizens’ data in corporate applications like Facebook, Google, and Uber without the individuals’ awareness — that they’ve failed to look at the supply side of data: where data originates, who creates it, who really owns it, and who gets to capture it in the first place.

The answer is you do. All these data are a subset of your digital identity — the “virtual you,” created by your data contrail across the Internet. That’s how most corporations and institutions view you. As Carlos Moreira, CEO of WISeKey, said, “That identity is now yours, but the data that comes from its interaction in the world is owned by someone else.”

It’s time we started taking our personal data as seriously as the top tech firms do. We need to understand its real value to us in all aspects of our lives. Blockchain technology can help us do that, enabling us to use our data proactively and improve our well-being. And while there are many areas where taking control of our data might improve our lives, there is one particularly promising ,,,, '

Enhancing Learning with Praise

Praise should work,   but how do you deliver it, and best understand its behavioral implications?  Contextual influence?   This is an example I want to see more data on.

Motivational Artificial Beings Better Than 1 for Enhancing Learning

University of Tsukuba (Japan)

November 5, 2020

A study by researchers at the University of Tsukuba in Japan found that praise delivered by robots and virtual graphics-based agents has an impact similar to that of praise delivered by humans, when it comes to improving offline learning. Study participants learned a finger-tapping task under different conditions over a two-day period, with variations in timing and frequency of praise, the number of agents, and whether the agents were physically present or on a screen. Said the university's Takamasa Iio, "We found that praise led to a measurable increase in task performance, indicating increased offline consolidation of the task. Further, two agents led to significantly greater participant performance than one agent, even when the amount of praise was identical."

Amazon Pharmacy Launches

Long awaited, implications will be interesting.  Supply chain in the era of epidemic should be good.  Linked to Prime.

Will Amazon’s new online pharmacy disrupt the U.S. drugstore business?

By George Anderson  in Retailwire

Amazon.com announced the launch of Amazon Pharmacy, a new online pharmacy service and another free perk for the e-tailing giant’s Prime members.

The new service offers free unlimited two-day deliveries of prescriptions filled by Amazon and lower prices (up to 40 percent off brand name; 80 percent off generic medications) for members who do not have health insurance. Amazon is also touting that there are over 50,000 pharmacies participating in its program across the U.S., all offering discount pricing, as well.

Consumers who want to use Amazon Pharmacy can go online or use the Amazon app to set up a profile with their insurance and payment information.   ... '

Low-Code Use Expanding

Will be the future.  Then quickly to No-Code.  With much use of code analysis and adaptation for goals like security, and compliance to standards.  Ultimately to make the code process conformant and understandable by management. 

Two-Thirds of Software Developers Have Increased Use of Low-Code Tools

Information Age  by Aaron Hurst

A survey by software company Nuxeo found that 41% of software developers want over half of their organization's app development processes to be based on low-code solutions by 2022. The developers report facing increased pressure to build and launch content-based applications quickly, with 70% of respondents noting the pandemic has made digital transformation more of a priority. However, the survey reveals nearly half (47%) of respondents do not have the low-code tools necessary to build applications fast enough to meet deadlines. Forty-three percent of those polled said it takes more than three months to build a typical content-based application, and 44% said long time frames prompted their organization to table application projects. Fifty-five percent said they have been encouraged by their employers to increase use of low-code development tools, but 61% said they use them only occasionally or rarely. ... '

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Tutorial: Random Forest for Time Series

 Am a long  time proponent of ensemble methods.  Here Jason Brownlee provides a nice tutorial on an often powerful method everyone should know.  As usual, well done, minimal tech.

Random Forest for Time Series Forecasting   by Jason Brownlee

by Jason Brownlee  in Time Series

Random Forest is a popular and effective ensemble machine learning algorithm.

It is widely used for classification and regression predictive modeling problems with structured (tabular) data sets, e.g. data as it looks in a spreadsheet or database table.

Random Forest can also be used for time series forecasting, although it requires that the time series dataset be transformed into a supervised learning problem first. It also requires the use of a specialized technique for evaluating the model called walk-forward validation, as evaluating the model using k-fold cross validation would result in optimistically biased results.

In this tutorial, you will discover how to develop a Random Forest model for time series forecasting.

After completing this tutorial, you will know:

Random Forest is an ensemble of decision trees algorithms that can be used for classification and regression predictive modeling.  Time series datasets can be transformed into supervised learning using a sliding-window representation.How to fit, evaluate, and make predictions with an Random Forest regression model for time series forecasting.

Let’s get started.   ....  

Autonomous Order Delivery by Wal-Mart

Even Walmart is doing tests of autonomous delivery.

Walmart, Cruise Launch Pilot to Deliver Orders via Self-Driving Cars

Kyle Wiggers in VentureBeat

General Motors-backed autonomous vehicle startup Cruise has announced a partnership with Walmart to deliver orders from a Scottsdale, AZ, Walmart store to local customers' homes, starting early next year. Customers will be able to place orders to the store and have them delivered in one of Cruise's electric self-driving Chevy Bolts. If the pilot goes well, a Cruise spokesperson said, the company will mull launching on-demand delivery with other retailers in the future. Walmart has forged driverless vehicle delivery partnerships with other automakers and startups. Also, through an alliance with Postmates and Ford, Walmart stores in Miami-Dade County, FL, are delivering goods using prototype self-driving cars. ... ' 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Introducing the Amazon Care Hub

Brought to my attention, a system that works with existing Amazon devices. Part of the Alexa App. No additional cost.  Which lets you follow the activities of people needing extra care.   Quickly communicate with and for them.   Say a parent, child, or someone who is remote and under medication, or has other special needs.  They make a big point that this is designed to be non obtrusive and ensures privacy.  But you can see how many will point out it could be mis-used, no matter how carefully Amazon designs it.  Looks like they have made a strong effort here.  For example requiring that permission be given for such 'monitoring'.  But will the granter understand the implications of the permission? Legal permission?  Below and at the link is more, will be implementing to test. 

Introducing the Care Hub, a free feature in the Alexa app that gives you new ways to remotely check in on parents or loved ones. With an Echo device at your loved one's home and the Alexa app on your phone, you’ll know they’re up and active. You can also get notified if they ask Alexa for help. It’s a simple way to feel close even when you're apart.

Created with features that provide assurance for you and independence for them

See how they’re doing, not what they’re doing

It’s easy to check in and know everything is going well throughout the day. A quick glance at the activity feed shows your loved one’s activity by category (like entertainment). You won’t see the song they played or what they said. Set up alerts to notify you if there's no activity or when the first interaction happens every day. It’s reassurance for you and independence for them.

A quick glance at the activity feed shows your loved one’s activity by category

Alexa will call and send a notification to your phone if your loved one asks for help. 

Be there when they need you most

“Alexa, call for help.”

Alexa will call and send a notification to your phone if your loved one asks for help. You can then call or drop in on them through the Care Hub, or decide to contact emergency services.

Alexa makes every day easier and more enjoyable   .... 

As with all Alexa and Echo devices, the Care Hub is designed with multiple layers of privacy protection.

Designed with privacy in mind

With your loved one's permission, the Care Hub can show you general information about their interactions with Alexa and smart home devices. For example, you'll see that 'Entertainment' was played but not which song they asked for. .... 

For added control on what activity is displayed in the Care Hub, your loved ones can view, hear, and delete any of their voice recordings in Alexa Privacy Settings or in the Alexa app at any time. They can also easily delete by voice by saying, “Alexa, delete what I just said," or "Alexa, delete everything I said today."   ....

Seoul Goes Drone for Delivery

Looks to be a long step forward. with advances getting more autonomous. 

Drone Taxis, Bags of Rice Take Flight in Downtown Seoul

Bloomberg    By Youkyung Lee

An autonomous aerial delivery vehicle was tested in Seoul, South Korea, last week, a drone from Chinese company Ehang that carried 70 kilograms (154 pounds) of rice bags. Also tested was a drone taxi. Ehang's Bill Choi said the Ehang 216 passenger drone can fly for up to 30 minutes with a fully-charged battery; the company’s drones already are in use in China for deliveries, firefighting, and tourism. South Korea is investing approximately $22 million through 2022 to develop what it’s calling the K-Drone System, part of that nation’s plan to launch flying autonomous vehicles in its skies by 2025. South Korea transport ministry official Seo Jeong Seok said flying cars initially will be controlled by an onboard human pilot.  ... " 

(Updated): Is Blockchain e-Voting a Solution to Elections?

 Blockchain Voting.    In Coindesk. 

New MIT Paper Roundly Rejects Blockchain Voting as Solution to Election Woes  By Benjamin Powers

As media outlets waited to announce a winner until the Saturday following the election day, calls for how blockchains would have made this process easier emerged, most prominently perhaps by  Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, as well as Vitalik Buterin, who added that, though there are technical challenges, the call for a blockchain-based, mobile voting app “is directionally 100% correct.”

A new report from MIT, however, strongly argues against the idea of blockchain-based e-voting, largely on the basis that it will increase cybersecurity vulnerabilities that already exist, it fails meet the unique needs of voting in political elections and it adds more issues than it fixes. 

 (Update:  Here is draft of paper:  https://people.csail.mit.edu/rivest/pubs/PSNR20.pdf 

The report’s authors are Ron Rivest, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) professor and one of the creators of RSA encryption; Michael Specter; Sunoo Park; and Director of MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative (DCI) Neha Narula. The paper will be published in the Journal of Cybersecurity later this month.    ... "     (Impressive group) 

Origami Inspired Grip

 Enjoy the inspiration of origami in design and modeling interaction. 

An origami-inspired robotic fingertip with shape-morphing capabilities   by Ingrid Fadelli , Tech Xplore

To perform tasks that involve moving or handling objects, robots should swiftly adapt their grasp and manipulation strategies based on the properties of these objects and the environment surrounding them. Most robotic hands developed so far, however, have a fixed and limiting structure; thus, they can perform a limited number of movements and can only grasp specific types of objects.

Researchers at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have recently developed a robotic fingertip that can change its shape and switch across three different configurations, which could allow it to grasp a broader variety of objects. This fingertip's unique design, outlined in a paper presented at this year's IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering (CASE), is inspired by origami, the renowned Japanese art of paper folding .... " 

Power Apps for Teams

Like to see this direction, not only as a means to interact, share data and improve collaboration, but Apps that will address particular inefficiencies that already exist in business.   We all do business, lets make it work better.    Add intelligence to work flow, business process, goal achievement  ... results.  Will it? Don't know, but will take a look.   We need more testing beyond the obvious.   (Considerable details at the link) 

Microsoft expands Teams with meetings apps and low-code tools in Venturebeat   By Emil Protalinski

Microsoft today announced the general availability of Teams apps for meetings. For those who prefer a low-code approach, Power Apps for Teams, the Power Automate app, the Power Virtual Agents app, and Dataverse have also hit general availability. These announcements come on the heels of Teams passing 115 million daily active users (DAUs) last month. This is a pandemic-induced explosion, given that 16 months ago Teams had 13 million DAUs.

Microsoft Teams is the company’s Office 365 chat-based collaboration tool that competes with Slack, Facebook’s Workplace, Google Meet, and even Zoom. Indeed, Microsoft is in a virtual meeting war with Google and Zoom. Teams has seen 200 million meeting participants in a single day, Google Meet has seen more than 235 million meeting participants, and Zoom has seen 300 million meeting participants. (Unlike DAUs, “meeting participants” can count the same user more than once.)   ... ' 

Garage Drop Off Examined Again

 Another area we experimented with in the innovation center, and even talked to Amazon about.  Thought it had been discarded, but its back.  With discussion at the link: 

Are garages optimal delivery drop-off points?  by Tom Ryan  in Retailwire

Amazon.com has announced plans to ramp up Amazon Key In-Garage Delivery to over 4,000 cities.

Originally launched in 50 cities in April 2019, Amazon Key In-Garage Delivery enables couriers to open garages and so they can drop packages inside. Drivers receive temporary, one-time access to the garage after the Amazon app confirms the driver’s identity and delivery route via multi-step authentication. Drivers are instructed to go no more than five feet inside the garage.  ... " 

GMail Morphs Again

Been a user of GMail since our megacompany included it as an option in the very beginning.  It has continued to morph in ways that were often disturbing and less than useful.   Now its changing again.  Hoping for more logic and usefulness to keep the email madness in check.    My observation is that its gotten worse in the pandemic, which has everyone looking for attention.  SIMPLIFY, please.

New settings for smart features and personalization in Gmail   from Google

Product Manager

People have come to expect a lot from their email. But whether you’re an inbox zero master or a never-archiver, you want your email experience to be easy and secure. Since 2004, many have grown to love Gmail for its time-saving and security features. From assistive writing capabilities to high priority notifications to blocking more than 99.9 percent of spam, phishing and malware from reaching your inbox, we built Gmail to make communication less of a chore.

In the same way, people have come to expect easier control of their data—and here too, we’ve been on a mission to take the work out of managing your privacy. That’s why our engineers at the Google Safety Engineering Center in Europe developed Privacy Checkup as an easy way to review key settings and see (and delete) the data that Google collects to provide you with helpful experiences. And it’s why we introduced auto-delete as the default this year to make control over your data even more automatic.   ,, ,"

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Doing Old Things Better Vs. Doing Brand New Things

Old Conundrum ....  But I think good to consider the positives and negatives of both independently.  'Doing things' vs investing also quite different, gets you different kinds of money, which depends upon the current economy.     And aso who you get to pay attention.   Very new things entice creators,  clever widgets inspire engineers.   

Doing Old Things Better Vs. Doing Brand New Things   by Chris Dixon in Andreessen

AI, machine & deep learning  cloud computing  cryptocurrencies & blockchains how innovation happens

New technologies enable activities that fall into one of two categories: 1) doing things you could already do but can now do better because they are faster, cheaper, easier, higher quality, etc. 2) doing brand new things that you simply couldn’t do before. Early in the development of new technologies, the first category tends to get more attention, but it’s the second that ends up having more impact on the world.... " 

Are We at the Narrow Edge of General AI?

And what is even the definition of 'General AI'?   Say a means to repeatedly solve a non trivial problem in a business or scientific domain, with varying data and context.  One that could be 'intelligent' enough to explain its method, ethics and risks to groups of humans to assure them of its net value of implementation.  That can also learn when given new data.  Also one that could measure and report on its net value over time.  Its not to say that narrow AI is not valuable.  It is,  but its not general.   We are not close yet, and not close to a transition point either.

Are We at the edge of general AI?
We’re entering the AI twilight zone between narrow and general AI
Gary Grossman, Edelman    @garyg02

With recent advances, the tech industry is leaving the confines of narrow artificial intelligence (AI) and entering a twilight zone, an ill-defined area between narrow and general AI.

To date, all the capabilities attributed to machine learning and AI have been in the category of narrow AI. No matter how sophisticated – from insurance rating to fraud detection to manufacturing quality control and aerial dogfights or even aiding with nuclear fission research – each algorithm has only been able to meet a single purpose. This means a couple of things: 1) an algorithm designed to do one thing (say, identify objects) cannot be used for anything else (play a video game, for example), and 2) anything one algorithm “learns” cannot be effectively transferred to another algorithm designed to fulfill a different specific purpose. For example, AlphaGO, the algorithm that outperformed the human world champion at the game of Go, cannot play other games, despite those games being much simpler.  ... " 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Wellness Blockchain App from GE

Seems an unusual thing coming from GE, but nice idea ... here well described in SiliconAngle.  Will follow.

GE launches blockchain-based ‘Wellness Trace’ app to protect airport visitors from COVID-19    By Kyt Dotson

General Electric Co. and the Albany International Airport announced the launch of the first blockchain-based airport-focused technology today to make air travel safer in the post-COVID-19 pandemic world by tracking cleaning in the public areas as well as passenger and employee screening.

The app will also feature the ability to rate nearby amenities, restaurants, hotels and other attractions according to pandemic safety for travelers using community-sourced information.

GE’s Aviation division launched a distributed ledger blockchain app called Wellness Trace App, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play, which the airport has been using to track COVID-19 cleaning protocols.  ... " 

Huawei's Wearable Smart Glasses

A look at another set of Smartglasses.  Good in depth piece.  As it says this is a difficult product to make well, especially as a general solution to effective and unobtrusively 'wearing' your computing.   Have followed the idea for some time, including specific early industrial applications.

Huawei’s Eyewear 2 smartglasses are like true wireless headphones for your face   By Andy Boxall in DigitalTrends

Huawei, in the face of challenges in the smartphone space, is exploring one of the more difficult products in the wearables space, smartglasses, to propel the brand forward. It’s new offering is the Huawei X Gentle Monster Eyewear 2 — and it’s about as risky as tech products get.

Wearables, in particular smartglasses, need to enhance your life without being intrusive. It’s a simple formula, but one that’s very hard to get right. Not being intrusive means having a design that’s as “normal” as possible, and that’s hard to do when something needs to attach to our face — and inevitably still require everything from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios to batteries inside.

I’ve worn the Eyewear 2 smartglasses for a short time, so did I see the future, or the ghost of Google Glass?  ... '

Friday, November 13, 2020

Google Backs from VR Expeditions

Perhaps a bit surprising that Google would move from VR experiences.   Does this mean that they are no long exploring advanced VR?    Lately have used a number of their web based non-VR Youtube experiences. 

Google is shutting down its VR field trip app Expeditions in TheVerge

‘Immersive experiences with VR headsets are not always accessible to all learners.’

Google is ending support for its Expeditions virtual reality app. The app, which offered educational VR tours, will be removed from iOS and Android app stores on June 30th, 2021. “The majority” of its tours will be migrated to Google’s separate Arts & Culture app, letting users view them via web or mobile device.  .... " 

Covid Executive War Game

 How accurate, complete?  Unclear, but it is useful to see a number of the components involved in a game of corporate management.  Interesting too is the Unilever involvement.

Covid-19 'War Games' Program Could Help Save Your Job

Reuters   By Sinead Cruise

November 11, 2020

Unilever-owned uFlexReward has developed the Covid-19 War Game, which allows U.K. executives to consider the impact of job cuts on future earnings prospects. Players formulate a strategy to reduce people costs by 20% at a fictional company, allowing them to weigh mass layoffs versus alternatives, and their long-term impact on the company and the broader economy. The game integrates staff salaries, pensions, bonuses, and share awards into one real-time cost base so players have a better view of different ways to trim costs, from making many smaller cuts to eliminating entire business units or the bonus pool. Strategies arising out of a head-to-head version of the game featuring teams of Unilever and Endava executives will be judged on Dec. 3. .... 

Microsoft Warns about Dangers of MFA on Phones

 This was mentioned in a recent conversation about mlti factor authentication (MFA).  Especially using your phone as a means of MFA.   Good warning.  Includes links to other posts about the topic.

Microsoft Is Warning Against Using This Common Way of Protecting Your Most Important Accounts Those six-digit text message codes aren't as secure as you think.

By Jason Aten  TECH COLUMNIST  In Inc

Microsoft Is Warning Against Using This Common Way of Protecting Your Most Important Accounts

If you're using your phone for multi-factor authentication (MFA) to keep your important accounts safe, Microsoft has a warning for you. We'll get to that in just a second, but first, let's be clear on what we're talking about. MFA is an additional level of security beyond just a user name and password. For example, it's when your bank sends you a text message with a six-digit number that you have to enter on the website in order to get access to your accounts. 

The idea is that if someone were to get access to your user name and password--either through some kind of data breach, or simply because they were able to crack it--your account would still be safe since presumably only you would have access to the code sent to your phone. The problem is, that's not necessarily true. 

That's why Microsoft is warning people that while using text messages or phone verification as a form of MFA is better than nothing, it isn't as secure as you might think. That's because your phone number can be hacked, spoofed, swapped, or stolen. 

Specifically, Alex Weinert, Microsoft's director of identity and security wrote a blog post encouraging people to stop using their phone number for MFA. Weinert points out several reasons, including that SMS messages are not encrypted and that hackers have gotten very good at SIM-swapping.    .... "