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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Google's AI-Designed Chip

Designing the next generation of Tensor processing units.  Sounds like a kind of layout game. 

What Google’s AI-designed chip tells us about the nature of intelligence

By Ben Dickson   @BenDee983  in Venturebeat

In a paper published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature.    last week, scientists at Google Brain introduced a deep reinforcement learning technique for floorplanning, the process of arranging the placement of different components of computer chips.

The researchers managed to use the reinforcement learning technique to design the next generation of Tensor Processing Units, Google’s specialized artificial intelligence processors.

The use of software in chip design is not new. But according to the Google researchers, the new reinforcement learning model “automatically generates chip floorplans that are superior or comparable to those produced by humans in all key metrics, including power consumption, performance and chip area.” And it does it in a fraction of the time it would take a human to do so.

The AI’s superiority to human performance has drawn a lot of attention. One media outlet described it as “artificial intelligence software that can design computer chips faster than humans can” and wrote that “a chip that would take humans months to design can be dreamed up by [Google’s] new AI in less than six hours.”

Another outlet wrote, “The virtuous cycle of AI designing chips for AI looks like it’s only just getting started.”

But while reading the paper, what amazed me was not the intricacy of the AI system used to design computer chips but the synergies between human and artificial intelligence.

The paper describes the problem as such: “Chip floorplanning involves placing netlists onto chip canvases (two-dimensional grids) so that performance metrics (for example, power consumption, timing, area and wirelength) are optimized, while adhering to hard constraints on density and routing congestion.”

Basically, what you want to do is place the components in the most optimal way. However, like any other problem, as the number of components in a chip grows, finding optimal designs becomes more difficult.

Existing software help to speed up the process of discovering chip arrangements, but they fall short when the target chip grows in complexity. The researchers decided to draw experience from the way reinforcement learning has solved other complex space problems, such as the game Go.

“Chip floorplanning is analogous [emphasis mine] to a game with varying pieces (for example, netlist topologies, macro counts, macro sizes and aspect ratios), boards (varying canvas sizes and aspect ratios) and win conditions (relative importance of different evaluation metrics or different density and routing congestion constraints),” the researchers wrote.... ' 

Optimize Your Omnichannel Marketing Strategy

Useful look at the space via Wharton. 

How to Optimize Your Omnichannel Marketing Strategy

 LISTEN TO THE PODCAST:

Wharton’s Raghuram Iyengar talks about his research on how firms can harness the full benefits of omnichannel marketing.

Audio Player (at the link) 

Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.

Supports K@W's  Marketing Content

Omnichannel marketing seems like a simple enough concept. Consumers like to shop online, offline, and across different channels, so firms need to meet them wherever they are. But coming up with an omnichannel marketing strategy is a lot more complicated than just collecting cookies and tracking purchases. A new study that appears in a special issue of the Journal of Marketing in collaboration with the Marketing Science Institute explains why omnichannel is not a panacea.

There are three big challenges to making it work. Those challenges are outlined in the study, along with some solutions that include using machine learning and blockchain technology to harness the full benefits of omnichannel marketing. Wharton marketing professor Raghuram Iyengar is a co-author of the paper, titled “Informational Challenges in Omnichannel Marketing: Remedies and Future Research.” The other co-authors are: Tony Haitao Cui, marketing professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management; Anindya Ghose, marketing professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business; Hanna Halaburda, technology, operations and statistics professor also at NYU Stern; Koen Pauwels, marketing professor at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business; S. Sriram, marketing professor at Michigan University’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business; Catherine Tucker, management and marketing professor at MIT Sloan School of Management; and Sriram Venkataraman, marketing professor at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. 

Iyengar joined Knowledge@Wharton to talk about the findings. Listen to the full podcast at the top of this page or keep reading for an edited transcript of the conversation.

Knowledge@Wharton: Not only are firms trying to execute omnichannel marketing better, but researchers like you are trying to understand it better, even while the rapid evolution of technology makes that a moving target. What does this study add to the literature?

Raghuram Iyengar: Omnichannel certainly is a very hot topic. When companies are thinking about omnichannel, they sometimes want to think about distinguishing from multichannel. The big distinguishing aspect of it is multichannel has different ways in which you’re reaching the customer. Omnichannel is that as well, but it should be in synergy.

If you are, for example, a customer of REI, you might have a mobile application, you might have emails coming in. And if they are pursuing an omnichannel strategy, they are hoping that the customer is seeing different pieces of information in conjunction with each other and, in some sense, are complementary to each other.

Carrying that out is not that easy because you need to have a good sense of what the data is like — all the different touchpoints that the customer has had with REI or any other company — and then be able to execute it on the back end. Putting it all together is not as simple as it seems. ... ' 

Fusions Plants Rolling

Like to see this getting started, and the experience requires to run the built.  What is the comparative cost for power?

Nuclear energy: Fusion plant backed by Jeff Bezos to be built in UK   By Matt McGrath

A company backed by Amazon's Jeff Bezos is set to build a large-scale nuclear fusion demonstration plant in Oxfordshire.

Canada's General Fusion is one of the leading private firms aiming to turn the promise of fusion into a commercially viable energy source. The new facility will be built at Culham, home to the UK's national fusion research programme.  It won't generate power, but will be 70% the size of a commercial reactor. General Fusion will enter into a long-term commercial lease with the UK Atomic Energy Authority following the construction of the facility at the Culham campus.

While commercial details have not been disclosed, the development is said to cost around $400m. ... ' 

Emotions to Drive Autonomous Vehicles?

Some interesting things have come out of FAU, we participated.   Here another.  But can human emotions be use to autonomously drive?  Even in part? Test it well.

Invention Uses Machine-Learned Human Emotions to 'Drive' Autonomous Vehicles  By Florida Atlantic University

Florida Atlantic University (FAU)'s Mehrdad Nojoumian has designed and patented new technology for autonomous systems that uses machine-learned human moods to respond to human emotions. Nojoumian's adaptive mood control system employs non-intrusive sensory solutions in semi- or fully autonomous vehicles to read the mood of drivers and passengers.

In-vehicle sensors collect data based on facial expressions and other emotional cues of the vehicle's occupants, then use real-time machine learning mechanisms to identify occupants' moods over time. The vehicle responds to perceived emotions by selecting a suitable driving mode (normal, cautious, or alert).

FAU's Stella Batalama said Nojoumian's system overcomes self-driving vehicles' inability to accurately forecast the behavior of other self-driving and human-driven vehicles.

From Florida Atlantic University

Synthetic Biology

Touched on Synthetic Biology way back, though it never was used directly in the enterprise.  Apparently reemerging.  A revisit to something that is apparently reemerging.  Beyond Biomimicry.

Biodesign and Synthetic Biology

What Is Biodesign?

By Daniel Grushkin  in Issues.org

In 2009 Nature Biotechnology asked a group of synthetic biologists to define “synthetic biology.” None of the scientists could agree on a definition. Yet today the synthetic biology market—a field evidently without a widely accepted understanding of itself—is worth $9.5 billion. When Nature Biotechnology posed its question I was a reporter covering the emerging discipline. I soon realized that definitions are less important than the groups of people who gather around and advance a particular set of ideas.

So what, then, is “biodesign”? Today I would say it’s a big tent where everyone who self-identifies as a biodesigner can hang out. Of course before I founded the Biodesign Challenge in 2015, I probably would have said that it’s a design practice that incorporates biotechnology, or one that uses design to critique the biotech industry. Both of these definitions are accurate, but today I see the unbounded potential of the community of people as much as the possibilities within the ideas themselves.  .... ' 

AI Protecting Privacy

 AI as a contra method for privacy loss.

AI Technology Protects Privacy

Technical University of Munich (Germany)

May 24, 2021

Technology developed by researchers at Germany's Technical University of Munich (TUM) ensures that the training of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms does not infringe on patients' personal data. The team, collaborating with researchers at the U.K.'s Imperial College London and the OpenMined private AI technology nonprofit, integrated AI-based diagnostic processes for radiological image data that preserve privacy. TUM's Alexander Ziller said the models were trained in various hospitals on local data, so "data owners did not have to share their data and retained complete control." The researchers also used data aggregation to block the identification of institutions where the algorithm was trained, while a third technique was utilized to guarantee differential privacy. TUM's Rickmer Braren said, "It is often claimed that data protection and the utilization of data must always be in conflict. But we are now proving that this does not have to be true."  .... ' 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Tracking Missing Packages with AI

Good to see USPS in on this.

USPS Uses Edge AI Apps to Help Track Down Missing Packages Faster  By FedTech Magazine

If your package gets lost in the mail, artificial intelligence may soon be coming to the rescue to speed up its delivery.

The U.S. Postal Service has partnered with the technology company NVIDIA to roll out edge artificial intelligence applications that are helping the service track down packages in a matter of hours instead of days, according to an NVIDIA blog post.

Together with NVIDIA, the U.S.P.S. has stood up the Edge Computing Infrastructure Program to analyze the billions of images the postal service's processing centers generate. The program, which leverages the NVIDIA EGX platform, can process vast quantities of data and quickly help the U.S.P.S. hunt for packages.

From FedTech Magazine

Google's Method For Software Supply Chain Attacks

 Quite interesting  ...  a  'Software Supply Chain Attack', is inserting malware during its creation, transport or inclusion in some system. 

Google dishes out homemade SLSA, a recipe to thwart software supply-chain attacks  in TheRegister

Thomas Claburn in San Francisco Fri 18 Jun 2021 // 00:05 UTC

Google has proposed a framework called SLSA for dealing with supply chain attacks, a security risk exemplified by the recent compromise of the SolarWinds Orion IT monitoring platform.

SLSA – short for Supply chain Levels for Software Artifacts and pronounced "salsa" for those inclined to add convenience vowels – aspires to provide security guidance and programmatic assurance to help defend the software build and deployment process.

"The goal of SLSA is to improve the state of the industry, particularly open source, to defend against the most pressing integrity threats," said Kim Lewandowski, Google product manager, and Mark Lodato, Google software engineer, in a blog post on Wednesday. "With SLSA, consumers can make informed choices about the security posture of the software they consume."

Supply chain attacks – attempting to exploit weaknesses in the software creation and distribution pipeline – have surged recently. Beyond the SolarWinds incident and the exploitation of vulnerabilities in Apache Struts, there have been numerous attacks on software package registries like npm, PyPI, RubyGems, and Maven Central that house code libraries developers rely on to support complex applications.

According to security biz Sonatype [PDF], attacks on open source projects increased 430 per cent during 2020. One of the various plausible reasons is that compromising a dependency in a widely used library ensures broad distribution of malware. As noted in a 2019 TU Darmstadt research paper, the top five npm packages in 2018 "each reach between 134,774 and 166,086 other packages, making them an extremely attractive target for attackers."    ... ' 

Differences Between Simulation and Digital Twins

Interesting.  Have done lots of Monte Carlo style simulation modeling, much less using digital twins.   Is this a good description?  For what contexts? .  We also did agent based modeling, which has similarities to DTs.  Anyone with similar experiences have some good thoughts?   Point me to other resource examples of value.    What to collaborate on this?  Say for choice of models or their combination? 

What is the Difference Between a Simulation and a Digital Twin Model?

 15 Apr, 2020  in Exorint

The increasing use of emerging technology to simplify complex tasks has proved rewarding across every industry in diverse ways. This includes increased operational efficiency, automating manual tasks, training and validation, as well as data analysis. It is a known fact that the integration of emerging tech has brought on the fourth industrial revolution, in which data analytics and automation are important components. The digital transformation of traditional processes is also another aspect of Industrie 4.0 and, here, simulation and the digital twin play starring roles. But what are these roles?

This article will discuss:

The definition and application of simulation technology and the digital twin

The differences between a simulation and a digital twin

The symbiotic relationship between simulations and the digital twin

What is simulation?

In computing, simulations refer to digital models that imitate the operations or processes within a system. Such simulations are used for analyzing the performances of systems and the testing and implementation of new ideas. Engineers and technicians make use of simulations across a variety of industries to test products, systems, processes, and concepts.

In many circles, simulations are run using computer-aided design software applications. But for more advanced simulations with many variables, specialized simulation software is used. Typical examples of how simulations function include their use in finite element analysis and stress analysis. In the real world, these tests involve analyzing the effect of external pressure on metals or products to enhance their design or features.

Other types of simulations include discrete event simulations, stochastic simulations, and deterministic simulations. In these types, the variables used in running the simulation are either known or random. To run simulations, some level of digitization is needed. This process may involve only mathematical concepts or the design of 2D or 3D models representing assets within a process or a product. The simulation is then run by introducing variables into the digital environment or interface.

What is a digital twin?

In its basic form, a digital twin is the digital representation of physical or non-physical processes, systems, or objects. The digital twin also integrates all data produced or associated with the process or system it mirrors. Thus, it enables the transfer of data within its digital ecosystem, mirroring the data transfer that occurs in the real world. The data used in digital twins are generally collected from Internet of Things devices, edge hardware, HMIs, sensors, and other embedded devices. Thus, the captured data represents high-level information that integrates the behavioral pattern of digitized assets in the digital twin.

The real-time digital representation a digital twin provides serves as a world of its own. Within this digital world, all types of simulation can be run. It can also be used as a planning and scheduling tool for training, facility management, and the implementation of new ideas. This highlights the fact that a digital twin is a virtual environment, thus it must consist of either 2D or 3D assets or the data they produce or are expected to produce. In the modeled virtual environment, individuals can do what they choose with few limitations including the running of simulations.

Industrial cloud

Highlighting the differences between simulations and digital twins

Although the definitions of both concepts already highlight key differences, the use of case studies makes these differences more relatable. In 2019, CKE Holdings Inc., the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl Jr’s was interested in enhancing productivity levels within these facilities. The idea was to make order picking by staff easier and reduce shop floor traffic through better layout designs.

While simulations can be used to analyze the shortest distance between workstations or the effects of more storage facilities within the restaurant, a digital twin can do much more. Using a digital twin, CKE Holdings Inc. was able to recreate digital representations of existing shop floors and run multiple simulations, design, and scheduling ideas to enhance productivity. This resulted in improvements in every aspect of the facility’s operation from staff training, scheduling, and meeting customer demands more efficiently.

This shows that while simulations may help with understanding what may happen when changes are introduced, a digital twin helps with understanding both what is currently happening and what may happen within a process. Some key differences include:

Real-time simulations – Traditional simulations are run in virtual environments that may be representations of physical environments but do not integrate real-time data. The regular transfer of information between a digital twin and its corresponding physical environment makes real-time simulation possible. This increases the accuracy of predictive analytical models and the management and monitoring policies of enterprises.

Enhancing product design – Advanced simulations have the capacity to analyze thousands of variables to provide diverse answers, but a digital twin can be used to achieve more. Boeing’s integration of digital-twin technology in aircraft design and production is an example of its capabilities. In this case, a digital twin was used to simulate parts of an aircraft to analyze how diverse materials will fare throughout the life-cycle of the aircraft. With these calculations, Boeing was able to achieve 40% improvement in the quality of certain parts it designed.

Optimize real-world products and processes – Every Tesla automobile running today has a digital twin that captures the large data sets each car produces. The captured data is used in optimizing design, predictive analytics, enhancing self-driving initiatives, and maintenance. This highlights how a digital twin immediately or directly affects the physical entity it represents unlike the theoretical results simulations provide.

Conclusion 

Regardless of the path taken, the digital transformation of assets and processes enhances industrial effort in many ways. This includes refining product design, real-time troubleshooting, and implementing new ideas. To achieve a comprehensive digital transformation of existing or planned entities, systems, and processes, accurate data capture is required. Enter smart edge technology or devices.

The accuracy of a simulation or a digital twin relies heavily on the accuracy of the data used in designing its models. In today’s shop floors, data capture is being made possible by smart edge device and human-machine interfaces and only with these types of data can a digital transformation occur. ... '

Honeywell Quantum Spinoff

More quantum spin offs and directions.   Here Honeywell is involved.

Honeywell to Spin Off Quantum Unit in Merger With Software Firm  By Thomas Black

June 8, 2021, 1:13 PM EDT

Honeywell to invest up to $300 million in new computer entity

Quantum computing spinoff is likely to sell shares to public

Honeywell International Inc. plans to spin off its quantum computing business and merge it with a software firm to form a new company that is likely to trade publicly.

Honeywell will own a 54% stake of the venture after combining the business with Cambridge Quantum Computing Ltd., a London-based specialized software firm that will own the remaining 46%. Honeywell has committed to investing up to $300 million in the company, which may seek to sell shares to the public, said Tony Uttley, who heads Honeywell’s quantum computing business and will be president of the new entity.

“We are setting up this company to accelerate. This is truly about hyper-scaling,” Uttley said in an interview Tuesday. “You put the capital in now and grow massively.”  .... ' 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Autonomous Supply Chains run by Smart Contracts?

Fascinating thought.  How would the 'contracts' be written to adapt to the autonomous aspects of the system?

The Age of Autonomous Supply Chains  by Paul Brody,  in CoinDesk

Companies can replace top-down planning with self-organizing blockchain systems, says our columnist. Think of supply chains orchestrated by smart contracts.

We associate the concept of central planning with grim images of collapsing Soviet economies, but it turns out that central planning is also the main engine for how capitalist modern economies run – at least inside the enterprise, though with perhaps a slightly better track record.

It turns out, whether it’s at the national level or inside the enterprise, that people do not like being told what to do or being guided by central planning. Despite that, since the 1960s, companies have been trying to make computerized top-down planning and scheduling work so that they can operate their business networks more efficiently. 

These central planning systems are costly and complex, and with the rise of blockchain-based industrial operations, there is an opportunity to put many of them out to pasture. Just like the real world, blockchains are decentralized systems where individual actors participate alongside others, but there is no centralized coordinating entity. ... ' 

Waymo Drives Autonomous Trucks

Will include a trained driver and technician, at least at first.

Self-Driving Waymo Trucks to Haul Loads Between Houston, Fort Worth  By Ars Technica

Waymo and trucking company JB Hunt have partnered to haul cargo loads autonomously between Houston and Fort Worth, TX.

The Class 8 trucks equipped with Waymo Driver autonomous software and hardware system will operate on Interstate 45 carrying a trained truck driver and Waymo technicians to supervise and intervene as necessary.

Waymo's Charlie Jatt said, "Our teams share an innovative and safety-first mindset, as well as a deep appreciation for the potential benefits of autonomous driving technology in trucking. It's companies and relationships like these that will make this technology a commercial reality in the coming years."

Full Article. 

Sleuthing Crypto Ransom Payments?

Found this most interesting.   Very  technical look at the approach. Includes all the Wolfram code. reviewing now.  Could this be further developed?  Makes me think about the overall problem.   Contact Wolfram for more information.

DarkSide Update: The FBI Hacks the Hackers?

June 9, 2021

By Dariia Porechna, Cryptography and Blockchain, Wolfram Language Development

In my May 25, 2021, blog post “Sleuthing DarkSide Crypto-Ransom Payments with the Wolfram Language,”   I detailed how I used the Wolfram Language, public knowledge and some guesswork to track crypto-ransom payments made by Colonial Pipeline on May 8 and Brenntag on May 11 to the Russian hacker group DarkSide. These payments, which totaled millions of dollars, were subsequently distributed to different accounts, and on May 13, DarkSide announced it was disbanding.

But the story didn’t end when DarkSide announced its dissolution.

On June 7, the FBI seized 63.7 bitcoin (BTC), approximately $2.3 million USD, from one of the addresses to which DarkSide’s cluster, described in my earlier post, sent their ransom funds. Normally, this should have been inaccessible to anyone without a private key for that address. The FBI apparently managed, however, to obtain one.

Did the FBI run a brute-force attack on a billion-dollar supercomputer to find the private key? For the elliptic curve secp256k1, which Bitcoin is based on, the number of possible private keys for a particular public key is approximately:  .... " 

Advances in 3D Implant Construction

Technique Breaks the Mold for 3D-Printing Medical Implants

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia)

By Gosia Kaszubska

The development of three-dimensionally (3D)-printed molds by researchers at Australia's Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) invert the traditional 3D printing of medical implants. The Negative Embodied Sacrificial Template 3D (NEST3D) printing method generates molds featuring intricately patterned cavities filled with biocompatible materials; these are dissolved in water and leave behind fingernail-sized bioscaffolds with elaborate structures that standard 3D printers could not previously produce. The RMIT researchers developed NEST3D with collaborators at the University of Melbourne and St. Vincent's Hospital Melbourne. RMIT's Cathal O'Connell said, "We essentially draw the structure we want in the empty space inside our 3D-printed mold. This allows us to create the tiny, complex microstructures where cells will flourish." RMIT's Stephanie Doyle said the technique's versatility allowed the production of dozens of trial bioscaffolds using a range of materials.  .... " 

Making Sense of Contradictory Science Results

How do we make make sense of contradictory results?

How to Make Sense of Contradictory Science Papers  in Nautil.us

Published research is less about conclusions than science at play.

BY HAIXIN DANG & LIAM KOFI BRIGHT

The science you can come across today can often appear to be full of contradictory claims. One study tells you red wine is good for your heart; another tells you it is not. Over the past year, COVID-19 research has offered conflicting reports about the overall effectiveness of wearing a mask. As scientists debate what policy best suits the current moment, they will be drawing on hundreds of studies; some that say masks are effective1 and some that say masks alone are not enough.

Naturally, given its outsized influence on society—especially during a pandemic—people tend to regard published science highly. This means that many of us expect scientists to be prudent in reporting their results. These ought to be true and justified by evidence, right? And surely, at a bare minimum, the researchers themselves ought to believe in what they are publishing, yes? Maybe not. The bar for publishing might, counter-intuitively, be lower than one might expect. “Scientific conclusions,” as we titled our recent paper,3 “need not be accurate, justified, or believed by their authors.”

Why might it be worth worrying about how and when scientists decide to share their work?

We’re not saying scientists generally lie about their published results (this has nothing to do with misconduct). Rather, we argue that scientific papers fulfill a useful social role by doing more than merely reporting on true discoveries. It’s enough for them to draw attention to an idea that is worth pursuing further—and an idea need not be true, well-justified given all our evidence, nor even believed by the scientist in order to pass that test. The peer-review process is, in fact, designed, not to detect fraud or data manipulation, but to select for what is noteworthy.4 What is considered unexpected and thought-provoking will not always track our all-things-considered judgments of what is true, but local community standards of best scientific practice having to do with how to go about data gathering and statistical testing.

For scientists to collectively inquire effectively, they need to communicate interesting ideas to each other that are worth pursuing. Consider Avi Loeb, a theoretical astrophysicist who proposed the provocative hypothesis, not without some supporting data, that ‘Oumuamua wasn’t a comet but an alien light-sail. He, presumably, knew that more data would need to be gathered, and a more thorough study would need to be conducted, before the hypothesis could be justifiably believed.

Nonetheless, perhaps it was appropriate for Loeb to publish his data and his hypothesis. He himself might even be agnostic toward the truth of the hypothesis. He likely knew that most of his colleagues would dispute his interpretation of the data, and with good cause. In spite of all this, it was still valuable for him to publicly communicate the possibility of a new hypothesis, because it can—and maybe actually did—spur more research into, and garner attention for, astronomy. Publishing those findings was not about communicating the truth but about saying that there is something exciting and interesting that requires further inquiry.  ... "


Wheelchairs with Smarter Voice Controls

Seems a very natural solution.  Especially for integrating with chair and smartphone and other aids. Incudes data important to data and operator.

Permobil Connects Electric Wheelchair App to Alexa and Google Assistant   By Eric Hal Schwartz

Electric wheelchair manufacturer Permobil has released voice apps connecting Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to its MyPermobil mobile app. Permobil owners can now get access to the current status of their wheelchair with voice commands.

WHEELED VOICE

The MyPermobil app collects real-time information about the wheelchair’s battery charge, how far it can travel before running out, and the distance it has already traveled since it was last plugged in. The app also gathers a report on the previous week and month’s use of the power seating feature of Permobil wheelchairs, which adjusts the position of the seat and legs to prevent the person in the wheelchair from being in one position for too long. Now, Permobil owners can now connect the app to Google Assistant or Alexa and ask the voice assistants to pull up all of that information without needing to take out their smartphone. Plenty of wheelchair users are not able to reach or control their smartphones very easily or at all. The option to interact with the app using voice commands is their first opportunity to access crucial information about their wheelchair.  ... "

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Turn a Single Image into a Looping Video: Uses?

 Experimented with something like this.  Took a single image of part of a machine or process, then applying some images of specific known maintenance issues,  and apply likelihood under specific contexts. Then show to a human expert for analysis.  NOT the same thing, we integrated much more information.  But I can see this method integrated for broader use ... say deriving a short video of the maintenance issue.  Thinking other uses of such constructed animation in further 'derived' animation. 'Image learning"?    What else can help derive a fuller image?   ...

UW Researchers Can Turn a Single Photo into a Video,  By University of Washington News

A new deep learning method can convert a single photo of any flowing material into an animated video running in a seamless loop.   University of Washington (UW) researchers invented the technique, which UW's Aleksander Holynski said requires neither user input nor additional data.

The system predicts the motion that was occurring when a photo was captured, and generates the animation from that information. The researchers used thousands of videos of fluidly moving material to train a neural network, which eventually was able to spot clues to predict what happened next, enabling the system to ascertain if and in what manner each pixel should move.

The team's “systemic splatting” method forecasts both the future and the past for an image, then blends them into one animation.

Full article 

From University of Washington News   ... 

DeepMind Learns Football from Motion Capture

Intriguing, with the implication that you can go from direct motion capture to broader contexts.   Team work, which implies both individual skills, planning and team strategy.   Consider it being used for corporate resource use and allocation. 

DeepMind AI Taught Digital People to Play Football from Scratch,  By New Scientist

An artificial intelligence (AI)-trained computer learned to play football from scratch, using digital players.

Researchers at Alphabet's U.K.-based AI subsidiary DeepMind used motion-capture data from real players to teach the digital footballers to get up and run.

They became more skilled in specific training tasks, like dribbling a ball to follow a target, or kicking a ball to a target, via reinforcement learning.

The digital players engaged in a series of 45-second matches, and after 24 hours became quite adept; after a further training period of up to 10 days, they were able to consider future actions and work as a team.

Sebastian Risi at Denmark's IT University Copenhagen said although the system lacks full automation, it is "an exciting open challenge how we can learn complex tasks such as football end-to-end through more open-ended approaches that would discover the necessary stepping stones by themselves."

From New Scientist 

Redefining What a map Can be With New Information and AI

Google re-defining mapping.   Very nicely done.   Started with Google maps, and the ability to link in data as needed for usage contexts.   And AI being used to look for patterns in data.

Redefining what a map can be with new information and AI

By Dane Glasgow,  VP of Product, Google Maps, Published Mar 30, 2021

Sixteen years ago, many of us held a printout of directions in one hand and the steering wheel in the other to get around— without information about the traffic along your route or details about when your favorite restaurant was open. Since then, we’ve been pushing the boundaries of what a map can do, propelled by the latest machine learning. This year, we’re on track to bring over 100 AI-powered improvements to Google Maps so you can get the most accurate, up-to-date information about the world, exactly when you need it. Here's a snapshot of how we're using AI to make Maps work better for you with a number of updates coming this year.

Navigate indoors with Live View

We all know that awkward moment when you're walking in the opposite direction of where you want to go — Live View uses AR cues to avoid just that. Live View is powered by a technology called global localization, which uses AI to scan tens of billions of Street View images to understand your orientation. Thanks to new advancements that help us understand the precise altitude and placement of objects inside a building, we’re now able to bring Live View to some of the trickiest-to-navigate places indoors: airports, transit stations and malls. 

If you’re catching a plane or train, Live View can help you find the nearest elevator and escalators, your gate, platform, baggage claim, check-in counters, ticket office, restrooms, ATMs and more. Arrows and accompanying directions will point you the right way. And if you need to pick something up from the mall, use Live View to see what floor a store is on and how to get there so you can get in and out in a snap. Indoor Live View is live now on Android and iOS in a number of malls in Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle. It starts rolling out in the coming months in select airports, malls, and transit stations in Tokyo and Zurich, with more cities on the way. ....  '

Inobtrusive Wearables Monitoring Health

Interesting out of Purdue, where we connected in the retail modeling world.  Here it seems novel methods of self powering.    We called it 'smart clothing'.   Got a call from marketing execs about washing such clothing.  An internet of Togs? 

Forget Wearables: Future Washable Smart Clothes Powered by Wi-Fi Will Monitor Your Health  By Purdue University Research Foundation News

Purdue University engineers have developed a technique to turn apparel into washable smart clothes that operate without batteries, by drawing power wirelessly.

Purdue's Ramses Martinez said the method involves spray-coating the clothes with hydrophobic molecules to repel water, oil, and mud, while electronic components are sewn onto their surfaces.

The circuitry captures ambient Wi-Fi or radio waves, and converts them to electricity to power the clothes.

Said Martinez, "I envision smart clothes will be able to transmit information about the posture and motion of the wearer to mobile apps, allowing machines to understand human intent without the need of other interfaces, expanding the way we communicate, interact with devices, and play video games."

From Purdue University Research Foundation News

Amazon Continues Grab-and-Go Rollouts

 Amazon still thinks the 'Go' concept is a good one, perhaps with locational interests, now a roll out in London. 

Amazon will open the doors to a grab-and-go, checkout-less grocery store on Thursday  By Tonya Garcia

Amazon Fresh grocery store with ‘Just Walk Out’ technology will also offer customers the option for a traditional grocery transaction

The new Amazon Fresh grocery store will have "pay-by-palm" and "Just Walk Out" technologies.  

Amazon Fresh is opening a grocery store in Bellevue, Wash. on Thursday, June 17 that will offer customers the chance to grab and go without standing on line at a checkout lane.

The launch is the latest in a grocery technology war that is making a trip to the store for milk, bread and eggs a digitally-advanced experience.

The newest Amazon Fresh grocery store will feature the company’s “Just Walk Out” technology that allows shoppers to place things in their cart and leave the store without a stop at the cash register to pay the bill.

Read: Amazon picks London for first checkout-free physical store outside the U.S.

Instead, shoppers can wave their palm, scan a QR code in the Amazon AMZN, 0.39% app or use a credit or debit card upon entry. Customers repeat the mode of payment on their way out the door and receive a digital receipt on their Amazon account. ... ' 

Adjusting Algorithms

Algorithm, Malgorithm, Jalgorithm?   Fairness in Judgement. 

Right, algorithm just means a standardized method.    Like iany tool can be used or misused. Good piece here.

Misnomer and MalgorithmBy Robin K. Hill  in CACM

In response to a previous piece on the articulation of design responsibility [Hill2018], by which I mean the egregious practice of casually attributing judgment and volition to programs, I've received some comments. My view is that the attribution, in our locutions, of decision-making power to certain applications of programs and algorithms is wrong in both senses of "wrong"—both false and harmful.

The most obvious, and most misleading, instance of malarticulation is the trending use of "algorithm". One or two comments mentioned the common modern use of that word to mean an agent that makes (bad) judgments, giving rise to claims that that technology is not value-neutral. The concern is valid but the connotation hangs on context, and the implications of the literal assertion are dangerous. "Oh, well, sure," educated people will say, "We agree that tech is technically neutral." Yes, it's technically neutral. In fact, technically, it's nothing more than technical, and therefore nothing more than neutral.

This needs to be cleared up. Computer science knows the algorithm as an objective computational object, breathtaking and beautiful, an abstract imperative structure (so I claim [Hill2016]), deterministic and independent of context. I will call this objective procedure, a mechanism that performs calculations under a decision structure, the i-algorithm; maybe we can think of the i as "imperative structure". But the public knows the algorithm as a mysterious agent making dubious decisions, a source of judgments, supposed to be reasonable, on complex issues in real life. I will call this subjective procedure the j-algorithm; we can think of the j as "judge". These are homonyms but not synonyms, and we understand that. Computer scientists, told that an i-algorithm is political, simply code-switch to the homonym j-algorithm, the thing that assesses parole requests and loan applications (poorly), in order to continue the communication. This communication infelicity is not new—scientists have to put up with "bug", "exponential", "schizo", and other abuses of terminology. The problem with "algorithm" is that the two senses of the word are, in a way, contradictory, and in exactly the way that matters.  .. " 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

IBM Open Sources Hyperledger

 Had examined this sometime ago, seems IBM wants it and blockchain to succeed.  This will promote it it be be better tested. 

IBM Donates Code Improvements to Open Source Hyperledger

“The intent is to improve the usability of Hyperledger for all users,” said Christopher Ferris, CTO at IBM.

By Tanzeel Akhtar in Coindesk

 (NYSE: IBM) said it has contributed significant code to the enterprise blockchain network Hyperledger, “one of the largest in its history.”

IBM announced Wednesday it has donated updates to the Hyperledger code and the underlying code for the IBM Blockchain Platform Console, an intuitive user interface that will form what is now the Fabric Operations Console.

The firm said it is also donating the code that supports token exchanges on Hyperledger Fabric and the Fabric Token SDK, as well as support for interoperability among different distributed ledger technology (DLT) platforms.  .... " 

Global Chip Shortages Leading to Fakes

 Chip shortages leading to fakes and safety in the operation of systems.

The Global Chip Shortage is Creating a New Problem: More Fake Components   By ZDNet

From face masks to hand sanitizer and onto vaccine passports: almost all of the products that have been in high demand during the past few months have inevitably provided an opportunity for fraudsters looking to make easy money from counterfeits.   

It is not surprising, therefore, that industry experts are looking at the growing global chip shortage with a degree of anxiety. There, too, demand is surpassing supply – and it is only a question of time before the market is flooded with semiconductors that just about pass for authentic, but in reality, are illegal products that could pose huge safety risks.

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, in effect, electronic device makers have come under the pressure of unprecedented demand from consumers. With companies and individuals alike rushing to purchase PCs, smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles, manufacturers have suddenly found themselves needing vast amounts of semiconductors – the tiny components that constitute the "brain" of most electronics, and which are produced in most cases by third-party companies called foundries. ... "

Amazon Autonomous Warehouse Robotics

Advances in Amazon Warehouse robotics to improve safety and operations. Note includes autonomous operation.

Amazon Details Warehouse Robots, 'Ernie' and 'Bert'

CNBC, Lauren Feiner, June 13, 2021

Retail giant Amazon is testing new robots designed to reduce worker stress and potential for injury. An Amazon blog post said the test involves four robots programmed to move items across warehouses, in close proximity to workers. Ernie helps remove items from a robotic shelf; Amazon said testing indicates it could improve worker safety. Bert is one of Amazon's first independently navigating Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), which the company said can function safely even when moving among employees who also are in motion. Two more robots currently under development, Scooter and Kermit, are cart-transporting AMRs that Amazon said could move empty packages across warehouses, allowing workers to concentrate on less-strenuous tasks that involve critical thinking.  ... ' 

Automating Space Weather Prediction

 Ultimately a very important function,  Coronal Mass Ejection is dangerous to many technical functions on earth.  Neural methods for pattern analysis for coronal holes.

AI Spots Coronal Holes to Automate Space Weather Prediction

Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Russia), June 7, 2021

An international team of scientists brought automated space weather prediction a step closer to reality via a neural network that can identify coronal holes—gaps in the solar atmosphere left by particles that cause geomagnetic storms on Earth—in space-based observations. Robert Jarolim at Austria's University of Graz said CHRONNOS (Coronal Hole RecOgnition Neural Network Over multi-Spectral-data) applies artificial intelligence to spot coronal holes "based on their intensity, shape, and magnetic field properties, which are the same criteria as a human observer takes into account." The team trained the convolutional neural network on about 1,700 extreme ultraviolet wavelength images of the sun's corona recorded in 2010-2017, and compared its results to 261 manually identified coronal holes. CHRONNOS matched human performance in 98% of the cases, and outperformed humans in identifying coronal holes from magnetic field maps. ...  ' 

Monday, June 14, 2021

China Based TikTok Says it Will Collect US Biometric Data

See also Bruce Schneier with further  comments on this.     

TikTok just gave itself permission to collect biometric data on US users, including ‘faceprints and voiceprints     By Sarah Perez  in TechCrunch

A change to TikTok’s U.S. privacy policy  on Wednesday introduced a new section that says the social video app “may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information” from its users’ content. This includes things like “faceprints and voiceprints,” the policy explained. Reached for comment, TikTok could not confirm what product developments necessitated the addition of biometric data to its list of disclosures about the information it automatically collects from users, but said it would ask for consent in the case such data collection practices began.

The biometric data collection details were introduced in the newly added section, “Image and Audio Information,” found under the heading of “Information we collect automatically” in the policy.

This is the part of TikTok’s Privacy Policy that lists the types of data the app gathers from users, which was already fairly extensive.

The first part of the new section explains that TikTok may collect information about the images and audio that are in users’ content, “such as identifying the objects and scenery that appear, the existence and location within an image of face and body features and attributes, the nature of the audio, and the text of the words spoken in your User Content.”

While that may sound creepy, other social networks do object recognition on images you upload to power accessibility features (like describing what’s in an Instagram photo, for example), as well as for ad targeting purposes. Identifying where a person and the scenery is can help with AR effects, while converting spoken words to text helps with features like TikTok’s automatic captions.  ... " 

P&G Positions for Inflation

My former and longtime employer writes, on the threat of Inflation Challenges.  With innovation. 

P&G Is Positioned for Inflation Challenges

Procter & Gamble Vice Chairman and COO Jon Moeller tells investors it has winning products and strategies in post-Covid world.

Retail prices soared last month, lifting US inflation rates to a 13-month high, according to the Consumer Price Index. But Procter & Gamble COO Jon Moeller said the company is well-positioned to overcome this latest headwind, just as P&G thrived during the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking at a Deutsche Bank investor conference, Moeller noted that P&G added 40 points to its global market share last year and e-commerce sales are up 50% year-to-date. He credited gains made pre-Covid, during Covid and now, post-Covid (in the US and China) to having the right strategy, the right portfolio and the right organizational structure.

"Despite near term challenges, we are not changing the strategy, We are doubling down and moving forward," said Moeller. "This has been working in driving maket growth. That is the most important mid- to longer term."

He acknowledged that a global recovery won't occur until 2023 or 2024, when enough vaccines can be made to cover the world's entire population. Virus spikes in India and Brazil will delay the global recovery and yet, P&G's market share remains strong in both countries. 

"Predicting year-on-year growth is difficult," he said, acknowledging that the company's two largest markets, US and China, accounted for nearly all P&G growth in the current fiscal year. "Now we have the headwind of rising material and transportation costs, but we will get through this rough patch."

Product innovations will help. New Tide and Ariel formulations provide more cleaning power at lower temperatures. The Oral-B iO Series electric toothbrush promises 100% healthier gums in one week and six times more plaque removal along the gumline. P&G is rolling out plastic-free Gillette razor packaging in France with plans to expand in the US this fall. In dish care, Dawn Powerwash sales reached $150 million in its first year. In hair care, Pantene is adding premium formulas like 3-Minute Miracle and Quench Intensive Shot Mask.

Retail partners like what they see. Procter & Gamble was ranked the No. 1 supplier in the US for the sixth consecutive year. 

"We are driving constructive disruption by acting with the speed and agility of a startup," Moeller insisted.

We'll have more from Moeller in The 2021 Top 50 article in the July issue of Happi.  ...."

How Long Will it be Until we can Talk to Animals?

First I thought this was a silly question.   But it is really a primary question of intelligence.   Its not just a translation, but a need to parse into a useful structure so it can be translated into/from our world.  Peoples world vs An Animal world. In away that mapped translations will provide for useful goals.  It is hard.  Below just the intro.

How long before AI can 'understand' animals?

Scientists are working on it, but it's a rough job.

By James Trew, @itstrew. June 4th, 2021  in Engadget

In this article: gear, animal translation, feature, tomorrow, ai, artificial intelligence

The Regent Honeyeaters of Australasia are forgetting how to talk. The songbird’s habitat has been so severely devastated that its numbers are dwindling. Worse, the ones that remain are so scattered that the adult males are too far apart to teach the young how to sing for a mate — how to speak their own language. The gradual loss of the Honeyeaters’ song, their primary tool for wooing a partner, creates a vicious circle of spiraling decline. 

Humans, on the other hand, cannot shut up. Estimates peg the total number of languages in use today to be around 7,000. In the US, roughly 25 percent of people claim they can converse in a second language. In Europe this number floats around 60 percent. In Asia or Africa, bilingualism is even more common as local tongues and regional dialects live alongside (often multiple) “official” languages. But not one person on this planet can speak Cat or Dog — much less Regent Honeyeater.  ... " 


Quantum Heat

 Heat and quantum computing.  Quantum Computing requires physical machines which will need  heat management.  And that such machines may be quite 'delicate' when they erase information.  Shows we have much to do before we have completely general quantum computing.  Technical.  Well worth a read for a prospective practitioner.   Implies these are real considerations for the practical engineering of such systems.

Taking the Heat  By Marina Krakovsky    in the ACM

Communications of the ACM, June 2021, Vol. 64 No. 6, Pages 18-20  10.1145/3460214

Quantum computing, which promises to harness the special properties of quantum mechanics to dramatically speed up calculations and thus help solve currently intractable problems, has attracted considerable investment from tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and IBM. Yet there is still no commercially available quantum computer because of the immense challenges in creating and running such a machine.

One of the major challenges is heat management. As with classical computing, quantum computing uses physical hardware and, therefore, is subject to the laws of physics, particularly the thermodynamics of computation. However, quantum computers are far more fragile than classical computers, requiring far lower temperatures to work properly. Also, as shown in a theoretical paper published in October 2020, the thermodynamics of quantum information processing can create highly unusual and potentially damaging effects for these delicate machines.

The paper, describing a study by researchers at the U.K.'s University of Manchester and Trinity College Dublin, models mathematically what happens when information gets erased in a quantum regime. All erasures cause some heat dissipation, as expected—but to their surprise, the researchers found that every once in a while, the heat dissipated from an erasure is extremely high. In uncovering the potential for such rare but high-impact events, the study suggested something about the future of quantum computing hardware: that it may have to use reversible logic, which by definition does not require erasure of information.

The research also brought back to the fore a famous paradox in thermodynamics that has intrigued scientists since the 19th century—and also a 20th-century insight into the relationship between information and heat, which not only resolved that paradox, but also has practical implications today.  ... "       (links to a number of related technical  papers) 

McDonald's Drive Through Bot may Violate Law

Been following work by retailers to improve efficiency.  This example seems a weak attempt at blocking new tech.

McDonald’s drive-thru AI bot may have broken privacy law   By Ryan Daws | June 11, 2021 | TechForge Media   in AI News

McDonald’s announced earlier this month that it was deploying an AI chatbot to handle its drive-thru orders, but it turns out it might break privacy law.

The chatbot is the product of a voice recognition company McDonald’s snapped up in 2019 called Apprente which is now known as McD Tech Labs.

McDonald’s deployed the chatbots to ten of its restaurants in Chicago, Illinois. And there lies the issue.

The state of Illinois has some of the strictest data privacy laws in the country. For example, the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) states: “No private entity may collect, capture, purchase, receive through trade, or otherwise obtain a person’s or a customer’s biometric identifier or biometric information.”

One resident, Shannon Carpenter, has sued McDonald’s on behalf of himself and other Illinois residents—claiming the fast food biz has broken BIPA by not receiving explicit written consent from its customers to process their voice data.

“Plaintiff, like the other class members, to this day does not know the whereabouts of his voiceprint biometrics which defendant obtained,” the lawsuit states.

The software is said to not only transcribe speech into text but also process it to predict personal information about the customers such as their “age, gender, accent, nationality, and national origin.”

Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that McDonald’s has been testing AI software at its drive-thrus since last year.   ... " 

One resident, Shannon Carpenter, has sued McDonald’s on behalf of himself and other Illinois residents—claiming the fast food biz has broken BIPA by not receiving explicit written consent from its customers to process their voice data.

“Plaintiff, like the other class members, to this day does not know the whereabouts of his voiceprint biometrics which defendant obtained,” the lawsuit states.  The software is said to not only transcribe speech into text but also process it to predict personal information about the customers such as their “age, gender, accent, nationality, and national origin.”    Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that McDonald’s has been testing AI software at its drive-thrus since last year.  ... ' 

Top Supply Chain Tech Trends

Some good thoughts on tech trends in supply chain.

Gartner Reveals Top 8 Supply Chain Technology Trends  in SDCExec

Gartner has identified the top eight supply chain technology themes for 2021, which were selected for their transformational potential and their ability to foster operational resiliency across the greater supply chain.

By Mackenna Moralez, Gartner Inc.

Gartner has identified the top eight supply chain technology themes for 2021, which were selected for their transformational potential and their ability to foster operational resiliency across the greater supply chain.

The top supply chain technology themes, per Gartner, are:

Hyperautomation

Digital Supply Chain Twin

Immersive Experience and Applications

Edge Ecosystems

Supply Chain Security

Environmental Social Governance

Embedded AI and Analytics

Augmented Data Intelligence

“This year, we’ve decided to focus on broader, overarching technology themes rather than individual technologies,” said Christian Titze, vice president analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice. “This is because innovative technologies are often combined together in order to solve specific supply chain business problems.”   ... ' 


UK Plans a Pandemic Radar

 With plans for testing in a future pandemic.

via ACM NEWS

U.K. Has a Plan for a New 'Pandemic Radar' System   By Wired

About four years ago, seven infants and toddlers and a 37-year-old woman were admitted to a hospital in Sibu, a coastal town on the island of Borneo in Malaysia. Records don't show how many of them arrived together; they came from villages in different parts of the province, lived in different types of housing, and were of at least four different ethnicities. They all were experiencing something like pneumonia, a normal winter respiratory infection. But their symptoms—caused by an array of viruses—concealed a secret. They were also carrying a coronavirus that held a genetic signature indicating it had previously infected cats and dogs.

We know this because swabs of pulmonary secretions taken from the eight Malaysians during their illness were stored as part of a screening project, and then analyzed last year by a Duke University team seeking to validate a new test. What they found, and described two weeks ago in Clinical Infectious Diseases, may show a novel coronavirus in the process of leaping from the animal world into people, as the virus that causes Covid probably did in 2019.

That new virus might have been an accidental bystander in the airways of those Malaysian patients, whose swabs variously also turned up evidence of adenoviruses, rhinoviruses or flu. Or it might have been a cause of their disease. It's too soon to know. (To be clear: It wasn't Covid. Canine coronaviruses and the viral cause of Covid belong to separate genera of the coronavirus family.)

Nevertheless, researchers in the world of emerging infections are absolutely sure about this: It should have been found much sooner. Covid is supposed to have demonstrated that we need faster detection. That a possible novel pathogen could lie concealed in a lab freezer since as early as 2017 shows how much work we still have to do.

In Wired

3D Printing Human Liver Tissue

 Continue to make  remarkable advances using 3D Prining.

Wake Forest teams win a NASA prize for 3D printing human liver tissue

Nobody was really expected to conquer the 'Vascular Tissue Challenge' when it launched....

In Engadget:  By A. Tarantola  @terrortola ....

Technical detail.

Salesforce and Marketing AI

 Overview of Salesforce and Marketing AI

Using AI to Automate Marketing Processes Using Salesforce Tools

Salesforce relies heavily on AI technology to help companies dramatically expand their market share. By Diana Hope

Artificial intelligence has become incredibly important in the field of marketing. The massive applications of big data in the field of marketing is one of the reasons that the market for AI technology is growing at a rate of 39% a year.

In recent years, marketing automation has been a topic of utmost interest. It is one of the biggest gamechangers for the marketing profession brought on by AI.

How is AI Changing the Future of Marketing?

This magic tool promises to attract qualified leads to your product and increase revenue exponentially. But what lies behind this AI-driven technology? What does it offer its users? And how can companies implement this sought-after solution into their workflows?

Marketing automation is a form of artificial intelligence technology that automates repetitive marketing activities. It helps marketing and sales departments to run campaigns across various channels: email, text messaging, social networks, and websites. In addition, the platform provides an individual approach to each client, based on the data of their purchasing habits. This is why AI is particularly useful in the field of e-commerce.

There are various providers of marketing automation solutions that rely on complex advances in AI and machine learning. Products of these providers differ in scope, price, and the size and goals of user companies. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at one of the world’s largest platforms for marketing automation – Salesforce.

What is Salesforce Marketing Cloud and What AI Features Does It Bring?

Salesforce has a lot of AI features embedded in it. One of the biggest is Salesforce Einstein, which the company describes on this page:

“Bring the power of artificial intelligence to everyone with Salesforce Einstein.

Salesforce Einstein is a layer of intelligence within the Salesforce Platform that brings powerful AI technologies to everyone, right where they work. And with the Einstein Platform, admins and developers have a rich set of platform services to build smarter apps and customize AI for their businesses.” .... ' 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

A World of Holograms and Avatars Next?

Would like to see Avatar Holograms again,  in fact have seen in many forms over the years. Even formally tested it in the large enterprise.   Its got some good specialized applications, but no, not for day to day work and communications.   Still introduces too much noise, which over weighs its wow factor. Good for demos today.    It may come to play some day.

Tech Companies Want to Make Holograms Part of Office Life  By The Wall Street Journal,  June 11, 2021

To reduce Zoom fatigue, some companies want to implement holograms in the workplace.

Proponents of hologram technology say three-dimensional (3D) representations of people on video calls feel more personal and help participants read body language. WorkLife Ventures' Brianne Kimmel said holograms and avatars allow for "a new style of communication, where you'll have better, more frequent interactions."  Gartner's Kanishka Chauhan said holograms may be best for recorded events, trainings, or seminars, citing the complex and time-consuming logistics of live hologram meetings.

WeWork, which has partnered with hologram technology company ARHT Media to bring holograms to 100 WeWork buildings across the globe, expects to use them for recorded or livestreamed videos to virtual, physical, and hybrid audiences.

From The Wall Street Journal

View Full Article - May Require Paid Subscription

Windows Update Coming Up: New and Improved?

I was handed a test copy of the first windows OS by Bill Gates, when we represented our enterprises' test of the idea.   It was not fully installed at our company for over a year, ever since have worked with Windows at a number of companies.  Ever getting more and too complex, but so did our technical jobs.  Now are we ready for Windows 11?   And what will that be?    Here a speculative look.

Microsoft's next generation of WindowsWhat we know so far     By Mayank Parmar in BleepingComputer

Microsoft will soon reveal their next generation of Windows at an upcoming press event later this month. Here is what we know so far about Microsoft's new version of Windows.

The upcoming press event is scheduled for June 24th and coincides with a public webcast of the live Windows reveal at 11 AM EST.

"Right now we're releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we're all still working on Windows 10." - Jerry Nixon.

However, as pointed out by Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley and highlighted by Rich Woods on Twitter, Microsoft has never publicly said in plain words that Windows 10 is the last version of the Windows operating system.

Only one developer evangelist only gave the statement. However, the Microsoft PR team never denied it.

In fact, Microsoft is slowly dropping hints that suggest Windows 11 is around the corner. For example, the company recently uploaded 11 minutes long relaxing music video on YouTube, which shows off sunlight passing through the Windows logo to form the number '11' on the surface. ... ' 

USAF Autonomous Drone Skyborg Completes First Flight

Will continue to see more of this effort. 

US Air Force autonomous Drone Skyborg completes first flight,  by Sarah Katz , Tech Xplore

Last month, the United States Air Force successfully test flew an unnamed aerial vehicle (UAV) called Skyborg, operating on an autonomous hardware/software suite, for the very first time.

The military aims for this UAV to fuel collaboration among manned and unmanned aircraft. For its first test run, the Skyborg suite flew aboard a Kratos UTAP-22 Mako air vehicle in the first step of what's known as the Autonomous Attritable Aircraft Experimentation Campaign.  ... "

So what is an 'Attritable' weapon?  Reusable in general .....  

  ' ... Soaring unit costs for frontline military aircraft that have effectively reduced the size of U.S. fleets is forcing a shift to so-called “attritable” designs emphasizing lower-cost unmanned aircraft that can be reused at least several times with minimal maintenance.

The design philosophy—an apparent reference to the term “attrit,” as in wearing down an opponent via sustained attacks—is being driven by soaring procurement costs for modern weapons, most notably the poster child of out-of-control unit costs, the F-35 Lightning, that currently costs about $90 million a copy....' 

AI and Decisions

Good, colorful piece on the who idea of designing decisions.  I like the point made that 'most decisions are not binary',  noting that it is rarely just finding the best decision, at minimum such an endeavor should include a risk analysis for that decision, and typically more. 

AI Designs Decisions  in Towardsdatascience

Dissection of survey evidence on AI-powered decision-making

Ian Domowitz

Havelock Ellis said it is not the attainment of the goal that matters, it is the things met with by the way. He was speaking of philosophy. In business AI is all about goal attainment. The things met along the way are decisions.

Decisions constitute a focus of the recent survey by Signal AI of 1,000 C-suite executives in an attempt to estimate the impact of AI on the U.S. economy. According to the survey, 96 percent of business leaders believe AI will transform decision making and 92 percent agree companies should leverage AI to augment decision-making processes.

AI is not so sure.

Most decisions are not binary

Neither survey nor business directors are informative with respect to the types of decisions involved. Most respondents say they spend upwards of 40 hours a week on the process. No surprise: that is presumably why they are paid, but with 80 percent of leaders claiming there are too much data to evaluate, senior management is looking for relief. Where does AI fit in the picture?

AI aspires to set and achieve goals by motivating and guiding the organization through phases of decision making. Four kinds of decisions are relevant.

Policy decisions involve choosing what goals to pursue and how they will be attained. Proper adaptation of the technology to the company ought to define these objectives. AI risks failure at this step by falling in love with creative fire and failing to recognize practical guidelines.  .... 

AWS Provides Advanced Location Services

Considerable detail here on the services involved.   Makes sense, they are the practitioners now.

Amazon Location Service Generally Available With Routing and Satellite Imagery By Renato Losio    in Infoq

AWS has recently announced the general availability of Amazon Location Service, a managed solution designed to add location functionalities to applications. The service relies on location providers like Esri and HERE and now supports routing and satellite imagery capabilities.

Amazon Location Service includes five main features for location-based developments: maps, to visualize location information, places, to support geocoding and reverse geocoding capabilities, routes, trackers and geofences. Among the most common use cases, Location Service is designed for building delivery applications, asset tracking and geomarketing .... " 

Towards Automation

 More on business automation. 

How Businesses Are Perfecting With Artificial Intelligence  by 7wData

Have you heard automation is the new black? And what better automation of a process than using a computer software to perform humanlike activities aka Artificial Intelligence (AI). Whether we realize it or not, Artificial Intelligence is all around us, playing an active role in our daily lives. The fun part is that many of us fear it just because we don’t know its real power and what wonders we can do with it.

Sure, there are pros and cons of AI, but if we just focus on the pros, we can keep the cons under control. Artificial intelligence can not only make our lives better, it can supercharge our businesses. Automotive, healthcare, finance, travel, and so many other industries can perfect their businesses with it. Here are the three key areas of a business that can be automated with AI.

Artificial intelligence is the king of automating the marketing side of your business. I am gonna say that louder for the businesses that run paid ads as a part of their marketing strategy.

AI sorts your customer contacts however you want, interest-wise, demographics-wise, subscription status wise, etc. You can automate and customize emails for different categories of your customers. There are a number of software solutions for automated email marketing. If your business isn’t using one, you are already behind the game.  .... '

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Exploring Under the Sea with Google Earth

 Always appreciated how Google maps has opened Geo exploration and analysis at a remarkable level of detail, to anyone . And below is a reminder that you can do this under the seas as well.    This will likely inspire a new generation to exploring our earth.  Thanks again Google

A marine biologist uses Maps to explore under the sea

Jun 07, 2021, By Alicia Cormie, Contributor, The Keyword

Video and images.... 

Mining Digitization

Studied mining efforts for a potential application, and can see the direction, especially regards patterns of detection.

Where digitalization is a goldmine, for real  by Steinar Brandslet, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)   in TechExplore

Digitalizing multiple parts of the mining industry could generate value to the tune of U.S. $321 billion worldwide, according to the World Economic Forum.

Digital transformation is driving a lot of the development around the world, but the rough-and-tumble mining industry still has a way to go. A Chinese-Norwegian cooperation project will accelerate the process.

"Digitalization will be a driving force in furthering development of the mining and metals industry. It will impact interactions with employees, municipalities and other authorities and every step along the value chain," says researcher Xiang Ma at SINTEF Industry, a part of Scandinavia's largest independent research institute, SINTEF.

This result won't be easy to achieve, however. It will require the researchers to effectively coordinate people who are experts in completely different disciplines, such as mineralogy, metallurgy and of course digitalization.

Several researchers at SINTEF Industry and SINTEF Digital are working with master's students from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) to collect precise data and see how artificial intelligence, data analysis and big data could provide the digitalization that the industry so badly needs.

Both China and Norway have significant mining and metals industries, and their international collaborative efforts aim to solve digital stumbling blocks.

Norway produces ferroalloys like ferrosilicon and ferromanganese. Silicon is used in solar panels and the electronics industry, and as an additive in aluminum alloys. Ferromanganese is an important additive in the production of steel.

China is a leading producer of gold. .. 

Darktrace Attacks Back with AI Methods.

Recently sent to me DarkTrace.     Apparently a means to attack back with AI methods.   

AI-powered cyber-attacks: It’s not a fair game

AI and machine learning will soon be used by attackers to increase the speed, scale, and sophistication of their campaigns. These highly targeted and sophisticated threats are supercharged on multiple fronts, creating stealthier, faster and more effective attacks.

No matter how often static rules and signatures are updated, AI attacks will always be one step ahead. In the face of malicious AI, only defensive AI can meaningfully fight back.

Darktrace’s Cyber AI technology detects the novel and sophisticated threats that evade signature-based tools, and generates a surgical response at machine-speed to contain cyber-attacks in their earliest stages.

Over 5,000 organizations have augmented their security team with Cyber AI to fight back in this new cyber-threat landscape. ... 

Defensive AI vs Offensive AI

Cyber AI puts the control back in the hands of the defenders by augmenting human security teams and shining a light on every corner of the digital estate.

Whereas offensive AI will be limited by an attacker’s specific intrusion points, and therefore have limited visibility from which to make autonomous decisions, defensive AI learns the ‘pattern of life’ for every user, device, and all the relationships between them, to detect even the most subtle deviations from ‘normal’.

Darktrace’s AI uses this breadth of context to take autonomous, surgical action at machine speed, proportionately neutralizing a threat without causing disruption to the business and stopping advanced attacks before they escalate into a crisis.

In an era where algorithm is pitted against algorithm, AI is not a nice-to-have – it’s a fundamental ally to human teams who are too often outpaced by today’s cyber-threats.  ... '

Google Reconstructs the Human Cortex

Quite remarkable.  Impressive  build. Images at the link.  A way to connect brain and computer.  Browsing is a way to learn about structure, now take it out to function.    See the Neuroglancer Browser Interface.

A Browsable Petascale Reconstruction of the Human Cortex,  Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Posted by Tim Blakely, Software Engineer and Michał Januszewski, Research Scientist, Connectomics at Google

In January 2020 we released the fly “hemibrain” connectome — an online database providing the morphological structure and synaptic connectivity of roughly half of the brain of a fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster). This database and its supporting visualization has reframed the way that neural circuits are studied and understood in the fly brain. While the fruit fly brain is small enough to attain a relatively complete map using modern mapping techniques, the insights gained are, at best, only partially informative to understanding the most interesting object in neuroscience — the human brain.

Today, in collaboration with the Lichtman Laboratory at Harvard University, we are releasing the “H01” dataset, a 1.4 petabyte rendering of a small sample of human brain tissue, along with a companion paper, “A connectomic study of a petascale fragment of human cerebral cortex.” The H01 sample was imaged at 4nm-resolution by serial section electron microscopy, reconstructed and annotated by automated computational techniques, and analyzed for preliminary insights into the structure of the human cortex. The dataset comprises imaging data that covers roughly one cubic millimeter of brain tissue, and includes tens of thousands of reconstructed neurons, millions of neuron fragments, 130 million annotated synapses, 104 proofread cells, and many additional subcellular annotations and structures — all easily accessible with the Neuroglancer browser interface. H01 is thus far the largest sample of brain tissue imaged and reconstructed in this level of detail, in any species, and the first large-scale study of synaptic connectivity in the human cortex that spans multiple cell types across all layers of the cortex. The primary goals of this project are to produce a novel resource for studying the human brain and to improve and scale the underlying connectomics technologies.  ... ' 

Friday, June 11, 2021

Criticism of Blockchains and Trust

Here's a 2019 paper/blog post by Bruce Schneier that I read then.    Now revisiting the idea of trust and blockchain.   Article is usefully critical of blockchain in general, but some good thoughts about elements of trust.   Very critical, especially regards the aspects of trust in monetary systems.    There are many, many links, and many. many comments.     Go through the link below for access to comments and links. Considerable piece.

Blockchain and Trust  By Bruce Schneier

In his 2008 white paper that first proposed bitcoin, the anonymous Satoshi Nakamoto concluded with: “We have proposed a system for electronic transactions without relying on trust.” He was referring to blockchain, the system behind bitcoin cryptocurrency. The circumvention of trust is a great promise, but it’s just not true. Yes, bitcoin eliminates certain trusted intermediaries that are inherent in other payment systems like credit cards. But you still have to trust bitcoin — and everything about it.

Much has been written about blockchains and how they displace, reshape, or eliminate trust. But when you analyze both blockchain and trust, you quickly realize that there is much more hype than value. Blockchain solutions are often much worse than what they replace.

First, a caveat. By blockchain, I mean something very specific: the data structures and protocols that make up a public blockchain. These have three essential elements. The first is a distributed (as in multiple copies) but centralized (as in there’s only one) ledger, which is a way of recording what happened and in what order. This ledger is public, meaning that anyone can read it, and immutable, meaning that no one can change what happened in the past.

The second element is the consensus algorithm, which is a way to ensure all the copies of the ledger are the same. This is generally called mining; a critical part of the system is that anyone can participate. It is also distributed, meaning that you don’t have to trust any particular node in the consensus network. It can also be extremely expensive, both in data storage and in the energy required to maintain it. Bitcoin has the most expensive consensus algorithm the world has ever seen, by far.

Finally, the third element is the currency. This is some sort of digital token that has value and is publicly traded. Currency is a necessary element of a blockchain to align the incentives of everyone involved. Transactions involving these tokens are stored on the ledger.

Private blockchains are completely uninteresting. (By this, I mean systems that use the blockchain data structure but don’t have the above three elements.) In general, they have some external limitation on who can interact with the blockchain and its features. These are not anything new; they’re distributed append-only data structures with a list of individuals authorized to add to it. Consensus protocols have been studied in distributed systems for more than 60 years. Append-only data structures have been similarly well covered. They’re blockchains in name only, and — as far as I can tell — the only reason to operate one is to ride on the blockchain hype.  ... 

Material Science Continues an Expansion

 Consider the value and complexity of multifunctional materials, and how much we are getting from understanding them in detail for design, manufacturing and delivery.  Ever new methods for delivering changes in chemistry,  physics, crystals and electronics.    

ACM TECHNEWS

A Blueprint for Designing, Synthesizing Multifunctional Materials   By Penn Today, University of Pennsylvania

Nanocrystal combinations can yield new multifunctional materials through an inverse design blueprint.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and the University of Michigan developed the template by combining theory, computational simulations, chemical synthesis, and assembly.

UPenn's Katherine Elbert said the research intends to surmount the tendency for differently-sized and -shaped nanocrystals to cohere heterogeneously.

The researchers applied a library of laboratory-synthesized nanocrystals and simulations to refine the nanocrystal coating in order to induce ordered solids rather than heterogeneous aggregates.

By following specialized lab methods, the researchers formed a mixed and stable film from two distinct infrared active nanocrystals, highlighting the unexpected value of surface molecule modifications in triggering nanocrystal assemblies.

From Penn Today, University of Pennsylvania

Towards Secure Cloud Computing

Don't know this method, provably it says, reviewing later.  Much more technical at the link.

SeKVM Makes Cloud Computing Provably Secure

IEEE Spectrum,Charles Q. Choi, June 7, 2021

Columbia University researchers say they have designed the first hypervisor that can ensure secure cloud computing. SeKVM is a secure version of the popular KVM open source hypervisor that cuts the verification workload through what the researchers call microverification. Microverification reduces a hypervisor to a small core and an array of untrusted services, then demonstrates security by verifying the core exclusively; the core lacks exploitable vulnerabilities, and mediates the hypervisor's interactions with virtual machines (VMs) so one compromised VM cannot impact others. The researchers developed microverification-based MicroV software to authenticate large commercial-grade multi-processor hypervisors. Columbia's Ronghui Gu said, "SeKVM will lay a foundation for future innovations in systems verification and lead to a new generation of cyber-resilient systems software." ... 

Autodesk and Digital Twins

 Have been connected with Autodesk when it primarily advanced drafting and visualization capabilities, via a number of tools we used.  See now that they are working with the concept of Digital Twins, launching the Tandem platform.   https://www.autodesk.com/solutions/digital-twin/autodesk-tandem     

 A natural connection, visualization is a form of modeling to better understand something complex.    We even used their drafting programs to support simulation applications.  ...  As you can see Digital Twins.  

Autodesk has been on a tear,  in Venturebeat, expanding its support for digital twins across the building industry. For starters, Autodesk launched Tandem, a digital twin platform that promises to connect the dots between project owners and architectural, engineering, and contracting (AEC) teams. The company hopes these initiatives will make it easier to convert mounds of disorganized data into a comprehensive digital replica of the components, systems, and spaces in a facility.

“We believe an increased demand for digital twins by owners and operators of buildings and infrastructure will create new market opportunities for digital technologies and digitization of the AEC industry,” said Bob Bray, senior director and general manager of Autodesk Tandem.

The company also acquired Innovyze, a water infrastructure modeling and simulation tool leader, for $1 billion. Innovyze software helps over 3,000 water agencies model fundamental components of water infrastructure. Better simulation tools are growing in importance as water agencies grapple with the impact of droughts accelerated by climate change.

“The acquisition accelerates Autodesk’s digital twin strategy and creates a clearer path to a more sustainable and digitized water industry,” Bray said.

The company’s overall direction was further amplified last month when Autodesk acquired Upchain, which makes product lifecycle management (PLM) and product data management tools. This partnership could also make it easier to manage digital twins of the products and systems that get integrated into new construction projects.

Notably, this move also allows Autodesk to expand beyond construction into the market for other types of digital twins solutions that is led by PLM giants like Siemens, PTC, and Dassault.  ... '

Tracking Seabirds with Drones

Interesting environmental capability with links to monitoring seabird colonies with drones.

Keeping a Closer Eye on Seabirds with Drones

Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment, June 8, 2021

Using drones and artificial intelligence to monitor seabird colonies is less expensive, labor-intensive, and error-prone than on-the-ground surveillance, according to a study by scientists at Duke University, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), North Carolina State University, and Falklands Conservation. The researchers analyzed over 10,000 drone photos of mixed seabird colonies in the Malvinas/Falkland Islands off Argentina's coast using a deep learning algorithm, which identified and counted albatrosses in the colonies with 97% accuracy, and penguins with 87% accuracy. In all, the researchers found the automated counts were within 5% of human counts about 90% of the time. Said Duke’s Madeline C. Hayes said, “Using drone surveys and deep learning gives us an alternative that is remarkably accurate, less disruptive, and significantly easier.”  .... " 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Smart Speakers and secure environments.

Have often had this objection to smart speakers brought. Here a possible solution.

 Less Nosy Smart Speakers

The Michigan Engineer News Center, Gabe Cherry, June 8, 2021

University of Michigan (U-M) researchers have designed a device called PrivacyMic to reduce eavesdropping by smart speakers by notifying household devices of important data without recording speech. PrivacyMic pieces together ambient ultrasonic information that indicate when its services are required. The system compresses these ultrasonic signatures into smaller files that feature key bits of information, while removing noise within the range of human hearing. The researchers showed that PrivacyMic was more than 95% accurate in identifying household and office activities. U-M’s Alanson Sample said, “What we’ve found is that you can have a system that understands what’s going on, and a hard guarantee that it will never record any audible information.”