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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Swarm Robotics

The power of the swarm?  Collective application to a task?  Sharing tasks. Data and path aware solutions? 

Researchers Successfully Build Four-Legged Swarm Robots  By University of Notre Dame News, October 20, 2021

The University of Notre Dame's Yasemin Ozkan-Aydin constructed four-legged swarm robots capable of traversing rough terrain and performing complex tasks collectively.

For a study co-authored with the Georgia Institute of Technology's Daniel I. Goldman, Ozkan-Aydin theorized that physically linking individual robots could augment their collective mobility and help them overcome challenges.

She three-dimensionally-printed the robots, each incorporating a lithium polymer battery, a microcontroller, a front light sensor, and two magnetic touch sensors so the robots could link up.

When an individual robot got stuck, it emitted a signal to other robots, which connected with it to provide support and overcome obstacles while operating as one.

From University of Notre Dame News    View Full Article  

US Commerce Dept Bans Selling Hacking Tools to China, Russia

Not sure this means very much, but the list of tools mentioned within the article is interesting.

 Commerce Department announces new rule aimed at stemming sale of hacking tools to Russia and China   By Ellen Nakashima,    Wash Post

Today at 9:38 a.m. EDT

The Commerce Department on Wednesday announced a long-awaited rule that officials hope will help stem the export or resale of hacking tools to China and Russia while still enabling cybersecurity collaboration across borders.

The rule, which will take effect in 90 days, would cover software such as Pegasus, a potent spyware product sold by the Israeli firm NSO Group to governments that have used it to spy on dissidents and journalists.   ... ' 

Qualcomm Smart Cities And Cepton

Cepton Joins Qualcomm Smart Cities Accelerator Program, Bringing Expertise in Smart Lidar Technologies for Higher Levels of Safety, Intelligence and Connectivity

Cepton announced its membership in the Qualcomm® Smart Cities Accelerator Program.

Bringing Expertise in Smart Lidar Technologies for Higher Levels of Safety, Intelligence and Connectivity

Cepton announced today its membership in the Qualcomm® Smart Cities Accelerator Program.  

The Qualcomm Smart Cities Accelerator Program brings technologies and companies together to collaborate, innovate, and accelerate the rollout of smart cities and smart connected spaces globally.  Cepton believes its presence in this ecosystem aligns with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.’s vision of bringing efficient, safe, and advanced technology to fast-growing urban environments. With its membership, Cepton aims to advance the use of lidar-based solutions with ecosystem members of the Qualcomm Smart Cities Accelerator Program across smart cities and smart connected spaces.

Through the Qualcomm® IoT Services Suite, Cepton and one of its key partners in smart spaces, The Indoor Lab, plan to collaborate with Qualcomm Technologies in offering Smart Venues as a Service, utilizing a lidar-based crowd analytics system which adheres to the privacy concerns and optimizes the utilization of spaces. ... ' 

Robots Sewing

Useful to see examples where robotics have problems with manufacturing steps.

Why Robots Can't Sew Your T-Shirt

By Wired, September 28, 2021

SoftWear Automation https://softwearautomation.com/ is a robotics company that wants to make T-shirts. "We want to make a billion T-shirts a year in the US, all made on demand," says SoftWear CEO Palaniswamy Rajan.

The company launched in 2012 with help from the Georgia Tech Advanced Technology Development Center and a contract with Darpa. Two years later, a prototype was up and running. By 2017 work began on developing a production line that could mass-produce shirts. That same year, the company struck a deal with a Chinese apparel manufacturer to set up a large production facility in Arkansas. That deal fell through, though, and SoftWear is now focused on opening its own garment factories.

The length of time it has taken to get to this point isn't surprising. Machines have proved adept at many steps in making clothes, from printing textiles to cutting fabric and folding and packaging finished garments.

But sewing has been notoriously difficult to automate, because textiles bunch and stretch as they're worked with. Human hands are adept at keeping fabric organized as it passes through a sewing machine. Robots typically are not deft enough to handle the task.

From Wired

View Full Article  

IBM's Journey to AI Blog

IBM taking a fresh look at AI

IBM's Journey to AI Blog

Data: It’s becoming richer, cheaper, and increasingly open in the post-pandemic world of broad digitalization. And for financial services organizations, this windfall is opening pathways to improve business performance with end-to-end intelligent automation and hyper-personalized services to satisfy customers’ expectations.

As data gets cheaper, trust grows in value

For banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions on a quest for reinvention, the pressure to play catch up, or leapfrog means fast-tracking AI deployments while balancing governance, risk and compliance needs.

According to a January 2020 Forrester Consulting study commissioned by IBM, Overcome Obstacles to get to AI at scale, 40 percent of the participants report data governance issues are a serious concern. Additionally, 58 percent of its participants indicated that data quality issues are the number one challenge in their organization.

Now the good news.

A trusted architecture based on data and AI solutions generates higher business value, according to Brandon Purcell, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester who spoke at a recent Data and AI Virtual Forum keynote, Trustworthy AI: Forging the future of banking, insurance and financial markets.

“The companies who are the fastest growing in their industries are over six times more likely to have scaled trustworthy AI. There’s no denying that there’s a direct relationship between higher growth and the ability to scale AI with repeatable and trustworthy processes,” he said.

Invest in building trustworthy AI: How to get started

At IBM, we haven’t merely identified this challenge, we’ve taken concrete steps to help organizations build what we call trustworthy AI. This means they can stay compliant while going for gold.

First, watch the recent IBM Data and AI Virtual Forum keynote to hear from IBM’s Global Chief AI Officer IBM, Seth Dobrin, Ph.D. on the principals of governed data and AI within an open and diverse ecosystem.   ..... ' 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Security of Pin Codes

 Disconcerting suggestion. 

Via Schneier, see where there are comments of interest .... 

Credit card PINs can be guessed even when covering the ATM pad  in Bleepingcomputer

By Bill Toulas

Researchers have proven it’s possible to train a special-purpose deep-learning algorithm that can guess 4-digit card PINs 41% of the time, even if the victim is covering the pad with their hands. 

The attack requires the setting up of a replica of the target ATM because training the algorithm for the specific dimensions and key spacing of the different PIN pads is crucially important. .... ' 

Lucy as a Robot Archaeologist

Archaeologists adapt to the context to make the best use of their time and resources.  Is this what is being done or are just doing remote control?  Following.

Why NASA Launched a Robotic Archaeologist Named Lucy  By The New York Times, October 19, 2021

An artists concept of the Lucy spacecraft encountering a Trojan.

During its 12-year mission, the Lucy spacecraft will be powered by two giant solar arrays that are stowed at launch and gradually expand outward like folding fans. Lucys roller coaster-like trajectory will carry it farther than any solar-powered spacecraft has ever flown.

NASA on Saturday launched a probe toward clusters of asteroids along Jupiter's orbital path. They're known as the Trojan swarms, and they represent the final unexplored regions of asteroids in the solar system. The spacecraft, a deep-space robotic archaeologist named Lucy, will seek to answer pressing questions about the origins of the solar system, how the planets migrated to their current orbits and how life might have emerged on Earth.

"We have never gone this far to study asteroids," said Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA. "In so doing, we're going to be able to better understand the formation of the solar system, and better understand ourselves and our development."

After a six-year cruise, Lucy will fly close to seven Trojan asteroids through 2033, completing wild circuits of the sun that conjure the outline of a Formula 1 racetrack in some graphic renderings.

From The New York Times

View Full Article 

Small Data Also Crucial, With Tested Transfer Assumption

We tried related ideas but found that the transfer assumption rarely held well enough to be useful.  Useful to keep in mind to potentially simplify models, with care..

'Small Data' Is Also Crucial for Machine Learning

By Scientific American, October 19, 2021

The existence of techniques such as transfer learning does not seem to have reached the awareness of policy makers and business leaders making decisions about AI funding and adoption..... 

Some of the most prominent artificial intelligence (AI) breakthroughs in the past decade have relied on enormous data sets. But AI is not only about large data sets; research in "small data" approaches has grown extensively over the past decade—with so-called transfer learning as an especially promising example.

Small-data approaches such as transfer learning offer numerous advantages over more data-intensive methods. Enabling the use of AI with less data can bolster progress in areas where little or no data exists, such as in forecasting natural hazards that occur relatively rarely or in predicting the risk of disease for a population set that does not have digital health records.

From Scientific American

View Full Article

Quantum Data Link over Chinese Cities

Repeated, was asked for new comment on this:   via ACM TECHNEWS

Quantum Data Link Established Between 2 Distant Chinese Cities

By New Scientist

Researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China have created a secure quantum link extending 511 kilometers (almost 320 miles) between two Chinese cities.

The researchers strung a fiber-optic connection between Jinan and Qingdao, with a central receiver located between the two cities in Mazhan.

Lasers at both ends of the cable send photons toward each other. The relay in the middle does not read the data, checking only whether the two signals matched.

The researchers found the two ends could exchange a quantum key that could be used to encrypt data sent over traditional networks.

University of Sussex's Peter Kruger said, "Single photons over hundreds of kilometers is quite remarkable."

From New Scientist  ... ' 

A secure quantum link has been created over a distance of 511 kilometers between two Chinese cities by using a relay in the middle that doesn't have to be trusted.  ... 

AI Forecasting

 All of AI is a kind of forecasting  and I  like see the comparison of statistical and AI style methods.   Some related examples below.

New Post: Updates and Lessons from AI Forecasting

Updates and Lessons from AI Forecasting

by Jacob Steinhardt  From Berkely Bair

Cross-posted from Bounded Regret.

Earlier this year, my research group commissioned 6 questions for professional forecasters to predict about AI. Broadly speaking, 2 were on geopolitical aspects of AI and 4 were on future capabilities:


How much larger or smaller will the largest Chinese ML experiment be compared to the largest U.S. ML experiment, as measured by amount of compute used?

How much computing power will have been used by the largest non-incumbent (OpenAI, Google, DeepMind, FB, Microsoft), non-Chinese organization?  ...  ...'

Robot Trains for Clogged Infrastructure

 Intriguing solution.

How to Move More Goods Through America's Clogged Infrastructure? Robot Trains

The Wall Street Journal, Christopher Mims, October 9, 2021

Autonomous trains increasingly are seen as a solution to U.S. truck driver shortages, as well as a way for companies to reduce carbon emissions. Florida A&M University's Maxim A. Dulebenets predicts that "trains are going to reach full autonomy faster than vehicles," especially since hundreds of passenger trains worldwide already operate autonomously as part of urban transportation systems. However, most autonomous trains are built on newer, dedicated tracks that are not shared with human-controlled trains and generally do not include hazards like highway crossings. Dulebenets said completely automating the U.S. rail network, in which multiple private rail companies share many lines, "could take decades." There also are concerns about safety and cybersecurity.  ...   

Monday, October 18, 2021

Facebook's Tools can Target a Single User

Well I would think the title above is clearly true, but the question is how effective is it in a useful context? And is that ethically more powerful than a typical ad?  

Researchers Show Facebook's Ad Tools Can Target Single Users

TechCrunch, Natasha Lomas, October 15, 2021

Spanish and Austrian researchers have showed that Facebook can target ads to a single individual, given sufficient knowledge of that person’s assigned interests. The researchers described a data-driven model that characterizes a metric indicating the likelihood a Facebook user can be identified based on interests attached to them by the social media giant's ad platform. The model found that "the four rarest interests or 22 random interests from the interests set FB assigns to a user make them unique on FB with a 90% probability," the researchers wrote. These findings raise issues about potentially harmful uses of Facebook's ad-targeting tools, and about the legality of the platform's personal data processing system. ...

Pentagon Predicting Events

Long after I worked for NCSS at the Pentagon,  but you could start to hear the same questions at the time, when we were predicting events using large scale visualization of plans and events in eastern Europe.  Ultimately the same thing. 

Pentagon Wants to Predict Events Before They Occur By IEEE Spectrum, October 15, 2021

What if by leveraging today's artificial intelligence (AI) to predict events several days in advance, countries could simply avoid warfare in the first place? That's the type of visionary thinking that is driving U.S. military commanders and senior defense policymakers toward the rapid adoption of AI-enabled situational awareness platforms.

But, it's tempting ask, "What could possibly go wrong?" Leveraging AI-enabled tools to make better decisions is one thing, but using them to predict adversarial actions in order to preempt them is an entirely different ballgame. In addition to raising philosophical questions about free will and inevitability, it is unclear whether any proactive actions taken in response to predicted adversarial behavior might be perceived by the other side as aggressive and end up catalyzing the war we sought to avoid in the first place.

From IEEE Spectrum

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Adaptive Queueing Systems

Did quite a bit of work in queueing systsems.  Even recently saw a presentation by McDonald's on how they address drive-through and the resulting queues/

Mathematicians Create a Model for Queue Organizing with Self-Sustained ServersBy Russian Foundation for Basic Research,  October 15, 2021

RUDN University mathematicians have proposed a model for optimizing the operation of queuing systems. The servers in the system are self-sustained and can determine when to start and stop working themselves.

The model is described in "Analysis of Multi-Server Queue with Self-Sustained Server," published in the journal Mathematics.

Most queuing theory models assume the presence of a "manager" that distributes customers to servers and determines when the server should start and stop working. In the proposed model the servers themselves make those decisions. Such a model can have potential applications for the investigation of real systems with low centralization of operation and the possibility of flexible choice of a working schedule, the authors say.

"The distinguishing feature of the considered model is the self-sufficiency of the servers," says Alexander Dudin, research center director at RUDN University.

From Russian Foundation for Basic Research

View Full Article

More Smart Glasses

Additional experiments with the idea.  Will this become common, replacing phones and watches?

TCL unveils Thunderbird Smart Glasses with a full-color transparent micro-LED display


There is a renewed push to make smart glasses the next big thing and these may be the most impressive yet – TCL unveiled the Thunderbird Smart Glasses Pioneer Edition. They use a micro-LED display with a wave guide that was developed in-house over the last three years. It’s a transparent color display, so these look and feel like regular glasses. 

This sets them apart from Xiaomi’s concept smart glasses, which only featured a monochrome display also using micro-LED. In both cases the LEDs are tiny, just 4 µm in size, but TCL’s team developed a proprietary algorithm that enables the Thunderbird glasses to show a full-color image.

Check out the video below for a demonstration of what one can do with smart glasses. Basically, the aim is to replace your smartphone or at least its display to start. You can read the news, view messages, check your schedule, control your smart home and so on, all with the added advantage that the glasses are a display that’s always in front of you.  ...' 

Better Detection of Earthquakes with Machine Learniing

New work in the space using Machine Learning, we had proposed related methods when studying neural models.  Here a convolutional neural network.

Researchers Create Earthquake System Model with Better Detection Capabilities  in CACM

University of Wyoming,  October 12, 2021

The University of Wyoming's Pejman Tahmasebi and Tao Bai have invented a machine learning (ML) model that boosts the accuracy of earthquake detection significantly over current models. Tahmasebi said the model processes signal data recorded by seismometers, and can automatically distinguish seismic events from seismic noise. The model combines existing long short-term memory and fully convolutional network ML models; the former captures data signal changes over time, and the latter filters out hidden features of seismic events. Tahmasebi said the model boasts 89.1% classification accuracy, a 14.5% improvement over the state-of-the-art ConvNetQuake model.

Full article

Robots Learning to Walk with an Obstacle Course

 Establishing a means for training that matches the elements of the real word. 

Virtual Obstacle Courses Help Real Robots Learn to Walk

Wired, Will Knight, October 8, 2021

Researchers at Switzerland's ETH Zurich and chipmaker Nvidia developed an army of more than 4,000 simulated doglike robots and used them to train an algorithm to control a real-world robot's legs. These "ANYmals" can navigate slopes, steps, steep drops, and other challenges in a virtual environment. The algorithm was transferred to a real-world, four-legged robot, which could navigate stairs and blocks but encountered difficulties at higher speeds due to what the researchers said were inaccuracies in how the robot's sensors perceive the real world versus the simulation. The researchers said running the simulations on Nvidia's chips instead of general-purpose chips allowed them to train the robots in less than a hundredth of the time it typically takes .... '

A VR exploration of the Universe

With my background in astronomy I relish the thought.    An ideal application given all the data we have gathered. General availability? Will be looking for this.

Explore the Universe with VR

EPFL News (Switzerland)

Hillary Sanctuary, October 12, 2021

Researchers at Switzerland's École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) used the latest astrophysical and cosmological data to create a virtual reality (VR) experience of outer space. The VIRUP (Virtual Reality Universe Project) open-source software allows users to navigate through a detailed map of the universe. It can visualize data from more than eight databases, including the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, comprised of more than 50 million galaxies and 300 million objects. Users need VR glasses, a computer to run the VIRUP engine, and sufficient storage space to take advantage of the fully immersive, three-dimensional experience. EPFL's Yves Revaz said, "VIRUP is precisely a way of making all of our astrophysical data accessible to everyone."  ... '

Saturday, October 16, 2021

MIT and QCRI Deep Learning Predicts Traffic Accidents

And forecasting generalizes to multiple cities. 

Deep Learning Helps Predict Traffic Crashes Before They Happen

MIT News, Rachel Gordon, October 12, 2021

A deep learning model trained on historical traffic crash data, road maps, satellite imagery, and global positioning system trajectory patterns can generate high-resolution crash risk maps. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) developed the model, which yields risk maps that can define the expected number of crashes over a future period, identifying high-risk areas and forecasting future collisions. The maps are composed of 5x5-meter grid cells, a resolution that shows highway roads, for example, have a greater risk for traffic accidents than nearby residential roads, while highway ramps have higher risk than other roads. QCRI's Amin Sadeghi said, "Our model can generalize from one city to another by combining multiple clues from seemingly unrelated data sources."

Friday, October 15, 2021

Trustworthy AI Blog

IBM Writes on Trustworthy AI in a new Blog:

Financial services: Trustworthy AI’s promise and payoff

IBM, Forrester, UBS, Regions Bank, and State Bank of India show how to build AI responsibly

By Jennifer Clemente 

Data: It’s becoming richer, cheaper, and increasingly open in the post-pandemic world of broad digitalization. And for financial services organizations, this windfall is opening pathways to improve business performance with end-to-end intelligent automation and hyper-personalized services to satisfy customers’ expectations.

As data gets cheaper, trust grows in value

For banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions on a quest for reinvention, the pressure to play catch up, or leapfrog means fast-tracking AI deployments while balancing governance, risk and compliance needs.

According to a January 2020 Forrester Consulting study commissioned by IBM, Overcome Obstacles to get to AI at scale, 40 percent of the participants report data governance issues are a serious concern. Additionally, 58 percent of its participants indicated that data quality issues are the number one challenge in their organization.

Now the good news.

A trusted architecture based on data and AI solutions generates higher business value, according to Brandon Purcell, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester who spoke at a recent Data and AI Virtual Forum keynote, Trustworthy AI: Forging the future of banking, insurance and financial markets.  .... ' 

Deepfake Voices Fool Human, Smart Assistants

A Concern.

AI-Generated Deepfake Voices Can Fool Humans, Smart Assistants

By New Scientist, October 14, 2021

Freely available voice-mimicking software can deceive people and voice-activated tools like smart assistants, according to University of Chicago scientists.

The researchers used two deepfake voice synthesis systems from GitHub to mimic voices: the AutoVC tool requires up to five minutes of speech to generate a passable mimic, while the SV2TTS system needs just five seconds.

The researchers employed the software to unlock speaker recognition security systems used by Microsoft Azure, WeChat, and Amazon's Alexa system.  AutoVC fooled Azure about 15% of the time, compared to SV2TTS's 30%, and SV2TTS could spoof at least one of 10 common user-authentication trigger phrases Azure requires for 62.5% of the people the team tried.

SV2TTS further fooled both WeChat and Alexa about 63% of the time.

Deepfakes more successfully spoofed women's and non-native English speakers' voices, and also tricked 200 people into thinking they were real about half the time.

From New Scientist full article

Nissan Intelligent Auto Plant

A more intelligent robotic automobile plant at Nissan. 

 Smart Robots Do All the Work at Nissan's 'Intelligent' Plant

Associated Press, Yuri Kageyama  October 8, 2021

Nissan Motor Co. plans to have its "intelligent factory" in Tochigi, Japan, operational before April. Work in the factory, from welding and mounting to painting, will be done mainly by robots, while human workers at the plant will concentrate on more skilled work, like analyzing data collected by the robots and maintaining the equipment. Nissan's Hideyuki Sakamoto said, "Up to now, people had to make production adjustments through experience, but now robots with artificial intelligence, analyzing collected data, are able to do it. The technology has developed to that level." The factory will use the same assembly line to build vehicles powered by electricity, e-Power (combining an electric motor and internal combustion engine), and standard combustion engines.

LED Display of incoming Data Through Clothing

All the Information You Need Could Be in Your Pocket

University of Waterloo Cheriton School of Computer Science (Canada)

October 12, 2021

Researchers at the University of Waterloo's Cheriton School of Computer Science in Canada have developed a tool to display basic information from incoming messages to smartphones and other wireless devices by shining it through one’s apparel. The PocketView technology uses light-emitting diode (LED) displays that can serve either as standalone devices or be linked wirelessly to smartphones through Bluetooth. Cheriton's Antony Albert Raj Irudayaraj said the displays show only minimal information, which is "good enough if you're walking or biking, for example, to show basic navigation instruction." Experiments found thin and light-colored fabrics transmit LED light better, while many darker-colored fabrics and denser, patterned weaves are sufficiently transparent to see the lit LEDs underneath, especially indoors.

Full article

What makes Quantum Computing so Hard to Understand

 Yes, when I first took an advanced  physics course I ran into this.  Physics is a very strictly well ruled thing, with 'constants'  of all sorts.  So if you remember them you in a sense have it all.   Just plug them in and you have an operating model.  Well, no, except  for ...  And even in Physics class you got the sense that these exceptions just happened in very strange circumstances.   At some curious edge of the universe.   Well yes, except for ...     

What Makes Quantum Computing So Hard to Explain?      By Scott Aaronson,  Quanta Mag

To understand what quantum computers can do — and what they can’t — avoid falling for overly simple explanations.

Video: Quantum computers aren’t the next generation of supercomputers — they’re something else entirely. Before we can even begin to talk about their potential applications, we need to understand the fundamental physics that drives the theory of quantum computing.... 

By Scott Aaronson, Contributing Columnist

Quantum computers, you might have heard, are magical uber-machines that will soon cure cancer and global warming by trying all possible answers in different parallel universes. For 15 years, on my blog and elsewhere, I’ve railed against this cartoonish vision, trying to explain what I see as the subtler but ironically even more fascinating truth. I approach this as a public service and almost my moral duty as a quantum computing researcher. Alas, the work feels Sisyphean: The cringeworthy hype about quantum computers has only increased over the years, as corporations and governments have invested billions, and as the technology has progressed to programmable 50-qubit devices that (on certain contrived benchmarks) really can give the world’s biggest supercomputers a run for their money. And just as in cryptocurrency, machine learning and other trendy fields, with money have come hucksters.

In reflective moments, though, I get it. The reality is that even if you removed all the bad incentives and the greed, quantum computing would still be hard to explain briefly and honestly without math. As the quantum computing pioneer Richard Feynman once said about the quantum electrodynamics work that won him the Nobel Prize, if it were possible to describe it in a few sentences, it wouldn’t have been worth a Nobel Prize.

Not that that’s stopped people from trying. Ever since Peter Shor discovered in 1994 that a quantum computer could break most of the encryption that protects transactions on the internet, excitement about the technology has been driven by more than just intellectual curiosity. Indeed, developments in the field typically get covered as business or technology stories rather than as science ones.


A regular column in which top researchers explore the process of discovery. This month’s columnist, Scott Aaronson, is a professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, specializing in quantum computing and computational complexity theory.

See all Quantized Columns

That would be fine if a business or technology reporter could truthfully tell readers, “Look, there’s all this deep quantum stuff under the hood, but all you need to understand is the bottom line: Physicists are on the verge of building faster computers that will revolutionize everything.”

The trouble is that quantum computers will not revolutionize everything.

Yes, they might someday solve a few specific problems in minutes that (we think) would take longer than the age of the universe on classical computers. But there are many other important problems for which most experts think quantum computers will help only modestly, if at all. Also, while Google and others recently made credible claims that they had achieved contrived quantum speedups, this was only for specific, esoteric benchmarks (ones that I helped develop). A quantum computer that’s big and reliable enough to outperform classical computers at practical applications like breaking cryptographic codes and simulating chemistry is likely still a long way off.  .... .' 

Electromobility and the German Electric Grid

Having recently been reading about models of the US electrical grid, so made me think of how such mobility will be handled.  How much more infrastructure? Learnings for US and elsewhere? 

The impact of electromobility on the German Electric Grid    Article (9 pages) in McKinsey 

Estimates indicate that eight million electric vehicles could be on the roads in Germany by 2030. Investing in fast-charging stations and managed charging will be key to upgrading infrastructure.

With a share of almost 20 percent, the global transport sector is the third-largest contributor to CO2 emissions after electricity generation and industry. Despite vast improvements in the energy efficiency of vehicles, greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions in the sector have more than doubled since 1970. In Germany, for example, there were 71 percent more trucks and 31 percent more cars on the road in 2019 than 30 years earlier, and a trend toward larger, heavier, and more powerful vehicles offsets gains in energy efficiency. In fact, 95 percent of new vehicles in 2019 still used gasoline or diesel.1

As Europe’s largest national economy, Germany can play a significant role in reducing emissions. In accordance with the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and achieve climate neutrality by midcentury, Germany has committed to reducing CO2 emissions by 55 percent by 2030.2 While the country has made a solid start, current reductions will clearly not be enough. By 2030, emissions from the transport sector in Germany must be reduced by 42 to 44 percent.3

Electromobility fueled by green energy is one way to reach these reduction targets. Grid operators (both distribution and transmission) and regulators are engaged in a wide-ranging discussion on how to increase electric capacity to scale electromobility. Successful grid integration is a central component for the future ramp-up of electromobility and sector coupling, which refers to the integration of energy supply and end uses. However, significant risk must be mitigated, primarily for grid balance. For example, the rapid proliferation of fast charging will likely increase the impact of newly occurring loads from unmanaged charging of electric vehicles (EVs)....  '

Thursday, October 14, 2021

GoDaddy Wants to Help Small Businesses Compete Using AI

Interesting idea here, will it be effective?  

GoDaddy wants to help small businesses compete using AI  by 7wData

GoDaddy may not spring to mind as a developer of cutting-edge AI technology, but the internet company is currently employing new tech to help small businesses compete with tech giants.

“If you have the local bookstore that has built their website on GoDaddy, that local bookstore needs to compete with Amazon,” GoDaddy director of engineering Jason Ansel told VentureBeat in an interview. “And Amazon’s using a lot of Machine Learning. Amazon is a Machine Learning powerhouse. [So] basically, how can we use our machine learning expertise at GoDaddy to help that little bookstore compete in an increasingly machine learning-dominated world?”

One of the most significant issues facing those small businesses is a shortage of data compared to their huge competitors. But Ansel says GoDaddy is in a position to pool information across its massive customer base to create intelligent systems that help them all.  .... ' 

On the Psychology of Panic Buying

 Good article here.   In Fortune.  There might be ways to integrate the notion of control in consumer decision making?  Never heard it mentioned in this way.

The psychology of panic buying: why we stockpile pasta, toilet paper and gas when we don't need it

in Fortune.

Whether we are packing the freezer full of microwavable meals or sitting in a long line for gas in London, our first question is probably a simple one: Why do we do this to ourselves? 

That question has felt like the backbeat of our days since the pandemic began. When the first hints of a fast-spreading contagion appeared in early 2020, people around the world greeted the news with an almost universal response: We bought toilet paper. Then we bought up hand sanitizer, masks, pasta and beans, gym equipment, lumber, video game consoles, even puppies.

Now, with an energy crisis gripping much of Europe and a labor squeeze wracking post-Brexit Britain in particular, so-called panic buying has moved into a new realm—one where it can be nearly impossible to tease apart the role and weight of disrupted supply chains and climate change feedback loops in rounds of frantic over-purchasing that seem to blend one into the next. Of course, whether we are packing the freezer full of microwavable meals or sitting in a long line for gas in London, our first question is likely not which of the intertwined causes is most to blame, but something much simpler: Why do we do this to ourselves?

Psychologists, as it turns out, have spent much of the past 18 months studying this question, mapping out what a typical stockpiler looks like and is motivated by; how governments can limit it (hint: they're not doing great); and why there's more of this to come in our future. But here's one surprising conclusion: Just because it's called "panic" buying doesn't mean we're actually being irrational.

The who and the why

When it comes to the archetypal extreme panic buyer, there are few hard-and-fast rules: Several studies have found they tend to be better off—because over-purchasing requires, well, money—and a U.K. study found they're more likely to have kids. Other studies, including one out of Singapore, found panic buyers are most likely to be motivated by fear, or be motivated by social pressure, as well as the perceived severity of the situation; age and gender didn't seem to be that indicative.  .... 

 ..... And a study  https://doi.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fxlm0000883  from Australia earlier this year in the Journal of Experimental Psychology posited that panic buying was a reaction to extreme uncertainty—suggesting it gave people an illusion of control, even when they would have been better off sticking with their usual approach. .... '

Russia Exluded from Ransomware Summit

Is it useful to do this?  Hard to say, but I think so, with the carrot being later involvement. 

Russia excluded from 30-country meeting to fight ransomware and cyber crime

By Nandita Bose,   Reuters

WASHINGTON, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Russia was not invited to attend a 30-country virtual meeting led by the United States that is aimed at combating the growing threat of ransomware and other cyber crime, a senior administration official said.

Many ransomware gangs operate from Ukraine and Russia, private sector cybersecurity experts say. Some U.S. officials and analysts have said Russian ransomware gangs operate with the Kremlin's tacit approval, but are not directly controlled by the government.

The meeting will be held over two days, involve six sessions and include topics such as addressing the misuse of virtual currency to launder ransom payments, prosecuting ransomware criminals, using diplomacy to counter ransomware, and helping nations become more resilient to such attacks, the administration official said.

Along with the United States, India, Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom will lead discussions on topics such as disruption, virtual currency and diplomacy. Others joining the meeting include Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Ukraine, Ireland, Israel, South Africa, the European Union.   ... '

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Quantum Electric Materials

Quantum Electric Materials.  Seems novel way to apply superconduction.  Technical, with link to paper.

New nanostructure could be the key to quantum electronics  by Vienna University of Technology

A novel electronic component from TU Wien (Vienna) could be an important key to the era of quantum information technology: Using a special manufacturing process, pure germanium is bonded with aluminum in a way that atomically sharp interfaces are created. This results in a so-called monolithic metal-semiconductor-metal heterostructure.

This structure shows unique effects that are particularly evident at low temperatures. The aluminum becomes superconducting—but not only that, this property is also transferred to the adjacent germanium semiconductor and can be specifically controlled with electric fields. This makes it excellently suited for complex applications in quantum technology, such as processing quantum bits. A particular advantage is that using this approach, it is not necessary to develop completely new technologies. Instead, mature and well established semiconductor fabrication techniques can be used to enable germanium-based quantum electronics. The results have now been published in the journal Advanced Materials.  ... "

More information: Jovian Delaforce et al, Al–Ge–Al Nanowire Heterostructure: From Single‐Hole Quantum Dot to Josephson Effect, Advanced Materials (2021). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202101989

Journal information: Advanced Materials 

DeepMind Makes a Profit

Do we expect a leading edge research lab to make a profit?

AI News

DeepMind sees revenue jump and turns first ever profit  By Fin Strathern | October 7, 2021

Categories: DeepMind, Google,

DeepMind, the Alphabet-owned AI research lab, has turned a profit for the first time since the company was founded in 2010.

The London-based firm recorded a profit of £43.8 million in 2020 with revenue at £826 million, according to its annual results filing with Companies House.

In previous years, DeepMind have posted losses well into the hundreds of millions that Alphabet has heavily subsidised. For example, the company lost £476 million in 2019 and has made cumulative losses of nearly £2 billion since 2014.

How the company has more than tripled its revenue from £265 million in 2019 to £826 million in 2020 remains somewhat of a mystery. No explanation has been provided by DeepMind.

There is of course the host of companies that fall under the Alphabet umbrella which DeepMind sells software and services to, namely YouTube, Google, and X. However, aside from this, the research lab sells no products to consumers and has not announced any partnerships publicly. ... 

Apptio and IBM for Enterprise Cloud Transformation

 "  ... supporting the client journey to the cloud that can help map aligning the optimal portfolio of cloud capabilities ... 

Apptio and IBM Announce Collaboration to Help Accelerate Enterprise Transformation with IBM’s Open Hybrid Cloud Approach

Apptio’s SaaS solutions will be a decision engine to help clients migrate workloads and applications with Red Hat OpenShift ... 

BELLEVUE, Wash., and ARMONK, N.Y., October 12, 2021 – Apptio, Inc., a leading provider of technology business management (TBM) SaaS applications, and IBM (NYSE: IBM), today announced a collaboration to help clients improve hybrid cloud technology decision-making and drive adoption of Red Hat OpenShift and IBM’s open hybrid cloud approach. 

According to analyst firm IDC, “there is a need to support the client journey to the cloud that can help map aligning the optimal portfolio of cloud capabilities (e.g., private, public, hybrid) needed to achieve business and IT objectives, offering different pathways to the cloud for migration and modernization of applications.”1 To help inject flexibility and agility into their operations, enterprises must determine which applications and workloads should be migrated and how that may impact the business. The collaboration will combine data-driven insights from Apptio to help clients make informed migration decisions and capitalize on the capabilities of Red Hat OpenShift to run and manage applications in the computing environment that best suits their business goals, including on-premises infrastructure and across cloud destinations including IBM, AWS, Azure and others. ... ' 

Procter & Gamble and Microsoft: Data and Digital Transformation

Microsoft talks about how they work with key customers.   Notably with my former employer, where I worked on many related problems, and can agree that using data effectively was well understood to be key.  Fairly good detail here about using Microsoft Azure.

For Procter & Gamble, data is at the heart of digital transformation

August 17, 2021   Microsoft

For more than 180 years, Procter & Gamble (P&G) has built a thriving business by challenging norms and delighting consumers. Its range of household products, from toothpaste and soap to paper towels and laundry detergent, can be found in millions of homes—in nearly every country on Earth.

True to its innovative nature, P&G sees data and algorithms as a way to constructively disrupt how it operates, leading to growth. P&G developed a multicloud-driven data strategy—and data culture—that informs every decision the business makes to fuel its future success.

In order for P&G to understand and best serve consumers, we need to drive a data-enabled culture and operationalize algorithms into every major business decision. 

Guy Peri: Chief Data & Analytics Officer, P&G

“The way we approach excellence as a company is to get the right product, the right package, the right communication, and the right in-store execution,” says Guy Peri, Chief Data & Analytics Officer for P&G. “Pretty much everything about how we do that with our customers and the consumers who buy our products is changing—and data and algorithms are central to staying ahead of that change.”

Lots of data, but out of reach

Given its broad scope and long history, P&G had numerous data points about its business, including what drives sales and product preferences. But the data resided in geographically dispersed silos, and P&G’s legacy systems couldn’t link the hundreds of disparate data types to gain collective insights.

P&G sought a platform that could unlock those silos and provide a single view for business users. At the same time, company leaders realized that they needed to foster a data-driven culture—a growth mindset that put data and analytics at the forefront. AI, machine learning, and advanced analytics were all seen as crucial to becoming a true digital leader.

P&G found what it needed with the powerful suite of Microsoft Azure data and AI solutions, such as Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure Data Lake Storage, and Power BI. “Azure is helping optimize the impact of digitization across Procter & Gamble, from democratizing AI with no-code features to embedded capabilities in Power BI,” says Peri. “We appreciated the scale, flexibility, and analytical muscle of Azure. The stack can go up and down depending on our business needs. It also gives us leading data and algorithm capabilities with both the Azure Synapse back-end and front-end Power BI tools.”

For us, only two variables are important: performance and scale. Can we scale at a cost-effective rate? With Azure and the co-innovation we did together, we’re able to get positive outcomes on both fronts. 

Guy Peri: Chief Data & Analytics Officer, P&G

With these scalable, dynamic data solutions, P&G is bringing the power of data to bear on three key challenges: creating a resilient supply chain, improving retail execution, and delivering superior products and packaging.

A more resilient supply chain

P&G data scientists and business analysts combine information from existing and new data sources inside the data lake to create predictions that help ensure consumers can get the products they need, when they need them.

Better retail execution

P&G is using granular analytics capabilities to ensure that retail partners are putting the right products and right in-store displays in front of consumers. 

Superior products and packaging

P&G is using data and analytics in its products and packages to shift from a point-in-time assessment to a real-time, sense-and-respond approach. A key component of this shift is a global architecture with automated collection of data to fuel analysis that uncovers insights, speeds the innovation process, and determines manufacturability and cost optimization.

“We need to act with agility to be competitive with the fast startups in the world,” says Peri. “But we also need to act with precision to leverage our scale for competitive advantage. Data algorithms help us do both. So, the faster we can bring data insights to our decision makers, the more competitive we’ll be.”

Neighborhood analytics and smart selling

In addition to gaining important insights at a global level, P&G has been able to do the same at a local level. One initiative, called “Neighborhood Analytics,” helps P&G understand at a local level how consumers shop and what they need. By combining external and internal data sources, the company can more effectively partner with retail customers to expand specific categories for consumers.

A second initiative, called “Smart Selling,” gives P&G insight into what its distributors are doing in developing markets. By using big data and AI, the company can help distributors be precise when ordering products. “COVID-19 is a great example of where we’ve been able to use these tools to be much more precise,” says Peri. “We overlaid our Azure analytics capability with COVID-19 data and then understood exactly where we had the biggest risk of out-of-stock opportunities to address or where we anticipated the need for inventory.”

Creating a data-driven culture

Beyond specific use cases, P&G is also using Azure to create a strong data culture that makes employees aware of the power of data and how to use it every day.

The ease of use with Azure fosters P&G’s data culture from the technology side, making it easy for employees to understand data, manipulate it, and use it to inform major decisions. These decisions, in turn, positively affect P&G’s ability to better serve consumers and constructively disrupt how the company operates.

“Our data culture is a combination of data technology, work processes, and reward systems,” says Peri. “If we have only one or two of those things, we’re not going to deliver the outcomes we want. We have partnered closely with our line business leadership and our function leadership to really transform in a way that constructively disrupts how we operate.”

A foundation for the future

Looking ahead, P&G will connect more data types and find new ways to delight its customers—and the consumers who fill their homes with P&G products. And it will continue to strengthen its data culture, operationalizing algorithms into key decision processes across the company. Procter & Gamble may be 183 years old, but its future has never been brighter. ...

Very few vendors can serve our needs at scale, given how much data we’re processing. Azure Synapse Analytics can, and Microsoft’s vision on how to scale is among the best in the industry. 

Guy Peri: Chief Data & Analytics Officer ....

Pratt @ Whitney with Low-Code

Had a few long ago links with Pratt & Whitney, and continue to like the idea of Low-Code approaches if they can ensure that security is built in with standard codes that are used.  Have not looked at WEBCON

Pratt & Whitney’s Low-Code Strategy to Save Development Time

Aircraft engine maker leverages platform from WEBCON to tighten up some of its operations.

By Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer  in InformationWeek

Aerospace engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney expanded its use of a low-code resource to streamline certain operational processes and make more efficient use of its veterans’ institutional memory.

With nearly a century of history, Pratt & Whitney is a staple of the aerospace and defense industries. Its engines can be found in the F-35 Lightning II fighter, the venerable B-52 bomber, as well as commercial and civilian aircraft.

The breadth of its production led to the company accumulating more than 2,000 different types of forms that became a challenge to track, says Jocelyn Brulé, digital technology manager with Pratt & Whitney. In the past, such forms might have been printed and signed for approval, but he says that was no longer feasible with much of the staff working remotely through the pandemic. Further, the old method of getting printed approvals was inefficient -- something had to change. “It’s not just the signature that is painful,” Brulé says. “To track where the approval is at, if it’s on paper or an email, you can’t track it.”

Pratt & Whitney ramped up its use of the WEBCON BPS low-code platform, which first got introduced to the engine maker via a plant based in Poland. Brulé says the pace of change in technology can be too fast at times for companies and their IT departments to absorb, with details and institutional knowledge not always getting where it is needed. “It’s not just about throwing more money, more people at all of this,” he says. “Companies need to put in place agile, DT (digital technology) organizations where the pace at which they can deliver things is at least as fast as the market evolves.”  ... ' 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Rotor-Cipher Cryptography Machines

On rotor-cipher machines.   A historical view, with comments.

Via Bruce Schneier

Jon D. Paul has written https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-scandalous-history-of-the-last-rotor-cipher-machine  the fascinating story of the HX-63, a super-complicated electromechanical rotor cipher machine made by Crypto AG.  in  Spectrum IEEE   ...'

Static Analysis

Short intro to the idea and its application to managing software: 

In “Static Analysis: An Introduction,”      author Patrick Thomson provides a perspective on the history, current state and future of static analysis, an important tool in helping programmers manage the complexity of modern software. At stake is software quality, he says, as empirical studies indicate that a codebase's complexity -- and the ability for programmers to understand the software -- correlates with its rate of defects.

Thomson draws distinctions between static and dynamic analyses such as valgrind, which extracts facts from a program as it runs, and model checking, which verifies the correctness of a separate external specification of a program.

Not all static analyses are feasible. As a codebase becomes larger, it takes more time to parse and traverse, notes Thomson, requiring more sophisticated and efficient analyses. Additionally, many static analyses are computationally expensive. Perhaps the most important barrier to adoption of static-analysis tools is the requirement that programmers change their behavior to account for the discovery of issues such as false positives and false negatives.

Looking toward the future, Thomson says the subfield of static analyses targeted toward detection of security vulnerabilities becomes more valuable and continues to attract industrial and research attention.

Queue is ACM's magazine for practicing software engineers. Written by engineers for engineers, Queue focuses on the technical problems and challenges that loom ahead, helping readers to sharpen their own thinking and pursue innovative solutions.   ... ' 

Monday, October 11, 2021

IBM and Raytheon Collaborate

Collaborative breadth is very interesting

IBM and Raytheon Technologies to Collaborate on Artificial Intelligence, Cryptography and Quantum Technologies

October 11, 2021  in HPCwire

ARMONK, N.Y., Oct. 11, 2021 — IBM and Raytheon Technologies will jointly develop advanced artificial intelligence, cryptographic and quantum solutions for the aerospace, defense and intelligence industries, including the federal government, as part of a strategic collaboration agreement the companies announced today.

Artificial intelligence and quantum technologies give aerospace and government customers the ability to design systems more quickly, better secure their communications networks and improve decision-making processes. By combining IBM’s breakthrough commercial research with Raytheon Technologies’ own research, plus aerospace and defense expertise, the companies will be able to crack once-unsolvable challenges.

“The rapid advancement of quantum computing and its exponential capabilities has spawned one of the greatest technological races in recent history – one that demands unprecedented agility and speed,” said Dario Gil, senior vice president, IBM, and director of Research. “Our new collaboration with Raytheon Technologies will be a catalyst in advancing these state-of-the-art technologies – combining their expertise in aerospace, defense and intelligence with IBM’s next-generation technologies to make discovery faster, and the scope of that discovery larger than ever.”

In addition to artificial intelligence and quantum, the companies will jointly research and develop advanced cryptographic technologies that lie at the heart of some of the toughest problems faced by the aerospace industry and government agencies.

“Take something as fundamental as encrypted communications,” said Mark E. Russell, Raytheon Technologies chief technology officer. “As computing and quantum technologies advance, existing cybersecurity and cryptography methods are at risk of becoming vulnerable. IBM and Raytheon Technologies will now be able to collaboratively help customers maintain secure communications and defend their networks better than previously possible.”

The companies are building a technical collaboration team to quickly insert IBM’s commercial technologies into active aerospace, defense and intelligence programs. The same team will also identify promising technologies for jointly developing long-term system solutions by investing research dollars and talent.  ..."

Microsoft Translates 100 Languages

More translations emergences,  MS beating equaling Google in number of languages covered.  Do these methods create completely fluent multi lingual interaction?  Or just phrase by phrase translation?  

Microsoft taps AI techniques to bring Translator to 100 languages

Today, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Translator, its AI-powered text translation service, now supports more than 100 different languages and dialects. With the addition of 12 new languages including Georgian, Macedonian, Tibetan, and Uyghur, Microsoft claims that Translator can now make text and information in documents accessible to 5.66 billion people worldwide.

Its Translator isn’t the first to support more than 100 languages — Google Translate reached that milestone first in February 2016. (Amazon Translate only supports 71.) But Microsoft says that the new languages are underpinned by unique advances in AI and will be available in the Translator apps, Office, and Translator for Bing, as well as Azure Cognitive Services Translator and Azure Cognitive Services Speech.  ... '

Trade Skill Schools and Pandemic

Virtual reality is not near enough as yet.   So how do we teach physical skills?   I was asked in recent days by a training manager of electricians.  Quickly,  because we need them now. 

Virtual class was a devastating blow to trade school students  in Fastcompany

For students learning trades like carpentry, cosmetology, or automotive technology, in-person class time is crucial. School closures hit them hard.

Mark Chaney hates that the pandemic has forced the Buckeye Hills Career Center in Rio Grande, Ohio, where he teaches to still have a schedule with students in school only part time. That may work for English and math classes during the pandemic, he said, but his students are trying to learn physical skills, not just intellectual ones. They need to handle, build, and take apart pipes, ductwork, and breaker boxes every day, not spend half their week doing online work at home.  ... " 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

AI to Keep the Lights on?

 This deserves a deeper dive, especially if you are into complex modeling of the operation of systems.  The contest is over, but by examining the overview of the statement of the problem, I was impressed.  I am continuing to review.   Was particularly interested if they could model and minimize  or potentially re design Power Grids for events like solar CMEs. An ultimate grid security issue. Could this be a starting point? Anyone know?  We worked with Los Alamos and they were impressive. 

Los Alamos scientists take top prizes in national competition to help improve electrical grid

Artificial intelligence-driven algorithms could help keep the lights on

Los Alamos, N.M., Oct. 4, 2021—Two scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory took top prizes in a national competition for developing algorithms to help improve the resiliency and efficiency of the electrical grid. The algorithm developed by Hassan Hijazi of the Applied Mathematics and Plasma Physics Group took first place in all four divisions, while the one developed by Carleton Coffrin of the Laboratory’s Information Systems and Modeling Group placed second in two of the four divisions. Their work outperformed 14 other entries in the competition:   https://gocompetition.energy.gov/   funded by Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), a United States government agency that promotes and funds research and development of advanced energy technologies.

“Grid security is a national security issue, which is why this is important work for Los Alamos,” said Nancy Jo Nicholas, associate Laboratory director for Global Security at Los Alamos. “Every five minutes, optimization problems arise in the U.S. electrical grid that require a mathematical solution. Hassan’s and Carleton’s achievement will help advance national efforts to create a more reliable, resilient, and secure electrical grid.”  ... 

Updates for Apple Glass (Updated with a number of competitors)

Following Apple's look at Smart Glasses.   Should note that Google Glasses are apparently still being used in test in some specialized situations.  But not in any standard way to interact with the real world.  One of the primary issues has been the consideration of privacy.   Is someone wearing the glasses using a front facing camera to record me?     Is there a good way to alert me of that?  Like showing they are turned off, and is that trustable?   I had noted that it had been rumored that the Apple version would not have any forward facing camera at all.  But only a Lidar scanner. Below some recent information. 'Every thing they know ...  But note some of this is clearly speculation.  We did early work in manufacturing maintenance using the idea.   I have a potential client in the space.  

See below and also from TechValley:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLNvSYr4eeI   Which shows some good, but also speculative consumer uses.

UPDATE:   Pointed out to me:   7 Best Smart Glasses 2021 Take Your Life Far Away:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbWiCzpnCTY  Video which also includes some useful novel uses. 

Apple Glasses: Release date, price, features and leaksExcerpt from Tom'sGuide,  By Kate Kozuch 17 days ago

Apple Glass could redefine wearable computing. Here's everything we know so far.

The Apple Glass augmented reality glasses could be a futuristic wearable product that overlays graphics in the real world around you.

When we first heard word of "Apple Glasses," rumors suggested the lenses would launch as soon as this year. But based on newer leaks and insider intel, the near future Apple augmented reality glasses looks blurry.

A longtime source for Apple product releases believes the release won't happen until 2022. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said the earliest we'll see them is 2023. Either way, the project is definitely in the works.

Apple Glass is expected to run on Starboard (or perhaps glassOS,) a proprietary operating system uncovered in the final version of iOS 13. The augmented reality framework shows up multiple times in code and text documents, meaning Apple is likely testing activation and application. 

Here's everything else we know about Apple Glass, including the potential release date, price, design and specs.   ....' 

Google Pledges a Million to Secure Open Source

Securing Open Source.

Google Pledges $1 million to Secure Open Source Software

By Computing (U.K.) October 5, 2021

Google has pledged $1 million in funding to a new open source security project hosted by the Linux Foundation.

Dubbed the Secure Open Source (SOS) Rewards program, the pilot project aims to improve the security of critical open-source apps by offering eligible developers financial rewards of $10,000 or more for their security-related work.

"SOS rewards a very broad range of improvements that proactively harden critical open source projects and supporting infrastructure against application and supply chain attacks," Meder Kydyraliev and Kim Lewandowski of Google's Open Source Security Team said in a blog post.

"To complement existing programs that reward vulnerability management, SOS's scope is comparatively wider in the type of work it rewards, in order to support project developers."

From Computing (U.K.)

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Rise of Robo Voices

If we can insert voices, and are starting to insert believable synthetic 'acting', it may not be long before the entire experience will be fabricated?  


The Rise of the Robo-Voices

 The next time you see a movie or TV show that was dubbed from a foreign language, the voices you hear may not belong to actors who rerecorded dialogue in a sound booth. In fact, they may not belong to actors at all.

Highly sophisticated digital voice manufacturing is coming, and entertainment executives say it could bring a revolution in sound as industry-changing as computer graphics were for visuals. New companies are using artificial intelligence to create humanlike voices from samples of a living actor's voice—models that not only can sound like specific performers, but can speak any language, cry, scream, laugh, even talk with their mouths full. At the same time, companies are refining the visual technology so actors look like they are really speaking.

As streaming services export American fare globally and foreign markets send their hits to the U.S., dubbing is a bigger business than ever. But the uses of synthetic voices extend well beyond localizing foreign films. AI models can provide youthful voices for aging actors. The technology can resurrect audio from celebrities who have died or lost the ability to speak. And it can tweak dialogue in postproduction without the need for actors.

All the tinkering raises thorny ethical questions. Where is the line between creating an engrossing screen experience and fabricating an effect that leaves audiences feeling duped?

From The Wall Street Journal  

A Challenge: Are we Close to AGI?

 Artificial General Intelligence. Quite interesting note ... we started in the 80s.  How far are we now?  

Artificial General Intelligence: Are We Close, and Does it Even Make Sense to Try?   By MIT Technology Review, August 25, 2021

The idea of artificial general intelligence as we know it today starts with a dot-com blowout on Broadway. 

Twenty years ago—before Shane Legg clicked with neuroscience postgrad Demis Hassabis over a shared fascination with intelligence; before the pair hooked up with Hassabis's childhood friend Mustafa Suleyman, a progressive activist, to spin that fascination into a company called DeepMind; before Google bought that company for more than half a billion dollars four years later—Legg worked at a startup in New York called Webmind, set up by AI researcher Ben Goertzel. Today the two men represent two very different branches of the future of artificial intelligence, but their roots reach back to common ground.

Even for the heady days of the dot-com bubble, Webmind's goals were ambitious. Goertzel wanted to create a digital baby brain and release it onto the internet, where he believed it would grow up to become fully self-aware and far smarter than humans. "We are on the verge of a transition equal in magnitude to the advent of intelligence, or the emergence of language," he told the Christian Science Monitor in 1998.

Webmind tried to bankroll itself by building a tool for predicting the behavior of financial markets on the side, but the bigger dream never came off. After burning through $20 million, Webmind was evicted from its offices at the southern tip of Manhattan and stopped paying its staff. It filed for bankruptcy in 2001 ...

Part of the problem is that artificial general intelligence is a catchall for the hopes and fears surrounding an entire technology .... 

From MIT Technology Review

View Full Article

Compressing Data for Humans in the Loop

Compressing data for teleoperation. Human in the loop requires images that can be used to adapt to changing reaction times and decision making in coordination with very remote devices.  Technical. 

 PICO: Pragmatic Compression for Human-in-the-Loop Decision-Making   by Siddharth Reddy,    Berkeley Bair

Imagine remotely operating a Mars rover from a desk on Earth. The low-bandwidth network connection can make it challenging for the teleoperation system to provide the user with high-dimensional observations like images. One approach to this problem is to use data compression to minimize the number of bits that need to be communicated over the network: for example, the rover can compress the pictures it takes on Mars before sending them to the human operator on Earth. Standard lossy image compression algorithms would attempt to preserve the image's appearance. However, at low bitrates, this approach can waste precious bits on information that the user does not actually need in order to perform their current task. For example, when deciding where to steer and how much to accelerate, the user probably only pays attention to a small subset of visual features, such as obstacles and landmarks. .... '

Retail Grocery Podcasts

 Just reintroduced to Jungle Jim's International Market's Podcasts, which do a good job of introducing the novelty of their retail world.  In our retail innovation days we used them as an example of what could be done with engaging tech.  Then they used a simple blog, now they have expanded this to a complimentary YouTube site with the same name.     Check it out, use the name above to fetch podcasts, or the YouTube channel. 

Friday, October 08, 2021

Helix Model for Future Proofing Organizations

Unaware of this method.

Future-proofing the organization the ‘helix’ way

The German auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen is reinventing a key division. Its head of transformation explains how separating the company’s people leadership from its product lines improves both.

By Kirsten Weerda,    McKinsey

The German auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen is reinventing a key division. Its head of transformation explains how separating the company’s people leadership from its product lines improves both.

Balancing flexibility and stability is the goal of any organizational structure. In fast-changing industries, flexibility supports the mastery of technological shifts while stability provides the much-needed efficiency to scale them up. Yet, too much flexibility breeds inefficiency or even disorder. And too much stability invites inertia and bureaucracy. Locating the sweet spot is elusive. Julian Fieres and his team are trying to find it—and bring the organization along with them.

Fieres, the head of transformation, strategy, and sustainability at ZF Friedrichshafen AG (ZF), Electrified Powertrain Technology division, is in the thick of a transformation involving two newly merged business units that together account for 30,000 employees and $10 billion in annual sales. Rather than combine the divisions in the usual way, however, ZF shook up the management hierarchy by separating people-leadership responsibilities from the task of running the product lines that form the traditional heart of the division. The result is a “helix” model featuring two parallel lines of accountability—a “dynamic axis” for the product lines themselves and a “stable axis” for the people, capabilities, and functional domains that support them. As with other agile organization models, the helix allows people and other resources to be shifted much more flexibly across product lines, helping ZF to compete in the fast-evolving landscape of e-mobility. ... "

Media Lab and Blockchains for Secure Robot Teams

Interesting link, especially coming from the MIT Media Lab, where we had a membership. 

Blockchain Technology Could Provide Secure Communications for Robot Teams

MIT Media Lab, Adam Zewe, October 5, 2021

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Spain's Polytechnic University of Madrid suggest blockchain technology could ensure secure communications for robot teams. A blockchain supplies a tamper-proof record of messages issued by robot team leaders, so follower robots can note inconsistencies in the data trail. In a simulation, data was stored in each block as a set of directions from a leader robot to followers; a malicious robot attempting to alter the content of a block changes the block hash, so the doctored block is no longer connected to the chain and false directions can be easily disregarded by followers. MIT's Eduardo Castelló said, "These techniques are useful to be able to validate, audit, and understand that the system is not going to go rogue."   ... ' 

CarPlay Expands it Reach to AC, Stereo and Seats

 Interesting view of what we might expect for new and updated capabilities, but not driving interfaces in the 'smart home' automotive division.   So far there have not been many impressive examples.   In part because of the safety sensitivity of driving.   And also privacy considerations for related data being used and generated.   Also potentially opening your car, as an IOT device, to malware attack.

Apple CarPlay could control more parts of your vehicle in the future

‘IronHeart’ could build a new CarPlay that easily controls your car’s A/C, stereo, and seats

By Richard Lawler@rjcc 

Ever since it was introduced in 2015, Apple CarPlay has represented a notable upgrade over the user interfaces most cars have by default, but many of our concerns about it, and Android Auto, come up due to their limitations. Newer features like dual-screen support and third-party apps like Google Maps could help, but there are still huge parts of the driving experience that exist outside of Apple’s control panel. Now, Mark Gurman reports for Bloomberg that Apple’s “IronHeart” push envisions tying settings like climate controls, seat positioning, and even specific surround sound tweaks to your iPhone.

This is a gap that Google has closed by cutting deals with automakers like Polestar, Ford, Honda, and GM to use Android Automotive as the basis for their UI. According to Bloomberg, while Apple’s plans would require carmaker participation, this isn’t a plan to provide the basis for an infotainment system like Android Automotive.

Instead, Bloomberg suggests it could resemble Apple’s smart home push with HomeKit, with an API that devices (in this case, cars) access with varying levels of support for control and sensor communication. One interesting wrinkle is the mention that with iOS 15, Apple removed several API features from SiriKit, making its occasionally disappointing assistant less capable than before. That includes controls that could, on compatible vehicles, manage these exact settings, like seat position, climate control, or audio source.

If the plans turn into real upgrades, that could mean different cars have different levels of feature support, with some using CarPlay to customize seat position, while others might not support that but could configure the vehicle’s A/C settings based on your iPhone preferences. As the report notes, so far, there has been limited support for things like manufacturer-provided CarPlay apps that can access these deeper control settings, and only BMW supports Apple CarKey so far.

So what does this mean for Apple’s not-so-secret Project Titan car program? Bloomberg reports that the CarPlay expansions wouldn’t collect car or user data, so whatever project Kevin Lynch is now leading will need to glean useful insights in another way.... ' 

GM and Cruise Get California DMV Approval for Waymo

Observing this space I have received many questions about how likely autonomous driving will become, and how soon.  Mainly due to safety considerations.  Yet there still seems  a continuing movement to the approval of autonomous vehicles of  many kinds.   Here an example.   With carefully tailored regulation.  Interesting details below.  In the US this is often by State,  which adds complexity and thus cost.

Alphabet's Waymo, GM's Cruise Get California DMV Approval to Run Commercial Autonomous Car Services By CNBC 

GM-based Cruise and Alphabet's Waymo were granted autonomous vehicle deployment permits from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. This will allow them to charge fees and receive compensation for ride-hailing and other autonomous services offered to the public in certain areas.

However, the companies also need approval from the California Public Utilities Commission before they can offer such services to the general public outside of a testing program.  The new authorization allows Cruise vehicles to operate on public roads in certain areas of San Francisco between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. at speeds no faster than 30 mph, while Waymo can operate in designated parts of San Francisco and San Mateo counties at speeds no faster than 65 mph.

Both companies are permitted to operate vehicles in light rain or fog. ..... 

Both companies have been testing fleets of autonomous vehicles in California with permits that allow for free driverless rides to passengers in test vehicles.  .... "

Interacting with Computers Through Smell

In our innovation spaces we also looked at 'communication', and sales via smell and taste.  Since at the time we were makers of some very large coffee blends.    We worked with simulations of blends and how people interacted with them via taste and aroma.  We even tested the ability to 'smell' with computers to test blends and model consumer reaction.  And their reaction in virtual reality settings.

Interacting With Computers Through Smell  By Sandrine Ceurstemont, Commissioned by CACM Staff, October 7, 2021

We typically interact with computers and virtual environments using vision, hearing, and touch, but there is growing interest in also incorporating smell, to replicate more closely how we interact with the real world.

Odors could help people feel more present in virtual reality settings, for example, while smell could also play a role in how we make rapid decisions or recall memories when using computers.

"The question is how can we harness the power of smell in this increasingly digital world," says Marianna Obrist, professor of multisensory interfaces at University College London in the U.K.

There are still challenges to overcome before smell can be widely used as a mode of human-computer interaction, though. A better understanding of how it could impact different aspects of behavior in virtual environments, for example, is needed.

"What we are trying to do is to understand the temporal and spatial diffusion of scent in order to really understand the effect on the user," says Obrist.

In recent work, Obrist and her colleagues investigated whether smell could help direct a person's attention in a virtual reality environment. They conducted experiments in which participants were presented with an abundance of visual stimuli, and had to pick out those that looked like mint leaves. Either sounds, smells, or both were incorporated into the virtual scene, and were emitted from different positions  in the virtual environment, in order to learn whether they could help guide a person towards the mint leaf icons.

Participants were assessed based on the number of mint leaves they spotted and where they were located. The position of each person's head was tracked as they completed the task, to determine the direction they were looking and whether that matched up with the location from which a scent or sound was being emitted.

Obrist and her team found participants typically directed their attention to the source of a sound or smell. Furthermore, they seemed to explore the left side more thoroughly when a sensation was delivered from the left, compared to when it originated from the right side. The researchers think that could be because all the participants were from cultures that read from left to right. "That might have some effect which would need to be accounted for in the future," says Obrist.

They also found differences in how effectively people focused their attention when sound or smell were used on their own, compared to when both modalities were combined. "The integration of sound and smell definitely produced the best results," says Obrist. ... ' 

Using AI in Particle Physics

An old interest of mine, how can AI be applied?   An investigation.  A further question:  How can AI be used generally elsewhere as a means to 'drill' into a complex space, with known rules,  play with their testing and extension?     ... 

Using AI to Drill Down in Physics  By Bennie Mols, Commissioned by CACM Staff, July 8, 2021

If a computer can teach itself to play the age-old board game Go better than the human world champion, if a computer can even conjure up a genius new Go move, couldn't a computer also discover new physics?

Jesse Thaler, an associate professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), investigates the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in particle physics. In 2020, Thaler also became the director of the National Science Foundation's AI Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Fundamental Interactions (IAIFI), which is dedicated to advancing physics knowledge and galvanizing AI research innovation.

At the moment, the Standard Model of particle physics is the best description of three of the four fundamental forces of nature, and of a large family of elementary particles. Finding deviations from the Standard Model might lead physicists to discover new particles or new interactions, and AI might be able to play an important role in this.

In a Zoom interview, Thaler talks about the present and the future of applying AI to particle physics.

Why does particle physics need AI?

Particle physics is a data-rich field. In CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), particles collide every 25 nanoseconds. Processing and analyzing these collisions has to be done in an automated and robust way. We are seeing now that our traditional tools have reached their limits. AI has the potential to exploit new features of these datasets."

Where are we right now with AI in particle physics?

Right now, AI has augmented and improved on strategies that particle physics has already used for many decades. AI gives physicists a better ability to reconstruct particles from the collision debris and interpret the results.

What type of AI is used in particle physics?

It's almost all machine learning, and the biggest distinction to make is between supervised and unsupervised machine learning. Thus far in particle physics, we have focused on supervised learning, based on training sets with labeled data.  ... '

Thursday, October 07, 2021

US Fed Gov AI Spending Increasing

It appears in most the usual spaces.

Federal Government Spending on AI is Accelerating 

By AI Trends Staff  

AI is a major priority for US federal agencies and its adoption is accelerating, in part due to urgency following the COVID pandemic but also rooted in the long-term IT and R&D strategic plans.   

This is a key finding of the Federal Artificial Intelligence Landscape, 2022 report from the Federal Market Analysis team of Deltek, a global provider of enterprise software with a project focus. The report examines the major considerations around budget, policy, acquisition and workforce issues that influence federal AI priorities.   

Christine Fritsch, principal research analyst, federal market analysis, Deltek

“That research has found that as government mission requirements grow, federal agencies are seeking ways to maximize the use of the vast data sets they collect and store,” stated Christine Fritsch, principal research analyst, federal market analysis at Deltek, author of the account on Deltek’s report in Federal Times.  

The report describes how AI and machine learning technologies are enabling agencies to improve the effectiveness of missions, stretch workforce capacity, combat waste, fraud, and abuse, and drive operating efficiencies. The maturation of AI technology, a growing list of AI use cases and applications, and the growth in commercial solutions, have all contributed to pushing AI beyond the R&D work at scientific agencies such as NASA and the Department of Energy to a broader pool of agencies, the report found.   ... ' 

Combine Robots and Drones for Data and Compliance

Makes much sense.   Have recently been following the usage of how drones and directed robotics are opening up data availability in the time and space dimensions.   And here also in the dimension of compliance.

Insurers Increase Investments in Drones, Robots  By The Wall Street Journal, October 7, 2021

International Data Corp. (IDC) predicts that the insurance industry will spend approximately $602 million globally on robotic systems, including drones, this year, rising to $1.7 billion in 2025.

IDC's Patrick Van Brussel said, "All these technologies are about augmenting the capacities of the so-called knowledge workers." Travelers Cos., United States Automobile Association, and Farmers Insurance Group are among the big insurers that used drones to inspect property damage from Hurricane Ida.

Farmers also plans to roll out a robotic dog, Boston Dynamic's Spot, to inspect catastrophe damage.

Said Farmers' Samantha Santiago, "Spot gives us the ability on the ground to see what's ahead of us. Things that may be difficult for an adjuster to see."

Travelers' Jim Wucherpfennig  said drones make it possible to write damage estimates and pay claims faster.

From The Wall Street Journal  

Unilever Building a Stronger Social Playbook

Plans to include methods like livestreaming, shoppable media, group buying and gaming.   Note $3 Trillion mentioned below.

Unilever’s Social Commerce Playbook Adds New Start-up Platform

The Positive Beauty Growth Platform initiative is led by Unilever’s beauty and personal care division, which includes such brands as Dove, Axe and Love Beauty & Plane. 

Unilever is readying for the $3 trillion-plus social commerce tsunami with a new initiative wooing start-ups.

The No. 6 consumer goods company’s Positive Beauty Growth Platform is inviting scale-up and start-ups to apply to collaborate on beauty tech and innovation projects. It will host a series of pitch competitions and challenges for companies operating in social commerce — especially those in livestreaming, shoppable media, group buying and gaming.

The initiative is led by its beauty and personal care division, which includes such brands as Dove, Axe and Love Beauty & Planet, and accepted partners will pilot their idea in collaboration with select brands.  

The global social commerce market is pegged to be valued at $3.37 trillion in 2028, up from $474.8 billion in 2020, according to Grand View Research, which cited personal and beauty care segment as one segmented expected to especially benefit.

Social commerce is being propelled both as a discovery and a buying channel thanks to an increase in social media usage during the pandemic, with more brands investing in their ability to provide immersive and convenient experiences to seize on this growth.

Social platforms, meanwhile, are doing their part to grease the wheels: TikTok last week launched the TikTok Shopping solution suite that includes additional commerce experiences, integrations with third-party commerce partners, and live shopping, among other features.

Beyond growing sales, leveraging social commerce provides brands with another opportunity to leverage the benefits of direct-to-consumer selling — chiefly forging closer relationships with consumers and the first-party data it can bring. Twenty-three percent of consumer goods companies in the annual Retail and Consumer Goods Analytics Study said they’re investing in social media analytics for the first time, while 40% are making upgrades to a current system.  

And while today’s large legacy consumer goods brands are “trying” social commerce rather than defining it as an imperative at this point, Len Schlesinger, Baker Foundation professor at Harvard Business School and former vice chairman/COO of Limited Brands, told CGT recently, “the smart ones are trying everything.” For some, this is taking the form of investing in acquiring DTC brands for learnings, with others are building out their venture capital capabilities.

For his part, Sunny Jain, Unilever president of beauty and personal care, noted the importance of collaborating when it comes to the “mega-trends of the future.”   .... '