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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Descriptive Analytics

 Always been a fan of the idea, of descriptive analytics,  an excellent predecessor to more complex work as needed. .   Here an overview of its value.

The Value of Descriptive Analytics: Evidence from Online Retailers  by Ron Berman and Ayelet Israeli   HBS Working Knowledge

Analytics are descriptive when they describe what happened. Descriptive-analytics solutions are popular among marketers and retailers. This paper provides a benchmark for the benefits of using a descriptive dashboard and illustrates how to potentially extract these benefits.

Author Abstract

Does the adoption of descriptive analytics impact online retailer performance, and if so, how? We use the synthetic control method to analyze the staggered adoption of a retail analytics dashboard by more than 1,000 e-commerce websites, and find an increase of 13–20% in average weekly revenues post-adoption. We demonstrate that only retailers that adopt and use the dashboard reap these benefits. The increase in revenue is not explained by price changes or advertising optimization. Instead, it is consistent with the addition of prospecting and personalization technologies to retailer websites. The adoption and usage of descriptive analytics also increases the diversity of products sold, the number of transactions, the numbers of website visitors and unique customers, and the revenue from repeated customers. In contrast, there is no change in basket size. Put together, these findings are consistent with an indirect effect of descriptive analytics, and they suggest that the adoption of analytics serves as a monitoring device that allows retailers to assess the value of new technologies. Without using the descriptive dashboard, retailers are unable to reap the benefits associated with these technologies.

Full publication. ... 

Expansion of Amazon Ring Network

The Verge reports on the considerable linking of Ring devices with police and fire departments.  Have had one installed since they emerged.    As usual the privacy fanatics assume that this can be abused, and thus is inherently bad.   The other part of the implication is that police are bad, so helping them out must also be suspect.   The stats are interesting in this and the attached article.   Continue to follow, and I do occasionally thumb through shared alerts. 

Amazon’s Ring now reportedly partners with more than 2,000 US police and fire departments

Only two states— Montana and Wyoming— have no departments on the Ring program  By Kim Lyons

All but two US states — Montana and Wyoming— now have police or fire departments participating in Amazon’s Ring network, which lets law enforcement ask users for footage from their Ring security cameras to assist with investigations, the Financial Times reported, Figures from Ring show more than 1,189 departments joined the program in 2020 for a total of 2,014. That’s up sharply from 703 departments in 2019 and just 40 in 2018.

The FT reports that local law enforcement departments on the platform asked for Ring videos for a total of more than 22,335 incidents in 2020. The disclosure data from Ring also shows that law enforcement made some 1,900 requests — such as subpoenas, search warrants, and court orders— for footage or data from Ring cameras even after the device owner has denied the request. Amazon complied with such requests 57 percent of the time, its figures show, down from 68 percent in 2019.  .... 

Whats a Transformer?

A major advance in NLP capabilities?  Venturebeat does a good job of explaining and suggesting this will be one of the major AI advances of the year.  Essentially as I see it a library and model that supports better conversation among people and machines.  Open-Sourced.  Worth a deeper look. 

Microsoft trains world’s largest Transformer language model  By Khari Johnson  @kharijohnson  in Venturebeat

Microsoft AI & Research today shared what it calls the largest Transformer-based language generation model ever and open-sourced a deep learning library named DeepSpeed to make distributed training of large models easier.

At 17 billion parameters, Turing NLG is twice the size of Nvidia’s Megatron, now the second biggest Transformer model, and includes 10 times as many parameters as OpenAI’s GPT-2. Turing NLG achieves state-of-the-art results on a range of NLP tasks.

Like Google’s Meena and initially with GPT-2, at first Turing NLG may only be shared in private demos.

Language generation models with the Transformer architecture predict the word that comes next. They can be used to write stories, generate answers in complete sentences, and summarize text.

Experts from across the AI field told VentureBeat 2019 was a seminal year for NLP models using the Transformer architecture, an approach that led to advances in language generation and GLUE benchmark leaders like Facebook’s RoBERTa, Google’s XLNet, and Microsoft’s MT-DNN.

Also today: Microsoft open-sourced DeepSpeed, a deep learning library that’s optimized for developers to deliver low latency, high throughput inference.

DeepSpeed contains the Zero Redundancy Optimizer (ZeRO) for training models with 100 million parameters or more at scale, which Microsoft used to train Turing NLG.

“Beyond saving our users time by summarizing documents and emails, T-NLG can enhance experiences with the Microsoft Office suite by offering writing assistance to authors and answering questions that readers may ask about a document,” Microsoft AI Research applied scientist Corby Rosset wrote in a blog post today.  ... " 

Printing Bone with Living Cells

Considerable idea.   

Scientists Use Novel Ink to 3D-Print 'Bone' With Living Cells,  By University of New South Wales (Australia),  January 27, 2021

  New South Wales Sydney may allow surgeons to use three-dimensional printing to generate bone parts, complete with living cells.

A technology developed by researchers at Australia's University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney enables three-dimensional (3D) printers to print bone-like structures, complete with living cells.

The researchers developed an ink comprised of calcium phosphate, and their new technique, called ceramic omnidirectional bioprinting in cell-suspensions (COBICS), allows 3D printing of bone-like structures that harden in minutes when placed in water.

This marks the first time  such structures were created at room temperature without harsh chemicals or radiation, and including living cells.

UNSW's Kristopher Kilian said, "We can go directly into the bone where there are cells, blood vessels, and fat, and print a bone-like structure that already contains living cells, right in that area. There are currently no technologies that can do that directly."

From University of New South Wales (Australia) 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Microsoft's Quantum Chip

Microsoft moves forward in quantum chip research. 

Microsoft’s new quantum chip could help control thousands of qubits  in Digital Trends by Luke Dormeh 

Microsoft doesn’t just make Windows and Surface tablets — it’s also doing some pretty interesting work with quantum computers. And, at least according to the Redmond, Washington-based company, it’s just made a notable advance in this domain.

Working with researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia, the Microsoft investigators say they have found a way to control thousands of qubits, the basic units of quantum information that are equivalent to binary bits in a classical computer, at extremely low temperatures.

This is important because one of the big challenges with quantum computers, which have the potential to change the face of computing as we know it, is something called qubit decoherence. This is the cause of many errors in quantum computing, and results from the environment interacting with qubits in a way that changes their quantum states.

“Each qubit needs to be controlled by a bunch of wires that typically run from racks of electronics at room temperature to the qubits at the end of a dilution refrigerator, at 0.01 degrees kelvin, [which is] close to absolute zero,” David Reilly, principal researcher and director of Microsoft Quantum Sydney, told Digital Trends. “Controlling qubits in this way taps out around 50 or so qubits. It simply doesn’t scale as an approach to controlling thousands of qubits and beyond. Running wires from racks of electronics resembles the first electronic computers of the 1940s rather than the integrated circuit chips we have today.”  ... '

Source Article from Microsoft

Detecting Flu-Like Illness with Behavior

Quite a considerable idea, depending on accuracy.    It appears the data from  is anonymous and thus private,  Similar to a proposal we outlined, never implemented, which aimed to determined the 'mode'  (searching, seeking, examining, considering, reconsidering, buying ... ) of a shopper while walking around in a store.

 Anonymous Cellphone Data Can Quantify Behavioral Changes for Flu-Like Illnesses

Emory University, Carol Clark, January 26, 2021

A study by Emory University computer scientists found cellphone data routinely collected by telecommunications providers can expose behavioral changes in people diagnosed with flu-like illnesses, while also shielding their anonymity. In partnership with an Icelandic cellphone service provider and public health officials, the Emory team analyzed data for more than 90,000 encrypted phone numbers, constituting about 25% of Iceland's population. The researchers were allowed to link the encrypted cellphone metadata to 1,400 anonymous individuals diagnosed with a flu-like illness during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. Individuals receiving a flu-like diagnosis changed their cellphone usage behavior an average of one day pre-diagnosis and two to four days afterward, making fewer calls from fewer unique locations and spending more time than usual on calls made the day following diagnosis. Emory's Ymir Vigfusson said, "Our work contributes to the discussion of what kinds of anonymous data lineages might be useful for public health monitoring purposes."

See Who is Watching with Crowdsourced Maps

 Clever idea, but how will it decrease the power of surveillance? 

Crowdsourced Maps Will Show Exactly Where Surveillance Cameras Are Watching

Fast Company, Mark Sullivan, January 26, 2021

Human rights organization Amnesty International plans to create a crowdsourced map pinpointing every surveillance camera enabled for facial recognition in New York City. Beginning in May, volunteers will be able to use an app on their smartphones to identify facial recognition cameras within their view; the app integrates Google Street View and Google Earth to help tag and affix geolocation data to those entries. The map will be part of Amnesty’s "Ban the Scan" campaign, designed to spread awareness worldwide on the civil rights perils of facial recognition. The organization hopes to launch similar crowdsourced mapping projects in New Delhi, the West Bank, and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in the coming months.  .."

BMW Aims to Manufacture with Quantum

BMW looking at nimbler process control for manufacturing.  Embedded is a prediction for use within the next two years.

BMW Takes First Steps Into Quantum Computing Revolution

CNet, Stephen Shankland, January 27, 2021

BMW is using a Honeywell quantum computer to determine which vehicle components to purchase from which supplier at what time, in order to maintain its production schedules while holding down costs. The quantum computer optimizes the automaker’s choices from numerous options and suboptions. While this marks one of the first real-world uses of quantum computing, BMW's Julius Marcea noted, "Our experts anticipate that it will take some more years until real quantum computers can be used for commercial benefit." Honeywell's Tony Uttley said within the next two years, quantum computers will be able to solve optimization problems classical computers cannot handle. ....

Smart Manufacturing - AI OS for Industry 4.0

Putting all the pieces together for Industry 4.0

Smart Manufacturing Startup Builds AI OS for Industry 4.0  in NAnalyze

Smart manufacturing. Industry 4.0. Smart factories. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Manufacturing on demand. The list of buzzwords around how the world will completely digitize the manufacture of every widget imaginable goes on and on. These factories of the future will link every machine and robot, each mapped down to the micron in a cloud-based digital twin. AI algorithms will automate the manufacturing process from end to end, with technologies like 3D printing taking on an outsized role. At least that’s what they tell you in the slide decks. A startup called Oqton is angling to be a key player in the industry 4.0 market with its own smart factory operating system (OS) built around additive manufacturing.... "

The Value of Constraints for Creativity

 Even if you don't embed them formally, we found, as in an optimization.  It states the walls to bounce off of.   Note the use of 'some' in the statement, which then requests the next word:  which?

The Role of Constraints in Creative Problem-Solving

Paper:  https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/21-068_2425a8e8-7eaf-47fa-8db3-4061c303f606.pdf  

by Daniel Ehls, Karim R. Lakhani, and Jacqueline N. Lane,  in HBS Working Knowledge

This study shows that constraints can support creative problem solving in a consumer electronics setting. Adding (some) constraints increased the quantity and quality of strong ideas generated and selected through an open innovation process.

Author Abstract

The role of constraints in the problem solving process has been a central line of inquiry in the creativity and innovation literature with ongoing debates of whether constraints imposed on creative problem solvers diminish or enhance their efforts and outputs. We investigate this question by designing and executing a field experiment in collaboration with a world leading company in consumer electronics seeking creative solutions through a community crowdsourcing program to improve the wearing comfort of their popular headphones. We mobilized 1,833 problem solvers, 331 ideas and 435 community evaluators to rate the quality of the solutions, for a total of 2,473 evaluator-solution pairs. To make experimental comparisons, we exogenously varied the number of constraints faced by the community problem solvers to determine how exposures to constraints affected the number and quality of solutions. We find causal evidence that moderate levels of constraints increase both solution quantity and quality. Compared to problems framed with no constraints, having some constraints causally increases a solvers’ likelihood of proposing a solution by 6% or 1.5 times. Turning to solution quality, we find that while constraints decrease the average novelty of solutions, they have no effect on the most novel and useful solutions. Lastly, we observe an inverse curvilinear relationship between the number of constraints and the most creative solutions, where problems with some constraints increase the likelihood of coming up with one of the most creative solutions by 3–4% compared to problems with no constraints. We discuss the implications of our findings to the creativity and problem-solving literatures. .... 

Friday, January 29, 2021

AI to Understand Consciousness of a 'Theory of Mind'

 We read much on 'Theory of mind', as it related to things like intelligent undertanding and 'consciousness'. Could this leverage us into better definitions and uses of consciousness in context? 

New MIT brain research shows how AI could help us understand consciousness  By Tristan Greene  in TNW

A team of researchers from MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital recently published a study linking social awareness to individual neuronal activity. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time evidence for the ‘theory of mind‘ has been identified at this scale.

Measuring large groups of neurons is the bread-and-butter of neurology. Even a simple MRI can highlight specific regions of the brain and give scientists an indication of what they’re used for and, in many cases, what kind of thoughts are happening. But figuring out what’s going on at the single-neuron level is an entirely different feat.

According to the paper

Here, using recordings from single cells in the human dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, we identify neurons that reliably encode information about others’ beliefs across richly varying scenarios and that distinguish self- from other-belief-related representations … these findings reveal a detailed cellular process in the human dorsomedial prefrontal cortex for representing another’s beliefs and identify candidate neurons that could support theory of mind.

In other words: the researchers believe they’ve observed individual brain neurons forming the patterns that cause us to consider what other people might be feeling and thinking. They’re identifying empathy in action.... " 

Using AI to Work with Regulations

Consider possible use as  'Contract-Digital-Twin'  (my term)  to determine how it might simulate the application of regulations in varying contexts.   A smart contract of sorts.   Thoughts? 

Researchers use AI to help businesses understand Code of Federal Regs, other legal docs

Researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) have made strides in automated legal document analytics (ALDA) by creating a way to machine-process the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The CFR is a complex document containing policies related to doing business with the federal government. All business affiliates of the federal government must comply with the CFR. For government contracts to be equitably open to a broad range of businesses, policies within the CFR must be accessible.  ... "

Best practices in design conversational AI in integration with Business Software

Good thoughts here regards linking business software to Conversational AI.  Intro below:

Further thoughts on integrating business process and Conversational AI.  Examining for a particular application.   I like the implication of writing a 'story of use'  to make sure it addresses goals effectively.   Read rest of article, non technical.

Best practices in design conversational AI in integration with business software

By Andrew Rudchuk    in TowardsDataScience   Founder @ Hala.ai 


In this article, I will try to describe designing the conversational AI in integration with back-end software.

Real example: Create a bot for adding time activities by employees. With time activity, you can specify the date, time spent on some task, assign it to a project or customer, and in addition to that, specify the hourly rate and if it is billable or not.

Step 1 — Define Intents

To design the intents in many cases, I am trying to communicate with the bot’s future users. You can write a story and explain the purpose of your request to provide different examples of utterances (intents) that they can use in the bot for adding new time activity. This step aims to have real-time examples from the users, and it is not only for training the intents and getting higher confidence for it but also for designing the bot in the most appropriate way.

Of course, you can design the utterances on your own and start the design of the flow, but in the end, this could lead to additional work because you would need to rebuilt everything.  .... ' 

On the Satellite Crowd

 A discussion of the crowding of satellites, mentioned here a number of times before.   The crowd needs to be much better managed. 

Thousands More Satellites Will Soon Orbit Earth—We Need Better Rules to Prevent Space Crashes By Lauren Napier  in The Singularity Hub

In recent years, satellites have become smaller, cheaper, and easier to make with commercial off-the-shelf parts. Some even weigh as little as one gram. This means more people can afford to send them into orbit. Now, satellite operators have started launching mega-constellations—groups of hundreds or even thousands of small satellites working together—into orbit around Earth.

Instead of one large satellite, groups of small satellites can provide coverage of the entire planet at once. Civil, military, and private operators are increasingly using constellations to create global and continuous coverage of the Earth. Constellations can provide a variety of functions, including climate monitoring, disaster management, or digital connectivity, like satellite broadband.

But to provide coverage of the entire planet with small satellites requires a lot of them. On top of this, they have to orbit close to Earth’s surface to reduce interruption of coverage and communication delays. This means they take up an already busy area of space called low Earth orbit, the space 100 to 2,000km above the Earth’s surface.

There are many issues associated with introducing this many satellites into orbit, from the dangers of space junk to obstructing our view of the night sky. But the shift toward mega-constellations is also a challenge for global space governance. ... ' 

Multiple value Slots for Improved Dialog

 Reported in Amazon Developer,  Dialog is the thing.   

Now Available: Use Multi-Value Slots to build more Natural conversations

Karthik Ragubathy Jan 19, 2021

Share:  CLI Dialog Management

Today we are excited to announce the general availability of Multi-Value Slots, taking a step toward enabling Alexa Skills to understand more complex commands and utterances. As skill developers, you spend a lot of time developing interactions to be more natural and conversational so your customers can have a memorable experience with your skill. One thing that makes conversations more natural is the ability to speak out multiple values of the same type in a single sentence, similar to what we do in our daily conversations. For example, my partner and I could be discussing dinner plans, and I would say, “What can we cook with potatoes and broccoli for dinner?” If you want your customers to be able to have similar conversations with your Alexa skill, you can use Multi-Value Slots in your skill.

Without Multi-Value Slots, here’s how you might have implemented that conversation within your skill.

Customer : Alexa, open recipe suggestions.

Alexa : Welcome to recipe suggestions. Tell me the first ingredient you have today?

Customer : I have potatoes.

Alexa : Got it. what’s the second ingredient you want today?

Customer : Some broccoli

Alexa : Got it. Based on the ingredients you have, Italian Potatoes and Broccoli sounds like a good idea. ...'

Thursday, January 28, 2021

New AI to Reason about Uncertainty

Good thoughts here.   We spend muct time trying to reduce uncertainty to something useful, like risk, both within rule based logic and prediction.

Approach to AI Offers More Certainty in the Face of Uncertainty, By Radboud University (Netherlands), January 28, 2021   Technical 

Researchers at the Netherlands' Radboud University and Eindhoven University of Technology, and the Universities of Austin and California, Berkeley, have formulated a new artificial intelligence (AI) method for reasoning about uncertainty.

The uncertain partially observable Markov decision processes (uPOMDPs) are basically real-world models that calculate event probabilities, so AI can make better and safer decisions faster.

Radboud's Nils Jansen said the uPOMDP approach "allows us to take all our calculations and theoretical information and use it in the real world on a more consistent, regular basis."

He added that systes like autonomous cars could use this method to explain errors in more detail, in order to account for them when calculating. Said Jansen, "This means they have more specific examples of what could go wrong, and make better and more adequate adjustments to avoid those specific risks."

From Radboud University (Netherlands) ... 

Issues with Using RPA

To get the meat of this article you need to signin below into CIO Mag.   Non technical.

10 dark secrets of robotic process automation

RPA promises to streamline workflows, glue together legacy systems, and empower business users to solve their own problems. But beneath the big wins lurk hidden issues worth addressing.

By Peter Wayner, Contributing Editor, CIO

Every good science fiction story has at least one robot butler, an all-knowing, all-seeing genie that can make all our problems go away in a split second. The people who coined the buzzword “robotic process automation” were clearly trying to tap into this sentiment. Customers who buy into the platform expect to be able to hand over their chores to a computer butler so the humans left on staff can concentrate on the bigger challenges.

The good news is that there are plenty of examples of the buzzword being accurate. Companies are simplifying workflows and building out sophisticated dashboards that suck up data and spit out useful infographics. RPA tools have proved successful at enabling the computer to do some of the most onerous tasks that annoyed everyone up and down the food chain.

RPA tools also give new life to legacy systems by adding a new layer that can intelligently manipulate the old code and help extend its shelf life. Many RPA tools can also be deployed by non-programmers, empowering those who know the pain of working with legacy tools to drag and drop new icons to improve their workflows. Pick the right tool and implementation, and anyone who can write spreadsheet macros can streamline work processes using RPA.

All of this magic is clear, providing a wonderful facade that sweeps away much of the toil and drudgery. But beneath the veneer RPA adds to your systems hide several issues that could prove problematic over time.  ... " 

Digital First Approaches

Arranging digital approachs.

A digital first approach is essential to retail success    By Lee Peterson   in RetailWire with expert commentary

 Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of an article from WayfinD, a quarterly e-magazine filled with insights, trends and predictions from the retail and foodservice experts at WD Partners.

Modern shopping keeps getting better, easier, faster, cheaper and smarter — for the consumer, that is.

And because of newish shopping tools and their ease of use for everything, shopping has become intertwined with everyday life. Pick up the kid, buy a sweater, check the weather, ship the Cheerios next-day all in one fell swoop. Shopping is no longer an “event”, it’s just another thing we have to do today, another button to push.  ... " 

Possibilities of Wearable Electronics

With more technical details linked to from the the article below. 

Researchers realizing the limitless possibilities of wearable electronics  by Erin Matthews, University of Ottawa

BnoƮt Lessard and his team are developing carbon-based technologies which could lead to improved flexible phone displays, make robotic skin more sensitive and allow for wearable electronics that could monitor the physical health of athletes in real-time.

With the help of the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), a team of Canadian and international scientists have evaluated how thin film structure correlates to organic thin-film transistors performance.

Organic electronics use carbon-based molecules to create more flexible and efficient devices. The display of our smart phones is based on organic-LED technology, which uses organic molecules to emit bright light and others to respond to touch.

Lessard, the corresponding author of a recent paper published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, is excited about the data his team has collected at the HXMA beamline. As Canada Research Chair in Advanced Polymer Materials and Organic Electronics and Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Lessard is working on furthering the technology behind organic thin-film transistors.  ... ' 

Color to Avoid Design Failures

Coloring your designs to avoid failures.

Merging Technologies with Color to Avoid Design Failures

Penn State College of Engineering, Miranda Buckheit, January 21, 2021

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) researchers analyzed machine learning (ML) and image colorization algorithms to avoid design failures. Penn State's Pranav Milind Khanolkar reviewed the use of the ABAQUS additive-manufacturing simulation software, which can pose difficulties because its speed and performance level rely on a computer's hardware processing power. The team deployed ML algorithms to lower the exclusive use of computationally demanding finite element analysis, and accelerate simulations. It then applied image colorization algorithms to material microstructure data, and repurposed programs typically used to add color to monochrome photos. Khanolkar said, "Using intelligent technology to help people and empower their creativity and empathy during the design process is important. These algorithms need lots of computational power and using artificial intelligence ... allows designers to be more creative without impacting production cost."

Microsoft and McAfee headline newly-formed 'Ransomware Task Force'

Need new push forward to address these attacks.

Microsoft and McAfee headline newly-formed 'Ransomware Task Force'  (RTF) 

The newly-founded Ransomware Task Force will work to put together a standard framework for dealing with ransomware attacks. ... 

By Catalin Cimpanu 

Ransomware threats mean SMBs must focus on cyber basics

A group made up of 19 security firms, tech companies, and non-profits, headlined by big names such as Microsoft and McAfee, have announced on Monday plans to form a new coalition to deal with the rising threat of ransomware.

Everything you need to know about ransomware: how it started, why it's booming, how to protect against it, and what to do if your PC's infected.

Named the Ransomware Task Force (RTF), the new group will focus on assessing existing technical solutions that provide protections during a ransomware attack.  The RTF will commission expert papers on the topic, engage stakeholders across industries, identify gaps in current solutions, and then work on a common roadmap to have issues addressed among all members.

The end result should be a standardized framework for dealing with ransomware attacks across verticals, one based on an industry consensus rather than individual advice received from lone contractors.  ... ' 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Smart Radio better than SmartPhones?

 Have we gone too far with the smartphone to think of a hand held  'SmartRadio'?   Apprently with lots of business capabilities built in to place  a 'focus on collaboration and productivity'?    Android powered.    Announced today.    Small screen but could we simply stream screens as large as we needed them?   Test might be interesting. 

Businesses Gain Unparalleled Collaboration and Productivity With Motorola Solutions’ New Smart Radio

Motorola Solutions launches MOTOTRBO™ Ion smart radio with full Android interface, broadband data capabilities and an open application ecosystem

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The global pandemic has driven businesses to shift and adapt operations to meet changing demands and new challenges. For many, this has meant a greater focus on collaboration and productivity, bringing to the forefront the need for simple and reliable voice, video and data communications, as well as applications that make individuals and teams more efficient. Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI) today announced the launch of a next generation business-ready smart radio with voice, broadband data and multimedia capabilities to connect teams, inform operations and keep businesses running smoothly.

The MOTOTRBO Ion smart radio brings real-time intelligent data to existing business workflows. Its fully open Android application ecosystem allows for seamless integration of the mobile data applications that commercial industries depend on, such as those used for enterprise-grade barcode scanning, as well as team communication platforms used for messaging, meetings and shared content. A 13-megapixel camera and 4-inch, high-resolution touchscreen lets workers attach photos to work tickets, use video chat for remote diagnostics and view detailed images, schematics, diagrams, photos and videos. This simplifies device management and security, allowing businesses to move toward the use of a single device that offers the simplicity and reliability of push-to-talk radio with the additional capabilities of a smartphone, scanner and tablet.  ... " 

Cardiovascular Disease: Improving Therapy with Digital Twins

 Digital twins for modeling therapy. 

An integration of a number of modeling methods are brought together with imaging.  

Cardiovascular Diseases: Computer Model Improves Therapy

Graz University of Technology (Austria), Christoph Pelzl, January 22, 2021

Researchers at Austria's University of Graz and the Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) have generated digital twins of human hearts, which doctors can use to pre-model optimal therapies and improve the likelihood of successful treatment for cardiovascular diseases. Imaging algorithms construct a digital twin from diagnostic data, which provides information to help understand the individual clinical situation and consider various therapeutic scenarios. TU Graz's Thomas Pock said computerized heartbeat simulation requires calculating millions of factors, and demands "complex mathematical procedures, special algorithms, and special hardware that can perform billions of computing actions per second." The new technique can routinely produce anatomically accurate digital twins of patient hearts in clinical environments.  ... ' 

Playing Like Humans

Perhaps a useful strategy for other goals involved.    Or a clever 'false flag' at play?   Or mincing a human frailty.  Like the thought of it. 

 Chess engine sacrifices mastery to mimic human play

Cornell Chronicle, Melanie Lefkowitz, January 25, 2021

A team of researchers from Cornell University, Canada's University of Toronto, and Microsoft Research have developed an artificial intelligence chess engine that is trained to play like, rather than beat, humans. The Maia chess engine was taught to mimic human behavior through training on individual human chess moves, instead of the larger problem of winning the game. The researchers found Maia matched human moves within each skill level over 50% of the time, an accuracy rate higher than those of the popular chess engines Stockfish and Leela. Cornell's Jon Kleinberg said, "Our model didn't train itself on the best move; it trained itself on what a human would do. But we had to be very careful—you have to make sure it doesn't search the tree of possible moves too thoroughly, because that would make it too good. It has to just be laser-focused on predicting what a person would do next." ... " 

Designing Customized Robot Brains

Interesting thoughts on the elements of such design, like the use of customized chip design.

Designing Customized 'Brains' for Robots

MIT News, Daniel Ackerman, January 21, 2021

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University have developed a system that can increase a robot's efficiency by minimizing the mismatch between the robot’s “mind” and body. Robomorphic computing generates a customized chip design based on a particular robot's parameters, such as limb layout and joint movement, and computing needs. The researchers programmed a customizable field-programmable gate array chip according to the system's suggestions, and the chip performed eight times faster than an off-the-shelf CPU and 86 times faster than an off-the-shelf GPU despite operating at a slower clock rate. Said Harvard's Brian Plancher, "Ideally we can eventually fabricate a custom motion-planning chip for every robot, allowing them to quickly compute safe and efficient motions."

Comparative Mobile Security IOS vs Android

Steve Gibson does a good job looking at security in smartphones in a recent Twit.TV.  Reviewing the work by Matthew Green at Johns Hopkins.

Comparative SmartPhone Security  from  talk notes  on Twit.TV podcast #603

A team of security researchers at Johns Hopkins, led by cryptographer, security technologist and associate professor of computer science, our friend Matthew Green, decided to take a serious look at the comparative security offered by the Apple iOS vs Google Android smartphone platforms.

To host the results of their analysis they grabbed the domain securephones.io. ...

Resources:  https://securephones.io/      https://securephones.io/main.html    https://securephones.io/main.pdf

AI Set to Replace Humans in Cybersecurity

 Makes much sense in one respect, AI is about automated pattern recognition and reaction.  But it can also be said there will be AI on the other side adapting as well.

AI Set to Replace Humans in Cybersecurity by 2030, Says Trend Micro Survey   By ZDNet, January 26, 2021

More than 40% of IT leaders responding to a Trend Micro survey said they expect artificial intelligence to replace them by 2030.

In a survey of 500 information technology (IT) leaders by cloud security firm Trend Micro,  41% of respondents expect artificial intelligence (AI) to take over their roles by 2030, while just 9% doubt their jobs will be fully automated.

The study predicts hackers will aggressively target remote and cloud-based systems this year. 

A third (32%) of respondents said they expect AI eventually will fully automate all cybersecurity, while 19% said they believe attackers will routinely use AI by 2025, and 24% expect data access will be linked to biometric or DNA data, foiling unauthorized access.

Trend Micro's Bharat Mistry said, "While AI is a useful tool in helping us to defend against threats, its value can only be harnessed in combination with human expertise."

The company recommends companies redouble their best practice security and patch management efforts, and enhance threat detection with 24-7 security expertise.  .... " 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Wal-Mart Leverages IOT

Good,  relatively simple applications are talked.

Walmart Shows the Way on IoT in Food Retail  in  ProgressiveGrocer  By Thad Rueter - 01/25/2021

Walmart uses IoT technology for a variety of tasks — including keeping ice cream frozen and milk cold.

Get ready to hear a lot more about how Internet of Things (IoT) can improve food retail — especially now that Walmart is working harder to promote its use of the technology.

“Internet of Things,” of course, refers to how physical objects are connected via software, sensors and the internet, with the goal of providing more precise detection, communication, analysis and action — all of which can help businesses run more efficiently, at least in theory.

In a recent blog, Sanjay Radhakrishnan, Walmart’s vice president, global tech, described how the retailer is using IoT technology for a variety of tasks — including keeping ice cream frozen and milk cold.

“As part of our digtal transformation, we’re using Internet of Things (IoT) at a scale unmatched across retail to improve food quality, lower energy consumption and keep costs low for our customers,” Radhakrishnan wrote. “Currently, Walmart manages more than 7 million unique IoT data points across our U.S. stores. Every day, this network of connected devices sends almost 1.5 billion messages regarding temperature, operating functions and energy use.”

The push toward more IoT capability required Walmart to build proprietary software with complex algorithms able to detect abnormal events in real time. All that work can help pay off when it comes to the quality of grocery items.

“Our customers depend on our stores to maintain food at the proper temperature, like keeping ice cream frozen and milk cold,” Radhakrishnan said. “Global Tech is helping our Real Estate team to ensure proper food quality through monitoring our refrigeration units with IoT systems. Our IoT application not only monitors the temperature of the individual unit to ensure proper food safety standards, but also looks at how the equipment is performing and takes proactive steps towards maintenance repairs to reduce the cost and down time caused by equipment failure.”  ... ' 

Alexa Measuring Energy

First I had heard of this, lots of interesting measure graphics at the link.

Alexa can estimate how much electricity smart home devices consume

By Patrick Hearn, January 26, 2021  in Digitaltrends

A smart home is convenient, but is it energy-efficient? Alexa can now tell you. Today, Amazon rolled out a new feature called the Energy Dashboard. It shows the amount of energy consumed by Alexa-compatible smart home devices. Just open up the Alexa app to see how much energy is used by smart home devices connected to your Alexa system, including smart plugs, switches, water heaters, thermostats, and TVs.

The Energy Dashboard shows not only daily, but also weekly and monthly trends. It’s not the same as having an energy monitor installed in your home, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction to giving Alexa even more functionality than before.

In addition to the Energy Dashboard, Amazon also rolled out Guard Plus. This is a subscription service that extends the original features of Alexa Guard with a host of new features, including hands-free access to an Emergency Helpline. It also provides Smart Alerts that monitor for trouble within your home.  ... ' 

Making Smart Plugs Smarter

Considering a broader view of 'smart', more like cooperative towards goals.

Engineers make smart plugs smarter  by National University of Singapore

Singapore is in the midst of its Smart Nation transformation, and researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have a new invention that could take it a big step forward.

It is a network of smart electrical sockets controlled by a central computer, optimizing energy use throughout a building or even across buildings. The team that created this was led by Associate Professor Sanjib Kumar Panda from the NUS Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

So far, most people have used smart appliances in a very piecemeal way. For example, an appliance, such as a television or an air conditioner, is connected to the Internet, and then controlled remotely from a mobile app. However, this approach is actually inefficient, so the NUS team set out to improve it.

"The current trend is to put a computing unit in every new appliance, which generates a lot of e-waste and drives up costs, so we are avoiding that," said Dr. Krishnanand Kaippilly Radhakrishnan, who worked with Panda to develop the technology.  ... " 

Smart Electrical Outlet/Socket (SEOS) system

The NUS researchers' Smart Electrical Outlet/Socket (SEOS) system monitors and controls every socket in a building in real-time.

Each socket has a chip that communicates with the central server over WiFi. When an appliance is connected, the socket recognizes it through an electronic sticker on the plug, known in the industry as Near Field Communication. This is a concept similar to tapping a person's staff pass to enter the office. The electrical specifications of the appliance are then called up from a database.

Operators of a SEOS-enabled network can track and quantify how much energy various devices consume—including calculating energy costs—and then configure the system to deliver power only when needed.

The SEOS system can be programmed to completely switch off appliances when not in use, rather than waste electricity by leaving them on idle or standby. Appliances left on when not in use make up 25 percent to 50 percent of a building's electricity consumption. ... " 

More Digital Humans Emerging

Recall Microsoft's patent of a particular person, just mentioned here.   Recall too the 'uncanny valley', and other disturbing side-effects.   And the magic can collapse quickly of the conversation is not convincing.   But I expect this kind of play being quite common in not too many years.    I have mentioned our own primitive attempts here to simulate conversational brand equity.    Learned much before the capabilities were ready.

Home/News/'Are You Real?'

'Are You Real?'   By Gregory Goth, Commissioned by CACM Staff, January 26, 2021

A Digital Employee developed by IPoft company Amelia.

The digital human is a chatbot partnered with a lifelike avatar to add a visually relatable element to interactions.

Tyler Beck, chief operating officer of Dothan, Ala.-based Five Star Credit Union, recently began evaluating artificial intelligence-based technologies for the $500-million institution serving portions of Alabama and Georgia. As his research progressed, he said he was contacted by a vendor's representative via LinkedIn.

"When I finally got to talk to the company, the lady wasn't on the call," Beck said, "and it hit me she wasn't real. She was artificial intelligence. And not only was the interaction I had with her powered through AI, her profile picture was created through AI. That did a lot to tell me it was on a whole different level than I realized it was at. The functionality and use cases for AI, especially in financial services, is going to be great."

Among the latest iterations of AI-based platforms is the "digital human," a chatbot partnered with a lifelike avatar intended to add a visually relatable element to an interaction. Though Beck and many other business executives are not quite ready to pull the trigger on installing virtual tellers or advisors quite yet, several vendors are quickly emerging. The ecosystem that will enable their technologies to assume prominence is still in its infancy, but is growing quickly.

Additionally, vendors are branding their products to be readily identified as more than disembodied chatbots. New York-based Amelia (formerly known as IPSoft), for example, has trademarked the phrase Digital Employee for its platform, while Austin, Texas-based UneeQ's World Wide Web domain name is digitalhumans.com.

"We are fairly bullish on it," said Jim Lundy, founder and CEO of technology consultancy Aragon Research. "We've seen them in action. We are still in the very early innings and I say that because a lot of the bots that have been deployed thus far are terrible, but for every nine that are bad or average, there is usually one that is amazing."   ... " 

Computing Turbulence with Competitive AI

 We used turbulence analysis in roasting applications. Could have used this as a means to do better predictions in simulations.

Intriguing application I had not seen yet.  

ETH Researchers Compute Turbulence With AI

ETH Zurich (Switzerland), Simone Ulmer, January 4, 2021

The modeling of turbulence has been automated by researchers at ETH Zurich in Switzerland by merging reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms with turbulent flow simulations on the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre's (CSCS) "Piz Daint" supercomputer. The two major approaches for simulating turbulent flows are direct numerical simulation (DNS) and large eddy simulation (LES). The researchers used artificial intelligence (AI) to determine the best turbulent closure models from DNS and apply them to LES. Their RL algorithm uses the grid points that resolve the flow field as AI agents, which observed thousands of flow simulations to learn turbulence closure models. Said ETH's Petros Koumoutsakos, "The machine 'wins' when it succeeds to match LES with DNS results, much like machines learning to play a game of chess or GO.” Koumoutsakos added that the new methodology “offers a new and powerful way to automate multiscale modeling and advance science through a judicious use of AI."

Monday, January 25, 2021

Patenting a Chat Bot of a Particular Person

The idea has been suggested before, here with slightly different capabilities.  Interesting depending hw well it could be implemented.   With image and realistic voice.   Consider too, who owns the particular replica of a person?    And how they are portrayed?     Worth patenting.

Microsoft patent would let us chat with the departed  by Peter Grad , in Tech Xplore

A chilling episode of the Twilight Zone that first aired 60 years ago focused on a young boy (played by Bill Mumy) who frustrated his parents by insisting he speaks to his grandmother daily on the toy phone she had given him just before she died. When his grieving and exasperated mother finally grabbed the phone to toss it away, she was startled to hear her mother's voice on the line.

The episode touched on the yearnings we all share of speaking one last time to a loved one no longer with us.

If a recently disclosed Microsoft patent comes to fruition, we'll be able to see, hear and converse with long-gone relatives. Or more accurately, with 3-D motion images complete with realistic voice reconstruction and distinct personality traits culled from a trove of the individual's communications on social media platforms. In short, a chat bot.

"Creating a Conversational Chat Bot of a Specific Person" is the dry but accurate title of a patent filed by Dustin Abramson and Joseph Johnson Jr. of Microsoft in 2017 and approved this month.  ... '

Camera Based Automated Drone Landing

Seems a simple action, but can be complex in different contexts. 

Novel Camera-Based System for Automated Landing of Drone on Fixed Spot

Shibaura Institute of Technology (Japan), January 21, 2021

Scientists at Japan's Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT) have demonstrated an automated camera-based drone landing system to bring aerial drones to a safe landing automatically. SIT's Chinthaka Premachandra said the effort required a robust and cost-effective image-processing algorithm to deliver position feedback to the controller, and a fail-safe switch logic so a remote pilot could abort autonomous mode if necessary. The team integrated the controller with an algorithm that detected an H-shaped landing symbol in real time and converted the pixels into physical coordinates, which generated horizontal feedback. Incorporating an adaptive region of interest expedited computation of the camera's vertical distance to the landing symbol, shortening computing time to 3 milliseconds. The drone successfully flew toward the landing spot and hovered while maintaining height, before achieving vertical touchdown. ... " 

LiDAR Space Scanning, Modeling and Enabling

Some time ago attended a brainstorming session on the use of 'space scanning' to support advertisements and other future AR functionality.   Well the time is now closer, but how close are we to actual functionality?   I am testing for now an IPhone 12 Pro with Apps, and will present more here.   For now here is an article on current Apps that support LiDAR scanning.  IKEA is known to be testing.   Will be testing the idea.   Any thoughts out there of current tests that could be supported? 

Best apps for testing and experiencing LiDAR on your new iPhone 12 Pro  and more here on uses .

Did you buy a new iPad Pro? How about a new iPhone 12 Pro? These are the LiDAR apps to try right now, regardless of your background or experience.   By  Brian M Wolfe

The second-generation 11-inch iPad Pro, fourth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and now the iPhone 12 Pro/Pro Max offer a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) Scanner that will play a huge role in Apple's augmented reality initiatives in the years to come.

Here's more about LiDAR and apps you can use right now on your new iPad Pro to test the technology.

What is LiDAR?

LiDAR uses light to measure distance using invisible pulsating green spectrum lasers. These pulses (which occur thousands of times per minute) measure how long it takes for the light to get back to the sensor. By doing so, it paints a "picture" of the environment in front of the scanner. .... "

Intellectual Property Analysis

 Connects to some of my recent work.   Categorizing and usefully measuring what we have. 

Google proposes applying AI to patent application generation and categorization

By Kyle Wiggers   in Venturebeat

Google asserts that the patent industry stands to benefit from AI and machine learning models like BERT, a natural language processing algorithm that attained state-of-the-art results when it was released in 2018. In a whitepaper published today, the tech giant outlines a methodology to train a BERT on over 100 million patent publications from the U.S. and other countries using open-source tooling, which can be used to determine the novelty of patents and generate classifications to assist with categorization.

The global patent corpus is large, with millions of new patents issued every year. It’s complex, as well. Patent applications average around 10,000 words and are meticulously wordsmithed by inventors, lawyers, and patent examiners. Patent filings are also written with language that can be unintelligible to lay readers and highly context dependent; many terms are used to mean completely different things in different patents.  ....  

Anomaly Detection with Lacework

Brought to my attention: 

Lacework covers topics and issues around threat defense, intrusion detection, cloud containers, workloads, accounts, devops, and more.

Anomaly Detection and Behavioral Analytics Focus on user and Application Behavior and how it changes over time. 

Identify and Analyze Anomalies in Cloud and Container Environments

Public clouds enable enterprises to implement infrastructure-as-code and allows them to rapidly develop, test, and deploy services at scale. In this environment, network resources are in constant flux, providing ample opportunities for attackers. Unfortunately, legacy security solutions are ill-equipped to handle these and leave organizations vulnerable. IT security teams need solutions that leverage anomaly detection to safeguard cloud data.

Employ Big Data to Do Security

Traditional security solutions rely on signatures, or rule-based approaches, where rules are readily understandable – but the drawbacks are that these rules are manually entered and do not catch new attack profiles. To reduce false-positive rates, the rules are often written for very well-defined threat scenarios, limiting their effectiveness in production environments. ... " 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Optimizing Traffic Wait

 Not a new thing but does it do it better with novel situations?  Would be a good thing to experiment with to see how new patterns are adapted to.

Optimizing Traffic Signals to Reduce Intersection Wait Times  By Texas A&M Today, January 22, 2021

A team of researchers has developed a self-learning system that uses machine learning to improve the coordination of vehicles passing through intersections.  Researchers at Texas A&M University and the U.K.'s University of Edinburgh have developed a system that uses machine learning to optimize the timing of traffic signals to reduce wait times at intersections.

Their approach can successfully train a deep neural network in real time and transfer what it has learned from real-world observations to a different control function that can be understood and regulated by traffic engineers. The researchers used a simulation of a real intersection and found that optimizing their interpretable controller reduced vehicle delays by as much as 19.4% compared to commonly deployed signal controllers, which are the "brains" of an intersection.

From Texas A&M Today  ... '

Some Key Uses for BlockChain

Nicely done use cases, not much detail, but a start.

Blockchain, Unchained: 5 Key Use Cases   By Joe McKendrick | November 11, 2020 in RtInsights

To achieve success with blockchain, PwC advises proponents to focus on collaboration beyond the walls of their enterprises. ...

Blockchain adoption is on the rise. “Serious activity around blockchain is cutting through every industry across the globe right now,” says Steve Davies, partner and blockchain leader for PwC UK. “It’s driven by an acute need to win trust in the digital world. Businesses are rethinking their operations and are discovering not only is blockchain technology key to delivering trust, but it’s an opportunity open to all.”  ... 

Davies summed up the findings of PwC’s latest report on blockchain in business, which estimates the technology ultimately boosting the global gross domestic product by $1.76 trillion over the next decade. Its applications extend well beyond cryptocurrencies, streamlining processes “by consolidating records, automatically, online. This spells an end to inefficient paper trails, reducing the related risk of manual error and oversight, and the reputational damage that can follow.”

The PwC report identified the five key use cases for blockchain:    ... " 

P&G Partners With Rhinostics for Swabs

 My former employer innovates in COVID Testing

P&G Partners With Rhinostics to Take Innovative Nasal Swab to Market to Improve Speed of COVID-19 Testing  Press Release in Business Wire,  January 22, 2021

iMFLUX, a subsidiary of P&G, developed a novel fully injection-molded polypropylene nasal swab under the company’s efforts to positively impact COVID-19 testing availability

Rhinostics is bringing innovation to improve sample collection while removing costs and time from COVID testing workflow with automated consumables

CINCINNATI & CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Procter & Gamble (P&G) is licensing its novel nasal swab to Rhinostics to launch and bring to the clinical laboratory market. P&G developed the swab as part of its commitment to help communities address supply shortages and to bring creative solutions to bear on the challenges facing laboratories and supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was a collaboration between resources from P&G’s Personal Health Care business and iMFLUX, a subsidiary focused on mold design and process technology innovation for the plastics injection molding market. Swabs continue to be in short supply and are critical to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The companies believe the nasal swab’s unique features make it a better material choice for both PCR and antigen-based assays. These swabs reduce handling and lab processing cycle time and increase lab capacity as new home collection kits expand rapidly into the virus detection market.

“We are proud to see the P&G developed nasal swab come to market through Rhinostics efforts. When we began this program, our intention was simply to help relieve bottlenecks in COVID-19 swab supply and bring a novel collection device to bear on the problem,” said Mary Wagner, SVP at P&G and CEO of iMFLUX. .... ' 

A Look at What Makes us Run: Batteries

Battery Day.  What they are and where they are going.    In some ways such a primitive thing, but still very essential to make things work and be portable.  .  

A closer look at the technology that makes portable electronics possible

By Jessie Frazelle  in Queue ACM.

Tesla held its first Battery Day on September 22, 2020 [tesla.com]. What a fantastic world we live in that we can witness the first Apple-like keynote for batteries. Batteries are a part of everyday life; without them, the world would be a much different place. Your cellphone, flashlight, tablet, laptops, drones, cars, and other devices would not be portable and operational without batteries.

At the heart of it, batteries store chemical energy and convert it into electrical energy. The chemical reaction in a battery involves the flow of electrons from one electrode to another. When a battery is discharging, electrons flow from the anode, or negative electrode, to the cathode, or positive electrode. This flow of electrons provides an electric current that can be used to power devices. Electrons have a negative charge; therefore, as the flow of negative electrons moves from one electrode to another, an electrolyte is used to balance the charge by being the route for charge-balancing positive ions to flow.

Let's break this down a bit and uncover the chemical reactions at play within batteries. An electrical current requires a flow of electrons. Where do those electrons come from?

Electrons in the anode are produced by a chemical reaction between the anode and the electrolyte. Simultaneously, another chemical reaction occurs in the cathode, enabling it to accept electrons. These chemical reactions create the flow of electrons, resulting in an electric current.

A chemical reaction that involves the exchange of electrons is known as a reduction-oxidation reaction, or redox reaction.

Reduction refers to a gain of electrons. Thus, half of this reaction—the reduction—occurs at the cathode because it gains electrons. Oxidation refers to a loss of electrons. Therefore, the other half of this reaction—oxidation—occurs at the anode because it loses electrons to the cathode. Each of these reactions has a particular electric potential. An electrochemical cell can be made up of any two conducting materials that have reactions with different standard potentials, since the more robust material, which makes up the cathode, will gain electrons from the weaker material, which makes up the anode.

Batteries can be made up of one or more electrochemical cells, each cell consisting of one anode, one cathode, and an electrolyte, as described earlier. The electrodes and electrolyte are generally made up of different types of metals or other chemical compounds. Different materials for the electrodes and electrolyte produce different chemical reactions that affect how the battery works, how much energy it can store, and its voltage.  .. " 

Getting Around Smartphone Encryption

Being discussed, security and how it is being circumvented.

How Law Enforcement Gets Around Your Smartphone's Encryption

in Wired, Lily Hay Newman,  January 15, 2021

Analysis by Johns Hopkins University (JHU) cryptographers revealed encryption-circumventing schemes that law enforcement agencies use to access information in Android and iOS smartphones. JHU's Maximilian Zinkus said iOS has infrastructure for hierarchical encryption, yet little is actually used. The researchers found vulnerabilities in the iPhone's After First Unlock security, triggered after users unlock their phone the first time after a reboot; encryption keys begin getting stored in quick access memory even as the phone is locked, at which point a hacker could find and exploit iOS bugs to grab keys that are accessible in memory, and decrypt big chunks of data from the device. Reports from Israeli law enforcement contractor Cellebrite and U.S. forensic access firm Grayshift indicated most smartphone access tools probably operate in this manner. Android phones lack a Complete Lock mechanism after first unlock, meaning forensic tools can steal even more decryption keys, and compromise more data.  ... ' 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Spotting Risky Behavior

 I was struck by this.   What is high risk behavior?  How is it defined, tested, updated?   OK, depression, anxiety or suicide. But at any one time it might be one or another set of beliefs.  Where (obviously) the other is wrong?  Novel, creative, unique can be risky.  Will it get me cancelled?

Spotting High-Risk Behavior OnlineBy Sandrine Ceurstemont,  Commissioned by CACM Staff, January 21, 2021

Posts on social media could conceal clues about mental health problems or high-risk behaviors.

Social media is used widely to share experiences with friends, or to join like-minded communities to discuss common interests. Yet people's posts also could conceal clues about mental health problems or high-risk behaviors that, if recognized early enough, could help save lives.

"Depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviors and some disordered eating behaviors are difficult to detect in person and it's unlikely that people are going to go to a clinic because of how stigmatized these conditions are," says Stevie Chancellor, a researcher at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. "If we could use social media data as a way to understand these behaviors, perhaps we could use that information to assist them."

Chancellor and other researchers are investigating how machine learning could be harnessed to identify signs of dangerous behavior on social media. Around half of the world's population, roughly three billion people, now use social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, so there is lots of data available. "It allows us to target a lot more people at a greater level than we've ever been able to before to understand these populations," says Benjamin Ricard, a Ph.D. student at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.

Some research is using social media to examine what people write, attempting to predict risky behavior from language used. Another approach involves looking at information related to posts, such as how much information a person shares, at what time of day, and whether that individual's  posting habits have changed. "A common symptom of depression is insomnia, so if your posting history over time starts shifting later, that might indicate that you are struggling with insomnia, which could relate to depression," says Chancellor.  ... "

Translating Lost Languages Using ML

 Most interesting, lots more at the link.  Via patterns of association in other languages.   Might this be used in ways to link with associations between other language style 'patterns'?  What are the assumptions regarding the forms of the languages?   Ideas?   Plan to pass this along to people at our  'Language Lab'.  

Translating Lost Languages Using ML

MIT News, By Adam Conner-Simons. October 21, 2020

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a machine learning system that can automatically translate a lost language, without advanced knowledge of its relationship to other dialects. The system applies principles based on historical linguistic insights, including the fact that languages generally evolve in certain predictable patterns. MIT's Regina Barzilay and Jiaming Luo developed a decipherment algorithm that can segment words in an ancient language and map them to words in related languages. The algorithm infers relationships between languages, and can assess proximity between languages.

Researchers Propose Compiler for Homomorphic Encryption

 Still with some technical barriers.  See below for some details.  Links to more.

Researchers propose Porcupine, a compiler for homomorphic encryption

Kyle Wiggers  @Kyle_L_Wiggers  January 22, 2021 

Homomorphic encryption (HE) is a privacy-preserving technology that enables computational workloads to be performed directly on encrypted data. HE enables secure remote computation, as cloud service providers can compute on data without viewing highly sensitive content. But despite its appeal, performance and programmability challenges remain a barrier to HE’s widespread adoption.

Realizing the potential of HE will likely require developing a compiler that can translate a plaintext, unencrypted codebase into encrypted code on the fly. In a step toward this, researchers at Facebook, New York University, and Stanford created Porcupine, a “synthesizing compiler” for HE. They say it results in speedups of up to 51% compared to heuristic-driven, entirely hand-optimized code.  ... "

L'Oreal and Social Selling Platform

 A Social Selling Platform: Replika

L’Oreal Invests in Social Selling Platform as Part of E-Com Strategy    By CGT Staff 

As part of its acceleration strategy in e-commerce, L’Oreal announced a minority investment in US-American social selling platform Replika Software, Inc., made through its corporate venture capital fund BOLD Business Opportunities for L’Oreal Development.

As a turnkey social selling platform, Replika Software enables brands to activate at scale their network of social sellers to sell online, inspire on social media and connect with consumers anytime, anywhere. Founded in 2016 by Kareen Mallet, former fashion director at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, and Corey Gottlieb, advertising, marketing and tech entrepreneur, the company is based in New York and has offices in Paris.   ... ' 

Microsoft and SAP Extend Partnership

Had worked in the enterprise extensively with SAP and MS, so this is interesting.  Note in particular this opens SAP to consumer facing products like Teams, a first.

Microsoft and SAP have announced an extension of their existing partnership, one that will see Microsoft Teams integrated into SAP’s suite of products.

The two companies have sought deeper synergies in recent years, combining their respective strengths in the enterprise software sphere. Back in 2017, the duo announced plans to use and sell more of each other’s cloud services, with Microsoft committing to S/4 HANA, SAP’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, and SAP running more of its financial systems on Azure. Two years later, the companies teamed up again to “accelerate customer adoption” of S/4HANA and the SAP Cloud Platform on Microsoft Azure. ....'

Friday, January 22, 2021

Machines Understanding Language

Skeptical here, but taking a look.  In particular how this is measured. If generally true, this would be a very big thing.    But why can I now quickly confuse alexa, google home, or Siri.   Is it because understanding bare language is very different from participating in a contextually fluid conversation?

AI Models from Google and Microsoft Exceed Human Performance on Language Understanding Benchmark  by Anthony Alford in Infoq

Research teams from Google and Microsoft have recently developed natural language processing (NLP) AI models which have scored higher than the human baseline score on the SuperGLUE benchmark. SuperGLUE measures a model's score on several natural language understanding (NLU) tasks, including question answering and reading comprehension.

Both teams submitted their models to the SuperGLUE Leaderboard on January 5. Microsoft Research's model Decoding-enhanced BERT with disentangled attention (DeBERTa) scored a 90.3 on the benchmark, slightly beating Google Brain's model, based on the Text-to-Text Transfer Transformer (T5) and the Meena chatbot, which scored 90.2. Both exceeded the human baseline score of 89.8. Microsoft has open-sourced a smaller version of DeBERTa and announced plans to release the code and models for the latest model. Google has not published details of their latest model; while the T5 code is open-source, the Meena chatbot is not.

The General Language Understanding Evaluation (GLUE) benchmark was developed in 2019 as a method for evaluating the performance of NLP models such as BERT and GPT. GLUE is a collection of nine NLU tasks based on publicly-available datasets. Because of the rapid pace of improvement in NLP models, GLUE's evaluation "headroom" has diminished, and researchers introduced SuperGLUE, a more challenging benchmark. ... " 

CERN Making 3D Parts for the Collider

Do consider the differences in scale. Just this week started to wear a small part made for my face mask.

How 3D Printing Is Helping CERN Scientists Upgrade the World's Largest Machine  By ZDNet in ACM

The accelerator is a 27-kilometer-long ring in which particles such as protons and electrons are projected against one another at high speeds.  A researcher turned to three-dimensional (3D) printing to produce replacement parts for the Large Hadron Collider.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have been working for the past five years to upgrade to the large hadron collider (LHC), the largest and most powerful particle accelerator ever built.

The LHC is a 27-kilometer-long ring that can recreate the conditions from one hundredth of a billionth of a second after the Big Bang, which scientists can observe via high-precision detectors.

To improve the detectors' accuracy, the scientists turned to three-dimensional (3D) printing, which they used to make parts for the detectors' cooling system. CERN used printers from South Carolina-based 3D Systems  to produce light titanium bars that are 1.6 mm wide and 0.1 mm thick.

The bars must be wafer-thin because as little material as possible should separate the coolant and the surface to be cooled for maximum effectiveness, and 3D printing can accomplish this with less money and manpower. 

Dormio: Interfacing with Dreams

Project, reexamining.   An idea long put aside.

MIT   Dormio: Interfacing with Dreams

By Oscar Rosello   Project Contact:  Adam Haar Horowitz  Project Website  http://www.adamjhh.com/  


Sleep is a forgotten country of the mind. A vast majority of our technologies are built for our waking state, even though a third of our lives are spent asleep. Current technological interfaces miss an opportunity to access the unique, imaginative, elastic cognition ongoing during dreams and semi-lucid states. In turn, each of us misses an opportunity to use interfaces to influence our own processes of memory consolidation, creative insight generation, gist extraction, and emotion regulation that are so deeply sleep-dependent. In this project, we explore ways to augment human creativity by extending, influencing, and capturing dreams in Stage 1 sleep. It is currently impossible to force ourselves to be creative because so much creative idea association and creative incubation happens in the absence of executive control and directed attention. Sleep offers an opportunity for prompting creative thought in the absence of directed attention, if only dreams can be controlled. ... 

During sleep onset, a window of opportunity arises in the form of hypnagogia, a semi-lucid sleep state where we all…  

View full description  

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Increase of Vishing Corporations

Corporations and security. 

FBI warns of vishing attacks stealing corporate accounts,  By Sergiu Gatlan 

FBI warns of vishing attacks stealing corporate accounts

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a notification warning of ongoing vishing attacks attempting to steal corporate accounts and credentials for network access and privilege escalation from US and international-based employees.

Vishing (also known as voice phishing) is a social engineering attack where attackers impersonate a trusted entity during a voice call to persuade their targets into revealing sensitive information such as banking or login credentials.  ...'

Intangible Assets

 Intro below on a collection of thoughts and links on intangible assets.  Recall we also struggled with the definition of 'intangible'. when we defined data assets. Much more a the link.

The Intangible Asset Revolution  by Irving Wladawsky-Berger

“Take all the physical assets owned by all the companies in the S&P 500, all the cars and office buildings and factories and merchandise, then sell them all at cost in one giant sale, and they would generate a net sum that doesn’t even come out to 20% of the index’s $28 trillion value,” said Epic S&P 500 Rally Is Powered by Assets You Can’t See or Touch, an article in Bloomberg published on October 21, 2020, -  a day when intangible assets made up more than 84% of the S&P value.

“The rise of intangibles helps explain why many American workers have recently had it so rough, with wages stagnating and benefits disappearing,” adds the article.  And, given our increasingly digital post-pandemic new normal, we can expect the share of intangibles to go higher, “a source of deep concern for those who worry about things like employment and inequality.”

Intangible assets are easier to define as the opposite of tangible assets.  Tangible assets are generally physical in nature, including vehicles, land, plants, equipment, and furniture, but they also include financial assets like stocks, bonds, account receivables, and cash which have a concrete contractual value.   On the other hand, intangible assets are neither physical nor have a concretely specified financial value.  Intangibles include patents, copyrights, trademarks, goodwill, brand value, human capital, R&D, software, and data.  Despite having no physical existence, intangibles have a monetary value since they represent potential revenue, but that value must be established based on accounting principles.  And, unlike tangible assets, intangibles are difficult to value and insure....  '

NASA Tests Robotics

Space is a god place to try out assistive robotics

NASA Readies Astrobee Flying Robots for Serious Space Science

UPI, Paul Brinkmann, in CACM

New Astrobee flying robots are being prepared by U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts on the International Space Station, to help perform science investigations. NASA's Ames Research Center's Jose Benavides said, "We are planning to have them perform boring, routine tasks, because crew time is one of the most valuable resources we have up there." The cube-shaped machines float in the microgravity of orbit and maneuver via jets of compressed air. They feature speakers, cameras, laser imaging or LIDAR, signal lights, an LED touchscreen control panel, and a docking arm. They also have a laser pointer that could be used by ground control to identify defective wires or air leaks, and could be outfitted with specialized microphones to alert the crew to changes in ambient noise levels that could indicate a problem with the space station's life support systems.

Teeth for Interfaces

 A different kind of interaction.

Finally, Apps to Sink Your Teeth Into

By Paul Marks, Commissioned by CACM Staff,  January 12, 2021

Engineers exploring human-computer interaction have found yet another part of the body for our electronic devices to exploit: our teeth.

There is scarcely a part of the human body that has not been harnessed in some fashion to help control computing devices or to authenticate users.

Brain-computer interfaces, for instance, tap our thoughts for both machine and game control, while gaze-trackers capture our eyeball motion to sense what's grabbing our attention, and face and fingerprint recognition systems help confirm our identities.

Now, engineers exploring the field of human-computer interaction (HCI) have found yet another part of the body for our electronic devices to exploit: our teeth.

This might sound a peculiar choice, but this is not the work of one outlier research team. At three virtual conferences in September, three separate research teams revealed early versions of tooth-based technologies. These three systems, respectively, allow users to:

Control apps in a contactless, hands-free manner by tapping their teeth together to issue software commands;

Authenticate their identity by smiling and showing their unique tooth profile to their phone camera, and

Check their oral health with an app-connected dental device.

The first idea, called EarSense, was presented at September's ACM SIGMOBILE Mobicom 2020 event by  Jay Prakash of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The technology Prakash and his team have developed re-engineers a smartphone's earpiece so it can work as a microphone as well as a loudspeaker, allowing it to detect when people tap their teeth together a number of times, or gently slide their teeth over each other.

Because the sound of tooth clicks and sliding sequences reverberate through the skull and jawbone (or mandible) up to the ear drum (in an acoustic phenomenon called cranio-mandibular transmission), the sounds can activate commands in, say, music and audiobook apps, perhaps clicking teeth twice for playback, three times to skip a track, and a slide of the teeth indicating playback should rewind a set number of seconds.

To make a tiny earpiece loudspeaker operate as a microphone, Prakash had to undertake a bit of software surgery on the diminutive soundcard inside the earpiece. "Typically, soundcards support toggling to operate in microphone or speaker mode, and this method of to-and-fro conversion is known as jack-retasking," he says. "We exploited this feature in Realtek soundcards to convert an earphone into an input transducer. By default, the system acts as a microphone and the moment there is a request to play music or make a call, it turns to speaker mode."  ... '

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Videogames as the Future of Work

Something we examined briefly.  Can we convert work into game?   Some people already do in their heads, is that workable?  Key drivers?

Are Videogames the Future of Remote Work?

The Wall Street Journal

Christopher Mims

The startup Gather offers a videogame-like format for remote work, supporting virtual two-dimensional workspaces for enterprise clients. Gather's servers provide an artificial office environment for remote employees' avatars, including interaction via videoconferencing interfaces and collaboration on Web-based documents and applications. Nearly a dozen startups like Gather are building clientele that includes workers at ride-sharing company Uber, universities, and IBM; customers use these platforms to hold classes and events, and increasingly as an all-day replacement for office work. The builders and users of these platforms claim they activate place cells in users’ brains, enabling socialization and collaboration based on routines acquired from physical office experience. ... '

Data Catalogs vs Discovery

Depends... Internally controlled vs externally, other ...   Metadata also a key component. Governance too.

Data Catalogs Are Dead; Long Live Data Discovery  in Towardsdatascience

Why we need to rethink our approach to metadata management and data governance

By Barr Moses... 

GM and Microsoft Partner on Self-Driving Cars

 Quite some competition in the space.

Microsoft partners with GM to make self-driving cars a reality  By Tristan Greene, in TNW

Driverless car startup Cruise, a GM subsidiary, today announced the finalization of a two-billion dollar equity fund from primary investors Microsoft, Honda, and GM.

Leading off: Microsoft’s money is the big ticket item here for Cruise. While the company’s valuation has skyrocketed to about $20 billion from investors, netting one of big tech’s trillion-dollar whales has pushed GM stocks up nearly seven percent.

But the cash isn’t the only thing in play here. Per a Reuters report, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says the company will provide cloud services for Cruise:  ..... '

Microscanner Mirrors Sensing Environment

 Sensing your context is very broadly useful.

Microscanner Mirrors Replace Human Vision

By Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Germany)

A microscanner mirror for LiDAR systems enables the three-dimensional scanning of a vehicle's surroundings out to more than 200 meters.

Researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) have developed a microscanner mirror for LiDAR systems that enables the three-dimensional scanning of a vehicle's surroundings out to more than 200 meters (656 feet).

When used with LiDAR, the device removes the need for human vision to scan the vehicle's environment.

Fraunhofer IPMS' Jan Grahmann said, "Our [microelectromechanical systems] mirror splits the laser beam in two dimensions and focuses the light on the object that is being measured. By measuring the time of flight of the reflected light, it is also possible to determine the distance to the object as a third dimension."

The monocrystalline silicon scanner intensifies the reflection of the light, and can continuously track where the mirror steers the laser and which position is being measured.

From Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Germany)

Getting Work Done During Sleep

 Have mentioned here a number of times my involvement in related research.   Its covered in many posts.

MIT Just Discovered You Can Get Work Done Even While Asleep, And, of course, there's an app for that.

By Geoffrey James  in Inc.com

In evening sessions, participants attempted to solve brainteasers, each paired with a different music clip. Then, we presented some of the music clips while participants slept. In the morning, participants reattempted the same brainteasers they failed to solve the prior night. We were excited to find that participants solved more of the brainteasers that were cued overnight.  ....  References article here.

Quantum Communications with Drones

 More on quantum secure communications.

Quantum communication demonstrated by two hovering drones  By Luke Dormehl, January 19, 2021  in DigitalTrends 

The groundwork is being laid for the quantum internet — up in the air. Recently, researchers from Nanjing University in China demonstrated that it is possible to send entangled photons between a pair of drones, called Alice and Bob, hovering one kilometer apart.

This was done by using an onboard laser and crystal to split a single photon into a pair of entangled photons, with one sent to a ground station and the other to the other drone. Motorized devices on the drones made sure that the receivers and transmitters were in alignment with one another.

Distance quantum communication, which could make for more quantum secure networks built on quantum encryption, has been demonstrated before, between satellites and ground stations. However, this demo showed that it can also work using comparatively cheap hardware between shorter distances. As New Scientist pointed out, this is the first time that such photon entanglement has been shown to work between two moving objects.  ... ' 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Google and Alexa Voices Skip CES

But they were there nevertheless. Some interesting thoughts on that. 

Google Assistant and Alexa Were Invisible and Everywhere at CES 2021   By Eric Hal Schwartz   in Voicebot.ai

Amazon and Google opted to skip joining the list of exhibitors at this year’s all-digital CES, but their respective voice assistants arguably erased what would normally be a glaring gap in the event’s list. Alexa and Google Assistant each appeared over and over as close to 2,000 companies showcased their new products.  ... '

Book: Mastering Blockchain

Just brought to my attention.     Inform me if you would like a review related mention.

New O'Reilly Book:

Mastering Blockchain:  Unlocking the Power of Cryptocurrencies, Smart Contracts, and Decentralized Applications 1st Edition

by Lorne Lantz  (Author), Daniel Cawrey  (Author)  ...  

The future will be increasingly distributed. As the publicity surrounding Bitcoin and blockchain has shown, distributed technology and business models are gaining popularity. Yet the disruptive potential of this technology is often obscured by hype and misconception. This detailed guide distills the complex, fast moving ideas behind blockchain into an easily digestible reference manual, showing what's really going on under the hood. .... " 

How Do You Teach Robots to Dance?

 When I saw the Boston Dynamics robots dancing, it came to mind quickly ow it had been done.   Here Evan does a good job of describing the process.

How Boston Dynamics Taught Its Robots to Dance

Aaron Saunders, Boston Dynamics’ VP of Engineering, tells us where Atlas got its moves from  By Evan Ackerman

A week ago, Boston Dynamics posted a video of Atlas, Spot, and Handle dancing to “Do You Love Me.” It was, according to the video description, a way “to celebrate the start of what we hope will be a happier year.” As of today the video has been viewed nearly 24 million times, and the popularity is no surprise, considering the compelling mix of technical prowess and creativity on display.

Strictly speaking, the stuff going on in the video isn’t groundbreaking, in the sense that we’re not seeing any of the robots demonstrate fundamentally new capabilities, but that shouldn’t take away from how impressive it is—you’re seeing state-of-the-art in humanoid robotics, quadrupedal robotics, and whatever-the-heck-Handle-is robotics.   ... "