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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Ericsson 5G Radios for Urban Locations

Spreading 5G Radio in Urban Deployments 

New Ericsson street solutions equip busy urban locations with low-visibility, high-performance 5G radios

PLANO, Texas, Aug. 30, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) is expanding its portfolio of 5G radios with three new offerings geared toward urban environments. Part of Ericsson Street Solutions, these radios will allow communications service providers (CSPs) to build robust 5G service across all bands in urban environments while blending in seamlessly with the cityscapes.

“Urban deployments are critical for reaching the full potential of 5G,” said Kevin Zvokel, Head of Networks for Ericsson North America. “We know CSPs are looking for ways to deploy quickly and with simplicity, maximizing the 5G user experience while leveraging minimally intrusive equipment. Ericsson’s solutions do just this and can bring a complete 5G network to life across all bands.”  ... ' 

Wheat Harvesting Ag Tech

Impressive effort for autonomous driving and harvesting Agriculture tech

In IEEE Spectrum 


Aftermarket AIs drive combines

 By OLGA USKOVA 25 AUG 2021  via IEEE Spectrum

Russia is the world's largest wheat exporter, with 20 percent of the world's wheat trade. Combine harvesters that can drive themselves using technology from Russian company Cognitive Pilot are helping to make the harvesting process faster and more efficient.


The field of automated precision agriculture is based on one concept—autonomous driving technologies that guide vehicles through GPS navigation. Fifteen years ago, when high-accuracy GPS became available for civilian use, farmers thought things would be simple: Put a GPS receiver station at the edge of the field, configure a route for a tractor or a combine harvester, and off you go, dear robot!

Practice has shown, however, that this kind of carefree field cultivation is inefficient and dangerous. It works only in ideal fields, which are almost never encountered in real life. If there's a log or a rock in the field, or a couple of village paramours dozing in the rye under the sun, the tractor will run right over them. And not all countries have reliable satellite coverage—in agricultural markets like Kazakhstan, coverage can be unstable. This is why, if you want safe and efficient farming, you need to equip your vehicle with sensors and an artificial intelligence that can see and understand its surroundings instead of blindly following GPS navigation instructions.  .... ' 

Smart Helmet Assesses Strokes

Analysis that leads to treatment. 

New Smart Helmet Rapidly Assesses Stroke Patients It uses EM waves to distinguish the size, position, and type of stroke  

When someone experiences a stroke, every passing moment leading up to treatment is critical. Ideally, patients should be diagnosed and treated within the first hour, often referred to as "the Golden Hour," in order to have the best chance at recovery. Given such a tight timeline, numerous research teams have been developing portable smart helmets for diagnosing stroke in patients as they are being transported to the hospital, rather than waiting until the patient arrives at the hospital to begin testing.

Many of the smart helmet designs being explored rely on ultrasound to image the brain and detect stroke; however, this approach has several downfalls. "Ultrasound usually requires skilled personnel in order to correctly interpret the resulting images," explains Alessandro Fedeli is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications Engineering, and Naval Architecture, at the University of Genoa. He also notes that ultrasound doesn't penetrate the skull as well as, say, electromagnetic (EM) waves.

For these reasons, his team sought to create a smart helmet that relies on EM waves, along with a signal-processing approach, to detect and diagnose stroke.  .... ' 

Cebrowski Institute for Military Innovation

Brought to my attention, linked to my early DOD work.

The Cebrowski Institute for Military Innovation

What we are seeing, in moving from the industrial age to the information age, is what amounts to a new theory of war.  We have come to call that new theory of war network-centric warefare.  Its not about the network; rather, its about how wars are fought and how power is developed.  -- Vice Admiral Arthur K. Cebrowski (U.S. Navy, Ret.)


The Cebrowski Institute for Military Innovation incubates innovations for conducting military affairs in the age of digital technologies. The Institute defines innovation as the adoption of new practice in a community. Faculty who affiliate with the Institute have sensed emerging areas that may be of interest to the Navy and DoD, including technologies, practices or cultural phenomena. The metaphor of surfing is used to to describe sensing as deciding which innovation waves to catch and ride. A garden metaphor describes the Institute's work to incubate growth. When ready, projects are transitioned to others at NPS, the Navy or DoD.  Read more...

Vice Admiral Arthur K. Cebrowski (U.S. Navy, Ret.) discusses the following topics:  .. ' 

Glove Senses and Maps Tactile Stimuli

 Connecting more intelligently to the sense of touch.

Touchy-Feely Glove Senses, Maps Tactile Stimuli

By MIT News, August 9, 2021

A team of engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and China's Southern University of Science and Technology has designed a touch-sensing glove capable of "feeling" tactile stimuli.

An array of pressure-detecting sensors inside the glove can detect weak vibrations across the skin, such as from someone's pulse. The sensors operate similarly to humidity-measuring sensors but use human perspiration in place of a dielectric layer; two thin, flat electrodes on the skin form a circuit, and ions from moisture build on the underside of the sensing electrode in response to pressure, changing capacitance between both electrodes. The researchers enhanced the sensing electrode's sensitivity by lining it with thousands of gold bendable "micropillars."

The researchers believe the tactile glove could help to retrain motor function and coordination in people who have lost fine motor skills and could be modified to enhance virtual reality and gaming.

The team describes its work in "Skin-Electrode Iontronic Interface for Mechanosensing," published in Nature Communications.  

From MIT News  with images.

View Full Article   

Baidu Premium Smart Display

We examined and tested  the first Baidu smart assistants.

Baidu Aims at Premium Market With New X10 Smart Display

ERIC HAL SCHWARTZ on November 5, 2020 at 8:00 am

Baidu has launched its most expensive smart display ever in a bid for the more upscale smart home market. The Chinese tech giant is pitching the approximately $150 (RMB 999 Yuan) Xiaodu Smart Display X10 as the flagship device for its smart speaker and display catalog thanks to improved hardware and AI features operated through the Xiaodu voice assistant. Baidu showed off the smart display and its upgraded XiaoduPods earbuds at the 2020 Xiaodu Fall New Product Launch in Beijing.


The X10 looks a bit like a tablet computer on top of a speaker and mounted on a stand. Unlike the plastic smart speakers and displays produced by Baidu before, the X10 has a metal skin and base, with a mesh cover for the speaker. The hardware is relatively powerful for its size, with 1280 by 800 resolution on the 10.1-inch screen, a five-megapixel HD camera, and 8W speakers The X10 includes voice and gesture commands for Xiaodu, which can recognize individual voices and carry on extended conversations without the user needing to repeat the wake word. Baidu worked with Silicon Valley-based design firm fuseproject to develop the look of the smart display.  smart devices functions that guarantee a seamless user experience for family members of all age groups. The comprehensive modifications include full-duplex continued conversation, gesture control, voiceprint recognition, and intelligent response capabilities, all empowered by Baidu’s leading AI technology.   .... ' 

Monday, August 30, 2021

High Speed Nanometer Scale Solution of Math Operations.

Note specifics of solving light based specific differential calculus analog math,  At nanometer scale?  Possible use for chip scale IOT applications?   Technical. 

 Researchers' Nano-Optical Analog Processor Performs Mathematical Operations, By George Washington University, August 30, 2021

Researchers led by Volker Sorger, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the George Washington University, are exploring the development of a nanophotonic analog processor capable of solving partial differential equations. The processor can be integrated at chip-scale, processing arbitrary inputs at the speed of light.

Analog photonic solutions offer unique opportunities to address complex computational tasks with unprecedented performance in terms of energy dissipation and speeds, overcoming current limitations of modern computing architectures based on electron flows and digital approaches, the researchers say.

The team also includes researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and City College of New York.  They describe their work in "Approximate Analog Computing with Metatronic Circuits,"   published in the journal Nature Communications Physics....

Researchers introduced a nanoscopic programmable analog processor based on a metatronic nanocircuit board.

Full article.

Solar Storms and Undersea Cables

 Brought this up recently, a long time area of interest.  Note the particular mention that undersea cables would be at particular risk.

Bad Solar Storm Could Cause an 'Internet Apocalypse'

Wired, Lily Hay Newman, August 29, 2021

A study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) on the potential impact of a coronal mass ejection on the global Internet found that continent-connecting undersea cables would be at particular risk from such a massive solar storm. The cables have repeaters fitted in approximately 50- to 150-kilometer (31- to 93-mile) increments, and cumulative failure of those repeaters could render entire cables inoperative. The researchers found that long distances between repeaters increase their potential for exposure to geomagnetically induced currents, while a solar storm also could damage orbiting equipment that enables services like satellite Internet and global positioning. UCI’s Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi also warned of knock-on outages if cable blackouts cause foundational data routing systems to malfunction.... '

Prepare for the Quantum Computing Revolution

A decade yet, but also will happen as we need combinatorial solutions. 

Prepare for the Quantum Computing Revolution.

Expert: Now is the time to prepare for the quantum computing revolution

by Karen Roby in Innovation  on August 24, 2021, 1:41 PM PST

Though quantum computing is likely five to 10 years away, waiting until it happens will put your organization behind. Don't play catch-up later.

TechRepublic's Karen Roby spoke with Christopher Savoie, CEO and co-founder of Zapata Computing, a quantum application company, about the future of quantum computing. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.  ... 

Christoper Savoie: There are two types of quantum-computing algorithms if you will. There are those that will require what we call a fault-tolerant computing system, one that doesn't have error, for all intents and purposes, that's corrected for error, which is the way most classical computers are now. They don't make errors in their calculations, or at least we hope they don't, not at any significant rate. And eventually we'll have these fault-tolerant quantum computers. People are working on it. We've proven that it can happen already, so that is down the line. But it's in the five- to 10-year range that it's going to take until we have that hardware available. But that's where a lot of the promises for these exponentially faster algorithms. So, these are the algorithms that will use these fault-tolerant computers to basically look at all the options available in a combinatorial matrix.

So, if you have something like Monte Carlo simulation, you can try significantly all the different variables that are possible and look at every possible combination and find the best optimal solution. So, that's really, practically impossible on today's classical computers. You have to choose what variables you're going to use and reduce things and take shortcuts. But with these fault-tolerant computers, for significantly many of the possible solutions in the solution space, we can look at all of the combinations. So, you can imagine almost an infinite amount or an exponential amount of variables that you can try out to see what your best solution is. In things like CCAR [Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review], Dodd-Frank [Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act] compliance, these things where you have to do these complex simulations, we rely on a Monte Carlo simulation.

Strengthen your AI skills at IBM’s AI Bootcamp

SEE: The CIO's guide to quantum computing (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Bending Light for a Cheaper Internet

Who Can Bend Light for a Cheaper Internet?

By MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory  in CACM

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a system that can maintain network connections when optical fibers break by reconfiguring optical transmissions from damaged fibers to healthy ones.

The ARROW system plans for potential fiber cuts in advance using an online algorithm that accounts for real-time Internet traffic demands.

Simulations revealed that ARROW could carry up to 2.4 times more traffic without deploying new fibers, and while maintaining high network reliability.

MIT's Zhizhen Zhong said, "With ARROW, some failures can be eliminated or partially restored, and this changes the way we think about network management and traffic engineering, opening up opportunities for rethinking traffic engineering systems, risk assessment systems, and emerging applications, too."

The researchers are working with Facebook to deploy ARROW in real-world wide-area networks.

From MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

View Full Article 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

What have Language Models Learned?


What Have Language Models Learned?

Large language models are making it possible for computers to write stories, program a website and turn captions into images.

One of the first of these models, BERT, is trained by taking sentences, splitting them into individual words, randomly hiding some of them, and predicting what the hidden words are. After doing this millions of times, BERT has “read” enough Shakespeare to predict how this phrase usually ends:

China to get out of Crypto Mining

A rumor, or not?   Or in what sense? 

China is getting out of crypto mining. Is North America ready to embrace it?

Aug 12, 2021 at 21:07  in Coindesk

Beijing has been playing around with the notion of cryptocurrencies and blockchain for more than a decade. While the Chinese government never embraced digital currency, its opposition to the new asset class has often remained theoretical and not performative, as the infamous 2017 crypto trading ban demonstrated. As recently as March 20, the People’s Republic of China accounted for more than 70% of bitcoin mining worldwide, according to industry estimates. Soon after, though, that rate began to nosedive as the ruling party started to take action against local cryptocurrency mining farms.

 In order “to further fend off financial risks and forestall speculation in virtual currency businesses,” the Chinese State Council announced, “bitcoin mining and trading-related activities will be cracked down upon.”

That led to province after province shutting down mining operations, chipping away at the Bitcoin hashrate as the government attacked the “hype of virtual currency transactions from the root.”

Within a few weeks, three metric tons of mining hardware was being airlifted from Guangzhou to Maryland. That pales in comparison, however, to the 80 metric tons of mining machines that were likely still mothballed in China. One estimate is that a quarter of that capacity is likely to end up in North America. That might prove to be a low estimate.

After all, planes fly in all directions, and Kazakhstan, Russia, Iran and Malaysia all have mining infrastructure and are located in much closer proximity However, while their capacity is growing as a result of China’s actions, the United States seems to be a clear winner in this post-crackdown race; according to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, the U.S.’s share of the global hashrate has quadrupled to 16.8% since the same time last year, making it the main successor to China in terms of cryptocurrency mining 

So why are miners choosing North America over other regions? First, the U.S. and Canada offer top-grade power infrastructure and regulatory stability, which are essential for bitcoin mining. Beyond that, these wealthy Western democracies provide an entrepreneurial culture, an educated workforce and the rule of law, among other factors for business growth that separate the U.S. and Canada from the next tier of crypto mining countries.  ... '

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Drone Deliveries Build

Following this closely for for delivery, inspection, maintenance.

Wing Approaches 100,000 Drone Deliveries 2 Years After Launch   By TechCrunch

Two years after its pilot launched in Logan, Australia, Alphabet's drone delivery company Wing is nearing its 100,000th customer delivery.

Wing's Jonathan Bass said the service will be expanded in Australia, Finland, and the U.S. over the next six months.   However, Bass noted, "The capabilities of the technology are probably ahead of the regulatory permissions right now."

Wing's drones have a range of six miles and can carry up to three pounds. They travel at about 100-150 feet in the air, sink to about 23 feet at their destination, and lower packages to the ground with a tether.

From TechCrunch  

The company said customers placed orders for 4,500 deliveries during the first week of August, which works out to one every 30 seconds during Wings delivery window.  ....

Wharton Book and Podcast: On Serious Gamification

Book and podcast on the subject:

Gamification Is Changing How We Work — and Succeed

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

Podcast  At link ... 

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

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

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

An edited transcript of the podcast conversation follows. 

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

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

Spies for Hire

More Evidence of Global Hacking

Spies for Hire: China's New Breed of Hackers, By The New York Times, August 27, 2021

A web of front companies controlled by China's secretive state security ministry have hacked computers from the United States to Cambodia to Saudi Arabia seeking sensitive government data as well as less-sensitive information, according to American law enforcement.

The accusations appear to reflect an increasingly aggressive campaign by Chinese government hackers and a pronounced shift in its spy agency's tactics by reaching beyond its own ranks to recruit from a vast pool of private-sector talent.

This new group of hackers has made China's state cyberspying machine stronger, more sophisticated, and more dangerously unpredictable. Sponsored but not necessarily micromanaged by Beijing, this new breed of hacker attacks government targets and private companies alike, mixing traditional espionage with outright fraud and other crimes for profit.....

Cyberhacking tactics have changed since China transferred responsibilities to the Ministry of State Security. ... 

From The New York Times 

View Full Article – May Require Paid Registration

NVIDIA Launches AI Enterprise

 Some interesting details of INVIDIA AI Enterprise offer.  Here are some of the outline, with links to the details.

The Lead

[1] Nvidia launches AI Enterprise in general availability

[2] How AI will reshape software development

[3] The do’s and don’ts of machine learning research

[1] Nvidia today announced the general availability of AI Enterprise, a software suite of tools and frameworks that enable companies running VMware vSphere to virtualize AI workloads on Nvidia-certified servers. Systems from Atea, Carahsoft, Computacenter, Insight Enterprises, SoftServe, Dell Technologies, and SVA System are now available, featuring a range of Nvidia GPUs including the A100, A30, A40, A10, and T4.

Companies are increasingly embracing AI during the pandemic as they discover the benefits of automation and big data analytics. According to 451 Research, 95% of businesses indicate that they consider AI to be “important to their digital transformation efforts.” AI Enterprise enables organizations that use VMware vSphere to run traditional enterprise applications while using the same tools they use to manage large-scale datacenters and hybrid clouds. VSphere, VMware’s cloud computing virtualization platform, includes a configuration manager as well as an app discovery dashboard and the ability to move more than one virtual machine at a time from one host server to another.

“The first wave of AI has been powered by specialized infrastructure that focused adoption to industry pioneers,” Manuvir Das, head of enterprise computing at Nvidia, said in a press release. “Today is the beginning of a new chapter in the age of AI, as Nvidia software brings its transformative power within reach for enterprises around the world that run their workloads on VMware with mainstream data center servers.” >> Read more here.   ... 

Friday, August 27, 2021

Wagyu Beef 3-D Printed

Impressive, beef printed from stem cells.

Scientists Reveal World's First 3D-Printed Wagyu Beef

Interesting Engineering, Derya Ozdemir, August 25, 2021

Scientists at Japan's Osaka University have unveiled what they are calling the first-ever three-dimensionally-printed Wagyu beef, created using stem cells extracted from cattle. A key challenge was replicating the beef's marbled composition. The researchers isolated bovine satellite cells and adipose-derived stem cells from Wagyu cows, then incubated and differentiated them into the cells needed to generate individual fibers for muscle, fat, and blood vessels, and stacked them to resemble Wagyu's marbling. The researchers sliced the stacks perpendicularly into laboratory-cultured beef slices, enabling a high level of customization within the meat structure. The researchers said the printed meat "looks more like the real thing," adding that the process may be used to generate other complex structures.... '

Deepfakes are Making Business Pitches

Been recently involved with a business pitch, so fascinating.  How far could this get you in creating the outline of a pitch.  

Deepfakes Are Now Making Business Pitches   By Wired  August 27, 2021

New workplace technologies often start life as both status symbols and productivity aids. The first car phones and PowerPoint presentations closed deals and also signaled their users' clout.

Some partners at EY, the accounting giant formerly known as Ernst & Young, are now testing a new workplace gimmick for the era of artificial intelligence. They spice up client presentations or routine emails with synthetic talking-head-style video clips starring virtual body doubles of themselves made with AI software—a corporate spin on a technology commonly known as deepfakes.

The firm's exploration of the technology, provided by U.K. startup Synthesia, comes as the pandemic has quashed more traditional ways to cement business relationships. Golf and long lunches are tricky or impossible, Zoom calls and PDFs all too routine.

EY partners have used their doubles in emails, and to enhance presentations. One partner who does not speak Japanese used the translation function built into Synthesia's technology to display his AI avatar speaking the native language of a client in Japan, to apparently good effect.

From Wired  View Full Article

More on Schnuck's Store Robotics

Retailwire looks at this, with further expert retail comment.

Are robots taking over Schnucks’ stores?

Aug 27, 2021  by George Anderson

Schnuck Markets is going to the robots. The family-owned grocery chain announced that it is rolling out artificial intelligence-powered robots to all 111 of its stores in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin.

The robots, known as Tally, are part of a multiyear program that began as a six-week pilot in 2017 at three stores and was expanded in 2018 and again last year. The devices move up and down store aisles up to three times a day to identify where there are stock outs as well as scanning shelves to make sure that each item is in its proper place and aligned with the correct shelf tag.

A joint press release   by Schnucks and Simbe Robotics, its technology partner, claims that the chain is the first grocer in the world to “utilize AI-powered inventory management technology at scale.”  ... ' 

Waymo Autonomous Taxis

Not a personal self driving car, but an hailed auto taxi service.  Being pushed by Waymo/Alphabet (Google)  Implications for liability in use?  Would this be  an ideal use case, not owning your own car?   The initial tests seems to be considerable, but with limitations   ACM NEWS

Waymo Opens Robotaxi Service in San Francisco for Ride Hailing   By The Wall Street Journal

Waymo LLC is opening its driver-supported robotaxis in San Francisco to selected riders, an important test for the Google sister company's technology and business in a major city.

The Alphabet Inc. GOOG +0.34% unit, which has raised billions of dollars from outside investors and recently completed a leadership shake-up, has been building toward a San Francisco launch for more than a decade. It started testing its autonomous-vehicle technology in the city in 2009 and is now driving more than 100,000 miles a week. Finding success in ferrying ride-hail passengers around the city in autonomous vehicles could provide a cornerstone for a revenue-generating business for Waymo, which has racked up losses for years.

On Tuesday, the company said San Francisco residents can sign up to participate in the test program by downloading the Waymo One app. It declined to share how many riders would be enrolled or how many cars would be eligible for the service. The rides will be free for participants, who must sign nondisclosure agreements and can't bring guests on rides.

Riders selected by Waymo will be able use its app to hail a Jaguar I-Pace vehicle equipped with the company's latest autonomous technology. Drivers seated behind the wheel will assume control if the computer falters or fails to adapt to any number of unpredictable scenarios as it navigates narrow, congested streets alongside pedestrians and cyclists.

From The Wall Street Journal

View Full Article  

Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Digital Transformation?

Just started to get these alerts and overviews from HPE that look interesting, and claim to speed digital transformation.  For SMB (Small and Medium sized Businesses) Not quite following why.  Worth understanding. 

How HCI 2.0 simplifies and unlocks agility to speed digital transformation

By Sandy_Ono  ‎02-04-2021 11:15 AM

Learn how second-generation hyperconverged infrastructure from HPE can help SMBs move ahead through these challenging times, delivering a world of reliability, efficiency, and savings—while improving the simplicity and agility of HCI.

These are unpredictable times. But that does not mean your small or midsized business can be put on hold. On the contrary, now is the exact right time to start or accelerate digital transformation. In fact, a recent survey of more than 3,600 small and midsized businesses shows that 51% of SMBs have stepped up their digital transformation investments—and digital transformation is prominent in the plans of 22% of SMBs who report that current crisis has amplified their sense of urgency for an organization-wide digital transformation.”1

So you are definitely not alone as you look for ways to power recovery and future growth. To do that, you need intelligent infrastructure to unlock scale through innovation and customer excellence. Because let’s face it, no matter the size of your business, the future belongs to those who use data to differentiate, who understand customers better than anyone else—and who can innovate boldly and quickly.  ... ' 

Autonomous Electric Ships

 Had heard of previous examples of this, will we ultimately have fleets of these establishing autonomous supply chains on oceans? 

Autonomous Electric Cargo Ship will Make First Voyage This Year   By Computing (U.K.).  August 26, 2021

A zero-emission cargo ship that can pilot itself, built by Norway's Yara International, is set to embark on its first voyage this year.

Called Yara Birkeland, the fully electric ship was originally due to set sail in 2020, but the launch was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and some logistical challenges which have now been overcome.

Jon Sletten, plant manager for Yara's factory in Porsgrunn, Norway, told CNN that the ship is ready to make its first journey between two Norwegian towns before the end of the year.

"We overestimated the scope of it in the beginning and started with too many activities in parallel," Sletten said.

Eventually the team realized that adopting a step-by-step approach, rather than a fast track mode, would be a better move.

From Computing (U.K.)

View Full Article  

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Apple's Next $20 Billion Business

 They have the leverage and direction.   Lots more at the link.

This could be Apple’s next $20 billion business

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 11:45 a.m. ET  By Emily Bary  in Marketwatch

An analyst sees Apple rapidly growing its advertising business at a similar trajectory to what Amazon showed a few years back

Apple Inc. could turn advertising into its next $20 billion business as the company ramps up its offerings and clamps down on ad targeting by third parties.

That’s according to estimates from Evercore ISI analyst Amit Daryanani, who pegged Apple’s AAPL, -0.55% advertising business as an “underappreciated” part of the company’s story and one with the potential for big growth over the coming years. The advertising business could reach $20 billion in revenue by 2025, he posits, up from perhaps $2 billion currently.  .... " 

Schnuck's Deploys Intelligent Retail Robotics

 An interesting case of chainwide application.  Surprised somewhat that Schnuck's is involved.   With the robotics being used for multiple purposes including direct consumer interaction. Good example to follow.  We examined many of application type mentioned here, starting with out-of-sticks.

Schnuck Markets Becomes World’s First Grocer to Deploy Intelligence Robots Chainwide

An expanded partnership with Simbe brings Tally, the comprehensive retail management solution, to all Schnucks stores

August 26, 2021 09:00 ET | Source: Simbe Robotics

ST. LOUIS, Aug. 26, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, Schnuck Markets, Inc. announced an industry-first chainwide expansion with Simbe Robotics’ to further elevate the grocer’s business operations and customer experience. Building on previous successful expansions, the multi-year full-scale roll-out will bring Tally robots to all 111 Schnucks locations across the U.S., making Schnucks the first grocer in the world to utilize AI-powered inventory management technology at scale. By incorporating Simbe’s solution into chainwide operations, Schnucks will gain even greater visibility into store conditions, with deeper levels of business insights as the retailer prepares to adjust to the quickly-evolving landscape of a post-pandemic world.

“We are facing a ‘new normal’ in the grocery industry, and Tally has been instrumental to ensuring we continue to provide an exceptional store experience while rising to meet new operational challenges,” said Dave Steck, Vice President of IT Infrastructure and Application Development. “By deploying Tally to all stores, we are fully operationalizing these insights into our supply chain and expanding our ability to leverage real-time data to make revenue impacting decisions. Tally has become an integral component of our stores, streamlining operations and ultimately creating a better store experience for our customers and teammates.”

Schnucks first piloted Tally in July of 2017 and expanded to additional stores in 2018 and 2020. Tally traverses store aisles up to three times per day and autonomously captures on-shelf data including inventory position, price accuracy, and promotional execution. Additional benefits of Tally include:

Detecting 14x more addressable out-of-stocks than manual scans

Enabled 20-30 percent reduction in out-of-stock items

Increased price tag and promotional execution compliance in stores across tens of thousands of products per day

Increased accuracy of real-time inventory integrated into Schnucks’ automated replenishment system, streamlining ordering and ensuring store shelves are restocked quicker to meet customer needs

Delivered access to real-time product location data through the Schnucks Rewards app, enabling more efficient shopping trips for customers, restocking and fulfillment activities for store teams, and 3rd party e-commerce partners

“Schnucks is the prime example of thoughtful adoption of retail technology, and we are honored to be their partner on this journey to create a better store experience through access to richer data,” said Brad Bogolea, founder and CEO of Simbe Robotics. “This expansion is a momentous occasion for Simbe, Schnucks, and the broader retail technology industry. It demonstrates that robots that are thoughtfully deployed are a critically important tool for retailers to improve bottom lines, support teams, and maintain an exceptional shopping experience, both in stores and online.” ... '

Making Coding like Speaking?

 How easy is this to do without error?  

OpenAI Is Making Coding As Easy As Talking to a Smart Speaker  By Wired in CACM

A few weeks ago, I went to an office in the Mission District of San Francisco to get an advance peek at a computer program that promises to disrupt computer programming. I was visiting OpenAI, a company devoted to "artificial general intelligence" (as opposed to humans, who have, at least on good days, non-artificial general intelligence). Their latest creation is called Codex, and it writes computer code, in some instances very well.

I was impressed as OpenAI CTO Greg Brockman and his fellow cofounder Wojciech Zaremba, who is a key creator of Codex, took it through its paces in a live demo. They asked Codex to express some text, grab some images, make a web page, and put the page on the internet. Then, employing the casual language one might use in conversation, they built a simple game by grabbing web-based images of helicopters and getting them to fly across the screen and blast enemies. As the game took shape feature by feature, I realized I was viewing a transformation of the famous "flow state" that good coders feel when they get rolling. Until now that flow involved an intense inner dialog. Now it's more like a conversation with a robot companion.... 

OpenAI's latest creation, Codex, writes computer codein some instances very well.... 

From Wired

Northwestern Retail Analytics

Just received the latest Northwestern Retail Analytics Council mailing.   Good review of what they are up to.

The quarterly Retail Tech Bulletin, published by the Retail Analytics Council, Northwestern University, includes articles on current retail trends, case studies, artificial intelligence, and related retail technologies. The Bulletin also includes updates on Retail Analytics Council activities, the Retail Robotics Initiative, and the Retail AI Lab at Northwestern University. If you would like to contribute to the Retail Tech Bulletin, please contact us.  ... 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Sand-Heap Paradox and all That

 We were interviewed at P&G in the late 80s for one of Shoshana Zuboff's books, so this piece reminded me of some of what we were doing then.   Don't remember the term 'Surveillance Capitalism',  but it is relevant.   Worth a look.  

The Sand-Heap Paradox of Privacy and Influence   By Moshe Y. Vardi

Communications of the ACM, September 2021, Vol. 64 No. 9, Page 5   10.1145/3477583

I look in the mirror every day. I look the same as the day before. No change. Then I have a Zoom call with a person I have not seen in many years, I wonder how they got so old, and I realize that the other person must be thinking the same! The human mind always struggled with comprehending the cumulative impact of a large number of very small changes. This phenomenon has already been the subject of two classical Greek paradoxes: The Sand-Heap paradox and Zeno's paradoxes. When I was an elementary-school pupil, a favorite brain-twister was "How much is infinity times zero?"

We are facing the same paradox with respect to privacy and influence on the Internet. There are information items that we clearly want to protect, such as credit-card numbers. When such sensitive information is stolen via a cybersecurity breach, we clearly feel our privacy has been violated. But it is harder to feel a loss of privacy when we reveal a tiny bit of information at a time: a link clicked or a social-media posting "liked." Yet Internet companies have mastered the art of harvesting the grains of information we share with them, knowingly or unknowingly, and using them to construct sand heaps of information about us. Shoshana Zuboff, of Harvard University, named this business model of Internet companies "Surveillance Capitalism" in a 2019 book.

Zuboff called surveillance capitalism "an assault on human autonomy" and "a threat to freedom and democracy." We all realize that Internet companies persuaded us to give up some privacy for the sake of convenience, but how much privacy have we given away? This is opaque to us. We see each grain of information given away, but not the heap of information. It is also opaque to us how this heap of information has been used by others not only to predict our behavior but also to influence and modify it. After the January 6, 2021 Capitol Insurrection in Washington, D.C., Zuboff wrote that "We can have democracy, or we can have a surveillance society, but we cannot have both."  .... ' 

Adapting to Gig Law

 Gig Law,  of how do we manage, or even define part time work, is increasingly important.  Here a first example of how this might be managed. 

Judge rules California Prop 22 gig workers law is unconstitutional

Voters approved the law in November, By Kim Lyons

California’s gig workers law, which allows companies like Uber and Lyft to treat workers as independent contractors— not employees— has been ruled unconstitutional and unenforceable by a judge. Voters approved the law as ballot initiative Proposition 22 in November, with companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash spending more than $200 million to campaign for the measure. Labor organizations, including the Service Employees International Union, opposed it.  ...  ' 

Saw Some Examples of Tunable and more Efficient Models for IOT

 Cutting 'Edge': A Tunable Neural Network Framework Towards Compact, Efficient Models

Tokyo Institute of Technology News (Japan)    August 23, 2021

A sparse convolutional neural network (CNN) framework and training algorithms developed by researchers at Japan's Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) can seamlessly integrate CNN models on low-power edge devices. The 40-nanometer sparse CNN chip yields high accuracy and efficiency through a Cartesian-product multiply and accumulate (MAC) array and pipelined activation aligners that spatially shift activations onto a regular Cartesian MAC array. Tokyo Tech's Kota Ando said, "Regular and dense computations on a parallel computational array are more efficient than irregular or sparse ones. With our novel architecture employing MAC array and activation aligners, we were able to achieve dense computing of sparse convolution." ... 

Non Fungible Tokens and the Future of Art

A further look at the use of blockchain tech to create unique digital expressions, aka 'Art', and provide proof of ownership.    And trade the Art in the real world.  Note also the inclusion of 'smart contracts',  which can guarantee additional contracted payment to an artist on future sales.  

Non-Fungible Tokens and the Future of Art   By Logan Kugler  in CACM

Communications of the ACM, September 2021, Vol. 64 No. 9, Pages 19-20  10.1145/3474355

Behind Jeff Koons and David Hockney, the most lucrative auction for a piece of art from a living artist happened in 2021—and it was for a work that existed in a JPEG file. The artist Beeple's "Everydays—The First 5,000 Days," a series of digital artworks, sold at Christie's for the princely sum of $69.3 million.

It was a stunning event made possible by a technology called non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

NFTs are cryptographic tokens built on the Ethereum blockchain. NFTs are "minted," then sold, just like Bitcoin. The difference, though, is that Bitcoin is "fungible." If you swap Bitcoin with someone, you both still have the same asset: some amount of Bitcoin. There's no functional difference between one Bitcoin or another.

However, NFTs are "non-fungible." Each token is unique, and that token proves that you, and only you, have ownership rights over a digital asset—like Beeple's art. As a random Internet user, you can view Beeple's "Everydays—The First 5,000 Days" online, but only the person who bought the NFT tied to the art owns it.

This dynamic creates a simple, but powerful, change in how digital art works: it makes digital art exclusive. Once minted on the Ethereum blockchain, the NFT is represented on a public ledger that can't be changed. By owning the token, you are proven the owner of the art piece. There is nothing stopping someone online from viewing, copying, and sharing a digital art file, but thanks to NFTs, they cannot fake possession of the art. NFTs make it possible to have exclusive ownership of digital art—something that was previously impossible.

In some cases, artists like Beeple may structure the NFTs tied to their work in unique ways. They may retain rights to reproduce the image. They also may require automatic royalty payouts every time the NFT is resold.

Think of an NFT like the documents that come with owning an original Picasso. Art experts verify your Picasso is, in fact, original; they verify your ownership and provide documentation. As a result, the world accepts that you own an original Picasso.

The only big difference here is that NFTs make it possible to verify ownership of digital assets. Unquestionably there exist plenty of fraudulent Picassos, but given the limited supply of his works, and the legions of experts evaluating paintings, it is possible to prove that an individual owns a specific, legitimate Picasso.

It used to be impossible to do this for digital art. You could create digital art and everyone would know you made it, but anyone could reproduce it and share it with the entire world at the click of a button. In a scenario in which you can duplicate art with perfect fidelity indefinitely, the artist has some legal recourse to protect against how reproductions are used in commercial ventures. But who owns the original piece? What is the original piece? Is it the first file the artist created? Is it the first version of the finished piece?

Before NFTs, there was no widely accepted way to determine the "original" piece of a digital artwork. There was also no widely accepted way to prove or transfer its ownership. NFTs have changed that, and with it, they're changing the world of art.

"We feel very confident that this is just the beginning for NFTs," says Meghan Doyle, a cataloguer of post-war and contemporary art at auction house Christie's. "There is tremendous potential for NFTs in the art market and beyond. As a mechanism, the potential that NFTs have to shift the way that we establish ownership has no bounds."

A Better Way to Create

With this ability to mint ownership of digital assets, NFTs have transformed how artists and creators make a living while changing how we buy, sell, and relate to art. NFTs also have expanded interest in blockchain technology beyond investment in Bitcoin and Ethereum. Experts still debate whether NFTs are the future of art or just a fad, but the amount of money changing hands for art backed by NFTs has the art world, technologists, and financiers paying attention.

The biggest mainstream use of NFTs today is for artwork, thanks to Beeple's big sale.

NFTs are so prevalent in art because digitally native creators can bestow scarcity on works that consist entirely of pixels, says Doyle at Christie's. They enable creators to earn more than they would outside the restrictions of the fine art world. Today, creators typically only get paid when they initially sell a piece of artwork; should the artwork's new owner sell it to someone else, they pocket any gains made—and the artist gets nothing. However, NFTs use smart contracts to verify ownership and terms. Those terms can include paying the original artist royalties every time the artwork changes hands.  ... ' 

Declining Entrepreneurship not a Concern

Says K@W Study

Why Declining Entrepreneurship in the U.S. Is Not a Concern  in K@W

Innovation Content

Entrepreneurship in the U.S. has declined in recent decades because high-skilled college graduates have found that they can earn more in well-paying jobs than starting their own business. Cheaper capital and lower prices of capital goods also helped businesses become more profitable and therefore increased their ability to hire high-skilled workers who would otherwise have become entrepreneurs.

Those “technological improvements have changed the incentives of individuals to start their own business,” according to a new research paper by Wharton finance professor Sergio Salgado titled “Technical Change and Entrepreneurship.” They are responsible for three-quarters of the decline in entrepreneurship, the paper noted.

In identifying those factors, Salgado’s research findings have brought a new understanding to the debate on the decline in U.S. entrepreneurship. Various studies have thus far held that new business formation has declined because of high startup costs or other frictions, labor supply constraints, and the aging of the U.S. population, Salgado’s paper noted. For instance, a recent Congressional Budget Office report blamed the fall in business formations on reduced access to finance and labor markets, and regulatory constraints.  ... ' 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Waymo Is 99% of the Way to Self-Driving Cars. The Last 1% Is the Hardest

 Odd illogical example given. Could such an example be solved by freezing and towing the car away?  Can't be that easy. 

Waymo Is 99% of the Way to Self-Driving Cars. The Last 1% Is the Hardest   By Bloomberg Businessweek, August 24, 2021

Despite years of research and billions of dollars in investments, the technology behind self-driving vehicles still has flaws.

Joel Johnson laughs nervously from the backseat when his self-driving taxi stops in the middle of a busy road in suburban Phoenix. The car, operated by autonomous vehicle pioneer Waymo, has encountered a row of traffic cones in a construction zone, and won't move. "Go around, man," Johnson says as he gestures to the drivers honking behind him.

After the vehicle has spent 14 mostly motionless minutes obstructing traffic, a Waymo technician tries to approach—but the car unexpectedly rolls forward, away from him. "It definitely seemed like a dangerous situation," Johnson recalls.

Incidents like this one, which Johnson posted to his YouTube channel in May, are embarrassing for Waymo—a company that's having its own problems moving forward. A unit of Alphabet Inc., Waymo hasn't expanded its robo-taxi service beyond Phoenix after years of careful testing. The company has floated moves into other areas—trucking, logistics, personal vehicles—but the businesses are in early stages. And its production process for adding cars to its driverless fleet has been painfully slow.

From Bloomberg BusinessWeek  

Surrendering to Algorithms

Perhaps instructive, or what might be expected.   

What I learned surrendering my life to algorithms   in Cnet.

I outsourced several of my daily decisions to algorithms for a week, to better understand the lines of code playing a greater and greater role in guiding our lives.

BY Jesse Orrall

The tree of life was dying, and we had run out of ideas on how to save it. We had tried everything we could think of and were hopelessly stuck when a voice chirped through a walkie-talkie, informing us that the mouse in the corner could give us a hint.

As I awaited instructions from a fake mouse in an escape room above a KFC, I couldn't help but think this was a fitting conclusion to my weeklong experiment surrendering my life to algorithms.

If our computers are a window to the online world, algorithms are key mediators whose intervention clearly impacts what we see, and therefore what we do. They filter our search results (for example: Google, Bing), curate our social media feeds (Facebook, Twitter) and make recommendations for new products and experiences (Amazon, Yelp). 

For internet users, these algorithms can help us sort through the mass of information at our fingertips. For the companies that develop them, algorithms are tools for amassing valuable data, streamlining the shopping and browsing experience and encouraging us to spend more money. Algorithms are also becoming important tools in the high-stakes arenas of workplace management, financial investment and policing.

Despite algorithms' centrality to the online experience (and increasingly our real-world experience) their inner workings are largely a mystery, since they're the closely guarded intellectual property of the companies that use and develop them. In an effort to better understand algorithms, how well they work and how well they know me, I embarked on an experiment to surrender my life to algorithms for a week. This might not be what the coders had in mind, but that didn't stop me from trying, or from gleaning some helpful insights along the way.  ... ' 

full article and Video

McKinsey: No Ordinary Disruption

Of interest, brought to my attention.

How our 2015 book on disruptive forces set sail again

No Ordinary Disruption, a McKinsey book written in 2015, was chosen for the U.S. Navy’s 2021 reading list, which is curated to help the organization develop leaders.

Sent from McKinsey Insights, available in the App Store and Play Store.

Writing Assembler

 Many of us had our earliest days writing assembler code.  The way to manage computing at its lowest level.  You can ewally understand what is going on.   True today you can do nearly as well writing C code, and get the advantage of many available libraries.  Still useful to understand what is going on, and further the security implications.   Here a good intro from TowardsDatascience

The Basics Of Writing Assembly

Want to learn Assembly? Start here!   Emmett Boudreau


Computers are technological innovations that have completely changed the entire world and the way we do just about everything in a time span of only about half a century. Computing technology is so vital to the modern era that we have even dubbed the portion of time that we live in “ The Information Era” due to the population of the internet and computers internationally. Needless to say, computer theory is a very important subject, especially in the context of Data Science. At the core of computer theory lies a very important component of hardware, the Central Processing Unit, or CPU.  .... ' 

Monday, August 23, 2021

Sentient Disney Robots

Sounds interesting. Have been on engineering tours of Disney Imagineering over the years, when similar things were claimed.  Never was there, then, but you could see what they wanted to do.  Looking forward to see what the possibilities are now.

Are You Ready for Sentient Disney Robots?

The New York Times, Brooks Barnes, August 19, 2021

Researchers at The Walt Disney Company's Imagineering division are working on a new generation of robots, advancing beyond the mechanical figures that have been on display in Disney theme parks since the 1960s in an effort to stay relevant. As part of Project Kiwi, the researchers are developing a small-scale, free-roaming robot featuring cameras and sensors that allow it to make on-the-fly decisions about what to do and say. Meanwhile, for Project Exo, the researchers are developing a full-body exoskeleton that could be applied to oversize characters like The Hulk. Disney's Asya Cara Peña said it "needs to look natural and believable. And it has to be something that different performers of different body types with different gaits can slip into with identical results." ... '

Facebook Announces Droidlet

Had not heard of this before,  but interesting take by Facebook.  Still have my doubts about Facebook, they seem to be too intent to get into our brains,  but some of their research work is worth understanding. I like thinking about elements of the process as being composed  of agents that have intent.  And the ability to readily test alternatives.    Gets to intelligence that way.   Tell me more Facebook. 

Introducing droidlet, a one-stop shop for modularly building intelligent agents

The annals of science fiction are brimming with robots that perform tasks independently in the world, communicate fluently with people using natural language, and even improve themselves through these interactions. These machines do much more than follow preprogrammed instructions; they understand and engage with the real world much as people do.

Robots today can be programmed to vacuum the floor or perform a preset dance, but the gulf is vast between these machines and ones like Wall-E or R2-D2. This is largely because today’s robots don’t understand the world around them at a deep level. They can be programmed to back up when bumping into a chair, but they can’t recognize what a chair is or know that bumping into a spilled soda can will only make a bigger mess.

To help researchers and even hobbyists to build more intelligent real-world robots, we’ve created and have open-sourced the droidlet platform

Droidlet is a modular, heterogeneous embodied agent architecture, and a platform for building embodied agents, that sits at the intersection of natural language processing, computer vision, and robotics. It simplifies integrating a wide range of state-of-the-art machine learning (ML) algorithms in embodied systems and robotics to facilitate rapid prototyping.

People using droidlet can quickly test out different computer vision algorithms with their robot, for example, or replace one natural language understanding model with another. Droidlet enables researchers to easily build agents that can accomplish complex tasks either in the real world or in simulated environments like Minecraft or Habitat.

There is much more work to do — both in AI and in hardware engineering — before we will have robots that are even close to what we imagine in books, movies, and TV shows. But with droidlet, robotics researchers can now take advantage of the significant recent progress across the field of AI and build machines that can effectively respond to complex spoken commands like “pick up the blue tube next to the fuzzy chair that Bob is sitting in.” We look forward to seeing how the research community uses droidlet to advance this important field.   ... ' 

Advances in Baidu Brain

Baidu is coming back, had looked at some of their earlier offerings and was not impressed, I get the impression they are now more seriously looking at the assistant market.  

Baidu Unveils Upgraded Baidu Brain AI and Smart Devices  By ERIC HAL SCHWARTZ 

Chinese tech giant Baidu showcased its latest creations at its yearly Baidu World conference. Much of the broad array of new products are powered by the new and improved Baidu Brain AI platform revealed at the same time, including robotic vehicles and the first smart television controlled with the Xiaodu voice assistant.  ... 

Baidu’s centerpiece of the event was its new robotic car, built with Baidu’s Apollo AI driving program. Apollo is embedded in the vehicle and is able to improve how well it performs not only in driving but in communications and interactions with passengers. Baidu has plans for automated taxis and other autonomous vehicles and is at the point of demonstrating them at a larger scale than most of its rivals. On the more domestic front, Baidu’s Xiaodu voice assistant has a few new homes, including its first smart television. The 86-inch TV is built with as much advanced tech as could be crammed within, including Xiaodu running the whole thing through voice and gesture commands. Xiaodu is also popping up in a new smart display and active noise-canceling headphones.  ... '

Data Driven Companies, Trends

Tableau Writes, here's the intro:

What do data-driven companies have in common? Research reveals five key trends By Ashley Howard, Tableau

Recent IDC research, sponsored by Tableau, found that 83% of CEOs want a data-driven organization, but only 33% of executives are comfortable questioning business KPIs and metrics1, revealing disparities between what executives “want” and “have.”(1) Nearly all executives say they want their organization to be more data-driven, but discount cultural investments that help bring that change to reality.

As more organizations see and understand their data, and some grow data use at enviable rates, Tableau and IDC felt it was useful to explore behaviors, characteristics, and key trends that set data-leading companies—ones with a strong Data Culture—apart. We conducted a survey of over 1,100 business leaders across 10 countries in technical and non-technical roles, investigating the presence and depth of five trends that drive a successful Data Culture and help shift the position of organizations to become data-leading.  ... ' 

Google Shuts Down Android Auto

Perhaps surprising,  but folding it into the general assistant may make sense. 

Google shuts Down Android Auto, 

Google is shutting down its Android Auto mobile app in favor of Google Assistant

Android 12 will mark the end of the stopgap app   By Jon Porter@JonPorty 

Google has confirmed it’s shutting down the standalone “Android Auto for Phone Screens” app with Android 12. Instead, anyone who wants a driving-friendly interface for their Android phone should use the Google Assistant driving mode, which is available within Google Maps, or the native Android Auto interface available in select cars.

“For those who use the on phone experience (Android Auto mobile app), they will be transitioned to Google Assistant driving mode,” Google said in a statement. “Starting with Android 12, Google Assistant driving mode will be the built-in mobile driving experience. We have no further details to share at this time.” Google says that the experience isn’t changing for anyone using Android Auto in compatible cars.  ... ' 

Do we Still Need an Ethnic Grocery Aisle?

 I have have worked in the area of retail aisle shelf allocation, and noted this phenomenon at all of the grocery venues.  Have even seen the confusion and time wasting it created.  And also the wealth of choice it provided.   So this struck me as an interesting question to ask.   Do not agree with some of the points made, 

Should grocery stores retire the ethnic aisle?   by Tom Ryan

A New York Times article recently explored the controversy surrounding ethnic aisles in supermarkets and the function they still serve.

Supermarkets first added ethnic aisles (sometimes called “international,” “Asian” or “Hispanic”) in the U.S. to cater to returning World War II soldiers who had discovered foods from Italy, Germany and Japan.

For some brands, however, placement in the niche aisle limits the potential growth that could be more accessible in heavily-trafficked category-based aisles. For instance, sriracha sauce now enjoys greater exposure in many grocers sitting alongside barbeque sauces and other hot sauces. Such placement also helps sriracha be increasingly seen as an ingredient beyond Asian cuisine.   ... ' 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Addressing Space Storms with a Supercomputer

Better known as coronal mass ejections  (CME), A long time interest of mine,  this will be a coming inevitable problem in years to come. There is no known way to prevent or block these, just prepare the infrastructure to some degree.  

Improving the lead time of space weather forecasts requires new methods and algorithms that can compute far faster than those used today and may be deployed on high-performance computers.... 

Supercomputer Helps Protect Earth From Space Storms   By SciTechDaily 

"There are only two natural disasters that could impact the entire U.S.," according to Gabor Toth, professor of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan. "One is a pandemic and the other is an extreme space weather event."

We're currently seeing the effects of the first in real-time.

The last major space weather event struck the Earth in 1859. Smaller, but still significant, space weather events occur regularly. These fry electronics and power grids, disrupt global positioning systems, cause shifts in the range of the Aurora Borealis, and raise the risk of radiation to astronauts or passengers on planes crossing over the poles.

"We have all these technological assets that are at risk," Toth said. "If an extreme event like the one in 1859 happened again, it would completely destroy the power grid and satellite and communications systems — the stakes are much higher."

Motivated by the White House National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan and the National Strategic Computing Initiative, in 2020 the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA created the Space Weather with Quantified Uncertainties (SWQU) program. It brings together research teams from across scientific disciplines to advance the latest statistical analysis and high performance computing methods within the field of space weather modeling  ... 

From Leak Herald   View Full Article 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Time to Remove Malware

Two Months to Remove Malware Apps from App Store     By New Scientist, August 19, 2021

An analysis by researchers at Boston University and the antivirus software company Norton found that it takes an average of 77 days from detection for Google to remove apps that potentially contain malware from the Google Play Store.   The researchers reviewed 8.8 million daily scans from 11.7 million users of antivirus apps, all on Android smartphones.  ... 

New Scientist Article

3D Printed Microsoft can Spot Coronavirus in Blood

Impressive if it works well.

Inexpensive 3D-Printed Microscope Can Spot Coronavirus in Blood 

The digital holographic machine, faster than a PCR test, relies on deep learning         


A digital microscope that uses holography and deep-learning technology could detect COVID-19 in a drop of blood. A diagnosis could be made on the spot in a matter of minutes instead of the hours or sometimes days it can take for PCR test results to come back.

The system, which uses digital holographic microscopy, could be used in areas that lack health care facilities, as well as in hospitals whose labs are backlogged with tests.

That's according to one of the machine's developers, IEEE Fellow Bahram Javidi. He is the director of the Multidimensional Optical Sensing and Imaging Systems Lab at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. His collaborators were Dr. Bruce T. Liang, Timothy O'Connor and Dr. Jian-Bing Shen. Liang is dean of the university's school of medicine, O'Connor is a biomedical engineering grad student, and Shen is a physician at the university's medical center. The researchers' article on their preliminary findings, "Digital Holographic Deep Learning of Red Blood Cells for Field-Portable, Rapid COVID-19 Screening," was published in the 15 May issue of the Optical Society's Optics Letters.  ... 

This Blog

 A note and warning about this blog.     Google has increasingly been doing less to support Blogger, which is the infrastructure for this blog.  Its free and I have used it for a dozen plus years.  Most recently I no longer get suggestions for 'tags', which follow at the end of each post, pointing to a topic the post includes. This makes it harder to keep the tag titles consistent, which I have been doing manually.   I could replace this blog  with Wordpress, but not sure I have the time and effort available.  ...  Comment if you like, especially value you get from it.

Chip Shortage for Toyota

Toyota to Cut Output as Chip Shortage Finally Catches Up to It   By The Wall Street Journal  August 20, 2021

The global semiconductor shortage has finally started to bite at Toyota Motor Corp., highlighting how a resurgence in Covid-19 infections from the Delta variant is now stifling chip manufacturing in Southeast Asia, worsening a parts crisis for car companies.

Japan's largest car maker said Thursday it was cutting production in the country by 40% in September because of a shortage of semiconductors, highlighting how the scarcity is hitting even the best-prepared companies.

Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. also said this week they are scheduling more downtime at several North American factories, in part because virus-related restrictions overseas are further adding to chip-supply constraints.

For much of this year, the chip-shortage challenges in the auto industry have largely stemmed from car companies miscalculating how quickly auto sales would bounce back and not ordering enough semiconductors.

Now, the auto industry is confronting a new wrinkle with a resurgence in Covid-19 infections in Southeast Asia, particularly in Malaysia, denting output at computer-chip factories that are already straining to fill orders. This region is where semiconductors are assembled into small components that control everything from engines to headlights.

From The Wall Street Journal

View Full Article  

Betting on VR Conferencing

 Experience is still not complete.  But laptops can provide relatively good, portable and convenient alternatives.  And the entire workforce is now already trained.  So do we need full VR, except in the most complex examples? 

Facebook’s New Bet on Virtual Reality: Conference Rooms

By The New York Times, August 20, 2021

For years, the idea that virtual reality would go mainstream has remained exactly that: virtual.

Though tech giants like Facebook and Sony have spent billions of dollars trying to perfect the experience, virtual reality has stayed a niche plaything of hobbyists willing to pay thousands of dollars, often for a clunky VR headset tethered to a powerful gaming computer.

That changed last year in the pandemic. As people lived more of their lives digitally, they started buying more VR headsets. VR hardware sales shot up, led by Facebook's Oculus Quest 2, a headset that was introduced last fall, according to the research firm IDC.

To build on the momentum, Facebook on Thursday introduced a virtual-reality service called Horizon Workrooms. The product, which is free for Quest 2 owners to download, offers a virtual meeting room where people using the headsets can gather as if they were at an in-person work meeting. The participants join with a customizable cartoon avatar of themselves. Interactive virtual white boards line the walls so that people can write and draw things as in a physical conference room.

From The New York Times

View Full Article  

AI to Adverts

One of the earliest things we attempted with AI.  Too early to work then, but got the right elements. Here again.   

Why artificial intelligence is being used to write adverts  By Michael Dempsey

Technology of Business reporter    BBC

What springs to mind when you think of advertising? Don Draper in the TV show Mad Men sipping a cocktail? Or perhaps trendy people swapping catch phrases in a converted warehouse?'

Well, more of the creative work these days is not being done by humans at all.

When Dixons Carphone wanted to push shoppers towards its Black Friday sale, the company turned to Artificial Intelligence (AI) software and got the winning line "The time is now".

Saul Lopes, head of customer marketing at Dixons Carphone, thinks it worked because it didn't have the words Black Friday in it.

His human copywriters had produced dozens of potentially successful sentences but they all mentioned Black Friday. It was technology that broke this chain of thought.  ... ' 

Friday, August 20, 2021

China Passes Strict New Data Privacy Law

Intriguing in the details.  But data privacy for who?  How is it applied legally?   How will it be interpreted? 

China Passes Strict New Data Privacy Law    By Alex Woodie  in Datanami

The Chinese government today announced that it will institute a strict new data privacy law on November 1. Dubbed the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), it is said to be among the most stringent data privacy laws in the world.

Passed by the National People’s Congress earlier today, PIPL requires organizations to obtain the consent of Chinese citizens before collecting their personal information. Companies must also give citizens the option not to be targeted for marketing purposes or to have marketing based on personal characteristics.

The law also requires that there must also be a “clear and reasonable purpose” for handling personal information, and organizations must aim for the “minimum scope necessary to achieve the goals of handling” data, according to a Reuters story.

PIPL, which was first proposed in 2020, applies to all companies that work with Chinese citizens, including foreign and domestic entities. Chinese citizens in recent years have begun to complain about the mismanagement and abuse of their personal information at the hands of Chinese companies.

Chinese citizens succumb to scams and fraud at rates similar to people in other countries. A 2015 survey by the Internet Society of China found that 76% of Chinese users had received fraudulent information from sources purporting to be banks, Internet companies, or television stations offering prizes, according to a 2016 story in the Wall Street Journal. Over half have received scam calls, while one-third said they have lost money after receiving fraudulent calls, text messages, or emails, the story said.

PIPL is the third of three new laws that Chinese lawmakers have passed in recent years. The Chinese Data Security Law, which is set to go into effect on September 1, sets a framework for companies to classify data based on its importance, including “national core data,” “important data,” and “general data.” The country’s Cybersecurity Law, which went into effect in 2017, requires network operator to store select data within the country, and allows the government to conduct spot-checks of data and network operations.

PIPL resembles the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in some respects. However, it differs in one major way, which is that Chinese authorities are expected to maintain access to people’s personal information. Multi-national companies that want to sell their products and services to Chinese citizens, however, would do well to pay attention to the new law, says Charles Farina, head of innovation at Adswerve.  ... ' 

Powering Smart Devices Indoors

We experimented with IOT powered by Solar indoors in retail settings.

 Common Solar Tech Can Power Smart Devices Indoors, NIST Study Finds    By NIST  August 20, 2021

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) studying the indoor charging capability of small modular photovoltaic (PV) devices determined that a mini modular PV device made of silicon, absorbing only light from an LED, supplied more power to a wireless temperature sensor than the sensor consumed in operation.

They said this indicates it is possible to power Internet of Things devices with PV modules.

The researchers found the silicon module converted 9.3% of the LED light into electrical power, compared to power conversion efficiency rates of 23.1% for gallium indium phosphide (GaInP) and 14.1% for gallium arsenide (GaAs) modules.

NIST's Andrew Shore said, "Even with a less-efficient mini module, we found that we could still supply more power than the wireless sensor consumed."   ... .' 

Can/Should a Machine Unlearn?

Important point.   Remember my experience in maintenance of systems, always considered it a thing to be considered up front.  Also, as is pointed out, there are other reasons to forget.  For example forgotten data cannot be misused.    Which links into the increasingly important inclusion of security.   Also mentioned, the need to still be able to explain a model, even after a previous model was updated or re-run for use with updated data.

Now That Machines Can Learn, Can They Unlearn?,  By Wired, August 19, 2021

Companies of all kinds use machine learning to analyze people's desires, dislikes, or faces, but some researchers are now asking a different question: How can we make machines forget? A nascent area of computer science dubbed machine unlearning seeks to induce selective amnesia in artificial intelligence (AI) software, striving to remove all trace of a particular person or data point without affecting performance.

However, the notion of artificial amnesia requires some new ideas in computer science. Once trained, a machine-learning system is not easily altered or even understood. It will take virtuoso technical work before tech companies can actually implement machine unlearning as a way to offer people more control over the algorithmic fate of their data. Even then, it might not change much about the privacy risks of the AI age.

From Wired

CPG Company Innovation Traps

Some useful thoughts in the space: 

CPG companies can dodge three common innovation traps

Implementing proper checks and balances throughout the innovation process can help you create long-term growth. by Sharon Kao and Nicholas Hilgeman

Today’s consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies confront a strange market paradox: continued demand for new products but reduced shelf space in stores. Organizations have long used innovation as a tool to meet the shifting needs of consumers and to drive growth. In fact, in their 2020 annual reports, all ten of the highest-grossing publicly traded global CPG companies highlighted innovation as a key growth lever.

Product development is a highly capital- and labor-intensive process, and left unchecked, results in a questionable return on investment.

But the space to display this proliferation of new products is shrinking as retailers weigh costs and consumer experience, focusing on smaller storefronts with hyperlocal offerings and a less overwhelming array of choices. At wholesaler BJ’s, for example, smaller, new-build stores house 16% fewer SKUs than regular stores. Similarly, British supermarket chain Asda recently revealed plans to cut SKUs by up to 40% as it shifts to a simpler discount model for its stores. Another reason retailers are reducing shelf space is to avoid being overstocked as consumers do more online shopping. In PwC’s June 2021 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey, more than half of global consumers surveyed said they became more digital even in just the six-month period from October 2020 to March 2021.  ... " 

IEEE Spectrum on Skin Display

A means of convenient and changeable skin display.    Feasible, but is it broadly acceptable?


When the display’s on your skin, you can leave your smartphone in your pocket

An elderly woman, living alone in a small mountain village, relaxes in the afternoon after finishing lunch. A square sheet of thin rubber clings to the back of her hand. Like a poultice, it stretches and then wrinkles as she flexes her fingers.

As she reaches for her teacup, the square lights up with a message: “TAKE YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICINE." She smiles, remembering how she used to struggle and often fail to remember, even though her smartphone had been programmed to send her such alerts. But now, thanks to that business-card-size patch on her hand, she hasn't missed a single dose. Indeed, her blood-pressure value, which she can now see on the display, is well within a healthy range. ... '

What is a Semi-Fungible Token?

 All sort of levels of fungibility are now floating about.  Trying to keep it straight.  

What Is a ‘Semi-Fungible’ Crypto Token?

Concert tickets, gift vouchers and coupons are all examples of semi-fungible items.

By Anatol Antonovici  in Coindesk  Aug 17, 2021 

Fungibility has been a consistent theme of 2021, following the meteoric rise of NFTs. But what’s the deal with “semi-fungible” tokens and how do they work?

The interest surrounding non-fungible tokens (NFTs) reached astounding levels in the first half of this year. Data from NonFungible showed NFT sales surged to over $2.4 billion in the first quarter – 20 times more than the previous three months. That momentum has showed no signs of slowing so far in the second half of the year, with the leading Ethereum-based NFT marketplace, OpenSea, experiencing a record high trading volume of $49 million on Aug. 1, up from its average daily average trading volume of $8.3 million. The average price of CryptoPunks – one of the first collections of NFTs to make their debut on Ethereum’s blockchain – also set a record during the same month of 66.919 ETH per NFT (about $220,000 at press time).

The explosive growth has kickstarted a new wave of innovation around non-fungible assets, including the emergence of a new type of “semi-fungible” token (SFT) that starts off fungible and becomes non-fungible. Let’s break down these terms.

Fungible tokens

The majority of crypto assets investors monitor and trade on a regular basis are fungible, i.e. they are easily interchangeable. For example, if two people exchanged one ether (ETH, +3.59%) for another, there would be no loss of value and neither party would be better off than the other. That is because there is no value distinction between any two ether or any two bitcoin (BTC, +3.46%) for that matter (excluding “tainted coins” – coins that had been previously stolen or used in illicit activities).

Fiat money like U.S dollars are also fungible. In other words, fungibility is the ability of a token (or currency) to be exchanged or replaced with other tokens of the same type resulting in no change in value.    ... ' 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Alexa Developer Highlights

 Was unable to visit this live, but here they are.  Continue to .fo things that are ground breaking in delivering intelligent assistance to consumer

Alexa Live 2021 Release Roundup

Below are all features we launched at Alexa Live 2021.   ... 

Advances in Quantum Error Correction

 Always heard that error correction is the key challenge of quantum computing,  here what appear to be advances by Google.   Implications, some suggested here.  For specific kinds of problems here.

Quantum Computing with Exponentially Fewer Errors By Arnout Jaspers, Commissioned by CACM Staff, August 19, 2021  

As long as a quantum computation is going on, one cannot actually check the values of the qubits, as that would destroy the complex quantum-state of the qubits, with the result being noise.

In an ideal world, a quantum computer with as few as 100 qubits would suffice to outperform all classical computers on certain classes of computation tasks. Google's Sycamore quantum processor, which has 53 qubits, is nowhere near accomplishing this.

The reason is that existing qubits, the computational building blocks of a quantum computer, are extremely sensitive to outside interference. Any magnetic or thermal disturbance will cause the qubit to change its internal state randomly; the classical analogy would be that all the bit values in the working memory of a microprocessor keep flipping from 0 to 1 and back, unpredictably.

As a result, quantum computing is still limited to computations taking no more than a few microseconds.

However, a team of Google researchers reported in Nature that they have successfully implemented quantum error correction on 21 qubits on the Sycamore chip, with huge potential for extending computation time.

Quantum error correction has been done before on smaller arrays of qubits, and on other types of qubit than the superconducting transmon qubits that Sycamore uses. 

"This is a strong answer to those sceptics who say a quantum computer will never work in real life," says computer scientist Koen Groenland of QuSoft, the Dutch research center for quantum software in Amsterdam, who was not involved in this research. In Groenland's view, the key achievement of the Google team was showing that the probability of errors decreased exponentially when using more qubits. That means even large qubit circuits can be made resilient to error by adding a modest number of extra qubits. Said Groenland, "That is a great perspective, because to keep a quantum computer working for hours, the error frequency must decrease from once per microseconds to a few per day, or even per week."  ... ' 

Personalized Cancer Treatment

Is this the future?   

Personalizing cancer treatment with quantum computing

Press Release / August 10, 2021

As a partner of the Fraunhofer Competence Network Quantum Computing, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) is planning to use the quantum computer in Ehningen, Baden-Württemberg, to develop individually effective cancer treatment methods in the future.

Cancer patients’ medical records can often comprise up to 100 terabytes of individual — and usually very heterogeneous — data, including blood and tumor values, personal indicators, sequencing and treatment data, and much more besides. Up to now, it has been virtually impossible to use this wealth of information efficiently due to a lack of appropriate processing mechanisms. As a result, the possibility of using promising personalized treatment approaches remains purely theoretical for many cancers, and patients are still receiving standard treatments.

Now, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg is planning to use quantum computing to drive forward research in this area: “We want to explore how we can systematically process and use this heterogeneous data with the aid of a quantum computer, so that we can identify new and more targeted options for patients who do not respond so well to immunotherapies. Ultimately, we are asking which patient can benefit from which treatment and how,” says Dr. Niels Halama, Head of Department of Translational Immunotherapy at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Senior Physician at the German National Center for Tumor Diseases. Linked to this topic are some applied research questions: Which signaling cascades and biological processes play a role in the disease? How can we use these to select a treatment on an individual basis? What kinds of problems actually lend themselves to being solved by quantum computers?

From a simulator to a real quantum computer

The DKFZ team has already worked out the mathematical principles and carried out some initial work using other globally available systems and simulators. According to Halama, however, there is a huge difference between working on a simulator with perfect qubits and working on a real quantum computer such as IBM Q System One in Ehningen. It is only with the latter that you can see how stable things are at a certain level of complexity, where the pitfalls are and what is possible.  ... ' 

Amazon Surpasses Wal-Mart Sales

 Continued online retailer expansion.

Amazon has surpassed Walmart as the world's top retail seller outside China; FactSet says people spent $610B+ on Amazon in the 12 months ending in June (New York Times)

New York Times:

Amazon has surpassed Walmart as the world's top retail seller outside China; FactSet says people spent $610B+ on Amazon in the 12 months ending in June  —  Proof that the online future has arrived: The biggest e-commerce company outside China has unseated the biggest brick-and-mortar seller.  .. '