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Sunday, October 31, 2021

McKinsey Talks Inflation

Be ready for it.

Winning the race with inflation: The pricing opportunity for industrial companies

As inflation rises, industrial companies must take a new look at the pricing opportunity.

Many industrial companies face a complex new array of challenges today, including a global pandemic that has driven radical shifts in demand, buying patterns, cost to serve, and perceived value across sectors and value chains, which in turn have led to sharp spikes in commodity prices. Inflation in the cost of raw materials is forcing industrial companies to take swift action on pricing. The price increases required to offset inflation and maintain constant gross margin could greatly exceed the 2- to 3-percent hikes many industrial companies make at year-end. In our discussions with leaders across industries, many have voiced concern about this issue (see sidebar, “The response to inflation”). .... ' 

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

Making Decision Makers Use and Understand the Value of Models

Many times had to consider how to get key decision makers to use the results of analytical models.  This article touches on that in some ways. Like to consider further how this could be done consistently. 

Making machine learning more useful to high-stakes decision makers

A visual analytics tool helps child welfare specialists understand machine learning predictions that can assist them in screening cases.

Adam Zewe | MIT News Office

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in seven children in the United States experienced abuse or neglect in the past year. Child protective services agencies around the nation receive a high number of reports each year (about 4.4 million in 2019) of alleged neglect or abuse. With so many cases, some agencies are implementing machine learning models to help child welfare specialists screen cases and determine which to recommend for further investigation.

But these models don’t do any good if the humans they are intended to help don’t understand or trust their outputs.

Researchers at MIT and elsewhere launched a research project to identify and tackle machine learning usability challenges in child welfare screening. In collaboration with a child welfare department in Colorado, the researchers studied how call screeners assess cases, with and without the help of machine learning predictions. Based on feedback from the call screeners, they designed a visual analytics tool that uses bar graphs to show how specific factors of a case contribute to the predicted risk that a child will be removed from their home within two years.... ' 

What are Time Crystals?

In the NextWeb:  Technical view. physics 

Google’s ‘time crystals’ could be the greatest scientific achievement of our lifetimes

Eureka! A research team featuring dozens of scientists working in partnership with Google‘s quantum computing labs may have created the world’s first time crystal inside a quantum computer.

This is the kind of news  that makes me want to jump up and do a happy dance.

These scientists may have produced an entirely new phase of matter. I’m going to do my best to explain what that means and why I personally believe this is the most important scientific breakthrough in our lifetimes.

However, for the sake of clarity, there’s two points I need to make first:

Time crystals are a wickedly difficult concept to understand and even harder to explain.

The Google team might have created time crystals. This is pre-print research and has yet to receive full peer-review. Until the rest of the scientific community has time to review and replicate the work, we can’t say for sure it’s legitimate.

What’s a time crystal? In colloquial terms, it’s a big screw you to Sir Isaac Newton. Time crystals are a new phase of matter. For the sake of simplicity, let’s imagine a cube of ice. When you put a cube of ice in glass of water, you’re introducing two separate entities (the ice cube and the liquid water) to each other at two different temperatures.

Everyone knows that the water will get colder (that’s why we put the ice in there) and, over time, the ice will get warmer and turn into water. Eventually you’ll just have a glass of room-temperature water.

We call this process “thermal equilibrium.”

Most people are familiar with Newton’s first law of motion, it’s the one that says “an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion.”

An important side-effect of this law of physics is that it means a perpetual motion machine is classically impossible.

According to classical physics, the universe is always moving towards entropy. In other words: if we isolate an ice cube and a room-temperature glass of water from all other external forces, the water will always melt the ice cube.

The entropy (the movement towards change) of any system will always remain the same if there are no processes, and it will always increase if there are processes.  Since our universe has stars exploding, black holes sucking, and people lighting things on fire – chemical processes – entropy is always increasing.   Except when it comes to time crystals. Time crystals don’t give a damn what Newton or anyone else thinks. They’re lawbreakers and heart takers. They can, theoretically, maintain entropy even when they’re used in a process.  ...  ' 

Proofs as Games

Quite interesting, but technical,  a unique view of proofs.  Below the intro.

Technical Perspective: On Proofs, Entanglement, and Games

By Dorit Aharonov, Michael Chapman

Communications of the ACM, November 2021, Vol. 64 No. 11, Page 130  10.1145/3485596

What is a proof? Philosophers and mathematicians have pondered this question for centuries. Theoretical computer science offers a rigorous handle on this deep question. One can think of a proof as a two-player game: an all-powerful though un-trusted prover who provides a proof of the statement, and a computationally weak verifier who needs only to verify it. In fact, NP problems can be presented exactly in this verifier-prover language. Viewing proofs as games turned out to be remarkably fruitful.

 For example, interactive proofs were invented, resembling Socratic dialogues; these are games in which the prover and verifier exchange (possibly randomized) messages. And, why just one prover? In multi-prover interactive proofs (MIP) several non-communicating provers are involved. This gave birth to beautiful concepts such as zero knowledge and probabilistically checkable proofs (PCPs) with immense impact not only theoretically but also in practice, for example, in digital currency.

The following paper studies quantum interactive proofs. Here the provers are allowed to share an entangled quantum state; this resembles sharing a random bit string, except quantum states have those funny, stronger-than-classical correlations; a prototypical example is the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) state, which was said by Einstein to allow "spooky action at a distance." Can quantum correlations be used to prove stronger statements?   ... ' 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Autonomous Firefighting Robots

Recall a project about firefighting process I consulted on a number of yrs ago.  It was to early to suggest general automation then, but we had indications this was being looked at. 

Firefighting Robots Go Autonomous, By Scientific American, October 29, 2021  in CACM

The tradition-bound firefighting profession is poised for an influx of eccentric assistants. They range from contraptions the size of a toy wagon to two-ton beasts that resemble military tanks and can blast out 2,500 gallons of water per minute. Some move on rubber tires, some on steel tracks, and some fly. All are robots.

The high-tech devices can enter burning buildings too hot for human survival. They can penetrate smoke too toxic for human lungs. They are often faster, stronger, and more agile than the firefighters they work with. Most of the machines currently in use are remote-controlled, but researchers are now developing "intelligent" firefighting robots that can make decisions autonomously.

Researchers are working to change institutional reluctance to invest in devices tailored to meet varying niche needs.

From Scientific American Full Article

Reading Barely Open Books

 When I first saw this I thought it was a cautionary piece about security, but no, is aimed at reading fragile books without opening them fully.   I recall our visit to a company that was scanning books for Googles' Read program.  Could have been useful there.   Been a while, have to check the status of that project.

Imaging System Captures Text From Barely Open Books, By University of Rochester, October 27, 2021

A new imaging methodology developed by the University of Rochester's Gregory Heyworth and colleagues can capture text from extremely fragile books. The technique can generate digital images of manuscripts and rare, frail tomes without opening them more than 30 degrees.

Heyworth and researchers in Rochester's text-retrieval Lazarus Project initiative built a system with a view camera featuring a twistable section, which photographs a book held open by a protective cradle.

Software corrects the resulting image's distortion, enabling a page to be read as if the book were lying flat. The system also captures multiple wavelengths of light, picking up features invisible to the eye while correcting the aged pages' coloration.

From University of Rochester

View Full Article

Entangled Photon Breakthrough

 An intriguing link between such extent of entanglement and their use for specific kinds of problems. 

Researchers set 'ultrabroadband' record with entangled photons  by University of Rochester

Quantum entanglement—or what Albert Einstein once referred to as "spooky action at a distance"— occurs when two quantum particles are connected to each other, even when millions of miles apart. Any observation of one particle affects the other as if they were communicating with each other. When this entanglement involves photons, interesting possibilities emerge, including entangling the photons' frequencies, the bandwidth of which can be controlled.

Researchers at the University of Rochester have taken advantage of this phenomenon to generate an incredibly large bandwidth by using a thin-film nanophotonic device they describe in Physical Review Letters.

The breakthrough could lead to:

Enhanced sensitivity and resolution for experiments in metrology and sensing, including spectroscopy, nonlinear microscopy, and quantum optical coherence tomography

Higher dimensional encoding of information in quantum networks for information processing and communications

"This work represents a major leap forward in producing ultrabroadband quantum entanglement on a nanophotonic chip," says Qiang Lin, professor of electrical and computer engineering. "And it demonstrates the power of nanotechnology for developing future quantum devices for communication, computing, and sensing," ... '   

Usman A. Javid et al, Ultrabroadband Entangled Photons on a Nanophotonic Chip, Physical Review Letters (2021). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.127.183601   Journal information: Physical Review Letters 

(More technical information at the link) 

Advancing Wearable Bandages

 Seen this idea a number of times over a number of years.   Clearly some thought about doing this innovation methodically.  

Smart Bandage Can Monitor Chronic Wounds

News-Medical Life Sciences, Emily Henderson, October 21, 2021

A wearable sensor developed by scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore General Hospital can assess and remotely monitor chronic wounds wirelessly and in real time. The VeCare wound assessment platform, which includes an immunosensing bandage, an electronic processor, and a mobile application, can read temperature, pH, bacteria type, and inflammatory factors within 15 minutes. The bandage can rapidly evaluate wound microenvironment, inflammation, and infection state by detecting multiple biomarkers from wound fluid via an electrochemical system. An attached microfluidic collector boosts wound fluid delivery to the sensor by up to 180%, and the processor sends data to the app for real-time wound assessment and analysis onsite.  ... ' 

Friday, October 29, 2021

Gitai Autonomous Robot Demoed in ISS

The ISS can be a good testing space because of limited and prescribed spaces.

Gitai Successfully Demos Autonomous Robot Inside the International Space Station

TechCrunch, Aria Alamalhodaei

October 27, 2021

Startup Gitai Japan successfully demonstrated its autonomous robotic arm inside the International Space Station by using it to operate cables and switches and assemble structures and panels. The demonstration raised what the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) calls the “technology readiness level” (TRL) of the Gitai robot to TRL 7; hitting all nine TRLs is critical for commercialization of the technology. NASA said, “The success of this investigation proves that the Gitai robot can be a solution for space agencies and commercial space companies looking for versatile, dexterous, relatively safe (less exposure to life threatening risks for humans) and inexpensive labor force."

Autonomous Robot Water Taxies in Amsterdam

More autonomous Vehicles

Robot Taxi Boats Take to the Water in Amsterdam

ZDNet, Charlie Osborne, October 27, 2021

An autonomous boat taxi created by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions in The Netherlands is set for deployment in the canals of Amsterdam. The Roboat taxi is guided by a combination of LiDAR scans, digital map creation, object and obstacle detection, sensors, and cameras. Its engine’s propellers are ordered to follow specific paths and goal points based on GPS and continual scanning of the boat's environment. An object detection system is under constant review so when the system's algorithm flags something as "unknown," operators manually identify it. Additionally, the boat's cameras are able to scan QR codes to guide it to a docking station.  ... '

On the Retail Physical Digital Divide

Collaborating between people and digital AI tech will continue to evolve.  And specific kinds of tech, like robotics and voice control.   What will this look like in retail?   

Are store associates the key to bridging retail’s physical/digital divide?  by Patricia Vekich Waldron  in Retailwire.

I recently had the opportunity to discuss what it takes to deliver superior omnichannel experiences for consumers in the current retailing environment with Rowan Luckie, global digital director, Molton Brown, and Katie Hunt, cofounder, Showfields.

For those not familiar, Molton Brown is a 50-year-old legacy brand selling luxury beauty products directly to consumers. Showfields bills its highly curated concept as  “the most interesting store in the world.” Each brand is high-touch and sensory-driven, making both highly dependent on providing in-person experiences to connect with customers in their unique ways.

Both organizations found themselves, like others, having to pivot in the ways they organize, measure and innovate since the pandemic hit last year. Many new initiatives at the two companies were driven, performed or informed by store associates.

The two companies realized that they did not have the store-level customer-facing expertise in IT or corporate functions and recruited store associates to become customer experience (CX) advisors, live-streamers, social responders, storytellers, content creators and user experience (UX) testers. Associates also managed customer service requests, given the huge increase in digital and call center traffic.

Molton Brown developed a creative digital fragrance finder to engage with customers digitally who typically have one-to-one consultations and trials with store associates. Digitizing a luxury sensory experience isn’t easy, but I found the retailer’s finder to be beautiful, pleasurable and accurate.

Ms. Luckie indicated that Molton Brown is creating new luxury delivery and fulfillment experiences, rolling out new products and continuing to champion beauty that’s kinder to the environment.

Showfields created a Magic Wand App to keep store associates safe when stores reopened. It began using near field communication (NFC) tags to allow shoppers to tap phones on hidden messages throughout the store to learn about brands, products and artists as well as to shop and contactlessly checkout. Showfields is developing a real Wand powered with enhanced features that will let customers “wave” it to learn, engage, shop and save their preferences.

Both executives say the pandemic permanently changed how they look at content, return on investment, marketing plans and funnel. Volume, store traffic levels and clicks are less important than retention, frequency, engagement level and interaction quality.   .... 

Microsoft to Help Train Cybersecurity Personnel.

 Good to see many more people being involved in the strengthening of our technical security.  Just having more people understand the challenge has value.   Congrats to Microsoft.

Microsoft to Work with Community Colleges to Fill 250,000 Cyber Jobs

By Reuters  October 29, 2021  in CACM

Microsoft Corp  plans to work with community colleges across the United States to fill 250,000 cybersecurity jobs over the next four years.

Microsoft said it will provide scholarships or assistance to about 25,000 students and will provide training for new and existing teachers at 150 community colleges across the country. The company also said that it will provide curriculum materials for free to all community colleges, as well as four-year schools, in the country.

Microsoft President Brad Smith said many Microsoft customers have suffered hacks that could have been prevented or mitigated with better practices but lack the cybersecurity personnel to do so. "We clearly need to move quickly to train people," Smith said. ... 

From Reuters  full article

Thursday, October 28, 2021

McD Drive-Through Efficiency with Voice Recognition

Have been following the use of drive-through and related efficient consumer interactions in the Pandemic.

IBM, McDonald's to serve up automated drive-thru lanes with strategic partnership

Under the agreement, IBM will acquire McD Tech Labs, which has been working to develop, test and deploy an automated ordering system using artificial intelligence-enabled voice recognition .... in Fox Business  .. '

Restaurants Ready for Robotics

 Seen lots of evidence for this.   Are robotics ready to take up the slack?  Have yet to see a robot in action at a restaurant.  Inevitable to take up significant work, but how much and when?

 Desperate for Workers, Restaurants Turn to Robots

The New York Times, Janet Morrisey,  October 20, 2021

Restaurant and hotel owners are using robots to compensate for the pandemic-fueled worker shortage. Miso Robotics' Mike Bell said his company is seeing 150 inquiries weekly for its Flippy robot, which can fry fast food using artificial intelligence (AI), sensors, computer vision, and robotic arms; he said such robots improve cooking accuracy and consistency, reducing errors that could lead to foodborne illness. Bear Robotics' Servi robot employs cameras and laser sensors to carry plates of food from the kitchen to tables. Knightscope's robots patrol outdoor or indoor areas using AI, video, and two-way audio, and also feature thermal imaging and license plate recognition capabilities. Industry experts think labor shortages have ramped up robots' acceptance in the workplace. ... ' 

Ai Modeling Brain Processing Language

Notable is the statement that AI is not attempting to directly mimic the brain.  But the question is always how closely should we use the brain as a working model?   At the link includes much more detail and an explanatory video.

AI Sheds Light on How the Brain Processes Language

MIT News, Anne Trafton, October 25, 2021

Research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) neuroscientists suggests the latest predictive language models' underlying mechanism functions similarly to the human brain's language-processing centers. MIT's Nancy Kanwisher said, "The better the model is at predicting the next word, the more closely it fits the human brain." Computer models that perform well on other language tasks do not exhibit this resemblance, implying the brain may drive language processing using next-word prediction. Stanford University's Daniel Yamins said, "Since the AI [artificial intelligence] network didn't seek to mimic the brain directly—but does end up looking brain-like—this suggests that, in a sense, a kind of convergent evolution has occurred between AI and nature."  ... ' 

Committed Innovation

Good thought about innovation, intro below.

The Committed Innovator: A conversation with Loonshots author Safi Bahcall

Why do some ideas fly and others fail, By Erik Roth    inMcKinsey

The Committed Innovator 

The entrepreneur and innovation adviser explains how to make bold innovations flourish.

 Article (7 pages)

Companies looking to bring breakthrough innovations to life need the right organizational structures and incentives in place. In his book, Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries (St. Martin’s Press, March 2019), Safi Bahcall, a former biotech CEO who now helps organizations innovate, explains what that requires. In this episode of the Inside the Strategy Room podcast, he talks with Erik Roth, leader of McKinsey’s innovation work globally, about why some great ideas changed the world and others failed to take off. This is an edited transcript of the discussion, which is the latest in our Committed Innovator series of conversations with innovation experts around the world. For more conversations on the strategy issues that matter, subscribe to the series on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Podcast transcript

Erik Roth: You used to run a biotech company. Why did you decide to write Loonshots when you did?

Safi Bahcall: Not long after I started the biotech firm, my father was diagnosed with a rare type of leukemia. We were a cancer-focused company and I figured I could do something to help him. Unfortunately, nothing I could do made a difference and he died not long after. Over the years, as the company grew and went public, I spent a lot of time with R&D companies of all sizes and kept noticing how promising ideas, including ones that could have helped my father, remained trapped inside these organizations’ basements. That stayed with me.  ... ' 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

IOS Shortcuts For Analytics Management?

Examining the possible use of IOS Shortcuts for the management of data, analytical and ML solutions to be tested on an Iphone.  My specialty. See:  https://support.apple.com/guide/shortcuts/welcome/ios   My first involvement in using shortcuts.  Have any ideas, want to participate?   Let me know.

There is no AI without Data

Right, we agree, there is even much data in our brain generated by contextual experience, no?   Read it or learn it.  But always consider the context.     Reading. 

A look at an upcoming ACM article. with video description.  Below the intro. 

Christoph Gröger discusses "There Is No AI Without Data," a Contributed Article in the November 2021 CACM (cacm.acm.org/magazines/2021/11/256400)

There Is No AI Without Data,  By Christoph Gröger

Communications of the ACM, November 2021, Vol. 64 No. 11, Pages 98-108  10.1145/3448247


Artificial intelligence (AI) has evolved from hype to reality over the past few years. Algorithmic advances in machine learning and deep learning, significant increases in computing power and storage, and huge amounts of data generated by digital transformation efforts make AI a game-changer across all industries.8 AI has the potential to radically improve business processes with, for instance, real-time quality prediction in manufacturing, and to enable new business models, such as connected car services and self-optimizing machines. Traditional industries, such as manufacturing, machine building, and automotive, are facing a fundamental change: from the production of physical goods to the delivery of AI-enhanced processes and services as part of Industry 4.0.25 This paper focuses on AI for industrial enterprises with a special emphasis on machine learning and data mining.  ... '   (much more) 

Nobelium Cyberattacks Clouds

 Note below, attacks on cloud services.  Microsoft comments. 

Latest Russian Cyberattack Targeting Hundreds of U.S. Networks

Reuters, By Susan Heavey. October 25, 2021 

Microsoft warns the Russia-based agency Nobelium has targeted hundreds of U.S. companies and organizations, specifically "resellers and other technology service providers" of cloud services, in its latest cyberattack. The software giant, which alerted 609 customers between July 1 and Oct. 19 that they had been targeted, informed The New York Times that only a small percentage of the latest attacks succeeded. U.S. officials verified the operation was underway, with one anonymous official calling it "unsophisticated, run-of-the mill operations that could have been prevented if the cloud service providers had implemented baseline cybersecurity practices." Microsoft blogged that the latest attack again confirms Russia's ambition "to gain long-term, systematic access to a variety of points in the technology supply chain and establish a mechanism for surveilling—now or in the future—targets of interest to the Russian government." ... ' 

Qualcomm Invests in Quantum Machines

 More on this move,  has to be serious.

Qualcomm Ventures Invests in Quantum Machines to Power the Future of Quantum Computing

TEL AVIV, Israel, Oct. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Quantum Machines, creator of the first universal quantum computing cloud infrastructure, today announced an investment from Qualcomm Ventures LLC. The investment in Quantum Machines is the first by Qualcomm Ventures in the Quantum Computing space and is an extension of the company's Series B round announced earlier this year. Quantum computing will unleash a computational revolution, producing computers far more advanced and powerful than any  ... ' 

600 KM Quantum Encryption Transmission

Recently studied a company doing something similar, over considerably less distance.  Will this continue to expand?   Implications? 

Quantum-Encrypted Information Transmitted Over Fiber More Than 600 Km Long   By Optica  October 25, 2021  in CACM

Researchers at the University of Leeds and Toshiba Europe in the U.K. established secure quantum communication over 605 kilometers (375 miles) of fiber through a new signal stabilization method.

The researchers used the twin-field quantum key distribution protocol, which enables two geographically separated users to establish a common secret bit-string by sharing photons, which are usually transmitted over an optical fiber.

The stabilization technique utilizes two optical reference signals at different wavelengths to minimize phase fluctuations over long distances.

The researchers demonstrated that this method could support repeater-like performance while accommodating losses outside the traditional limit of 100 decibels over a 605-kilometer-long quantum channel.

Toshiba Europe's Andrew Shields said, "This will allow us to build national- and continental-scale fiber networks connecting major metropolitan areas."

From Optica    View Full Article  

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

NATO Releases first ever Strategy for AI

Was a bit surprised at this, will review.   Mentioned are related ethics.   Cooperative approaches.   Indicates a level of seriousness.  Have worked with some NATO connects. 

Last week, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Defense Ministers agreed to NATO's first-ever strategy for artificial intelligence (AI).

A summary of the strategy is available here.

The strategy outlines how AI can be applied to defence and security in a protected and ethical way. As such, it sets standards of responsible use of AI technologies, in accordance with international law and NATO's values. It also addresses the threats posed by the use of AI by adversaries and how to establish trusted cooperation with the innovation community on AI.

From NATO  full article.

Risk Assessment Algorithms Can Unfairly Impact Court Decisions

 An aspect hat we examined for potential changes in court standings on regulations.  Well worth following. 

Risk Assessment Algorithms Can Unfairly Impact Court Decisions   By Government Technology,   September 29, 2021  in CACM

A study by the University of Michigan's Ben Green and Harvard University's Yiling Chen suggests pretrial risk assessment algorithms increase the likelihood that judges will change their priorities in making pretrial decisions.

The algorithms use data on previous defendants' outcomes to make forecasts on the given arrestee, presenting them either as a numerical score, or designating them high-, medium-, or low-risk for failure to appear in court, or being arrested again.

The researchers found viewing the algorithms' predictions caused participants to consider factors differently and to more highly prioritize the risk of defendants' failure to appear or getting re-arrested, with the result of more inequitable sentencing (since Blacks were more likely to be deemed higher-risk defendants, and to receive harsher decisions than Whites).

From Government Technology

View Full Article 

... Pretrial risk assessment algorithms are intended to help judges make more informed decisions. Researchers have raised concerns not only about the fairness and accuracy of the tools themselves, but also their influence on judges thinking.  ... 

Creating and Detecting Manipulated Images

  Creating and human detection of manipulated images.   Including an excellent explanatory video. Expect this to become increasingly common.   Considerable detail,  non technical to begin with, tech details later.  

Key Insights:

- The speed at which misinformation can be produced is faster than it has ever been. By combining instance segmentation with image inpainting, we present an Al model that can automatically and plausibly disappear objects such as people, cars, and dogs from images.

- Exposure to manipulated content can prepare people to detect future manipulations. After seeing examples of manipulated images produced by the target object removal architecture, people learn to more accurately discern between manipulated and original Images. Participant performance improves more after being exposed to subtle manipulations than blatant ones.

Human Detection of Machine-Manipulated Media  By Matthew Groh, Ziv Epstein, Nick Obradovich, Manuel Cebrian, Iyad Rahwan

Communications of the ACM, October 2021, Vol. 64 No. 10, Pages 40-47  10.1145/3445972

The recent emergence of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered media manipulations has widespread societal implications for journalism and democracy,7 national security,1 and art.8,14 AI models have the potential to scale misinformation to unprecedented levels by creating various forms of synthetic media.21 For example, AI systems can synthesize realistic video portraits of an individual with full control of facial expressions, including eye and lip movement;11,18,34,35,36 clone a speaker's voice with a few training samples and generate new natural-sounding audio of something the speaker never said;2 synthesize visually indicated sound effects;28 generate high-quality, relevant text based on an initial prompt;31 produce photorealistic images of a variety of objects from text inputs;5,17,27 and generate photorealistic videos of people expressing emotions from only a single image.3,40 The technologies for producing machine-generated, fake media online may outpace the ability to manually detect and respond to such media. ... ' 

See also Deep Angel.  A means for easily demonstrating image manipulation.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Microsoft Partners with Wolfram for Data

Just noted this, a good direction.  Can see this as useful, especially in filling analyses with meta or test data.  Which we often integrated.    I just also started to use Wolfram Alpha data as part of the Siri assistant.

Wolfram Data Intelligence:    from Wolfram.com

New in Microsoft

Microsoft has partnered with Wolfram to intelligently add meaning to your data. Identify and auto-fill thousands of data points from hundreds of data types directly in Microsoft Excel. Expertly curated data provides instant interactivity and immediate answers.

100+ Integrated Data Types Available

(Click a data type to find out more)  ..... 

AI and Robotics for Eldercare

We worked with researchers in Japan on related efforts.

Collaborators Launch AI-Robotics Initiative to Aid Older Adults in Daily Care  By University of Massachusetts Lowell

University of Massachusetts Lowell researchers are among the scientists behind a new initiative to develop robotics and artificial-intelligence systems designed to improve the quality of life for senior citizens.

Established through a $20 million grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the new NSF AI-CARING (AI Institute for Collaborative Assistance and Responsive Intervention for Networked Groups) will develop artificial-intelligence systems that work with caretakers and older adults to help seniors manage their medication schedules, prepare their meals safely, and perform other activities of daily living.

Once developed, the new robotics and AI systems will be tested by seniors and families identified by the AI-CARING team. 

UMass Lowell's Distinguished University Prof. Holly Yanco is co-leading AI-CARING with Sonia Chernova, associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Other partners in the effort include Carnegie Mellon University, Oregon State University, and Oregon Health & Science University, with Amazon and Google as industry sponsors.

From University of Massachusetts Lowell

View Full Article   

Making Pseudo Coffee

 I did technical analysis work for one of the world's largest coffee companies.  So this was interesting.  But I disagree that the environmental issues here are paramount.   They are minor.  Coffee can be grown with considerable environmental consideration.   I have tasted pseudo coffees and they they are less than ideal.  Black tea is not coffee.  And consider the farmers, which we did.   

Scientists Are on a Quest to Create the Perfect Cup of Coffee—Without the Beans   By Vanessa Bates Ramirez - in the Singularity Hub

Ahh, coffee. Is there anything more delicious, more satisfying? It’s always there when you need it, be it first thing in the morning or for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. According to the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, global consumption of this vital brew is around 600 billion cups per year (I know—I would have guessed higher, too).

But as with many of the products we consume, there’s a cost beyond what we pay at the store. Producing coffee—like producing meat, or almonds, or corn, or pretty much anything—has an environmental cost, too.

It’s that cost that’s led innovative entrepreneurs to seek a more Earth-friendly way to produce everything from beef to milk to salmon. Now coffee is joining the club, with startups in the US and Europe experimenting with new ways to make crave-worthy coffee—sans any coffee beans.

One of these is Finland’s VTT Technical Research Centre. VTT uses a technique called cellular agriculture to grow its pseudo-coffee, filling bioreactors with cell cultures then adding nutrients that encourage growth. Heiko Rischer, VTT’s head of plant biotechnology, described one of the first cups brewed with his company’s product as tasting like something “in between a coffee and a black tea.”

If Finland seems like a surprising location for one of the first artificial coffees to be made—I personally would have guessed Italy, or maybe Spain—it makes sense when you put together a couple key factors. First, Nordic countries tend to be a few steps ahead of the rest of the world in terms of environmentalism ....'

From CIS: Center for Internet and Society, Stanford Law

Very good piece from Stanford Law on technology. Below intro and beyond.

From:  The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is a leader in the study of the law and policy around the Internet and other emerging technologies.


By Daphne Keller on August 23, 2021 at 7:01 am

Interoperability and distributed content moderation models have tremendous promise. They could temper major platforms’ power over public discourse, introducing both more economic competition and more diverse and pluralistic spaces for online speech. But these models -- which I will reductively refer to as “middleware,” following Francis Fukuyama’s coinage -- also raise a number of as-yet-unresolved problems. As I explained in this short piece, one of the hardest problems involves privacy: When a user opts in to a new service, can she give that service permission to process other people’s data and content? 

This post examines some possible technical solutions to protect privacy while enabling interoperability or distributed content moderation. It focuses in part on blockchain technologies, and draws on recent conversations with a number of seriously smart people about possible technical designs. My takeaway is that there is no magic bullet. We can’t have perfect privacy and optimize for platform interoperability or middleware. But blockchain technologies, and some other technical design approaches, can whittle away at the problem. The rest of this post examines ways to do that.   

Note: This post starts from a pretty high level of wonkiness, and then gets wonkier. If you’re new to the “middleware” topic, my short take on why it matters and why it’s hard are here; Cory Doctorow and I also had a great live discussion about it here. If you’re a blockchain maven and spot any mistakes, they are definitely mine and not the fault of the experts I talked to. 

This post doesn’t run down every possible permutation of the ideas it discusses, and it is un-wonkily reductive about at least three complicated things. (1) It uses the term “middleware” very loosely, as a way to lump together models including platform-to-platform interoperability, protocols not platforms, Magic APIs, and federated systems like Mastodon. (2) It elides differences between real blockchain technologies, describing a hypothetical a version (perhaps most similar to Project Liberty) optimized for Middleware. (3) It simplifies the kinds of user data and content used by social networks.  

OK, here we go.

What Blockchain Can Do

As a social media user, blockchain technologies could provide me with the following:

1.  An authenticatable identity that I control and can use to log in or validate my identity across multiple services. 

2.  A social graph linking my identity to other people’s similarly authenticated identities (meaning I control a “contact list” and decide when and how other people or services can access it). 

3.  For purposes of Middleware, a copy of every piece of content I post. This doesn’t have to be blockchain-linked -- it could just be stored on a physical device I control. But the content could be stored subject to my control as the blockchain-authenticated user, or in principle even stored on-chain (though then it couldn’t be deleted). To be useful for Middleware, this content would need to be kept in a format usable by any platform or Middleware provider. (This is quite hard to do, in practice). For each item of content, it could include a record of which service I shared it with and which contacts from my social graph could see it on that service.  

The Problem with Sharing Other People’s Data

Suppose three friends -- Ann, Balaji, and Carlos -- all have the set-up described above. Each has a blockchain-linked identity, a blockchain-linked social graph listing one another as contacts, and a controlled copy of all their posted content. They are currently friends on Facebook.  .... ' 

MFA is Phishable

Multi factor authentication (MFA) is seen as a strong means of security, but can be less so, here some reasons why.

Why Is the Majority of Our MFA So Phishable?

Published on October 20, 2021

By Roger Grimes in Linkedin,   Data-Driven Defense Evangelist at KnowBe4

The huge push to multifactor authentication (MFA) is ostensibly to help people avoid getting so easily phished. But are we making the same mistake with MFA and making too much of it too easily phishable? Will we be pushing our organizations and end-users to MFA only to repeat many of the same mistakes? The US government is worried about it. You should be worried as well.

The U.S. government has been pushing people to avoid SMS- and voice call-based multifactor authentication (MFA) for years, but their most recent warning is to avoid any MFA that is overly susceptible to phishing. That is only commonsense (since most data breaches involve social engineering), but what MFA types do they mean and what does that mean for you? Read on.   ... '

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Watch Who You Talk to

More details about the approach at the link

Twitter accounts linked to cyberattacks against security researchers suspended

North Korean hackers are luring professionals with "zero-day vulnerability hype."   By Charlie Osborne for Zero Day | October 19, 2021 | Topic: Security

Twitter has suspended accounts belonging to a North Korean hacking group targeting security researchers. 

The social media accounts, @lagal1990 and @shiftrows13, were suspended this month after "posing as security researchers," according to Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG) analyst Adam Weidermann, who added that the profiles "leaned on the hype of 0-days to gain followers and build credibility." ... ' 

Is AI Re-Inventing Computers?

Very interesting piece.  Anything can become a computer?

Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.

By Will Douglas Heaven,  October 22, 2021  in TechnologyReview

Fall 2021: the season of pumpkins, pecan pies, and peachy new phones. Every year, right on cue, Apple, Samsung, Google, and others drop their latest releases. These fixtures in the consumer tech calendar no longer inspire the surprise and wonder of those heady early days. But behind all the marketing glitz, there’s something remarkable going on. 

Google’s latest offering, the Pixel 6, is the first phone to have a separate chip dedicated to AI that sits alongside its standard processor. And the chip that runs the iPhone has for the last couple of years contained what Apple calls a “neural engine,” also dedicated to AI. Both chips are better suited to the types of computations involved in training and running machine-learning models on our devices, such as the AI that powers your camera. Almost without our noticing, AI has become part of our day-to-day lives. And it’s changing how we think about computing.

What does that mean? Well, computers haven’t changed much in 40 or 50 years. They’re smaller and faster, but they’re still boxes with processors that run instructions from humans. AI changes that on at least three fronts: how computers are made, how they’re programmed, and how they’re used. Ultimately, it will change what they are for. 

“The core of computing is changing from number-crunching to decision-­making,” says Pradeep Dubey, director of the parallel computing lab at Intel. Or, as MIT CSAIL director Daniela Rus puts it, AI is freeing computers from their boxes. 

More haste, less speed

The first change concerns how computers—and the chips that control them—are made. Traditional computing gains came as machines got faster at carrying out one calculation after another. For decades the world benefited from chip speed-ups that came with metronomic regularity as chipmakers kept up with Moore’s Law. 

But the deep-learning models that make current AI applications work require a different approach: they need vast numbers of less precise calculations to be carried out all at the same time. That means a new type of chip is required: one that can move data around as quickly as possible, making sure it’s available when and where it’s needed. When deep learning exploded onto the scene a decade or so ago, there were already specialty computer chips available that were pretty good at this: graphics processing units, or GPUs, which were designed to display an entire screenful of pixels dozens of times a second. 

Anything can become a computer. Indeed, most household objects, from toothbrushes to light switches to doorbells, already come in a smart version.   ... ' 

Microsoft: Orbit Database of Objects

Microsoft Announces a teachable database of objects.

Announcing the ORBIT dataset: Advancing real-world few-shot learning using teachable object recognition

Published October 19, 2021

By Daniela Massiceti , Senior Researcher  Cecily Morrison , Principal Research Manager  Katja Hofmann , Senior Principal Researcher  Ed Cutrell , Sr. Principal Research Manager

Object recognition systems have made spectacular advances in recent years, but they rely on training datasets with thousands of high-quality, labelled examples per object category. Learning new objects from only a few examples could open the door to many new applications. For example, robotics manufacturing requires a system to quickly learn new parts, while assistive technologies need to be adapted to the unique needs and abilities of every individual.

Few-shot learning aims to reduce these demands by training models that can recognize completely novel objects from only a few examples, say 1 to 10. In particular, meta-learning algorithms—which ‘learn to learn’ using episodic training—are a promising approach to significantly reduce the number of training examples needed to train a model. However, most research in few-shot learning has been driven by benchmark datasets that lack the high variation that applications face when deployed in the real world. 

In partnership with City, University of London, we introduce the ORBIT dataset and few-shot benchmark for learning new objects from only a few, high-variation examples to close this gap. The dataset and benchmark set a new standard for evaluating machine learning models in few-shot, high-variation learning scenarios, which will help to train models for higher performance in real-world scenarios. This work is done in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary team, including Simone Stumpf, Lida Theodorou, and Matthew Tobias Harris from City, University of London and Luisa Zintgraf from University of Oxford. The work was funded by Microsoft AI for Accessibility. You can read more about the ORBIT research project and its goal to make AI more inclusive of people with disabilities in this AI Blog post.

ORBIT: A Real-World Few-Shot Dataset for Teachable Object Recognition 

You can learn more about the work in our research papers: “ORBIT: A Real-World Few-Shot Dataset for Teachable Object Recognition,” published at the International Conference of Computer Vision (ICCV 2021), and “Disability-first Dataset Creation: Lessons from Constructing a Dataset for Teachable Object Recognition with Blind and Low Vision Data Collectors,” published at the 23rd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS 2021).

You’re also invited to join Senior Researcher Daniela Massiceti for a talk about the ORBIT benchmark dataset and harnessing few-shot learning for teachable AI at the first Microsoft Research Summit. Massiceti will be presenting “Bucket of me: Using few-shot learning to realize teachable AI systems” as part of the Responsible AI track on October 19. To view the presentation on demand, register at the Research Summit event page.

The ORBIT benchmark dataset contains 3,822 videos of 486 objects recorded by 77 people who are blind or low vision using their mobile phones—a total of 2,687,934 frames. Code for loading the dataset, computing benchmark metrics, and running baselines is available at the ORBIT dataset GitHub page.  https://github.com/microsoft/ORBIT-Dataset    ....'

Moscow Implements Metro Facial Recognition

Expect parts of the world without these 'fears' to quickly implement many kinds of such  recognition systems, for greater efficiency. 

Privacy Fears as Moscow Metro Rolls Out Facial Recognition Pay System   By The Guardian (U.K.), October 20, 2021

A man entering the turnstile of the Moscow metro, which uses the Face Pay facial recognition system.

The Moscow authorities expect up to 15% of metro passengers will use Face Pay regularly in the next three years. They said the system would quicken the flow of people, particularly at peak times.

Privacy activists warn the Moscow metro's just-launched cashless, cardless, and phoneless Face Pay facial recognition payment system constitutes a sinister move by Russia to monitor and control its people.

Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin said passengers must connect their photo, bank card, and metro card to Face Pay via the metro's mobile application, and city authorities said passengers' data will be "securely encrypted."

Stanislav Shakirov with digital rights activist group Roskomsvoboda said, "We are moving closer to authoritarian countries like China that have mastered facial technology. The Moscow metro is a government institution and all the data can end up in the hands of the security servies."

From The Guardian (U.K.)

View Full Article  

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Putting Living Cells on Chips

Linking biological responses to Computer Chips

Putting Living Cells on Chips

By University of Nebraska-Lincoln, October 21, 2021

University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Abhijeet Prasad, Distinguished Professor Ravi Saraf, and Aashish Subedi in Saraf's lab

Researchers Abhijeet Prasad (left), Distinguished Professor Ravi Saraf (center), and Aashish Subedi in Saraf's University of Nebraska-Lincoln lab.

A team led by University of Nebraska-Lincoln researcher Ravi Saraf is one step closer to developing a transistor chip that harnesses the biological responses of living organisms to drive current through the device. The team developed tiny networks of self-assembling necklaces made of gold particles. When connected, these networks serve as a conduit for current that can be regulated to form a transistor.

The networks' structural complexity makes the transistor about 1,000 times more responsive to external stimuli than today's advanced metal devices. The device has a gating gain of 103-fold at room temperature and the current is functionally identical to the Coulomb blockade effect observed at cryogenic temperatures.

Functionality at room temperature opens the door to putting living cells on the chip, and using their biological responses to propel current through the device.

The work is described in "Critical Behavior in Au Nanoparticle Arrays: Implications for All-Metal Field Effect Transistors with Ultra-High Gain at Room Temperature,"       published in the journal, ACS Applied Nano Materials 

Full article.

A Training Proof for Quantum AI

Technical finding regarding CNN and the ability to train.     Applicability to discovering new materials. 

Breakthrough Proof Clears Path for Quantum AI

Los Alamos National Laboratory News, October 15, 2021

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have devised a proof that convolutional neural networks can always be trained on quantum computers, avoiding the threat of "barren plateaus" in optimization problems. LANL's Marco Cerezo said while a barren plateau eliminates any possibility of quantum speedup or advantage, "We proved the absence of barren plateaus for a special type of quantum neural network. Our work provides trainability guarantees for this architecture, meaning that one can generically train its parameters." LANL's Patrick Coles said, "With this guarantee in hand, researchers will now be able to sift through quantum-computer data about quantum systems and use that information for studying material properties or discovering new materials, among other applications." ... ' 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Recent AI books are Described in CACM

Some good recent books brought to my attention, intro below.

AI Futures: Fact and Fantasy

Three books offer varied perspectives on the ascendancy of artificial intelligence.

Devdatt Dubhashi , Pages 30-31

"AlphaZero crushes chess!" scream the headlines as the AlphaZero algorithm developed by Google and DeepMind took just four hours of playing against itself (with no human help) to defeat the reigning World Computer Champion Stockfish by 28 wins to 0 in a 100-game match. Only four hours to recreate the chess knowledge of one and a half millennium of human creativity! This followed the announcement just weeks earlier that their program AlphaGoZero had, starting from scratch, with no human inputs at all, comprehensively beaten the previous version AlphaGo, which in turn had spectacularly beaten one of the world's top Go players, Lee Seedol, 4-1 in a match in Seoul, Korea, in March 2016.

Interest in AI has reached fever pitch in the popular imagination—its opportunities and its threats. The time is ripe for books on AI and what it holds for our future such as Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark, Android Dreams by Toby Walsh, and Artificial Intelligence by Melanie Mitchell.6,8,9 All three agree on the boundless possibilities of AI but there are also stark differences. ... ' 

Pentagon Predicting Events

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

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

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

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

From IEEE Spectrum

Thursday, October 21, 2021

MIT Media Lab RFusion Finds Hidden, Missing Things

A classic problem for mapping, decluttering the Smart Home

MIT Media Lab: RFusion

52.9K subscribers

This video presents a new robot from MIT called RFusion, which can find and retrieve hidden objects. The robot fuses RF (Radio Frequency) and vision-based perception in order to find items hidden under a pile, declutter, and pick them up. The technology has many applications across smart homes, warehousing, manufacturing, and logistics.

For more information, check out the following links:

* Website: RFusion.media.mit.edu

* Paper:  https://www.mit.edu/~fadel/papers/RFusion-paper.pdf

Regulators Want more Details of Payment Systems

To be expected, how can the details of this be used to improve security?

Regulators demand more info about tech payment systems  in TheVerge

Query orders sent out to Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Paypal, and Square

By Russell Brandom

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a series of information-gathering orders on the business practices of major digital payments systems. Orders were issued to Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, PayPal, and Square, the bureau said in an announcement on Thursday morning. Chinese pay systems operated by WeChat and AliPay will also be studied but are not subject to any CFBP orders.

Issued as part of the CFPB’s investigative authority, the orders are not an indication of specific wrongdoing, but they suggest the CFBP will be taking a more active role in regulating tech companies’ consumer products in the future. In particular, they are meant to root out any data collection or anti-competitive conduct that may have not yet come to light.

The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment. ... ' 

Did IBM Lose the Cloud?

Did IBM Lose the Cloud and was Emphasis on Watson to Blame?   Interacted with them during the early Watson days and there was quite an investment in that.  

How IBM lost the cloud  in Protocol

Insiders say that marketing missteps and duplicated development processes meant IBM Cloud was doomed from the start, and eight years after it attempted to launch its own public cloud the future of its effort is in dire straits.

The words stunned IBM's cloud executives in November 2013. Former CEO Ginni Rometty had just told them that Watson, IBM's dubious crown jewel, should run on the company's own Power chips inside SoftLayer, IBM's recently acquired cloud-computing division.

There was one big problem: SoftLayer, like all major cloud efforts at that point, only used x86 chips from Intel and AMD.

What came next can only be described as a scramble, according to sources who worked for IBM at the time. After throwing together a barely working demo for IBM's Pulse conference in February 2014, where Rometty publicly announced the news, executives quickly convened in Texas, home to SoftLayer. They realized fulfilling Rometty's pledge would be daunting: They would have to rewrite parts of the Watson code base for the cloud, and quickly find, and then configure, enough Power servers to run alongside the all-x86 SoftLayer environment.

So began IBM's experiments with cloud computing, imperiled from the start by a maniacal focus on selling Watson at the height of its public awareness and doting obedience to a customer base that still didn't trust the cloud.

IBM was once — and still is, for people whose main sources of information about technology are television ads during sporting events — an American innovation icon, a company that literally created what we now think of as information technology. Its fortunes have risen and fallen with broader trends in computing, but around the time of that meeting in late 2013, its business and technology reputation began a steady decline that it has yet to avert.  .... '

Retail Hyperautomation?

My friend Gib Basset authors this piece in Retailwire, including further discussion: 

Will ‘hyperautomation’ determine retailing success from this point forward?

by Gib Bassett in Retailwire

There is no doubt 2021 is shaping up to be memorable for retailers and consumers alike. It’s not the happy kind of memory either, with once-in-a-lifetime disruptions rippling through supply chains causing costly delays, shortages and capacity problems that highlight a lack of collaboration and visibility among stakeholders.

That’s a big nut to crack that will take both time and a hearty constitution to overcome, so what can be done now to stem the losses?

The success of functions including sales, operations, procurement and shipping depends on retailers’ ability to apply analytics at scale towards developing better insights and responses to consumer demands.

With stress at a fever pitch heading into the holidays, retailers are bolstering nascent last-mile, omnichannel capabilities such as buy online and pickup curbside or in-store, plus more timely delivery options like intra-day. All of these align with front-office, CRM-led investments focused on customer experience.

Some make the mistake of separately pursuing improvements in back-office supply chain functions, like demand planning, procurement, transportation and shipping. Consumers minimally expect that inventory presented online syncs with what’s available in-store. That’s table stakes.

Weaving everything — front to back — together with better automation, analytics and data offers a near-term path with long-term legs. The digital transformations that began last year will require further transformations as course correction becomes a matter of survival.

The term “hyperautomation” may sound fantastical, but its implications promise improvements to supply chains that will come to define successful retail in 2022 and beyond.

Gartner named hyperautomation, which blends machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI), as the top supply chain innovation of 2021.

“The key principle of hyperautomation is that everything that can be automated will be automated,” according to the report.  .... '

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Swarm Robotics

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

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

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

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

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

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

From University of Notre Dame News    View Full Article  

US Commerce Dept Bans Selling Hacking Tools to China, Russia

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

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

Today at 9:38 a.m. EDT

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

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

Qualcomm Smart Cities And Cepton

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robots Sewing

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

Why Robots Can't Sew Your T-Shirt

By Wired, September 28, 2021

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

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

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

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

From Wired

View Full Article  

IBM's Journey to AI Blog

IBM taking a fresh look at AI

IBM's Journey to AI Blog

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

As data gets cheaper, trust grows in value

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

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

Now the good news.

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

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

Invest in building trustworthy AI: How to get started

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

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

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Security of Pin Codes

 Disconcerting suggestion. 

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

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

By Bill Toulas

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

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

Lucy as a Robot Archaeologist

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

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

An artists concept of the Lucy spacecraft encountering a Trojan.

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

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

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

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

From The New York Times

View Full Article 

Small Data Also Crucial, With Tested Transfer Assumption

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

'Small Data' Is Also Crucial for Machine Learning

By Scientific American, October 19, 2021

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

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

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

From Scientific American

View Full Article

Quantum Data Link over Chinese Cities

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

Quantum Data Link Established Between 2 Distant Chinese Cities

By New Scientist

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

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

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

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

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

From New Scientist  ... ' 

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

AI Forecasting

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

New Post: Updates and Lessons from AI Forecasting

Updates and Lessons from AI Forecasting

by Jacob Steinhardt  From Berkely Bair

Cross-posted from Bounded Regret.

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


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

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

Robot Trains for Clogged Infrastructure

 Intriguing solution.

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

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

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

Monday, October 18, 2021

Facebook's Tools can Target a Single User

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

Researchers Show Facebook's Ad Tools Can Target Single Users

TechCrunch, Natasha Lomas, October 15, 2021

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

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Adaptive Queueing Systems

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Russian Foundation for Basic Research

View Full Article

More Smart Glasses

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

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


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

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

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

Better Detection of Earthquakes with Machine Learning

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

Researchers Create Earthquake System Model with Better Detection Capabilities  in CACM

University of Wyoming,  October 12, 2021

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

Full article

Robots Learning to Walk with an Obstacle Course

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

Virtual Obstacle Courses Help Real Robots Learn to Walk

Wired, Will Knight, October 8, 2021

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

A VR exploration of the Universe

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

Explore the Universe with VR

EPFL News (Switzerland)

Hillary Sanctuary, October 12, 2021

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

Saturday, October 16, 2021

MIT and QCRI Deep Learning Predicts Traffic Accidents

And forecasting generalizes to multiple cities. 

Deep Learning Helps Predict Traffic Crashes Before They Happen

MIT News, Rachel Gordon, October 12, 2021

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

Friday, October 15, 2021

Trustworthy AI Blog

IBM Writes on Trustworthy AI in a new Blog:

Financial services: Trustworthy AI’s promise and payoff

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

By Jennifer Clemente 

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

As data gets cheaper, trust grows in value

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

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

Now the good news.

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

Deepfake Voices Fool Human, Smart Assistants

A Concern.

AI-Generated Deepfake Voices Can Fool Humans, Smart Assistants

By New Scientist, October 14, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

From New Scientist full article

Nissan Intelligent Auto Plant

A more intelligent robotic automobile plant at Nissan. 

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

Associated Press, Yuri Kageyama  October 8, 2021

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