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Monday, January 31, 2022

Global Computing Community Divided?

In the ACM some very useful thoughts.   How is global effort usefully shared?

Is the Global Computing Community Irrevocably Divided?  By Andrew A. Chien

Communications of the ACM, January 2022, Vol. 65 No. 1, Page 5 10.1145/3502906

We have all seen powerful forces pulling the global computing community apart.a With computing's critical importance as both a commercial and military technology, the community cannot avoid this tension.

Three years of overt technological, trade, military and geopolitical competition between China and the U.S. have been marked with trade war, spying, state-sponsored technology theft,b criminal warrants, export bans, territorial ocean claims, and incendiary national leadership rhetoric. Atop these is the stark undermining of Hong Kong's basic law, and the violent suppression of its free press, political opposition, and peaceful democratic protests in Hong Kong. Scenes of the violent assault of HK Polytechnic University and suppression of all HK opposition press have extinguished any hope China might evolve to tolerate diverse political thought and multiparty politics.c In China, the people in their entirety are subordinate to the Communist Party and government.

To drive home its absolute supremacy, in 2021, the PRC government undertook the systematic emasculation of tech-entrepreneur heroes, leading tech companies (Tencent, Alibaba, Meituan), and recently forced upon them controlling investments.d The clear messages in social media and official Chinese government channels are "no quarter given to opposition" and "foreign ties are no longer assets, but now liabilities."

The situation is not one-sided; the U.S. government has taken actions that discourage collaboration with Chinese institutions and researchers.e Companies have been put on the entity list, blocking contact, and universities labeled as having military ties, limiting their students' study in the U.S. With increased reporting of U.S. researcher affiliations, collaboration, or contacts, there is growing doubt about what is proper and trepidation about collaboration.

Is the global computing community irrevocably divided?

Further signs of division include Yahoo! China's closing, and Microsoft's decision to close LinkedIn in China, a key international professional social network.f The latter is particularly discouraging given Microsoft's long history of engagement with China's tech community through with MSR Asia in Beijing, long a taproot of the Chinese tech community.

Now stark, the growing division is technological, economic (companies and markets), and geopolitical (surveillance, cyber-attacks, and military capability). Corporate and government communities are rapidly codifying division and controlled information sharing.

What is the academic and research community to do?

What are the implications for widespread, open technical information sharing? Open source that has driven rapid scientific and technological advance.

What are the implications for professors and students (graduate and undergraduate) in both China and the U.S. whose ties and loyalties straddle these worlds?

What are the implications for Chinese students who study at universities around the world? Following a road trod by Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, a growing majority return to a career and their family in China.g These international students will be critical in bridging the divide.

An increasing schism may produce decreased collaboration and increasingly circumspect technical information (publications, talks, open source software) and technology (chips, open source software) sharing. With time, it will increase pressure on those with personal ties that straddle these two worlds. The divide has broad implications for the community on all seven continents, not just in the U.S. and China. The actions of these parties will be pivotal; neutrality is impossible, they must seriously consider where they stand and where it is worthwhile to put a thumb on the scales.  ... ' 

NASA plans to Use Drones to Monitor Active Volcanoes

Am a long time follower of NASA and Volcanism, so very interesting. The activity in Iceland this year and the use of drones for gathering data in Iceland this past year has made it evident of their value.  This is already being generally done, but the involvement of NASA and integrated Satellite data should make it more useful yet. 

NASA plans to use drones to monitor active volcanoes

By Georgina Torbet, January 30, 2022 9:00AM in DigitalTrends

NASA doesn’t only work on space projects: The agency also takes part in Earth-monitoring projects, particularly those related to the climate. Currently, it is working on a plan to use drones to monitor active volcanoes and give warnings of potential eruptions.

NASA is collaborating with the company Black Swift Technologies, which creates highly rugged drones of unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) which can withstand the tough environments above volcanoes. “We needed it to be really rugged, to withstand flying in the turbulent conditions and corrosive gases around volcanoes,” said Florian Schwandner, director of the Earth Sciences division at NASA Ames in a statement. “We also developed a gas-sensing payload the UAS could carry to look for signs of volcanic unrest.”

Maciej Stachura of Black Swift Technologies carries the S2 aircraft to its launch site at Dutch Harbor airport in Alaska.

A first version of the UAS was tested for monitoring a volcano in Costa Rica in 2013, and a newer version of the craft has recently been tested with flights at Makushin Volcano in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. The drone can fly even when it is out of visual range of the pilots, by using autonomous systems combined with a pre-set flight plan to reach the volcano’s summit. From there, it can collect visual and thermal information on volcanic activity.  .... ' 

Effectively Organizing Information

A considerable claim to do this effectively. Out of USC ISI.  Looking for more info.

‘Information Is Powerful, But Only If We Can Organize It Right’New AI Potential Boon to Businesses

Greg Hardesty | January 19, 2022  in USC Viturbi

Algorithm created by USC’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI) helps e-commerce companies better organize their products and makes it easier for customers to find what they want.

E-commerce sites are in a constant struggle to prevent from drowning in an ever-growing tsunami of information about the products they sell.

How can they best keep a handle on all that information, and, on the consumer side, how can potential customers make sure they can quickly and accurately get what they’re looking for?

The answer is by creating an effective and efficient taxonomy, a fancy word for a system used to classify information in a tree-like structure – think of the classic example of a company’s organizational chart listing the bigwig at the top and the titles of the people below indicating who reports to who.

That’s easy-peasy.

But when it comes to e-commerce, things can get complicated very quickly. New versions of products come out all the time, and people sometimes use different names to describe the same products.

The ongoing challenge for mega-retailers like Walmart and Target, as well as smaller companies, is to create and maintain a taxonomy that keeps their products organized in the most efficient way and makes it easy for website visitors to navigate and find what they want. The information the big players manage is staggering: According to Google, Amazon currently sells more than 350 million products (including third-party sellers) and Walmart currently sells 75 million.

Mayank Kejriwal


USC Viterbi’s Mayank Kejriwal, a research assistant professor in the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and a research lead at the USC Information Sciences Institute, has created an algorithm he says allows e-commerce and other web-based companies to quickly and cheaply build a taxonomy that can be easily customized to their needs.

Think of the tool this way, he said: Imagine you’re a kid. Now imagine you’re given thousands of pieces of paper with an item written on each piece, such as “baby powder,” “Coca-Cola,” “PlayStation” and “T-shirt.”

Now, suppose you’re asked to build a “tree” out of these pieces of paper so that you could easily find any item when asked.

How long would it take you to build that tree?

“Our system does it in seconds,” Kejriwal said, “and our trees are of similar quality to any that you might be able to build.”

Such lightning-fast speed can save companies money, he added.

The AI tool, Kejriwal explained, has the potential to benefit large advertising companies like Google and media companies that have to “match” product categories to customers so they can get to the right websites, as well as aggregators like eBay and Pinterest where there are many independent third-party sellers. Even if such companies build a taxonomy manually, it would be constantly changing.  .... '

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Creative Algorithms

 When Algorithms Get Creative

University of Bern (Switzerland), November 10, 2021

An international team of scientists led by Switzerland's University of Bern has developed evolutionary algorithms that can learn creatively. Such algorithms determine the "fitness" of a candidate solution based on how well it solves the underlying problem. The researchers' evolving-to-learn (E2L) or "becoming adaptive" approach was applied to three typical learning scenarios. The first was to detect a repeating pattern in a continuous input stream without performance feedback; the second virtually rewarded the computer for behaving in a desired manner; and the third guided the computer on how much its behavior diverged from a desired pattern. “In all these scenarios,” Bern's Jakob Jordan said, "The evolutionary algorithms were able to discover mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, and thereby successfully solved a new task."  .... ' 

Another Good Intro to Digital Twins

Well done, overview that is only minimally technical.

Virtual Duplicates, By Neil Savage,   Communications of the ACM, February 2022, Vol. 65 No. 2, Pages 14-16  10.1145/3503798

Back in 1970 during the seventh crewed mission of the Apollo space program (the third intended to land on the Moon), the three astronauts aboard Apollo 13 were calmly going about their duties when an explosion in an oxygen tank rocked the spacecraft, spilling precious air into space and damaging the main engine. Personnel in Mission Control suddenly had to devise a plan to get the crew home, and to do that they had to understand what condition the damaged ship was in and the materials available for repairs, and then test what the astronauts might be able to accomplish.

To figure it out, they turned to the flight simulators used to plan and rehearse the mission. They updated the simulators with current information about the physical state of Apollo 13 and tried various scenarios, eventually coming up with the plan that safely returned the astronauts to Earth. This was, some argue, the first use of a digital twin, a model that simulated the state of a physical system with real-time data and made predictions about its performance under varied conditions.

Digital twins are growing in popularity, especially as the Internet of Things provides data from sensors in all sorts of places. The concept is being applied in a range of areas, from buildings to bridges, from wind turbines to aircraft, from weather systems to the human heart.

A digital twin is more than just a simulation of some arbitrary object or system. "It's not a generic model of an airplane or a car or wind turbine or a generic person," says Karen Willcox, director of the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin). "It's a personalized model of one particular aircraft or one particular person."

To qualify as a digital twin, Willcox says, the model needs to take into account current information about the state of the system and evolve over time as it is updated with new data about the system. Another distinguishing feature is that the model and the data help people make decisions about the system, which in turn can change the data and require the model to be updated again.

Perhaps the most obvious use of digital twins is to monitor the long-term health of expensive or complex equipment, such as engines, manufacturing equipment, or industrial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. That sort of use is increasingly being touted as part of Industry 4.0, which incorporates digital technology, machine learning, and big data to improve industrial processes.

IBM, for instance, is combining sensors with its Watson artificial intelligence technology to help large companies make decisions about what maintenance to perform and when, to extend the lifetime of equipment and cut costs. In one example, the company created a digital twin of an engine blade in a 777 aircraft to monitor when it begins to degrade and requires upgrade or replacement. Similarly, GE created digital twins of its wind turbines to predict when the equipment will need maintenance and builds that into a schedule, so wind farm operators can address issues before a turbine breaks, avoiding costly downtime. Researchers at Siemens are applying a similar approach to the human body, developing digital twins of individual human hearts they hope could predict the effectiveness of a specific therapy for a particular patient, instead of merely relying on statistics about hearts in general. .... '

At Home COVID-19 Tests

At-home COVID-19 tests could be more affordable thanks to your smartphone

The SmaRT-LAMP system promises to be nearly as accurate as a PCR test.

In Engadget, Igor Bonifacic  @igorbonifacic, January 30th, 2022

Ever since the omicron variant arrived in the US, there’s been a testing shortage in the country. Stuck between long lines at dedicated clinics and overly expensive at-home tests, many Americans have understandably given up the idea of getting tested to ensure they’re not sick with COVID-19. However, a solution to some of those problems could be on the way....'

Detecting Publishing Fraud

May be many components, like fraud, inaccuracy, etc.  Knowing what kind might be most useful. Also a related analysis of the peer review?

Weird Computer-Generated Phrases Tip-Off Scientific Publishing Fraud

By Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January 13, 2022

Scientists authored six million peer-reviewed publications in 2020, and among them are thousands of fabricated articles. Modern plagiarists are making use of software and perhaps even emerging AI technologies to draft articles — and they're getting away with it.

Technology is also being used to identify fraudulent research. A computer system named the Problematic Paper Screener searches through published science and seeks out "tortured phrases" in order to find suspect work. A tortured phrase is an established scientific concept paraphrased into a nonsensical sequence of words. "Artificial intelligence" becomes "counterfeit consciousness." "Signal to noise" becomes "flag to clamor."

As of January 2022, researchers found tortured phrases in 3,191 peer-reviewed articles published, including in reputable flagship publications. They also found published papers that appear to have been partly generated with AI language models like GPT-2, a system developed by OpenAI. Unlike papers where authors seem to have used paraphrasing software, which changes existing text, these AI models can produce text out of whole cloth.

From Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

View Full Article     

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Is Google new Tracking replacing FLoC Beterr?

 FLoC is gone, now is the Google 'Topics' better? 

Google attacked over latest plan to replace tracking cookies

By Joel Khalili published about 5 hours ago in TechRadar

Google Topics does nothing to address core privacy concerns, says Brave

The company behind privacy-centric web browser Brave has hit out against Google’s latest plan to replace third-party cookies, which it says will do little to minimize the opportunity for violations of privacy.

Introduced earlier this week, Google Topics (a substitute for the controversial FLoC proposal) offers a way to serve up ads to people based on broad interest categories, such as travel or fitness, instead of using granular and often sensitive data hoovered up by cookies.

The system relies on three weeks’ worth of browsing data, which is stored locally on-device, to place people into a variety of different buckets, which in turn determine what types of ads the person will receive. Web users can opt out of any particular topic via their browser at any time.

According to Brave, however, Topics “only touches the smallest, most minor privacy issues in FLoC, while leaving its core intact”. The new proposal pays “lip service” to protecting the open web, but in reality is yet another tool designed to preserve the Google monopoly, the company claims.  .. '

Ghost Imaging

Complexity of advanced imaging of details.

Ghost Imaging Speeds Up X-Ray Fluorescence Chemical Mapping

SciTechDaily, January 13, 2022

Sharon Shwartz and colleagues at Israel's Bar Ilan University integrated computational ghost imaging and x-ray fluorescence measurement to generate high-resolution chemical element maps. The focus-free technique reduces the need for scanning and saves measurement time, and it can be tuned to detect specific elements without seeing human tissues. The method produces two datasets for each photon energy—one with the input beam's spatial distributions and one with emitted fluorescence measurements—which an algorithm then maps out. The researchers used a compressive sensing algorithm to cut the number of scans required to chemically map an iron-cobalt object by almost 10-fold versus standard scanning-based techniques. "We expect it will allow the chemical mapping of larger objects at higher resolutions than is possible today while also enabling measurement of complex 3D [three-dimensional] objects," Shwartz said.  ... ' 

COVID-19: Implications for business

Lots, have been in particular following labor availability. 

COVID-19: Implications for business

Our latest perspectives on the coronavirus outbreak, the twin threats to lives and livelihoods, and how organizations can prepare for the next normal.  from McKinsey ....

Friday, January 28, 2022

IRS wants to Scan Your Face

 More face scanning, government wants to be there, who can be?

IRS Wants to Scan Your Face

The Washington Post, Drew Harwell, January 27, 2022

By this summer, Americans wanting to access their Internal Revenue Service records online will be required to submit a facial video to private contractor ID.me to confirm their identity. ID.me requires facial scans plus copies of identifying paperwork, then employs facial recognition software to determine whether a person's "video selfie" and official photo match. Privacy advocates are concerned, as no federal law exists regulating such information's use or sharing. Glitches and delays that have kept users from important benefits also plague the system. Researchers contend ID.me has exaggerated the abilities of its face-scanning technology, which could wrongly label people frauds. "We're just skipping right to the use of a technology that has clearly been shown to be dangerous and has issues with accuracy, disproportionate impact, privacy, and civil liberties," said the Electronic Privacy Information Center's Jeramie D. Scott. .... '

Nuclear Radiation Use to Transmit Data

 Most interesting, why more specifically?  safety?

 Nuclear Radiation Used to Transmit Digital Data Wirelessly

Lancaster University (U.K.), November 10, 2021

Digitally encoded information has been transmitted wirelessly using nuclear radiation, thanks to engineers at the U.K.'s Lancaster University and Slovenia's Jožef Stefan Institute. The researchers transmitted the data using fast neutrons spontaneously emitted from the radioactive isotope californium-252. A detector measured the emissions, which were recorded on a laptop; the researchers serially encoded data including a word, the alphabet, and a blindly-chosen random number into the modulation of the neutron field, and decoded the output on a laptop that retrieved the encoded information. Lancaster's Malcolm Joyce said, "We demonstrate the potential of fast neutron radiation as a medium for wireless communications for applications where conventional electromagnetic transmission is either not feasible or is inherently limited."  .... '

Ways AI and ML will improve cybersecurity in 2022

 Good thoughts, its all about patterns in context. 

Ways AI and ML will improve cybersecurity in 2022, By Louis Columbus, January 19, 2022 8:40 AM in Venturebeat

Cyberattacks are happening faster, targeting multiple threat surfaces simultaneously using a broad range of techniques to evade detection and access valuable data. A favorite attack strategy of bad actors is to use various social engineering, phishing, ransomware, and malware techniques to gain privileged access credentials to bypass Identity Access Management (IAM) and Privileged Access Management (PAM) systems.

Once in a corporate network, bad actors move laterally across an organization, searching for the most valuable data to exfiltrate, sell, or use to impersonate senior executives. IBM found that it takes an average of 287 days to identify and contain a data breach, at an average cost of $3.61M in a hybrid cloud environment. And when ransomware is the attack strategy, the average cost of a data breach skyrockets to $4.62M.

Using AI to anticipate and lure attacks

A perfect use case for AI and machine learning (ML) is deciphering the millions of concurrent data connections a typical enterprise has with the outside world at any given minute. Training supervised machine learning algorithms with data streams helps them identify potential anomalies, even before the algorithm understands what the definition of an anomaly is, according to Boston Consulting Group.

Eyelid Geatures for Motor Impairment

Always thought there would be value in the eyelid asa secondary communication at least.  This is a considerable and technical article.

Eyelid Gestures for People with Motor Impairments

By Mingming Fan, Zhen Li, Franklin Mingzhe Li

Communications of the ACM, January 2022, Vol. 65 No. 1, Pages 108-115

Although eye-based interactions can be beneficial for people with motor impairments, they often rely on clunky or specialized equipment (e.g., stationary eye-trackers) and focus primarily on gaze and blinks. However, two eyelids can open and close in different orders and for different duration to form rich eyelid gestures. We take a first step to design, detect, and evaluate a set of eyelid gestures for people with motor impairments on mobile devices. We present an algorithm to detect nine eyelid gestures on smartphones in real time and evaluate it with 12 able-bodied people and 4 people with severe motor impairments in two studies. The results of the study with people with motor-impairments show that the algorithm can detect the gestures with .76 and .69 overall accuracy in user-dependent and user-independent evaluations. Furthermore, we design and evaluate a gesture mapping scheme for people with motor impairments to navigate mobile applications only using eyelid gestures. Finally, we discuss considerations for designing and using eyelid gestures for people with motor impairments. ..... '

Metalenz Unveils Very Small Sensors

Intrigued by very small sensors, and the ability to apply analytic and exploratory methods

Metalenz unveils PolarEyes sensors that are 1,000 times smaller than a human hair  in VentureBeat

Metalenz unveiled a new kind of sensor dubbed PolarEyes, which uses polarization technology to bring a new kind of sensing to camera-equipped devices.

The sensors can detect air quality, or manage your healthcare from a smartphone based on your vials. The Harvard University-born meta-optics company also brings polarized lenses to consumer and mobile devices for improved privacy and security features.

The full-stack, system-level solution combines physics and optics, software and hardware, to power everything from next-generation smartphones and consumer electronics, to new healthcare and automotive applications.

Metalenz PolarEyes collects the polarized light information traditional cameras discard and parses through that information to better interpret the world around us.  ... ' 

Graphene Speaks

 Material, syntheses in new contexts.

When Graphene Speaks, Scientists Can Now Listen

Rice University News, Mike Williams, January 19, 2022

Brothers John and Victor Li, working in the laboratory of Rice University's James Tour, analyzed laser-induced graphene (LIG) production in real time using sound. LIG produces layers of interconnected graphene sheets by heating the topmost polymer sheet to 2,500 degrees Celsius (4,532 degrees Fahrenheit), leaving only carbon atoms. John Li said different processes generate different sounds, "So if we hear variations during the synthesis, we'd be able to detect different materials being formed." The brothers formulated a simple acoustic signal processing framework to ascertain LIG's form and quality, which John said "allows us to efficiently scale the throughput of our analytical capabilities to the entire amount of material we're trying to synthesize in a robust manner." Tour said the brothers converted the sound pattern to numerical data via a Fast Fourier transform, which could analyze product type and purity near-instantaneously.  ... '

Tesla Hacking Possible

 Probably possible in many modern automobile applications, good to see the warning early.

Third-Party Software for Teslas Can Be Hacked, German Teen Says

Bloomberg, Katrina Nicholas; Jordan Robertson, January 12, 2022

German teenager David Colombo claims to have discovered flaws in third-party software that could allow hackers to remotely hijack certain functions of Tesla cars. He tweeted that the software insecurely stores data required to link the cars to the software, which hackers could steal and use to send malicious commands to the vehicles. Colombo reportedly exploited the vulnerability to unlock doors and windows, start cars without keys, and deactivate their security; he also said he could see if a driver was in the vehicle, turn on stereo systems, and flash headlights. Colombo said he was able to access over 25 Teslas in at least 13 countries via the flaw. He asked Bloomberg not to publish specifics of the exploit, as the company that makes the affected software has not yet released a patch.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Kroger and Meijer give out free N95 Masks

Though I am both a Kroger and Meijer shopper I had not noted this.   Though have read that N95 are much better for the task, it is still unclear how much good they do in varying retail contexts. Still seems a good attraction for customers. 

Kroger and Meijer offering free N95 masks to customers  in Retailwire

ABC 12 NEWS  01/26/2022

Customers at Kroger and Meijer stores in Michigan can pick up free N95 masks while supplies last. “Wearing a mask and getting vaccinated continue to be the top defense tools in our nation’s fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Marc Watkins, Kroger’s chief medical officer. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of the free non-surgical N95 masks and make an appointment today to get vaccinated or boosted.”  ... '  

Software Designed Microwave Cooking

 As a long time amateur cook and with interest in it as a process and how it might be automated this is quite interesting.   

Software-Defined Cooking Using a Microwave Oven

By Haojian Jin, Jingxian Wang, Swarun Kumar, Jason Hong

Communications of the ACM, December 2021, Vol. 64 No. 12, Pages 95-103 10.1145/3491196

Despite widespread popularity, today's microwave ovens are limited in their cooking capabilities, given that they heat food blindly, resulting in a nonuniform and unpredictable heating distribution. We present software-defined cooking (SDC), a low-cost closed-loop microwave oven system that aims to heat food in a software-defined thermal trajectory. SDC achieves this through a novel high-resolution heat sensing and actuation system that uses microwave-safe components to augment existing microwaves. SDC first senses the thermal gradient by using arrays of neon lamps that are charged by the electromagnetic (EM) field a microwave produces. SDC then modifies the EM-field strength to desired levels by accurately moving food on a programmable turntable toward sensed hot and cold spots. To create a more skewed arbitrary thermal pattern, SDC further introduces two types of programmable accessories: A microwave shield and a susceptor. We design and implement one experimental test bed by modifying a commercial off-the-shelf microwave oven. Our evaluation shows that SDC can programmatically create temperature deltas at a resolution of 21°C with a spatial resolution of 3 cm without the programmable accessories, and 183°C with them. We further demonstrate how an SDC-enabled microwave can be enlisted to perform unexpected cooking tasks: Cooking meat and fat in bacon discriminatively and heating milk uniformly.   .... (much more detail) 

Teaching in Person and Online

 Been reading the book below, so far looks very good and to the point in these times.  Have not finished, but good so far.  The technical specifics may get out of date, but the rest should hold up. 

The Hybrid Teacher, Using Technology to teach in Person and OnLine,  by Emma Pass

A practical educational technology resource for educators teaching remotely or in the classroom

The most effective hybrid teachers are those that have a vast knowledge of instructional strategies, technologies, tools, and resources, and can masterfully build meaningful relationships with students in person and through a screen. The Hybrid Teacher: Using Technology to Teach in Person and Online will teach educators to leverage the technology they have access to both in their traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms and in remote learning environments, including established online and hybrid schools; emergency response models for pandemics, natural disasters; rural education; and connecting with students who can't make it to school.    ( Do note that Emma is a middle school teacher, so some of her examples are from that realm,  but still I think useful.)

Many of us had to adapt to online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we still need resources for optimizing our instruction and becoming the best teachers we can be. This book is a practical guide for teachers who want to prepare for current and future remote instruction or leverage the best practices of remote instruction and EdTech tools to bring back to their brick-and-mortar classrooms. You'll learn about the impact of social and economic differences on classroom technology, and you'll find strategies and advice for maximizing success in each situation.  From Amazon

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Testing the Meaning of Digital Darkness

Perhaps a good case study to understand the implications of complete digital darkness, how should we address this and what are the capabilities that need to be provided, in what order. 

By The New York Times, January 20, 2022

As in many remote Pacific nations, the island kingdom of Tonga is connected to the world by a single cable, roughly the width of a garden hose, that carries hair-thin optic fibers across a vast ocean bed.
That lone conduit is the means by which Siniva Filise, who lives in Wales and is part of the large Tongan diaspora, starts each day with a video call from her mother 10,000 miles away. "She's like the alarm — she doesn't care what time it is," Ms. Filise said. "She'll just call."

But for the past four days, the phone has been silent. Tonga's undersea cable was severed by a huge volcanic eruption on Saturday night, and the country now faces weeks of digital darkness as a repair ship prepares to make its way from Papua New Guinea.

A repair ship is not expected to reach Tonga until Feb. 1, after a voyage of more than eight days. Then it will perform the difficult task of retrieving two sections of damaged cable from the ocean floor and splicing in replacements, with the threat of fu

MIT Reveals new Quantum Computing Language: Twist

 A Language for Quantum Computing


A New Language for Quantum Computing, By MIT News

January 25, 2022

Time crystals. Microwaves. Diamonds. What do these three disparate things have in common? 

Quantum computing. Unlike traditional computers that use bits, quantum computers use qubits to encode information as zeros or ones, or both at the same time. Coupled with a cocktail of forces from quantum physics, these refrigerator-sized machines can process a whole lot of information — but they're far from flawless. Just like our regular computers, we need to have the right programming languages to properly compute on quantum computers. 

Programming quantum computers requires awareness of something called "entanglement," a computational multiplier for qubits of sorts, which translates to a lot of power. When two qubits are entangled, actions on one qubit can change the value of the other, even when they are physically separated, giving rise to Einstein's characterization of "spooky action at a distance." But that potency is equal parts a source of weakness. When programming, discarding one qubit without being mindful of its entanglement with another qubit can destroy the data stored in the other, jeopardizing the correctness of the program. 

Scientists from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (CSAIL) aimed to do some unraveling by creating their own programming language for quantum computing called Twist. Twist can describe and verify which pieces of data are entangled in a quantum program, through a language a classical programmer can understand. The language uses a concept called purity, which enforces the absence of entanglement and results in more intuitive programs, with ideally fewer bugs. For example, a programmer can use Twist to say that the temporary data generated as garbage by a program is not entangled with the program's answer, making it safe to throw away.

From MIT News

View Full Article  

Google Killing Off FloC

 Notable  How does this change the interaction with consumer, their privacy and 

Google Kills Off FLoC, Replaces It With Topics

By TechCrunch, January 25, 2022

FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), Google's controversial project for replacing cookies for interest-based advertising by instead grouping users into groups of users with comparable interests, is dead. In its place, Google today announced a new proposal: Topics.

The idea here is that your browser will learn about your interests as you move around the web. It'll keep data for the last three weeks of your browsing history and as of now, Google is restricting the number of topics to 300, with plans to extend this over time. Google notes that these topics will not include any sensitive categories like gender or race.

To figure out your interests, Google categorizes the sites you visit based on one of these 300 topics. For sites that it hasn't categorized before, a lightweight machine learning algorithm in the browser will take over and provide an estimated topic based on the name of the domain.


Robotic Eldercare Advances

Saw a number of examples of this being done in visits to Japan, were impressive.   Aimed to support Japan's aging population.

Robots Rise to Meet the Challenge of Caring for Older Adults

Nature, Neil Savage, January 19, 2022

Robotic assistants could be used in nursing and retirement homes to help seniors care for themselves, assist with cleaning, provide emotional support, connect remotely with health care providers, and free up nurses to focus on patient care. Researchers at Ireland's Trinity College Dublin have developed Stevie, a robot on a rolling base with moveable arms. In tests at Washington, DC's Knollwood Military Retirement Community, Stevie entertained residents so staff could focus on resident care. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Southern California are working on robots that can provide social interaction by telling jokes or encouraging older people to read or exercise more, while researchers at Diligent Robotics have developed a rolling robot that can move around a hospital and perform tasks that take nurses away from resident care, such as delivering medicine, equipment, patient samples, or linens. .... 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Ransomware: Insurance Might Pay

And of course will foreign plays admit guilt for hostile actions?  And surely insurance premiums will increase. 

Via Schneier, with further comments:

The insurance company Ace American has to pay for the losses:

On 6th December 2021, the New Jersey Superior Court granted partial summary judgment (attached) in favour of Merck and International Indemnity, declaring that the War or Hostile Acts exclusion was inapplicable to the dispute.

Merck suffered US$1.4 billion in business interruption losses from the Notpetya cyber attack of 2017 which were claimed against “all risks” property re/insurance policies providing coverage for losses resulting from destruction or corruption of computer data and software. ...,, '

Qualcomm for Autonomous Cars

More moves in automating features in vehicles.

Qualcomm wants to make it easier to build semi-autonomous cars

Snapdragon Ride Vision is open and scales to more cars., By Jon Fingas in Engadget

Qualcomm believes it can widen the field for semi-autonomous driving features, and it's launching a new platform to make that happen. The company has unveiled a Snapdragon Ride Vision platform that combines a 4-nanometer system-on-chip with Arriver's computer vision software to give automakers an "open, scalable and modular" way to build Level 2 driver assists and Level 3 partial autonomy into their cars.

Snapdragon Ride Vision can help cars detect road geometry, pedestrians and other cars using 8MP wide-angle cameras. It can also handle driver monitoring (to keep your hands or eyes focused on driving) and perception for near-field parking cameras. More importantly, the system is flexible — car designers can customize it to fit new vehicles and update features over the air.  ... '

Chefs Using AI

 We looked at some early work done by IBM using Watson in this area.  May have mentioned it here.

AI: Why chefs are turning to artificial intelligence  By Michael Dempsey  in the BBC

Technology of Business reporter

Nicolas Maire is the model of a professional French chef with years of experience and 18 Michelin stars under his belt, a man who dominates his kitchen dispensing nuggets of culinary wisdom as he prepares food for his guests.'  Today, this kitchen is buried inside a sprawling corporate HQ on the outskirts of Geneva. Mr Maire works for Firmenich, a business with a perfume industry pedigree stretching back to 1895.

Firmenich's nose for a new market saw it diversify into food ingredients as the public appetite for alternatives to meat led to a scramble to put plant-based food on supermarket shelves.  The company says there is a global market for plant-based meat substitutes of $25bn (£19bn) and believes this will grow to $200bn by 2030.

To help perfect the flavours of these innovative foods, Mr Maire has a new sous-chef in the form of Sam, an artificial intelligence (AI) robot.  

Can AlphaZero Solving Problems and Rule Variations

 Sharing variations of a problem.   All problems have variations, which specify their context, can this give us a hint for other solutions?

Reimagining Chess with AlphaZero

By Nenad Tomašev, Ulrich Paquet, Demis Hassabis, Vladimir Kramnik

Communications of the ACM, February 2022, Vol. 65 No. 2, Pages 60-66 10.1145/3460349

Modern chess is the culmination of centuries of experience, as well as an evolutionary sequence of rule adjustments from its inception in the 6th century to the modern rules we know today.17 While classical chess still captivates the minds of millions of players worldwide, the game is anything but static. Many variants have been proposed and played over the years by enthusiasts and theorists.8,20 They continue the evolutionary cycle by altering the board, piece placement, or the rules—offering players "something subtle, sparkling, or amusing which cannot be done in ordinary chess."1

Key Insights

Technological progress is the new driver of the evolutionary cycle. Chess engines increase in strength, and players have access to millions of computer games and volumes of opening theory. Consequently, the number of decisive games in super-tournaments has declined, and it takes longer for players to move from home preparation to playing original moves on the board.14 While classical chess remains a fascinating game and is unlikely to ever fall out of fashion, alternative variants provide an avenue for more creative play. In Fischer random chess, the brainchild of former world champion Bobby Fischer, the initial position is randomized to counter the dominance of opening preparation in a game.7 One could consider not only entirely new ideas, but also reassess some of the newer additions to the game. For example, the "castling" move was only introduced in its current form in the 17th century. What would chess have been like had castling not been incorporated into the rules? Without recourse to repeating history, we reimagine chess and address such questions in silico with AlphaZero.25

AlphaZero is a system that can learn superhuman chess strategies from scratch without any human supervision.19,22 It represents a milestone in artificial intelligence (AI), a field that has ventured down the corridors of chess more than once in search of challenges and inspiration. Throughout the history of computer chess, the focus was on creating systems that could spar with top human players over the board.3 Computer chess has progressed steadily since the 1950s, with better-tuned evaluation functions and enhanced search algorithms deployed on increasingly more computational resources.2,3,9,13,18,24 Alan Turing already envisioned more in 1953 by asking, "Could one make a machine to play chess, and to improve its play, game by game, profiting from its experience?"27 Unlike its predecessors, AlphaZero learns its policy from scratch from repeated self-play games, answering the second part of Turing's question. The result is a unique approach to playing classical chess22 and a new era in the development of chess engines, as spear-headed by Leela Chess Zero.15

AlphaZero's ability to continually improve its understanding of the game, and reach superhuman playing strength in classical chess and Go,25 lends itself to the question of assessing chess variants and potential variants of other board games in the future. Provided only with the implementation of the rules, it is possible to effectively simulate decades of human experience in a day, opening a window into top-level play of each variant. In doing so, computer chess completes the circle, from the early days of pitting man vs. machine to a collaborative present of man with machine, where AI can empower players to explore what chess is and what it could become.11

Back to Top  ... ' 

3D Map of Universe

 Durham University Fiber-Optics Help Largest 3D Map of Universe

BBC News, January 13, 2022

Researchers at the U.K.'s Durham University built a component that helped an international team of scientists produce the largest-ever three-dimensional (3D) map of the universe. The component uses 5,000 optical fibers to widen the field of view of the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument at the Nicholas U. Mayall telescope of Arizona’s Kitt Peak National Observatory. The system splits light from galaxies, stars, and quasars into narrow bands of color, measuring their chemical composition, distance from Earth, and their rate of travel. The final 3D map will enhance understanding of dark energy, which constitutes 70% of the universe and fuels its expansion. Said Durham's Victoria Fawcett, "We're finding quite a lot of exotic systems including large samples of rare objects that we just haven't been able to study in detail before."

Monday, January 24, 2022

Digital Pen Helping People Learn to Write

 AI and learning physical writing.  Like the interplay interplay of the old and new skills.

Artificial intelligence: Digital pen helps people learn to write

by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

A smart digital pen that helps people learn to write is currently being developed in the framework of the German-French project Kaligo-based Intelligent Handwriting Teacher (KIHT). The collaboration project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is coordinated by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Within this project, researchers of KIT study algorithms of artificial intelligence (AI) that enable reconstruction of a writing trace and interpretation of handwriting. The smart learning device is to benefit as many pupils as possible.

Handwriting is an important tool of the knowledge-based society. Repeated studies revealed that writing a text by hand results in a higher quality of the result than typing. The new project is aimed at helping people learn to write by combining handwriting with digital media. The smart digital pen resembles a conventional pen and can be used to write on paper. However, it is equipped with inertial sensors that capture smallest changes on the free spatial axes and, hence, to detect any position in space. The smart digital pen can be connected to any commercially available mobile end devices, including a tablet, and interacts with the mobile Kaligo app. With the help of this app, exercises can be adapted individually and data can be synchronized and stored automatically.

Teachers are given more freedom for creative and communicative tasks

"Use of the smart digital pen together with an adequate computer program automatically supports the learning of writing. In this way, teachers and parents are given more freedom for creative and communicative tasks," says Professor Jürgen Becker, Head of KIT's Institute for Information Processing Technology (ITIV). The software and AI algorithms are mainly dealt with by the French partners L'IRISA (Institut de Recherche en Informatique et Systèmes Aléatoires) and Learn&Go, both located in Rennes. Learn&Go, for instance, has developed the mobile Kaligo app for training how to write. Integration of suited AI concepts in the embedded systems is in the focus of the German partners, KIT and the manufacturer of writing instruments STABILO International in Heroldsberg. The project is coordinated by KIT. ... '

Blood Clot Screw

 Like the  implied visualization

The microrobot has a helical structure like a propeller. Corkscrew-Shaped Robot Swims Through Blood Vessels to Clear Blockages

New Scientist, Alex Wilkins, January 10, 2021

Researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) have developed a corkscrew-shaped microrobot that can swim through blood vessels and help drugs unblock clots more effectively. CUHK's Li Zhang said the robot's helical structure mimics a propeller's to enable drug delivery, while non-drug payloads also are possible. The researchers employ magnets to rotate the robot's rotor and to drag it through a blood vessel, while Doppler tracking guides its path by reflecting sound waves off blood cells. Said Pierre Gélat of University College London, “The ability that they have to steer the robot in in-vitro environments is quite nice. The challenges are in finding out whether this will fulfill unmet clinical needs further down the line, and how you get there as well.”

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Eliminating some Quantum Computations

Fascinating piece, with it seems big implications, see the full thing in QuantaMag pointed to below.  Look forward to see the implications in such futuristic machines.

Computer Scientists Eliminate Pesky Quantum Computations

By Quanta Magazine, January 21, 2022

As quantum computers have become more functional, our understanding of them has remained muddled. Work by a pair of computer scientists  has clarified part of the picture, providing insight into what can be computed with these futuristic machines.

"It's a really nice result that has implications for quantum computation," said John Watrous of the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

The research, posted in June 2020 by Bill Fefferman and Zachary Remscrim of the University of Chicago, proves that any quantum algorithm can be rearranged to move measurements performed in the middle of the calculation to the end of the process, without changing the final result or drastically increasing the amount of memory required to carry out the task. Previously, computer scientists thought that the timing of those measurements affected memory requirements, creating a bifurcated view of the complexity of quantum algorithms.

"This has been quite annoying," said Fefferman. "We've had to talk about two complexity classes — one with intermediate measurements and one without."

From Quanta Magazine

View Full Article  

Monitizing Personal Data

 Repeated after reading, well done.   Did a big project on related questions and how they drove decisions.

Monetizing Your Personal DataBy Keith Kirkpatrick

Communications of the ACM, January 2022, Vol. 65 No. 1, Pages 17-19, 10.1145/3495563

During the initial wave of commercialization of the Internet in the mid-to-late 1990s, companies began collecting personal information from visitors to their Websites. The value proposition laid out by Internet companies seemed simple: allow companies to track and capture user behavioral and demographic data, in exchange for free access to content, as well as a more personalized and tailored experience that was based on an individual's browsing and shopping habits.

However, few users or market observers could have projected the evolution of the market for data, which has become far more complex and valuable than previously imagined. In fact, large companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Alibaba, among others, have generated massive profits by leveraging the data collected, not only using it to improve the personalization and usability of their own sites, but by reselling that data to advertisers, to the tune of billions of dollars per year. In fact, March 2021 data from eMarketer indicated the Internet advertising market generated $378.2 billion in 2020, and projected that figure will rise to nearly $646 billion by 2024.

"Everything you do creates data that's being bought and sold," says George Stella, chief revenue officer of BigToken (bigtoken.com), a data broker that enables consumers to collect revenue from the use of their personal data. "So, the ad tech industry has collected a ton of information from people without their permission over the last 20-plus years, and made billions and billions of dollars off of it."

A key barrier to empowering people to generate revenue from their data is awareness. "Less than 200 or 300 million people out of 7.1 billion people globally are even aware that their data is being used or sold, and that they can actually benefit from these sites," says Sagar Shah, client partner with artificial intelligence (AI) technology firm Fractal (www.fractal.ai).

While the Internet advertising market is massive, putting specific monetary value on each individual user's personal data is highly variable, not only due to people's different demographic profiles, but also to the type of data and its relative level of abundance or scarcity. For example, data on demographics that are in limited supply (such as data on Middle Eastern male consumers) is more valuable than demographic data on white millennial women. Similarly, the browsing data of individuals seeking to purchase a Tesla or Ferrari automobile within the next month would be valued more highly by data brokers and advertisers than the data of someone browsing for the best deals on a used Chrysler minivan.

Regardless of the type of data, personal data has value on both the legitimate advertising market and the black market, where stolen records can be sold to various parties. Data broker Invisibly (www.invisibly.com) provides a listing of various types of data available for sale on the dark web, ranging from a Social Security number (valued at just $0.53) to a complete healthcare record ($250). There also is significant value attached to personal information that is collected, bought, and sold through legitimate operations, such as data brokers and Internet advertising firms.

Left out of this equation are the end users generating that data who, for the most part, do not share in any of that revenue. Enter companies such as the aforementioned BigToken, Invisibly, and Killi (killi.io), each of which serve as middlemen or brokers between consumers and the companies that collect data. The goal is to create a user ownership model in which consumers retain more control over their data, who is permitted to capture it, and who can profit from it.

"There's a whole industry built around the unscrupulous gathering of customer data to optimize sales," says Rick Hoskins, founder of Filter King, a seller of HVAC filters via its eponymous online site. "We take a lot of care not to source customer data unethically. As a business owner, allowing normal people to monetize their data would take a massive weight off my shoulders. It would cut the knees out from under this sketchy shadow industry stealing people's information for profit. Not only would it give us, online marketers, access to more data, it would let us access it ethically."

The goal of data brokers is to allow consumers to decide which information may be shared with advertisers, then share in some of the revenue generated by its use. These services ask users to sign up on the Web or via an application, connect their social media and Web accounts, then ask them to answer specific questions about their interests. Based on the data provided and collected initially and over time, the brokers will place users into segments, and advertisers can purchase access to data from one or more segments for use in personalized advertising. Each time their data is shared, or advertisers purchase access to a segment in which the user's data has been placed, the user can earn points, rewards, or cash. All the data brokers note that they store their user data on the cloud using a variety of encryption and security protocols, and that the end users with whom they work can opt out of having specific data shared if they so choose.

The goal of data brokers is to allow consumers to decide which information may be shared with advertisers, then share in some of the revenue generated by its use. .... ' 

Can or Will AI Destroy Education?

Not till it can become very adaptive to many contexts.  Replacing if it does better than teachers perhaps.

Many contexts are at play. Selective humans are still the most adaptive teachers. Great Question.

Will AI Destroy Education?, By Moshe Y. Vardi

Communications of the ACM, January 2022, Vol. 65 No. 1, Page 7  10.1145/3501359

Artificial intelligence is everywhere these days. The National AI Initiative Act became law in the U.S. on Jan. 1, 2021, aiming "to accelerate AI research and application for the Nation's economic prosperity and national security." The U.S. National Science Foundation launched in 2020 several AI Research Institutes to push forward the frontiers of artificial intelligence. One of the themes of this research initiative is "AI-Augmented Learning."

This quest to improve education via technology reminds me of "Profession;" a 1957 science-fiction story by Isaac Asimov. The story takes place in the 66th century, where children are educated via direct computer-brain interface, a process known as "taping." At the end of the story, the protagonist realizes that, unlike taping, reading books produces "men and women with capacity for original thought." This 1957 warning—perhaps in response to a U.S. push for educational technology following the Sputnik shock—against a techno-solutionist approach to education is probably more relevant today than it was then. After all, 15 years ago Facebook had the beautiful sounding goal to make "the world more open and connected." In 2021, a massive leakage of internal documents revealed the company knew of the serious societal harm caused by its technology but ignored it in the pursuit of profits.

The previous techno-solutionist wave aimed at education surged in the fall of 2011 when approximately 450,000 students signed up for three computer-science courses offered by Stanford University, launching the MOOC ("massive open online course") tsunami, with the lofty goal of "reaching the quality of individual tutoring." In 2012, I authored a Communications column, "Will MOOCs Destroy Academia?"a I argued the enormous buzz about MOOCs is not due to the technology's intrinsic educational value, but due to the seductive possibilities of lower costs. As we now know, MOOCs did not destroy academia, probably because of their low educational value. But more than decade after the 2008-2009 recession, state spending on public higher education remains well below historical levels in the U.S. Yet MOOCs have become a fixture in U.S. higher education; my own institution run dozens of them. While the availability of free or almost-free academic courses is, of course, beneficial to students, such MOOC-based programs make nominal profits only by ignoring the true cost of faculty labor involved in producing and running MOOCs.

AI-augmented learning also seems to be a technology in search of a problem. The drive comes from the tech industry, for whom AI is a new "shiny hammer in search of nails." The goal of NSF-funded AI Institutes in this area is "AI-driven innovations to radically improve human learning and education." But we do not know what needs to be improved, so how we will know that we have succeeded? I see many big questions and few answers: What problems are we trying to solve? How do we measure improvements? Are we trying to improve teaching or replace teachers? What are the drivers? Societal need? Technology? Money? Finally, since AI Ethics is a hot topic these days, is it ethical to deploy AI in education without a clear understanding of its benefits? Using AI in education is inevitable, I suspect, and it can be used for good, I hope, but these questions must be addressed.

Lower Cost, complexity Recording Brain Activity

 Recording a test subject’s brain activity. Device Developed for Easier Link Between Brain, Computer, Body

Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Russia), January 19, 2022  in SkolTech

A customizable brain activity recording device developed by Russian and U.S. researchers is more compact and affordable than current commercial solutions, and generates high-quality signals. The 150-gram (5-ounce) electroencephalographer costs just $350 to build, less than half the cost of commercial counterparts, and is roughly a half-centimeter (about 0.2 inches) in diameter. The researchers have made the instructions for building the device, along with accompanying documentation and software, openly available on GitHub. Said Mikhail Lebedev at Russia's Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, "The more convenient and affordable such devices become, the more chances there are this would drive the home lab movement, with some of the research on brain-computer interfaces migrating from large science centers to small-scale amateur projects."

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Intel to Build 20 Billion $ Chip Factory in Ohio

Just brought to my attention.  In the Columbus area, should improve considerable  related tech possibilities there and in Ohio. 

Redefining the Rust Belt: Intel announces $20 billion mega-plant near Columbus; impact to be felt statewide in News5Cleveland 

By: Jordan VandenbergePosted at 5:33 PM, Jan 21, 2022 and last updated 7:02 PM, Jan 21, 2022

LICKING COUNTY, Ohio — In what has been called the largest economic development project in state history, Intel has announced plans for a $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility near Columbus that is scheduled to go online in 2025. The mega project, which could balloon to $100 billion within the next decade, is expected to employ 3000 people, earning an average salary of $135,000 a year. While located in Central Ohio, Intel’s new facility is expected to have a far-reaching impact across the state.  ... ' 

Wharton on the Economy this Year

Where are we going?  

What’s Ahead for the U.S. Economy in 2022


Wharton’s Jeremy Siegel speaks with Wharton Business Daily on SiriusXM about what’s ahead for the U.S. economy and the stock market in 2022.

Podcast Audio at link ...

The Federal Reserve must get “more aggressive” in 2022 by increasing interest rates and tapering down asset purchases in order to tame inflation, according to Wharton finance professor Jeremy Siegel. “The Fed is way behind the curve … and should have started raising interest rates by now,” he said on the Wharton Business Daily show on SiriusXM as he forecast market and economic trends for 2022. (Listen to the full podcast above.)

Siegel predicted the Dow and the S&P 500 will continue to climb in the year ahead, albeit at a slower pace than in 2021. The stock markets will face some headwinds when the Fed raises rates, but “stocks are real assets, and you want to hold real assets when there is inflation,” he said. His biggest concern is about containing the double-digit growth in money supply, which he said is not consistent with inflation at rates of even 2% or 3%. But with inflation edging towards 6%, he expected pressure on wage growth and resulting repercussions in the labor markets.

Following is an edited version of his interview.

Wharton Business Daily: Give us your overview on how you thought 2021 was from a market perspective.

Jeremy Siegel: Early on in 2021, I saw the burst of the money supply that was produced by the Federal Reserve, and that really clued me in on what was going to happen. I had never seen such a strong provision of liquidity, and I knew it would first go into the markets because spending was repressed. But I had predicted that we were going to have substantial inflation in 2021, and so what has happened has not surprised me.

Wharton Business Daily: Are we past the point where we consider the rise in inflation to be transitory?

Siegel: Absolutely. It was never transitory in the sense that it’s only going to be a few months. In fact, I have been saying for over six months that I think the cumulative amount of inflation that we’re going to have over the next three or four years will be 20% to 25%. Now, I don’t mean that in one year. It’s impossible to know how it’s going to exactly be distributed. But when we come out of this, the price level of goods and services will be about 25% higher.  .... ' 

The Great Resignation: How to Combat the Knowledge Drain Effect

 Not too different from other kinds of knowledge loss, though accelerated.  Tried many efforts to address this, rarely effective ..... '

The Great Resignation: How to Combat the Knowledge Drain Effect

One of the greatest threats is not only the risk of losing good talent and productivity, but also the valuable knowledge that departing employees take with them.

Kelly Griswold, Chief Operating Officer, Onna  In InformationWeek

The Great Resignation. The Great Reshuffle. The Big Quit. By now you’ve definitely heard of this monumental phenomenon that we are living through, if not experienced it first-hand. The pandemic encouraged a period of reflection that has driven many employees across all industries to explore new possibilities when it comes to their work, and as a result, people are leaving their companies in droves. According to the Labor Department, 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November 2021 alone -- a record-breaking month to follow previous record months.

For businesses, perhaps the greatest threat of these mass resignations is not only the risk of losing good talent and productivity, but also the valuable corporate knowledge that those departing employees take with them -- knowledge that may have been developed over years and is central to running to day-to-day operations, informing critical business decisions, or guiding future innovation.

While the Great Resignation may stabilize over time, it’s becoming clear that we’re not returning to the days of long-term employee tenure. It’s time for organizations to accept this new workforce dynamic and come to terms with its inevitable effects, including on corporate knowledge. Those who embrace this change -- acting proactively when it comes to retaining and transferring knowledge -- are the ones who will come out on top.

When developing effective strategies for the preservation, protection and sharing of knowledge, we see two key approaches:

1. Create a culture that embraces, encourages, and rewards knowledge sharing

Though some may argue that highly competitive work environments fuel creativity and productivity, they also implicitly encourage information hoarding. Collaborative environments, on the other hand, not only motivate teams to collectively deliver better results, but also reward individuals for surfacing and exchanging valuable knowledge that may have otherwise remained hidden.

Establishing any kind of company culture certainly takes time, but businesses can use this unique moment in history -- what some are calling the “Great Reset” -- to accelerate the culture change process. Most companies are already embracing new ways of creating community in the virtual office, figuring out how to recognize and support people when they aren’t all together, and tapping into collaboration tools to facilitate remote working. These are all great steppingstones toward a collaborative, knowledge-sharing culture, even when colleagues are apart.... ' 

Friday, January 21, 2022

Reliability of Contract Tracing

Related to above, considerable piece brief intro below.

How Reliable Is Smartphone-Based Electronic Contact Tracing for COVID-19?

By Philipp H. Kindt, Trinad Chakraborty, Samarjit Chakraborty

Communications of the ACM, January 2022, Vol. 65 No. 1, Pages 56-6    10.1145/3471933

With global surges of the novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in 2020 and 2021, electronic contact tracing has been adopted in different countries, the goal being to identify the most relevant contacts with a reasonable reliability. Owing to the need to quickly reduce the number of transmissions, contact-tracing solutions built on smartphones were developed because they could be mass-deployed on short notice. Their major advantage was that the hardware was already deployed and only the software remained to be developed.  

Key Insights:  ... ' 

Clip Detects COVID

Intriguing concept, Complete  capabilities and how it is meant to integrate with consumer's behavior and status is unclear.

Yale researcher teams develops wearable clip to detect COVID

The clip is intended to complement at-home test kits

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health have developed a wearable clip that can detect if a person may have been exposed to COVID-19.  

The device captures virus-laden aerosols that deposit on a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) surface, according to a study published earlier this month in the peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Science and Technology Letters.  

Krystal Godri Pollitt, who led the team of researchers who developed the clip, told Fox News it came about through her research measuring a person’s exposure to environmental factors.   

"Through that work, I developed wearable tools that we can measure our exposure to lots of different chemicals within the air and other airborne factors," Godri Pollitt said.   ....'

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Meta Jumps into NFTs

NFTs getting a further indication of reality.  A deepening of generalized asset fungification?

Meta reportedly plans to bring NFTs into Facebook and InstagramBY KYT DOTSON  in SliconAngle

Meta Platforms Inc., formerly Facebook Inc., is reportedly jumping onto the nonfungible token bandwagon and will allow users of its social media platforms Facebook and Instagram to mint, sell and trade the digital assets.

According to the Financial Times, unnamed sources said that Meta is already working on features that will allow users to display NFTs on social media profiles on Facebook and Instagram. There is also a prototype in the works that will assist users in the minting, or creation, of the tokens.

NFTs are a type of virtual asset secured by peer-to-peer blockchain technology that represents ownership of digital items such as artwork, music, collectibles, videogame items and more. The technology has made it possible for digital items to be collectibles because once minted, an NFT can be traded between parties, and the transaction is recorded.

In 2021 the NFT market reached $41 billion in value, according to a new report from blockchain analytics company Chainalysis Inc. This value rivals the $100 million in digital collectible sales from 2020 tracked by DappRadar.

A large portion of the market surrounds digital art NFTs, including such collections as the CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club. The highest-selling CryptoPunk was CryptoPunk 7523, sold for $11.75 million. Another big example of how NFT digital art made headlines in 2021 was Beeple’s collage “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” which sold for $69 million at a Christie’s auction.

Many of these sales happen on NFT marketplaces, which FT reported that Meta is also working on for its users. Such marketplaces allow users to discover, buy, sell and trade NFTs and are fundamental to the economy that has been built up around digital assets.

OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace, recently raised $300 million at a $13 billion valuation earlier this month and facilitated more than $10 billion in NFT sales and trading volume by November 2021. Crypto wallet and finance providers Blockchain.com and Coinbase have both signaled plans to open up their own NFT marketplaces as well.  .... ' 

Opening Genomics Data to All

Boon to future research by opening data. 

Cloud-Based Platform Opens Genomics Data to All

By Johns Hopkins University, January 19, 2022

A team co-led by a Johns Hopkins University computer scientist has created a cloud-based platform that grants researchers easy access to one of the world's largest genomics databases.

Known as AnVIL, the platform gives any researcher with an Internet connection access to thousands of analysis tools, patient records, and more than 300,000 genomes. The work is described in "Inverting the Model of Genomics Data Sharing with the NHGRI Genomic Data Science Analysis, Visualization, and Informatics Lab-Space,"  published in the journal Cell Genomics.

"AnVIL is inverting the model of genomics data sharing," says project co-leader Michael Schatz, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of computer science and biology at Johns Hopkins. Instead of having researchers download massive amounts of data from centralized warehouses to their own data centers, "we allow researchers to effortlessly move to the data in the cloud," he says.

AnVIL is currently built on the Google Cloud Platform to enable massive scalability and capacity for users within a robustly established security perimeter authorized for the storage and analysis of controlled access datasets.

From Johns Hopkins University

View Full Article 

Fully Autonomous Tractors

More examples of autonomy in use.

John Deere debuts fully autonomous tractor at CES

BY DUNCAN RILEY  in SiliconAngle

Agricultural hardware maker John Deere today debuted a fully autonomous tractor at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show.

The autonomous tractor combines the company’s 8R tractor with a TruSet-enabled chisel plow, GPS guidance system and new advanced technologies. Those technologies include six pairs of stereo cameras that enable 360-degree obstacle detection and distance calculation.

Images captured by the cameras are passed through a deep neural network that classifies each pixel in about 100 milliseconds and determines if the machine continues or stops if any obstacles are detected. The autonomous tractor also continuously checks its position relative to a geofence to ensure it’s operating where it is meant to be, so it can’t drive off into the distance accidentally.  ... ' 

On the EU Digital Services Act

What will it cover and what are the implications?

EXPLAINER: How sweeping EU rules would curb tech companies  in TechExplore  by Kelvin Chan

Online companies would have to ramp up efforts to keep harmful content off their platforms and take other steps to protect users under rules that European Union lawmakers are set to vote on Thursday.

The 27-nation bloc has gained a reputation as a trendsetter in the growing global push to rein in big tech companies as they face withering criticism over misinformation, hate speech and other harmful content on their platforms.

Here's a look at the proposed EU rules, known as the Digital Services Act, and why they would make an impact:


The legislation is part of a sweeping overhaul of the European Union's digital rules aimed at ensuring online companies, including tech giants like Google and Facebook parent Meta, protect users on their platforms and treat rivals fairly. It's an update of the EU's two-decade-old e-commerce directive.

"The Digital Services Act could now become the new gold standard for digital regulation, not just in Europe but around the world," the lead EU lawmaker on the bill, Christel Schaldemose, said during a debate Wednesday. "Big tech nations like the U.S. or China are watching closely to see what we're now going to agree."

The proposals are one-half of flagship digital regulations drafted by the bloc. EU lawmakers are also working on a separate proposal, the Digital Markets Act, which is aimed at reining in the power of the biggest online "gatekeepers." Both still face further negotiations with EU bodies before taking effect.


The Digital Services Act includes a raft of measures aimed at better protecting internet users and their "fundamental rights online." Tech companies will be held more responsible for content on their platforms, with requirements to beef up flagging and removal of illegal content like hate speech or dodgy goods and services sold online like counterfeit sneakers or unsafe toys.

But lawmakers have been battling about the details of such takedowns, including whether court orders would be required. .... ' 

How Fast Can Quantum Computers Process Information?

Fundamental question.   Always thinking back to the complexity question being posed.  

How Fast Can Quantum Computers Process Information?

By The Jerusalem Post, December 29, 2021

Physicists at Germany's University of Bonn and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have investigated the determinants of quantum-computer information processing speed. The researchers theoretically deduced the minimum time for quantum gates to transform the wave function and the information contained.

Technion's Gal Ness said the team "used fast light pulses to create a so-called quantum superposition of two states of [a cesium] atom. Figuratively speaking, the atom behaves as if it had two different colors at the same time."

The atom clones were compared at intervals via quantum interference to ascertain when a significant change of the matter wave transpired. Technion Professor Yoav Sagi said the results indicated the minimum wave-change time shortens as energy uncertainty increases, and demonstrated a speed limit imposed by the atom's average energy.

Jerusalem Post:      

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Generating Good Random Numbers for Encryption

 Ultimately having good unpredictable randomness is essential for encoding and thus security.

Overloaded Memory Chips Generate Truly Random Numbers for Encryption  By New Scientist, January 13, 2022

Generating truly random numbers for cryptographic algorithms could become possible through Nisa Bostanci and colleagues at Turkey's TOBB University of Economics and Technology.

The researchers' system reduces interference between chip memory used to produce random numbers and memory used to run normal computer operations.

The system forecasts when memory will be used, and compiles an inventory of random numbers then.Once the stockpile is depleted, it requests and prioritizes new random numbers in a line with other software tasks.  In 186 experiments, the system improved normal computer operational performance by 17.9% and random number generation by 25.1%, versus previous dynamic random-access memory random number-generating models.

From New Scientist

View Full Article        

AI Turns Rembrandt into Data

Interesting look into the information in a complex image.

AI Turned a Rembrandt Masterpiece into 5.6 Terabytes of Data

Popular Science, Purbita Saha, January 11, 2022

The Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands has posted an ultra-high-resolution image of Rembrandt's "The Night Watch," constructed from 8,439 photos taken with a 100-megapixel HD camera that were digitized, color-corrected, and stitched together by algorithms. The Rijksmuseum said it is the largest digital image of an art piece ever created, at 717 billion pixels and 5.6 terabytes of data. Visitors to the museum's Website can zoom into every 0.0005-millimeter square at fine resolution. The digital version of "The Night Watch" was created following a two-year restoration process in which artificial intelligence was used to restore missing elements from the original painting ...'

Not Ready for Web 3.0 and Why

Good piece by Tim O'Reilly, intro below, more at the link.

Why it’s too early to get excited about Web3   By Tim O’Reilly

There’s been a lot of talk about Web3 lately, and as the person who defined “Web 2.0” 17 years ago, I’m often asked to comment. I’ve generally avoided doing so because most prognostications about the future turn out to be wrong. What we can do, though, is to ask ourselves questions that help us see more deeply into the present, the soil in which the future is rooted. As William Gibson famously said, “The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.” We can also look at economic and social patterns and cycles, using as a lens the observation ascribed to Mark Twain that “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.”

Using those filters, what can we say about Web3?

Decentralization versus centralization

The term Web 3.0 was used in 2006 by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, as a look forward to the next stage of the web beyond Web 2.0. He thought that the “Semantic Web” was going to be central to that evolution. It didn’t turn out that way. Now people make the case that the next generation of the web will be based on crypto.

“Web3” as we think of it today was introduced in 2014 by Gavin Wood, one of the cocreators of Ethereum. Wood’s compact definition of Web3, as he put it in a recent Wired interview, is simple: “Less trust, more truth.”

In making this assertion, Wood was contrasting Web3 with the original internet protocol, whose ethos was perhaps best summed up by Jon Postel’s “robustness principle”: “TCP implementations should follow a general principle of robustness: be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others.” This ethos became the foundation of a global decentralized computer network in which no one need be in charge as long as everyone did their best to follow the same protocols and was tolerant of deviations. This system rapidly outcompeted all proprietary networks and changed the world. Unfortunately, time proved that the creators of this system were too idealistic, failing to take into account bad actors and, perhaps more importantly, failing to anticipate the enormous centralization of power that would be made possible by big data, even on top of a decentralized network.

Wood’s point is that the blockchain replaces trust in the good intentions of others with transparency and irrevocability built into the technology. As explained on Ethereum.org:

Cryptographic mechanisms ensure that once transactions are verified as valid and added to the blockchain, they can’t be tampered with later. The same mechanisms also ensure that all transactions are signed and executed with appropriate “permissions” (no one should be able to send digital assets from Alice’s account, except for Alice herself).

Ethereum.org’s documentation continues:

Web2 refers to the version of the internet most of us know today. An internet dominated by companies that provide services in exchange for your personal data. Web3, in the context of Ethereum, refers to decentralized apps that run on the blockchain. These are apps that allow anyone to participate without monetising their personal data.

Crypto enthusiast Sal Delle Palme puts it even more boldly:

We’re witnessing the birth of a new economic system. Its features and tenets are just now being devised and refined in transparent ways by millions of people around the world. Everyone is welcome to participate.   .... ' 

Russian Hypermarket Tour

 As someone who has toured European and Asian grocery/hypermarkets in past years for a major US retailer, found this fascinating.   Prices in Russia, especially for staples seemed to be distinctly lower, and breadth of availability considerable, similar to if not greater than a US Wal-Mart. The 38 minute Youtube, linked to below, done in recent weeks.  was filmed without government direction.  No empty shelves either.  Many US and international brands.  Some masks seen.   Bottom line, its not the 60s anymore.    Read the comments which give you further reactions,  primarily from the West.   Assuming prices are sanely applied, an indication of excellent, and good supply chains, given the many western European brands.

A TYPICAL Hypermarket GROCERY STORE IN RUSSIA 🇷🇺 Food & Prices | Are Western Products Sold In Russia?

Youtube tour, By 'Matt and Julia'  Done three weeks ago.   About 38 Minutes.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

New NVIDIA Robot Brain

 Pushing forward robotic power. 

NVIDIA's new AI brain for robots is six times more powerful than its predecessor

And it can still fit in the palm of your hand.

By M. Moon  in Engadget

NVIDIA has launched a follow-up to the Jetson AGX Xavier, its $1,100 AI brain for robots that it released back in 2018. The new module, called the Jetson AGX Orin, has six times the processing power of Xavier even though it has the same form factor and can still fit in the palm of one's hand. NVIDIA designed Orin to be an "energy-efficient AI supercomputer" meant for use in robotics, autonomous and medical devices, as well as edge AI applications that may seem impossible at the moment. 

The chipmaker says Orin is capable of 200 trillion operations per second. It's built on the NVIDIA Ampere architecture GPU, features Arm Cortex-A78AE CPUs and comes with next-gen deep learning and vision accelerators, giving it the ability to run multiple AI applications. Orin will give users access to the company's software and tools, including the NVIDIA Isaac Sim scalable robotics simulation application, which enables photorealistic, physically-accurate virtual environments where developers can test and manage their AI-powered robots. For users in the healthcare industry, there's NVIDIA Clara for AI-powered imaging and genomics. And for autonomous vehicle developers, there's NVIDIA Drive. .... ' 

Levis using AI

Note interesting links to marketing. 

Levi's AI Chief Says Algorithms Have Helped Boost Revenue

By The Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2021

Artificial intelligence and a data repository built on Google Cloud have helped Levi Strauss & Co. improve revenue and profitability, says chief strategy and AI officer Katia Walsh.

The repository houses data that shoppers share with the company, as well as public and private information on consumer buying habits, weather and climate forecasts, and economic trends. Analyzing the data via machine learning and automation has helped Levi augment personalized consumer marketing, make informed pricing decisions, forecast demand, and optimize fulfillment, Walsh says.

Applying AI to pricing "enabled us to not discount broadly and as deeply as has been the practice in the past," and has allowed the company to precisely target customers which has helped increase revenues, Walsh says.

From The Wall Street Journal   

Monday, January 17, 2022

Examining Bounties for Security

Schneier writes   on the bug/security marketplace, incudes a place for the usual considerable expert comment.    Intriguing to see how and if this will continue to offer significate incentive for finding security holes in existing code.    Considerable detail in Original article in DataSociety.

Robots, Machine Learning for Distribution

Clever application here.

Robotic Arms Use Machine Leanring to Reach Deeper into Distribution

By The Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2022

Robots increasingly are being used in warehouses to sort, pack, and prepare orders for delivery as logistics operators faced with labor shortages turn to automation to meet high demand.,  Advances in computer vision and software have allowed warehouse robots to take on more tasks previously handled by human workers.

Puma North American Inc. is using robotic arms from Nimble Robotics Inc. to prepare clothing and shoe orders at a California distribution center, with plans to implement robots at another facility in Indiana.  Puma's Helmut Leibbrandt said the robots can work two consecutive shifts and perform with about 99% accuracy, on par with human workers.

Hasan Dandashly at logistics and manufacturing automation provider Dematic Corp. said it makes the greatest financial sense to use robots to pick orders in 24/7 operations with a limited number of products.

Said Dandashly, "I don't think we are on the verge of not having human pickers anytime soon."

From The Wall Street Journal    

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Cars Becoming Smartphones

 As cars become smartphones, Big Auto turns to handset chipmaker to survive

Legacy automakers underestimated the importance of employing the latest technology in their dashboards, now they're playing catch up.

How will phones link with particular ecosystems?

As cars become smartphones, Big Auto turns to handset chipmaker to survive

By  Christiaan Hetzner  in Fortune. 

After Tesla transformed the car into a smartphone on wheels, automakers lagging behind are now turning to a mobile handset chip provider to help narrow the widening technology gap.

Semiconductor designer Qualcomm inked further deals with a number of auto brands including Volvo and Honda this week that will serve the growing demand by drivers to enjoy the kind of seamless connectivity they know from their Samsung Galaxy S21 when in their cars. 

In the past, automakers were all too loath to reveal who provided parts for their vehicles. The growing importance of chipmakers, however, has upended the traditional industry pecking order. Overarching trends have catapulted semiconductor companies to the top of the food chain—making them a strategic partner to car companies rather than just a bottom-tier supplier. ... ' 

Metaverse Trials Useful in Retail

Lots of things we also examined, with different names and contexts.

Can the metaverse solve retail’s returns challenges?

by Nikki Baird in Retailwire

We’ve seen a lot of press about the volume of returns that are pouring in from this holiday season. When you combine sustained high rates of online shopping with a really strong holiday season for many retailers, an overwhelming amount of returns seem inevitable.

While retailers can do things to try to cut their cost of returns — emphasizing return to store, offering incentives to turn a return into an exchange or an expanded sale, etc. — the best way to reduce returns is to prevent them from happening in the first place.

In fashion, the biggest reason consumers return items is because of fit. We’ve even invented terminology to describe the behavior: wardrobing (effectively the opposite of showrooming, where consumers order additional things to try on at home and send back what they don’t want), and bracketing (the practice of adding multiple sizes of the same item to your cart, a sure signal some of them are coming back).

Retailers and tech companies have made a run at fit tech for years, using any combination of computer vision, predictive analytics and proprietary algorithms that define everything from fabric fall and flow to how to translate cut patterns into 3D objects that can be sized against a body.

The challenge for consumers has always been the on-ramp. You either have to answer a 500-question survey about what brands you like, what sizes you wear in those brands and various body measurements or shape assessments, or (somehow worse) you have to climb into a box and get a total body scan à la airport scanners.

But augmented reality breakthroughs are starting to make it easier for consumers to get over the body scanning hump. Companies like Eclo (focused on shoes) can take you on a guided tour of your feet using only your phone’s camera. Other fit tech companies are experimenting with front view and side view full-body pictures (taken in tight fitting clothes like workout clothes) as the only requirements to be able to predict fit. Companies like Stitch Fix are introducing customers to the confidence that comes when they get recommendations, not only for products, but the size of product to buy.

As the metaverse becomes more pervasive, it’s an easy shift to move your full-body avatar, built from two simple phone pictures, into virtual reality to try on clothes in full 3D. It may seem far out there, but when retailers need to find a way to solve the huge problem (returns) that is created by consumers trying to solve a simple need (buying the right size with confidence), there is high likelihood that things will move fast. Certainly, the volume of returns is unsustainable as it is..... '